Friday, December 15, 2017

10 Low-Calorie Starbucks Drinks Worth Your Macros


1. Dark Chocolate Light Frappuccino

One of the most popular Starbucks drinks ever, we had to give you a way of enjoying this rich, smooth, chocolatey dream the low calorie way!!!


Grande, Dark Mocha Light Frappuccino, no whip


F: 1 C: 34 P: 5

Calories: 160

2. Grande Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

Recipe by @TheMacrosBarista on Instagram

Just in time for the holidays, when you want to grab a low calorie Starbucks drinks, add hot toasted white mocha to your list after you hit the iron!


Grande Toasted White Mocha with 2 pumps toasted white mocha syrup, 2 pumps sugar-free vanilla (or Splenda) and Half water, Half coconut Water.


F: 3 C:29 P: 1

Calories: 150

3. Grande Cappuccino

For the foam lovers of the world, it’s easy to hit your macros with cappuccinos. Soft, velvety foam and of course, caffeine, without going over on your numbers!


Grande 2% Cappuccino


F: 4 C: 12 P: 8

Calories: 120

4. Skinny Non-Fat Mocha

What kind of list would this be WITHOUT a classic mocha made into a low calorie Starbucks drinks addition??? Chocolate and coffee were made to go together, so you should be able to enjoy them while reaching your goals!


Grande, 1% milk, Mocha


F: 1.5 C: 24 P: 14

Calories: 160

5. Vanilla Chai Tea Latte

Recipe by @TheMacroBarista on Instagram

One of the most requested low calorie recipes of all time, grab you a vanilla chai for only 110 calories!


Grande (Hot or iced), Coconut milk, 2 pumps chai, 2 pumps sugar free vanilla.

breastfeeding calories


F: 4.5 C: 18 P: 8

Calories: 110

6. Skinny Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Is it really even the holidays without hot chocolate? Cozy up with one of these for your low calorie Starbucks drinks.


Grande Skinny Peppermint Hot Chocolate


F: 1.5 C: 23 P: 13

Calories: 160

7. Iced Pumpkin Spice Macchiato

Recipe by @TheMacroBarista on Instagram

If you’re into pumpkin foodstuffs as much as nearly everyone, this drink is perfection in a cup. Sweet, spicy, and PRETTY, this low calorie version of Pumpkin Spice is ingenious!


Grande Latte macchiato, 2 pumps pumpkin sauce, half coconut milk, half water, extra pumpkin spice topping.


F: 2.5 C: 26 P: >1

Calories: 125

8. Gingerbread Latte

There is something extremely comforting about Gingerbread in a cup. These low calorie Starbucks drinks offer up the caffeine and gingerbread- a combo that is definitely what’s up.


Tall, 1%, Gingerbread Latte, no whip


F: 0 C: 39 P: 12

Calorie: 200

9. Java Chip Frappuccino

While dieters are cringing on daily wheatgrass shots, it’s okay, you can feel a little smug that you can make this low calorie frappuccino fit your macros.


Tall, Java Chip Light Frappuccino, No Whip


F: 3 C: 29 P: 4

10. Tazo Zen Tea

When you’re wanting to go on a low calorie Starbucks drinks binge, this is your beverage of choice. It’s subtle and perfect for sipping and studying without worrying at all if it fits. Grab it hot or cold, whatever’s your cup of tea.


Venti Zen Hot Tea


F: 0 C: 0 P: 0

Calories: 0


*All of the links to the original recipes or the recipes these stemmed from, are located in the reference box below.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Macros Matter But Calories Are King


If you’re reading this (no it’s not too late as Drake may suggest), then you likely also read my recent article outlining the importance of tracking macros for long-term physique development. (Something the IIFYM Macro Calculator can help you out with).

In that article, I alluded to the fact that tracking daily calorie intake is a great place to start when paying more attention to dietary habits. I then proceed to explain how macro tracking comes into play. Well, that’s fine and well for those of us that have already had plenty of experience tracking daily calorie intake, but what about everyone else just getting started (or the non-believers)?

