Where Do You Get Your Protein?

Don’t worry, this blog isn’t going to reiterate the benefits protein intake has on your body - because you already know all of that right?! That being said, I’m about to share some incredible information that will blow your mind!

Ready for it?


Boom. I just blew your mind right? If so, you must be one of those enlightened individuals who are beginning to look at their food intake a little differently.

These days, most of us know that your daily dose of protein doesn't have to be a choice between chicken, beef, or fish. However, beyond eating eggs or heavily processed soy imitators, a lot of us are stumped when it comes to finding alternatives to meat.

Plant-based foods can be just as potent sources of the essential macronutrient and they require little to no prep time to make. This is good to know when the struggle to avoid factory-farmed foods is a real concern - not only for animal rights… but also your health. 

Here are some of my favorite and completely plant-based protein options:

All varieties are full of protein and because of their near perfect one-to-one ratio of protein to fiber, a bowl of these legumes leave you feeling just as satisfied as a piece of animal protein (one cooked cup of kidney beans contains 15g of protein). Worried about indigestion? Rinse thoroughly or soak beans and lentils to eliminate the starchy coating and reduce the risk of bloating.

Quinoa, a vegan’s best friend, this seed is the superstar of the plant-protein world. But just because you’ve keep hearing about it doesn’t mean you should consider it a thing of the past. Due to its unique texture, quinoa is ideal for replacing meat in certain dishes. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein and all nine essential amino acids, so it deserves to take center stage in any meal. Throw it into winter chili instead of ground beef or form it into patties for falafel or quinoa burgers.

Chia Seeds
You can soak these tiny seeds in almond milk to make a simple chia pudding breakfast, or add them to smoothies, oats, and anything else you can think of for an extra kick of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Throwing in a single ounce of chia seeds will add about 5 grams of protein to any meal or snack.

Hemp Hearts
These little guys are the seeds found at the top of the hemp plant, and they taste a little nutty with the consistency of sunflower seeds or pine nuts. Although they won’t get you high… they will provide approximately 10g of protein per 2 tablespoons. Their delicate flavor makes them an excellent addition to any dish that needs a protein pick-me-up.

 Flax Seeds

Flax is a whole grain that is filled with numerous nutrients including a good amount of protein (approx 6 grams per 3 tablespoons) and a high level of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients.

A tablespoon of spirulina has 4 grams of protein, and a cup contains a whopping 64 grams—twice as much as a cup of chicken! But let’s be real, you’re probably not dumping this dried, green, seaweed by the cup-full into your morning smoothie. Stick to two to three tablespoons for a hearty dose of protein in addition to many more nutrients than most animal products.

Powder Supplements
Looking to swap your dairy-filled protein shake with a plant based option? My two favorite brands are Sun Warrior - Warrior Blend, and Genuine Health - Fermented Vegan Protein Powder. Mix with almond milk and you’re good to go!

Armed with seven vegan protein options, you're totally prepared to take your Meatless Monday game up a notch and start applying these recipes on a daily basis!

Dr. Craig McNamee
Co-Founder of Catalyst Health
Strength & Conditioning Specialist 

How to Make New Years Resolutions + Stick to Them

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!....Now what?

It is actually 2017. If you haven't yet, take a second to breath that in - we have made it this far. Congratulate yourselves, because it hasn't been a bump-free ride. We're now only 12 years from the robot takeover of Terminator 2, two years past the events of Back to Future 2, and just about ready to start the rebellion against the republic in the Star Wars movies (what year do those take place in anyway?). Throughout all the changes we've seen in our lifetime, one thing has remained the same: People still make (and fail to keep) New Years resolutions. 

Before you say "Well I never make New Years resolutions..." and stop reading, this is relevant to anyone who sets goals, which should be everyone, so read on. 

While over 40% of people in North America make resolutions, only approximately 8% of us actually achieve what we set out to do. Yet year in and year out, we say things to ourselves like "this is the year I'm going to get in shape", or "this is the year I'm going to eat healthy". I don't blame you if you had these thoughts as recently as two weeks ago, but if statistics are right, a large number of you (myself included) have already broken a resolution or two and find yourself falling into the same pattern as years past. How do we keep from repeating the cycle? How can we do a better job at keeping our resolutions? There are many reasons resolutions can fail, but that doesn't mean we should not make them (and it also doesn't make for a very uplifting blog post...), so we won't focus on the negative. Instead, here are a few helpful tips on how to refine your resolutions and make 2017 a year of accomplishment....

