Monday, July 04, 2011
Ok, judging from the comments, people don't seem to enjoy the coconut as much as I do. ;) So just a couple of points of clarification.
I should have mentioned the reason why I chose coconut milk. It is not so much for the aesthetics or taste (although I do personally like the taste). It is because I'm taking advantage of a unique property of the coconut milk fat. Coconut fat is a medium chain triglyceride. It can be used immediately by the body, just like glucose. Except because it is a fat, it does not cause an insulin rise. Thus, it can be used as a pre or post workout fuel with none of the sugar crashes. I think this makes it idea for a morning workout protein shake.
If the coconut is not to your liking, you can use your protein powder with the method of your choice (milk, water, almond milk, etc), then use a tablespoon of coconut oil. The coconut oil will give you the benefit of fast fat fuel, but with a milder coconut taste. However, using another method will alter the calorie and sugar content. Using milk will add lactose, which is sugar. The reason why I like plain coconut milk is because there is no added sugar.
Also, if you use lite coconut milk with the fat removed, then it will be the coconut taste only, and none of the benefits of the coconut milk fat I mentioned.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Anyone remember when the Coca-Cola company tried to sell the idea that a can of Coke would be great for breakfast? All that sugar! Just think of the pure, high energy, rush you'll get in the morning!
You'll promptly bulldoze through 4 of the 100 reports you have to review in the morning at work...then immediately pass out in front of the copier machine.
Well maybe Coke for breakfast got laughed out of submission, but then, why do people still drink this?
Slim Fast Original:
Sugars: 34g (!!!!!!!!)
You know what? A can of Coke is only slight worse. It has 40g of sugar.
"But Slim Fast has all those vitamins and iron!"
No. Put down the Slim Fast and back away. I'm here to do an intervention.
I'm not trying to pick on Slim Fast drinkers, honest. A long time ago, I used to drink these too. This was one of the first diets I tried to lose weight back when I was obese. It was horrible. Sure I lost weight, but I was completely unproductive at work. I couldn't stick with it more than a week, then went on a massive binge where I gained back all the weight I lost.
A protein shake isn't the ideal breakfast, for sure. A lot of us have busy weeks where we need something on the go. Protein shakes are amazingly convenient in that you can sit in traffic and drink your breakfast.
It is incredibly easy to make your own. And cheaper than Slim Fast!
You only need three simple ingredients.
Protein Powder. Find one that is sugar free.
1 can of coconut milk.
Optional: chocolate powder. Use a sugar free dark chocolate if you can. Mine is an old canister that I will be replacing with sugar free cocoa powder when this is gone.
Some people are going to be shocked by the amount of fat in this drink. If you are cutting out the sugar, you have to add the fat. Inevitably, someone will try to make this with skim milk and light coconut milk. I strongly caution against this. If you're insistent on doing this, then only use it for a short time. Prolonged use of near zero fat, high protein diet can lead to a dangerous condition called "Rabbit Starvation". If you don't feel comfortable with the fat level in this homemade protein shake, then you're better off sticking with the Slim Fasts. You have to either burn sugar or fat for fuel.
This is a high fat, moderate protein, low sugar protein drink. Low carbers will recognize this as a fat burner energy drink. Slim Fast is a low fat, low protein, high sugar drink.
Before making the mix, you have to know what your protein requirements are for the day. I require a minimum of 80g protein per day to preserve my lean mass with my activity level. I tend to eat 5 meals per day - breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. I try to split my protein requirements evenly through all meals. So I try to balance about 16g protein per meal.
My formula is 1 can of coconut milk, 3 scoops of protein powder and 4 tablespoons of heavy cream. This makes 4 shakes with 16g protein each, and about 270 calories. If you make this at home for your needs, then use the recipe calculator to come up with the mix you need.
I whisk the coconut milk and protein powder together, then leave it in the fridge. In the morning, I'll take 1/2 cup of the mixture and put it in the blender with 4 ice cubes, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 tablespoon chocolate powder. Blend it together until the ice cubes are blended, then pour it in a glass. Stir in 1 tablespoon heavy cream.
Edit: Blender is optional. Just skip the ice if you're making it without a blender.
