Brandon Hendrickson, the 2018 Men's Physique Mr. Olympia, knows a thing or two about getting shredded. Here's his top three tips to help you get shredded this summer! 
Unfortunately, almost everything found in those vending machines is unhealthy and something that does not align with your health and fitness goals. For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of healthy snack options you should always plan to have on hand when those situations arise.
Healthy Snacks to Keep You Lean
Portability, convenience, and taste: that sums up the perfect snacks. How do you combine all 3 and keep your physique while also having a life and taking a vacation? This is the piece for those who aren’t consumed by fitness. It may be your lifestyle but you understand how to have fun and live a balanced life while enjoying it.
1. Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are essentially the fitness equivalent of granola bars. While they’re not new per se, they’re becoming more and more popular within the health fitness sector given their nutritive value along with the easy and preparation and portability. Here’s what you’ll need: 1/2 Cup oats 1 Scoop chocolate Beast Protein 2 Tbsp chia/hemp seeds 1/2 Cup Greek yogurt (I use less protein when I add GY) 2 Tbsp of cocoa 1-2 Servings of frozen/fresh fruit Liberal amounts of cinnamon Pinch of salt Toss all the ingredients into a Tupperware container and mix thoroughly - add water until you reach your desired consistency. Toss the container in the fridge overnight and the oats will slowly absorb the water and soften. PRO TIP: If you like your oats a little runny, you can opt for more water and no Greek yogurt. However, I prefer them a little thicker so I typically use less water and more Greek yogurt. In the morning, you’ll have a convenient breakfast option or even a midday snack. Easy to prepare and easy to transport - best of both worlds!
2. Smoothies
When I work with clients face-to-face or online, one of the first quick breakfast or snack options I typically recommend is a smoothie, NOT a protein shake. Why? Well, I’m finding that more and more within the fitness industry we have this silent epidemic of gut dysfunction and protein shakes can certainly contribute to preexisting issues. Smoothies are great alternative as they usually contain a few ingredients, which necessitate chewing. This is the crucial piece of the puzzle that’s missing with protein shakes - gulp and swallow as opposed to bite and chew. If you’re not too familiar with the gastrointestinal system, digestion essentially begins in the mouth when you start chewing via something known as salivary amylase. As you chew, this sends a signal from your brain to your stomach to begin secreting hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes, and bile to assist in the digestion of your meal. However, many people are bypassing the first step in the digestion process when they default to protein shakes with only liquid. You can reduce the chance of corresponding GI distress with protein shakes by simply switching to smoothies, which include a chewable element (nuts, shredded coconut, frozen fruit, etc). Here’s one of my favorite recipes: 1 Frozen Banana A Cup Chocolate Almond Milk 1 Scoop Beast Protein 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder 2 Tbsp Hemp or Chia Seeds 1 Cup Frozen Spinach 2 Tbsp Almond Butter Toss it all in a blender and pulse to your desired consistency. Don’t forget to chew a bit though!
3. Beef Jerky
I have yet to meet a male who didn’t like beef jerky. But females on the other hand - you all are a tough crowd sometimes. But, nonetheless, there is an easy solution to this problem: simply make your own and flavor it the way you like. I used to have a coworker who would wait until sirloin went on sale at the grocery store and then she would clean house and buy up most of what they had to freeze for later. She had her own dehydrator and would often bring new flavor options and jerky recipes she was working on. Hey, I certainly wasn’t complaining because homemade beef jerky is 1,000 times better than what you get in the store. Best of all, you get to control what it tastes like. Not only that, dehydrators don’t require you to sit over a stove for hours on end. Toss your meat in a marinade for a couple hours (or simply season to taste) and then throw in the dehydrator for a few more hours. Way cheaper, much tastier, and individualized exactly to your taste buds.
