Saturday, August 30, 2008

Peanut Butter Protein Bites: No Bake

WARNING! The following recipe contains an absurd amount of peanut butter. So much so that you are risking your life if you choose to eat these without a liquid beverage in arms length to wash it down. Eat at your own risk.

Okay, with all the liabilities out of the way lets get to it. If you know anything about me, you know that I am very passionate about what I eat, and with that you also know my favorite ingredient is definitely peanut butter. This is also my favorite non-shake recipe made with protein powder as well, which says a lot. It's so tasty in fact, I don't make it that often because the bites disappear too fast. What can I say, when it comes to peanut butter I have no self control.

Peanut Butter Bites: No Bake


5 Scoops of Vanilla Protein Powder (A little over 1 cup, roughly 100g of protein)
1 TBSP - Agave Nectar
1 tsp - Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp - Cinnamon
1/4 C - Water
1/4 C - Oat Flour
1/2 C - Low Fat Plain Yogurt
1 C - Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
Optional: Ground Flax Seed or Almond Meal


Blend the Agave, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon, Yogurt and Water until smooth. Put that mixture into a mixing bowl with the peanut butter and add in the protein powder one scoop at a time. The mixture will appear to be extremely dry but keep mixing, you'll get there. Once that is done mix in the oat flour.

Use your hands to form the mixture into little bites (slightly larger diameter than a half dollar). Makes roughly 25 bites depending on size.

NOTE: Don't make them too big or else you'll need to break out a jug of milk. Some might choose to do that anyway.

If you haven't eaten the bites at this point, feel free to sprinkle some flax or almond meal over the bites. Chill the peanut butter bites for a couple hours in the fridge. Now be careful, 4 or 5 of these bites will really fill you up.


  • Elvis' Balls - The original recipe was dubbed Elvis' Balls by one of my friends, because I made it with banana flavored protein powder, and honey (instead of agave as I hadn't discovered it yet) and had rolled the mixture into balls.
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Bites - Drop the Vanilla extract and Vanilla protein powder in favor of Chocolate protein powder for a treat that will remind you there's no wrong way...
I've been working on these peanut butter bites for a couple years and they finally were elevated to masterpiece status with some inspiration from a peanut butter recipe found in Gourmet Nutrition. Without seeing their peanut butter bar recipe I would have never thought to add the vanilla extract or cinnamon to this gem. If you like this recipe be sure to check the cookbook here.

This recipe is a contest entry for The 4th Great Peanut Butter Expedition. Be sure to check it out if you like peanut butter as much as I do.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quick Tip: Saving Time in the Gym

Quick Tips! Each week we'll feature a nutrition or training tip from the best in the industry. This week we have none other than my good friend Eric Cressey. Eric Cressey, MA, CSCS is the president and co-founder of Cressey Performance. Specializing in athletic performance enhancement and corrective exercise, Cressey is a highly sought-after coach for healthy and injured athletes alike from youth sports to the professional and Olympic ranks. Behind Eric’s expertise, Cressey Performance has rapidly established itself as a go-to high-performance facility among Boston athletes – and those that come from across the country and abroad to experience CP’s cutting-edge methods.

Are you spending more time than you need to in the gym?

Maximized Time Efficiency with Maximum Strength
Excerpted from Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength

"Bodybuilding-style training is a high volume (i.e., time-consuming) approach to resistance training. In that approach, individual muscle groups are isolated and trained individually. Consequently, large numbers of exercises are required to cover the whole body. By Contrast, maximum strength training emphasizes "compound movements" that challenge multiple muscle groups, so the participant can cover his whole body with fewer exercises. In addition, maximum strength involves heavier loads, so the muscles reach an appropriate level of fatigue more quickly (with fewer sets and repetitions). With today's busy schedules, every second is precious. If you're like most guys, you want to get maximum results in minimum time spent in the gym. Maximum strength training is the ideal resistance training method for the time-crunched."

