Diet, fitness, health, Wellness

Protein Picks

This week I’m covering the topic of protein. In my post “Let’s talk Diet,” I linked an article that breaks down the benefits of sufficient protein intake and I touched upon my own experience of exacerbated results once my protein intake was adjusted.

“Consumption of nutrients through natural means (i.e. whole foods) is optimal, but sadly that cannot always be realistic for many of us.”

I want to begin this post by making it known that consuming nutrients through natural means (i.e. whole foods) is optimal, but sadly that cannot always be realistic for many of us. In the past, I often found myself nearing the end of my day and I had yet to meet my goals diet-wise. As a result, I had to start utilizing protein bars and shakes earlier in my day. As someone who constantly was on the go pre-pandemic, I had to purchase products in bulk that I could throw in my bag, or consume quickly during gaps in my schedule.

I’ve compiled list of options/ brands below that I have tried and my thoughts on each one. As supplements can contain a lot of additives and hidden ingredients, I try to always thoroughly read labels. It’s good to get in the habit of googling the ingredients of products before purchase them. I tend to gravitate towards clean(er) plant based options that aren’t too high in calories and have moderate-low levels of sugar alcohol, sodium, and fat. Sugar alcohols are in a lot of foods and products we use (i.e. toothpaste) and the research on the long-term effects is ongoing so I try to stay mindful of my consumption.

  1. Evolve Shake

This is my go-to protein shake as it’s a solid 20g of protein, tastes great, and has a shorter list of ingredients than many comparable brands. I love that it is sweetened with stevia instead of sugar alcohols (i.e. Maltitol) which you’ll find in a lot of protein powders. The levels of sodium and carbohydrates are on the higher side, but if you’re someone like me who does a lot of cardio, this may be a great option for you.

2. Orgain

Orgain is an OK option taste-wise, easy to mix into other things like smoothies, and you also get 20g of protein per serving. It is definitely on the cleaner end and easily accessible (Target, Amazon, etc). My only complaint is that there is 5g of Erythritol which is one of those common sugar alcohols I mentioned.

3. Ghost Vegan

Hands down, Ghost has one of the best tasting products I’ve tried. Their vegan and whey proteins come in quite unique flavors (cereal milk, chips ahoy, etc.) which makes consumption more enjoyable. It is not my first choice in terms of purchases, but I have seen results using this product and you do get 20g of protein per serving. Be mindful that the sodium level is a bit higher in this product and other “articifial flavors” are included.

4. One Bar / One Plant Bar

Again, one of the better tasting products on the market. I have tried almost all the flavors of their whey and plant-based bars. One makes a great snack for people constantly on the go and you can find them at any convenience store. I would just take the fat content, artificial flavorings, and level of sugar alcohol into account if you’re consuming on a daily basis. Personally, I enjoy these bars as fuel before a run, cycling class, or other cardio-based workout.

My go-to One bar picks.

5. No Cow Bar

Another easily accessible and OK-tasting plant bar that’s good to eat on the go. This is the highest here carb-wise, but could be a good addition to your diet depending on your macros. Again, the downside is the sugar alcohol that’s included.

These products have served me well and have aided me in reaching my designated macros day to day. If you’re not super keen on implementing protein supplements, remember there are many natural foods that you can use to bolster your diet. Edamame, Nuts, and hard-boiled eggs are quick and easy snacks that I add in my rotation.

Feel free to comment and share any brands/products/ natural foods that work for you!


Diet, fitness, health, Quarantine, Wellness

Let’s Talk Diet!

Lately I’ve been having difficulty finding topics to cover on this blog. So, as any good millennial would, I posed the following question to my Instagram followers: “What health/fitness topics would you want to read most about?” Unsurprisingly, I recieved a lot of responses and questions relative to diet.

Now, I have to begin by saying that I am not a registered dietician and the nutrition certification did not fall under my NASM training program. So while I cannot offer you advice on your specific situation, I can talk about the things that I have learned through trial and error on my fitness journey. Before I delve any further into this topic, it’s important to note that each body is different. So the only way to truly discover which foods (and quantities of such foods) will enhance your output/results is to consult with a nutritionist that can give you a personalized plan.

“My diet is the component that I struggle with the most even after (4) years on this fitness journey. Please know you’re not alone.”

