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Q & A: What are BCAA benefits for women?

I’m a huge proponent of eating a whole foods diet and limiting supplements. However, there are a few supplements I do take personally and recommend for clients. The big 3 are protein powder, Krill oil, and BCAAs. Today, I want to share a bit with you about BCAA benefits.

I was recently asked by Emily and Debbie from Momsanity to sample their brand new BCAA powder. I happily obliged because it has all natural ingredients and perfect ratios of leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

BCAA benefits


BCAAs are branched chain amino acids. Simply speaking, they are broken down protein molecules and the building blocks for muscles.

Usually, BCAAs are purchased in powder form and added to water. They can be used for multiple purposes. Many people (including myself) use BCAAs when working out in a fasted state. The purpose for this is to provide the body with amino acids so that muscle tissue is preserved. When you workout, muscle tissue can be burned ALONG with fat. BCAAs help to preserve muscle tissue without having to eat prior to your workout.

BCAAs can also provide the body with energy similar to ingesting carbs but without the insulin response. This is another benefit to drinking them prior to working out fasted. BCAAs are also great for muscle retention and muscle gain, particularly in the post workout window. This is why most all commercial protein powders include BCAAs in them. Note that if you are eating a protein packed meal after your workout, you do not need to supplement with BCAAs at that time.

BCAA Benefits For Women:

  • Hunger and Craving Control – Given that fat loss often requires a lower carb intake than you’re used to, BCAAs can become your best friend for achieving leanness. They can help in regulating hunger and cravings by supplying the brain with the energy it needs. BCAAs can also lower cortisol. These lower cortisol levels will work to suppress your stress induced cravings. Research shows time and time again that BCAAs are fabulous for controlling cravings and managing hunger, especially for active women following a relatively low carbohydrate diet. In addition to balancing blood sugar, the BCAA leucine activates hunger controlling molecules in the brain.
  • Energy Boost –  What busy mom doesn’t need this benefit! Valine is considered the energizer. It promotes muscle endurance, blunts fatigue, helps with mental sharpness
  • Muscle Preservation – We work WAY too hard to put on muscle as ladies to lose it! As explained in the overview, BCAAs will help preserve your hard-earned muscle when you workout in a fasted state. Working out fasted is good for fat loss, but can cause muscle loss as well. Having more muscle is great for fat loss. BCAAs can provide the best of both worlds and allow us to workout fasted without the loss of hard-earned muscle. Leucine helps promote muscle (think lean mass) growth while assisting with fat-loss.
  • Lower Cortisol Levels – Cortisol is an important stress hormone that is responsible for increasing blood sugar and aiding in protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism – we need it in proper doses. The problem is most of us produce way too much. When we release cortisol along with low levels of Human Growth Hormone (think when you don’t get enough sleep) or high levels of insulin, cortisol causes muscle burning and fat storing (not good!). BCAAs lower cortisol and therefore help suppress cravings and hunger instigated by stress.

How and when do I take BCAAs?

For best results, it’s recommended to take BCAAs before/after a workout and any time that cravings strike – for many this is mid-afternoon or later in the evening.

While there are may different forms of BCAAs (flavored powders, pills, unflavored powders etc.) Momsanity’s NATURALLY flavored and sweetened BCAAs are THE BEST!

The pills get pricey and require a LOT of pill swallowing for proper dosing. The unflavored powders are unpalatable and VERY bitter. Almost ALL powders on the market are full of artificial ingredients and stimulants. Be cautious of any products marketed for “pre-workout” or even workout recovery as they often contain stimulants like caffeine and beta-alanine. These two things aren’t inherently BAD, just unnecessary and some women will respond negatively.

BONUS – BCAA gummies recipe:

Emily and Debbie are including a recipe book with your purchase! I wanted to share one of the recipes with you. The gummies are easy to make and great for those afternoon cravings.

  • 1 scoop Momsanity BCAA powder
  • 3 packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • Optional – drops of lemon or lime juice
  • Optional – pureed fruit
  • Optional – package of flavored jello
  1. Mix ingredients in a bowl (if using pureed fruit, add this after mixing).
  2. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time until mixture is clear and goopy. OR, cook on a stove top on low heat, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes.
  3. Spoon mixture into silicone candy molds or ice trays,
  4. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove molds from freezer. Pop gummies out of the molds. Store in airtight container or eat right away.
  6. Enjoy!

Video: Why Use BCAAs

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your pricing does not go up, but if you register through my link I get a bit for referring you. Thanks for supporting my blog!
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How to Make Your Own Safe Sunscreen

Being a fitness, nutrition, and wellness coach, the health of myself and my family is super important to me. I always consider the things I allow inside of our bodies and on our bodies. While I don’t sit around and obsess over it incessantly, I do take ingredients of our food and personal products into great consideration before a purchase.

