Let me begin by saying I do not advocate the use of performance-enhancing supplements for the majority of the population; however, protein powders are more of a whole-food dietary supplement that I believe does have a place in sound wellness programming.
     While whole-food sources of protein should comprise the majority of your daily protein intake, sometimes it's just too expensive or too inconvenient to realistically meet your daily needs.  And there are times when it's just not optimal to ingest slow digesting proteins, such as pre, peri, and post workout, or before you retire for a restful night of sleep.
     I typically recommend supplementing with a high-grade fast-acting whey protein and/or a slower digesting protein categorized as casein.  Both of these protein sources are derived from milk, and while I recommend utilizing both protein sources for those involved in any type of training regimen, casein protein can be utilized in anybody's diet to preserve lean muscle tissue, promote fat loss, and supply essential amino acids to the body that are necessary for a host of body functions and aid in tissue repair.
     Here is my personal protein supplemention regemin:  One scoop of Optimum Nutrition all natural chocolate creme protein in the morning after breakfast, mixed with water and/or unsweetened coconut milk, and then one scoop before bed.  And a half scoop of Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey chocolate protein immediately before and after my daily workouts.  When I'm in a cutting or fat loss stage and operating on a calorie restriction, I also do a half scoop of the Hydro Whey in the morning before breakfast.
     Now for the rationale:  the hydrolyzed whey is a predigested whey peptide chain that is digests very rapidly and spikes blood amino acid concentrations for about an hour and requires very little digestive assimilation from the body.  The casein, on the other hand, is a very slow digesting protein with a slow and steady amino acid dispersion that trickles amino acids into your system over a seven-hour time period.  So, while the whey is more of a muscle-building or anabolic protein source, you can view the casein as more of an insurance policy for your lean muscle tissue due to it's anti-catabolic (muscle wasting) properties.
     There is also some research out there that casein protein can also stimulate body-fat loss when under a calorie restriction, so I highly suggest this for bariatric patients or for those with a primary goal of weight loss.  Or for those that work in a very physically demanding job where opportunities to eat are few and far between.  This may protect the lean body mass that you have, and more lean body mass means a higher resting metabolism.
     Both of these products can be ordered from DPS Nutrition for about half the price you will find them in health food stores, and the order typically arrives two days after it is placed, and they have stellar customer service.
     please post any questions or comments below, and I would be happy to go into further detail. 

Here's an interesting read for you on holiday weight gain:
Holiday pounds

So, to expound on this with some additional tips from Stigletics.com:

1)  Eat a healthy breakfast that will stick with you - this means no simple carbs like cereals, toast, biscuits, muffins or cereal bars.  some suggestions:  fresh fruit and a nice omelette, or a power packed casein protein smoothie blended with almond or coconut milk and berries, or some scrambled eggs with organic turkey bacon and a grapefruit.  And please don't throw out the yolks - that is where all the nutrition lies.  I really like the Eggland's Best Cage-Free Eggs.  This will reduce the temptation to gorge on those holiday office snacks that are sure to be lurking.

2)  Keep a can of deluxe mixed nuts, your favorite low-carb protein bar, and some apples, pears, or other fruits in your desk drawer.  This will give you a snack option and keep you from junking out those less than desirable holiday treats.

3)  Keep the Starchy carbs low at lunch - an easy option at most restaurants is nice salad with some lean protein, and then choose a healthy vinegarette dressing.  Warning:  Keep the dressing to a minimum, as it is typically loaded with calories and will defeat the purpose of choosing the salad in the first place.  I opt for no dressing, or I will dip the tines of the fork in the dressing and them pick up a bite of salad.  The biggest mistake I see people make is pouring on every bit of dressing brought with the salad - that is a sure fire way to wreck it.  Most restaurants will also substitute starch side items for some seasonal veggies or a side salad if you ask them to - that's a good choice and habit to utilize any time of the year.

     So, while that gets you through the work day a little easier, what about all of those holiday parties that occur in the evenings?

1)  Never go to a holiday event on a hungry stomach.  Eating a healthy snack or light meal before heading to the event will reduce the desire to stuff unhealthy temptations in your mouth.

2)  Make sure to keep up on your scheduled workouts!  One of the best strategies to make those extra holiday party calories work for you is to exercise beforehand, which will additional calories more likely to absorb into your muscle tissue instead of making a bee line to your existing fat cells.  Take advantage of the post exercise insulin response window!

3)  If you are going to have a drink, do so sparingly, because as soon as you have that drink, all muscle-building and fat-loss processes in the body come to a screeching halt.  And if you have that drink, make it a glass of red wine, which has proven health benefits if consumed in reasonable amounts.  Beer and egg nog are two of the worst things you can drink when trying to lose bodyfat.

4)  increase your fish oil consumption when you know you are going to be eating a bunch of starch and sugar.  The healthy fats will slow down the rate at which the sugar enters the blood stream, buffering the insulin response.  The fish oil has a added benefit of nutrient repartitioning - helping drive the excess sugars into the muscle cells instead of just the fat cells.

