Want to Burn Fat & Build Muscle Faster? 5 Exercises You Must Do

Whether you’re just starting out or have been grinding in the gym for years, there are a few movements that everyone must do to burn fat, build lean muscle, and have real world strength

While you can do other stuff, these movements are going to get you to where you want to go the fastest. And since most of you who read my blog are busy professionals, moms and dads, or just have a million other things going on, time is important. 

Squat

“The squat is the perfect analogy for life. it’s about standing back up after something heavy takes you down.” – Unknown

The squat is one of the most basic human movement patterns.3 year olds can do squats with perfect form. While it seems to be hated by doctors for being bad for your knees, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Squats, when done properly, will improve knee stability and strength which means you’re LESS likely to have injured knees. 

Squats use more muscles than almost any other exercise. Your upper body and core have to stabilize the weight during the entire movement, and your legs

You don’t have to do barbell back squats though. In fact, if you’re just starting out, you probably shouldn’t do back squats.

Kettlebell or dumbbell goblet squats are a perfect alternative to the back squat for anyone just starting out. 

Deadlift

This goes up there right with the squat as a fundamental movement, but also one that’s hated by so many professionals. 

In a basic sense, all you’re doing is picking something up off the ground.

The hate is not deserved because we do deadlifts literally everyday when you have to pick something up off the ground.

Just like the squat, the deadlift works the legs as the muscles that move the weight, but your core and upper body have to stabilize the weight to successfully and safely pull the weight off the ground. 

You end up using almost every muscle in your body when deadlifting, making it a great exercise for fat loss, building muscle, or just getting back in shape. 

Now, you can hurt yourself, just like any exercise, so make sure you set up properly.

Like the squat, you don’t have to start with the barbell. Starting with a kettlebell or trap bar is recommended for those just starting out. 

If you don’t have great mobility, that’s okay. You can work on Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) instead since you don’t have to go all the way to the ground and still get most of the benefits of a regular deadlift. 

Push

Most lists would put “bench press” here. I love the bench press, it’s one of my favorite exercises I’ve done weekly for the past fifteen years. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to bench press. In fact, any pushing movement can work here like floor press, overhead presses, or push ups. 

The key here is to pick one that you really want to improve, you can still do the others but as accessory lifts to improve the main lift. 

If you really want to improve your push ups, use that as your primary push movement for the week. If you want to improve your bench, do that as the primary movement. 

Pressing movements work your pecs, shoulders, and triceps (to varying degrees depending on what you choose). 


Pull

The opposite of the push and it doesn’t get much love. Most people focus only on “mirror muscles” like quads, pecs, shoulders, and arms. You need to do pulling movements to balance out the pressing movements you do, otherwise you’re going to get hurt, stay weak, and look funny. 

Also, the muscles of the back are large and can burn a ton of calories if your goal is fat loss. 

The muscles in your back are important to keep your joints healthy and to stabilize the other movements we already discussed (squat, deadlift, and pushing).

So, what are pulling movements? Pull ups, pulldowns, and rows. 

Now, before everyone jumps on the pull up train, you want to make sure you have a balance between “vertical” pulling like chin ups and lat pulldowns and “horizontal” pulling like rows. 

Now, generally these movements are a little “safer” so they don’t get as much hate. 

If you’re starting out, it might be awhile before you can do a chin or pull up. That’s okay. Start with single arm rows, inverted rows, and assisted chin ups or lat pulldowns. 

A note on pull ups: you need to either be lean or freakishly strong to be able to do a pull up. If you have a goal of losing weight and doing a pull up, focus on the weight loss goal first.  

Carry 

Outside of a crossfit gym or World’s Strongest Man competitions, you don’t see carries in commercial gyms. That’s unfortunate. 

This is a movement you do almost everyday. Carry groceries inside? That’s a farmers carry.

Kid fell asleep and you need to take them to their bed? That’s a goblet carry. 

Carries are by far one of the most functional exercises you can be doing each week. 

Carries will work almost every muscle in your body to varying degrees. Farmer carries work your grip and leg strength. Suitcase carries challenge your core and balance. Goblet carries work you core and upper body more. 

These can be done heavy for a short distance for building muscle and strength. Or you can go lighter for a longer distance or time to work cardio and fat loss. 

If you’re just starting out, the basics are all you need. Farmer carry, suitcase carry, and goblet carry. 

If you’ve been working out for awhile, then crosswalk, bottom-up, and marches are other ways to challenge yourself beyond just going heavier. 

No matter your goals, your level of fitness, or how old you are, these five movements should be in your workout program if you want to fast track your results. Like stated above, you don’t have to use the barbell for any of these movements, kettlebells and dumbbells are perfect if you’re just starting out, have some injuries, or are worried about getting hurt. 

Need help putting your program together? We’ve opened 10 spots for clients in June. Click the button to apply and see if you’re a good fit for our program.

6 Healthy Salty Snacks to Curb Your Salt Craving

What do you eat when you’re craving something salty and crunchy? 

Most likely, you’re going to run to the bag of chips or pretzels instead of something healthy.

Unfortunately, unlike sweet cravings, there seem to be less healthy options for people who really crave salt, so finding good swaps for the bag of chips can be tough. 