Some of you may be brand new to tracking your daily calorie intake and wondering just where to start. For that reason, I’m back again to explain why, although tracking macros is beneficial, understanding and accounting for total daily calorie intake is a key fundamental principle. That it will only make everything else in the future that much more productive as you continue progressing with your dietary adjustments.

For those new to counting kcals and dropping lbs, I’m covering some of the major considerations for long-term success as you build the foundation that will serve you well as you continue developing your dietary strategies for improved health and better physique development.

Energy Balance & Weight Management

A simplistic explanation to say the least, but necessary for keeping this article focused on the topic at hand, thermodynamics is a set of four laws which explain the transfer and general properties of energy between a system and its surroundings.

In relation to body composition changes and daily calorie intake, we can think of this as “energy in vs. energy out.” Now before moving any further, it’s important to briefly note that long-term body composition changes go quite significantly beyond general energy balance.

Thinking of weight management as calories consumed versus expended is a great starting point, but as articles like my flexible dieting vs calorie counting article help highlight- other factors contribute to long-term success as well.

That being said though, it does certainly create a solid foundation to then build from. All things being equal, if your average daily calorie intake is exceeding your body’s ability to use those calories (think of it as fuel for the machine) for various bodily processes and energy production, you’re going to generally be in a state where additional weight gain is likely through increased body fat storage. Even if those calories are from a “health food,” they’re still calories, and they can still contribute to weight gain through effecting your overall energy balance.

Any Food can be a Fattening Food


daily calorie intake


Energy balance now in mind, it can be pretty easy to understand why labeling foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy” is a bit of a disservice to ourselves as a diet-conscious society. Sure we need to pay attention to nutrient-density (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and the like).

However as we mentioned above- calories are units of energy provided in various amounts through food. It can be as organic and vitamin-packed as they come, but if your daily calorie intake is exceeding your current metabolic rate and daily average energy expenditure, you could still be gaining additional body fat.

Consume an additional 500 calories from organic avocado and although you may be also consuming health-promoting vitamins and minerals- you’re still going to gain virtually the same weight as you would by consuming 500 calories from a high-fat candy bar or cake.

Once accustomed to the inner workings of such an app, you can spend the next 3-5 days simply logging your normal eating habits as compared to what a “normal” day of eating is for you.

It has to be mentioned that, yes quality does come into play. As my flexible dieting article covers- the breakdown of macronutrients comprising daily calorie intake, and to a degree, micronutrient content can certainly have some long-term contributions to better or worse body composition.

In the grand scheme though, if you’re total daily calorie intake isn’t adequate for your goal- the rest will have an otherwise negligible effect. In other words, if you’re eating far too little calories, you’re unlikely to gain much muscle naturally. A daily calorie intake far and away from creating a negative energy balance will prevent you from losing body fat consistently, no matter how “healthy” the foods are that you’re consuming.

The Protein Priority

Although this article is covering the importance of tracking total daily calorie intake and not necessarily tracking macros, it’s worth mentioning at least tracking protein within your daily intake can be a great next step. In relation to weight management, some reasons tracking protein can be beneficial are due to some unique benefits to weight management.

One being, protein requires much more energy to process and use than carbs or fat. This higher energy requirement (thermic effect of food) makes protein less likely to contribute to body fat. In addition, protein is also quite satiating due to the specific digestion process required to break it down.

Both of these aspects make it helpful in long-term weight management. Not to mention its importance in muscle recovery and growth. If you’re not quite ready to track protein, carbs and fat; at least consuming a consistent protein goal within your daily calorie intake can be a helpful compromise in the meantime.

Determining Daily Calorie Intake


daily calorie intake

Example Screenshot From Our IIFYM Calculator


If you’ve recently become interested in tracking your daily calorie intake for the first time, there are a few methods you can use to get a rough idea of where to start in terms of daily calorie intake, which you can then begin adjusting from week to week based on our muscle growth or fat loss goals.