4. No Bake Protein Balls
Sometimes protein powder is a pain. It sticks to your fingers, get everywhere, and ends up clumpy when you mix it. Enter the protein ball. These are portable, easy to make and cost effective. Here’s what you’ll need: 2 Scoops Beast Protein 3/4 Cup cashews 1/2 Cup rolled oats 2 Tbsp Peanut/almond butter (PB2 works also as a low-calorie alternative) 2 Tbsp cocoa powder 1 Tbsp honey 2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips Pinch of salt Blend all the dry ingredients (cashews, protein powder, oats, cocoa powder, salt) until they resemble a finely mixed powder. Add the honey, peanut/almond butter, and mini chocolate chips, and mix by hand until the batter begins to take on a “sticky” texture. NOTE: You may need to add a touch of water from time to time to improve the texture of the batter. Adding 1-2 Tbsp at a time is usually the best strategy to ensure it doesn’t get too runny. You’ll most likely need a food processor or a heavy-duty blender in order to make these but the final steps can be processed by hand if you prefer your chocolate chips to be whole. On the plus side, these can be put in the freezer if need be.
5. Fruit and Protein “Dip”
Did you know that you can turn protein powder into peanut butter or caramel sauce? Well, maybe not the same flavor but you can mimic the texture at least. I began to experiment with this when I was making endless peanut butter sandwiches back in my college days. I got tired of carrying around protein shakes with my sandwiches, so instead I would simply mix up the protein and spread it on the bread along with the peanut butter. Turns out, most protein powders contain thickening agents such as xantham or guar gum which help to enhance the palatability (i.e. “mouth feel”) of certain products. Typically powders advise you use 6-8 oz. of water to make a shake. Well, if you use 3-4 Tbsp of water and progressively mix, the powder will dissolve and you’ll be left with a sticky toffee-like consistency, which can spread on anything or be used as a topping/dip. PRO TIP: This works exceedingly well with chocolate protein and peanut butter. #Reeses
The new year is well underway and hopefully your diet is on track. But if you’re like most people, you may be struggling to meet your New Year’s resolutions. Super bowl parties. Work events. Family BBQs. It seems there’s always events popping up to distract you from your diet goals. However, in the grand scheme of things a single party or special event shouldn’t be the largest detractor from your health and fitness goals. Your biggest dieting threat from a nutritional perspective will almost always come from consistent, low-level stimuli. Let me explain… Have you ever noticed how people often have a hard time keeping their hand out of the jar of candy on their desk? What about the little kid constantly raiding the cookie jar? We want what we’re constantly reminded we can’t have. Now, don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to live a life of long-term diet restraint. Instead, you simply need to understand how to synergistically align preferences with taste and long term goals. With a little bit of kitchen prep time and some simple, healthy ingredients, these diet snacks will help to keep you full without sacrificing time or taste!
1.    Double Chocolate Almond Butter Bars
  Protein bars are part of every New Year’s resolutioner’s diet dream: prepackaged, somewhat healthy, and beneficial in improving one’s body composition. But they can get expensive. Here’s how to save a few bucks and make your own! Ingredients ·      2 Scoops Chocolate Beast Protein ·      ¼ Cup Cocoa Powder ·      ¼ Cup Almond Flour ·      ½ 80% Dark Chocolate Bar ·      ¼ Cup Almond Butter ·      2 Tbsp Honey ·      ½ Cup Chocolate Almond Milk ·      Cinnamon to taste Instructions 1.     Combine the protein, almond flour, and cocoa powder. Mix thoroughly. 2.    Next, add the wet ingredients (almond butter, almond milk, and honey). Ensure the mixture has an even texture. 3.     Shape the dough into 6 individual bars. 4.     Melt half of the 80% cocoa dark chocolate bar in the microwave and drizzle over the bars. 5.     Place the bars in the fridge and allow them to set for 2-3 hours before indulging. Nutrition Facts (Serves 6) Fat: 10g // Carbohydrate: 14g // Protein: 14g Total Calories: 202
2.    Protein Butter and Jelly Sandwich