The first step to managing your salt cravings is to begin to understand why you’re having them. If you don’t have a medical condition, your cravings can come from a few common reasons which are all pretty easy to fix.

  1. The most likely reason is that you’re trying to eat healthier and you’ve cut out a lot of salt in your diet. Your body has grown accustomed to the higher salt intake and will make you crave salt if you cut it out cold turkey, but your body will adjust after a week or two of lower salt intake. 

2. You could have a mineral deficiency. Natural salt that humans would get before modern society was a good source of trace minerals, so when you have a deficiency you might begin to crave salt.

Eating salt will temporarily kill this craving, but it’ll come back when your body fails to absorb the nutrients it’s looking for. To combat this, make sure you’re eating plenty of whole food protein sources, fruits, and vegetables and I would recommend a high quality multivitamin as well. 

3. The final reason might be because of mild dehydration from sweating. Since we lose salt when we sweat, you might need to increase your salt intake during the hotter months of the year. You don’t necessarily need to drink sugary sports drinks, simply salting your foods at breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be enough for most people along with additional water intake. 

Now that you know three possible causes of salt cravings, here are some quick, easy, healthy snack foods that you can have to kill the craving but not blow your diet

Popcorn

Popcorn, while it’s not the healthiest option on this list, is actually pretty low in calories if you get air popped popcorn and don’t dump a gallon of butter on it. One cup of popcorn only has 31 calories, only 6.2 carbs, and 1.2 grams of fiber. 

One cup of popcorn isn’t much, but you can eat around three cups and still stay below one hundred calories. Where you run into trouble is when adding oils to popcorn, one tablespoon (which isn’t a lot) has about 100 calories, and most of the time people will add 2+ tablespoons to popcorn. 

Pickles

If you like pickles, which most salt lovers do, are a great ultra-low calorie option that includes salt, the crunch, and is actually pretty healthy for you since you’re eating a cucumber. Dill pickles only have 4.2 calories per spear, and slices are about 1 calorie each. 

If you’re a fan of bread and butter pickles, they’re a little higher in calories, but one spear is only 18 calories which is only around 4.2 carbs per spear and only 6.8 calories per slice.

Salted Nuts

Nuts make a great snack or a nice salty addition to a meal. But this is the highest calorie option on the list. 1/4 cup of mixed nuts, which is about a small handful you’d grab out of a bag or jar, is over 200 calories. 

Nuts are full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, but be conscious of portion control, eating a cup of nuts (which isn’t hard to do for a lot of people) will be over 800 calories! 

Hummus and Vegetables

This is a great healthy snack full of vitamins and minerals, but, just like any snack, portion control is key. Eating about a ¼ cup of hummus has only 100 calories but eating a cup of hummus has over 400 calories! 

Hummus is made with chickpeas and oil so it’s not a low-fat food. Even though it’s healthy, those calories can sneak up pretty easily, especially when you’re snacking on it while making dinner. I’d highly recommend you measure out how much hummus you want to eat and put it in a separate container before eating it. 

Apples and Salted Peanut Butter

Salted peanut butter gives the salty taste you’re looking for while the apples give you the crunch so many people crave. 

Most of you probably know where I’m going with this if you’ve ever done a consult with me, you HAVE to measure out peanut butter (or almond butter, sunflower butter, or any other type). Peanut butter has more calories in a given volume than nuts do, so ¼ cup of peanut butter has more calories than ¼ cup of nuts.

 In fact, remember that a ¼ cup of nuts is around 200 calories, but a ¼ cup of peanut butter (which is easy to eat) is around 380 calories! 

A serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons, which is roughly 190 calories. If your goal is weight loss, try to stick to that serving size. 

Olives

You might love them, hate them, or think I’m crazy for putting olives under a snack idea, but if you’re a fan of olives, they’re a great low calorie snack option. 

Two ounces of olives, which is around 14 large olives, has only 64 calories, only three carbs, and six grams of healthy fats.

There are slight variations between olive types and sizes, but for the most part this is fairly accurate. Now, if you start adding cheese and other things to the olives, then those calories start rapidly going up.

Olives might not be your first choice for a snack option, but if you like them it could be a good low calorie option for you.

To wrap up, salt cravings are sometimes the hardest to get rid of, but using one of these six options will definitely help you. If you do eat some of these snacks, make sure to drink plenty of water with them since you will be increasing your sodium intake.

Finally, if you want an almost calorie free option, an electrolyte supplement in the summer can help curb those salt cravings.

If you have other salty snack ideas (like beef jerky for example), I’d love to hear them. Email me at: chris@protect-and-provide.com

We’re still accepting applications at this time for coaching. If you’re interested in fast tracking your health and fitness results, click below to apply.

The Single Best Exercise for Hunters

Training for the 2021 hunting seasons can look very different for everyone. If you’re bowhunting elk in the west, you’re going to need to be in way better shape than the rifle hunter in the east.

However, no matter who you are or what you hunt, being in better shape can open up more opportunities for you or just make things more enjoyable. You’ll be able to hike further, especially in public lands, or you’ll be able to get your harvest out of the woods easier, especially in areas where you can’t take vehicles in. 

So what’s the best exercise one can do to get started?

Rucking. 

If you’re not familiar with rucking, it’s basically just walking with a weighted backpack. 

