Tropical Sunrise Smoothie

This Tropical Sunrise Smoothie will have you feeling like you’re on a beach in the Caribbean. Pack with cherries and mango, this smoothie packs a nutritional punch to leave you feeling full throughout your morning. I guarantee you’ll love this smoothie!

A Nutritional Powerhouse

You’ll only need seven ingredients to make this smoothie, and it’s loaded with antioxidants..

Cherries are full of antioxidants to help fight inflammation. When you combine it with the nutritional power of mango, which contains high amounts of the antioxidant vitamin C, you have create a powerful anti-inflammatory army.

Mango is a nutritional superfood and contains 20 vitamins and minerals/ Mangoes are loaded with vitamins A, B6, and C. In fact, the 1/2 cup of mango in this smoothie is 50% of your daily recommended value.

Spinach is also a nutritional powerhouse with 167 milligrams of potassium and is packed with vitamin C, magnesium, and vitamin B6.

Also included in this smoothie is vanilla protein and collagen to give you a high-protein breakfast to start your day and leave you feeling fuller longer.

How to Make this Tropical Sunrise Smoothie

To make this smoothie, combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth and thick. You can use any dairy-alternative for your liquid. I chose coconut milk because I like it better than almond milk.

For your protein powder, choose a vanilla flavored. Remember to check your labels to ensure that it’s free of GMOs, antibiotics, and other toxic ingredients. Any collagen powder will work.

If you make this smoothie at home, let me know what you think in the comments.

Tropical Sunrise Smoothie

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine smoothies
Servings 1 smoothie


  • 1/2 cup frozen pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil


  • Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy
  • Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Keyword cherry, smoothies

The Best Protein for Exercise Recovery

You can walk down the health aisle, scroll through social media or visit your gym, and everyone’s discussing protein. Yet, which is the best type? Animal protein? Plant protein? Whey? Casein? Many personal trainers may disagree with me, but as someone with an advanced degree in exercise science, I can confidently say that collagen is the best protein for exercise recovery. 

For one, collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It’s in your hair, skin, gut, nails, joints, and muscles. 

Getting enough protein is crucial to repair muscles, promote lean muscle growth, and optimal recovery if you’re active. Collagen is often overlooked because whey and casein have been touted for decades as superior proteins. However, collagen provides many more benefits necessary for exercise recovery. 

Let me tell you why collagen is the best protein for exercise recovery and why virtually everyone over 30 should supplement collagen. 

Table of Contents

What is Collagen?

Collagen makes up 30% of your body’s protein. It’s the glue that keeps your body together. Collagen provides structure, support, or strength to your muscles, skin, bones, and connective tissues.[1] While there are 16 strains of collagen proteins, most collagen comes from five types– type I, II, III, V, and X.[2]

Collagen is naturally produced in your body, but production decreases as you age. In fact, the collagen found in your body begins to deplete faster than it’s made by age 40. By age 60, nearly half of your body’s collagen stores have been depleted.[3]

Nineteen essential and nonessential amino acids are in collagen molecules. An essential amino acid can only be obtained by eating foods containing them, such as tryptophan, lysine, and histidine. Nonessential amino acids, such as glutamine, glycine, proline, and arginine, are produced in your body. 

In some cases, such as stress and illness, nonessential amino acids are classified as conditional, which means they become essential under certain situations. Conditional amino acids include glycine, proline, glutamine, cysteine, arginine, tyrosine, serine, and ornithine.

The three vital amino acids needed for collagen production are glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Hydroxyproline is not found in other proteins and gets synthesized from proline.

Since exercise is physical stress on your body, you may need to supplement to get the conditional amino acids required to make collagen for your joints and muscles. The only way to do that is with a good collagen protein supplement. Yet, that’s not the only reason collagen is the best protein for exercise recovery. 

Why Collagen Protein is Best for Recovery

Collagen is not just a vital protein; it’s crucial for exercise recovery. Here are five ways collagen protein is the superior protein for exercise recovery. 

1. The Amino Acid Profile

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. While collagen isn’t a complete protein, it has a robust amino acid profile, including eight of nine essential amino acids. Here are the eight amino acids found in collagen protein:[4]

  • Leucine: Promotes the production of human growth hormone, one of the hormones produced during exercise. It also regulates energy levels. 
  • Lysine: Promotes hormone production while supporting muscle building and bone strength.
  • Isoleucine: Helps heal wounds and regulates energy levels.
  • Threonine: Needed to create glycine and serine for collagen production
  • Phenylalanine: Facilitates the release of feel-good hormones during exercise, including endorphins and dopamine. 
  • Histidine: Helps the repair and growth of muscle tissues.
  • Methionine: Supports healthy hair, skin, and nails.
  • Valine: Promotes muscle growth and tissue repair. 

Considering the amino acid profile of collagen, you can see why it is the best protein for exercise recovery.  

2. Collagen Facilitates Creatine Production

I bet you didn’t know that collagen supports creatine production in your muscles. Creatine is an amino acid found primarily in your muscles and brain. Glycine and arginine are needed to create creatine in your muscles, where it is stored for energy to get you through your workouts. Creatine promotes recovery during exercise and increases lean muscle mass. 

Several studies indicate that those who supplement collagen had more available creatine than those who used other forms of protein after workouts.[5] One study in men with muscle loss due to age found that those who used collagen supplements within 60 minutes of their training experienced increased lean muscle mass and strength.[6]

3. Collagen Supports Bone and Joint Health

Exercise can be strenuous on your joints, especially if you continuously jump, ride a bike, or run. One of the better-known benefits of collagen is that it protects and lubricates your joints. Collagen also has been shown to reduce inflammation in the joints and protect them from injury. 

4. Collagen Promotes Lean Muscle Mass

Whey protein is the gold standard for muscle growth. However, some people have a difficult time digesting whey protein. If you are a bodybuilder or underweight, whey protein is a better choice if you can tolerate it. However, if you aren’t a bodybuilder or underweight, collagen protein is a better option because it builds lean muscle mass and promotes weight loss.[7]

5. Collagen Supports Growth of Connective Tissue

Collagen is part of every connective tissue in your body. Types of connective tissue include bones, cartilage, fat, blood, and lymphatic tissue.[8] These connective tissues can become damaged from too much exercise. Collagen can provide more building blocks to promote damaged connective tissues to rebuild and resynthesize. Studies show that collagen helps your body recover faster from injuries because of this benefit.[9]

Because of these five reasons, I believe collagen protein is the best protein for exercise recovery. Yet, the truth is collagen is the best protein for optimal health. Collagen can help repair a leaky gut, supports heart health, and improve the look and feel of your hair, skin, and nails. 

While some argue that whey protein is superior, there’s one small factor people fail to consider about whey protein.

The Problem with Whey Protein

Whey protein is one of the two proteins found in cow milk. The other protein is casein. Whey protein powders usually go by one of three names– whey protein concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. The whey protein is separated from the casein protein and lactose during manufacturing. However, this process is never 100% successful. 

Whey protein concentrate and isolate products still contain significant amounts of casein and lactose. Casein has a similar molecular structure to gluten, and 68% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant.[10] If you are sensitive to gluten or lactose, whey protein could cause digestive problems. 

The other issue is the source. Many whey protein powders are not sourced from cows that were grass-fed and grass-finished, meaning they ate grass from pasture to slaughter. Even if the whey protein powder says it is sourced from grass-fed cows, the cow the protein came from received supplemental grains at some point. Why does this matter?