5)  Don't deprive yourself of your favorite holiday treats; just limit them responsibly, using the following idea:  Take the smallest portion you can, have a couple of small bites, chew them slowly and savor them, and then remove the plate and throw out the unfinished portion.  Better to end up in the trash can than where it would end up otherwise:  your stomach and thighs!

6)  Know when it's time to go home:  Make sure you get plenty of rest so you don't skip the next day's exercise session!  That way you can burn off those extra calories you ate and drank the night before!

     We would love to hear YOUR holiday tips to avoid those extra pounds!  Please comment and share them with us!
     What would you say if I told you there was a pill, a magic pill that could do the following:
  1. Reduce occurence of heart attacks
  2. Improve circulation
  3. decrease arterial clotting
  4. reduce inflammation in the body
  5. reduce joint pain
  6. boost immune system
  7. increase brain function
  8. improve insulin resistance
  9. lower blood sugar
  10. Lower triglycerides
  11. improve cholesterol profile
  12. reduce stress hormones
  13. burn fat
  14. build Lean muscle
  15. improve muscle glycogen uptake
  16. decrease constipation
  17. improve skin, hair and nails
  18. lessen symptoms of many chronic disease processes
     You would probably think me crazy!  'There can't be a food source out there that can do all of that?  And in a pill form?'

     Oh, yes, there is, and it's called omega 3 essential fatty acids.  In fact, this is one of the easiest, quickest ways to see a marked improvement in overall health, on many different fronts.
     The reason Omega 3's are called Essential Fatty Acids are because they are essential to major functions and processes in the body, and they must be ingested.  Your body cannot manufacture or convert Omega 3 fatty acids from other substances found in the body.
     You see, we used to have Omega 3's in many of the foods we ate daily, but as we began feeding the livestock unnatural grain diets instead of their natural diets of green grass, leaves, and insects, eventually the animals' triglyceride (fat) profiles took a turn for the worse.  Think of it this way:  It's akin to the differences in blood labs between humans that eat lean protein and vegetables versus humans that eat only processed, gluten-rich carbohydrates and fatty processed meats.  In a nutshell, we have farmed many viable sources of Omega 3s right out of our diet (grains are as bad for animals as they are for humans, but we'll touch on that in another post).
     While there are some vegetable sources of Omega 3's out there, the most common being flax seeds and certain nuts such as Walnuts and Hazelnuts, they are comprised of ALA, a fatty acid chain that the body can convert to the usable forms of Omega 3 found in animal sources, which are DHA and EPA, with varying degrees of success.  So, animal forms of Omega 3 are far superior to their vegetable counterparts, and, lucky for us, they are available to us in convenient pill form - fish oil capsules.
     I would be remiss in my duties if I did not suggest you increase your intake of omega 3 fatty Acids through natural food sources, such as by eating more coldwater fish or omega 3 eggs; however, seafood is expensive, and there are many concerns regarding mercury toxicity.  And unless the fish is wild caught and not farmed raised, there may not even be many omega 3's left in the grain-fed, farmed fish.  So this is one case where I feel that taking in Omega 3's in a food supplement form like fish oil tablets is justified.  You can be bettered assured of the dosage, and you can buy capsules that are molecularly distilled to remove any heavy metals and toxins, ensuring that you are not increasing your mercury intake along with your increased Omega 3 intake.  While almost all brands of fish oil are now purified through this process, there is still a wide range of available potencies on the shelves, so turn the bottle around and read the back to see a breakdown of the amount of EPA/DHA found in each pill.  For every gram of actual fish oil, try to find a DHA/EPA concentration around 300 mg.  300 mg per gram of fish oil.  The ones that I personally take have 360 mg of DHA/EPA per 1 gram of fish oil, but on the bottle they have it listed as 720 mg, because the serving size is for 2 grams of fish oil, or two tablets.
     As far as storage, I would keep them in your refrigerator if at all possible.  Heat and light will deteriorate the fatty acid chains found in the capsules, causing them to turn rancid over time.  Keeping them refrigerated also reduces the chances of getting "fish oil burps."
     "Fish oil burps" are about the only undesirable side effect that fish oil users report, and the number one reason for these is actually taking the capsules on an empty stomach.  As long as you take the capsules after your meals instead of before, and you store them in the refrigerator, and you get a quality fish oil product, these burps are not likely to occur.
     As far as dosing, I like to start my clients on 1 tablet after each meal, assess tolerance, and then ramp up to 2 to 3 capsules after each meal.  For Type II Diabetics and those involved in rigorous training, or for those that are seeking drastic body composition changes, I personally recommend 10 grams of fish oil daily, but doses in this range are always something to be discussed with your medical professional first.  The doses recommended on the bottle are typically for those interested solely in cardiovascular benefit, but to unlock the true power of omega 3 supplementation, I have found that it takes at least 10 grams.
     On an anecdotal note, almost every client that has started on the fish oil habit has noticed some additional health benefit almost immediately:  regular bowels, less acne, healthier hair, improved mood - it seems in most cases it will cure what ails you!
     Here are some interesting reads from major medical universities regarding their research on fish oil in humans.

University of maryland

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

University of connecticut

     Please take a look at these links and post your comments below!  We would love to hear about your personal experience with fish oil supplementation!  And please, please take your fish oil!