Category Archives for "Mash Potatoes Nutrition"

Meal Prepping When You Have No Time by Rebekah Tilson

The two biggest hurdles in becoming an athlete (whether you’re a beginner or elite) tend to be time and money. We’re going to talk about the former today in relation to meal prep. I’ve written before about meal planning for the month and how that has helped us, but let’s get down to some specifics regarding the actual cooking!

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As I’ve mentioned before, having protein cooked is key – this is the hardest thing to grab quickly. When in a rush it’s easy to grab some carbs (an apple, some granola, etc.) or some fat (nuts, seeds, etc.), but try eating a raw chicken breast… no thanks.

Batch Cooking

When I am anticipating a busy week, I batch cook on Sunday evenings. Here’s what I do:

  • Salsa chicken: Three pounds of chicken breast in the crockpot with a jar or two of salsa (just shred when it’s done!) …or Grilled chicken!
  • Beef roast: Roast in crockpot with a bottle of wine (so good!)
  • Sweet potatoes: 20 baked in the oven (yes, 20… my husband Caleb eats for three!)
  • Frittata: I use about 18-20 eggs. This is great for any meal. (See the clip below)

Veggie Prep

Other than that, I cook and prep vegetables nightly. I prefer the taste when they’re fresh! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Broccoli: Baked until slightly crispy, I add evoo and salt/pepper after it’s cooked
  • Kale salad: This is boring, but just raw kale and my favorite dressing
  • Veggie foil packs: Preferably grilled, my favorite is kale, onions, and fresh garlic

These are some of my easiest, go-to items that help get us through a busy week. The more you meal prep, the more you find out what works for you. Have a great recipe or meal prep suggestion – let us know. Or even better yet, you can come join us on our online nutrition team and let the entire facebook group know!

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A New Favorite Macro-Friendly Recipe by Jacky Bigger

I’ve been spending a bit more time in the kitchen lately, trying to learn how to cook some new macro friendly recipes that aren’t just plain chicken breast, quinoa, and brussels sprouts.

I came across this delicious and simple recipe on Pinterest. I made a couple of changes – and it turned out so delicious I wanted to share it with you all. People also ask me all the time where they can fine recipes with pre-calculated macros, so I figured I’d start sharing some of my favorites, since I’ve already done the macro calculations for you.

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Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet

Serves 4 (46C/31P/15F per serving)


  • 3 cups of peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup of onion, diced
  • ½ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup of water
  • ¼ cup cilantro (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Now that looks like a long list of ingredients, but I promise it’s a simple recipe. If not, I wouldn’t have been able to make it. I definitely still have lots to learn in the kitchen.

I started by peeling and dicing my sweet potatoes. I used Japanese sweet potatoes, because my fiancé and I prefer them to regular sweet potatoes. However, if you’re watching your calorie intake and are low on carbs, regular sweet potatoes are probably the way to go since they contain fewer carbohydrates than the Japanese ones. If you’re looking to try something new, you can find Japanese sweet potatoes at Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

Next, I minced my garlic and heated the oil up in the pan. I used a sunflower, avocado, and coconut oil blend, because that’s what we had in the house. The recipe calls for olive oil, but you can likely use whatever oil you prefer. I cooked the garlic on medium heat for about one minute, then added in the ground turkey.

While the ground turkey was cooking, I chopped my onion and pepper and put together my mix of spices – that way I could just dump them all in at once when the turkey was ready. Once the ground turkey was fully cooked, I stirred in the spices and added in the onions and peppers. I used red onion instead of yellow. I let the onion and peppers cook for about three to four minutes before I added in the water and sweet potatoes – which then cooked covered for another eight to ten minutes or until the sweet potatoes were soft when stabbed with a fork.

Once the potatoes are cooked, throw the cheese on top and let it melt, garnish with cilantro for a prettier dish – and boom… done. It’s as simple as that.

This recipe serves four. Each serving contains 46g of carbs, 31g of protein, and 15g of fat. It’s a very well-balanced meal!

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Need even less calories? Ditch the cheese and use squash instead of sweet potatoes. Need more calories? Try using a higher fat meat such as ground beef.

Eating on macros doesn’t have to be boring and repetitive. Get creative! Who knows? You may find a meal like this one that you’ll have no problem eating over and over again.

