2016 – My Year for Crushin’ Health & Fitness Goals! (Part 2: My Supplement and Protein Shake Reviews)

Naturally Oily Adventures Blog Post
December 20, 2016
Naturally Oily Adventures Blog Post

weight loss

 

Welcome to Part 2 of my blog series on my health and fitness journey of 2016.  I hope you’ve already had a chance to read Part 1 of my blog series.  If not, you can check it out here – Part 1: Intro to my Diet and Exercise Routine.  Part 2 will be my review of the supplements and protein shakes that I used during my fitness journey.  Please note, I am not paid to endorse any of these products, in fact the only one I stand to benefit from is the Young Living Slique Shake, assuming you order through me.  I’m just an average girl who tried a lot of different products and wanted to give you my honest opinion of them.  Hopefully, it will help you do your own research to make the best choice for supplements and/or protein shakes to support your weight management and fitness goals.   So, if that tickles your fancy, read on!

Saba 60

As I mentioned in Part 1 of my blog series, I began my journey with the Saba 60 program.  It is a direct sales company which many people don’t like but being a distributor for Young Living myself I appreciated the opportunity to help my friend who was a stay at home mom and distributor for Saba.  I was really impressed by the before and after pictures and testimonials of real people who had significant weight to lose so I did a ton of research into the ingredients and ultimately decided to give it a shot. What came in my program starter kit when I ordered was a bottle of Co-Clenz, a bottle of Saba ACE G2 and 1 package of Toppfast Shake (I chose Vanilla, also available in Chocolate).  It was a bit pricey at $120 for the initial starter kit that lasted 30 days and an autoship of $70 per month to continue the program.  So all told, 60 days on the program will cost you $190.  But can you really put a pricetag on weight loss?  I don’t know, but it was worth it to me in the end.

Co-Clenz – take 2 capsules before bedtime during the first 5 day Cleanse period to promote elimination and jump start your fat loss.  You also follow a pretty strict diet during the Cleanse period.  With each main meal you eat a half a grapefruit (or drink 8 oz grapefruit juice) to help jump start fat-burning.  There’s actually a lot of research to suggest that grapefruit can assist in dieting programs so I was down with that.  For breakfast they suggest 2 eggs and 2 slices of turkey bacon.  Lunch and Dinner are both salads with sugarless dressing and red, green or yellow vegetables (no corn or potatoes) and a lean meat or fish.  Midday and Evening snacks are celery and 1 Tbsp of peanut butter (you may not like celery but the promoters of the program are adamant that the celery is an important component of the diet plan because it is a good source of fiber and promotes weight loss – you get used to it.  I actually like celery and peanut butter as a healthy snack now).  And no coffee, soda or other caffeinated beverages.  Yeah, that part sucks.  Be prepared for withdrawal headaches, especially around day 3. I admit, I got REALLY sick of this menu after 5 days but it works.  I lost 6.4 lbs in the first 5 days alone.

Co-Clenz Ingredients: Barberry, Cascara Sagrada, Chinese Rhubarb, Fennel, Ginger, Psyllium, Red Raspberry, Senna, and Slippery Elm.

*Note: Co-Clenz is designed to promote elimination but can cause diarrhea or gastrointestinal distress to those who are sensitive to the ingredients.  If you experience any side effects, discontinue the product immediately.

The second part of the Saba 60 program involves taking the Saba ACE G2 supplement 1-2x per day and replacing one meal a day with the Saba Toppfast Shake.   They suggest you follow the Toppfast Trade Meal Plan that comes in your starter kit. I admit, I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly but did use it as inspiration for healthy food and snack options.  They’d have my head if I shared the meal plan here but the gist of it involves lean beef, chicken, turkey or fish with healthy fruits and vegetables, smart carb choices like oatmeal, brown rice, lentils, sweet potatoes and whole grains as well as incorporating healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds, and avocados.  Read below for more info on the Saba ACE G2 and Toppfast Shake.

Saba ACE G2 – the recommended dosage is one capsule in the morning with a full glass of water before breakfast and another capsule 4-6 hours later (no later than 4 p.m.) to help provide energy, promote fat loss, suppress appetite and boost mood.  I would highly recommend starting with just one capsule per day for the first couple days, especially since the product contains caffeine and other naturally occuring stimulants.  While I personally did not experience any jitters, it is the most common complaint about Saba ACE G2.  They also have another similar product called *NEW* Saba ACE that has less of the stimulants and many people prefer it.  But the stimulants are what help curb my appetite.  I don’t know what that little thing is in your brain that says “hey, you’re full, stop eating!” but I’m pretty sure I don’t have it.  I’m also pretty sure that I meet the DSM-5 criteria for a Binge Eating Disorder.  So for me, the appetite suppressant was the most important part of this supplement.  In fact, it was what I missed the most when I stopped following the Saba 60 program (read on for what I use now).

