NOW Foods Product Review

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.

NOW Foods All Products

All of the products that I received! (Photo by Ms. Lindsy Rivera)

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!

Pro-GH

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!

NOW Foods Pro-GH

Yum! (Photo courtesy of Ms. Lindsy Rivera)

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.

 

L-Leucine Powder

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.

NOW Foods L-Leucine Instant Powder

Lean muscle tissue awaits you! (Photo courtesy of Ms. Lindsy Rivera)

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.

 

Sprouted Brown Rice Protein

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.

NOW Foods Sprouted Brown Rice Protein

Brown rice just isn’t for dinner anymore! (Photo courtesy of Ms. Lindsy Rivera)

 

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.

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“Mah stummeh hurts…ah’m gonna stick with chicken for mah protein now”

 

ZMA

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.

NOW Foods ZMA

Strengthen your immune system and your muscles with ZMA! (Photo courtesy of Ms. Lindsy Rivera)

 

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!

 

L-Citrulline

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!)

NOW Foods L-Citrulline

Keep your immune system strong so you’re not sidelined with an illness! (Photo courtesy of Ms. Lindsy Rivera)

 

 

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. 

As I’ve moved forward in my journey towards wellness, I have become increasingly concerned with what I’m putting into my body. Sure, I’ve done the easy things – I’ve cut out fast food for the most part, stopped drinking soda pop, and found healthy substitutes for junk food.

dont drink soda

Don’t think you can give up soda? Neither did this former 4-can-per-day guzzler, but I did! You can too. In the future, I’ll share a few tips about how to wean yourself off soda. (Source)

As time has gone on, though, I’ve really gotten into the habit of reading lists of ingredients before I consume things. Unless I’m eating at a restaurant, I have made a habit out of not consuming anything unless I can get a general sense of what’s in it. (This has made for a few awkward moments at social gatherings when folks have handed me boxed food or beverages and I have instantly started scanning the ingredients right in front of them!) As a general rule, I tend to stay away from items that have ingredient lists whose lengths rival War and Peace or items that contain a tremendous amount of artificial sweeteners.

long ingredient list

Always a bad sign when it takes longer to read through the ingredient list than it does to eat! (Source)

 

Earlier in the year, I started taking a look at the type of hydration and fuel that I was using during my training. I figured that there was no point in spending several hours running and training each week in order to improve my health if I was going to consume a plethora of harmful substances in order to have the energy to do so.

When I scanned the ingredient list of the sports drinks that I had been consuming over the past few years, I was dismayed. In an effort to minimize my calorie intake, I had been consuming a great deal of zero-calorie sports drinks. After doing some reading, I learned that many of these beverages had sucralose, which is an artificial sweetener that can potentially affect the body’s insulin levels and that caused leukemia in mice in a scientific study. No thanks! When I took a look at the lists of traditional sports drinks, I noticed that the second ingredient on the list was often “Liquid Sugar” or “Sugar”. Unbelievable! If I’m going to limit consumption of my beloved Mike and Ikes to holidays, what’s the point of drinking sugar?

sugar in sport drink

Drinking these types of things after exercising is like robbing Peter to pay Paul health-wise! (Source)

I started to look around for a healthier option that would allow me to hydrate properly before and after workouts without compromising my health and long-term wellness in the process. When the folks over at Ignite Naturals reached out to me earlier in the year and asked if I wanted to try a sample, I thought that I may have found what I wanted. Their initial email to me clearly stated that their product consisted of 100% plant-based electrolytes, which was exactly what I had in mind! Read the rest of this entry

Last week, I shared a few tips about how to start off your morning on a healthy note. Let’s move onto the next part of the day – the afternoon!

1.) Eat Lunch

We’ll start with the basics. There’s no point in talking about how to eat healthy at lunch if you’re not eating lunch. Many folks don’t eat lunch for a variety of reasons. Some don’t think they have time during the day, while others think that eating less during the day will help them lose weight.  Others don’t eat lunch because they don’t take the time to pack it and don’t want to spend the money to buy it.