The Basics on Calories, Macronutrients, and Eating for Performance by Crystal McCullough

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

Your body is a machine and that machine needs fuel to function. Food is your fuel. The kind of fuel you put in your body will determine how smooth your body will run. There is a saying that “you wouldn’t put the cheap fuel in your Ferrari would you?” The way you feel and the way you perform are directly related to your nutrition choices.

We are all on our own journey. Some of you may just be wondering where to start. This whole nutrition thing is frustrating and confusing and you just need some guidance and a nudge in the right direction. Others of you may be competitive athletes looking to enhance your performance. Nutrition is one aspect you can control.  

So where do you start?



The medical dictionary definition of a calorie, or more technically a kilocalorie, is the “amount of energy required to raise 1 kilogram (kg) of water by 1º C.”

For the purposes of nutrition, a calorie refers to the amount of energy we get from the food and drink we take in as well as the energy we expend during exercise. Calories are needed to live and individual caloric needs vary based on height, weight, age, activity level, and gender. According to the USDA, the average female needs 2,200 calories and the average male needs 2,700 calories per day. Keep in mind that this is just an average and there are variations based on the factors listed above.

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Macronutrients & Micronutrients

We get our calories from three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. All three macronutrients are important for the body to function. Protein and carbohydrates are both measure 4 calories per gram while fats measure 9 calories per gram. We also need micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) but in much smaller amounts. Examples of micronutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc, vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. These micronutrients are found in the whole foods we eat.

Example meals containing a balance of all 3 macros and lot’s of micronutrients



According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), protein is composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Amino acids are categorized as essential (not found in the body and have to be obtained from food) and non-essential (made by the body). There are 20 amino acids, 9 of which are essential.

Protein is involved in almost every process of the body to include muscle and tissue repair, blood and organ building, and making enzymes and hormones. Our hair and nails are actually made up mostly of protein.

Depending on our activity level and choice of fitness, we need 0.7g/lb. up to 1g/lb. of body weight. This can easily be done by taking in 20-30g of protein each meal.  Common sources of protein include meats like beef, chicken, and seafood. Other sources include eggs, beans, and tofu. The total caloric intake of daily protein is usually 25-30%.



Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. The simplest form of a carbohydrate is glucose. The body needs glucose to function, particularly the brain. When your body needs energy, it looks for glucose from the food you’ve eaten first. If you eat the right amount of carbohydrates your body needs per day, your body will convert the glucose to glycogen and store it in the muscles and the liver. If you consume more carbohydrates than your body needs, it will store the excess as fat. There are three types of carbohydrates: simple (sugars), complex (starches), and fibrous. Some sources of simple sugars are fruits, vegetables, and milk products. Some sources of starches are grains, vegetables, rice, and dried beans. Some fibrous carb sources come from green leafy vegetables, some fruits, and whole grains. Depending on the type of exercise you perform will determine on how many carbohydrates you should take in within a day. It can range from 40-60% of your total calorie intake.

Veggies are carbs too! Get plenty in your diet.



Fats are also very important for the body to function properly.  Fats are needed in order for the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. According to the NIH, “essential fatty acids contribute to brain development, blood clotting and aid in inflammatory control.” Fats shouldn’t be avoided in the diet. There are different types of fats. Some are ‘good’ and some are ‘bad’. Some examples of fats that can be considered bad because of their impact on cholesterol and their link to heart disease are saturated fats, trans fats, and triglycerides. Some examples of good fats are monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, Omega 3 fatty acids, and Omega 6 fatty acids.  These good fats have protective properties from heart disease and can reduce inflammation. Some sources of good fats are olive oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

Fats are also used by the body for energy. During the first 20 minutes of exercise, glucose is the body’s primary source of energy, but will then switch to fatty acids when extended beyond the 20 minutes.  The remainder of total daily calories after finding protein and carbohydrate values will come from fat.

Now that you have some basic information about where your calories come from and good sources of each, what do you do now?

Putting this info into practice

Changing your eating habits can be overwhelming. We find that these changes are more successful if done in stages so that you are comfortable with one before adding another step.

1. Simply start out by making better food choices.

Focus on eating quality whole foods: lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Ditch the fast food and sodas. If you fall into this category, changing the quality of your food is much more important than the quantity. In the first few months of simply making better food choices, you will see changes in weight and body composition.