Saba ACE G2 Ingredients: Vitamin D, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and B12, Folic Acid, Pantothenic Acid, Chromium, Caffeine (160mg), Vanadium, Green Tea Leaf Extract (70% ECGC), Garcinia Cambogia (60% HCA), L-Tyrosine, L-Phenylalanine, Carnosyn (Beta Alanine), Bitter Orange fruit Extract, White Kidney Bean Extract, Green Coffee Bean Extract, Asian Ginseng Root Extract, L-Carnitine, Theobromine, Co-Enzyme Q10, Yohimbe Bark Extract, Saffron Bulb Extract, Bioperine, Cayenne Pepper Fruit Extract, and Huperzine A

Toppfast Shake – replace one meal a day with the Toppfast Shake.  In the Toppfast Trade Meal Plan it varies which meal you replace with the shake.  But as I mentioned, I didn’t follow the meal plan.  I chose to replace my lunch with the shake every day as this allowed me time to use my lunch break to go on walks.  Since I was very sedentary in my lifestyle and work as a mental health counselor sitting down with clients or at a computer all day, this was really important to my fitness journey.  I got the Vanilla flavor which honestly didn’t taste as bad as I feared.  It wasn’t a rich flavor though, so if you were used to something more rich, like Shakeology, you probably won’t like this.  They do have a Chocolate flavor too and many people say they like it better but I didn’t try it so I can’t say.  The Toppfast shake is really low on the calorie count, which you want for a rapid weight loss program.  So initially, this was a huge selling point.  However, it was ultimately why I discontinued following the Saba 60 program after 90 days because with my increased activity level I found that with only 70 calories and 8 g of protein it just wasn’t meeting my nutritional needs as much anymore.

Toppfast Shake (Vanilla) Nutritional Information: Calories 70, Calories from fat 5, Total fat 0.5 g, Saturated fat 0.5 g, Trans fat 0, Cholesterol 5 mg, Sodium 65 mg, Potassium 95 mg, Total carbohydrates 9 g, Dietary fiber 4 g, Sugars 5 g, and Protein 8 g.

Toppfast Shake (Vanilla) Ingredients: Soy Protein Isolate*, Nonfat dry milk*, Fructose, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Whey protein concentrate, Whey protein Isolate, Guar Gum, Milk Protein Concentrate*, Natural and Artificial Flavors*, Medium Chain Triclycerides, Maltodextrin, Calcium Carbonate, Herbal blend (green tea leaf extract, cinnamon twig extract, galangal rhizome extract), Magnesium Oxide, Silica, Acesulfame Potassium, Tocopheryl Acetate, Zinc Citrate, Sodium Selenite, Niacinamide, Folic Acid, Retinyl Acetate, D-Calcium Pahntothenate, Biotin, Manganese, Thiamin HCl, Copper Citrate, Cyanocobalamin and Chromium Polynicotinate

*Note: This product does contain milk and soy as well as artificial flavors.

Overall, I lost 20 pounds in the first 60 days and continued for another 30 days and my total weight loss while following Saba 60 was 25 pounds in 90 days! I credit the Saba 60 program for helping me realize that I actually could lose the weight.  My confidence and body image improved tremendously during the first 90 days of my journey and I would do it all over again if given the opportunity!  One thing that I really liked about the Saba 60 program was that I had constant support and encouragement in their Facebook groups.  If you don’t have the luxury of having a group of supportive people like my Sugar Plumps mamas then this is a big plus of this program!  It was so nice to see people encouraging one another and sharing motivational tips and meal planning.  People from all walks of life, including those with way more weight to lose than me and those who just wanted to lose a few pounds, all building each other up and no body shaming!

You can watch a quick little promotional video about Saba 60 or read more about Saba 60 and their other programs on Saba’s website – https://sabaforlife.com/

FitMiss Delight

When I discontinued the Saba 60 program I needed another alternative meal replacement shake because I found that I really enjoyed using my lunch breaks for daily walks and exercise.  My amazing hubby helped me research tons of options.  He’s an avid supporter of Bodybuilding.com because of the reputation of the product lines they carry so naturally this is where we looked first.  The product I settled on next was FitMiss Chocolate Delight meal replacement shake by MusclePharm.  Coming in at 90 calories and 16 g of protein this was a much better fit for my increasing nutritional demands as my activity level increased while still keeping my overall calorie count low.  I also liked that it had a proprietary “Greens and Fruit Blend” for added phytonutrients and immune support.  This was something the Toppfast didn’t have unless you added Saba’s NFuse, a separate product that costs even more money on top of the already expensive 60 day program (although I do see that you get a 5 packet sample with the new program that I didn’t get when I ordered).  The FitMiss Delight was also a lot less expensive than Saba with a 2 lb container (36 servings) for $28.98 (or just 80 cents per serving) vs $45 for the 30 day supply of Toppfast Shake if purchased separately ($1.50 per serving).  The flavor of the FitMiss Chocolate Delight was hands down better than the Vanilla Toppfast.  In fact, it still is one of my favorite flavors of protein shakes that I tried (read on to see which one wins the flavor award).  It was much richer and more filling for sure.  I admit though, I still used the remainder of my Saba ACE G2 supplement during most of the period when I was using this product.  I did find I got hungrier quicker when I ran out of my G2 and that ultimately led me to seek out other alternatives for appetite suppression (read on). Really, no complaints about this product except again as my activity level increased and I added morning workouts to my routine the calories and protein weren’t meeting my needs anymore.  That’s the only reason I switched.

