If you missed the last article in this series, check it out here…High Performing Meal Options: Lunch

And if you didn’t read the first article in the series make sure to check that out so you have a quick understanding of how many calories you want to shoot for to according to your goals, as well as a brief description of what Carb Cycling is, as that will help you maximize the meals within these articles!

And if you want even more recipes than those included in these articles, make sure to check out my wife’s recipe book over at toughmommytips.com.

And if you want even more, check out her meal plan which you can find here…7 Day Challenge and Meal Plan

Ok, it’s time for the High Performing Dinner options…enjoy!

Pistachio (or oatmeal) Crusted Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders…what a classic.

Unfortunately most chicken tenders are breaded and fried, which isn’t the best preparation method when it comes to a high performing meal options.

But we’ve got you covered 🙂

To make your chicken fingers I’m going to refer you to Jamie’s recipe book.

Download it here…Tough Mommy Tips Recipe Book

It is the first recipe under the “For the Family” section…they are awesome!

Lemon Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry

I’m a huge fan of stir fry!

It is super easy to construct, and provides you with all of the major nutrients you need to support a lean, strong and healthy body.

While stir fry is awesome, the two components of stir fry that can create a nutritional “issue” are the sauce, and an excessive amount of rice.

Many sauce options contain high amounts of sugar.

And while rice isn’t a “bad” option, if we consume a lot of rice, especially at a point in the day when we haven’t recently trained, the excess amount of carbohydrates will be stored as body fat rather than muscle glycogen.

So, to create a superior stir fry, all you need to do is whip up your own sauce, and replace some (or all) of the rice with a lower carb option like cauliflower rice!

How to make this stir fry:

  1. Cut your broccoli and bake it in the oven until crispy…spraying a little olive oil on it helps. We usually put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, but it depends on the crispiness factor you are going for. Set aside when done.
  2. Cut your chicken into small chunks and cook it in a pan on the stove top with a little salt and pepper, and set aside.
  3. Cook your cauliflower rice according to package directions.
  4. Next, it is time to make your sauce…in a bowl whisk together 1/4 vegetable broth, 1.5 tbsp lemon juice, 2.5 tbsp pure maple syrup, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ginger powder. Then whisk in 2 tsp corn starch.
  5. Put the heat to medium and pour in the sauce mixture, stirring frequently until it thickens…it thickens pretty quickly.
  6. Once the sauce is done add the cauliflower, chicken and broccoli to the pan, stir together and serve.

Chicken Noodle Soup

There may be nothing better than a bowl of delicious chicken noodle soup, especially on a cold winter day, or when you aren’t feeling 100%.

And when it is a “healthed” up version, it is even better! This version uses more chicken and veggies and a little less noodles 🙂

Here is how to make this healthy chicken noodle soup:

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a little olive oil and cook 2lbs of chicken seasoned with oregano, salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown on both sides…about 7-8 minutes per side. Remove and let cool.
  2. Add a little more oil to the pan and then chop and add 1.5 large onion, 5 carrots and 5 stalks of celery. Cook them until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Then add in 2-3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for about a minute.
  3. Add 5 cups of chicken broth and 3 cups of water, 1 bay leaf and a small bunch of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Increase the temperature again to bring to a boil and then add in your noodles (10-12 oz of noodles). We like to go for noodles that are made from beans / legumes as a nice alternative, but if you want the classic egg noodles that is fine.
  5. Cook until the noodles are tender (6-8 minutes) and then discard bay leaf before adding in the chicken. Let sit for a few minutes then enjoy!

Homemade Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I love pizza.

I love buffalo chicken.

So I freakin’ LOVE buffalo chicken pizza!

But again, the classic version is not the best when it comes to keeping your health, fitness and performance on the right track.

So here is a better option!

I’m not going to “re-invent the wheel” here, and instead I’m going to reference you to Jamie’s article on this very recipe.

Check it out here, and enjoy…Healthy Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Easy Bake Meatballs and Zoodles

Meatballs and pasta are another amazing classic!