One product that is known for questionable ingredients is sunscreen. There are shelves upon shelves of it available this time of year, so it’s important to be able to decipher what ingredients are best for our bodies and pose the least risk to our health.

I’m not a doctor or a scientist, so I took a look at what Dr. Weston “Wiggy” Saunders, an Integrative Medicine Doctor had to say. Dr. Wiggy and his wife, Emily, co-founded Raise Them Well with a mission to help families navigate this exact type of stuff!

Dr. Wiggy stated this in a recent blog post,

“Some of the potential health risks of chemical sunscreens include:

  • Some chemicals mimic estrogen and potentially increases risk of breast cancer
  • Builds up in tissue and organs (97% of us have these chemicals in our blood)
  • Found in mother’s milk so can also be passed to infants”

That doesn’t sound good to me. 🙁

The cool thing is that Dr. Wiggy and Emily have a safe alternative that they generously allowed me to sample – Raise Them Well Zinc Oxide Powder. If you’ve had babies, you have most likely heard of zinc oxide. It’s the only sunscreen product approved for babies under 6 months old.

Raise Them Well Zinc Oxide is a non-nano zinc oxide. In other words, the particles are larger than nanoparticles which are believed by many experts to be absorbed into the skin and bloodstream which could potentially lead to an array of problems. I love having a safe alternative!

When I first received the product along with a PDF recipe book, I thought, “This is going to take me hours to make some of the recipes. Ugh!” I was proven wrong! I made acne cream and sunscreen in less than 5 minutes!

How to Make Your Own Safe Sunscreen:

I didn’t want to just inform you about zinc oxide and its benefits, I wanted to show you how to make your own safe sunscreen. It’s easy! All you need is:

Mix. Pour into a container. I used a cute mason jar. 🙂



I love that I can put this on my boys and myself as a natural, safe barrier to the sun! I was able to control the amount I put into my recipe to get the best barrier possible for our fair skin. The 5 minutes it took to make this (as well as the acne cream) was well worth the effort. Honestly, it didn’t take much effort at all!

With your purchase of Raise Them Well Zinc Oxide, you’ll receive a PDF recipe book with several varieties of sunscreen recipes. I picked the easiest one since that’s how I roll. 😉 The recipe book has other recipes besides sunscreen including acne cream, diaper cream, and lip balm. Using this product, you can make so many awesome things!

The acne cream was equally easy to make as well. Just add the zinc oxide to aloe vera and done! The next recipe I’m trying is the lip balm. I can’t wait. 🙂



Let me know if you have any questions!

xo -Jill

Affiliate Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. If you buy through the link, the price is still the exact same for you, but I make a small percentage for recommending the product. The opinions expressed in the post are my own and all products shown are those I have used and truly believe in. Thanks for supporting my blog!

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Getting CLEAR About Clutter {+ Giveaway}

By Jill Jacobs

“Your environment is a reflection of your life.” -Annick Magac

Maybe you find it a little curious or strange that I would blog about clutter on a site that is primarily focused on health, nutrition, and fitness topics. Well, surprisingly, clutter impacts your health and success WAY more than you may realize.

Author, health coach, and design expert, Annick Magac, explains in her book Clear: How to Simplify Your Life & Live More Fearlessly how your habitats (home, office, car, etc.) may help or hinder your personal or professional successes and even your success at body change. She further teaches you *how* to transform your habitat to make living a life of freedom and success possible!

“Like life, just because you find yourself in a particular situation, thought pattern, job, health, fitness, or relationship that isn’t serving you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t change it at any point. The first thing is to recognize that there can be something to change. The second part is to know you have the strength and power to make the changes necessary to create the life you want and envision. The third part is to take the steps to make those changes. Like anything new, the hardest part is getting started, but once you’re on a roll it gets easier and easier. Clear will help you with all these steps.” – Chapter 1 p.24

When your physical environment is cluttered, often your mind will be as well. This makes it difficult to wind down, de-stress, and sleep well which are all so important for optimal health. When we develop healthy surroundings, full of beauty and peace, living the life we desire becomes more natural and effortless.

My Story

No change is an island. In other words, multiple things tend to influence a lasting change in our lives.  So let’s go back in time before I read Clear: How to Simplify Your Life & Live More Fearlessly.

I’ve always kept a tidy home. However, I am known to have many “Jill-piles” as my husband lovingly (ha!) calls them. I also let things like filing papers and new recipe finds accumulate to the point that I’m too overwhelmed to deal with them. This got a bit worse a couple of years back….