FitMiss (Chocolate) Delight Nutritional Information: Calories 90, Calories from fat 10, Total fat 1.5 g, Saturated fat 0.5 g, Cholesterol 50 mg, Sodium 100 mg, Total carbohydrates 4 g, Dietary fiber 1 g, Sugars 1 g, Protein 16 g.

FitMiss (Chocolate) Delight Ingredients: Fitmiss Protein Blend [Whey Protein Isolate, Solathin, Potato protein, Egg Albumin*, Micellar Casein*, Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate], Cocoa Powder, Natural And Artificial Flavors*, Inulin, Flax Seed, Carboxymethylcellulose, Calcium Silicate, L-Glutamine, Salt, Protease, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Lactase, Potassium Citrate, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, Apple Extract, Artichoke Leaf Extract, Barley Grass Powder, Black Berry Fruit Powder, Blood Orange Powder, Broccoli Powder, Cherry Extract, Citrus Flavonoids, Cranberry Extract, Lemon Bioflavonoids, Mango Seed Extract, Pomegranate Rind Extract, Red Currant Powder, Spinach Powder, Strawberry Powder, Watermelon Powder.

*Note: This product contains milk, soy and egg and does contain artificial flavors.

Shakeology

I admit I didn’t get to try this product as long as I’d liked.  I was fortunate enough to win a couple free samples of Shakeology from a friend who is a BeachBody coach so I got to try it out but I have never purchased it because it is so expensive.  Shakeology retails for $129.95 for a 30 serving package ($4.33 per serving but still significantly less than ordering lunch out). However, there are some major selling points with Shakeology that I really like.  For starters, Shakeology boasts that their protein shakes contain NO artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors or soy!  They also have a proprietary phytonutrients blend for immune support as well as pre- and probiotics to aid in digestion. It is much harder to find less expensive products that can make the same claims so if this is important to you I encourage you to either read your ingredient labels very closely or just invest in Shakeology.

The samples I got to try were Vanilla and Chocolate flavors.  The first one I tried was the Vanilla (pictured) and I tried mixing it with water in my Blender Bottle like I had my Toppfast and FitMiss Delight.  I admit, it did not want to blend.  I had a really hard time getting all the little chunks to break up and it wasn’t as rich as I’d hoped.  However, I took my second sample of the Chocolate flavor and tried it at home, in my blender, with whole milk instead of water and let me tell you, hands down the BEST flavor of any protein shake I’ve tried.  It was super rich and creamy (I’m sure part of the creaminess was from the milk but milk substitutes like Almond or Cashew would most likely be amazing as well) and because I used a Vitamix, no chunks!  The chocolate flavor has 160 calories and 17 g of protein so as far as an all around meal replacement to help you feel full it’s got a much better nutritional profile than my first couple shakes.

Shakeology (Chocolate) Nurtitional Information: Calories 160, Calories from fat 20, Total fat 2 g, Saturated fat 1 g, Trans fat, 0 g, Monounsaturated fat 0.5 g, Polyunsaturated fat 0.5 g, Cholesterol 5 mg, Total carbohydrates 17 g, Dietary fiber 6 g, Sugars 6 g, Protein 17 g.

Shakeology (Chocolate) Ingredients: Protein Blend [Whey protein isolate (milk)*, Pea protein, Chia (seed), Flax (seed), Quinoa (seed)], Cacao (bean), Chlorella (whole plant), Pea fiber (seed), Yacon (root), Cordyceps (fungi), Acerola cherry (fruit), Chicory fiber (root), Pomegranate (fruit), Astragalus (root), Camu-Camu (fruit), Bilberry (bruit), Blueberry (fruit), Lycium berry (fruit), Spinach (leaf), Maitake (fungi), Reishi (fungi), Rose hips (fruit), MSM (Methysulfonylmethane), Ashwagandha (root), Enzyme Blend [Amylase, Cellulase, Lactase, Glucoamylase, Alpha-Galactosidase, Invertase], Kale (leaf), Luo Han Guo (fruit), Lactobacillus sporogenes (as Bacillus coagulans), Schisandra (fruit), Maca (root), Cinnamon (bark), Green tea extract (leaf), Moringa (leaf), Sacha inchi (seed), and Spirulina.