And once again, this classic can be made a bit better just by replacing the noodles with “zoodles” or noodles that are made from zucchini (you could also get spaghetti squash noodles, or another vegetable alternative).

Once again, I’m going to refer you to a favorite recipe for the meatballs, and then all you need to do is cook up your zoodles, add the meatballs to some sauce, and you are good to go.

Here is the meatball recipe…Baker By Nature Meatballs.

Enjoy with a salad on the side for some extra nutrition 🙂

That’s a Wrap!

So there you have it, high performing dinner options to wrap up this article series.

Refer to these articles, and Jamie’s recipe book, whenever you need a new and delicious recipe that supports your training and overall health and performance goals!

If you missed the last article in this series, check it out here…High Performing Meal Options: Breakfast

Make sure to read the intro so you have a quick understanding of how many calories you want to shoot for to according to your goals, as well as a brief description of what Carb Cycling is as that will help you maximize the meals within these articles!s

And if you want even more recipes than those included in these articles, make sure to check out my wife’s recipe book over at toughmommytips.com.

The recipes in this article are great start, but Jamie has put together even more with her free recipe book that also include many of my favorites not within this article. You can find that here…Tough Mommy Recipe Book

And if you want even more, check out her meal plan which you can find here…7 Day Challenge and Meal Plan

So now, here are 5 high performing meal options for lunch!

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Healthy Chicken Salad

I love chicken salad!

But honestly, I’m not a fan of my chicken swimming in highly processed mayonnaise. 

Instead, I enjoy a “clean” chicken salad that has a base of Greek yogurt instead of mayo, with maybe a little higher quality may mixed in.

And depending on if your lunch is your post training meal, you can make it a chicken salad sandwich…the added carbs from the sandwich are a solid option post training as long as it works into your overall caloric intake.  

So here is how to make the chicken salad: 

1) Bake or grill your chicken breast, or you can pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store…if you can, try to make sure the chicken is from a good source, not a farm raised, hormone injected chicken. 

2) Shred your chicken. I usually just pull it apart with my hands, but some prefer to do so with a couple of forks. 

3) Chop a little onion, some grapes and celery and set aside. 

4) In a bowl, spoon a few scoops of non fat plain Greek yogurt. Add some garlic powder, a little salt and pepper. Stir it together and check for taste preference. If you need more just add a little at a time and stir it in, checking again fro taste. 

5) Add your shredded chicken to the bowl and mix the Greek yogurt and chicken so it is evenly covered. Add your onion, grapes and celery and mix together. Here you can also add some chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds for an extra boost of healthy fats and crunch factor. 

6) Enjoy straight out of the bowl, or make your sandwich!

“Expert” Tip: Make a large batch and pick on it throughout the week. You can also make different flavor chicken salad, like buffalo chicken salad just by switching up the added ingredients…Franks buffalo sauce with onion and celery is a good one 🙂 

Egg Sandwich 

You will see eggs popping up in each one of these articles. 

Eggs are extremely nutritious, and easy to make in all different forms.

So one of my favorites for lunch, especially because lunch is my post training meal, is a healthy egg sandwich. 

Here is how easy this one is…

  1. Cook one to two eggs to your desired gooey factor preference (over easy, medium or hard), and put some healthy bread option in the toaster…we like Ezekiel Bread, but there are many lightly processed, no sugar added breads out there now. 

2. While the egg is cooking, wilt some spinach in the pan, and heat up some nitrate free meat (I like ham) in the same pan. 

3. Once the spinach is wilted, put the spinach on top of your egg, cover that with the meat and place a piece of cheese on top. Let the cheese melt slightly. 

4. Once the cheese has melted slightly, use a flat spatula to remove the egg stack and place it on your toast. 

5. Enjoy with a side of baby carrots and hummus 🙂 

“Expert” Tip: If your goal is strictly fat loss, you may want to go with an open face sandwich to reduce the amount of calories in the meal. Or if this is not a post training meal, you can skip the bread all together and add another egg or piece of meat. 

Salad with Chicken

You knew a salad would have to pop up somewhere, and you will actually see another one for the dinner options in the article that follows. 