After not working (besides at home of course!) since 2002, I decided that I wanted to work as an online coach on top of homeschooling my boys. This was an added commitment on my plate but one I felt passionate about pursuing. At first glance, running an online business may seem easy, but I can tell ya, it’s way more time consuming than most people would believe- especially in the beginning.

I had a friend once tell me how nice it must be that my job is to simply hop on the computer for a while each day and check in with clients (as if that’s the only thing I do in her mind). What my friend didn’t realize is that in order to have any clients at all, there are some minimums when it comes to running an online business. These include having a website for clients to find me, having a social media presence, creating my one on one client programs, creating my group programs, having a streamlined way for clients to check in regularly, creating documents that my one on one clients complete, creating coaching emails, blogging, marketing, relationship building, trying out new fat-loss friendly recipes, and much, much more! She didn’t know what she didn’t know, and that’s cool! It certainly didn’t offend me, rather it made me chuckle!

With all this added responsibility, some things around the house began to be left undone. Oops! Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who picked up some of the home responsibilities like laundry (yes, he’s a keeper!!), but we still decided that we need to revamp some things so that we could have the life we desire.

The first thing we did was to hire a house cleaner. Personally, I hate cleaning! Setting aside hours each weekend to clean became less of a priority for me. Not because I didn’t want a clean, sparkling house but because I had so many other things I was spending my time doing. This decision has been the best gift to myself!

Secondly, during 2014 I wanted to change up our main living space. I hired an interior designer, Kristen Haynes of Reimagine at Home, to help me make my living room and kitchen bright and enjoyable to live in. We switched from earth tones (my default that I totally have to fight against – lol!) to lighter colors, less drab, and lot of brightness. You can see some of the color choices we used in the image below. We went with orange, several shades of blue, a lot of white, super fun fabrics, and lightened up the furniture. My husband created us a sweet piece for over our sofa as well (see image below)! We are really loving the space so much more than before. 😀

getting clear about clutter

After Christmas, while packing up all the decor and putting my home back in order, I was inspired to clean up a couple of areas that have been bugging me. About the same time, I began reading Clear.

I don’t think that those two things coinciding was an accident at all! Although my process of de-cluttering and beautifying my home had already begun, following the exercises in the book supercharged my motivation and efforts. Since reading the book and I’ve been on a MISSION!

Annick makes it clear (pun intended 😉 ) in her book that your physical environment affects your health and well being. You know the terrible feeling when you’re house has piles of clutter and needs a good cleaning, right? When my house is like that I feel down, depressed, and frozen. I don’t even know where to start. The solution is to just start with one spot! Just do something! Action will beget action!

Once the house is cleaned, smelling great, and full of sparkle, isn’t that the BEST feeling in the world!? For me it is, and it motivates me to do more for my home and myself. When my home to-do list is short and manageable, I’m able to tackle other things that often are put on the back burner like self-care.

I still have areas in my home to work on like my going through my clothes, shoes, and recipes, but I’m feeling really great about my progress since starting this process on January 1st. 🙂

“We only accept our circumstances when we believe there is no other way.” -Chapter 2 p.26

But there IS another way! Below are some way you can take action today to clear your clutter!

Your Action Steps to Clear Your Clutter:

1. Start small. It’s easy to allow clutter to overwhelm you and cause you to freeze and take no action at all. I suggest setting a timer for 15 minutes and tackle one pile of clutter. That’s it! Anyone can set aside 15 minutes and get a small job done. You can start with a drawer, the top of your desk, your shoes, your make up, or a cabinet space that’s messy.

2. Donate items on the regular. Have a system in place (a box in the garage will do!) to place unwanted items or clothes that are too small for a monthly trip to a donation center.

3. Sell valuable items that you no longer need. If you have valuable items that need a new home, have a yard sale, post them on Craig’s List, or list them on eBay. I’ve personally found that this isn’t worth my time unless it’s something is worth over $75. We typically donate, but if you’re just beginning this process, it may be worth selling some of the more valuable items. Use the money to reinvest in your home environment!

4. Be willing to throw away things you don’t need that you can’t give away or sell. This is tough for so many. It’s hard to let go of that item we *might* use some day or *might* wear again. If you haven’t used it in the last year, it’s likely you won’t use it ever again.

5. Refurbish items and make them delightful again so they serve to beautify your home rather than clutter it.

Consider this piece by Kristen from Reimagine At Home. She took this old dresser and repurposed it into a television stand. It is fresh, light, and fun not to mention the drawer space that will help with the clutter in the room. These drawers can hold remote controls, dvd cases, books, games, and other items you use in the living space.