*Note: this product does contain milk but they also have Vegan alternatives in Chocolate and Strawberry!

If you don’t know any BeachBody coaches to order Shakeology or other BeachBody products from, let me give a shout out to my two amazing friends!

First up is Sara Sas.  She is one of my Sugar Plumps mamas and has been a huge inspiration for getting on board with my health and fitness journey (#momcrush).  She has support and challenge groups that she adds her BeachBody team members to which is one of the awesome advantages of joining their program.  They have tons of amazing workout programs, many of which you’ve probably heard of like P90x, 21 Day Fix Extreme, PiYo, Hammer and Chisel and Beast Body.  They also have a lot of information on nutritional lifestyles and are the creators of the 21 Day Fix (the little colored containers for different food groups).  Sara is super supportive and always willing to answer questions, no matter how silly they may seem.  Check out her BeachBody Team Page here – http://www.teambeachbody.com/sarasas08

My other amazing friend is Renunna Faulkenberry.  She is a close personal friend, local to North Alabama that I have known for many years.  She got serious about her fitness a little before I did and has been in beast mode during 2016!  Ren is particularly inspiring to me because while I’ve made excuses about not exercising for years and baby stepped my way up through various fitness programs she just jumped all in and has been killing it all year.  Did I mention she only has 1 leg?  Yup!  I have trouble doing these types of programs with 2 fully functioning legs.  I have no idea how she can do what she does with a prosthetic.   She also has one of the best sense of humors I’ve ever encountered.  Ren is just getting started with her BeachBody coaching business but if she sounds like someone you’d like to meet and be inspired by, check out her BeachBody Team Page here – http://www.beachbodycoach.com/esuite/home/Rensf2

Slique Shake

Young Living introduced their new Slique Shake, a supplement to the Slique Complete line of weight management products, at their 2016 International Grand Convention.  It sold out wicked fast and it was a couple months before I was fortunate enough to get to try it out.   Like Shakeology, it boasts a Vegan-friendly formula, Non-GMO ingredients, and NO artificial colors, flavors or preservatives plus it has lots of essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which as I mentioned before are huge selling points to me!  Plus, if you get bored with the traditional Chocolate and Vanilla flavors that many protein shakes come in you’ll be pleased to know that the Slique Shake comes in a Berry  flavor.  My first impression of the flavor was a bit disappointing but keep in mind that we are exposed to lots of artificial flavors and sweeteners in our American diets so most of what initially gave me pause was that it’s color was kinda of meh and it wasn’t super sweet.  I tried it first with water and like the Shakeology it did not like to blend well in my Blender Bottle.  However, at home mixed with milk in my Vitamix it is on point!  The serving suggestion is actually to mix with 1 cup of Almond Milk so if I’d bothered to read the directions first I might have started with milk or a milk alternative. Now that I’ve adjusted to the flavor I actually really like it when I want a break from chocolate or vanilla.  Coming in at 190 calories and 16 g of Protein the Slique Shake is comparable to Shakeology in its nutritional profile as well.  A 15 pack of Slique Shake has a Wholesale price of $49.75 (or $3.31 per serving) putting it on the upper end of the price point of the protein shakes I’ve tried.  But again, less expensive shakes often can’t make the same claims with regards to purity of ingredients.

Slique Shake Nuritional Information: Calories 190, Calories from fat 50, Total fat 6 g, Saturated fat 4 g, Trans fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 410 mg, Total carbohydrates 23 g, Dietary fiber 7 g, Sugars 11 g, Protein 16 g.

Slique Shake Ingredients: Pea protein isolate, Isomalto-oligosaccharide, Medium chain triglycerides, Tapioca dextrose, Organic coconut palm sugar, Natural flavor, Organic quinoa powder, Organic pumpkin seed protein, Xanthan gum, Strawberry fruit powder, Sodium citrate, Malic acid, Fruit & vegetable extract blend (Green tea leaf extract, Guarana seed extract, Red & white grape extracts, Grapefruit extract, Black carrot extract, Vitamin B3), Alfalfa grass juice powder, Organic wolfberry fruit powder, Stevia, Slique essential oil (Grapefruit rind oil, Tangerine rind oil, Spearmint leaf oil, Lemon rind oil, Ocotea leaf oil, Stevia leaf extract), Vitamins and Minerals: Dipotassium phosphate, Monosodium phosphate, Magnesium oxide, Zinc gluconate, Organic B vitamin blend (Guava extract, Holy basil extract, Citrus limon extract), Ascorbic acid, Molybdenum glycinate, Niacin, Copper gluconate, Biotin, Vitamin A acetate, Sodium selenite, d-Calcium pantothenate, Chromium nicotinate glycinate chelate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine HCl, Potassium iodide, and Methylcobalamin

Please check out my signup page to join Young Living as a Wholesale Member and save 24% off retail prices of all Young Living essential oils, supplements and products like Slique Shake!