Militaries all over the world use rucking to get troops in shape, and there is a good reason for that. Rucking improves your cardio and strength at the same time while being less stressful on the joints than running. 

This means it’s perfect for everyone from the person just starting out to the super fit.

When you run, the force of impact on your joints is around 7-12 times your body weight every stride. So a 200 pound man will place 1,400 to 2,400 pounds of force with each stride. This is one reason running has a high injury rate. 

With rucking, it’s only 2-3 times your bodyweight with each stride, plus the weight of your backpack. So the 200 pound man with a 50 pound rucksack will place 500-750 pounds of force on their joints with each step. At the high end, it’s half the force of running with a very heavy rucksack, but the average is that running places about 3 times the force on your knees and joints. 

If you need to lose weight, rucking burns more calories than walking and almost as many as running. 

Other benefits of rucking include getting outside, which has been shown to decrease stress, decrease depression, increase creativity, boost the immune system and a host of other benefits. Rucking can be social, and some research shows that movement and exercise help people bond together and make things more fun. 

If you’re a lifter and worried about cardio “killing your gains” in the gym, rucking is low-intensity conditioning for the body. If you do it right and start slow, these workouts will improve your recovery and allow you to push harder in the gym while not taking away from your workouts (except maybe the first week or so). 

You can also use your ruck sessions for some scounting. Maybe you’re checking game cameras or just

Finally, maybe you’re not a hunter, but you like being prepared for when “shit hits the fan.”  Rucking is training if you ever have to carry a bug-out bag to “get out of dodge.” Theodore Roosevelt and JFK thought that every man should be able to walk 50 miles in 20 hours, doing it with a bag is even better. 

So how do you get started? 

All you need is a place to walk or hike and a backpack. 

At some point, you’ll want an actual “rucksack” or a backpacking backpack (I have Stone Glacier), but starting out, just a regular backpack you have laying around will do. 

Everyone’s first thought will be to throw 50 pounds in the bag, DON’T do that. Just like with weight lifting, you want to build up to that over time so you don’t injure yourself. 

So how much weight to get started?

10% of your body weight. Using our 200 pound man, that’s 20 pounds. If you’re 150 pounds, it’s 15 pounds. It doesn’t have to be exact, close enough is fine. 

What should you use for weights?

Depending on how much weight you need, when just starting out, a few books and two large water bottles might be enough. 

But you can use some weight plates, dumbbells, sandbags, bricks, a weight vest, or some rocks. They make weights for rucking that you can get on Amazon or visit GoRuck.

Each week, try to add 5 pounds until you reach 35-50 pounds. You don’t need to go above 50 pounds for training unless you’re training for the military (not the scope of this article). 

Starting out, aim for about 30 minutes of rucking. That’s going to be 1-1.5 miles for most people. Keep it to about 30 minutes, or a short trail, until you hit your goal rucksack weight. Then you can start increasing time/distance. 

While you can go rucking everyday, starting out you should shoot for 1-2 times per week. As you get in better shape, you can increase how often you ruck. 

A 12 week program would look like this for our 200 pound man example:

  • Week 1: 20lbs pack for 30 minutes
  • Week 2: 25lbs pack for 30 minutes
  • Week 4: 30lbs pack for 30 minutes
  • Week 5: 35lbs pack for 30 minutes
  • Week 6: 40lbs pack for 30 minutes
  • Week 7: 45lbs pack for 30 minutes
  • prWeek 8: 50lbs pack for 30 minutes
  • Week 9: 50lbs pack for 35-40 minutes
  • Week 10: 50lbs pack for 40-45 minutes
  • Week 11: 50lbs pack for 45-50 minutes
  • Week 12: 50lbs pack for 50-55 minutes

If you’re going for that 35 pound weight goal instead of 50, you’ll probably get there sooner than week 8. In that case, start increasing time/distance sooner.

You can keep increasing time each week until you reach a point where you don’t have anymore time to dedicate to rucking. Or maybe you can only go 1+ hours once a week, then read below.

If you don’t have time to get out for hour long hikes all the time, try keeping the time the same but increasing your pace so you cover more ground. So, if max you have is 45 minutes, find your baseline pace (use an app like AllTrails or OnX). Say it’s 30 minutes per mile with your pack. Try to reduce that to 28-29 minutes per mile the next week. You can keep doing this until you hit a pace that you know you can’t go any faster.

At the time this is being posted, we’re only 16 weeks away from the start of elk archery season in PA and 20 weeks away from the whitetail opener. So there isn’t a lot of time to be wasted if you want to be ready this fall. 

Following the above program is a good start. You might be able to go faster or need to slow things down depending on your current fitness level and joint health. If you want to really dialed in for this season will take a little more effort. If you really want to be ready, click below and sign up for a free 10-minute coaching call to see if you’re a good fit for our program.

Venison Shanks with Stinging Nettle Risotto

My family loves shanks and risotto. Growing up, our Christmas Eve family tradition, and still our tradition, is to make osso bucco over risotto. My wife is Italian and grew up eating risotto all the time, and her family still makes it at least once a week. 

When most people think of risotto though, you think of this heavy dish that’s great in the winter. But as the weather warms up, it’s the last thing on your mind.

Well, you’re missing out. 