6. Establish systems for items that typically clutter the home. This includes clothing, shoes, mail, bills, book bags, and school work.

My husband is a pro at this when it comes to mail! He has a rule to only touch a piece of mail once. It gets trashed or put in its’ home (bills go to the bill basket, invites are written on the calendar and placed on the refrigerator *if* we need to keep them, and junk mail goes to recycling).

When you have systems in place, you’ll never have to worry about your house looking like “what my mom sees” below!

The Challenge and Signed Book Giveaway!

(This giveaway is CLOSED. Thanks to all who participated! xo)

Follow these steps to participate in the #ClearBookGiveaway and enter the drawing for a FREE, SIGNED copy of Annick’s book:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post or on this facebook post telling me why you would want to win this book.

2. For a bonus entry, post a before picture of the space that you desire to de-clutter (it can be your car, a drawer, your bathroom cabinet, a desk, anything as small or large you would like to tackle with Annick’s guidance). Post the photo on facebook and/or Instagram. It needs to be a public post so that I can see it. Use the hashtag #ClearBookGiveaway. Each post I can see will give you an entry. 🙂 Tag me if you post on Instagram!

3. For a second bonus entry, publicly share this blog post with your friends and family using the hashtag #ClearBookGiveaway. If it’s not public, I will not be able to see the post or give you credit for the entry.

I will draw a name from the entries on Tuesday night, 1/27/2015 at 9 p.m. EST to announce the winner of the book!


What do you feel when you look at the before picture? What about the after picture? To me, it’s stress vs. peace.


Annick Magac is an author, entrepreneur, health coach and design expert. She knows first-hand that an often overlooked aspect of our lives may contribute to our inability to succeed. In Clear, Magac explains how the physical environment is a reflection of your inner self. This environment can cause you to become stagnant or propel you toward living a fearless life surrounded by beauty. Using Magac’s tried and true techniques, you will also learn how to rehab your environment so it reflects and releases your true inner self. And when your true inner self is free you will find that anything is possible.

Are you ready to get Clear?


Follow along as many are starting to get their hands on this book and clear their clutter! The hashtag for this book is #ClearBook, so check that out on Instagram and facebook.

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your pricing does not go up, but if you purchase through my link I get a bit for referring you. Thanks for supporting my blog!
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How Bacteria Dance With Your Immune System

If you’re anything like me, you are interested in seeking your optimal health through nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. With that in mind, I’m SOOOO excited to bring you a guest post from the fabulous Dr. Jillian Teta of Fix Your Digestion. She goes into detail about how exactly our gut health impacts our immune health in an interesting and thorough way. Take it away, Dr. Jillian…


immune health

Dr. Jillian Teta

By: Jillian Teta ND

Keoni, my husband, is a wonderful dancer. He loves to salsa. If you watch two people who know what they are doing dancing together, you will notice a harmony there. Palms together, there is a perfect tension of push and pull that works seemingly effortlessly as the dancers twirl around the floor. Sometimes, one is moving forward and the other backward, sometimes one dips while one swoops. Taken as a whole, the dance is beautiful. It works, it is functional.

Then, imagine someone in there who does not know how to dance. In this case, me, as I hopelessly stomp on toes, trip over my own feet, and grin sheepishly at my patient partner. Though I may enjoy singing off key in the car or shower, a dancer I am not. So, the dance looks off. It loses its function with my imbalance. No longer cohesive, the dance falls apart. It doesn’t work the way it should.

What on Earth does this have to do with immune health and your gut? Great question.

In your digestive tract, there resides an enormous colony of beneficial bacteria. When I say enormous, I mean it. They pack a population of about a hundred trillion strong. To give you some context, know that YOUR human cells are numbered at about ten trillion. These guys outnumber you ten to one and they live in your gut and only weigh about 4 lbs, total. Think on that one for a while. 😉

Although they perform innumerable functions for us – many of which we are just beginning to understand and many more we have not yet discovered – one of their prime, most important gigs is communicating with and helping our immune system keep us safe and healthy.

Did you know that two thirds – a huge majority – of the immune system lives in the digestive tract? Isn’t that a convenient place to commiserate with our gut bacteria! It makes great biological and evolutionary sense, however, as we consider that the bulk of pathogens and harmful substances we are exposed to come in through the digestive system.

Your gut bacteria dance with your immune system very much like two people, touching and pressing into each other, moving to a rhythm. When the body gets the right inputs in the form of food, water, sleep, exercise and un-stressful activity, the dance is beautiful and harmonious, and the immune system and gut bacteria function wonderfully and we don’t get sick.immune health

But say we are stressed out. We’re not dealing with the stress well and maybe we are overeating sugar. A dancer misses a step, stumbles, the balance is lost, and BAM! We catch a cold. The nasty bug that was going around finally hits its target.

