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Welcome to the fourth issue of WTF! This week, we have content from two motivational guest authors: Amey Corson and Andrew Pardue. You can find more information about them by following the social links under the title of each section.


Optimizing Your Protein Intake

by Amey Corson, MS, CPT/FNS
I’m excited to share information on how to optimize protein intake with you guys, because during my Master’s program, I worked as a nutrition coordinator for several heavy hitting protein intake studies in trained populations. Between research done at school and personal interest queries, I can appreciate that there’s an abundance of published research on protein intake available, and the trick is figuring out what to do with it so you don’t lose your gains while drowning in data! This is a worthwhile endeavor because protein is the building block of precious muscle growth and so much more. Brick by brick, day by day, we can use professional recommendations to get the most out of our dietary intake.

First thing’s first: remember that research gives us means and insight into what interventions (in this case altering protein intakes) led to significant differences for most people, as observed from a pool of subjects representative of a certain population. For the purpose of this article, I’m focusing on guidance for optimizing protein intake in “trained” active individuals from the latest and greatest ISSN positions stand (Jäger et al, 2017). I’ll also share some little-known additional reasons to increase protein intake and provide some anecdotal asides from my experience as a coach and lab rat.

Quick and Painless Ways to Optimize Your Protein Intake
Unless otherwise noted, the following recommendations were taken from the Jäger et al. ISSN position stand.
  • Consume 1.4-2.0 grams of protein per kg body weight per day to meet sufficient protein intake as an active individual. 
  • 3.0+ grams per kg per day of protein intake has been shown to be even more beneficial for improving body composition.
  • Consume an absolute dose of at least 20-40g protein every 3-4 hours (+ more as needed to reach your daily protein intake goal in grams).
  • Opt for “high quality” protein sources when you can, preferably whole-food protein sources that contain all of the essential amino acids.
  • If you can’t always get whole-food sources, you can still be optimal with processed sources of protein – for instance, choosing the more bioavailable whey isolate over whey concentrate.
  • Leucine content of 700-3000mg is worth looking for in protein sources and supplements.
  • Post-workout protein increases muscle protein synthesis after resistance training and can help offset muscle damage and promote recovery in endurance athletes.
  • Whey is an excellent source of post-workout protein since it is fast digesting and easy to take to the gym with you!
  • If you are going to “go over” on your calorie intake for the day – you are best off ensuring the additional calories come from protein to optimize body composition (Antonio et al, 2016).
  • Pre-bed casein intake of 30-40g can increase muscle protein synthesis and increase metabolism without contributing to fat gain.
Other Benefits to Increasing Dietary Protein
  • Increasing protein intake is especially important for adults age 30 and older in order to prevent/delay the effects of sarcopenia (muscle loss) (Morley et al, 2010).
  • If you’re injured, preliminary studies have shown a higher protein intake in addition to creatine supplementation can optimize muscle tissue repair and synthesis as well as counteract some muscle atrophy (Tack, 2016).
  • Increasing protein intake while dieting has been shown to improve sleep in overweight and obese adults (Zhou et al, 2016).
  • Consuming a higher protein diet helps preserve lean body mass, perceptions of satiety, and pleasure during energy restriction on a weight loss program (Leidy et al, 2007).
Anecdotal Opinions from a Coach and Lab Rat: Optimal vs Realistic
We can distinguish between what’s optimal and what’s realistic.  During my last bikini prep, I was consuming upwards of 3g/kg body weight of protein, and I’m a tall/large framed person, so that meant 230+ grams of protein per day. That intake got me to my goal stage body (thanks to my wonderful prep coach, the author of the next article in this newsletter – Thanks Andrew!!), but was not sustainable for me in my day-to-day life after my show. I swung hard the other way and noticed a definite shift in my body composition when I was barely hitting 100g protein per day. 
Once I found a happy post-comp medium and started being more mindful of hitting a daily protein intake goal, I absolutely saw a shift in my body composition again and felt leaner and tighter on the same calorie intake after only a few weeks. I pulled calories from my fat and carb intake and lent it toward protein. People were even telling me, unprompted, that I looked leaner a few weeks after I made the switch. As a preference, I only eat meat one meal per day on average and am able to consistently hit about 2g protein per kg body weight per day. All of that being said, I encourage you to track your protein intake – make sure it’s within the optimal range, ensure you’re getting high quality protein sources as often as possible, and track your progress! You’ll be happy you did.
Jäger, R., Kerksick, C. M., Campbell, B. I., Cribb, P. J., Wells, S. D., Skwiat, T. M., . . . Antonio, J. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,14(1). doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8      
Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Vargas L, Peacock C. The effects of a high protein diet on indices of health and body composition–a crossover trial in resistance-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016;13:3. doi:10.1186/s12970016-0114-2.
J. E. Morley, J. M. Argiles, W. J. Evans et al., “Nutritional recommendations for the management of sarcopenia,” Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 391–396, 2010.   
Tack, C. (2016). Dietary Supplementation During Musculoskeletal Injury. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 38(1), 22-26. doi:10.1519/ssc.0000000000000180                 
Zhou, J., Kim, J. E., Armstrong, C. L., Chen, N., & Campbell, W. W. (2016). Higher-protein diets improve indexes of sleep in energy-restricted overweight and obese adults: results from 2 randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 103(3), 766-774. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.124669
Leidy, H. J., Carnell, N. S., Mattes, R. D., & Campbell, W. W. (2007). Higher Protein Intake Preserves Lean Mass and Satiety with Weight Loss in Pre-obese and Obese Women*. Obesity, 15(2), 421-429. doi:10.1038/oby.2007.531