Maximum Strength
is my pick for the most effective strength building program. I've personally used it to improve my strength across the board. It contains warm-ups that will prepare your body for the workouts and help alleviate any nagging pains or injuries. It also has a chapter on nutrition and supplement strategies, and a guide to mentally prepare yourself for training.

Order Maximum Strength now for $13! 16 weeks of programming from one of the nations most sought after strength coaches (for a meager $13) seems like a no brainer to me. That's less than 1/3 the cost of 1 session with a personal trainer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fear of a 9 Year Old: The Jericho Scott Story

Banned! Huh what?

9 year old Jericho was banned from pitching because he was too good. Seriously! They banned a 9 year old because he can throw a ball at 40mph. It would be one thing if he was injuring people left and right but according to the reports he hasn't so much as hurt one batter.

I think the people that run that league need to get real. There seems to be some little league politics involved in the matter as well which you can read about here. Parents are setting a sad example for our youth by tainting them with this nonsense. First they banned dodge-ball, and now Jericho. Where does it end? Sounds like this will eventually lead to more segregation of the over fat kids and the athletic kids, as if that wasn't a social problem already. Kids should have the honor of playing against someone that talented. It will only further develop them as an athlete and a person.

Let Jericho Play!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympic Lessons

With all the hype over medals, world records and the like, we often forget what the Olympics are truly about. Some of you may remember the 1992 400m where Derek Redmond did not get a medal yet somehow made history...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This Week in Review

Below is the week in review of studies, blogs and news reports. You'll see a short rant and then you can move on with your life. Typically most of the information will be useless(especially the news stories), as you'll see they can screw up just about anything.

Exercise and limited TV time may keep kids trim - While I typically love articles that feature health information for our youth, this one frankly pisses me off. First off the solution to kid's obesity is limiting TV and Exercise? Well those two things are probably towards the top of the list, but they don't even address nutrition at all which has the most profound effect on weight. Furthermore the article recommends a number of steps that children achieve (11,000 for girls, 13,000 for men). I'm sorry, but having a step assignment for children is just ludicrous. Children do not need a pedometer. Whatever happened to taking your kid to the park and letting them run around.
Shoppers Injured in Cheap Food Rush - This story made my week. I enjoy grocery shopping a little too much and finding a good food bargain can certainly make a trip worthwhile, but the thought of actually injuring yourself for 99 cent eggs...lets just say it brings a tear to my eye and a smile to my soul.

Will Spinach Be Ruined Forever? The FDA is doing there best to destroy my favorite vegetable. They have approved a new method to treat spinach, which involves radiation. You know the stuff that nuclear bombs use to destroy human life. Brilliant.

The Bomb has been dropped...on spinach of all things

Better to be fat and fit than skinny and unfit - Now before I begin my rant, make sure you read that title twice. What exactly is fat and fit? I don't know, the title alone turned me off from reading the article, but it would appear as though the article is a great way for people to rationalize being a fat ass. Trust me when I say this...regardless of what any studies or news reports tell you, being fat (read: fat! not just overweight) is bad for your health. It's something you'll have to come to grips with because it is a harsh reality.

Vitamin D is the new Fish Oil
- I've said it before and now the news is finally beginning to pick up on it. Vitamin D is probably going to be the new big thing. Everyone is talking about it. So either get yourself some sun exposure or consider taking a supplement.

Good Fat is the NEW Weapon against Obesity - Oh really? Fight fat with fat? Good fat is the NEW weapon. How new is this because I've been using this "weapon" for years and years. I'm glad they are finally coming around to the fact that natural foods like olive oil, avocado, nuts can actually help your weight loss goals. What a concept.

Do Clean Athletes have a Chance - Answer: No. Everyone is cheating, why aren't you? Oh you are, nevermind.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quick Tip of the Week: Pasta

Quick Tips! Starting today, each week we'll feature a nutrition or training tip from the best in the industry. To kick things off who better than Dr. John Berardi.