Spring and summer risotto dishes are amazing and, while still heavier than a caprese salad, they’re not the “stick-to-your-ribs” kinds of dishes like you have in the middle of January.

Stinging nettle, if you don’t know, is a highly nutritious plant that grows in early spring. They tend to grow in large colonies and are hard to miss once you know what to look for. However, more than likely the way you’ll find them is when they sting you. 

Stinging nettles are covered in fine hairs that act like hypodermic needles on anything that comes into contact with them, injecting histamine and other chemicals leading to the sting. The sting, for the most part, is harmless.  Soaking in water or cooking removes the sting. 

The best way to harvest them is wearing long sleeves, pants, and gloves. Smaller ones tend to be best. 

Native Americans would harvest nettles in the spring when other food sources were scarce. Nettles are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium along with a ton of powerful antioxidants. 

I already wrote about the health benefits of venison, but again, it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals.


And to top it all off, I recommend using bone broth when you make risotto, which adds collagen into your diet to protect your joints, tendons, ligaments, and skin. 

This recipe is an adaptation of Hank Shaw’s recipes. Check out his stuff on Honest-Food.net

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter or duck fat
  • 4 small venison shanks 
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Salt
  • ¾ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup bone broth, homemade or chicken
  • 1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh thyme 
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary 
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup stinging nettles
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 large shallot or small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup risotto rice (I use Arborio)
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 4 cup low-sodium bone broth, homemade or chicken
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¼-½ cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • Optional: Pinch of saffron
Directions for the Shanks

Start with the shanks as they’ll take the longest.

Preheat the oven to 300OF. Salt the shanks on all sides. Heat the butter or duck fat in a dutch oven or other ovenproof pan that you can cover, and brown the shanks on every side except the side showing the bone. Remove the shanks and set aside.

Add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Pour in the wine and scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Bring the wine to a boil and then add the bone broth, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest and juice. Bring to a simmer and taste. Add salt and pepper if needed. 

Return the shanks to the pot with the bone side up. Cover the pot and cook in the oven until the meat wants to fall off the bone. This will be anywhere from 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours. 

In the meantime, follow the directions below for the risotto. Once the shanks are done, remove from the oven and turn the oven up to  400OF.  Carefully remove the shanks and place on a baking sheet. Add 2 tbsp of butter to the sauce and stir to combine or puree in a blender. 

Paint the shanks with the sauce and place in the oven. Paint the shanks with the sauce every 5 minutes for 15 minutes to form a nice glaze. 

Directions for the Nettle Risotto

To get 1 cup of cooked greens, you’ll need 4-5 large handfuls as they shrink when cooked. If in doubt, add another handful. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a handful of salt (water should taste like the ocean). Also fill a large bowl with ice water. 

Grab the nettles with tongs and add them to the boiling water. Stir around to submerge. Boil for 1-2 minutes for dwarf nettles, or 2-4 minutes for regular nettles. 

Remove the nettles from the water using tongs or a skimmer and dump them into the bowl of ice water. Drain the nettles one of two ways. If you have a tea towel available, roll the greens in the tea towel, twist one end one way and the other end the other way, like a candy wrapping paper, and squeeze out the water.

Now, if you don’t have a clean tea towel or you’re worried about stains on the decorative ones your wife has (my situation), squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands. Then place on a paper towel and squeeze again. 

Finally, chop the greens. 

To make the risotto, heat 2 tbsp of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallot or onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and rice, and stir to combine. Let cook for 1 minute until the rice is well coated. 

For best results, warm the broth on low on a separate burner. Make sure it’s not boiling. 

Stir in ½ cup of broth and salt (if using). Once it starts to boil, turn heat down to medium-low, stirring constantly until the broth is absorbed. 

When the broth is gone, add another ¼-½ cup of broth. 

Once you’re about halfway through the broth, add some broth to a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and saffron (if using), and smash the saffron with the back of a spoon until the color bleeds out. Add to the risotto. Then add the chopped nettles. 

Continue only adding 1/4 – ½ cup of broth at a time. 

When you add the last of the broth, add in the cheese and remaining 1 tbsp of butter. Stir everything well so that the cheese and butter melt and are distributed evenly throughout. Check the texture of the rice, if it’s not done yet, add another ¼ cup of water or broth. Keep doing that until you get the desired texture. 

To serve, plate the nettle risotto first. Then place a shank on top and grate some parmesan cheese.

If you’d like to learn more about what we offer, email us at: Chris@Protect-and-Provide.com or click the button below for a free 10-minute coaching call

50% of the U.S. Population is Deficient in the Vitamin

If you have trouble seeing in the dark, have dry eyes, bumps on your skin, dry skin, get allergies or frequent colds, then keep reading.

What I’m about to tell you is kinda boring in the health and fitness world. You’re not going to see an influencer posing on a yacht with it and it’s not making anyone millions of dollars. 

It’s vitamin A.

There’s a good reason it’s not talked about, most people don’t think they are deficient. It’s “easy” to get enough from even a small serving of fruits and vegetables, but the reality is, 50% of the U.S. population is deficient in this vitamin. 

Before you exit out, here’s the facts.

Vitamin A is required not only for vision, but also helps regulate over 500 genes in your body. It’s important for immune health, skin health, using vitamin D, and used in your red blood cells. Basically, it’s really important. 