If a cow was fed grains, those grains contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs), growth hormones, and antibiotics. All those toxins make their way into your whey protein powder and your body when you use them, which adds to your body’s toxic burden. 

I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m anti-whey protein. If you use whey protein and it works for you, and you don’t have any digestive problems, do what’s best for you. As with whey protein, the source and type of collagen matter. 

Types and Sources of Collagen

The bones of cows and chickens, the skin of chickens, fatty fish, and the membrane of eggs all contain collagen. As with whey protein, the source of the cow, chicken, fish, and eggs is essential to ensure it’s free of hormones, GMOs, and antibiotics. Each source provides different types of collagen, and each type offers various benefits. 

Type I

Type I collagen accounts for 90% of your body’s total collagen. It is found in the dermis layer of your skin, which makes your skin flexible and elastic. This type of collagen provides structure to your hair, skin, bones, joints, teeth, and cartilage. It helps keep your bones strong and promotes a youthful appearance in your skin. This collagen type is found in beef, bone broth, and eggshells. 

Type II

Type II collagen is more packed together than type I collagen. This type of collagen promotes joint health and helps support digestive and immune system function. Type II collagen has also been shown to reduce inflammation in your joints. Chicken skin and chicken bone broth are excellent sources of type II collagen. 

Type III

Type III collagen gives your organs, muscles, and blood vessels structure. It also promotes lean muscle growth and aids in wound healing. The best sources of type III collagen are beef, bone broth, and wild-caught fatty fish. 

Type V

Type V collagen is vital for expecting mothers because it supports neonatal development and is found in a pregnant mother’s placenta. It also supports eye health and regulates the growth of collagen fibers. You can only find this collagen type in eggshell membranes or multi-collagen supplements. 

Type X

Type X doesn’t get the popularity or hype that Type II receives, but it’s still important. This type of collagen plays a vital role in the health of your joints and bones. It’s primarily found in the membranes of egg shells and the skin of chickens.

Collagen is essential to whole body health, not just for exercise recovery. A disturbing statistic is that only 14% of the Standard American Diet (SAD) is protein, and virtually none of that is collagen protein. 

If you’re saying, “I don’t eat meat. Is plant protein a good substitute?” I have bad news for you. 

Is Plant-Based Protein a Good Substitute?

Protein from animals is vastly superior to plant protein. Animal protein has a significantly higher amount of protein than plant protein, and you cannot get collagen from plants. Another issue is the source of plant protein. 

Soy is the most common source of plant protein and is well-touted as a complete source of protein. Moreover, one cup of soy contains a whopping 68 grams of protein. So what’s the problem?

Soy is derived from processed soybeans, and almost every soybean in the United States is genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides. GMOs are linked to thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and kidney disease.[11] Furthermore, soy is a legume and can be inflammatory food for some people. 

Pea protein is also a popular plant-based protein. However, pea protein has a relatively low protein content and does not contain several essential amino acids.  

Plant-based proteins are typically poorly absorbed and slowly digested due to their high fiber content. Because of this, the amino acids may not be bioavailable to build the proteins. 

Considerations When Buying Collagen

We’ve all seen products labeled collagen peptides. This means the proteins have been hydrolyzed or broken down into tiny, easy-to-digest particles to make them more absorbable. Collagen is notoriously known for its poor absorption and inability to make it through the digestive process. Getting collagen powder in peptide form is easily absorbed in the gut. 

I’ve touched on this, but pay attention to the labels. Does it say “organic,” “grass-fed,” or “grass-finished?” If it’s not from organic sources, there’s a chance it contains pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, or GMOs through cross-contamination. Look for collagen sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised, or certified organic.

Also, packaged collagen water and collagen capsules aren’t going to contain enough collagen, if any at all, to get any benefits of collagen supplementation. 

Final Thoughts on Collagen

If you want to add protein to your daily routine, collagen is the best protein for exercise recovery. Most collagen powders contain up to 20g of collagen protein per serving! Collagen provides many benefits for optimal health, and you don’t have to worry about dairy found in whey and casein. 

If you want to learn more about adding collagen to your diet or the benefits of collagen, schedule a free discovery call, and let me help you get on the path of Living Very Well™.

About Michael

Michael is a functional health coach and sports nutritionist based in Austin, Texas. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas and advanced certification in sports nutrition from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

This Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake is the perfect on-the-go breakfast. I absolutely love coffee cake, but sometimes the gluten and dairy used to make coffee cake is really hard on my gut. With this Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake, i can satisfy my sweet tooth and not have to worry about gluten or dairy!

Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

The Perfect Substitutes

If you’re like me, you enjoy a little sweet flavor in your breakfasts. Typically, I enjoy a bit of both in my mornings. However, my gut isn’t always a fan. With all the sugar, gluten, and dairy that’s in many breakfast foods, it can be difficult finding a healthy alternative.

To address the gluten, this recipe uses coconut and cassava flour in place of regular grain-based flour. Coconut sugar and organic powdered sugar, which is in the icing, provide a nice sweet flavor in place of processed sugar.

Dairy is a problem food for a lot of people and found in most cakes. No need to worry in this Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake. Coconut milk makes for a great substitute.

How to Make this Coffee Cake

There a few layers to this Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake, which does mean the prep time could be a little lengthy. Trust me, it’s worth it.

The best way to make this recipe is by making the filling first, followed by the crumble. Unless you have a plethora of mixing bowls laying around, you’ll want to do this in steps:

  • Step 1: Make the filling
  • Step 2: Prepare the crumble
  • Step 3: Make the cake batter

The icing can be made while the cake is in the oven and takes just a few steps.

The apple cinnamon filling between the crumble and cake is what makes this recipe amazing. You can be conservative or liberal with the lemon juice. I used the juice of two lemons, but it would takes just as good with one.

The cake batter will come out a little crumbly, but that’s ok. Feel free to add more coconut milk if you desire. I will say that you want the batter to be a little thick when you spread it out in the cake pan.

If you make this recipe and love it, leave a comment!

piece of cake with a fork

Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Paleo
Servings 9 pieces


Apple Filling

  • 2 Apples large, pealed and choped
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • lemon juice 2 fresh lemons squeezed


  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup ghee or plant-based butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  • 4. eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup cassava flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Icing (optional)

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp pure maple syurp
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk unsweetened
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract


Prepare Apple Filling First

  • Combine the water, lemon juice and apples in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, apples should be partially softened.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then stir into the apple mixture until dissolved and the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit.

Prepare the Crumble

  • Place all ingredients in a bowl and combine using a fork or pastry blender until a coarse crumbly mixture forms. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Prepare cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line an 8×8” square baking pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, tapioca, baking soda, salt and spices, set aside.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla until very smooth. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet using a spoon or spatula until well combined.
  • Transfer batter to the prepared cake pan scraping the sides of the bowl to get it all – the batter will be somewhat thick. Spread it out evenly in the pan, then layer the apple filling over it followed by all the crumble.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the center is set and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean of batter.
  • Allow cake to cool on a wire rack about 20 mins, then drizzle with maple icing if desired (see below).

Make the icing

    Keyword dairy-free, gluten-free, Paleo

    Signs of Leaky Gut and What to Do

    You probably wouldn’t consider that the cause of your joint pain, seasonal allergies, or chronic fatigue originates in your gut. Digestive issues, sure. But joint pain? If you regularly have these issues, these could be signs of leaky gut. 