Opt for lean proteins, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains more than processed foods.

2. Once you have developed healthy eating habits, there will come a time when you will need to begin focusing on the quantity of food.

There are several free resources out there that can help you estimate your total daily caloric needs as well give you guidance on your macronutrient breakdown. These resources are a great starting point, but if you are serious about finding the right fit for your goals and needs, I highly recommend working with someone that can give you a custom set of macronutrients plus accountability and adjustments based on changing needs. We offer nutritional coaching at Mash Elite and if you are at this stage, one of our coaches would be excited to help you reach your goals.

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3. For performance athletes especially, nutrient timing is a strategic way to manipulate macronutrients around workouts.

Protein and carbohydrates are the main concern in the post workout time period. You would eat a 1:2 ratio of protein to carbohydrates in this period. For example, if you consume 25g of protein, you should also consume 50g of carbohydrates. Exact numbers are based on individual needs.

According to a study conducted by Aragon and Schoenfeld, there is an ‘anabolic window of opportunity’ lasting around 30-45 minutes after a training session. Findings of the study showed that “theoretically, consuming the proper ratio of nutrients during this time not only initiates rebuilding of damaged muscle tissue and restoration of energy reserves, but it does so in a supercompensated fashion that enhances both body composition and exercise performance.” Limiting fat intake with the first meal post workout has also been shown to allow for the quickest absorption of glycogen into the muscles.  All other meals of the day, you would eat protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

At the end of the day, whether you are someone who just wants to be healthy or a high-level competitive athlete, nutrition is a very important part of your recovery and performance and is well within your control. Treat your body like the temple it is and CHOOSE to put healthy foods into your body a majority of the time. I promise you that if you do this, you will look better, feel better, and perform better.


A Healthy Way to Look at Your Food Choices by Paluna Santamaria

Food is more than fuel. Food is present in celebrations, work engagements and many times used as a coping mechanism which we won’t go into in this article. 

For better health, it’s best to consume a balance of protein, carbs, and fat from whole food sources in order to get your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and when it comes to health and nutrition, there are no good or bad foods. There are optimal and less optimal choices.

I like to think about my groceries and my food choices this way:

  1. Things I love eating and need for health reasons. Whole, nutritious foods go here. One of my favorites meals is roasted veggies with olive oil and pink salt, roasted chicken with rosemary and lime. I could eat this every day. I like to get my protein from lean meats like the chicken and my carbs from roasted veggies. There are bonus points for vitamins and minerals in pink salt as well as healthy fats from the olive oil.
  2. Things I don’t love but don’t hate either and need for health reasons. These are foods like raw veggies and fruits. Yeah, I’m a weirdo who doesn’t care for fruits, but I’m perfectly happy with strawberries and few other ones. Raw veggies hurt my jaw and I prefer them in a smoothie but I recognize the need for variety in your diet. Without variety, you can say hello to nutrition deficiencies! Even if you are eating “healthy” aka chicken and broccoli every day, you could develop issues including nutritional deficiencies and food sensitivities from the lack of variety. So vary your meats, veggies, and fruits and try some new foods or meals every week!
  3. Things I love eating but don’t need. These would be foods like cheesecake, muffins, chocolate, pizza and ice cream. I want it all–every day but to be honest but I don’t need them so I have them on occasion. You know, for mental health reasons 😉
  4. Things I don’t like eating. I don’t eat anything I don’t enjoy. If you don’t like vegetables, perhaps you need to experiment more. I can assure you there’s at least one you like. The same goes for the other categories of foods like protein, carbs and fats.

 Eat What You Want and Eat What You Need both your mind and body will thank you.

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– Paluna

Four Natural Sweeteners to Try Instead of Table Sugar by Jacky Bigger, M.S.

In my last article, I wrote all about the refinement process that the nutritious plant Sugar Cane goes through to become the nutrient-void substance, sugar, that is included in so many of our foods today. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, go back and take a look.

Today, I’m going to dive deeper into the chapter on sugar and artificial sweeteners, again, from the book The Science of Skinny by Dee McCaffery and give you a brief summary of what I’ve learned about potential sugar substitutes that are much better for you to consume than sugar. I hope it’s helpful!

