What is the big deal with protein?

Protein is one of the three major macronutrients. Protein, Fats, Carbs(Carbohydrates). They are divided into those three categories because nutritionally the body needs each everyday, and they are fundamentally different enough that one cannot replace the other in a healthy diet. Nutrition professionals believe that a balance of these nutritients to be crucial to health and weight management.

To understand protein use in the body, first of all, understand what is protein. Protein is meat including beef and poultry. It is also fish and eggwhites. Whey/Milk/Soy/Vegan protein powders too. These are considered whole proteins or primary sources of protein. They have a complete amino acid profile and are leanest without significant amounts of fat and carbs.

Primary lean proteins chicken, Fish, turkey, Eggwhites!

Amino acids are biologically and nutritionally important compounds that are the protein molecules used internally by the body when the food is broken down during digestion.

Secondary sources have “some” protein including whole or reduced fat milk, beans, legumes, seeds, yogurt, peanuts, tree nuts, whole eggs, whole or sprouted grains and even broccoli. While a few of these have all of the amino acid profile of whole proteins,  most importantly they all also have other primary macronutrients to take into consideration. The trick to partial protein or secondary proteins is to balance all of your nutrients. If you rely on beans to get enough protein you may be consuming too much carb. Beans have both protein and carb. Nuts and nutbutters have more fat than protein. Whole eggs are high in fat and cholesterol. While some dietary fats are good for you, eating enough whole eggs to get a sufficient amount of protein will cause your fat to be too high. One egg has 30 calories from protein and over 40 calories from fat!

Secondary protein with carbs or fat too!

And broccoli? Well let’s just say it is near stomach stretching physically impossible to get a full serving of protein from broccoli and you still would not have a balanced source of protein compounds. One cup of Milk alone has 8 grams of protein, but also 13 grams of carbs with 12 of the 13 grams being from milk sugars like lactose.

Eggs are wonderful. Egg whites have protein without the fat, so I recommend that people in a high protein diet, eat more egg whites than whole eggs. One or two yolks is plenty of fat, yet you can benefit from another egg or two of the white part!

Why is protein important? While carbs and fat provide ready sources of energy, the protein molecule provides raw materials to feed cell regeneration. Carbs, or carbohydrates, are energy sources that always turn to fat if not burned off by the body’s activity level. Protein is first used for the raw materials for hair, skin, nails, brain cells, and of course muscle. Then the excess in one meal is converted to energy. This is why protein should be eaten in small meals throughout the day, while carbs and fats are timed for when the body needs the energy for exercise. Beware of using carbs and sugar for the energy to combat tiredness. Yes, that spike in sugar will spike alertness, but will also convert to fat if actual energy is not expended to burn it off!!

Nutrition Value of Snickers Bar
Mostly Sugar/Carb
Lots of FAT
Very little protein

Energy from mostly sugar that turns to fat.



Many people believe that protein is what bodybuilders use to get big. While muscle protein does come from dietary protein, it does not directly cause muscle growth without the weightlifting and specific exercise strategy to require additional strength!

During a dieting phase, protein maintains muscle while reduction in carbs and fats (reduction: not elimination) help to place your body in a calorie deficit. Too little protein with a calorie deficit below what the body needs to run for basic activity, also can cause your body to cannibalize the muscle protein to provide the raw materials for other functions!

Therefore bodybuilders do not so much eat tons of protein to get big, but eat regular consistent amounts of protein to maintain what they’ve built in the gym!

How can protein benefit you? Seeking weight loss, or a fitter look, it is important to get your required nutrients from protein and then low calorie, high nutrient vegetables like broccoli, spinach, green beans, and kale etc. These foods are highly utilized in the body without adding to fat stores.

Pro Bikini Competitors

While more calorie dense than lettuce and salad greens, protein not only performs the vital task of building the structure of your lean body it also has the effect of creating a more satiated feeling from food. From the act of chewing through the greater calorie expenditure during digestion the effect of processing proteins is that your body uses  more of the calories from this food.

Protein is a key macronutrient. It performs a different role in the body from fat and carbs.

To round out a balanced diet, next comes the energy required to do exercise. Depending on your energy expenditure from work, life, and exercise intensity add a carb for breakfast, before and after workouts, plus a healthy dietary fat at night for hormone balance with your proteins. These are some added strategies that a nutrition coach can help you with! Contact me for more information to help you get the nutrition you need, at the time of day it can benefit you the most, with the quantities you will need meet your specific goals!



References for further reading:








Killer Condiments 

Three Cheers! You are watching what you eat. Celebrate that you are taking control of your health. Probably you have an idea of what you shouldn’t eat, and hopefully a plan for what you should.

Whether you are weighing and tracking everything you eat or just trying to get smarter about what you eat, the one thing that really needs to be counted and reduced is condiments.

Condiments will often be overlooked when you are tracking calories, but they can be a killer to your weightloss efforts due to high fats, salts, calories and sugars especially. These are “empty calories” that provide calories to your waistline with very little nutritional content. The worst offenders are: mayonnaise, most salad dressings, teriyaki sauce, sweet marinades, Barbecue sauces, special sandwich sauces, and ketchup.