    Let me back up a bit. A leaky gut may not directly cause these symptoms. It’s more that if you have gut issues such as leaky gut, you are more likely to have several health problems. That’s because increased intestinal permeability tends to occur together with other dysfunctions, such as food sensitivities, thyroid problems, nutrient deficiencies, and autoimmune disease.[1]

    In my gut health module for my functional medicine practitioner program at the Institute for Functional Medicine, I learned about the gut’s connection to our health. I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned so far, particularly regarding leaky gut. 

    Table of Contents

    What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

    The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, once said, “All diseases begin in the gut.” Nearly 80% of your immune system lives in your gut. It’s also where 90% of your serotonin gets produced.[2] Serotonin is your feel-good hormone that impacts your mood. 

    In fact, the gut-brain axis (GBA) is the communication portal between your central nervous system and the enteric nervous system, and a leaky gut can disrupt it.[3] For example, leaky gut increases LPS (lipopolysaccharides) levels, which causes anxiety.[4] ​​ 

    So what exactly is leaky gut syndrome? 

    A wall with tight junctions protects your gut to allow nutrients from your food to pass through the bloodstream. Your gut uses villi to grab micronutrients floating in your gut that was broken down from the food you eat. The villi push the micronutrients through the tight junctions into the bloodstream for your body to use. 

    Your gut is naturally semi-permeable to allow micronutrients to travel to the bloodstream. External factors such as a poor diet, toxin exposure, and stress break apart these tight junctions. This is known as leaky gut. 

    If you have a leaky gut, objects that aren’t supposed to be in your bloodstream, such as toxins, undigested food particles, and microbes, can escape through the tight junctions. Your immune system identifies these as foreign invaders and begins to attack them, causing any of the following seven signs of a leaky gut.

    11 Signs of a Leaky Gut

    If you feel bloated or tired after eating, get nasal congestion, or suffer from seasonal allergies, these could all be signs of a leaky gut. A lot of research on intestinal permeability has linked numerous symptoms and conditions, including some autoimmune diseases, to leaky gut[5]

    Here are 11 signs of a leaky gut:[6]

    • Food sensitivities
    • Seasonal allergies or respiratory infections
    • Widespread inflammation 
    • Digestive issues such as gas, diarrhea, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 
    • Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s, ulcers) 
    • Diagnosis of autoimmune diseases (lupus, multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes, Hashimoto’s) 
    • Chronic fatigue 
    • Hormonal imbalances
    • Brain fog
    • Mood imbalances such as depression or anxiety
    • Acne, eczema, or rosacea. 

    While a leaky gut may not directly cause these symptoms, it does keep your immune system response on high alert. Problems in the GI tract can be the root cause of many chronic health problems we face today. The good news is that there is something you can do about it! 

    Before I talk about how to repair a leaky gut, let’s discuss what causes a leaky gut in the first place. 

    Causes of Leaky Gut

    Our modern lifestyles are not doing our health any favors. You are constantly exposed to toxins and face more daily stressors. The Western diet is ultra-processed and contains added sugars, GMOs, industrialized oils, and synthetic food preservatives and additives. These factors keep your immune system in hyperdrive, leading to chronic inflammation, which is the root cause of many diseases. Here are four underlying causes of leaky gut.

    A Poor Diet

    Diet is one of the primary causes of leaky gut. Today’s modern diet is full of highly-proceed foods, gluten, GMOs, industrialized oils, and added sugars that our bodies simply weren’t made to digest. 

    Research by Dr. Alessio Fasano proves that gluten signals the release of zonulin, a protein that signals the tight junctions in your gut lining to be open, leading to a leaky gut.[7] Once you have a leaky gut, the gluten protein enters the bloodstream where they aren’t supposed to be. Your immune system identifies these as pathogens and attacks them. 

    Because gluten and dairy protein casein have similar molecular structures, your immune system can’t tell the difference. If your gut remains leaky and these proteins escape into the bloodstream, your immune system sends constant waves of inflammation to attack these pathogens. This is known as molecular mimicry.[8]

    If you suspect you have a leaky gut, eliminate inflammatory foods such as dairy, gluten, added sugars, alcohol, and GMOs.  

    Toxin Overload

    We come into contact with more than 80,000 chemicals yearly, but many are not tested for safety. They are found in the food you eat (GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics), the water you drink (heavy metals), the air you breathe, your clothing, cleaning products, body products, makeup, and even your skincare products.  

    Imagine your body is a cup of water. Each exposure to a toxin adds more water to the cup. If you have a leaky gut, dress, these small exposures to toxins can make your cup overflow. This includes high alcohol and drug consumption. Some of the worst offenders for causing leaking gut are antibiotics, unfiltered tap water, NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and alcohol. 

    While you can’t completely stop being exposed to toxins, you can limit your exposure by buying water filters, air purifiers, eating organic foods, and limiting alcohol consumption. 

    Gut Dysbiosis

    Dysbiosis happens when there is an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in your gut. Many studies show that gut microbiota is crucial in supporting the gut barrier. When you have yeast overgrowth or bacteria colonizing in your small intestine, this creates gut dysbiosis. If the imbalance is not addressed by changing your diet and taking a daily probiotic, biofilms will develop and increase your risk of leaky gut. 

    Chronic Stress

    Your body is designed to handle acute stress. When faced with a stressful situation, your body responds with cortisol. When the threat is gone, cortisol levels return to normal. This response is ideal when chased by an animal, as in our ancestors’ days. In today’s modern society, we face constant physical and emotional stressors. 

    When your stress response is always on, and cortisol levels remain high, your immune system weakens, and it’s harder to fight harmful bacteria or pathogens. This leads to chronic inflammation and a leaky gut. 

    The connection between a leaky gut and many health conditions is still being researched. There’s still a lot that is unknown about leaky gut syndrome. The good news is that functional medicine practitioners better understand leaky gut. The even better news is that the power is in your control. 

    How to Repair a Leaky Gut

    If you are concerned about a leaky gut, several tests are available to give you insight. Talk to your doctor about a zonulin or lactulose test, or you can do a micronutrient and mineral deficiency test from LestGetChecked. Nutrient deficiencies are a common sign of leaky gut. 

    You could take a food sensitivity test or do an elimination diet to determine your food sensitivities. If you choose an elimination diet, you eliminate gluten, dairy, nightshade vegetables, legumes, soy, eggs, and citrus fruits from your diet for 14 days and reintroduce them one by one and record your symptoms. If a particular food causes no symptoms, you are not sensitive to it. Food sensitivities are one of the most common signs of leaky gut, along with nutrient deficiencies. 

    Once you know your food sensitivities and nutrient deficiencies, you are ready to repair your gut. Functional medicine uses the 4R approach– remove, replace, reinoculate, and repair.

    Repair Your Leaky Gut with the 4Rs

    The 4Rs is a four-step protocol to address leaky gut and other gut health issues. Here are the steps to take: 

    1. Remove

    The first step is to remove anything that triggers gut inflammation, such as inflammatory foods, alcohol, caffeine, and over-the-counter medications (NSAIDs). You should also remove inflammatory foods from your diet, including gluten, soy, dairy, added sugars, corn, and any foods you are sensitive to. 

    2. Replace

    Next, you replace inflammatory foods with nutrients and gut-healing foods. These foods include anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric, rosemary, and garlic, extra virgin olive oil, organic fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, and omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught fish. It’s also a good idea to add a digestive enzyme supplement to support the optimal absorption of nutrients. An HCL supplement can help restore stomach acids. 

    3. Reinoculate

    The third step is to reintroduce beneficial bacteria to your gut microbiome. Take a probiotic supplement with at least 30 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) that have living strains of bacteria in them. Look for a probiotic with the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species. 

