Healthy Classic Shortbread Cookies (v, gf)

If there’s one thing we all love, it’s Christmas baking. Am I right?

I recently asked my private coaching group on Facebook what their favourite holiday treat was. I would pick one and make a healthier version of it to enjoy, guilt-free.

The popular vote? Shortbread.

Cue the macro-friendly magic. 

This recipe is gluten free if you use GF oats for the oat flour, and can be vegan if you use plant-based margarine instead of butter.

macro-friendly, gluten-free shortbread cookies. 3 cookies is 1 serving!

For those on a meal plan with EVLV fit, three (yes, 3!) cookies is:

1 serving of fats + 0.5 servings of “any” carbs

Don’t have coaching, but looking to team up? Head over to our coaching page to see if we can help you!

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©2019 EVLV fit

EVLV fit is not a physician or registered dietician. This website, the information disclosed on it and all of its contents are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any medical health problems. It should not be used in replace of advise from a medical physician. Always consult your doctor, physician, or qualified medical health professional for health matters.

How to Stay on Track During Any Holiday

The Holidays can be Stressful.

In more ways than one. The impending dread of endless treats. The uncontrollable noshing on high-calorie baked goods that we just KNOW won’t fit into our normal calorie budgets. Not only the dread around food, but the time we get together with family can be stressful and a little more than emotionally draining. This can increase anxiety and lower our usually-much-stronger self control (the control we would NORMALLY use to resist the temptations laid out in front of us). 

Let’s add in the ease in which we feel obligated to go back to our normal, lazier habits when we are away or with family members, and our whole healthier routine we had started goes out the window.  

candy corn halloween candy holidays treats weight loss

And I’m not just talking about Christmas.

New Year’s drinks and Appies, Easter chocolate, Thanksgiving, Halloween candy, National Holiday Barbecues. Even Valentine’s day and birthdays are a reason for people to get together to eat, drink, and be merry.

Talk about a recipe for disaster. 

But it doesn’t have to be if you can implement a few health-saving tips for ourselves. 

Below are 8 helpful hacks that I use around the holidays to ensure I don’t make myself sick and over indulge on things I don’t actually want to. Keep these tips in mind for yourself when you’re in a different routine or environment over the holidays (where it’s easier to pretend the 5 peppermint brownies don’t count in our macros). 

8 Tips To Stay on Track During the Holidays

1. Stay Moving!


Whatever you do, try to make it as active as possible.

This means something as simple as opting for stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away than you normally would and walking into the mall, or going for a brisk walk around the block of your parent’s neighbourhood when you’re over for festivities (hint: this is also a good excuse to get away from cousins you don’t like..).

2. Stick to Your Regular Routine

You know all those things we do that helps us feel good everyday? Whether it’s meditating in the morning, going to the gym, showering, or even something as simple as eating 2 eggs with oatmeal in the mornings, keep doing it through the holidays! Even if you’re away from home or have people over, do as much as you can to maintain your healthy habits.

winter exercise holidays stay moving

The more you can keep up your daily routine the easier it’ll be to bounce back into everything after the holidays are over. Plus it may help you maintain a sense of control and normalcy in a flurry of screaming inlaws.

3. Choose your Foods Wisely


Don’t stay away from everything you LOVE, but be rational about what you TRULY want to indulge in.

Be mindful with your serving sizes and don’t mindlessly bite into things you could easily pass on. Save your calories for grandma’s christmas cake and leave those dense, plain Christmas cookies from WWII on the coffee table in the tins where they belong.

4. Eat treats LAST, not First

Always have a rule: ONLY eat the goodies AFTER you’ve nourished yourself with something wholesome and nutrient-rich. This will save you a lot of grief when it comes to blood sugar and insulin regulation. Spiking blood sugar with high-calorie foods are a sure-fire way to lead to the well-known sugar crashes and cravings later on in the day. s well as over-indulgence on the sugary things.

easter candy treats control indulge

5. Bring Your Own Snacks


Whether it’s for your day of Christmas shopping or your weekend at the siblings house for Easter, bring healthy snacks to tide yourself over. Eat things you know you love instead of shoving chocolate eggs into your mouth with everyone else.

Remember, they aren’t working as hard as you to better their health. Don’t expect them to have healthy snack for you. 

Healthy snacks could be low-fat, low-sugar protein bars, homemade granola bars or healthy cookies, hummus and vegetables, beef jerky or even vegetables and dip!


