Vegan Coffee & Coconut Protein Powder review

Tone it up Cafe Latte and Coconut Protein PowdersFinding a good-tasting vegan protein powder that doesn’t have sugar, or a funky texture, is definitely a challenge. Target Stores sell Tone It Up Vegan protein powder in tubs. I bought the Coconut, and the Café Latte protein powder flavors for $22.99 each.

Unlike other Tone it up protein powders, these two aren’t very sweet, or very thick. The problem is that they needed extra sweetness, and a bit more thickness, so you may want to add honey or stevia, and your favorite vegan milk instead of water. They also have a chalky, grittiness I couldn’t get past.

The café latte flavor is on-point. I found that if I add 1 tablespoon of the café latte with my plain collagen protein powder by Great Lakes, it’s actually really good. The coconut flavor doesn’t taste like coconut, and I can’t even describe what it tastes like, other than bland.

The bottom line is that these flavored protein powders have an off-putting texture, and are not items I plan to purchase again.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Muscle Milk

dairy free chocolate muscle milk

This high-protein breakfast drink is light, delicious, packed with nutrients, and is the perfect morning pick-me-up.

  • 1 cup So-Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 banana, frozen, broken into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 squeeze of Sweetleaf sweet vanilla drops*
  • ¼ cup plain Great Lakes collagen protein powder
  • 1 T café latte Tone-it-up protein powder**
  • 1 Tablespoon carob powder
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened, toasted coconut flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon raw cacao nibs

Put all ingredients in a blender in order above, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

300 calories      24 grams protein      30 grams net carbohydrates

*This zero calorie sweetener can be found from:

**Here’s where to get this protein powder flavor:

muscle calorie burning explained


You want to eat more, or maybe you want to shed some bodyfat, so you’ve decided to lift in order to gain muscle. While exercise burns calories, and the process of breaking down and building muscle burns calories too, the amount of calories one pound of muscle burns daily is a mere 4-6 calories. So, even if you put on an additional 10 pounds of muscle, that’s under 100 calories those muscles eat up.

Adding muscle takes time too. For a beginner lifter, a pound of muscle gained per month is ideal (maximal). After about a year, those gains taper off.

If I’m in the gym weight training, I’ll burn over 300 calories in an hour. If I’m training clients for three hours, and I lift for an hour that same day, I’m burning about 600 calories. That’s not too shabby for a tiny female like me (I’m 5 feet tall).

If you want to eat more total calories, or lose bodyfat, adding more daily activity, in addition to adding muscle, is the way to go.

photo: me


Full-body 1-hour beginner gym workout

My clients asked me to provide a workout they can do at the gym on days they aren’t training with me. You can do this same workout twice a week for a month, after that , switch up the workouts. If you can do more than 15 reps, increase the weight.

why 2 meals a day is a problem

watch those portions

People who eat just two meals per day tend to be overweight and deficient in nutrients. Studies have shown that the human body can only utilize 20-25 grams a protein at a time, so that extra protein is wasted, and the extra calories gets converted to fat.

The frequent breakdown process of foods is calorie burning it itself, so it’s good to eat frequently. When you wait over three hours between meals, your body thinks it’s starving and can slow your metabolism. For all of these reasons, it’s much better to have four small meals, or three small meals and one snack, spread throughout the day. When you eat several times a day, it’s less likely you’ll overeat at dinner.

While eating more frequently is not a guarantee that you’ll lose extra body fat, it’s a move in the right direction. The next step is to make sure those portions are appropriate for your age, height, and activity level.

when a cheat meal can backfire


While some people swear that eating clean, except for one large cheat meal or snack per week, keeps them on track for maintaining or losing weight, it can backfire. If that cheat meal, and/or that decadent dessert is so calorie-laden that your total calories for that week exceed the amount of calories you are burning, you’re going to see weight gain, not weight loss.

If that cheat meal, or snack wasn’t as delicious, or satisfying as you had imagined all week long in anticipation, that could be mentally detrimental, and set you up for binging later that week in hopes of getting that endorphine rush you expected.

If a cheat meal, or snack, is not working to get you to your weight loss goals, flexible dieting might be better for you. A flexible diet is where you eat a varitey of healthy foods you like, in reasonable portions, and sprinkle in some not-so-healthy options (wine, chips, cheesecake, hearty meal out), every now and then when you’re really craving it, and on special occasions.