    4. Repair

    The final step of the 4R process is when repair begins. To accomplish this, you will want to find specific herbs and supplements that have been shown to repair a leaky gut. Examples of these nutrients include: 

    • L-Glutamine 
    • Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
    • Aloe vera
    • Marshmallow root 
    • Licorice root 
    • Reishi mushrooms
    • Lion’s mane mushrooms
    • Vitamin D
    • Zinc

    Several leaky gut supplements combine all essential nutrients to repair your gut and support optimal gut function. You can find them at your local health food store or online.

    Final Thoughts on Leaky Gut

    Leaky Gut has been called a “danger signal for chronic illness.”[9] Many of your diet choices and lifestyle factors negatively impact your gut health and contribute to several health conditions. After all, the gut is where health begins. Using the 4Rs minimizes factors that lead to a leaky gut and inflammation and adds factors that support digestive health. 

    If you want to learn more about leaky gut, the signs of leaky gut, and how you could benefit from the 4Rs, schedule a free discovery call, and let me help you get on the path of Living Very Well™.

    About Michael

    Michael is a functional health coach and sports nutritionist based in Austin, Texas. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas and advanced certification in sports nutrition from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

    Low FODMAP Cilantro Lime Chicken

    Nutrition is one of the pillars of The Living Very Well Method™. One of the first steps is determining a proper diet. A low FODMAP diet is sometimes necessary due to gut infections or intestinal distress. This low FODMAP Cilantro Lime Chicken is an easy Tex-Mex recipe that will become a dinner staple for anyone in your household.

    This recipe has just eight ingredients and can be served with another low FODMAP veggie and potatoes or in a burrito bowl.

    Why You’d Need a Low FODMAP Diet

    If someone’s every mentioned they are on a FODMAP diet, they are typically talking about a diet low in FODMAP, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polys. These short-chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, which can lead to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), irritable bowel syndrome, or yeast overgrowth.

    The five carbs that are FODMAPs are:

    • Fructose – Fruits, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, agave
    • Lactose – Dairy
    • Fructans – Wheat, onions, garlic
    • Galactans – Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and soybeans
    • Polyols – Sugar alcohols and fruits with pits or seeds, such as apples, avocados, cherries, figs, peaches, and plums.

    Why this Recipe is Low FODAMAP

    It’s important to note that some foods that are high in FODMAP are fine in smaller quantities, such as garlic, cilantro, and brown sugar found in this Low FODMAP Cilantro Lime Chicken. Everyone’s tolerance and dietary needs are different, so do what’s best for you. If you need more info on serving sizes, check out the FODMAP Friendly website or app.

    Cilantro is low FODMAP in servings of 1 cup or less

    Garlic-infused oil is a popular way to add garlic to your diet. Garlic is a high FODMAP food, however the infusion of garlic is a small enough quality to not cause digestive issues.

    Brown Sugar is low FODMAP in servings of 1/4 cup

    Lime juice is low FODMAP in servings of 1 cup or less.

    Ground cumin is low FODMAP in servings of 1 teaspoon.

    How to Make Low FODMAP Cilantro Lime Chicken

    You can take a couple of methods to cook the chicken after it’s marinated for up to two hours. I marinated mine for one hour, and it still had a robust flavor. If you don’t have time to marinate for two hours, one-hour works.

    I used my traditional oven to cook the chicken. If you go this route, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and cook in a baking dish for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let rest for 5 minutes.

    Air-fryers are a popular way to cook this and take less time to cook. To cook with an air-fryer, preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place chick in the air-fryer and cook for six minutes. Flip and continue cooking for an additional 4 to 6 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let rest for 5 minutes.

    Serve with rice and roasted potatoes, or make it into a burrito bowl. Something to consider is that tomatoes are high-FODMAP in servings of more than 65 grams (1/2 a tomato).

    Try this recipe, and let me know what you think in the comments.

    Low FODMAP Cilantro Lime Chicken

    Serving Size:
    Prep time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
    Cook time: 30 minutes


    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    • 2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tsp brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 2 large chicken breasts


    1. Place cilantro, lime juice, garlic-infused oil, olive oil, brown sugar, cumin, and salt in a blender. Blend until the cilantro is processed into tiny pieces.
    2. Place chicken in the bottom in a sealable container. Pour cilantro lime marinade over the chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
    3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Transfer the marinated chicken to a baking dish and discard any remaining marinade. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until chicken reaches 165°F. Let rest for 5 minutes.
    4. Slice and serve warm with another low FODMAP side dish

    Rating: 5 out of 5.

    About Michael

    Michael is a functional health coach and sports nutritionist based in Austin, Texas. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas and advanced certification in sports nutrition from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

    What is The Living Very Well Method™

    I suffered from agonizing foot pain for nearly a decade. The pain in my feet was so bad that it kept me up at night, and I couldn’t fall asleep without putting ice packs near my feet. Sometimes, it was crippling. 

    The first time I went to the doctor, the physician suspected diabetes and ordered a fasting blood sugar test, which came back within the normal range. Not having an answer, my PCP referred me to a specialist. 

    I saw two neurologists, an endocrinologist, an internal medicine specialist, a rheumatologist, and three podiatrists. I endured blood test after blood test, including a full rheumatoid panel and a glucose tolerance test. None of them revealed any clues as to the mystery behind the pain in my feet. 

    I once asked a neurologist about the possibility of multiple sclerosis because I had numerous signs to make me believe it was a serious possibility, only to have my concerns brushed aside before being passed on to the next specialist. 

    Frustrated and hopeless, I read an article by a functional medicine practitioner about how our diet can lead to unexplained inflammation. As someone naturally curious, I tried an elimination diet. Within two weeks of cutting out many inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, legumes, soy, and alcohol, my foot pain was gone! 

    Conventional medicine fails far too many people. Instead of looking at a person individually, it classifies people based on their disease and treats the symptoms rather than getting to the root cause. 

    My experience has led me to where I am today with a mission to empower people to live healthy, energetic lives through education and the highest level of support. It’s why I created The Living Very Well Method™. 

    Table of Contents

    The Living Very Well™ Method

    The Living Very Well Method™ is my science-based approach to reclaiming your health. My method empowers you to live a healthy, energetic life by looking at each individual’s unique circumstances instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach. 

    Through The Living Very Well Method™, you can reclaim your youthful vitality and live a life you thought was impossible. I have worked with dozens of clients using The Living Very Well Method™ and witnessed amazing results!  

    The Living Very Well Method™ rests on three pillars, each designed to support optimal health. Imagine your body as an ancient Greek palace supported by three columns. Each column must be strong to support the structure (your health). If one of the columns isn’t strong enough to support the structure, the palace will crumble, leading to chronic illness, stress, inflammation, hormone imbalances, feeling fatigued, and digestive issues. 

    Your health begins in your gut. That is why the rebuilding process begins by addressing the nutrition pillar. 

    Pillar 1: Nutrition

    Food is where your body gets energy, nutrients to support every chemical process in your body, and protein to repair and build cells. In simple terms, food is medicine.

    When your digestive system functions optimally, your body can absorb all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients. However, this process can become impaired due to various factors, including a sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep hygiene, chronic illness, stress, a diet full of ultra-processed foods, and food intolerances and sensitivities. 

    Your gut is the foundation of your health because nearly 80% of your immune system lives in your gut. You must first heal your gut to get your digestive system functioning optimally. Here’s a four-step approach to healing your gut. 

    Step 1: Uncover Food Sensitivities

    Food sensitivities are at the root of nearly every digestive issue, including bloating, gas, stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. If you are sensitive to certain foods, your body cannot properly digest them. The No. 1 cause of food sensitivities is a leaky gut.