For most of us, Christmas is not a time that we are absolutely excited about when we think about getting together with family. More often than not they’re the worst ones when it comes to heckling you for healthy choices and forcing you to eat/drink way more than you normally would.

I’m personally here to tell you IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO!

And some people might secretly admire you for making healthier choices….

say no to family pressure

7. When it comes to DRINKS, choose wisely

be wise about alcohol consumption

Holiday drinks like alcohol and eggnog stack on copious calories without any nutrient benefits.

And after one or two, those calories can add up fast.

Choose lower-calorie or light alcoholic drinks, diet sodas or juices, and don’t forget to always drink a glass of water in between every mixed drink you consume.

8. Forgive yourself and MOVE ON

So you overindulged. Don’t sweat it, unless you are literally doing so from all the sugar/meat (but seriously I hope no one has to suffer through that).

The best thing to do is forgive yourself, don’t get down on yourself, and return to regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow and the next day.

As long as it doesn’t become a habit, one day of too much Christmas cake or BBQ surf and turf wont kill your progress.


There are many time throughout the year that test our willpower (and ability to put up with relatives). 

Having a coach is an affordable way to help you plan appropriately for your holidays, and stay away from shoving too many treats in your mouth without noticing.

The more we can prepare ourselves for the holidays, the less torturous it will be. and the less likely you will be to overindulge on the things you could’ve passed on. I know it’s cliche, but if you FAIL to PLAN, you’re PLANNING to FAIL.  



Interested in coaching with EVLV fit? Head over to our coaching page to see our qualifications – and ask all your questions in our contact box! 


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©2018 EVLV fit

EVLV fit is not a physician or registered dietician. This website, the information disclosed on it and all of its contents are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any medical health problems. It should not be used in replace of advise from a medical physician. Always consult your doctor, physician, or qualified medical health professional for health matters.

Is PROTEIN really Muscle-Building Magic?

PROTEIN. It’s the answer to all things bodybuilding, and maybe life in general for those living the “Bro way”. The golden chalice of youth and gains is filled with chocolate-flavoured whey and chicken breast. But how do us mere mortals know how much protein we need to take in every day? And why is protein such an important aspect of getting that optimum, muscular physique?
Is protein the golden macronutrient for muscle growth?
Eating protein does one essential thing for our bodies: it increases Muscle Protein synthesis (or MPS). MPS refers to the rate of protein synthesis of actual muscle fibres. This is used as a marker of muscle growth. Consistent increases in MPS will result in visible muscle growth over time.
*In order to have muscle GROWTH, our MPS must exceed muscle breakdown.
Layne Norton released a study in 2012 suggesting Leucine, an amino acid (there are 21 that make up proteins in foods), may be the most important determinant of MPS in the body.
The bottom line? Amino Acid availability (aka protein we consume) has been found to increase the stimulation of MPS and can result in higher muscle anabolism (building) than if we don’t eat adequate amounts of protein.
So we increase our MPS by eating more protein, and lots of it, right?
Well, yes and no. Just like everything else in the science world, nothing is that black and white. Yes, consuming bolus amounts of protein DOES increase our muscle protein synthesis, but there are other factors that also play a large role, like:
Resistance training increases MPS up to 24-48 hours

1. Resistance training has huge effects on increasing MPS 24-48 hours after your lifting session. Resistance exercise and proper nutrient intake has been shown to be significantly more effective for increasing MPS than simply nutrition or exercise on their own.

2. Hormones also play a huge role. Insulin and testosterone are the two most important.
The effectiveness of MPS is not maximized without the presence of insulin, which is increased the most with ingestion of carbohydrates. Studies using protein ingestion paired with carbohydrates tended to increase lean body mass more than just a protein source alone (here, here, here). This may be through insulin’s ability to stimulate nutritive flow into muscles and receptor signalling. Research suggests insulin can inhibit the increase in muscle breakdown following exercise also.
Increases in testosterone are seen after bouts of resistance exercise like weightlifting. Testosterone plays a role in our physique by decreasing protein breakdown, increasing MPS, and may improve the efficiency with which our bodies use animo acids to build new proteins. While the role of testosterone is still not fully understood, studies have shown that supplementing with testosterone increases lean body mass in test subjects (no pun intended), yet some studies have failed to see an increase in MPS just from higher testosterone levels alone. But like anything about the human body, reactions are not usually dictated by one single mechanism or hormone but rather a cascade of stimuli. 
So, how much protein do we NEED?
Higher performance needs? You probably need more protein too

The current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein intake is 0.8g per kg body weight, or 0.36g per lb. This is considered the absolute MINIMUM to meet your daily nutrient requirements. It does NOT take into account physical activity, let alone resistance training. So if you don’t do anything active and aren’t looking to change your physique in any way, use those guidelines.