Eat Pasta... Carefully
by Dr. John Berardi

As a God-fearing Italian, I have to admit that I love pasta. But, as a gut-fearing weight lifter and athlete, I definitely have to choose the lower GI, nutrient dense whole-wheat variety. During training phases that require or allow for higher carbohydrate intake (higher volume training) I'll eat one whole-wheat pasta meal per day. During other phases (like where I'm trying to lose fat), the pasta stays on the shelf in favor of a higher lean protein, good fat, and fruit and veggie intake.

This tip is sponsored by Precision Nutrition - my pick for the best nutrition and supplement resource currently available. Containing system manuals, gourmet cookbook, digital audio/video library, online membership, and more. Precision Nutrition will teach you everything you need to know to get the body you want -- guaranteed.

Order Precision Nutrition now and get $50 off!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Hundred Push Up Challenge

Have you ever wanted to do a straight set of 100 push-ups? Neither did I until a few of my friends got together and decided to give it a go. On top of my regular strength training (11 weeks left of Maximum Strength) for the next six weeks or so I plan on attempting to do a straight set of 100.

I'm following the program laid out on OneHundredPushups along with my buddies. It's 3 days a week and takes less than 10 minutes so the additional volume isn't really that concerning. We're tracking our progress on a google spreadsheet. With nine people who have taken the initial test it will be interesting to see how many people actually make it through the program, and how many actually succeed in doing a straight set of 100.

I'm not sure that six weeks is all it will take, but I'm going to give each workout a shot and see how many I can do. I've already completed the first 2 sessions for week 1. I plan on making a video of the 100 push up attempt so you can look forward to that. Are you up to the challenge?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fear of Protein

Well, we've gone through fear of carbs and fat, so it was only a matter of time right? Some might be scratching their head at this point. You might be thinking, there are low carb diets and low fat diets, but I've never heard of a low protein diet. Though I'm not familiar with any mainstream low protein diets(maybe it's because the aren't effective) it's worth noting that many people believe consumption of excess protein will lead to kidney failure. To learn where that claim comes from lets go to the research.

Protein? I shower in that!

If you scour pub med or any other research database you'll find many studies showing that high protein diets lead to kidney failure. Not so fast! Let me qualify that. This is certainly misleading because all of these studies that show these ill effects of protein are all conducted on people with preexisting kidney conditions. As of today you will find no study/research/evidence that a high or moderately high protein diet will have any adverse affects on healthy kidneys. So if your kidneys are in good repair, go ahead and go for the steak.

Eat up!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Michaelangelo's David Makes a Tour of the United States

Thanks in part to sponsors including McDonald's and Coca-Cola, Michaelangelo's David made a tour of the United States visiting all 50 in just under a year. I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of him this past weekend in Utah right before he was sent back to his homeland. They even allowed us to take photographs which is unheard of. Take a look.

Michaelangelo's Masterpiece?

What can the SAD (Standard American Diet) do for you?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength: 2nd Pass, Phase 1

So I've decided to make a second pass through Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength Program. I often hear people rave about a program and the gains they got from it. It makes me wonder why they stopped the program or never got back to it. For me, the maximum strength program increased all my numbers across the board the first time through, so it was a no brainer to get back to it.

Aside from doing some additional pre-work and some added mobility/stretches in between sets I'm pretty much following the program to the letter. I just completed phase one and decided to do a comparison of my first pass through and now.

Eric says "don't forget your damn warm up!"

NOTE: I completed phase 1 for the first time in October, so this is roughly 10 months after the fact. I'm also doing this at a different gym and different training environment. Not having the boys at Cressey Performance(Shout outs to Eric Cressey, Tony Gentilcore, Brian St. Pierre and even Pete) monitoring me and pushing me hard has definitely been something I've been working to overcome. This is just a sample of the exercises, there is quite a bit more but these are the highlights.

Best set the first time through is in black, best new set is in red.