RSP Whey Protein Blend and Amino Lean

Next up are two of my current supplements. Both are RSP products that we purchase through Bodybuilding.com.

RSP Whey Protein Blend – The RSP Whey Protein Blend is the protein powder that both my husband and I both use now.  He uses it more as an post-workout protein supplement and I use it as a meal replacement shake like the other shakes I’ve mentioned previously.  We’ve used both Chocolate and Vanilla flavors but they also have a Cookies and Cream flavor as well.  The Chocolate is definately not as rich as the Shakeology or even the FitMiss and quite honestly left something to be desired.  Plus, my last order of the Chocolate was way off and tasted absolutely disgusting, like it had too much or not enough of some ingredient.  It was almost metallic tasting.  The Vanilla flavor is really really good, however!  It kind of reminds me of birthday cake ice cream but not quite as sweet.  Both blend well with 12 oz of water in my Blender Bottle making them easy to take on the go. Both flavors have been on sale on Bodybuilding.com for awhile now though so my husband and I speculate they may be about to reformulate.  The current prices (as of December 20, 2016) are $17.97 for 2 lbs (69 cents per serving) or $34.97 for 4 lbs (66 cents per serving) making it by far the least expensive of the protein powders. And at 130 calories and 23 g of protein, this has been the best fit for me overall when you factor in cost and nutritional profile.  The biggest downside is that it does contain soy and artificial flavors.  I also wish it had a phytonutrient blend but you have to personally weigh the pros vs the cons based on your needs.

RSP Whey Protein Blend (Vanilla) Nutritional Information: Calories 130, Calories from fat 20, Total fat 2.5 g, Saturated fat 1 g, Trans fat 0 g, Cholesterol 60 mg, Sodium 125 mg, Potassium 170 mg, Total carbohyrates 5 g, Dietary fiber 2 g, Sugars 3 g, Protein 25 g

RSP Whey Protein Blend (Vanilla) Ingredients: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Concentrate, Milk Protein Isolate*, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Isolate), Polydextrose, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Natural & Artificial Flavors*, Gum Blend (Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan), Sucralose, Papain, Protease

*Note: This product contains milk, soy and artificial flavors.

Amino Lean – I mentioned previously that the thing I missed the most about the Saba 60 program was the ACE G2 supplement.  Round about the time I started using the RSP Whey Protein Blend I was complaining to my husband about feeling like I wanted to just graze all day he suggested I try one of his preworkout supplements called Amino Lean.  This product is also made by RSP and is an amino acid blend designed to help build muscle and promote fat loss.  It also has some caffeine and a small appetite suppressing quality to it without the jitters that many other stimulant products can cause. It’s a powder that comes in Watermelon or Lemon Lime flavor that can be added to your water. 1 serving is 2 scoops.  I found this worked well to provide moderate energy and some appetite suppression when I used it twice daily, once in the morning before I worked out and once about 30 minutes before my lunchtime walk.  I prefer the Watermelon flavor but admit that the artificial flavors, sweeteners and colors are a big turnoff.  I prefer to take a capsule blend that doesn’t need all these other things to make it taste good.  But the price is pretty reasonable at $19.97 for 30 servings (67 cents per serving) and Bodybuilding.com often does BOGO sales on Amino Lean.

Amino Lean Ingredients: Amino Acid Blend [L-Taurine, Beta Alanine (CarnoSyn), L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, L-Glutamine, L-Citrulline, L-Arginine, L-Tyrosine, L-Histidine, L-Lysine Hydrochloride, L-Phenylalanine, L-Threonine, L-Methionine], Fat Loss Blend [Conjugated Linoleic Acid Powder, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, Green Tea Extract (Camellia Sinensis)(Leaf)(Standardized for 50% EGCG), Green Coffee Extract (Bean)], Energy and Focus Blend [Caffeine (from green tea), Theobromine], Citric Acid, Natural & Artificial Flavors*, Silicon Dioxide, Sucralose, Gum Blend (Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan), Malic Acid, Acesulfame Potassium, Calcium Silicate, Red #40, Blue #1.*

*Note: this product contains flavors, sweeteners and colors

My Current Line Up

So here we are at the end of 2016 and this is my current supplement line up.  You’d think I’d get some sort of endorsement deal with RSP for as many products of theirs as I seem to use but alas, I do not.  Maybe one day although I doubt I will ever enter into the world of competitive bodybuilding or fitness endorsements.  But who knows, never say never, right?  So these are the products I’m currently using and my thoughts on each.