Pour it in a travel mug, if you're on the go.
Here is my spark recipe. Remember, though, that mine is formulated for 16g of protein and 270 calories for my personal needs. Feel free to use this as a template to adapt for your needs. Just don't use skim milk, AND light coconut milk, ok? If you're insistent on a lower fat version, use either whole milk and light coconut milk, or low fat milk and regular coconut milk. Just don't blame me if it tastes watery and doesn't keep you sated with low-fat ingredients.
Compare this with the Slim Fast nutrition breakdown above:
Sugar: 0g The sugar is actually the lactose from the cream, which is counted in the carbs above.
It tastes like a coconut milk shake!
Try my protein shake for a week versus the regular Slim Fast. Which makes you feel fuller longer? Which makes you feel more satisfied?
Also, I strongly suggest only using this as a meal replacement for a single meal. Don't try to drink this all day for all meals. You will not get proper nutrition. I drink this in the morning for a quick breakfast, then eat regularly balanced meals the rest of the day.
Edit: Here is a good breakdown of the ingredient contents of a Slim Fast. Most of them are artificial stabilizers for shelf life and to make you feel fuller.
Some protein powders can be just as bad. Shop around for one with the fewest number of additives.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I used to believe exercise was the key to weight loss. I would spend hours at the gym, peddling away furiously. When I didn't lose weight, I'd rationalize that I wasn't spending enough time at the gym. An hour a day 5 days per week. Gyms should rent rooms to capitalize on people like me, who thought they had to live in a gym to get results.
Exercise will not cancel a bad diet.
Exercise will not even cancel a good diet, that is made up of the wrong things.
It's still surprising to me how long I spent struggling, and the answer was always just within my grasp. All I had to do was reach a little further to grab it.
I can't understand why giving up grains has become a source of concern and controversy. In my grandmother's time, her sage advice for weight loss would be, "Eat less pasta and cakes." Now this is called deprivation.
The conventional wisdom advice is to eat less and exercise more.
This was a disaster. Eating less made me hungry. More exercise made me hungry.
I was always hungry.
Now I eat less naturally because I am well nourished.
And I lose weight with less exercise.
Conventional wisdom once told us Americans were too sedentary, and needed at least 30 minutes exercise 3-5 times per week in order to lose weight. Despite rising gym memberships, Americans were still getting fatter. Now they tell us we need 60 minutes exercise 3-5 times per week.
I spend considerably less time exercising now than I have in the past. 30 minutes works like a charm for me.
However, I would say the biggest component to my weight loss is my diet. I'm feeding my body the food that it wants, and it thrives.
Because I am a petite person, my body works in a more narrow range than an average sized person. I have less room for error. I have to stay closer to my target ranges for carbs, fat and protein. (My ranges are not the Spark ranges, just for reference. If you are curious about what I eat, please feel free to peruse my nutrition tracker. You may be surprised it is quite different than the conventional.)
The reasons why I exercise are the following:
1) It improves cardiovascular health.
2) It allows me to eat more food, which makes it easier to meet my nutritional requirements.
3) It depletes glycogen so I can eat more food.
4) It improves insulin sensitivity.
5) It allows me to maintain my weight loss.
This might seem like a strange list. I exercise more so I can eat more food? Yes. This flies in the face of what we have been told about eat less, exercise more, doesn't it?
I engage in regular exercise at the gym so I can eat more food, and still lose weight. Not because exercise burns more calories. 30 minutes of exercise burns about 200 calories. I guess that would burn off my salmon and avocado morning snack. But I could just skip the exercise and snack to get the same result.
When I do my major activities on the weekend - biking, hiking, swimming, etc - I eat a lot more food because I'm doing a lot more activity.
As long as I keep my blood sugar from rising, I burn bodyfat, and build muscle. I prevent my body from releasing large amounts of insulin by limiting carbohydrates to only vegetables and a small amount of fruit. Protein and vegetables. Not whole grains.
I should note that I am not diabetic. You don't have to be diabetic in order to be affected by high insulin. If you are even moderately overweight, you are in a minor state of elevated insulin imbalance because your body is not burning off excess bodyfat. The sad fact is we are not diagnosed as insulin resistant until we are practically on the verge of diabetes.