  Who doesn’t love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Most kids grow up on PB&J but it’s not the most nutritious option given it’s somewhat lacking in the protein department. However, most folks don’t realize that if you mix protein with a small amount (1-2 Tbsp) of water, you can get a PB like texture and apply it to nearly anything. Here’s how you can recreate a high protein, diet friendly version of your favorite childhood food! Ingredients ·      2 Slices Whole Grain Bread ·      1 Scoop Chocolate Peanut Butter Beast Protein ·      2 Tbsp Raspberry Preserves Instructions 1.     Mix the whey with a single tablespoon or two of water until it resembles a pseudo-paste consistency. 2.     Spread the mixture over a slice of bread, just as you would for peanut butter. 3.     Spread the jelly over the other slice and finalize the assembly of your high protein PB&J. Nutrition Facts (Serves 1) Fat: 3g // Carbohydrate: 66g // Protein: 31g Total Calories: 417
3.    Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
  Reese’s, the classic American icon. We know they taste great, but the ingredients and macronutrient profile are lacking. Here’s how to make your own with only 4 ingredients! Ingredients ·      ½ Cup Almond Butter ·      One Scoop Vanilla Beast Protein ·      One Scoop Chocolate Beast Protein ·      1 90% Dark Chocolate Bar ·      1 Tbsp Coconut Oil Instructions 1.     Combine the almond butter and vanilla whey isolate in a large bowl. The mixture should be somewhat thick and a little sticky. Roll into 8 individual balls. Utilize a muffin tin, place liners in each cup, and place 1 ball into each individual liner. 2.     Combine the coconut oil and dark chocolate bar and melt in the microwave or saucepan. Once fully liquefied, add the chocolate whey isolate and stir until smoothly incorporated. 3.     Add 1-2 teaspoons of the chocolate mix to each liner. Place the muffin tin in the freezer and allow the chocolate to set. 4.     Remove the tin from the freezer and press the peanut butter ball flat into the cup. Cover the top of the cup with more of the chocolate mix and then return the tin to the freezer to allow the cups to fully harden. Nutrition Facts (Serves 8) Total Fat: 16g // Total Carbohydrate: 5g // Protein: 12g Total Calories: 212
4.    Protein “Dip”
  Chips and dip. Pretzels and cheese. Apples and peanut butter. Wings and ranch. Americans love complimentary food groups. That’s not to say you have to live life without chips and dip. But you probably can’t consume them regularly if you have health or aesthetic goals in mind. However, you can easily convert protein powder into a sweet dip which you can utilize with almost any food: pretzels, fruit, nuts - you name it! Ingredients ·      1 Tbsp Coconut Oil ·      A Scoop Vanilla or Chocolate Beast Protein Instructions 1.     Melt the coconut oil in a sauce pan or microwave. 2.     Slowly add the whey and stir to combine. 3.     Choose your desired food for dipping and enjoy! **PRO TIP: You may have to add a slight amount of water to reach the desired pseudo “icing” texture. Nutrition Facts (Serves 1) Total Fat: 14g // Total Carbohydrate: 2g // Protein: 24g Total Calories: 230
  • 4 min read
DEADCEMBER Nutrition Plan: The Season of Grains and Gains
Over the next 30 days the Christmas cookies and egg nog will be flowing freely. Most have little concern for their body composition or nutrition plan through the holidays as the focus is on family, friends, and making memories. However, this can be an excellent opportunity to spur some new muscle growth and put those excess calories to use. However, most assume this means a free for all. They consume calories ad libitum and train occasionally to stave off the metabolic consequences of a high sugar, high fat, and high alcohol intake. While that approach may appeal to the masses given the simplicity and lack of dietary restriction, it will likely result in nothing more than long-term frustration and a general state of poor health. You need a game plan and you needed it yesterday. Here it is.
Time Your Liquids
If you’re like most regular gym goers, you’re probably somewhat conscious about your liquid calorie intake. But, the holidays have a way of making people forget about their habitual routines. Here’s how to eat, drink, and be merry while still prioritizing your health and wellness.  
  If you’re going to consume liquid calories in the form of sugar (soda, juice, tea, etc.), you should probably try to time most of those liquids to just before or right after a workout when you’re most insulin sensitive.   Whenever you consume carbohydrates, your body has multiple types of transporters (GLUT family) which help to process sugar in the blood stream and turn it into glycogen. After a workout, research has shown a dramatic increase in GLUT 4 activity which functions primarily to regulate glucose storage within skeletal muscle as glycogen. In other words, this little transporter ensures that you shuttle glucose primarily into the muscle when it is most insulin sensitive and receptive to carbohydrates that can replenish glycogen.