A salad with protein, in this case chicken, is an awesome option for lunch especially if you are on a fat loss journey, it is an off day or you just did some conditioning. 

It provides you with the vitamins, minerals and protein you need to support your health, fitness and performance goals, as well as the “fullness” factor that many of us are looking for in a meal, without blowing your calories way out of bounds. 

So this is pretty straight forward:

1) Cook your protein. Again, we are using chicken here, and I suggest cooking your chicken in the beginning of the week and using it for different meals, including salads. 

2) Make a bed of greens (I like spinach) and top it with your choice of veggies. 

“Expert” Tip: I cook up a couple pounds of frozen stir fry veggies with a McCormick Spice Packet in the beginning of the week and can add it to meals like a salad, or just munch on them as a quick snack. This is what I usually put on top of my greens for a quick salad.

3) Add some healthy fats and crunch…I like to add avocado, and either walnuts, sliced almonds or sun flower seeds for a solid crunch factor. 

4) Use your choice of dressing. We like Bolthouse Greek yogurt based dressings. They are low calorie, have minimal ingredients and taste delicious. 

5) Add some cheese if you’d like and it works into your calories. 

Pretty simple and straight forward. 

Mediterranean Power Bowl

Again, we are huge fans of simple to construct, healthy and delicious meals. 

“Power Bowls” can come in many forms, and one of my favorite that the Queen of TAW puts together is the Mediterranean Bowl. And for those who aren’t meat fans, this one is a vegetarian option.  

  1. Cook your choice of healthy carb base. This can be quinoa (shown in the pic), rice, farro, barley, etc. 

2. Chop up yellow pepper, black / kalamata olives, cucumber and tomatoes and put it over your carb base. 

3. Add chickpeas (we like the cooked chickpeas for the crunch factor), feta cheese and a couple of scoops of original hummus and enjoy!

“Expert” Tip: Mix the hummus in before you start to eat as it acts as a “sauce” like substance that you get a little with every bite 🙂 

“Antipasto” Bowl

I’m well aware of what I’m about to show you is not true “antipasto” and some of my Italian family members and friends would like to take me to a dark alley and go Godfather on me. 

But, I don’t know what else to call this one, so “antipasto” bowl it is.

This one is a low carb, healthy fats and protein rich option and is perfect for an off day or strict conditioning day…and it is stupid simple and delicious. 

  1. Chop up nitrate free salami, red pepper, tomato, avocado and mozzarella cheese. 

2. Combine this all in a bowl with a little olive oil and balsamic dressing. Mix evenly. 

3. Enjoy 🙂 

There you have 5 High Performing Lunch Options that can be adjusted a bit according to preference. 

Up next are some dinner options.

Stay tuned!

One of the best ways to increase the challenge, and therefore results of your training is by increasing your training density.

Training density is defined by the amount of work you complete in a given time. 

You can increase your training density by doing more work, or you can increase your training density by doing the same amount of work in less time. 

My philosophy on training has evolved over time, and I’m much more biased towards what is called the “minimal effective dose” for the amount of work you need to complete in order to reap the majority of the results. 

What this means is that there is a minimum amount of work that you need to perform in order to experience the results you are looking for from training. Anything over that minimum amount of work will slow down the recovery process, while not adding much (if any) to the results from training. 

For this reason, completing the minimal effective dose, and then finishing up the session is my advice, and how I think about programming for myself and my athletes.  

So looking at increasing training density, I wouldn’t increase the amount of work completed much past the minimal effective dose, but rather, I’d try to complete the work in a shorter period of time. 

Now, why would you actually want to increase training density anyway? 

Here are a few of the benefits!

The Benefits of Increasing Training Density

  1. You achieve a greater conditioning effect.

When you complete the same amount of work in less time, you increase your average heart rate and demand your cardiovascular system to respond by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the musculature (and to take metabolic waste away). 

By doing this over time, your body wants to become more efficient with supplying the oxygen needed to support this intensity, and therefore your conditioning improves. 

Enhancing conditioning while strength training is “killing two birds with one stone” and is one of the greatest benefits of increasing training density!