These condiments add 100’s of calories to your waistline. Some facts about these weight loss killers:

  • Creamy Salad Dressings more than doubles the calories of a vegetable salad. You’d be healthier adding the protein from meat or fish than the dressing.
  • Three packets of ketchup or 3 Tablespoons have as much sugar as a bowl of many sugary breakfast cereals.
  • Even healthy oil dressings are still too high in fat calories if you use liberally.
    Pay attention not to load your salad with more than a tablespoon of olive oil. Even healthy fats are naturally almost double the calories per gram compared to carbs and protein. You need fats to be smaller portion of daily calories. One Tablespoon of olive oil is over 100 calories.

  • One serving of regular BBQ sauce has more sugar than three Lindt milk chocolate truffle balls. Regular BBQ sauce also has most of the sugar content from high fructose corn syrup. You may recognize high fructose corn syrup as one of the worst contributors to obesity in news from recent years.

  • One tablespoon of mayonnaise is as many calories as the whole can of tuna. Your body will use the protein in the tuna, while the mayo will most certainly be added fat on your hips.
  • Every 23 calorie tablespoon of sour cream increases bad cholesterol in your blood.

Condiment calories add up fast even before you take into account the bloating from all that sodium. Make sure these extra empty calories don’t derail you!

Strategies for flavor without the extra love handles:

1. Mustard. Most mustards have little fat or sugar.

2. Vinegar  or lemon juice dressings. Try homemade salad dressings with less oil and sugar. My favorite is fresh lemon juice and basil or Italian herbs.

3. Replace sour cream and mayo in your recipes with plain Greek yogurt.

4. Use herbs and dry seasonings without salt and sugar instead of sauces.

5. Hot sauce. Simple hot sauces like Texas Pete, Frank’s Red Hot, and Tabasco have no fat or sugar. Avoid wing sauces with high fat.

6. Look for healthier alternatives. Read the ingredients and the nutrition label including sugar, fat, serving size and calories. My rule is no more than 5 grams of sugar at a meal. Our local Manassas and Springfield Virginia MaxMuscle stores carry this wonderful Hudson BBQ sauce with only three grams of sugar per serving, compared to sixteen grams of sugar in regular sauce. Yes, please note that the serving size is smaller in the healthier, but if equal in servings, the result would still have the Hudson sauce with 62% less sugar!

In summary, calories from condiments count toward your waistline without adding nutrition your body needs. Eliminate or Reduce their use. Even in healthier alternatives, portion size matters!

Eat healthier and smarter!


Body Positivity and Your Health

Good Morning,Heartfelt PSA. The bodyfat you carry doesn’t define your beauty or your worth. 

It does define your health.  

Your shape, size, fat, does not define your value. Love who you are. Your moment in time today defines your future. Your past opportunities are just that. In your past. Your interactions with others defines you. Beauty is subjective and can be found in all people. Other people’s shallow preferences for beauty is irrelevant to the beauty inside of you. 
However, make no mistake, If you have a bodyfat percentage in the mid to high 30% you are overfat. If you have over 40% bodyfat you are obese. Your health is at risk similar to that of a smoker. You have higher risk of joint problems, diabetes, strain on your heart and lungs, and premature death. In the world over, being overweight causes more deaths than being underweight or from malnutrition and starvation. Under or over weight are unhealthy and both preventable and curable. 

Additionally you can be overfat and still be sick from malnutrition especially if you get a majority of your calories from baked goods like cakes and other sweets. Your body needs protein, vegetables, dietary healthy fats and complex carbs. 

Summary: love yourself and your body enough to take care of yourself. Exercise and better nutrition choices are for everyone. Have confidence. You got this!

*Note: bodyfat% is a better, newer, indication of health than BMI. You can be normal weight and BMI with high bodyfat. The term is normal weight obesity. It carries the same risk factors. Know what you are made of! These tests can help you sort your health: Inbody, Bodpod, Futrex IR scan, and few others. Look for a location near you or message me for more information. 

#inbody #bodypositivity #healthyweight #dontignoretherisks #itmatters #fitlife #fitatfifty 

The Ugly Calorie.

Not all calories are the same.  I try to instill an understanding of food to my clients. Many are great dieters and I have to push them to eat the nutritious food on their plan, never going over their planned calories they often still don’t lose fat. Why? Let’s call it: the Ugly Calorie. 

Basically the ugly calorie is an empty calorie, and what is an empty calorie?  Well, SUGAR is number one.  Don’t get confused. The body needs carbs and carbs turn to sugar/ glucose in the body, but complex carbs like oats or sweetpotato have nutrients, fiber and digest slowly at a rate your body can use it. Sugars and refined flours are not utilized for energy as fast as they are digested. 

The rate at which your body uses the food, carbs specifically, after digestion determines its utilization. Sugar spikes blood sugar levels quickly, and without intense exercise or high calorie need while that energy is in your bloodstream, the sugar turns to fat. Every. Time. For a small amount, maybe not a pound of fat, but fat nonetheless. 
Therefore the ugly calorie is not just a simple sugar empty calorie, but a calorie that your body digests and absorbs, but cannot use. 