Genes are how things get done in the body. They are the instruction manuals that tell your body how to work. 

50% of the population has a mutation in their genes that limits how you convert plant vitamin A into the vitamin A we use.

A lot of us grew up learning that carrots are good for eyesight because they’re high in vitamin A. Technically, that’s not correct. Carrots, and all plants for that matter, contain vitamin A precursors. 

The most common, and well known, is beta-carotene. It’s super high in foods like carrot, spinach, sweet potatoes, and plant orange in color.

Now, we can’t actually use this form of vitamin A. It must be converted from the plant version into the animal version of vitamin A called retinol. But even with those foods, 1 in 3 Americans still don’t get enough vitamin A. It’s 2 in 3 Americans if they avoid multivitamins and fortified foods. 

Here’s where things get tricky, the gene responsible for this is called your BCO1 gene. That’s not all that important for you to remember, but what is important is that 50% of the population has a mutation that causes this gene to not work so well. 

50% of the population can only convert half of the plant vitamin A to animal vitamin A.

And 25% can only convert 25% or less of what they eat! (This is me!)

That’s 1 in 4 people!

If you think of it as a car. 50% of the population can only access two gears. And 25% of the population can never get out of first gear. You can get to where you want to go, but it’s not going to be very fast and it’s going to cause a lot of wear and tear on the engine. 

You can do some simple gene testing through Ancestry DNA, 23andMe, or Seeking Health to find out how your BCO1 gene is functioning (note: you’ll have to take your data from Ancestry or 23andMe and put it through Seeking Health’s software).

But here is an easier way to see if you’re deficient or not.

It’s the night driving test. 

It’s simple. Go driving at night and pass someone with their lights on. If you’re blind for 2 seconds after passing them, you’re most likely deficient in vitamin A. 

Other symptoms of deficiency include: 

  • Bumps on your skin
  • Dry eyes
  • Frequent colds/illness- every cold or illness depletes stores
  • Allergies 
  • Sleep problems- Vit. A needed to detect blue light, which sets your circadian rhythm 
  • Need to use sunglasses in bright light- photophobia
  • Chronically dry skin
  • Persistent pupil dilation
  • Flaky scalp
  • Poor wound healing
  • Acne 

Also, as we get closer to summer at the time this article gets posted, getting too much UV exposure (sunburn) depletes vitamin A stores 

I know what you’re going to say “well I’ll just eat more carrots, sweet potatoes, and other things high in beta-carotene. I’ll eat so much that I won’t have to worry about it!” 

Does not work that way. The system can kinda get “junked up” if you try to put too much in at once. 

On top of that, you have to eat fat with foods high in vitamin A to absorb it. 14-28 grams of fat (1-2 tablespoons of olive oil) is the ideal amount per meal. 

Now how does this relate to hunting? 

First and last light are usually ideal times for hunting. Having better eye sight in those low light conditions means you’re going to be able to see better whether it’s:

  • Being able to shoot farther because you can see farther
  • Being able to better identify your target
  • Being able to see if there are any small branches, twigs, or other things in between you and your target. 

Okay, so how do you get vitamin A?

We’re talking about retinol, or the animal version of vitamin A, which means you need to eat animal foods.

  • Egg Yolks
  • Full-Fat Dairy (whole milk, whole milk yogurt, cream, butter etc)
  • Liver (best source) 
  • Fish
  • Supplements

Liver is the best source, 3 ounces a week is all you need to get plenty of vitamin A. Since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, you can store it unlike vitamin C. So you can do one big dose. Liver is lean though, so make sure you eat it with some fat (fried in some duck fat is my wife’s favorite or served at pate). 

Egg yolks, dairy, and fish are decent sources but you’ll need to eat at least one of those once per day. 

The easiest source for most people is to supplement with a retinol supplement. Just one drop is enough from the supplement I recommend.

Now, vitamin A toxicity does exist so don’t overdo it. It takes a while to get there, but don’t supplement on days you would eat liver. And many of you might only need to supplement 2-3 days per week. 

If any part of this article sounds like you, I’d recommend ordering this supplement (I take it daily). If you have questions about any of this, email us at: chris@protect-and-provide.com

If you want to do some genetic testing to see what you can do to optimize your health, click below to order the Strate Gene Test.

email us to see if we have any discount codes for these products: chris@protect-and-provide.com


12 Week Bowhunting Training Plan

How to Get Back Into Archery Without Frustration This Spring and Summer

Did you slack off this winter and didn’t shoot as much as you should have?

I’m guilty of it this year.

But jumping right back into your old shooting habits from last September will just leave you frustrated, sore, and possibly hurt. 

Just like when you lift weights, when you shoot a bow, you need to slowly increase volume. The fitness definition of volume is the total work or weight lifted over the course of the workouts. 

To break it down simply, if you lifted 50 pounds for 10 reps for 3 sets, the total weight you lifted is 1,500 pounds. That’s your volume (50x10x3).

As you get stronger, you can either increase the reps for the same weight or you increase the weight and do the same reps. 

If you’re keeping your draw weight the same this year, then it’s like doing the same weight for more reps.

So from the lifting example, week 1 you did 3 sets at 50 pounds for 10 reps, and that’s 1,500 pounds of volume. Then week two, you did still do 3 sets at 50 pounds, but now you do 12 reps each set. Now the total volume is 1,800 pounds (50x12x3). 