What works for your best friend may not work for you and that’s okay, we’re all different. Try various diet methods to see what sticks.

The real reason low-carb diets work

tortilla chips with salsa

People are losing a ton of weight on low-carb diets, so does that mean you have to give up carbs? The real reason why people lose weight on low-carbohydrate diets, is because carbs contain water and calories.

When people eat fewer carbs, they are reducing their water intake, and are likely to be dehydrated, and weigh less. Another reason is that cutting out foods, like carbs, is, in effect, cutting out calories. It’s the calories, not the carbs, that cause weight gain.

You can cut back on fat and/or protein and lose weight too. An excess of any food will cause unwanted weight gain. Carbohydrates like fruit and vegetables should never be omitted. In fact, people need to eat MORE fruits and vegetables, and eat less dairy, fatty meat, oils, and unhealthy, high-calorie, low-nutrient carbs from pasta, chips, pretzels, soda, bread, bagels, candy, waffles, pancakes, cookies, ice cream, and flour tortillas. You don’t need to ban these foods unless you want to; just reduce the portion.

While grains are whole foods, it’s a good idea to lower the intake of grains (we eat way too much). Grains spike blood sugar and contain a lot of calories (typically 150 calories in a mere 1/2 cup). Swap out some of those grains for more vegetables, which contain more nutrients and make you feel fuller from the naturally-occurring fiber.

You don’t need to give up carbs, but you do need to reduce calories and add more activity to lose body fat.


why 2-3 pounds a week weight loss is best

scale with tape measureMost people want to lose excess bodyfat as quickly as possible, but weight loss exceeding 3 pounds per week causes muscle loss (1). As much as 50% of weight loss from rapid weight loss is from lost muscle (1). While seeing the numbers on the scale is satisfying, “muscle loss slows metabolism…” which means you’ll have to eat even less (1).

Just because a fat loss program is popular and people lose a lot of weight, doesn’t mean it’s the best program to follow (1). In fact, people who are on Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers regain the weight back after just one year (1).

For these reasons, I recommend people lose 1-2 pounds per week. Not only is this easier, it preserves muscle, and the weight tends to stay off.

If you’re struggling with losing weight, you’re not alone. Some programs were designed to fail so that people will have to sign up again and again, taking your money over and over again. A flexible diet where you can go out to eat, make meals at home, and treat yourself every once is a while, is easier to adhere to, and promotes a healthy body and mind.

A flexible diet is what I follow. If you want to check out my flexible eating program, go to


(1) Source: Fahey, EdD, Thomas. Strength and Conditioning. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pgs. 521m 522, 524.


Overnight Blueberry-Oat Smoothie

overnight blueberry oat smoothie by fit girlNo time to make breakfast? You can make this the night before, or just before you leave, and just pop in the blender for a fast, tasty and healthy breakfast.

Overnight Blueberry-Oat Smoothie

  • ¼ cup dry toasted oats
  • 1 cup Calafia Farms toasted coconut almond milk beverage
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder*
  • 1 squeeze of Sweetleaf sweet vanilla drops**
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon Acai powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions: Place all ingredients in a sealed glass jar, shake and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, shake jar, and pour into your blender and blend. You can also make and drink it right away.

*I found that collagen protein and Tone it Up protein powders don’t work well. The protein powder that I’ve found works best in this particular recipe is vanilla egg white protein powder from Naked Nutrition. Here’s the link:

**This is a zero calorie sweetener that I love. Here’s where I get it from:




correlation between strength & flexibility


Weight training is the best modality for muscle growth, but lifting weights shortens muscles and makes us less flexible. Oddly enough, flexibility and strength work together. “With extremely poor flexibility, strength is not gained as quickly compared with individuals with normal flexibility.” Research has shown that if an opposing muscle group has limited flexibility, like tight hamstrings, it also hinders strength and size, of the quads.

If you have trouble gaining muscle mass, and are eating sufficient nutrients, calories and protein, are changing-up and progressing your workouts, are sleeping 7-8 hours a day, a lack of flexibility might be what’s killing your gains.

 If you have limited flexibility, make sure to gently stretch at the end of every workout for 5-10 minutes, holding each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. You don’t need to as flexible as Gumby to get stronger, so don’t stress out if you can’t do a backbend.

Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pgs. 311-312.

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