    When your gut is leaky, the tight junctions in your gut lining break apart, allowing undigested food particles, microbes, and toxins to get through and into your bloodstream. Your immune system identifies these particles as foreign invaders and responds with inflammation. 

    As long as your gut is leaky, your inflammatory response is always on and leads to chronic inflammation and, eventually, chronic illness. So to heal your gut, we start by uncovering any food sensitivities. I do this in one of two ways: 1) A two-week elimination diet or 2) a food sensitivity test. 

    If you choose the elimination diet, you remove all inflammatory and toxic foods such as gluten, dairy, legumes, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables, processed sugar, caffeine, and alcohol for two weeks. Once the two weeks are up, you reintroduce foods individually and track your symptoms. Once you know your food sensitivities, you eliminate those foods from your diet. 

    I recommend eliminating dairy and processed sugar regardless of whether or not you are sensitive to them. Maple syrup, stevia, honey, and coconut sugar are good alternatives to regular sugar. 

    Step 2: Restore What’s Missing

    The next step is to promote nutrient absorption by taking a digestive enzyme and an HCL supplement to restore stomach acid. As you age, your body stops producing certain enzymes that break down certain foods, such as amylase (gluten and complex carbohydrates), Lipase (fats), lactase (dairy), and protease (proteins). Digestive enzymes support nutrient absorption and aid in digestion. 

    Step 3: Re-Inoculate

    Probiotics are good bacteria in your gut. Your gut microbiome is a delicate ecosystem. When healthy, it has the right balance of good and bad bacteria. A poor diet, stress, leaky gut, and other factors can destroy this balance. A probiotic helps re-establish the balance of good bacteria to heal your gut. 

    Step 4: Repair Your Gut

    This is where we optimize your diet for sustainability and repair your gut. We will supplement with a multivitamin containing vitamins A and C and zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and an L-Glutamine supplement.  

    While we are healing your gut and optimizing your nutrition, we also address the second pillar of the Living Very Well Method™– movement. 

    Pillar 2: Movement

    Fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand. To get the most out of your exercise program, your body needs optimal nutrition to get the nutrients it needs for recovery, repairing muscle tissue, energy to get through the workout, and boosting your metabolism to support weight loss. That’s why instead of addressing each pillar separately, we approach each one together. 

    Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Being physically active improves brain health, manages weight, reduces the risk of disease, strengthens bones and muscles, and improves your ability to do daily activities. 

    Your exercise routine should be a healthy balance of strength training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), cardio (walking/jogging), and stretching (yoga/Pilates). One of the common mistakes people make with fitness is doing nothing but HIIT or cardio. While those forms of exercise are beneficial, exclusively limiting your workout to one specific discipline can lead to burnout, injury, and muscle fatigue.   

    Ideally, you should do no more than 150 minutes per week of high-intensity training mixed with two days of strength training. We will work together to develop a workout plan that is sustainable, diverse, and provides optimal results to support your overall health.

    In concurrence with the first two pillars of The Living Very Well Method, we also address the third and final pillar – your lifestyle. 

    Pillar 3: Lifestyle

    You might believe that healing your gut, eating a diet rich in whole, organic foods, and working out are enough to improve your health. In many cases, you will see improvement through nutrition and movement. However, for many people, their palace is still vulnerable without addressing lifestyle factors such as sleep hygiene, stress, and exposure to toxins. Here’s why: 


    Stress isn’t just a feeling, it is a hormonal response to a threat or dangerous situation. This fight or flight response is designed to protect you to give you the energy to fight off an attack or run. 

    When you experience any type of stress, such as physical (exercise), emotional (going through a breakup), or mental (work or finances), your body goes into fight or flight mode. The process works like this: Your brain recognizes a threat and tells the pituitary gland to release Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which tells the adrenal glands to release stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. 

    This causes your liver to release glycogen for energy, your blood pressure to rise, increased sweating, faster breathing, accelerated heart rate to pump blood through the body, and slowing down digestion until the threat is over. 

    The stress response is perfect for the occasional acute stressors. However, it is not ideal for the chronic stress we face in today’s society. 

    Chronic stress keeps your stress response always on. Cortisol is highly inflammatory, which makes sense if you have an open wound and need to use inflammation to fight infection. It’s less helpful and even harmful if you are chronically stressed because you work 80 hours a week or your marriage is on the rocks. 

    As a result, your body continuously cycles through periods of high inflammation, which can damage the gut lining, and a suppressed immune system, which leaves your gut vulnerable to pathogens you might be ingesting.

    Stress is at the root of many health problems, such as high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, loss of interest in sex, weight gain, mood swings, and brain fog. Learning stress reliving technics is just as important as exercise and diet. 


    Sleep is essential because it allows our bodies to recharge and refresh. It boosts your metabolism, supports mental health, strengthens your immune system and heart, affects mood, reduces inflammation, and builds proteins. 

    For most adults, six hours of sleep every night is enough to boost your health. Getting into a bedtime routine is a great way to improve sleep hygiene. 

    Unfortunately, stress and sleep deprivation are an epidemic in the U.S. Not getting enough sleep can harm your health, A lack of sleep impacts memory, focus, energy, and digestion. It also increases your risk of developing chronic disease. 

    Toxin Exposure

    Toxins lurk everywhere around you. They are in your clothing, food, water, air, cleaning supplies, skincare products, and even your cookware. Each exposure adds to your body’s toxic burden. Think of your body as an empty glass. Each exposure adds more liquid to the glass. Eventually, your glass overflows, which leads to oxidative stress. 

    The solution to toxin exposure is prevention and detoxification. You cannot escape toxins, but you can limit your exposure to them by using an air purification system, and water filters, eating organic food when possible, eliminating single-use plastics, switching to glass food storage containers, and buying toxin-free cleaning and skincare products. 

    We will work together to learn stress management techniques, develop a nighttime routine to improve sleep hygiene, and find ways to reduce your exposure to toxins. 

    The Living Very Well Method™ works because I’ve personally seen results when addressing all three pillars collectively to strengthen and support my health. This is the very foundation behind the mission of Very Well Wellness. 

    Very Well Wellness’ Mission

    The Living Very Well Method™ is a small step in a much bigger journey to achieve my mission. I created Very Well Wellness with a mission to educate, support, and empower anyone looking to reclaim their youthful vitality and health.  

    My mission is rooted in my core values: 

    • Educate: I educate through resources such as The Living Very Well Podcast, my blog, webinars, and eBooks. 
    • Empower: Through health coaching and The Living Very Well Method™, I empower you to reclaim your health and vitality. 
    • Support: I actively aim to completely support you through your journey

    Allow me to help you unleash your power and live a life you never imagined possible. I don’t care if you are 40, 50, 60, or 20.; the Living Very Well Method™ works. I know because I have been in your shoes and have seen amazing results. You can have healthy-looking skin, more energy, and feel as good as you did in your early 30s.

    If you’d like to learn more about The Living Very Well™ Method or how I can help you regain your youth, schedule a free consultation, and let’s chat so you can start living very well. 

    About Michael

    Michael is a functional health coach and sports nutritionist based in Austin, Texas. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas and advanced certification in sports nutrition from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

    Do You Have a Magnesium Deficiency?

    A mind-blowing statistic I discovered recently was that over 50% of Americans have a magnesium deficiency.[1] This is one of the causes of the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiencies because magnesium is needed to move vitamin D through the bloodstream.[2] Moreover, you may be magnesium deficient and may not realize it. 