From week 1 to week 2, you lifted 300 more pounds!

So when you shoot your bow, doing 100 reps at a 50, 60, 70lbs+ draw weight is a lot of volume if you’re not used to it. 

Okay, enough of the math.

So where should you start this year if you didn’t practice much over the winter?

The Plan

If you’ve been working out, then 30 shots should be a good starting point, especially if you do 3 shots at a time. Basically, if you change to weight lifting terms, that would be 10 sets of 3. 

If you haven’t been practicing much or working out, 15-21 shots might be all you can start off with. 

Then you can increase the number each week for the next 12 Weeks. Below is an example: 

Week 1: 30 Arrows

Week 2: 33-36 Arrows

Week 3: 36-42 Arrows

Week 4: 39-48 Arrows

Week 5: 42-54 Arrows

Week 6: 45-60 Arrows

Week 7: 48-66 Arrows

Week 8: 51-72 Arrows

Week 9: 54-78 Arrows

Week 10: 57-84 Arrows

Week 11: 60-90 Arrows

Week 12: 63-96 Arrows

The numbers on the left are for those who haven’t been working out as much. An increase in 3 arrows per week is probably all you want to do. If you have been training consistently, increasing 6 arrows each week might be fine.

That being said, 6 arrows a week is fast, so there might be a week or two where you stay at the same number shot or only increase by 3. That’s okay, you’re still making progress. 

If you decide to increase your draw weight, say going from 40lbs to 50lbs like my wife did last year, then you might need to drop back 3-4 weeks. 

This doesn’t mean you’re losing progress, it’s more like when you lift 50 pounds for 15 reps, and now you want to increase the weight to 60 pounds. You might have to cut back to 8-10 reps and build the reps back up over the next few weeks. 

What about if you can only shoot 15 arrows right now before you get tired? Start there, and follow the same progression. Next week, shoot 18-21 arrows, then week 3 you would shoot 21-27 arrows, etc. 

How often should you shoot?

Everyone’s schedules are different, but you can follow the above plan if you can only get out once a week. 

Ideally, this plan would be best for 2-3 times per week.

If you can shoot everyday, then the progress might be too fast for you. Instead, take a few days a week to only shoot a few arrows and maybe practice holds or other techniques where you might only shoot one or two arrows before changing your target. If you do that, then the above 12 week progression is perfect to do 2-3 times per week. 

Was this helpful? We’d love to hear your feedback on it. Or, if you don’t want to think about any of this and would rather have someone else create your program so you can just go outside and shoot, click the button below or email us at: Chris@Protect-and-Provide.com


You’re Not as Healthy as You Think! Take These 3 Supplements to Fix That

Back in the day, I used to go into the local supplement store in my hometown like a kid in a candy store.

All the different colored bottles promising to put on 10lbs of muscle in 30 days, lose 10lbs of body fat in two weeks, or increase your strength by 30%.

I took basically everything I could afford. And that set my results way back because I should have been buying food, not some random herb from a fluorescent red bottle.

Supplements should supplement your diet, not replace it.

You’ll never get the results you want if you buy supplements instead of real food. With that being said, if you have the budget for it, here are 3 supplements everyone should be taking.

Multivitamin

It’s not sexy, but it’s one of the best things you can take for your overall health and wellbeing.

A high-quality multivitamin is like an insurance policy. You have insurance on your car in case something happens to it. Hopefully you don’t get into an accident, but in the case that you do, you have insurance to help you out.

That’s kinda like a multivitamin. You should be eating a wide variety of whole foods like meats, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. But sometimes your diet isn’t perfectly balanced, or you just really want a burger and fries or pizza.

Taking a multivitamin is a good way to ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need. So what is the difference between a good multivitamin and a bad one?

Low-quality multivitamins will have the cheapest vitamins and minerals, which means that you’ll probably just end up sending them down the toilet (literally).

A higher-quality multivitamin is going to have better types of vitamins and chelated minerals that are easier for your body to absorb.

If you’re trying to lose body fat, it’s even more important that you take a multivitamin. Our soil has been depleted of nutrients over time, so a lot of food is actually lower in vitamins and minerals than what is on the label.

If you are eating less than 2500 calories per day, it’s really hard to get all your vitamins and minerals. This is where a multivitamin helps to ensure you get everything you need.

Click below to get the multivitamin my wife and I take everyday.

Vitamin D

If you’re not taking vitamin D, you’re missing out.

Here’s what we know about vitamin D:

It acts more like a hormone than a vitamin. Just like any hormone in the body (thyroid, estrogen, testosterone, etc) if the levels are not optimal, then your health is not optimal.

For health, vitamin D plays a role in almost every system in your body, from your immune system, nervous system, to your digestive system. Optimal levels help these systems work how they should.

Normal levels of vitamin D have been shown to help reduce body fat and build muscle. So if you’re just worried about looking good, make sure you get enough vitamin D in each day.

Now, can’t we just get it from the sun.

Sort of. If you’re lean and healthy, it’s the middle of summer, and it’s sunny out, then yes. As long as you have most of your body exposed to it.

However, if during late fall to early spring, the sunlight isn’t strong enough for your to create sufficient levels of vitamin D.