The higher your performance needs (or the more intensely you workout) will affect your protein requirements. If you are any kind of athlete, you need to consume more than the RDA in order to reach your physique or performance goals. 
Eric Helms released a systematic review finding sufficient levels of protein for resistance-trained athletes to be 2.3-3.1g per kg (about 1.05-1.40g per lb) of fat free mass (NOT total bodyweight). Menno Henselmans’ article regarding the current research found that 0.82g per lb bodyweight to be sufficient for maximizing protein synthesis. Anything more ceases to yield any benefits, even when dieting.  
So the general “golden rule” of 1g per lb bodyweight circulating the gym-rat world may not be entirely necessary, but if you’re a beginner it may be a nice round number to start off with.
What about protein timing?
Nutrient timing may be beneficial when it comes to gaining muscle

A 2006 study showed an increase in muscle mass and strength in people who consumed protein pre- and post-workout (versus people who didn’t, but still ate the same amount of protein throughout the day).  A 2010 study found that consuming protein immediately after a strength training session improved recovery compared to a placebo. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether it was the timing itself of the protein, or the overall protein intake that resulted in the faster recovery. Either way, there is a multitudinous amount of research pointing towards pre- and post-workout nutrition as being an important factor in your fitness goals. Research points to MPS rates being elevated up to 24 hours after your weights session, so ultimately it’s your overall intake throughout the day that matter the most. 

To MAXIMIZE your protein synthesis, Layne Norton’s research suggests consuming at least 3g of leucine per meal, and eating larger doses of protein every 4-6 hours may help maximize muscle protein synthesis (aka an anabolic effect). If you have the extra time, meal frequency might help you maximize your MPS. Eating a bolus amount of protein (30-60g) in one sitting every 4-6 hours may help to keep MPS elevated throughout the day, making your muscle building potential more consistent throughout the day. 
What happens if you eat MORE protein than the recommended amount?
Well, first let’s get this out of the way for you #bros: ** EATING EXTRA PROTEIN DOES NOT MEAN BUILDING MORE MUSCLE ** The key is to balance out your daily caloric intake between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in order to maximize your physique or performance goals.
But on that note, let’s address the critics on too much protein. 
Too much protein – bad for the kidneys?

The biggest concern with too much protein is kidney damage, as protein does modulate renal function. if you have healthy kidneys and are not on a protein-restricted diet, there isn’t much research to suggest higher protein intake over time is damaging. Research suggests that potential damage occurs when subjects eat “too much, too fast” as opposed to increasing your protein intake over a time period. A 2000 review suggests that protein intake under 2.8g per kg (1.27g per lb) does not impair renal function in athletes. 

Same goes for the liver. There is no current evidence to suggest consistently “higher” (but still normal) protein intake is harmful to the liver, unless you consume a ton of protein after a 2-day fast of no food at all or have an unhealthy liver to begin with. 
There is also some evidence that regular exercise can help to alleviate any possible adverse effects of a higher protein intake on organ function. 
Truth or myth? Our bodies can only absorb so much protein at one time.
Pair your protein with other macronutrient sources, like carbs and fats.

Well, kind of but not really. The small intestine, where protein is digested and absorbed into the blood stream, is very efficient at slowing digestion over time in order to absorb all the protein you consume. Keep in mind, though, that eating more protein in one sitting won’t increase your MPS past its maximum, which is usually achieved at 30-40g of animal protein to get the minimum benefit from leucine, as stated above. 