Calories that have great vitamin nutrients are used readily. A green veggie is almost never an empty calorie. It’s high nutrition and low calorie cost. 

Where carbs are energy, protein is the building blocks of cells. It does not spike blood sugar, uses energy to digest, and provides the raw material for skin, hair, nails, and of course, muscle. That doesn’t mean that all protein sources are healthy!  Read the label. High animal fat, high salt, nitrates and preservatives and even sugar is present in some meat products and calories from those additive are also ugly calories that are stored as fat! Your body can use the lean meat. Additives in bacon, sausage, or bologna? Ugly. 

 You may have heard that dietary fat doesn’t cause fat. True. Eat the healthy fats. Avocado, nuts, coconut, and seeds are the best! Unfortunately not all fats are the same. Hydrogenated oils, lard, animal fats, and artificial fats are the worst ugly calorie offenders. Your body has no nutritional need for that! Dairy fats are in the middle somewhere. Not a necessity and not worthless. Unfortunately the healthy fats even are a food group you must control portions.  A small 6 oz can of almonds is 960 calories.  One half ounce is healthy and can help you lose weight. Not all six ounces. Consult a nutritionist, dietitian or nutrition coach if you want information specific to your goals. 

In summary if you are tracking calories and still are stalled, make sure you are getting nutritional food your body needs, while eliminating the ugly calories your body does not need! Because even a low calorie food, without nutritional worth, may be an ugly calorie that is keeping you from reaching your goal!

Eat the beautiful nutrition. Skip the ugly junk food calories. 

Need a plan? Contact me email: Samantha@fitatfiftysantha.com

8 Reasons I love Bodybuilding.  

1. Only exercise style that is customizable for body shape results. You can’t spot cardio to lose weight. You loose fat everywhere. Ab exercises don’t work to reduce your waist.  Bodybuilders pick how to design shape. Bikini or physique or Figure. Each division has shape ideals that the competitor strives to perfect. 

2. It is the fountain of youth. Use it or lose it. After age 40 muscle is already lost in the aging process. Adding back lost strength as you age is the key to fit and active at 80!

3.  Toned and smooth not cellulite. Even lifting heavy, women especially won’t get massive, but also men over 50 do not have enough testosterone to get “big.” I Can put muscle on the booty and legs. Burn that layer of fat. Muscle doesn’t get cellulite. 

4. Fit Lifestyle not a diet. The successful bodybuilder had nutrition goals and a plan for meals and snacks. Doesn’t  need to be the same every day or month but there is a guideline on how to get lean. When and what to eat is a huge part of the puzzle. The bodybuilders diet has real food in it! Less junk is less fat. 

 5. Nutrition, exercise from weights and cardio combined is the fastest way to get in shape. Period. 

6. Like my Max Muscle shirt says. “Look good naked.” http://nova.mmsnutrition.com

7. You set your schedule. No more relying on a class time unless you choose to grab extra cardio. 

“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

When a women over 45 tells me she does not want to lift weights as she does not want to “bulk up” I just want to scream. 

At age 35 we begin to steadily lose muscle mass. You don’t see many 18 or 20 year old worrying about “toning up” do you? That loss of muscle tone and loss of muscle strength is just flat lost muscle. You can get it back with weight training.

helpivefallenRemember the commercial that we have all seen for Lifealert, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Coming from the perspective of middle age or younger, I had always assumed that she was injured in the fall. However, she did not say, “Help, I’m hurt, and I can’t get up.” I work with folks with age related muscle loss, and I understand the importance of weight training as we age. I had a revelation, and maybe it did not occur to you. The elderly lady on the floor couldn’t get up because she was too weak. She did not have the muscle strength to get herself off of a floor!

The University of Cambridge studied 90 women  over-75 in the Cohort Study of aging and health. During the one year study, 60 percent of participants reported falling, and of those who fell, 80 percent or four out of five, needed help getting up, and 30 percent remained on the floor for over an hour.


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One method of improving strength with aging is to get enough calories from protein each day, in each meal, to sustain muscle mass.  Growth hormones in our younger years provide new cell growth, and we often do not have to eat and exercise as diligently to maintain strength and muscle tone the same way that is needed later in life. As a result strength and muscle decrease year after year that we do not maintain it. 

The primary treatment for age related muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia or skinnyfat,  is exercise, especially strength training. Muscle growth and muscle strength are often referred to as “muscle tone.” Muscle tone is essentially a euphamism for the onset of muscle firmness. Greater muscle size is only achieved after the muscle has first firmed, grown, and strengthened.

Turn back the clock on aging and strength train!






Cardio: What you need to know

Cardio is short for cardiovascular. In the exercise world, this is running, treadmill, elliptical, aerobics, Zumba, kickboxing, plyometrics, biking, walking, swimming, and more. Cardio is a fairly regular movement repeated for purpose of getting your heart rate up. It’s all good.runner

Raising your heart rate burns calories. Good stuff. If you are happy where you are, or you do cardio sports for enjoyment or goal setting then awesome. My blog is not for you. Continue reading