1. Set specific resolutions and plan
Setting specific resolutions is a good start. How will you know what steps to take if you don't know what you are stepping towards? A popular example is "I want to lose weight in the new year". Cool. Well how much weight? A better example would be "I want to lose 20 pounds in the new year". Good. Now you have a specific goal, a timeline, and can better create an effective action plan to achieve your resolution.

2. Set a few resolutions at a time

Although we may want to make more changes as the year goes on, it is a good idea to set just 2 or 3 resolutions at a time. That way it is easier to maintain a focused approach. After the first few have been achieved, or the new habits have been created, move on to the next few goals.

3. Write down your resolutions
It is easy to think about changes you would like to make heading into a new year, but it's just as easy to forget them too. Writing down goals and re-visiting them regularly is a highly effective way to help fulfill goals. A popular way of doing this is writing each resolution on a piece of paper or post it note and keeping them somewhere you have to see them regularly (bedroom door, refrigerator door, bathroom mirror etc).

4. Include another person
Often times having someone to push you and hold you accountable is a valuable tool in reaching personal goals. Sharing your resolutions and plans with a supportive friend, co-worker, or family member is a good way to add motivation.

5. Don't give up
A broken resolution isn't the end of the world. In fact, new years resolutions are great because you usually have an entire year to achieve them. In that respect, falling off the wagon in February does not mean you can no longer achieve your goal. Revisit your written goals and start fresh again the next day, and be sure to plan around whatever it is that derailed you the first time.

6. Reward yourself

Choose a healthy way to pat yourself on the back for accomplishing even the smallest part of your goals. This will keep your spirits high and will have you more inclined to continue to pursue your resolutions further.

7. Pick resolutions you really want

Making resolutions is a good way to improve your Self. With Self in mind, make sure the resolution is something that You really want. Be certain the goals and action plan align with your own personal values, and are not just things you think you should do, or things other people want you to do. 


How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

The holiday’s come and our fitness takes a hit. It happens every year: studies have shown that most adults gain weight over the holiday season and you’re likely amongst those counted. With a little mindfulness and three easy-to-follow hacks, this season will be different. 

For most, the holidays are a time to indulge. Glutinous food is abound and it’s hard to show restraint.  Did you know that the average holiday meal ranges from 3500 to 4500 calories! That’s almost three to four times the calories needed for one day! In fact, 3500 calories is equal to one pound of fat! One of the most effective ways to balance your fitness goals and ensure you stay on track when it comes to eating is snacking healthily before you head to one of likely many events scheduled over the season. The method is simple but highly effective, and one that can be used throughout the year. Focus on healthy fats and lean sources of protein, as these will help to slow digestion and the absorption of alcohol.

With holiday celebrations also come larger than normal amounts of alcohol. It’s important to remain balanced, so rather than depriving yourself altogether, be smart with your alcohol intake.  This is a question I get all the time: Which alcohol is the healthiest??  The best way to go is to mix with water (sparkling or flat). Not only does it dilute the alcohol content to keep you going at a steadier pace, but it helps to level out the dehydration caused by your drink. Club soda is definitely better than carbonated fake juices—even better, try coconut water a wonderful hydrating mixer to keep you going through the night.  Loaded with health benefits, this hydrating drink is additive-free, and will replenish your electrolyte levels to help you wake up happier the next morning.

Staying active will give you energy, reduce stress, tension and, of course, help subsidize some of the extra calories you may be eating. Travel allows for plenty of cardio options!  When you’re not in your regular routine you can add high-intensity interval training, which burns the maximum calories in the minimum amount of time, can be a blessing over the holidays. Set an exercise bike, treadmill or step machine for the interval program option, where periods of working out at high speed are interspersed with slower recovery intervals. If you don't have access to such machines, try sprints,  skipping, and burpees to name a few, alternating bursts of quick activity with a slower pace.  Lastly remember balance and moderation are key building blocks of a healthy lifestyle during the holidays and throughout the year.  

Devon Collins
Strength & Conditioning Specialist

Alternative treatment of headaches

Headaches are a very common issue that likely everyone has experienced at one point or another. What was typically considered standard procedure – popping a painkiller , we now know is not necessarily the best approach to deal with headaches due to issues surrounding dependence, as well as negative repercussions on the stomach and liver with overuse.