  While alcohol can pose an issue from a caloric standpoint, the much larger issue is its effect on one’s sleep quality. You’ll see many promoting the idea of a “night cap” to help reduce sleep latency (aka the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep). But, on the contrary, alcohol actually worsens your sleep quality. You see, alcohol blocks the brain from acquiring REM sleep by inducing a state of sedation. When you aren’t able to enter the deepest stage of restorative sleep, you run into some major metabolic consequences. Your best bet is to put alcohol further away from sleep whenever possible. Have a glass of wine with dinner or a drink for happy hour. But resist the urge to drink once the sun sets, your sleep quality depends on it.
Choose Your Carbs Carefully
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t pay attention to your gut health. You eat what you want, live life on your own terms, and let your physician figure out the rest. That’s all well and good, until they’re stumped and you hit a dead end. This is where self-experimentation and a general knowledge of gastrointestinal function can come in handy.
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Changes in GI frequency/stool composition
  • Undigested food in your stool
  • Food intolerances/allergies
Most folks assume that these are just “common” symptoms associated with digestion. If you remember nothing else, remember this: “DO NOT MISTAKE COMMON WITH NORMAL.” Sleep deprivation is common, it is not normal. Constipation is common, it is not normal. If you struggle with getting in enough calories due to issues with absorption and assimilation of nutrients, you may want to take a step back and consider the bigger picture. Until you decide to address your gut health and sleep hygiene, you will consistently fall short of your fitness goals.
White is Right
  If you want a simple and effective “hack” to improve your gut health, here’s a great place to start: Stop listening to all the bros on YouTube and eat WHITE rice. Not brown rice, white rice. Why?
  1. Hypoallergenic - White rice is hypoallergenic, meaning your immune system won’t tag it with inflammatory markers (IgE, IgA, IgM, IgG, IgD) during digestion and set off a cytokine cascade.
  2. Versatility - You can use white rice is nearly every dish known to man: chili, fajitas, fish tacos, stir fry, rice pudding, etc. Boredom generally leads to a lack of adherence as humans have a knack for falling for the “shiny object syndrome”.
  3. High Resistant Starch Potential - Resistant starch is essentially an indigestible element of rice which helps to feed beneficial microorganisms within your gut microbiome. When you cook and cool rice, this increases the resistant starch content via a process known as retrogradation.
  4. Low Fiber - This may sound counterintuitive to folks given the fitness industry is constantly pimping high fiber foods as the solution to everything from colon cancer to high interest rates and unsubsidized student loans. While fiber can help if someone is dealing with constipation, high fiber diets can make matters worse if SIBO, IBS, or IBD is suspected.
Don’t Forget the D
  While this isn’t a nutritional recommendation per say, vitamin D is technically a nutrient one can consume, so we need to touch on it. This becomes especially important in the winter months when temperatures drops. Folks spend more time indoors, and long sleeves/pants become a daily occurrence. As a result, vitamin D supplementation becomes a necessity for most. Besides its role in immune function and regulatory T-cell activity, vitamin D also plays a key function in gastroenterological health and mood disorders. Most cells involved in immune function carry receptors for vitamin D. Thus, more sun exposure will subsequently improve immune function via endogenous vitamin D production.  – Dr. Aristo Vojdani (PhD - Immunologist & Toxicologist) But, we should remember that vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, meaning it’s not readily removed in the urine like other water soluble nutrients (e.g. vitamin C). Therefore, it’s likely wise to keep an eye on your vitamin D levels via bloodwork. You probably want to see your numbers pop anywhere between 50-100ng/mL, some endocrinologists and integrative practitioners might even argue the bottom end of that range should start at 70ng/mL. Needless to say, it’s probably a good idea to get some bloodwork and/or consider a daily dosage of 4000-5000IUs per day for most adults in the winter months. Merry Christmas ya filthy animal.
  • 4 min read