I personally suggest most individuals simply download a smartphone application like MyMacros+ that makes it easy and convenient to track the foods you eat from day to day.

Once accustomed to the inner workings of such an app, you can spend the next 3-5 days simply logging your normal eating habits as compared to what a “normal” day of eating is for you. Then, take those 3-5 daily calorie intake totals and average them together.

breastfeeding calories

This will result in an average daily calorie intake you can then use as your official starting point in tracking intake consistently. Follow that average intake as your first week’s baseline goal- then in the following weeks you can monitor your bodyweight change, energy levels and strength progression in the gym to determine when and what degree to adjust your daily calorie intake goal each week to match your current body composition goals.

Tracking Where it Counts

Following this strategy can make it much more effective of a starting point since you’re better able to start at an intake that your body is currently adapted to. If for instance, you suddenly began following an arbitrary, pre-determined daily calorie intake goal, you may be overshooting your body’s current ability to use calories, or severely under eating- potentially causing unnecessary, negative metabolic adaptions in the way of muscle loss or fat gain.

This is why online physique coaches such as myself, and the IIFYM Macro Coaches can never in good conscience tell someone they should eat (x) amount of calories without knowing their specific body composition, physical activity, and recent eating habits. It just leaves far too much on the table in terms of personal needs.

In our recent flexible dieting article, I provide insight into the most personalized way to find your ideal, baseline intake to then begin adjusting from week to week based on your goals. If you’re already tracking your total daily calorie intake successfully, taking that next step toward tracking specific macros can be a relatively easy, but very beneficial next step for your body composition goals.

If you’re interested in learning more, please check out that article here. For a more time efficient starting point, the IIFYM macro calculator is a great tool to check out as well.

Adjusting Daily Calorie Intake


daily calorie intake


Once you’ve gotten a consistent, baseline daily calorie intake, you’ll need to adjust that intake periodically based on your physique goals. If the goal is to gain muscle, it’s prudent to slowly increase daily calorie intake to ensure your body is in an environment conducive to quality muscle growth and maximized training performance while promoting an increased metabolic capacity.

All while balancing that fine line between calories to support health, performance and daily energy levels with an excess intake that will just lead to unwanted, unnecessary body fat accumulation.

…the success of a diet first starts with calorie balance in relation to weight management goals, and only then can the nuances of more detailed diet programming have an impact.

The opposite holds true for fat loss, with the same principles nearly mirrored. Since our bodies undergo various metabolic adaptions as calories are restricted and fat loss occurs, it’s important to approach fat loss in a very gradual manner. (1,2)

It may be tempting to slash daily calorie intake for immediate fat loss. However doing so will lead to extreme metabolic adaptions, increase muscle loss, and just make the entire dieting process much less enjoyable and manageable along the way. Whether you’re looking to get jacked or slim down, remember just how accurate “The Tortoise and The Hare” fable is in relation to body composition goals. Be the tortoise!

Adjustment Guidelines

As with determining baseline daily calorie intake, it’s very difficult to give hard and fast rules for things like dietary adjustments. Not only will each person’s exact needs differ, but the degree of change will differ even between stages of a diet or growth phase.

That being said though, once again- smaller changes are almost always better. At the end of the day, you can always make slightly bigger changes in the following weeks if needed. It’s harder though, to backtrack after making extreme changes.

Generally, I see changes pretty often within the quite large range of ~400 weekly calories (~57kcals daily deficit) to around 800 calories (-114kcals daily deficit). It’s certainly possible to structure and adjust one’s own dietary strategies from week to week with success, however it may just mean additional self-education along the way combined with a bit of trial and error.

For those with room in the budget and interested in truly hitting the ground running. Using dietary adjustments and general dieting strategies are something that coaches with plenty of experience with a variety of athletes such as  IIFYM Coaches can come in handy.