    Magnesium is an electrolyte that supports many of your body’s functions. It is needed to regulate muscle and nerve function, blood glucose levels, and blood pressure and to make bone mass, DNA, and proteins. Low magnesium levels can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and osteoporosis.[3] 

    I will tell you how to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium, why you might not be getting enough, and the different forms of magnesium. First, let’s discuss the common signs of magnesium deficiency.

    Table of Contents

    10 Signs of a Magnesium Deficiency

    Despite the importance of having optimal magnesium levels, many people do not consume enough magnesium in their diet, leading to magnesium deficiency. Here are some signs of a magnesium deficiency:[4]

    1. Muscle Cramps And Spasms

    One of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency is muscle cramps and spasms. Magnesium is essential for muscle function, and a deficiency can cause muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily, particularly in the legs.

    2. Fatigue and weakness

    Magnesium promotes the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which gets generated in your mitochondria. ATP is the body’s primary energy currency for most of your body’s biochemical and physiological processes, such as growth, movement, and hemostasis. A magnesium deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness as the body struggles to produce enough energy to function.

    3. Insomnia

    Magnesium regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and a deficiency can lead to insomnia. People with magnesium deficiency may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

    4. Anxiety and depression

    Magnesium supports the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins, which affect mood regulation. A magnesium deficiency can lead to anxiety and depression.

    5. High blood pressure

    Magnesium helps to relax the muscles in the blood vessels, which can help to lower blood pressure. A magnesium deficiency can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

    6. Osteoporosis

    Magnesium promotes healthy bones. A magnesium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle, increasing the risk of fractures.

    7. Irregular heartbeat

    Magnesium is involved in the regulation of the heartbeat. A magnesium deficiency can cause an irregular heartbeat, which can be dangerous in severe cases.

    8. Migraines

    Magnesium supports your nervous system, and a magnesium deficiency can lead to migraines and headaches.

    9. Tingling or numbness

    Magnesium is involved in transmitting nerve impulses, and a magnesium deficiency can cause tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.

    10. Digestive issues

    Magnesium supports healthy bowel patterns. A magnesium deficiency can lead to constipation, as magnesium helps relax the intestines’ muscles and promote bowel movements.

    Research has linked magnesium deficiency with various health conditions, including Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and migraine.[5] A magnesium deficiency can be challenging to recognize because the symptoms mirror other conditions. I’ll tell you how to check your magnesium levels at home later. So, why is magnesium deficiency so widespread? Let’s talk about it.  

    Why You Might Not Be Getting Enough Magnesium

    Despite the importance of magnesium, many people need to get more in their diet. There are several reasons why magnesium deficiency is so common, but most of it links to our poor diets.

    The Standard American Diet (SAD), or Western Diet, is about 50% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 35% fats. It’s full of ultra-processed foods, sugary drinks, refined sugar, and industrialized oils such as vegetable oil, corn oil, soybean, and margarine. These oils are highly inflammatory and contribute to metabolic syndrome and heart disease.[6] Processed foods are often low in magnesium and other nutrients. 

    Another reason for the high rate of magnesium deficiency is soil depletion. Modern farming practices have led to a decrease in the magnesium content of the soil, which means that the plants grown in that soil are also lower in magnesium.

    Certain medications, such as diuretics, antibiotics, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), lead to a magnesium deficiency. Prilosec is a common over-the-counter PPI used by people. 

    Alcohol use can interfere with the absorption and utilization of magnesium in the body. Alcohol can lead to an electrolyte imbalance as well. 

    Finally, health conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and type 2 diabetes can lead to a magnesium deficiency.[7]

    Why You Need Magnesium

    Magnesium is a mineral naturally present in many foods, including almonds, leafy green vegetables, peanut butter, avocado, and whole grains. It is also available as a dietary supplement and included in multivitamins and mineral supplements.

    Magnesium plays a role in many bodily functions, including:

    • Energy production  – The production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) requires magnesium. ATP is the body’s primary energy currency.
    • Muscle and nerve function – Magnesium plays a vital role in muscle and nerve function by regulating the flow of calcium into cells. This is important for muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as the transmission of nerve impulses.
    • Regulates blood glucose levels – Magnesium helps regulate blood glucose levels by influencing insulin secretion and sensitivity.
    • Regulates blood pressure – Magnesium helps to relax the muscles in the blood vessels, which can help to lower blood pressure.
    • Bone health: Maintaining and developing healthy bones requires magnesium.
    • Promoting Restful Sleep – Magnesium prepares your body for sleep by relaxing your muscles.
    • Supports Healthy Bowel Patterns – Magnesium is involved in nearly every digestive process and helps move waste through your large intestine.

    If you look at magnesium supplements in your local vitamin store to boost your magnesium levels, you might notice different names and wonder, “which one do I need?” Let’s talk about the various forms of magnesium.  

    Different forms of Magnesium

    It is nearly impossible to get enough magnesium from diet alone. Magnesium plays a role in over 300 metabolic reactions in your body. Magnesium-rich foods include leafy greens, bananas, artichokes, figs, avocados, and wild-caught salmon. I’ll talk more about that in a minute. 

    There are several forms of magnesium supplements, so deciding which one is right for you depends on your specific needs. Here are the most common:[8]

    • Magnesium citrate: This is the most common form of magnesium and is highly bioavailable. That means it’s easily absorbed in your body. It’s used to treat constipation naturally. 
    • Magnesium oxide: This is the most common form found in most multivitamins and mineral supplements. It’s not as easily absorbed as other forms but helps with heartburn and indigestion. 
    • Magnesium glycinate: This is another popular magnesium supplement because it has good bioavailability. It combines magnesium with the amino acid glycine, which builds collagen and promotes healthy sleep patterns.[9]
    • Magnesium chloride: This is often used in topical solutions like magnesium oil. It is highly absorbable through the skin and can help to alleviate muscle cramps and spasms.
    • Magnesium sulfate: You know this as Epsom salt, which is added to baths to help relax and relieve sore muscles after exercise. It can also be taken orally to relieve constipation. 
    • Magnesium taurate: This is a form of magnesium bound to taurine, an amino acid that helps regulate heart function. It is often used to help support cardiovascular health.
    • Magnesium malate: Magnesium malate is a form of magnesium bound to malic acid. It is often used to help with energy production and alleviate fatigue.

    Now that you know the forms you can find in supplements, let’s discuss ways to increase magnesium levels in your body. 

    How to Get More Magnesium

    The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adults is 400 to 420 mg per day for men and 310 to 320 mg for women. Magnesium is water soluble, meaning that your body removes any excess it doesn’t need through your urine.

    It’s almost impossible to get that much magnesium from food alone. Just one cup of almonds has just 80 mg of magnesium, meaning you’d have to eat 4 to 5 cups of almonds daily to get the recommended daily value. You may consider taking a magnesium supplement if you are not getting enough magnesium from your diet. 

    Plenty of foods are rich in magnesium, including legumes and grains. However, a lot of people are sensitive to legumes and grains. If you have a gluten intolerance, you should avoid those foods. 

    8 Foods With High Magnesium Count

    FoodMg Per Serving
    Pumpkin seeds, 1 ounce156 mg
    Chia seeds, 1 ounce111 mg
    Almonds, 1 ounce80 mg
    Spinach, 1/2 cup78 mg
    Peanuts, 1/4 cup63 mg
    Black beans, 1/2 cup60 mg
    Peanut butter, 2 tbsp49 mg
    White potatoes, baked, 3.5 ounces43 mg
    Banana, 1 medium32 mg

    If you believe you have a magnesium deficiency, you can order a home mineral test online to check your magnesium levels. The normal range is 1.7 to 2.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). It’s important to note that the RDV is the bare minimum needed to prevent disease. For optimal health, magnesium levels should be between 2.2 to 2.5 mg/dL.