These days there are so many sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners that all market themselves as “healthy” because they are lower calories, or even sometimes don’t contain calories at all. But are these sweeteners better for us just because they are lower in calories and fit better into your macros? Not necessarily. I’m about to give you some options that I prefer to use in place of regular sugar.

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First, let’s start with Stevia. Stevia come from an herb called “sweet leaf” and it is not a sugar. It’s an herb, that just so happens to be really sweet.

The Stevia Leaf Plant

One tablespoon of the liquid extract from the leaf has the same sweetness as an entire cup of sugar. The main glycoside in stevia is stevioside. Glycosides are the compounds that are responsible for the sweet taste without the included calories. The body does not digest or metabolize glycosides, which means that it is not converted to glucose. For this reason, it is said to the ideal sweetener for diabetics because it’s able to help normalize and regulate blood sugar.


Raw Honey

Honey has always been regarded as “nature’s gold” a medicinal food capable of healing the body. Many people think that honey is just another type of sugar, however, you’d be surprised by its nutrient content. Honey is comprised of about 80% natural sugars but it does also contain thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron and some other minerals and enzymes. Honey is also a rich source of antioxidants. However, most honey that is found in supermarkets is not healthy. It’s highly processed and just as refined as the sugar I discussed in my last article. Make sure you’re choosing honey that is raw.


Pure Maple Syrup

Pure Maple syrup comes from various maple trees by tapping the bark and allowing the sap to flow out. This sap is clear and almost tasteless with a very low sugar content when it is first tapped. It’s then boiled, and once the water is evaporated, it concentrates the sugar and becomes maple syrup as we know it. Pure maple syrup contains fewer calories and a higher content of minerals than honey, but it contains no vitamins.  It is also an antioxidant and contains zinc and magnesium which are both important for strengthening the immune system. Maple syrup is also delicious!


Coconut Nectar

Coconut nectar is the sweet sap that comes from the flowers of the coconut tree. It is a completely raw, unrefined sweetener that has a very low glycemic effect. The only processing it goes through is low heat evaporation to remove some water and thicken the nectar. It contains many vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other nutrients. It can also be dried to form crystals that are similar to sugar.


These are just a few options that I prefer to use as substitutes for sugar when I’m really just craving something sweet. Remember, even though they may be better for you than the sugars we find on our grocery shelves, they should still be consumed in moderation. 

In health,

– Jacky

Gaining Muscle Without Getting Fat by Alex Maclin

So you want to get jacked eh? Inflated. Huge. Swole. Bulk up. Whatever you want to call it–you’re looking to gain muscle mass.  But what does it take to gain a good amount of muscle mass?

  • How much do I need to eat?
  • How long should I bulk for?
  • How should I train?
  • How do I gain muscle mass without getting too fat?

These are questions I get all the time about gaining muscle. In this article, I’d like to focus on the last question with regards to gaining muscle (hypertrophy) without gaining fat as that seems to be the biggest concern many of you have.


Is it possible to gain only muscle mass?

First, let me clear it up right now by saying unless you’re fresh off the couch and a total beginner training or you have a little “help”, you are going to gain some fat mass along with the muscle mass while you bulk even if you have freak genetics. That’s just something you’re going to have to come to terms with if you want to put on serious muscle mass. At best, you’ll be able to gain muscle and minimize fat gain, but you won’t be able to completely avoid it.

To add muscle mass, you’ll need to take in slightly more energy/calories from food than your body needs putting you into an energy/calorie surplus. When in a surplus, your body will use that extra energy and create new mass.  As much as we would all love, there’s no magic switch to flip to tell your body “Hey body, I wanna get jacked so take all this extra energy I’m giving you and only make new muscle mass, k thanks”. It just doesn’t work like that. Your body is going to take the extra energy and add mass to your body in total. Some new mass will be muscle and some new mass will also be fat.

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How much you need to eat to be in a surplus depends on several individual factors. There are estimates for starting points on how many calories you should try to hit to gain mass but these are still, at best, estimates.

If you’re in a surplus, your weight should gradually increase over time. You’ll have some daily fluctuations but an upward trend is what we’re looking for. If you’re not consistently gaining body mass over time, you’re likely not in a surplus and you probably need to eat more food. Add more meat or protein, starches, fruits, and healthy fats on your plates. Do that consistently until your weight starts moving upwards.