So how can we manage our pain without turning to pills?
The trick is identifying the type of headache you are experiencing and addressing the root cause.

The 3 main categories of headaches are
1.     Vascular
2.     Inflammatory
3.     Musculoskeletal


The most common vascular headache that is experienced is a migraine. Note that this term is often used to describe a particularly severe headache, however that is incorrect. Migraines are a particular type of headache believed to be caused by rapid constriction and dilation of blood vessels in the head. The mechanism is not fully understood, however it is thought to have a neurological component as well. Migraines range in severity, and can be proceeded by an aura (visual disturbances), as well as accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraines typically have triggers that are associated with them.

Some common triggers include:

·      Tannic foods (tea, dark chocolate, red wine,cheese etc)
·      Citrus fruit
·      MSG
·      Stress
·      Sleep deprivation
·      Specific scents

Common treatment: Avoidance of triggers, as well as prescription medication taken as a preventative or abortive measure.

Alternative treatment:
·      Stress management through alternative therapies such as massage, meditation, and acupuncture has been shown to be effective to reduce migraine frequency and may  cut down on the amount of medication necessary for management
·      Peppermint oil has also been shown to be effective in stress reduction and as a distractant/ pain modulator.



The most common inflammatory type of headache is a sinus headache.

The paranasal sinuses are hollow cavities within the skull, lined by tissue called mucosa. This tissue can become inflamed or irritated if the sinuses become full of mucus. This inflammation and/or pressure from the filled sinuses can cause a headache. Pain usually presents in the forehead, ocular, upper teeth region(s). In order to relieve this headache, you need to address the sinus issue.

Common treatment for sinus inflammation and lack of drainage is to take an over the counter decongestant. Antibiotics might be necessary if a bacterial infection is present.

Alternative treatment options:
·      eucalyptus oil in hot water,creating an antimicrobial steam
·      Using a neti pot or other irrigation system
·      Alternating hot and cold towels over the face
·      Acupressure over the sinus regions (the colored areas indicated above) can help facilitate drainage and offer temporary relief from the pressure


This category encompasses the most common types of headaches that result from either joint dysfunction in the neck (cervicogenic headache), or muscular issues (tension headache).
These headaches will often present in the temple region or at the base of the skull and will be accompanied by neck and/or shoulder pain, stiffness and restricted movement.

The good news about this type of headache is that there is a lot that we as practitioners can do about it.
Pain causing tissue impairments

·      Trigger points aka “knots”
·      Increased muscle tension
·      Fascial restrictions
·      Compression of nerves/blood vessels
·      Compression of the joints in the neck


·      Poor posture (seated, slouched, head forward)
·      Carrying a heavy bag
·      Poor shoulder mobility
·      Poor breathing patterns
·      Trauma (whiplash, motor vehicle accident)
·      Poor eyesight
·      Grinding or clenching the teeth
·      Physical or emotional stress


The treatment approach will be dictated by the underlying cause of the musculoskeletal headache. The combination of soft tissue massage, joint mobilization and an exercise/stretch program is typically indicated.
Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Massage and Acupuncture are all effective and complementary therapies that can treat musculoskeletal headaches.

Self care
·      Heat can help reduce muscle and fascial tightness
·      Meditation, progressive relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing can help to manage stress
·      Peppermint oil can help reduce stress and act as a pain modulator
·      Practicing postural awareness, limiting screen time and time spent seated

**This is by no means an exhaustive list of headache types, only a select few of the most common.

Kisner, Carolyn., and Lynn Allen Colby. Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques. 5th ed. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis, 2007.

Sugar: Not so Sweet

It is no secret that sugar is bad for us. It causes cavities, makes our kids hyper, weakens our immune system and increases our daily caloric intake.  But what if it was doing more than that? What if sugar was responsible for the rapid rise in cases of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease? What if there were recent studies linking sugar consumption to Alzheimer’s and the spread of cancer? And what if sugar was actually so addictive that we couldn’t stop eating it, even if we tried?

Pretty scary.

Sugar is found in almost everything – not just candy and ice cream. Start reading labels: sugar is the main ingredient in over 80% of food items sold in the grocery store. Pasta sauce, cereal, crackers, salad dressing, peanut butter, etc.. Even the labels themselves can be deceiving. The word “sugar” may not appear at all. Other common names include corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, glucose-fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, mannitol and molasses (to name just a few). All sugars (including natural ones like honey and pure maple syrup) are processed by the body in the same way. Physiologically-speaking: sugar is sugar.