I have switched over to a much less strenuous daily exercise routine. 5 days a week, I do light cardio on the treadmill and elliptical. I work out on higher resistance, rather than higher cadence. My more strenuous activities come on the weekend.
The reason is because frequent intense activity is a stressor on the body. It causes a surge in adrenaline, which causes a surge in cortisol. Cortisol is the only other hormone that can prevent fat burn. High insulin + high cortisol is a recipe for weight gain and obesity.
Cortisol can also be stimulated by any kind of stress. Hate your job? Your cortisol is probably elevated. Which is why so many of us struggle with weight loss when we are stressed about our lives.
Modern diet emphasis on grains raises our insulin. Stressful city life raises cortisol. Many of us can place the cause of our weight gain right there. Lower the insulin and cortisol, and I suspect many of us can fix it. Reduce the foods that cause an insulin rise (ie grandma's less pasta and cake advice), reduce the stress, and the weight comes off. This has worked for me. While mom says I am special, in this instance, I do not think I am a special case.
Low to moderate is best for regular exercise, with occasional spurts of strenuous activity. If you are a daily jogger, be sure to take regular rest days so your cortisol levels don't lead to injury, fatigue, and delayed weight loss.
What works best for me is paying close attention to what I eat. What I eat is the biggest predictor for my weight loss success. Followed by regular exercise in non stressing amounts.
Exercise does not help me lose weight, as much as it helps me live a rich and happy life. Losing fat helps me enjoy longer hikes, so I can see more scenery. I used to end up with very sore feet and knees after a hike. After losing just 8 lbs, it made a huge difference to my endurance. No blisters, and no aching knees after our hike on the weekend.
The weight loss came from the food I ate. Living life came from the exercise.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Contrary to what we have been lead to believe, obesity is not due to the sins of gluttony or sloth. Obesity is a state of malnutrition and biochemical imbalance.
Our bodies want to be lean and healthy. They do not want to be overweight or obese. While our genes might make some of us more predeposed to putting on fat, none of our bodies want to be malfunctioning. Which is what obesity is - a malfunction of hormones.
The most important of these is insulin. Diabetes type 2 is a disease of excess insulin. Being overweight or obese is also a disease of excess insulin.
If you want to reverse it, you have to reduce the foods that cause insulin stimulation. Carbohydrates and sugars, regardless of whether they are simple or complex, drives insulin levels up, not fats. That is basic biochemistry.
However, that is not the end of the story. Even if you bring your insulin levels down, you may still be in a state of imbalance. Many overweight people are lacking in many essential vitamins and minerals, partially due to diets lacking in proper nutrition (good quality protein and vegetables), but also other factors. Many of us exercise in addition to dieting. Exercise depletes many vitamins and minerals, and they have to be restored.
I avoided supplements for a long time because I believed a healthy diet should be able to provide all the nutrients my body needs. I still believe this is true...for the most part. However, because I am in a calorie deficit because I am trying to lose weight, it is not possible to get all my vitamins and minerals purely from food source. Because I am a petite, this is also harder for me to do. I have to choose highly nutritious food sources, then fill in the gaps.
Before we get started, I have to say this or I will get in trouble. If you have any special health needs, do not take any supplements without the consultation of your physician. This is particularly important for people with impaired kidney function, or people taking high blood pressure medication.
The supplements I am about to show you are for my personal needs, and are not intended to be medical advice or guidance. These are strictly my opinions.
Here are my supplements. I only take some of these everyday, and a few occasionally.
Calcium and Multivitamin - Everyday
The only supplements I take every day are a multivitamin and calcium. I hate most multivitamins and calcium pills. They are so big and I have a hard time swallowing them. I prefer to take them as a chewable gummy multivitamin, and a caramel calcium chew. It's like adult Flintstones vitamins. Hey, if it encourages me to take my vitamins, don't knock it!