My diet is the component that I struggle with the most even after (4) years on this fitness journey. Please know you’re not alone. Through trial and many many errors, I created the acronym M.A.P.P.S. to aid me in tackling the issue of my diet:


Regardless of what you’ve seen on instagram, it’s going to take time and effort to reach your fitness goals. Whether your goal is to increase strength, weight loss, or a combo of the two, you’re going to have to begin tracking the foods you eat each day. Now, I’m not saying be obsessive and calorie count, but you should have an idea of your nutrient intake per meal and whether some items you believed were healthy even are at all. Get ready to be surprised.. When I started tracking my macros, I realized I actually wasn’t eating enough food to reach my goals. I used the free version of My Fitness Pal which is very user friendly and allows you to enter your personalized macros and monitor whether you’re meeting the quantities allotted for each day.

Now what are macros you ask? It stands for macronutrients—proteins, carbs, and fats which are the 3 pillars that make up calorie content. I’m not going to go into extensive detail explaining the significance of macros, but the article I’ve linked above will teach you everything you need to know.


As I mentioned already, your diet will be a long and winding journey. I have had to change course and recalculate my macros and/or cycle foods in and out of my diet numerous times. It’s important to learn early on that you must monitor how your body responds to dietary changes and alter your practices as needed. Your macros are a guide of course, but as I mentioned earlier, each body is different. What should work in theory may not be applicable to you. Trust your gut, literally and figuratively.


Ah, protein. It’s a commonly overlooked component in many health/fitness journies. There are so many benefits to having enough protein in your diet (see article linked above). To my friends who are looking to build muscle, this is crucial for you. While I cannot tell you the exact quantity of protein you should be consuming, I can say this might be the area you’re lacking in. For the first few months of my fitness journey, I worked out without consuming adequate protein and I did lose some weight, but I saw minimal muscle growth. When I began increasing my protein intake, my weight loss was not only exacerbated, but I began to see substantial muscle definition. Presently, my calculated macros have me just shy of my bodyweight (in grams) in terms of protein consumption each day. In order to meet this goal, I do consume one protein bar and shake per day (both vegan/plant based protein). In terms of supplement brands, I will discuss my preferences in a later post.


One of the biggest struggles for me, even presently, is portion size. Our portions in America are much larger than necessary, therefore, we mentally and physically have normalized consumption beyond what our bodies need. My Fitness Pal has helped me with portion control also, but at times the lines can get blurred. Through reading and research of my own, I’ve learned to stick with using the size of my fist for portions. If all else fails and/or you’re willing to spend a bit more to get on track, there are many great pre-prepared meals that will also aid you terms of portion-control. Personally, I have enjoyed Freshly’s meals as each package outlines the contents and allows for easy input into My Fitness Pal. Ultimately, the best way to ensure you’re eating 100% cleanly is to cook your own meals. Freshly and many other companies do produce fairly-clean food options, but nothing beats your eyes seeing the exact contents of your meal.

One of my recent meals from Freshly.


The last letter in M.A.P.P.S. is honestly the most crucial. You can set numerous goals for yourself and invest in the necessary items, but your compliance is what matters most. I’ve found that creating outlandish goals and following trendy diets (Keto, Intermittent Fasting, etc.) don’t work well for me. My goal is to create a healthy and sustainable lifestyle and set myself up for long-term success. While diet-crazes may produce results in the short-term, it’s imporant to remember that your health/fitness journey is a marathon and not a sprint. The “finish line” is ever-changing and it’s best to set up a flexible plan that allows for life to happen.

I used to stick to Intermittent Fasting and while I’m not a proponent of it, I did see results. I found that my cravings were not as bad after adjusting fully, and was able to consistently reach a caloric deficit which is crucial for any sort of weight loss. As a student and a young professional in NYC, it did fit my lifestyle, but as time progressed it became unsustainanble for me. An example of what I presently eat on any day is as follows:

  • Breakfast: Coffee, egg whites (or whole eggs depending on my goals), oats or a piece of wheat toast (yes, you need carbs)
  • Snack: Protein Bar (+ a second coffee)
  • Lunch: Turkey Burger, Veggies + Hummus
  • Snack: Apple + Nuts (Peanuts, Almonds, etc.) + (occasional chips if i’m stressed lol)
  • *workout*
  • Snack: Protein Shake
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken (or other lean meat preferably), Veggies (Broccoli a lot), Cauliflower/Brown Rice (sometimes ill add a sauce + egg and make a stir-fry)

While this is one day, you have to keep in mind that my diet does not look like this every single day. I do often leave room for the unexpected, especially on the weekend.