RSP Whey Protein Blend – see review above for more info.  Still using daily as a meal replacement shake for my lunch so I can go for a walk or run during my lunch break first.  Nice to know I get to pack a little extra post-workout protein punch with this blend as it has the highest protein of any of the protein shakes I’ve used.

GlycologBlackstone Labs is another of my husbands go-to brands of fitness supplements.  He loves their Dust Extreme as a pre-workout but it’s apparently “not for beginners” because it made me feel like I was in hyperdrive, ready to run a marathon, clean the house and solve ALL the world’s problems in one fell swoop! lol  So needless to say, that’s not one I have used more than once.  But Glycolog is their new product designed to “maximize insulin utilization, increase insulin sensitivity, improve glucose metabolism, enhance fat loss, and stimulate glycogen storage” which is fancy speak for helping the body process the carbohydrates in your diet more efficiently.  It’s designed to be taken with carb-heavy meals.  My husband takes this a lot more than me because our diets are very different but I use this as an “as needed” supplement for when I eat out or we have a carb heavy meal at home.  I swear to you it has been a lifesaver over the holidays since no one brings healthy, low-carb dishes to holiday potlucks…  While I have no science to back up that this actually works for me, anecdotally I feel like I’ve been able to keep off the holiday weight gain (and in fact continue to lose a few pounds) despite allowing myself to indulge more than I normally would.  Of course this is coupled with sensible eating the rest of the week and maintaining my exercise routine.  It’s a little pricey though at $69.99 for 60 servings (or $1.17 per serving) with a recommended dosage of 2 servings per day ($3.42 per day).

Glycolog Ingredients: Chromium (as Chromium Polynicotinate), 10:1 Gymnema Leaf Extract, Bitter Melon, Super Berberine (Berberine-Cyclodextrin Complex), 25:1 Cinnamon Bark Extract, Sodium R-Lipoate, BioPerine (Black Pepper Fruit Extract), Magnesium Stearate, and Silicon Dioxide.

Want to know more about Glycolog?  Check out Blackstone Lab’s Glycolog webpage for a little informational video and more information on this and all their products.

RSP Quadra Lean Quadra Lean is a Thermogenic Fat Burner that is designed to help burn fat while increasing energy and boosting metabolism.  It is by far my new favorite supplement and my current replacement for my Saba ACE G2.  I’ll be honest it took me a couple days to adjust to it though.  I probably should have started lower than the recommended 3 capsules per serving.  I never got the jitters but could tell I took some sort of stimulant and just felt a little off until I got used to the feeling.  So if you are sensitive to caffeine, other natural stimulants or have had a bad reaction to products like Saba ACE G2 then this is probably not the product for you. I’d recommend in your case to stick with something like Amino Lean with less of a stimulant effect.  Part of the getting used to this product was also the thermogenic effect (i.e., burning calories to produce heat) which means that it can cause you to flush or feel warm when it kicks in.  This usually subsides pretty quickly but it was definitely noticeable when I first started taking it.  I also find I like this product more on the weekends when I can take it, eat breakfast, wait for my food to digest and the supplement to kick in (usually 1-1 1/2 hours after taking it is when I notice it’s full effect) before I work out.  Through the week I’m more rushed and while I take it as soon as I wake up I only have maybe 20-30 minutes max for it to kick in before I work out and I cook breakfast after I work out due to time constraints.  By then the appetite suppressing qualities of this supplement often make it so I don’t want to eat.  It doesn’t make it to where I get sick if I do, just decreases my appetite so I just make myself eat what I know is the appropriate amount of nutrition (I eat the same thing for breakfast every day so this is pretty easy).  This supplement is pricier than some but less than others coming in at $29.97 for 60 servings (50 cents per serving) but again is often offered as a BOGO on Bodybuilding.com.  Compared to Saba ACE G2’s which is $60 for a 60 count bottle (or $1 per serving) when sold separately.

RSP Quadra Lean Ingredients: Weight Loss Blend [Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Powder, Acetyl-L-Carnitine Hydrochloride], Energy Blend [Citrus Aurantium (Bitter Orange), Natural Caffeine (from Green Tea)], Neuro Blend [Choline Bitartrate, Alpha GPC 50% (Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline)], Thermogenisis Blend [Yohimbe bark extract, Cayenne Pepper fruit extract], Gelatin, Plant Cellulose, Silicon Dioxide, Magnesium Stearate, and Titanium Dioxide.