2. You expend more calories in less time increasing EPOC.

If a goal of yours includes leaning out (decreasing fat mass), you will want to take advantage of EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. 

When EPOC is elevated, your body utilizes more calories over the hours following training to recover from the session. More calories means that you will more easily achieve a caloric deficit, and fat stores will be tapped into for recovery.

To increase EPOC you need to increase the challenge or intensity of the session, and by increasing training density you do so.

3. You develop a greater ability to perform under fatigue.

When you increase training density, you will be training with more constant fatigue. During sport, and life, you will likely have to perform when you are fatigued…a lot!

Central Nervous System Fatigue: Effects on Speed, Power Athletes ...
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Completing your session in less time creates this “perform under fatigue” scenario, and by doing so over and over again, you will become accustomed to performing when you are tired, and will enhance your ability to do so.

4. You develop greater mental “grit”.

Piggy backing the last point, when you train or perform under fatigue you are challenging your “mental grit” and improving this key factor when it comes to overall success. 

Training under fatigue is tough, uncomfortable and something that is against our nature (well most of us anyway). 

By constantly and consistently doing so, you are increasing your mental toughness, and grit though increasing training density.

5. You save precious time.  

I know for myself, and most of my athletes, time is precious. 

While may only be a few things that I’d rather do than train, I know not everyone shares this passion. 

When you complete your session in less time, even if that is just 10 minutes less, over the course of a week you will likely save between 30-60 minutes depending on how many times you train. 

How to Increase Training Density

Now that we talked about why you should work to increase training density, let’s quickly cover the how.

  1. Condense and be deliberate with your warm up.

Probably the biggest “mistake” you can make is taking too long with your warm up. 

You spend 10 minutes on the foam roller, hit every stretch and mobility known to man, and sort of meander your way through the movement prep. 

If this sounds like you, you can increase your training density by attacking this one component of training differently.

Target specific muscle groups with the foam rolling (hip flexors/quads, IT band, lats) and then mobilize the problem areas (hip flexors/quads, adductors, lats).

Then quickly move between the movement prep exercises which typically consist of squat, lunge and lateral lunge variations. You want to try and “flow” from one exercise to the next. 

Not only will this save time, but it will also help you increase heart rate and body temperature more effectively, which one of the biggest points of the warm up. 

So condense, and move more quickly through the warm up, taking no more than 10 minutes total to complete foam rolling or other soft tissue work, mobility/stretch work, movement prep and power/skill work.  

2. Move with urgency between exercises.

Along with moving quickly through the warm up, you will want to move quickly between exercises of your training blocks. 

Let’s say you have a plank variation paired with a squat variation. 

Once you complete your plank, do not slowly get to your feet, mosey on over to the squat rack (or dumbbell / landmine) and just stare at the weight for 45s before getting “under the bar.” 

Instead, “pop” up, walk to the squat with intention and urgency, and get yourself amped to get after the lift!

Just like a smile automatically makes you a bit more happy, moving with urgency to the next exercise excites the system to complete some high quality reps. 

Why Are Sloths So Slow? - YouTube
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Instead of being moving more “sloth-like” as you lack urgency, put some “pep in your step” and make it look like you are there to get some work done…because you are! 

3. Plan your block.

Before you start your first set of the block (again let’s say a plank and squat block), plan out what you will need for both exercises.

I will notice athletes who hit a plank, and then have to grab a dumbbell if they are doing a goblet squat. It takes them 30s to make it to the rack, another 30s to figure out which weight they need, and yet another 30s to pick it up and get the dumbbell in position.

Instead, grab the dumbbell before you start your plank, and have it right next to you ready to go when you finish the plank. 

A little planning goes a LONG way when it comes to increasing density. 

4. Minimize rest.

This is basically the idea of the first 3 points, to minimize the time between exercises, or your rest. 

If you consistently wait or allow for the body to completely recover between sets, or almost completely recover, you are limiting the density effect of the session. 

Make it a point to rest only as long as you need in order to complete quality reps of the next exercise. 

More than that and you are losing out some of the benefits of density training. 