Walking DB Lunges: 30x8, 70x8
Bench Press: 155x3, 195x3
Seated Cable Row: 100x10, 140x9
Front Squat: 110x6, 165x6
Rack Pulls: 195x6, 305x6
Chin Ups: 1 Set of 6 the rest assisted, All sets of 6 Body Weight plus 15lbs.

I've also been using a chain overhead on my side bridges to add difficulty. So I'd say I've made some pretty good gains and honestly can't believe that I was that weak last time through. Isn't it amazing what consistent training and nutrition can do.

I'll be doing a quick wrap up of each phase of Maximum Strength so look forward to the phase 2 wrap up next month. If you haven't picked up a copy of Maximum Strength yet go here and order it already!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fear of the Sun

Funny how I'm going to write about the benefits of the sun, after the sun nearly destroyed me on my last trip to California. In spite of this I'm still pro sun exposure, as the fact still remains that moderate sun exposure can be extremely beneficial to your health. Note that I said moderate. Don't go bake out in the sun, rationalizing it by saying to yourself "well Gregg said I could..." I digress.

Is the sun really that dangerous?

Researchers believe Vitamin D plays a key role in health. Vitamin D is often referred to as the sun vitamin because the body creates Vitamin D when your skin is is exposed to sunlight. In fact a recent study has shown that those deficient in vitamin d have a greater risk of dying among a host of other problems.

So if the sun is so effective at promoting health why are people constantly being told to cover up to shield ourselves from the sun? Wearing a hat, staying in the shade, putting on sunglasses and sunblock are all recommendations we've heard prior to going out in the sun. The reason for this recommendation is because extreme sun exposure/burning leads to a greater risk of skin cancer. So while the recommendation is well intended, telling people to avoid the sun entirely is misleading. I was guilty of this as well, as for years I avoided the sun like the plague. So lets take a look at sunglasses and sunblock.

Sunglasses. The verdict is probably still out on this one, but I've believed that wearing sun glasses constantly isn't a good idea for eye health. My thoughts were further solidified when this study came out showing that spending time outdoors is great for kids eyes. I'm not saying you should go out and stare into the sun, or drive with the risk of being blinded by it as sunglasses have a time and place. With that said if you are a constant sunglass user you should consider taking a break from them occasionally. Your eyes might thank you.

Give Your Eyes a Break!

Sunblock. Sunblock is a bit more controversial. Many sunblocks contain known carcinogens in the ingredient list (which is ironic as it's used for skin cancer prevention). I typically don't wear sunblock, and if I do I try and use one that is free of carcinogens. I say I typically don't wear sunblock, but I also try to avoid extreme sun exposure (but alas as you've seen, it sometimes happens). The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has a site called skin deep, which can point you in the right direction of which sun screens are safe, and which might do you more harm than good.

So what can you do during the winter months when your sun exposure is limited? Aside from consuming foods rich in vitamin d (there aren't many), the best option is probably supplemental vitamin d. Most multi vitamins contain some vitamin d, but be sure to check the label. Eric Cressey calls vitamin d supplementation "the next big thing."

So in short, don't avoid the sun and don't go out and get yourself burned. As what typically happens the media(and their minions) over react, and the right thing lies somewhere in the middle.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Too Fat to Execute

You might have trouble believing this one but apparently someone can be too fat to execute? I'm speechless on this one.

Two Olympic Stories: You Might Learn Something

I was going to have a post to discuss the 41 year old Olympian Dara Torres, but Keith Scott did an excellent job, which makes my life easier. 41 years old and still competing is inspiring to say the least.

And as for the french swim team. Either put up or shut up. I guess humility was never their thing with quotes like "we're going to the Americans." Don't talk smack, especially if you can't deliver.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Fitcast Celebrates 100 Episodes

Just a heads up that my friend Kevin Larrabee over at the Fitcast posted a special edition to celebrate its 100th episode. The guests were Nutrition wiz Dr. John Berardi and Tom Venuto. You can check it out here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The FitFlop by Victoria's Secret

Is this for real? Apparently so, finally introduced into the U.S. market is the Victoria's Secret Fitflop. Now I think I've seen it all. This is really brilliant marketing at its finest.