Micronized Creatine – Creatine is probably one of the most talked about supplements in bodybuilding and weight lifting circles because it is scientifically proven to help increase muscle strength and size, enhance recovery, improve sprint performance and enhance brain function.  I’ve only recently added this supplement to my routine given my shift to wanting to build more lean muscle mass rather than just losing weight.  We use Bodybuilding.com’s own brand of Micronized Creatine.  It’s a simple, single ingredient, tasteless powder that you can add to water.  No artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners!  Wish all powders were like this but I suspect many of the others have ingredients that don’t taste good and they have to add all the rest to mask the flavor.  It’s also really affordable at just $9.99 for 100 servings (10 cents per serving) or $15.27 for 200 servings (just 8 cents per serving) making it not only one of the most important but also the least expensive supplement I take.

Micronized Creatine Ingredients: Micronized Creatine Monohydrate

Read more about the benefits of Creatine supplementation here – Creatine: Why Use It? Scientific Support to Back its Benefits

Amino Lean – see product review above for more information.  Now that I use the Quadra Lean as my pre-workout and energy supplement/appetite suppressant I find that I don’t use the Amino Lean as often.  However, on days when I workout in the morning but then want to run on my lunch break I will sometimes add a couple scoops to my water for a little energy boost.

ReGen BCAA – Yet another RSP product, ReGen BCAA is an Branched-Chain Amino Acid supplement designed to help muscles recover faster and protect them from catabolic breakdown when dieting (basically you want to burn the fat, not the muscle, and the leaner your body gets the more risk you have of losing muscle mass as the body tries to hold on to its fat stores).  ReGen BCAA also adds raw coconut water for electrolytes and to help rehydrate the body after a strenuous workout.  There are tons of BCAA supplements on the market and I’ll be honest this is the only one I’ve ever used so I don’t have a lot of comparison.  But it does seem to help me bounce back after my morning workouts and afternoon runs.  It tastes pretty good too!  Like the Amino Lean, ReGen BCAA is available in both Watermelon and Lemon Lime (I prefer the Watermelon) but does also contain artificial flavors, sweeteners and colors.  🙁 It’s also pretty reasonably priced.  We get the 50 serving container for $39.97 (80 cents per serving) and its another one that Bodybuilding.com often does BOGO deals on.

ReGen BCAA Ingredients: Magnesium (as Magnesium Citrate), Sodium (as Sodium Citrate), Potassium (as Potassium Chloride), BCAA 2:1:1 Blend (L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, L-Citrulline Malate, Raw Coconut Water Concentrate, Black Pepper fruit extract, Natural and Artificial Flavors*, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, Silicon Dioxide, Citric Acid, Red #40*.

*Note: this product contains flavors, sweeteners and colors

Read more about the benefits of BCAA supplementation here – BCAAs: The Many Benefits of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplements

Vitamins and Other Supplements

In case anyone is curious, here is my line up of daily vitamins and other supplements I take.  While I try to eat healthy and get most of my dietary needs from the foods I eat there is benefit to added supplementation in certain cases.  I’m not going to do full product reviews for each of these vitamins and supplements so much as just give you a little bit of the rationale behind why I feel they are important supplementation to my diet and lifestyle.

Nature’s Made Prenatal Vitamin – Now you may be wondering why I take a prenatal vitamin when I’m not pregnant.  No, I’m not trying to concieve (in fact its looking like my daughter will be our only child).  The biggest motivating factor is that Prenatal vitamins contain higher amounts of Iron than other daily multi-vitamins and I’m borderline anemic (meaning for several days each month, if you catch my drift, I could test positive for anemia when the rest of the time I’m just on the low end of normal) and my mom’s claim to fame is she can tell where I’m at in my monthly cycle just by looking at me.  I can get an almost greenish hue to my skin tone at certain times of the month.  The research is mixed with regards to the idea of taking a prenatal when you are not pregnant or ttc.  Some advocates claim it helps promote strong healthy hair and nails and glowing skin.  However, those against the idea refer to the gastrointestinal side effects of added folic acid which can cause gas, bloating, loss of appetite or even nausea (none of which have ever happened to me), the increased iron (which if you are not iron deficient like I am you should probably avoid) and the lower levels of calcium (which I can live with since I supplement with an extra calcium + D3 tablet anyway).  So suffice it to say, you should do your research before choosing to take a Prenatal if you aren’t ttc, pregnant or nursing.  If I can ever find a daily multi-vitamin that contains higher amounts of iron without having to take a super expensive Rx iron supplement then I might be convinced to switch.