If you don’t think that you have time to eat lunch, I encourage you to reconsider that view. Studies have shown that well-fed employees are more productive employees. If you really want to do the best possible job for your employer, make sure to eat!

eat lunch 1

Eat these foods to perform better at work! (Source)

eat lunch 2

Eating these common lunch foods can help make you more productive! (Source)

As I mentioned last week, skipping a meal with the goal of accelerating weight loss is a bad idea. If you skip lunch, you’ll find yourself feeling ravenous around 3PM. It’s a lot harder to walk past that vending machine unscathed when you’re starving! When you get home, your appetite will be out of control and you’ll be more likely to overeat, make an unplanned detour at a fast food restaurant, or eat frozen foods that are packed with calories, preservatives, and sodium. Read the rest of this entry

This morning, I weighed in and the scale read 190.0!

Because I rarely do anything in a conventional fashion, I neglected to do an initial “weigh in” on January 1, 2012 when I began my weight loss journey. I’m guessing that I was in the vicinity of 225-220 pounds because that is the weight at which I had been for quite awhile, but I don’t know for sure. Unfortunately, this means I don’t have an exact count on the amount of weight that I’ve lost. At the very least, I’ve lost 30 pounds over the past two and a half years. Praise God!

BeforeAfter

One of the biggest things that helped me lose weight was making several small substitutions in my diet and small changes in my eating habits. Over time, the effects of these changes added up to have a very positive impact on my health. In my opinion, none of these changes are exceptionally expensive or hard to make.

Over the next three weeks, I’ll be sharing a series of three posts with a few small, yet powerful, changes that folks can make in their own diets on the journey to health and wellness. This week’s post will be about small changes that folks can make at breakfast. Next week’s post will be about lunch, and I’ll end the series with a post about dinnertime! (I prefer to call it suppertime, but most people don’t like to call it that. Why is that?)

1) Eat Breakfast

You can’t make changes in what you eat for breakfast until you start eating breakfast. Some well-intentioned folks who are trying to lose weight don’t eat breakfast because they don’t want to consume calories, while others succumb to a busy morning schedule and run out of time to make breakfast in the morning.

Eating breakfast is crucial if you want to lose weight! I know that it may seem counter-intuitive to say that eating food is essential to losing weight, but it is. Read the rest of this entry

The winner of the Running for Hope 5K Race Entry Giveaway is Brian Michal, my fellow 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Official Blogger!

If you’re still interested in running, it’s not too late! Online registration for the Running for Hope 5K ends on Thursday, June 26. Race day registration begins at 6:45A.M. on Saturday, June 28.

Congratulations to Brian, and I hope that all who participate have a fun, fast race!

Are you looking to start off next Saturday (June 28) with a great 5K to support an excellent cause?

If so, be sure to enter my Running For Hope 5K race entry giveaway!

run_for_love1

 

 

 

 

 

This race is raising support for the Love Without Boundaries Foundation. According to the race website, the vision of the Love Without Boundaries is “to provide the most loving and compassionate help possible to impoverished children in China, and to show the world that every children, regardless of his or her needs, deserves to experience love and be treated with dignity and care.”

love-without-boundaries-logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This organization provides a wide variety of wonderful services to orphans in China, including education, foster care, healing homes, medical care, nutrition, and orphanage assistance. More information about Love Without Boundaries can be found here and here. Read the rest of this entry

2014 Towpath Ten-Ten Race Recap

The Towpath Ten-Ten is the second race in the Towpath Trilogy, which are a series of races that are designed to raise money Canalway Partners, the organization that promotes and develop the trails along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath. (The first race was the Towpath Half Marathon and 5 Miler in April.)