Down for the Count

The changes made and makeup of daily calorie intake can vary among people. The rule that holds each person in common though is that daily calorie intake needs to be consistent and adequate before other dietary strategies can be successfully implemented.

Keto, carb-based, high protein or minimal protein- the success of a diet first starts with calorie balance in relation to weight management goals, and only then can the nuances of more detailed diet programming have an impact.

If we need to crawl before we can walk and eventually run; tracking calories is one of the most important first steps a person can make toward successful body composition changes. Not only does it allow consistency each week that can be strategically adjusted along the way, but also highlights the ability to freely choose foods based on preference, budget, and specific health goals.

Not following strict, unnecessary meal plans that just aren’t manageable over the long term. At that point, you’ll have the ability to fully maximize future efforts in fine-tuning things like food sources, macronutrient breakdown and meal timing to continue reaching your absolute best self along the way.

If you have more questions about flexible dieting, IIFYM, or following a sustainable diet, check out our FAQ and SAQ (Should Ask Questions).

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What Stimulates Muscle Growth More…Whole Eggs or Egg Whites?


You are woken up by an early text message from your friend.

They say “Remember we had that discussion about egg nutrition? I told you whole eggs are better than egg whites.”

With one eye open, you message back and say, “What the heck are you talking about?”

Your friend tells you to check Instagram and Facebook.

You scroll down your phone, your feeds are flooded with headlines from the New York Times saying, “Whole Eggs are Better for you Than Egg Whites.”

While scratching your head you are thinking “WTF?”

I just stocked up on a months’worth of liquid egg white cartons.

You begin reading the article frantically while biting your nails.

The writer completely takes the conclusions out of context to freak you out even more.

After that, you storm into the kitchen and throw all your egg white cartons away and start buying whole eggs in bulk.

You see where we are going with this?

This happens every day with false article headlines, misleading interpretations of the scientific data, and then coaches, clients, and uneducated consumers fret and go off and do extreme things.

This new study HERE is a perfect example of this (1).

Throughout the rest of this article we will break down this new article about egg nutrition and its claim on whole eggs are better than egg whites for muscle growth.

Don’t throw your egg white cartons away just yet 😉

Egg Nutrition Study and What in the World is “Muscle Protein Synthesis?”

Let’s break down some key points here in the egg nutrition study we are going to be discussing.

    • 10 subjects (healthy young males)
    • The study claims it was resistance-trained subjects, but we never really know how experienced these subjects are with weight lifting
    • They took all subjects through a decent resistance training program and immediately after gave them 18g of protein via whole eggs or 18g of protein via egg whites
    • The results showed that whole eggs stimulated muscle protein synthesis (MPS) acutely over liquid egg whites

breastfeeding calories

Now, you’re probably like what in the world is muscle protein synthesis and what does it matter to me?

The best analogy we can give you is from Professor Stuart Phillips from McMaster University (2):

“Imagine your muscle as a brick wall, when new bricks get delivered these are the amino acids from proteins, on one end of the wall there’s a process to put bricks in which is muscle protein accretion and on the other end of the wall you take bricks out which is muscle protein breakdown. Protein synthesis is the bricks end of the wall and bricks out of the wall is protein breakdown and the net difference between the two are net muscle protein balance and this would be the rate at which your making things and subtracting at which the rate your breaking them down, if that’s in a positive direction the wall gets bigger (i.e., muscle growth) or if it’s in the negative direction your muscle shrinks. Protein ingestion and resistance training is a potent stimulus to make the brick wall bigger and stronger (i.e., stimulate the protein synthetic process).”

We know that’s a lot to take in but trust us when we say that analogy compared to the way textbooks break it down is a lot more digestible.