Amey Corson
 is 28 years old and currently lives in Tampa, FL. She earned a Master’s degree in Exercise Science from University of South Florida, is an Air Force veteran, and is a Pro bikini competitor. She likes to think of herself as a hippie who became a physique enhancement nerd. Typical Gemini. She has been running her own online personal training business since 2014.


Science-Backed Benefits of Creatine and Beta Alanine

by Andrew Pardue, BS, CSCS, CISSN
New athletes prefer to keep initial costs down when starting to pay more attention to their diet and nutrition, while others simply look to keep costs down for more room in their budgets for other areas in their finances. Aside from a multi, fish oil and maybe protein powder, two supplement ingredients I always encourage athletes to invest in are creatine monohydrate and beta alanine. Both ingredients have been very well supported by research over the years (creatine being the most scientifically efficacious and safe ingredient to date) and are both very economical to purchase - giving people a solid bang for their buck when beginning to invest in supplements. 

In short - creatine helps with short term, high intensity exercise through supporting greater strength, force and muscle tissue improvements via enhanced phosopocreatine levels. Beta alanine supports performance by aiding in endurance during high intensity exercise by buffering muscle capacity through its effect on the pH of blood during exercise. 

Not to mention - supplementing with creatine & beta alanine may offer an additive effect compared to effects of each supplement's individual benefits (think benefit of the whole versus the sum of its parts). 

Recommended Daily Servings:
3-5g Creatine Monohydrate 
2-3g Beta Alanine 
JISSN Review on Creatine Efficacy and Safety:
Study on possible benefit of Beta Alanine + Creatine co-supplementation:

Andrew Pardue is the owner of APFitness, a science-based, online contest preparation and personal training business. Find out more about him at or through his contact links below the title of this piece.


Crockpot Chicken Burrito Bowl

by Amey Corson, MS, CPT/FNS
This is a great recipe for a weekly meal prep! It’s so delicious, you’ll be looking forward to it every day.  It’s nutrient dense, protein rich, and easy on your grocery bill. Crockpot recipes are my go-tos for saving time on meal prep. Two things to note about the recipe: first, if you’ve never heard of this trick: to reduce the raffinose sugars in canned beans that can cause gas and bloating – rinse them well in a strainer before incorporating into a recipe! My last kitchen hack is to cut up your chicken breast with scissors while it’s still raw – works like a charm for making clean cut cubes!

Yields: 6 servings
Macros: 12f/36c/44p – 428kcals
3 cups bone broth
20oz chicken breast, raw, diced into cubes
1 15oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
one medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 – 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 – 4.5 oz. can diced green chilies
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 Tbs minced garlic
2 Tbs taco seasoning
½ tsp pepper
2 cups shredded low moisture part skim mozzarella cheese
Coat the bottom/sides of a crockpot with 1Tbs olive oil.  Throw all of the above except the cheese in there. Turn it on low and leave it ~6hrs. Either divide it up into the 6 portions for your meal prep and put ¼ cup of the cheese on each or, for immediate serving, top the crockpot concoction with the cheese and leave it covered until it melts during the last few minutes of cooking! SO EASY. SO GOOD.

Not counted in the macros above, but if you have more to spare: try topping with black olives, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, etc!
Amey Corson is 28 years old and currently lives in Tampa, FL. She earned a Master’s degree in Exercise Science from University of South Florida, is an Air Force veteran, and is a Pro bikini competitor. She likes to think of herself as a hippie who became a physique enhancement nerd. Typical Gemini. She has been running her own online personal training business since 2014.

Thank you for reading WTF vol. 4.

Health is a balance, not an extreme.

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No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves. - Amelia Earhart
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