Lift heavy and lift often.

To ensure that all of that new mass isn’t just fat, obviously, don’t just eat a bunch of food and sit on the couch. Prioritize lifting heavy weights and lifting often. Push, pull, press, squat and carry moderate to heavy weights 3-5 days throughout the week and give yourself enough rest and sleep to recover from that training.

Lift heavy weights if you want to get jacked.

My suggestion is to follow a well-designed program that stimulates muscle growth but doesn’t completely destroy you so you can recover.  Unless you’re familiar with program design, I wouldn’t try to write your own. Get a personal coach or source a program from a good coach. With an internet filled with resources and programming from really good coaches, you don’t really have a good excuse.

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Don’t eat like a jerk.

The best way to gain a bunch of fat while you’re trying to bulk is to gain weight too quickly. This usually happens when you eat or treat yourself too much.  Bulking isn’t a reason to devour an entire dozen Krispy Kreme or ice cream by the gallon every day. Stick to mostly whole, unprocessed foods and treat yourself within reason on occasion.  With bulking, your treats can be more frequent, but ultimately what you’ll need to watch is the scale, what’s happening to your body and performance over time.

Even when bulking, eat mostly whole, minimally processed foods and treat yourself on occasion.

To keep fat gain low, aim to gain between 0.5 – 1 lbs of weight per week.

If you think that’s really slow, it should be. Remember some of that weight will be fat, but if you’re gaining significantly faster than that, there’s a greater chance for the new mass to be mostly fat and very little muscle.


Gaining Muscle Takes Time.

Adding actual muscle mass takes a lot of time and effort. It heavily depends on where you’re starting and how long you’ve been training. If you’re new, you can gain lots of new muscle pretty quickly.  If you’re a veteran and have been training a while, gains will be smaller and slower. Either way, if you’re looking to put on serious muscle, be prepared to commit to the process for at least 6 months to a year if you want to minimize fat gain. Be aware, if you really want to totally change your physique, it’s going to take years of consistently eating and training properly.

Committing to 6 months or year of gaining muscle doesn’t mean eat a calorie surplus for a year straight. This is a mistake many people (including myself) have made. If you listened to our podcast on nutritional periodization, then you learned that you should operate in periods of a surplus for some time, then return to a maintenance level before starting again for best results. You’ll periodize your bulking and do it in phases rather than “permabulking”.


Periodize your muscle gains.

To periodize, actively bulk for periods of 3-4 months, then take a break and maintain for about month or more to let your body settle into its new weight. I’ve found this 3-4 month block to align well with training programs, be most tolerable for the individual and be enough time to gain muscle without seeing more diminishing returns from the excess food intake.

Once you’ve maintained for a bit, if you feel like you added more fat than you’re ok with, try going on a short deficit (cut). When you’re happy with how you look, you can start another bulking phase. Continue the cycle between bulking and maintenance until you’re satisfied with how much muscle mass you’ve put on.

After you’ve added as much mass as you care for and maintained it for a couple months, I would then cut. Relatively speaking, fat comes off easier than muscle does. So after you’ve added all that muscle, unsheathe those gains from underneath the hopefully small layer of fat. Just be sure to cut gradually (around 0.5 – 1 lb per week),  stop after 2-3 months and return to a maintenance level or you risk cutting more into those new muscle gains more than you want.

Now after reading this article, do you understand why it can take sometimes a year or even several YEARS to add a large amount of muscle and build a physique you’re proud of? I’ll use myself as an example. In 2010, I started training and lost a ton of weight, getting down to 170 pounds, but I wasn’t strong and had very little muscle. Fast forward after 6 years of lifting heavy weights, bulking (even sometimes too long), improving my overall nutrition and cutting the excess fat I put on, I got down to the same weight, but I looked completely different. Besides the time spent, that difference was clearly the muscle.

Me weighing around 170 lbs in both pictures. The difference is 6 years of work. Gaining muscle takes time. 

If you’re really serious about adding muscle and changing your body, commit to the process, be patient, keep putting in the work and the gains are inevitable.

As always, if you have specific questions, leave them in the comments below or shoot me an email at

Thanks for reading!


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