Eating cake is OK. Having drinks with your friends is OK too. I do all of these things and I will not be stopping any time soon. I’ve learned from experience that restricting myself completely takes the freedom and joy out of my life. Through my journey, I have learned that what I can do is slightly modify each of these experiences to remain on track with my goals. If I’m having cake, I may take a smaller piece and scrape off the heaps of icing. I’m aware that alcohol has absolutely zero nutritional value, but when I do drink, I tend to cut myself off or stick with something less calorie-dense (i.e. vodka soda). Be proactive and create a sustainable plan for yourself!

While this quarantine is far from ideal, being isolated does give you the opportunity to truly hone in on your diet and analyze what you’re consuming day to day. It’s imperative that you find a sustainable plan and adjust it accordingly so that when quarantine finally does end, your habits are already established.

Feel free to comment any tips or experiences relative to this topic below!

Diet, fitness, health, Quarantine, Wellness

Who Cares About the “Quarantine 15”

Let’s talk quarantine. To be transparent, this pandemic completely derailed my fitness goals. I went from meal-prepping healthy options to cosuming comfort foods (i.e. pop-tarts, oreos, bagels) on a daily basis. For the first few weeks, I was able to maintain my diet and workout regimen–many of my favorite fitness studios (Barry’s, Aarmy, Y7) quickly launched online programming which I found to be comparable to the in-person experience.

Me doing a handstand push up during bootcamp, led by Akin Akman, one of the co-founders of AArmy (@akiniko).

Fast forward a few weeks….I fell off. Around week 5, I got furloughed from work, was in my apartment alone, and the darkness of NYC truly got to me. It was my first time on the line of depression. Zero endorphins, zero energy. As an extremely active person, I had no clue how to navigate this chapter. Interestingly, I developed one new habit—listening to Angela Davis’ inspiration each day on IGTV (@angelamanueldavis). She brought guests on each day to discuss various topics surrounding motivation and staying inspired to create during the pandemic. Through this, I somehow found the means to get the hell up and restart my commitment towards a better version of myself.

With my newfound inspiration (around week 7), I began to think about workout alternatives. I wanted my endorphins back, but had become bored with online workouts. Distance running is something that I’ve always struggled with, so I made the decision to give it a try and it worked for me! I began creating timed playlists each morning to run to at night when the streets were empty. A friend recommended that I try Strava, which gives you a summary of your run and allows you to track your daily, weekly, and/or monthly mileage and splits.

I soon learned that I could not run every day (recovery is crucial) so I began to use a jump rope and stretch on my off days. Jumping gave me the intensity and burn that I felt when running. I created playlists with songs of various tempos to jump to and found myself getting more and more invested in the creativity of it all.

Jumping rope on my rooftop to a playlist.

In addition to jumping back into workouts, I pushed myself to return to a healther diet. I started getting a weekly shipment of healthy meals from Freshly (I highly recommend for anyone new to healthy eating). The optimal way to eat cleanly is to cook your own meals, but I found Freshly to be one of the better ready-to-eat options. It gave me a lot of ideas in regards to my own meal prepping and allowed me to get accustomed to smaller portion sizes. Regardless of your fitness goal(s), it is important to understand of the amount you should be eating.

At the end of May, I fled NYC to quaratine with my best friend in California. I kept my routine, but also expanded my activities to include outdoor cycling and yoga. Through consuming a lot of self-help content, I was able to take a lot of pressure off of myself. I came to terms with the fact that yes, my body will be different for the time being. I’ve lost muscle mass, I’ve gained weight. It’s OK.

Presently, I’m much happier—my only fitness goal is to listen to my body. Some days I run and do a bootcamp, and other days I don’t workout at all.”

Presently, I’m much happier—my only fitness goal is to listen to my body. Some days I run and do a bootcamp, and other days I don’t workout at all. What’s changed is that now I refuse to look at rest as a bad thing. I’m aware that I overworked myself pre-pandemic and was causing more harm than good. To be honest, I’ve seen more positive changes physically and mentally than I did during months of hardcore working out pre-quarantine.

It doesn’t seem that we’ll be out of the woods for a while, so I urge you to put away the scale and get in touch with your body. Attempt something you wouldn’t under normal circumstances and then listen to your body’s reaction. Try a workout online, cook a healthier meal, or go for a run/long bike ride—you might surprise yourself!