Since the potential benefits of consuming higher levels of protein include building and preserving muscle mass, burning fat, and increasing performance output, why is 20% of our daily intake suggested?
Well, for one protein is a terrible energy source. If we only need specific levels to maximize MPS, then the rest of our calories should be coming from fats and carbohydrates (Check out my Beginner’s Guide to Macronutrients for a breakdown of why they’re important). Other aspects of health like proper digestion (and getting enough fiber), blood sugar regulation, hormone regulation, brain function, and diet variety should also be considered- their ideal functioning needs to come from other macronutrients. Other than the present-day cave men, who really wants to eat chicken breast and tuna all day, every day? Not me, that’s for sure #GiveMeBread&PeanutButterAmIRight?
Protein intake won’t matter is calories aren’t controlled too

So, Protein = muscles, right? Yes, protein is a fuel for your body. But you still need to pair it with consistent resistance training and recovery over an extended period of time to see real physique changes like weight loss or muscle growth. 

The biggest thing to remember, though, is that protein will have no effect on your physique if your caloric intake is not controlled. Simply eating more protein may land you in an over-eating phase and cause you to gain fat. No matter the macronutrient, calories are calories and extra calories will be stored as fat. Also keep in mind that consuming foods high in protein doesn’t mean protein is the ONLY macronutrient in that food- it could land you in the high-fat or high-carb levels as well, so be sure to do your homework on nutrition (learn how to interpret nutrition labels here) before raising your whey-filled chalice of gains.
Some High-protein Foods Include:
– Meats (Chicken, beef, fish, pork, etc)
– Dairy (Yogurt, cheese, milk, etc -preferably low fat options)
– Soybeans/soy products
– Eggs/Egg whites
– Protein Powders or bars (vegan or non, like whey)
– Roasted Peanuts (while low in overall protein and higher in fats, peanuts contain the highest levels of leucine per gram of protein)
– Beans/Lentils (keep in mind these are also higher in carbs)


Interested in coaching with EVLV fit? Head over to our coaching page to see our qualifications – and ask all your questions in our contact box! 


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©2018 EVLV fit

EVLV fit is not a physician or registered dietician. This website, the information disclosed on it and all of its contents are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any medical health problems. It should not be used in replace of advise from a medical physician. Always consult your doctor, physician, or qualified medical health professional for health matters.

5 things to look for in an Online Coach

5 things to look for in an Online Coach

Nowadays it seems like everyone and their dog is providing some sort of online coaching, training, or nutritional guidance – for the right price of course.

And while many of them tote great stories of success (or post  motivational quotes on their instagram pages), it can be overwhelming for the average Joe to pick a coach that is best suited for THEM and their goals. And in such a saturated health and fitness industry, GOOD COACHES can be hard to differentiate from the BAD ones.

I hear horror stories from both clients and strangers; It more often-than-not involves someone paying money to an online, social media entity with a great body- toting “get a bikini-ready body”or “lose 30 pounds in 30 days” or “Cleanse your liver and melt fat!” or.. well, you get the point (I could go on for a week so I’ll stop while I still have your attention). After the money is paid they receive a plan meant for a seasoned triathlete training for the crossfit games, a meal plan that has them eating chicken breast and broccoli 6 times a day, or a coach that withholds justifications in plans and/or never gets back to them. And trust me, people can complain all they want but it’s hard to track down an online entity to demand answers or a refund. 

Don’t just sign up with someone because their website looks fancy or their butt looks big- ALWAYS do your homework and contact your potential coach with an interrogation of your own before you fork out any money. It’s always important to remember that you are paying for a service from someone else- they should be selling themselves to YOU, not the other way around! 

If you already have a coach and are unsure if they’re the right fit for you, take a look at the list below to see if any red flags come up. If they do, you might want to consider “firing” your current coach and transitioning to someone else! 

Be sure to look for these 5 characteristics in an online coach that will help you narrow down if they’re worth it or not:

1. CREDIBLE: is your coach QUALIFIED to coach you?

At the VERY LEAST they should be certified personal trainers, preferably with a nutrition certification or specialization. Extra credit goes to those with degrees in a science, nutrition, or exercise/kinesiology field. Extra EXTRA credit to those with masters or PhD’s.

Relevant experience is also important, so be sure to ask how long they’ve been coaching or training others, or even educating themselves! It is always okay to ask for testimonials or transformations from previous clients as well. 

2. EDUCATIONAL: does your coach take the time to answer your questions and help educate you when you ask, or do they simply tell you to follow their plan?

If you are inquiring with a potentially new coach, they should be open and willing to answer ANY and ALL of your questions. They should be prompt with replies and, in my opinion, thorough grammatically as well.