5. Set timers.

If you can’t stick to shorter rest periods, simply set a timer, or use your watch in between sets. 

Say you only give yourself 30-45s between exercises.

As soon as you are done with your exercise, check your watch and hit the next exercise when the 30-45s is over. 

Another way you can do this is to use timed blocks, or intervals.

Set a timer for 8-10 minutes and complete as many sets as possible in those 8-10 minutes.

Or set a clock for an interval of 20s on and 20s off for example, and continue to cycle through the exercises.

These are just some examples of how you can use a timer to help increase the density of the session. 

Get Dense

With the benefits of increasing density on your training results, it is apparent that you should work to do so. 

For most athletes that I work with, this is a great way to attack the session, and boost the progress towards their goals.

Some athletes who are in a max strength, or power phase of training will not want to worry too much about density as it will limit that effect a bit. These are typically competitive athletes who have a definitive competition date such as the olympics, or big competition without too many games/competitions before then, such as a major track event.

For everyone else, increasing density by reducing the time spent training while still completing the same amount of work, is an absolute game changer. 

Give it a try, and let me know what you think.

For TAW athletes this will continue to be a focus of training, and we will be honing in on this even more!

Live Athletic!

Kyle

HOLY HELL I’m excited!

Why??

Because this coming Monday (4/20) we are kicking off the first ever TAW Challenge!

From all of the great feedback I’ve been receiving, this is what I came up with to address what everyone needs right now. 

Here are the details…

Kick Covid in the Cheddar Cheeseballs 28 Day Challenge!

What You Will Receive

1) A 4 week at home program designed to attack metabolic conditioning– There will be 3 main training days all designed to get the heart rate up and calories burnin’. 

There will also be three 10 minute supplemental sessions you can perform on your off days included in the program.

***If you already have a TAW at home program you can still use that in place of this program. You can use the program you will receive from the Challenge as a supplemental program, or mix and match…either way works as the most important part is that you are getting after it!

2) A warm up that will be used during the sessions, as well as extra soft tissue, mobility and activation work. 

3) A simple nutritional guide that will discuss the big rocks that you will need to focus on, as well as the weekly challenges to help you make the most progress possible. 

4) Accountability and community– you will be addd to The Athletic Way Community Facebook group. Here I will share weekly videos about the challenge and any new ways to get points. We can interact with each other, share our progress, as well as send Kyle (that’s me) the point total for the day.

And just what are these points for??

5) Prizes– There will be some sweet prizes such as a free massage from TAW massage therapist Jamie Arsenault (ya, my boo), a gift card to a local restaurant of your choice, some TAW swag, and more. 

Points will be awarded for completed training sessions, extra 20 minute walks, extra foam rolling, mobility and activation sessions, nutritional habits and more. 

Basically every day you will have the opportunity to accrue a set amount of points, and you will share that total in the group. I will record it in a “Leaderboard Document” that will be updated daily. 

Lastly, there will be bonus points awarded to the participant who loses the most body weight percentage (weight lost divided by starting weight), and to the participant who refers the most people to the challenge. The participant who refers the most participants will receive a bonus 10 points right off the bat…so starting forwarding this to your friends and family! 

6) The ability to be part of a greater cause– For every participant I will be donating a part of the challenge fee to a charity that we will vote on as a group. 

And the more participants the more money that goes to charity. It will go like this.

0-25 participants = $10 from each participant’s fee will go to charity
26-50 participants = $15 from each participant’s fee will go to charity
51+ participants = $20 from each participant’s fee will go to charity

So you can see the more we have participate in this challenge the more money we generate for a charity. 

With that, there is no physical barrier to participating, so everyone we know can take part in the challenge! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let everyone you know about this challenge…it is going to be a blast!

So what will all of this cost? 

I want to help as many people as possible (you, your friends, family, co-workers, teammates, etc.) so it is only $49 for the entire 4 week challenge…that’s $12.25 per week!

Simply email me at kyle@theathleticway.com to register and I will send along a payment link!

Can’t wait to get this kicked off, and to help as many people as possible!