Also, with most people working inside all day long, it leaves little opportunity to get vitamin D naturally.

How much?

2,000-5,000 IU daily is a safe amount. Some people need less and some need as much as 10,000 IU. Get blood work done to check your vitamin D levels. Best part, vitamin D supplements are dirt cheap so they can work with any budget.

Fish Oil

(Getting enough omega-3s in the Standard American Diet (SAD) is tough. We get way too many omega-6s in our diets and that can cause systemic inflammation, which could lead to chronic health issues down the road.

Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, support brain health, support joint and connective tissue health (which includes skin), and a host of other health benefits.

But the newest thing that was found out about omega-3s is that it helps protect your telomeres.

Telomeres are on the ends of your chromosomes (the things that hold your DNA). The DNA in telomeres actually doesn’t do anything directly, what it does is protect your actual DNA from damage.

Every time your cells split (which happens millions of times each day), there is a chance that there could be something that goes wrong. The telomeres help protect the DNA, but every time they do, they get a little shorter.

So the longer the telomeres, the longer your life expectancy. Things like stress, alcohol and drug abuse, poor diet, and other factors can speed up the shortening of your telomeres.

Good lifestyle and diet choices, like taking fish oil, can help protect your telomeres and slow down the aging process.

Now typically you need to take 3-5 pills to get enough omega-3s from a standard fish oil pill. The one below you can take one or two per day since it’s concentrated.

Before you order anything above, make sure that most of your budget is spent on high quality food. Then, if there is anything left over, buy supplements are start with these three.

Many people need a few more supplements than the above three. If you need help sorting through the B.S. and snake oil out there and want a solid nutrition and supplement plan, click the link below and sign up for a 10-minute coaching call.

Meal Prep Turkey Sausage Recipe

Whether you’re hunting wild turkey or just buying some from the grocery store, this recipe is one of my wife’s favorites for meal prepping breakfast. 3 lbs of ground turkey make plenty of sausage patties for fat-burning high-protein breakfasts during the week.

As a bonus, it’s super simple to make. For best results, either cook them on a cast iron skillet or grill them.

Breakfast Sausage Recipe

  • 3 lbs ground turkey
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar,  maple syrup, or coconut palm sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons nutmeg
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well so that all the herbs and spices get combined evenly.

Form into 12 patties. If you have a food scale, they’ll each be roughly 4oz each.

Saute in coconut oil or grass-fed butter or grill for about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: One 4oz Sausage Patty (raw weight)

Calories: 180

Protein: 21g

Fat: 9g

Carbs: 2g

If you’d like more recipe ideas or need help with your diet, put your name on our email list so we can send you new recipes, nutrition and workout tips, and more!

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Have a Healthy Heart? Take this 2-Minute Test to Find Out

Want to know if you have a healthy heart?

 Have some stairs? 

It only takes you two minutes or less to find out if you have a healthy heart or not. 

The European Society of Cardiology came up with a test that almost anyone can do at home that is almost as accurate as an expensive cardiology lab, so no need to go to the doctors office and throw on electrodes to see if you have a healthy ticker.

Here is the test, climb 4 flights of stairs in under 90 seconds. 

If you can’t do that, your health is suboptimal and they recommend you go see a doctor.

Here are more details for you.

Doctors took 165 symptomatic patients. They had patients walk or run on a treadmill and measured exercise capacity in metabolic equivalents (METs). They also generated images of the patients’ hearts during exercise.

After 15-20 minutes rest, they had patients climb 4 flights of stairs (60 total stairs). Patients that climbed the stairs in 40-45s generated 9-10 METs. That’s important because 10 METs generated during exercise has been shown to be 1% or less risk of mortality per year, or less than 10% mortality in 10 years

Patients who took longer than 90 seconds generated less than 8 METs, which is linked to 2-4% mortality per year, or 30% mortality in 10 years

Now for the imaging, they compared the times to the images generated during the treadmill test. Only 32% of the patients who completed the stairs in under 45 seconds had heart function abnormalities. 58% of patients who completed the stairs in over 90 seconds had heart function abnormalities. 

The researcher concluded that this would be a good test for the general population, but the mortality risks would be much lower.

What does this mean for you? If you want a quick test to see if you have good cardiovascular health, walk (don’t run) up 60 stairs in under 45 seconds. 

If you complete it in under 90 seconds, that’s okay but you can make improvements.

Over 90 seconds is not good and you should take steps to get back in shape. 

If you’re a hunter or even just someone who enjoys being outside, you need to make sure your heart is healthy. Climbing up a steep hill or mountain can put an untrained heart under stress.

Hunting can also include short bouts of intense physical activity, even if you hunt in a treestand. The adrenaline rush from “buck fever,” dragging your harvest out of the woods, and other aspects of hunting can put an untrained heart under stress it’s not used to. If you have an unhealthy heart, this has the potential to be very bad.

Need to improve your cardio? Or start a new workout routine? Sign up a free 10-minute coaching call to get started!

Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a medical doctor. This, and any other article on the website, should not be used as medical advice. Consult your doctor before starting any fitness regimen.

New to Bowhunting? 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started

In my opinion, bowhunting is way more fun than rifle hunting. I’m not going to say that one is better than the other, because I do both, but I find bowhunting more fun.