    Final Thoughts on Magnesium Deficiency

    We often overlook mineral deficiencies when considering nutrition. Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in the United States. As a sports nutritionist, I understand the importance of getting enough magnesium, especially if you’re an athlete. 

    Your body needs magnesium for a variety of functions, including muscle contraction, metabolic health, brain health, strong bones, and to promote healthy bowel patterns. If you want to learn more about optimizing your nutrition and increasing magnesium in your diet through The Living Very Well Method™, let me help! Schedule a free discovery call, and let me help you get on the path of Living Very Well™.

    About Michael
    About Michael

    Michael is a functional health coach and sports nutritionist based in Austin, Texas. He has a master's degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas and advanced certification in sports nutrition from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

    Paleo Blueberry Dream Smoothie

    Smoothies are a great breakfast substitute, or any meal substitute, for that matter. This Paleo Blueberry Dream Smoothie is Paleo diet-compliant, gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free.

    This Paleo Blueberry Dream Smoothie is made with all-natural ingredients and is free from GMOs and pesticides. It contains only four ingredients and takes no more than five minutes to make.

    Why Choose Organic Fruits and Vegetables

    Many toxins lurk in the fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store. You may think that washing your fruits and vegetables before eating them reduces your exposure to these toxins. Unfortunately, you’re wrong!

    The reality is that modern farming is built around using genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, and herbicides to mass-produce food. Moreover, the use of antibiotics and growth hormones is widespread and most aren’t tested for safety.

    The problem is that pesticides and GMOs are linked to autoimmune disease. As a matter of fact, household pesticides are linked to an increased risk of developing Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis.

    Yet, the most significant reason to go organic is they are richer in nutrients and antioxidants. One study showed that good soil nutrition increases the production of flavonoids, which have many benefits, including antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties.

    Smoothies are Nutritional Powerhouses

    I love a good smoothie. They are a great way to get a lot of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants in one serving. For example, blueberries are high in antioxidants, which reduce damage caused by oxidative stress.

    Blueberries promote heart health and bone strength and can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Just one cup of blueberries contains 24% of the recommended daily vitamin C.

    Blackberries are also high in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins C and K. Vitamin K is essential for making proteins needed for blood clotting and healthy bone tissue.

    How to Make this Blueberry Smoothie

    Just add all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high. You can substitute peanut butter for almond butter if almond butter isn’t available. However, you should check the sugar content in both. Almond butter tends to have less or no sugar than peanut butter.

    If you make this smoothie at home, let me know what you think in the comments.

    Blueberry Dream Smoothie

    Paleo Blueberry Dream Smoothie

    Serving Size:
    1 smoothie
    5 minutes


    • 1/2 cup frozen organic blueberries
    • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
    • 1 tbsp almond butter
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk
    • fresh organic blueberries for topping


    1. Add all ingredients into a blender
    2. Blend on high until smooth and creamy
    3. Pour into a glass and garnish with fresh blueberries, if desired
    4. Enjoy!
    About Michael
    About Michael

    Michael is a functional health coach and sports nutritionist based in Austin, Texas. He has a master's degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas and advanced certification in sports nutrition from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

    When You Should Follow a High-Protein Diet

    You likely know that protein is an integral part of nutrition. It’s more than necessary– it’s essential. How much protein you need depends on many factors, such as age, sex, and activity level. Then there are times when a high protein diet is necessary, including for those with a high activity level, trying to lose weight, and anyone over 50. 

    Proteins are the building blocks of your body, but your body does not absorb protein when you eat it. Instead, it’s broken down into its amino acids, transported through the bloodstream, and rebuilt in your hair, skin, nails, bones, and muscle tissue. Your diet is the only way to ensure your body is getting enough protein to rebuild and make new cells. 

    I will tell you more about when you should eat a high-protein diet, the benefits of protein, what makes a complete protein, and how to determine how much protein you should eat. First, let me tell you about the best sources of protein. 

    Table of Contents

    The Best Sources of Protein

    I’m not going to make any friends in the vegan or vegetarian communities with this statement, but the best source of high protein is from animals, and it’s not even close. 

    Complete vs. Incomplete Protein

    For starters, animal protein is a complete protein. That means it contains all nine essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those only found in food and are not naturally produced in your body.[1] The nine essential amino acids include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

    Plant-based protein sources, such as beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds, are often incomplete. However, combining different plant-based protein sources makes it possible to obtain a complete protein. For example, combining rice with beans or lentils, or eating hummus with whole-grain pita bread, can provide a complete protein.[2]

    Having a complete protein in your diet is vital because it ensures you get all the essential amino acids your body needs to function. A diet lacking complete proteins can lead to protein deficiency, which can cause muscle wasting, fatigue, hormone imbalance, and other health problems.[3]

    high protein - infographic - Very Well Wellness

    High Protein Content

    Another reason animal protein is superior to plant protein is the amount of protein content. For example, one 4-ounce serving of pork contains 29.4 grams of protein. In contrast, one half-cup of chickpeas contains 7.25 grams. 

    Peanuts and almonds are two plant-protein sources that contain high protein. One cup of peanuts contains 20 grams of protein, while almonds provide 16.5 grams per half-cup. Nut butter is also high in protein, but many have added sugars

    Tofu, a popular meat substitute, contains 10 grams of protein per serving. However, it’s essential to consider that tofu is made from soybeans, which is inflammatory in some people

    Chicken, beef, and fish are also high-protein foods that pack a punch. Four ounces of chicken contains 23.5 grams of protein, while salmon (22g) and beef (25.6g) pack a protein punch. In the battle between animal and plant protein, animal protein is the undisputed winner. 

    As a sports nutritionist, I recommend a diet with animal protein as your primary source of protein. It should also come from organic sources when possible. At the very least, it should be grass-fed or have outdoor access. This ensures its free of antibiotics, GMOs, and pesticides.[4]

    Be Careful with Whey Protein

    Whey protein is protein from cow’s dairy and contains the protein casein. In most cases, the whey protein separates from the casein protein in cow’s milk. However, whey only makes up 20% of the protein in milk. The other 80% is casein. 

    While whey protein has many benefits, it could do you more harm than good if you have a dairy intolerance.

    Whey protein also contains lactose, a sugar in milk that many people become intolerant to as they age. As a matter of fact, I tell all of my clients to remove dairy from their diets. This includes whey protein because regardless of how hard manufacturers try, there’s no way to guarantee your whey protein is lactose-free.[5]

    Furthermore, too much whey protein has been found to cause long-term kidney damage over a period of time.[6]

    That’s not to say you cannot use whey protein or plant protein as your food source of protein. However, animal protein is superior if you need a high-protein diet. Let’s discuss why you would want to eat a high-protein diet. 

    Why You Would Need a High Protein Diet

    The need for a high-protein diet is more than just a one-size-fits-all methodology. No two bodies are the same, and depending on various factors such as age, sex, and activity level, you could need more or less. 

    For example, if you are active, you need more protein. If you are over the age of 50, you need to be eating high protein. If you are in your 20s or early 30s and live a sedentary lifestyle, you likely don’t need as much protein. 