Last year, I had some great training runs leading up to last year’s Ten-Ten. Although I came out too fast, I had a great race. As the year went on, though, I realized that I may have come back too quickly after the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon and the Ten-Ten because I came down with a variety of injuries that sidelined me for much of late June, July, and early August. This year, I decided to take it a bit easier after the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon and the 2014 St. Joseph Academy Earn Your Spots 5K and focus more on cross-training.

cross training

Core work in June leads to great marathons in October! Loved helping Sheila learn how to use the bench press machine too.

As I planned out my running schedule for the last two weeks before the Towpath Ten-Ten, I decided to do four runs: one 3 miler, one 6 miler, one 9 miler, and one 3 miler.

Each of these runs was very, very difficult. I’m attributing most of the difficulty to the hotter temperatures that have descended upon Greater Cleveland in recent weeks. My 9 miler on Tuesday evening was my worst training run of the year and one of my top 5 worst training runs of all time. Read the rest of this entry

The weather in Greater Cleveland (and elsewhere) is heating up! A few weeks ago, Sheila mentioned that the weather went from being 50 degrees to being 80 degrees in the span of a few weeks. Generally, temperatures in June tend to hang around in the 70s, but evidently Mother Nature had different plans for 2014.

Many of us are starting up fall marathon training plans. Barring injury or another government shutdown, I’ll be running the 2014 Towpath Marathon, and I know many others have started training for Chicago, Akron, Marine Corps Marathon (which will hopefully be my 2015 marathon) and many more.

For those of us who are running the Towpath Ten-Ten this Sunday, we could easily be facing 80 degree temperatures at the start.

What’s a runner to do in the heat? Here are five very, very basic tips for successful running during the dog days of summer:

summertime butters

Somebody’s ready for summer!

 

Read the rest of this entry

After the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon ended, I was hungry for another race. A great week of active recovery filled with yoga, a 5 mile dog walk, and elliptical workouts helped my legs bounce back relatively quickly.

cross training elliptical active recovery workouts

While I was The Hooley in Kamm’s Corners, I stopped by St. Joseph Academy’s booth and saw that they were hosting the Earn Your Spots 5K on Memorial Day morning. My mom is a proud alumna of St. Joseph Academy, and I also thought that I should take advantage of the fact that this race was within walking distance of my house. I told myself that I’d wait and see how my legs felt before I signed up for it. Last year, I came back too quickly after some races and I wound up hurting myself, which consequently put me a bit behind the proverbial eight ball with marathon training. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again this year. When Thursday night rolled around, my legs were feeling great, and I went ahead and registered.

_earnyourspots

I thought this was a cool title for a race! (Source)

 

Heading into the race, I had hopes of setting a new 5K PR, but I told myself that I wasn’t going to injure myself in the process. I set a new 5K PR with a time of 24:12 at the 2014 Bay Village Snoball 5K, and I thought I had a relatively good chance of setting a new PR. Unfortunately, I started to feel slightly sick over the weekend, and when Sunday night rolled around, I wasn’t feeling the typical prerace excitement that I usually feel when I head to bed. Read the rest of this entry

When I ended Part 1, I had just concluded the first mile of the race and I was incredibly confused about my time.

The first major incline across the Hope Memorial\Lorain-Carnegie Bridge went well. My family said they would be at the end of the bridge, but I didn’t see them there. I didn’t want them to think that they came out for nothing and didn’t see me! As it turned out, they just went straight to St. Ignatius instead.

Running through my old stomping grounds of Tremont was a lot of fun, and hearing the praise music from the Spanish Assembly of God Church helped lift my spirits for a bit.

Shortly thereafter, I passed through the Mile 4 water stop and saw Sheila and many friends from church. Seeing them was a gigantic pick-me-up and I headed towards Ohio City feeling a bit better about everything. I told myself that life would go on even if I didn’t PR and that completing a half marathon at any speed is a big accomplishment and that the best thing to do was to run as hard as I could and let the timing chips and God take care of the rest.

photo(2)

My friends and church family who staffed the Scranton Road Ministries C.D.C. Water Stop at Mile 4!

Read the rest of this entry