Or, in another way, if another imbalance occurs, or there are multiple imbalances that remain long enough, we develop food sensitivities, environmental allergies, asthma, eczema or even an autoimmune condition.

It all boils down to the fine tension in that dance.

To keep our immune system functional and health harmonious, we need to keep the gut bacteria happy. That, at least, is a major part of it. Luckily, there is a lot that you can do to keep your good guys dancing. These simple tips are for you to utilize this winter and beyond to increase the health of your colony of beneficial bacteria, your digestive system, immune function and overall health.

  1. Don’t eat foods that don’t work for you: Some foods help, others can hurt. One man’s medicine is another’s poison. There are few hard-and-fast rules when it comes to your own unique sensitivities, but there are some guidelines we can follow. White sugar is suppressive to the immune system (and often something we reach for when stressed, oops!) but there are other groups of food that are classically problematic that you could have a look at: gluten, dairy, soy, nightshade veggies, beans and legumes. This by no means is an exhaustive list, but a reflection of common sensitivities that I see in my clinic. Ensuring your body gets the right inputs help the immune system execute the dance better. Emphasize proteins, veggies, healthy fats and plenty of clean water. Excessive caffeine and alcohol can be a problem, as can excessive orange juice. Yup! You heard it right. Orange juice has vitamin C, sure, but has loads of sugar and is mucogenic: mucous-producing. It’s way better to get your vitamin C from eating veggies and fruits than by guzzling down a bunch of OJ, I promise.
  2. Load up on antioxidants: Antioxidants help give the immune system ammunition to take care of the bad guys, and then clean up the mess afterwards. The gut bacteria take antioxidants that we consume from plants, animals or supplements and humanize them, essentially tuning them so they can be used for our purposes. Eating a wide variety of brightly colored vegetables and fruits will help you get antioxidants, but sometimes taking a supplemental antioxidant is a good idea too. Look for a blend like ACES + Zn.
  3. Wash your hands with soap and water, get rid of the antibacterial squirt sanitizers: If I had a wish, it would be to remove all of those pump dispenser hand sanitizers full of triclosan and alcohol. They do NOT work better than plain soap and water, and contribute to drug resistant bacteria (the bad guys), superbugs and food and environmental allergens. Wash those hands.
  4. Incorporate fermented foods: Foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha are loaded with healthy bacteria to assist your good bacteria and immune system both. If you can tolerate dairy products, yogurt and kefir are also considerations.
  5. Consider taking a probiotic during the cold and flu season: There are several good ones on the market. Look for a probiotic that is *just* probiotics – no prebiotics or enzymes or other additives. Preferably it will be dairy and soy free. Aim for 20-50 billion CFUs per day. Probiotics are supplements to the beneficial bacteria and also help the immune system as well.
  6. If you get sick, rest: If you do end up sick, even if it is just a simple sniffle, take the time to give your body rest. Rest is a powerful immune booster. Often, people do not heal fully or well, or recovery takes much longer than usual simply because they don’t take the downtime required. The amount you need to take varies, from one to several days for a cold, to one to two weeks for the flu. Listen to your body.
(Note from Jill:  If you are interested in digestive health, this FREE online event is for you! Sign up here to reserve your virtual seat at “The Digestion Sessions.”  The FREE educational series will take place in November with a ROCK STAR line up of digestive health experts including Dr. Jillian! Topics will deal with with GERD, bloating, healing your gut, food sensitivities, show cooking demos, and more. Be sure to share this with friends and family that suffer with digestive health issues. They will thank you! ♥ )
Dr. Jillian’s bio:

Dr. Jillian Sarno Teta, ND is the co-author of Natural Solutions for Digestive Health.

Jillian blogs at Fix Your Digestion and is the creator of the Fix Your Digestion coaching group. For more information on Jillian’s programs, contact clinic@metaboliceffect.com.

If you love social media as much as Jillian does, she would love to connect with you. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Jillian received her doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University. Prior to that, she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Boston University in Biology and Energy and Environmental Analysis, respectively.

She practices at the Naturopathic Health Clinic of North Carolina in Winston-Salem and writes for several publications, including Natural Triad, Forsyth Woman, Pain Pathways, OnFitness, Dr.Oz Online, the Gluten Intolerance Group National Letter, and others. She is a local and national speaker. Jillian is currently the President of the North Carolina Association of Naturopathic Physicians (NCANP).

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your pricing does not go up, but if you purchase through my link I get a bit for referring you. Thanks for supporting my blog!