To be a good bowhunter, you need to practice. While you don’t have to practice that much to be able to shoot 20 or 30 yards accurately, once you start pushing 40+ yards, you’ll need to take time to practice your archery skills.

While shooting long distances is cool, if you’re a bowhunter there is more to it than just shooting for distance. At the end of the day, you’re shooting at wild animals not still targets, and they don’t care that you want to fill your freezer.

As a hunter, you need to practice different things than what a target archer will need to practice. Here are the 5 things I wish I knew before my first season.

You Need to Be Able to Hold Still for A Long Time

What you see on the hunting shows is a huge buck walks out of the woods, the person takes their time to pull back and line up the shot, and then BAM! A perfect broadside shot.

While this may happen to you, I can tell you that it hasn’t happened to me yet.

By the time you pull back, that animal might walk in front of a tree or turn to a position that you can’t get a ethical shot on.

You have two choices, 1) slowly let off and try not to make any noise or move too much, then try to get back into position when the next shot arises. 2) Keep holding.

If you’re trying not to get busted, holding is the best option. But if you haven’t practiced holding your bow for 30, 60, or even 90 seconds, your shot is going to be shaky.

As the season approaches, start incorporating holds where you do a 30-60 seconds hold before firing. Do these for each range you’re going to hunting at (20, 30, 40 etc). These days won’t be a high volume day where you shoot 100 arrows, you only need to do these 5-10 times in a single day.

Shoot the Gap

You have your pins dialed in and you feel like you’re unstoppable with 20, 30, 40, and 50 yard pins.

Then the deer pops out and it’s 37 yards away.

If you use your 30 yard pin, the shot will be low, but the 40 yard pin will be high. So, what do you do?

This is called shooting the gap, you should practice with the yardages in between each of your pins to know exactly what your arrow is going to do in flight. To train for the above example, you should be shooting at 35 yards and aiming “in between” the pins.

You can also use the other pins and know what your drop off is going to be, like shooting a rifle. If you know that at 35 yards, the arrow is 4 inches high off the 40 yard pin, you can aim low. But you better practice shooting this way.

Shoot from Weird Positions

Chances are, you’re probably not going to be standing out in the middle of an open field when hunting, especially here on the east coast.

You need to practice from different positions and know what your arrow is going to do at the ranges you’re hunting at.

Going to hunt in a tree stand? Practice shooting from different positions in your stand so you can familiarize yourself with how to change your shooting mechanics.

Hunting in a ground blind? You might be shooting from a seated or kneeling position, so practice those positions. Also practice shooting in the blind because you run out of space quickly in them.

Maybe you can spot-and-stalk, in that case, you might want to practice shooting with objects in from of you. If there are grasses or tree branches at 20 yards, and the target is 45 yards, do you have a shot?

That’s something you’ll need to practice so your arrow hits the target instead of getting stuck in a tree branch. Knowing what the travel path of your arrow is will be essential on knowing if you have a shot where you are or if you need to move to get a better shot.

You can set this up easily by placing some branches in trash can between you and the target. You can change your distance or the distance of the trash can to change your shooting conditions. If you really want to increase the difficulty, set up two trash cans.

Shoot Fast

Going in the opposite direction of the first point about holding for a long time. You might get an animal that’s just passing through and you won’t have much time to get in position and shoot.

Practice coming to full draw and taking a quick shot. They’re not going to be accurate at first, but over time, you’ll get much better.

I like to do this on a target with vitals on it rather than a regular target as the season gets closer. A small regular target might make your shots look terrible, but when you practice shooting on vitals, they’re all in the kill zone and the frustration of missing a little target becomes way more fun.

As you get better, you’re going to be able to hit smaller and smaller targets and then you can switch to a regular target instead of vitals.

Practice in Low Light

When you start out, you’re probably going to be shooting in the middle of the day when it’s nice and bright out. But there is a good chance your shot opportunity will be either early morning or late evening.

If you’re hunting in the woods of the east coast, like I am, it gets dark really quick when that sun starts to set, and all the twigs between you and your target become invisible.

Not only that, but just because you can see something with your naked eye in low light, doesn’t mean you can see it through your peep sight. For me personally, I know that shortly after sunset, I have to reel my range in from 50 yards to about 30 yards, and then 20 yards towards the end of legal light.

Practice either early morning or as the sun is setting so you can familiarize yourself with your ranges under different light conditions, especially in the type of environment you’ll be hunting.

For example, I have a stand up in the middle of the woods and it gets dark very quick after the sun sets, I can only see about 15 yards when legal light ends. My other hunting locations are more open, and I can see out further at the end of legal light.

To wrap things up, if you’re new to bowhunting, this can seem like a lot of information. Don’t get overwhelmed, take it one step at a time. Right now, at the time this article is being posted, it’s spring and you’ll have plenty of time to get ready for fall.

Start with getting accurate first, that’s the most important thing, all the other stuff is extra over accuracy. Then add the holds and the fast shots as we get closer to the season openers.

Finally, as you start checking on your stands, putting blinds up, and everything else to get ready for the season, start shooting from different positions. As for the low light conditions, you can practice that at any time.

Hope this helps you!

If you need more help, click the button below to jump on a 10-minute call or email me at: Chris@Protect-and-Provide.com