When sugar is consumed in large quantities (or even worse – large quantities in liquid form i.e. pop or fruit juice) it is sent directly to the liver where it is immediately metabolized into fat. This leads to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome – both of which, in time, are the primary causes of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Sugar is completely void of any nutrients. It contains no fibre, no protein, no vitamins and no minerals. In fact: you’re the process of digesting sugar actually depletes the body of essential nutrients. Vitamin D, Vitamin C, B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium and chromium levels are all disrupted by sugar consumption. In small doses no big deal but imagine the long-term health effects that could arise if you are chronically deficient in all of these essential nutrients?

According to the most recent analysis from Statistics Canada the average Canadian consumes 110 grams of sugar daily. That’s 26 teaspoons a day – approximately 47 litres of sugar per year. Those statistics are from 2004 – odds are today’s numbers come in even higher.

All of the above should be reason enough to ditch the sweets, but it’s not that easy. Sugar is addictive. Research has shown it to stimulate the same parts of the brain as drugs or alcohol. A famous study published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) found refined sugar to be more addictive than cocaine. When rats were given the choice over 94% of them chose sugar water over the drug (even the rats who were already dependent on cocaine quickly shifted to the sugar once it became available).

Research regarding the long-term effects of sugar consumption is still not definitive. Refined sugar was not a staple in the standard North American diet until recently. There are many factors that contribute to disease and illness – some that are within our control and others that are not. But it certainly does make you think twice about what you are putting into your body on a daily basis. What we are dealing with here may be more than just empty calories…

Danielle Bossin-Hardy
Holistic Nutritionist
Strength & Conditioning Specialist 

Enough talk. Get it done.

Enough talk. Get it done. 

Goals. We all have them. Unfortunately, not everyone can say that they have the best success rate when it comes to sticking to their goals all the way through. With the end of August approaching, and September on its way, many new fitness goals will be gearing up for a second coming. #newyearsresolutionpart2

Here are 5 tips that will help you keep on the right path towards your fitness goals.

1.Get it over with

Rise and grind! Get the crust out the eye and get your goals out of the way first thing in the morning. Putting the gym first on your to-do list has many benefits. It gets the blood flowing, metabolism moving, and finally, you get it out of the way. If you start with exercise first thing in the day you can put the “I'm too tired” excuse to rest.

2. Invest in your fitness

Make it cost you. Investing in yourself by purchasing a personal training or group fitness classes will greatly help with keeping yourself accountable. We don’t want money to go to waste by registering for a gym membership just to not attend. Investing in a trainer or a class will help to push you into the right direction. A good trainer will push you to take the right steps towards conquering your goals. Many trainers will also have cancellation fees which will add to you taking an initiative to get up and out of bed to get towards your goals. Of course, it isn’t the cheapest route but there surely are habits within your life that you should be cutting to reach your goals. Establish your values and see it through.

3. Tell the world

Telling people what your fitness goals are will help with accountability. The more that people know, the more likely you are not going to bail on your own goals. Speaking about your goals repeatedly also serves as a positive reminder to yourself for what it is that you are working towards. Telling those that are close to you also gives you supporters which can help catapult you towards your goals.. especially when times get tough. You are a supporter yourself and you don't even know it. All those likes you give to people you follow on social medias like Instagram and Snapchat help push them towards their goals. Have your own following and make something of it.

4. Train with a partner

After telling the world you should stumble upon individuals that share the same goals as you. Hold on to these people and create your own 'gym wolf pack'. There are many perks to training with a partner. From keeping each other accountable, providing each other motivation, and pushing one another in and out of the gym. Find your wolf pack and conquer your goals together one step at a time.

5. Set a time

Grab your calendar. Be realistic and set a day. This is the date you are going to check in to see the results of your hard work. When you set a time to accomplish a goal you are more likely to stay motivated and driven towards that goal. It works when your boss assigns you a task. In this situation you are your own boss with your own deadline set. So get to it.

When it is all said and done it is entirely up to you to achieve your goals. If you want something, you must put the effort to get it. It all comes down to the effort that your put forward. Establish a goal, think it, do it.

Steven Bolé
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Catalyst Health