The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of NOW Foods.
When I started lifting weights for the first time, I had no idea about what to eat in order to build lean muscle mass, so I responded by eating everything. Literally. (Before you laugh, I first started lifting weights in the fall of 2000, an era in which dialup Internet was still relatively common and high-speed Internet was so rare that I thought it was one of the best things about college! Because of this, the great community of fitness and healthy living bloggers which exists these days was non-existent and the amount of information on the Internet about healthy eating and healthy living was very small.) After my buddies and I would pump iron, I’d go to the dining hall and eat everything in sight. Although this enabled me to build a decent amount of muscle mass, this method of nutrition also meant that the muscle mass was hidden under several layers of fat. Not a good thing!
After reading multiple articles about the importance of incorporating weightlifting into a runner’s cross-training plan, I decided that I should start lifting again once I joined a gym. However, I didn’t want to make the same mistakes that I made last time and I was determined to find a way to sustainably build lean muscle mass without relying on products containing a laundry list of artificial ingredients.
Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to try out some of NOW Foods’ natural products through my partnership with FitFluential after I learned that NOW Foods is a company that is founded on the belief that natural is better. NOW Foods is a leader in the nutritional supplements industry that is dedicated to providing customers with a comprehensive approach to wellness by offering a variety of high-quality, natural, and affordable products. NOW Foods offers more than 1,400 natural products that are intentionally created with the goal of advancing optimal health through good nutrition.
Over the past few weeks, I have been using a variety of these products on a regular basis and have incorporated all of them into my training regimen. Here are my thoughts!
When I first started lifting again, I noticed that many of the serious lifters came into the gym with bottles containing a small amount of pink liquid. After a bit of Internet research, I learned that they were taking a substance commonly referred to as “pre-work”, which is used to boost one’s energy level during a workout in order to allow them to lift more. Unfortunately, many of the affordable pre-workout products that I looked into seemed to be nothing more than repackaged energy drinks filled with artificial sweeteners and chemicals.
I was glad when I scanned Pro-GH’s ingredient list and I saw a nice, straightforward list of ingredients. I mixed up my first batch on a cross-training day when I planned to spend most of my workout lifting weights. I thought the sweet taste was delicious!
The Pro-GH kicked in towards the end of my warmup on the elliptical, and I definitely noticed the difference once I started lifting. During later workouts, I began to take the Pro-GH closer to my departure from home so that it wouldn’t kick in until I started lifting.
Best of all, the only side effect of Pro-GH has been increased energy and a positive attitude. I had read horror stories on the Internet from other weightlifters who had gotten sick from their pre-workout products, but fortunately that has never been an issue.
As I mentioned earlier, my biggest goal when I started lifting again was to make sure that I didn’t wind up putting on layers of fat along with muscle mass. This product jumped out at me when I saw that it was intended to help build lean tissue.
After my running and cross-training workouts, I’ve made a habit of consuming one serving of this product in a glass of water immediately upon my return home. In the morning following a heavy workout during the previous evening, I’ll drop a serving of this in my morning coffee. At first, I thought the taste was slightly bitter, but I have gotten used to it over time and I don’t notice it anymore. For those of you who consume green smoothies after a workout, putting a serving of this into your smoothie before blending would probably completely mask the taste.
Although many factors affect one’s weight, I definitely know that I haven’t been putting on fat along with muscle mass over the past few weeks. My weight has steadily dropped over the past few weeks, but the amount that I’ve been able to lift and my reps have increased.
After I first started lifting again, I decided to get lean protein from fat-free milk and fat-free plain yogurt. Unfortunately, I found myself needing to make bi-weekly trips to the grocery store to make sure that we had enough of these items for my needs and for general household usage as well. Pretty hard to do in the midst of a busy week! We had some samples of protein powders that I’ve received in the mail on hand, but most of them were filled with artificial ingredients. Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but I just don’t see the point in trying to improve one’s health and wellness if doing so requires constant consumption of artificial products!
In the past, I had never viewed brown rice as a major source of protein, so I was intrigued when this product appeared in the shipment. I was pleased when I saw that it contained 4 grams of protein and only 15 calories per serving. Furthermore, I was glad that the product clearly stated that it was all natural and did not include any aspartame, sucralose, or acesulfame-K.
After my workout, I put one serving of this in my blender bottle with some water. It was good, but I doubt that most people would opt to drink it straight up on a regular basis. When I added one serving to some fat-free Greek yogurt along with a small amount of jam, though, I barely noticed that it was there. This would definitely be a great product to add to a post-workout smoothie or a post-run chocolate milk.
My only caveat about this product is that you have to be careful if you’re using it in a house with someone who’s allergic to rice. During some of my hastier moments, I’ve gotten some of this on the floor, and Butters (our pup) promptly licked it up. Butters is allergic to pretty much every type of grain and rice imaginable, and he wasn’t a happy guy after inadvertently sampled this product.
This product comes in capsule form and it is a combination of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. I really like this product because it addresses two big needs in an athlete’s life: the need to maintain a strong immune system and the need for quick recovery after a tough workout. Zinc helps restore tissue and strengthens one’s immune system. One major advantage of this product in comparison to other sources of zinc—such as many cold relief tablets containing zinc—is that this doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste. Magnesium is a mineral that helps the body maintain normal muscle function and a healthy electrolyte balance, making this a great product to consume during the summer months when sweaty outdoor training can easily deplete any athlete of much-needed electrolytes.
I’ve been taking this regularly over the past few weeks, and I’m crediting it with helping me bounce back strong from one of the worst sinus infections and sore throats that I’ve had in years. A combination of rest, hydration, antioxidant-rich foods, and ZMA helped me get back into my training cycle in less than a week!
This is another product that comes in an easy-to-swallow capsule form. Prior to using this product, I had no knowledge about the benefits of citrulline, but I’m glad that I’m taking it now because it is an amino acid that supports effective protein metabolism and helps maintain one’s immune system. (Who knew that I’d learn so much science through blogging?) According to the bottle, ammonia is a byproduct of protein metabolism, and citrulline helps flush ammonia from one’s body. (I knew I should have paid more attention in Honors Chemistry!)
In addition to the products discussed in this review, NOW Foods also offers a wide variety of products ranging from nutrient-rich foods and supplements to personal care and sports nutrition items, so you should definitely be able to find a few products that will meet your fitness and wellness needs. For those of you who are interested in learning more about or purchasing NOW Foods’ products, please visit their website at www.nowfoods.com. If you’re impatient like me, you can even use the “Find a Retailer” function for each specific product on their website to locate a store in your community who sells their products!
I hope that you have found my thoughts to be helpful and informative as you move forward with your health, fitness, and wellness journeys! Please let me know if you have any questions about these products in the comments.