The Fitflop by Victoria's Secret

My friend Jessica said it best when she looked at these. "Some fat@&$ is gonna buy that and walk themselves to McDonalds and wonder why they are still fat." Glad to see someone has some sense of reality.

For a meager $60 this wonderful piece of marketing nonsense can be yours! My comments are in red. Check out the text:

Get a workout while you walk. A workout while you walk? I hardly think walking is considered a workout, maybe a calorie burning activity, but not a workout. If it is a workout for you then hopefully it's just a starting point. Engineered to engage muscles, lessen joint impact and absorb shock, Doesn't any kind of footwear accomplish this? FitFlops burn calories and tone legs with every step. Again these are affects from walking, why do I need this? From running errands to working around your house, it's finally easier to stay in shape and multitask your fitness with a sexy, sporty look. Imported leather. Imported leather will for sure burn extra calories, domestic leather just doesn't cut it.

• Strengthens and tones muscles in your feet, legs, buttocks, stomach and back
• Absorbs shock on your feet, knees and back
• Tones and trims your thighs, calves and glutes
• Recreates the gait of barefoot walking with a built-in micro-wobbleboard workout-enhancing effect See below for my thoughts on this.
• Improves balance and posture

My favorite part has to be the "b
uilt-in micro-wobbleboard workout-enhancing effect." Try saying that 10 times fast. The problem with this built in balance enhancer is that in healthy individuals balance training is not only unnecessary but can actually hinder your progress. In the latest research Eric Cressey and crew showed that unstable surface training "using inflatable rubber discs attenuates performance improvements in healthy, trained athletes." To bring this post to a close I leave you with Tony Gentilcore and his thoughts on balance training via a fitness ball:

I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks Tony!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Do you fear Carbs?

Carbs. Ever since Atkin's busted onto the scene the low fat craze subsided and people began fearing carbohydrates. Much like the low fat craze highly processed foods took on a new look carrying less carbs. Things like low carb pasta, and bread emerged and people quickly jumped on board because anyone who has been on a low carb diet knows that it works. Heck I even managed to lose over 30lbs going low carb and for a while I was convinced to fear the carb. Unfortunately when you add exercise to the equation not having carbohydrates makes things a bit more difficult. Low carb made me eat healthier and shy away from a lot of terrible foods, and that is what made me lose the weight.

Well again people took things a bit too far, myself included. Cutting out vegetables and fruit while eating extremely fatty cuts of calorie dense meat and processed cheeses isn't going to make someone the poster boy of health. With carbohydrates if your timing is good then you simply have nothing to worry about. Keep carbs lower throughout the day while having some following intense exercise and you should be fine(I've already told you that you should be exercising right?). Those that tolerate carbohydrates better than others can get away with having some at breakfast too.

As an example take a look at livin la vida low carb blog. Granted using low carb strategies this guy was able to shed 180lbs which is awesome, but recently has gained 30lbs back while following a low carb plan. If you take a look at his recent diet postings it's easy to see where he has gone wrong, but he is eating low carb, so he should be losing weight, right? Having .5 servings of vegetables (check July 27th) isn't really the best long term health advice. Sorry folks the carbs in broccoli aren't going to make you fat. It just isn't going to happen. I'm glad he's decided to ditch the crappy processed low carb junk. I'm sure that will help out a bit, but again he still hasn't squashed his limiting factor.

So in short, eat your veggies like your momma told ya, and stop fearing every single carbohydrate. All carbs were not created equal and stop with this a calorie is a calorie nonsense. Limiting sugars and most processed pre-packaged foods by focusing on whole foods and lean protein sources and you'll be well on your way to a healthy lifestyle a slimmer waistline and long term results.