    Something to note: After 30, your body begins to lose 3% to 5% of muscle mass per decade due to low testosterone or hormone levels, insufficient protein intake, and poor absorption due to lifestyle factors such as smoking or drinking alcohol in excess.[7] Here are five reasons you’d want to consume high protein:[8]

    1. You exercise more than three times a week: Athletes, bodybuilders, and other highly active individuals benefit from high protein intake to support muscle growth, repair, and recovery.
    2. You are over 60: As we age, we may experience muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia. High protein intake may help prevent or slow down this process.
    3. You want to lose weight: High protein intake may help reduce appetite, promote feelings of fullness, and promote weight loss.
    4. You are recovering from an injury or surgery: Protein is essential for tissue repair and recovery, making it necessary for those recovering from an injury or surgery.
    5. You’re pregnant or breastfeeding: Protein is essential for the growth and development of the fetus and infant.

    It’s important to note that excessive protein intake can harm some individuals, such as those with kidney disease. Therefore, consult your doctor or a dietician if you have kidney disease before consuming high protein. 

    So, how much protein do you need? There’s an easy formula to determine how much protein you should eat.

    How to Determine Your Protein Needs

    There are two methods to determine how much protein you should eat. The first method is to determine your calorie needs, which is the method you should use if you exercise regularly or are active. It may not seem very easy, but it’s pretty simple. 

    Determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR) for daily calorie needs. This is the amount of energy your body needs when resting. 

    • For an adult male: 66+(6.3 x body weight) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x range in years) = BMR
    • For an adult female: 66+(4.3 x body weight) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x range in years) = BMR

    After you figure out your BMR, you can determine your calorie needs to give your body enough energy to perform daily tasks, such as breathing, sleeping, or going to the bathroom. To determine total calorie needs, multiply your BMR by your activity level, which is how many calories you need daily. 

    • Sedentary (little to no exercise): BMR x 1.2 
    • Light activity (1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375 
    • Moderate activity (3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
    • Very active (6-7 days/week): BMR x 1.725

    The USDA Recommendation Isn’t Enough

    Anywhere from 10% to 35% of your calories should come from protein. So if your needs are 2,000 calories, that’s 200–700 calories from protein or 50–175 grams.[9] However, this is the minimum amount the USDA recommends to prevent disease. To get the full benefits of high protein, you need more. 

    The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends eating 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kg of body weight daily to build lean muscle mass.[10]

    The Benefits of Protein

    As I mentioned, protein is the building block of your body. It’s found in your hair, skin, and nails as collagen protein. It’s located in your muscles, organs, and bones. And it makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions in your body and oxygen-carrying hemoglobins.[11] 

    Your body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding all of its cells. It performs this job with the amino acids in complete proteins. Here are some of the benefits of protein:

    1. Builds and repairs tissues: Protein is a building block of muscles, bones, skin, and other tissues. It helps repair and rebuild damaged tissues.
    2. Promotes enzyme and hormone production: Enzymes and hormones are essential for many bodily functions, and proteins play a crucial role in their production.
    3. Facilitates an immune system response: Proteins are involved in producing antibodies, which help fight against infections and diseases.
    4. Supports growth and development: Protein is necessary for the growth and development of children and adolescents.
    5. Promotes weight loss: Protein promotes feelings of fullness and reduces appetite, which can aid in weight management.
    6. Helps maintain muscle mass: Protein is vital for preserving muscle mass, especially in older adults who may experience muscle loss with age.
    7. Supports healthy skin, hair, and nails: Proteins are a vital component of skin, hair, and nails and help keep them healthy and strong.
    8. Promotes heart health: High-protein diets have been shown to improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Final Thoughts on High-Protein Diets

    As a sports nutritionist, I cannot recommend eating high-protein foods for every meal enough. As I stated earlier, animal protein is the best source of protein due to its high protein content, and it takes out the guessing game of whether or not you are getting a complete protein.

    Your body needs protein to be healthy. You need high-protein if you are over 50 to promote declining muscle mass due to your age. If you’re active, you need it for faster recovery, repairing damaged muscle tissue, and promoting hormone production. 

    If you want to learn more about why you may need a high-protein diet and how to optimize your nutrition through The Living Very Well Method™, let me help. Schedule a free discovery call, and let me help you get on the path of Living Very Well™.

    About Michael
    About Michael

    Michael is a functional health coach and sports nutritionist based in Austin, Texas. He has a master's degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas and advanced certification in sports nutrition from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

    Paleo Southwest Breakfast Scramble

    In honor of South by Southwest (SXSW) starting this week here in Austin, Texas, I decided to add a little Texas flavor to this week’s recipe. This Paleo Southwest Breakfast Scramble has the perfect amount of Southwestern spice that’s packed with 31.5 grams of protein per serving.

    This Paleo Southwest Breakfast Scramble is Whole 30 and Paleo diet compliant and can be served on its own, topped with the hot sauce of your choice (I used Yellowbird Habanero Hot Sauce).

    Where the Tex Meets the Mex

    Southwestern and Tex-Mex flavors are bold, smoky, and earthy. This Paleo Southwest Breakfast Scramble combines smoked paprika, cumin, and chili powder to give it a bold smoky flavor.

    Peppers are a staple in many Tex-Mex recipes. This recipe brings together red and green bell peppers with fresh jalapeños. Pro-tip: leave the seeds in to give it a little more kick. Something to note: If you are following an AIP diet or are sensitive to nightshade vegetables, you must skip the peppers, which are not AIP diet compliant.

    Finally, topping it off with fresh cilantro and some habanero sauce will give your morning a little more heat.

    A High Protein Breakfast

    This Paleo Southwest Breakfasts Scramble is the perfect high-protein breakfast. Animal protein is the best source of protein because it contains high amounts and all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.

    One pound of lean ground turkey contains 90 grams of protein, while one egg contains six grams. This recipe calls for six eggs, meaning the total protein content is 126 grams of protein or 31.5 grams per serving.

    When you consume protein from an animal or plant, your body breaks it down into its amino acids, which are transported through the bloodstream to where the amino acids rebuild the protein for muscle repair and cell development. Learn more in this article.

    What to Serve With It

    I made home fries as my side dish. While white potatoes are now allowed on a Whole 30 or Paleo diet, you must be careful how you cook them. Cooking them in industrialized fats such as vegetable oil or canola oil is not compliant. I cooked mine in coconut oil.

    If you want a healthier option for a side, sweet potatoes are an excellent substitute for white potatoes. You could always just make it a breakfast bowl. If you make it, comment below and tell me how it was.

    Paleo Southwest Breakfast Scramble

    Serving Size:
    4 servings
    Prep time: 5 minutes
    Cook time: 15 minutes


    • 1 lb ground turkey (I used 90% lean)
    • 6 eggs
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 1 red pepper, diced
    • 1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced
    • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil (can sub avocado oil)
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp minced garlic
    • 1/2 avocado for garnish
    • handful of cilantro for garnish


    1. Dice peppers and onion, and mince garlic
    2. Heat oil in a large skillet
    3. Add in onion, garlic and peppers sautéing until peppers begin to soften (about 5 minutes)
    4. Add turkey and spices and cook until no longer pink, breaking meat into crumbles
    5. While turkey is cooking, crack eggs in a small bowl, add salt and pepper, and scramble with a whisk
    6. Once meat is cooked, create a opening in center of skillet and pour in eggs and leave alone
    7. Once the eggs begin to set, gently mix everything together
    8. Serve on a plate and top with cilantro, avocado, and hot sauce (optional)
    About Michael
    About Michael

    Michael is a functional health coach and sports nutritionist based in Austin, Texas. He has a master's degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas and advanced certification in sports nutrition from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.