Magnesium and Potassium - varies on need
When we exercise, we excrete salts through our sweat. The three essential salts we lose are sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Yes, sodium is an essential mineral. I ended up with a moderate electrolyte imbalance last week because my sodium intake was too low. I'm so used to the low salt mantra, I haven't been adding enough to my food. Low carb diets have a slight duretic effect as the kidneys eliminate ketones and excess fluid retention. Excess sodium is normally excreted in urine. However, when sodium is low, the kidneys eliminates potassium instead. This is what was happening to me. My heart rate was unusually elevated. I realized I had been exercising a lot, it is very hot in GA right now, and that was causing my electrolytes to be low. I bought magnesium and potassium supplements to take care of it. I take one of each per day when I have exercised or have been sweating in the heat. Magnesium in proper levels in our blood also prevents potassium loss. I have also been adding a pinch of salt to my purified water. Not enough for me to taste, but just a trace amount to keep my sodium levels normal.
Chromium and zinc - occasionally
Chromium is a new one to me. I just recently learned about it. It is a trace mineral found in many things, including eggs. We only need it in very, very trace amounts. However, modern diets tend to excrete it, and we have a hard time restoring it when it is depleted. While it is a trace mineral, it has a pretty important effect. Chromium is a mineral that is required to make our insulin receptors work. That's right. If we happen to be chromium deficient, our insulin receptors will not work. Thus leading to blood glucose problems. Many Type 2 diabetics take it as a supplement to help insulin sensitivity.
There is also promising research that shows chromium helps restore insulin sensitivity in obese people.
The only chromium I could find at my store was this 400mcg version. I think I have restored most of my insulin sensitivity, and I eat a good variety of chromium containing foods, so I don't think I need too much. I use a pill splitter, and only take half once a week to keep my chromium levels topped off. 200mcg of chromium is included in many women's formula multivitamins already.
Looking at my nutrition tracker, I was surprised that I was always coming up short on zinc. 30mg is more than the RDA required, but it was the smallest I could find. I only take this once every other day.
Fish oil - everyday, amount varies
In a perfect world, we should be able to get all of our nutrition needs from our diet. There is one notable exception. Omega-3 fatty acids. We do not get enough omega-3s due to the way our food supply is raised.
I was at a Whole Foods recently, and I took pictures in order to demonstrate this point. The top picture is a conventionally raised cattle, choice grade top sirloin. The bottom picture is free range, grass fed cattle sirloin. These are muscle meats. Do you see the difference in the fat levels?
In the conventionally raised cattle, the muscle tissue has a lot of little bits of fat embedded in them. This beef is full of omega-6s, and low in omega-3s. They call this marbling. This is choice grade marbling. Prime grade has even more marbling. Prime grade beef is from an obese cow - 32% or more bodyfat. This is an insulin resistant cow, fed on a diet of grain and corn, folks. If we are overweight or obese, this happens to our muscle tissue, too.
A cow fed on its natural diet of grass and hay has almost no fat marbling in its muscle tissue. The grass fed beef was a healthy cow. It is a good omega-3 source. Not as rich as salmon, but grass fed beef DOES contain healthy levels of omega-3s. If we ate beef raised on its natural diet, we would not have omega-3 deficiency problems.
Grass fed beef is expensive, and it is not available in my local area. I have to drive 100 miles to the nearest Whole Foods. The ideal balance of omega-3 to omega-6 should be 1:1. However, most Americans get 1:6 ratios. Some get 1:12 ratios. This is what gave beef the bad name for clogging arteries. It's not the saturated fat. It's the high load of omega-6 in the saturated fat that clogs arteries.
In order to bring the omega-3:omega-6 ratio back in line, I have to take a fish oil supplement. On days when I eat one serving of an omega-3 rich food like salmon, I'll take 1 fish oil supplement. On days when I eat conventional beef or chicken, I'll take 2 supplements.
While our vitamins needs may vary, at very least, I think a multivitamin and some sort of omega-3 supplement are important to everyone.
What supplements do you take on a regular basis?
Monday, June 27, 2011
There are some women who are beautiful and sexy no matter what their size. They have curves in all the right places, and are head turners. They put extra weight on their breasts and thighs while maintaining an hourglass, even though they are overweight.
I am not so fortunate. I am very much a pear. Even when at ideal weight, my butt and thighs carry the bulk of my weight. When I am overweight, the effect is exaggerated. Butt and thighs get even bigger, while upperbody remains relatively thin. My square jaw bone structure becomes rounded and puffy. I look like an oompa loompa.