Nature’s Made Magnesium – Did you know that Magnesium Deficiency is the #1 nutrient deficiency in adults?  As many as 80% of adults in the US could be magnesium deficient!  Wow!  Some researchers suggest that this could be due to declining nutrients in our fruits and vegetables over the years leading to speculation about whether or not modern day man can get enough magnesium from diet alone.  I actually started taking Magnesium several years ago when I learned that magnesium deficiency is one of the leading causes of migraine headaches. A friend had suggested that my frequent “sinus headaches” may have actually been nontraditional migraine headaches (I don’t get auras or vomitting but can have sensitivity to light and sound) according to her migraine doctor.  So I did a little research and figured adding a Magnesium supplement to my daily regimen was a simple solution. In addition to headaches, magnesium deficiency can also cause anxiety, difficulty sleeping, muscle aches and pains, and digestive issues some of which I’ve also struggled with so I thought “why not?”  And to be honest, my headaches have decreased substantially since I started taking Magnesium.  It has recently come to my attention, however, that the Nature’s Made Magnesium that I take is sourced from Magnesium Oxide which is the lowest bioavailability (suggesting that only about 4% of the supplement is absorbed) of the different Magnesium sources.  It’s also one of the least expensive so it’s the most common source found in Magnesium supplements.  So I need to hunt down a better Magnesium supplement, ideally from Magnesium Chloride.  But its looking like I may need to switch to the oil instead.  So I’ve got some ideas for new deodorant recipes that replace my Milk of Magnesia with a Magnesium oil or spray to see if I can develop a clear recipe that keeps my BO in check and gives me my daily dose of Magnesium! Wouldn’t that be cool!?!

Kirkland Signature Calcium + D3 – While Calcium is one of the supplements research suggests you are better off getting from your diet, I historically don’t eat a lot of dairy.  I don’t drink milk at all and rarely will mix it with my protein shakes.  I do eat Cottage Cheese in the morning and will occasionally snack on Greek Yogurt in the evenings but that’s about it.  Of course calcium is also naturally occurring in vegetables, such as Kale, Collard greens, broccoli and spinach but I want to make sure that I get enough Calcium in my diet.  My paternal grandmother was a tiny woman to begin with but developed Osteoporosis as she got older and shrunk several inches, had a small hunch to her back and lots of bone and joint problems which I would like to avoid.  Plus, taking the supplement with added D3 ensures that my Calcium is properly absorbed by my body.  Calcium is one of the vitamins you can overdo it with though so I stick with the one tablet per day and focus on getting the rest of my calcium through my diet.

Kirkalnd Signature Sustainably Sourced Wild Alaskan Fish Oil – Fish Oil contains 2 types of omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).  Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can provide a wide range of health benefits, including cardiovascular support, improved cholesterol, immune system and even mental health support! As far as the bodybuilding world is concerned, taking a fish oil supplement with meals can enhance your body’s anabolic response to a meal, meaning it helps you build muscle and has an anti-inflammatory effect which may help in muscle recovery!  For these purposes they usually recommend getting in between 2-4 g of EPA and DHA combined per day which is way more than just 1 supplement.  It would generally be recommended to get as much omega-3 fatty acids from your diet and then supplement with a high quality gel capsule.  Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include: flaxseed oil, fish oil (salmon), chia seeds, walnuts, fish roe (cavier), cured and canned fish (mackerel, herring, anchovies, salmon and sardines), fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, swordfish, etc.), seafood (oysters, muscles, squid and clams), soybeans, and spinach.  Other veggies with a fair amount of omega-3 fatty acid include winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and broccoli.

Kirkland Signature Glucosamine Chondroitin – Glucosamine and Chondroitin are parts of normal cartilage which acts as a cushion between your joints.  With age and injury, the body tends to lose cartilage over time which can result in Osteoarthritis.  While the scientific research is mixed, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence and personal testimony that suggests taking a Glucosamine Chondroitin supplement can slow development or Osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain.  But my increased activity levels and learning to maintain proper form during my exercises has taken it’s toll on my knees.   So I figure “Why not? Can’t hurt!”  And for what it’s worth, I do notice on the days that I forget to take it that I’m more aware of my knee discomfort throughout the day.

So there you have it.  Part 2 of my 2016 Health & Fitness blog series: My Supplement and Protein Shake Reviews.  I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey! If you missed it, make sure to check out Part 1 of my blog series: Intro to my Diet and Exercise Routine and be sure to keep an eye out for Part 3: Oily Tips & Tricks to Help You Reach Your Goals!

Also be on the look out for an invite to my 2017: New Year New You online class about using essential oils to help meet your health and fitness goals!  If you’re not my friend on Facebook, or aren’t one of my usual suspects, and want an invite, comment below with your email and/or Facebook name or PM me on Facebook and I’ll be sure to add you to the guest list!

Disclaimer:  I am not a health professional, certified trainer or nutritionist.  I am merely an average girl just like you who got sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I have been asked about what I’ve been doing to have the results I have been blessed with so wanted to share the love!  Please consult with your medical professional to ensure that you are healthy enough for increased activity levels and/or a nutritionist to ensure that any dietary needs you may have are being met by whatever nutritional program you choose. 

 

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