Now, let’s look at some of the egg nutrition study limitations:


egg nutrition


    • Only 10 subjects and all males, it would be interesting to see a larger sampling size and with women as well
    • The study claims it was resistance-trained subjects, but we never really know how experienced these subjects are with weightlifting, so it’s great to see this study replicated in true resistance trained subjects
    • This study investigated whole eggs vs egg whites in isolation. Very few if any people we know just eat in this fashion
    • This study looked at acute MPS (meal by meal). The effects of MPS for muscle growth need to be considered over time and long-term (days, weeks, months) and that includes consumption of other foods throughout the day (3)

The total protein consumption in both conditions was only 18 grams, prior research shows you may need at least 20g of a high-quality protein to sufficiently maximize protein synthesis after resistance training (4) or even up 30-40g to stimulate MPS (5).

So, it’s not clear how results would change with more usual consumption (i.e. double that amount) or if MPS was looked at over a longer term.

Practical Applications

Remember we said not to throw out your egg white cartons just yet?

The reason being this is an interesting study that suggests other nutrients besides protein may enhance anabolism.

That said, it’s important to point out that ultimately the effects of MPS for muscle growth need to be considered over time (days, weeks, months) and that includes consumption of other foods throughout the day (carbohydrates and fats).

Instead of worrying about egg nutrition, specifically whole vs egg whites as a protein source for muscle growth, consider the hierarchy of importance for daily dietary protein…

While it’s possible that there are unique properties to whole eggs that maximize anabolism (i.e. lipids, micronutrients, antioxidant carotenoids, and microRNAs), it alternatively may well be that these properties are sufficiently available in other foods we normally eat (depending on one’s overall diet).

We’d also note, it’s always important to look at the context of a study when drawing evidence-based conclusions.

Instead of fretting over this new egg nutrition study, let’s wait until there’s more data conducted on it, and in the meantime, focus on these suggestions we have for you:

      • If you don’t have a cholesterol issue, then it’s okay to have whole eggs
      • If you don’t prefer whole eggs (specifically the yolk), it’s fine to have liquid egg whites as a substitute
      • If you are a coach, we wouldn’t recommend forcing your clients to eat whole eggs or even egg whites if they don’t have a personal preference for it. This is how our coaches go about it.
      • If you think whole eggs aren’t nutritious, you are flat out wrong, research shows the yolk is nutrient dense and may contain a variety of bioactive compounds (see above). The removal of the yolk and its associated nutrients from eggs may limit the stimulation of MPS rates as well as well as overall human health (6)
      • Instead of worrying about egg nutrition, specifically whole vs egg whites as a protein source for muscle growth, consider the hierarchy of importance for daily dietary protein (7):
      1. Total Daily Protein Intake – what matters most is hitting your total protein goal at the end of the day (i.e., if your total target protein goal is 200g, then focus on hitting that number)
      2. Protein Distribution – it’s important to evenly distribute your protein at however many meals you eat per day (i.e., 150g per day and 4 meals per day, should be 50g per meal) this way it keeps MPS elevated and MPB (muscle protein breakdown) lowered (Side Note: a good tool to track your protein goal is IIFYM flexible dieting calculator)
      3. Protein Quality – including high-quality protein sources (animal sources) such as Eggs, chicken, milk, beef, fish, etc. To stimulate MPS due to the high leucine content and strong amino acid profiles
      4. Specific Protein Timing (pre/post workout or before bed)- Having enough protein pre and post workout for recovery is important for muscle growth and remodeling, as well as having high-quality protein before bed to keep your body in an anabolic environment.

Now that you got some great info on egg nutrition, specifically regarding whole eggs vs egg whites, keep in mind the hierarchy of importance for daily dietary protein intake is what matters most.

It’s easy to run away with a study like this and say “see, I told you whole eggs are better than egg whites.”

Which is mostly true, but it should never be looked at as a black and white statement or end all be all situation.

Enough with us blabbing away about egg nutrition…Go and enjoy that beautiful sizzling sound of when you have the frying pan on medium-high and you pour your eggs into the pan and get your muscle gainzzz on 😊


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