If you have a current coach who is unwilling to explain WHY they are using the tactics they are on you, please go find a coach who is. Your coach should ALWAYS have solidified reasons as to why they use the methods they do. Preferably it should be backed by credible research. PLEASE don’t ever let a coach tell you they gave you a specific plan because that’s “the way it is” or that’s “how it’s done”.

3. PROMPT: does your coach get back to you in a reasonable time?

As a paying customer, your coach (unless otherwise noted in automatic replies or a pre-agreed contract) has a responsibility to their clients. That means getting back to you within 24-48 hours (under 24 hours is usually my expectation) with changes, advice, answers, or comments.

If your coach takes multiple days, or god forbid WEEKS to get back to you? Kindly request your money back and find someone who is willing to perform the service you paid them for. 

4. RATIONAL WITH CLAIMS: does your coach use marketing tactics or fad diets to reel you in?

If your coach totes “fat burning foods” , “lose 30lbs in 30 days” or supports ANY fad diets (or demonizes any food groups) please do one thing for me right now… RUN!

Don’t get distracted by a nice booty- just because they have a great body doesn’t mean they are great coaches.

Any qualified, well-educated coach knows the importance of proper nutrition but also the stupidity of claiming certain foods “make you fat” (which hasn’t been proven when macronutrients/calories are controlled), “burn fat”, “detoxify [any organ]”, “directly cause cancer” or anything else ridiculous like that.The same goes for training. “spike your testosterone with this magic workout” or “burn stomach fat with these exercises” are also irrational claims marketed for people who don’t know any better. But you reading this right now? you’re smarter than that (and much better informed now that you’ve read this article). 

The aim of a coach is to give you a nutrition or training plan that suits your goals and needs, but doesn’t give you ridiculous claims  or tells you “superfoods” will make you burn fat. 

5. GIVES OUT FLEXIBLE, CUSTOM PLANS:  does your coach take your individual needs into account when designing you a plan? Do they accommodate your specific needs?

If you can tell a coach has given you the same plan as everyone else and their pet hamsters, please don’t waste your money on them. A good coach should send you a detailed questionnaire or have a thorough phone/skype interview with you before giving out a planwhich should be individualized to your training preferences, injuries, nutritional choices, schedule, and future goals. 

your coach should encourage whole food consumption, but allow flexibility for “less nutritious” foods in moderation.

Nutritionally speaking, a good coach will encourage flexible dieting or macronutrient coaching (with appropriate fibre goals and encourage whole foods consumption), but for those that may want more structure  or don’t want to count macros, a good coach will be able to provide a flexible meal plan that lines up with your daily macronutrient intake. The plans should NEVER restrict you of certain foods, rather structure more nutritious foods a majority of the day and give you flexibility to “treat” yourself in moderation. 

Your coach should ALWAYS ask you what foods YOU like to eat before creating a custom meal plan. If someone sends you a plan without asking you any questions about your current diet or foods you ENJOY EATING, that’s a major red flag, and indicates they just gave you a cookie-cutter meal plan that hasn’t been individualized to you and your preferences. Send the plan back and find someone else.

   –  You should NEVER have to force yourself to eat a food you don’t like (case in point: no one likes tilapia).

 –  No one wants to eat chicken and asparagus 6 times a day either, nor should you have to if your coach actually knows what they are doing with your nutrition.

The same goes for training, if you like specific exercises (within reason- and it won’t lead to injury or total physical break down. Don’t ask your coach to give you America Ninja Warrior monkey bar drills if you can’t even do 10 pull-ups) your coach should be able to fit them into your weekly workout routine. Don’t ever be afraid to let your coach know what you want.

And, while this isn’t a characteristic on the list, please make sure you LIKE, BELIEVE IN, and TRUST your coach. If there is no trust in them, your motivation to stick to a plan in the long run is going to be nonexistent. 

Be picky! At the end of the day, keep in mind YOU are paying for a service from THEM, not the other way around. Never feel guilty for switching coaches if you don’t feel like the one you have isn’t right for you – or is just a bad coach in general. 



Interested in coaching with EVLV fit? Head over to our coaching page to see our qualifications – and ask all your questions in our contact box! 


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©2018 EVLV fit

EVLV fit is not a physician or registered dietician. This website, the information disclosed on it and all of its contents are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any medical health problems. It should not be used in replace of advise from a medical physician. Always consult your doctor, physician, or qualified medical health professional for health matters.