When I had a personal trainer, my measurements always came off my arms and chest first. No, I will never be a Jessica Rabbit.
I am meant to be built like a cheetah. Lean and sleek.
Since I have been tracking my data for a very long time, I have a pretty good history log. At my highest, I weighed 160, which I dropped to 130 before joining Spark. I have spend that time trying to lose another 10-20 lbs unsuccessfully. Take a look at this. This is my weight chart on Spark since July 3, 2007. My weight keeps bouncing up and down between 130-140. Nowhere near my target line.
I tend to gain weight around the holidays, then trim it off during the summer. Good thing I am trimming in the summer, or else I would most certainly be obese again.
I think I have expected that I would always be this way. Fit, but overweight. I don't do exercise only because I want to lose weight. I do it because I enjoy it. One of my all time favorite memories is kayaking on Lake Washington in Seattle. Warm sun on my face, gentle breeze, kayak to explore and take in vistas I can't see from land. I engage in activities because I'm living life.
But my extra body weight does have a price, no matter how fit I am. The extra weight puts stress on my knees and feet. I could hike longer and farther...if only I could remove the excess.
Now, I am starting to look like the athlete I feel. In some ways, I still carry doubt in the back of my mind that this is real. Is this just going to be temporary as it always is?
This time is different, and it is not following the normal pattern. I've gone below 130lbs for the first time in almost 4 years. I have kept off my weight loss for the longest I can remember.
So many times in the past 4 years, I've lost the weight, then rebounded. It came to the point where if I lost weight, I'd think to myself, "Well, I wonder if it will stay off this time." I was afraid to buy new clothes. My body wouldn't keep off the weight long enough, I'd think pessimistically.
Now, I am confident. I have metabolic control. I know what I need to do. Fat gain and fat loss are no longer a mysterious, unqualifiable whim. I know what kind of foods my body wants, and what it doesn't.
We went to Atlanta this weekend to go shopping and hiking. Saturday, we went to REI, where I spent hours trying on new fitness clothes. The fiance made fun of me, saying 4 people went in and out of the dressing rooms while I was trying things on! I didn't care. I picked out clothes that I felt comfortable in, nothing too form fitting. While I have come a long way in an amazingly short period of time, I still have further to go. I was careful to limit my selection to fitness clothes that I felt great in. This came at a great time, since REI was having a clearance sale. I was able to get a complete set of outfits for a week while spending 40-60% less than retail. Score!
We also went to the Atlanta Aquarium. It is the only aquarium outside of asia to have whale sharks. The Atlanta Aquarium is one of the best I've been to, and the whale sharks were magnificient to see. Fiance says we should take a diving trip to the Red Sea where we can see one in its native habitat. But they are rare, so it is unlikely we could plan a trip just to see one in the wild. The aquarium may be the only chance to do so. If you are ever in the Atlanta area, the Aquarium is worth the visit.
Sunday we went hiking near the Appalachian Approach again. Still have never even got close to the Appalachian trail, and I'd really like to one day. A camping trip is necessary, and my fiance has become less enthuastiac about camping as years have gone on. I'll have to wait for friends to come into town, or join a meetup group. We still enjoy going for a hike in the Amacolola State Park whenever we are in the area, though. We took a trail up to the waterfall, then took the stairs down. It is quite the workout, even though the loop is not very long.
We worked up an appetite and had lunch at a Whole Foods buffet again. I had salmon sashimi and a leafy green salad. In the past, going away for a weekend was such a source of distress. How could I eat and stay on my diet? Now that I am no longer avoiding fats, it is incredibly easy. I just pick a protein and vegetables of my choice.
This weekend I experimented with a few splurges. We shared a small key lime pie for dessert. I was surprised that my blood sugar stayed nice and even. I seem to have made great progress in repairing some of my blood sugar control. That is the good news. The bad news is, all of my candida (thrush and yeast infections) and gingivitis symptoms flared up. Even though I have killed off millions (billions?) of candida in controlled sugar starvation, it does not take much sugar for survivors to make an unpleasant and unwelcome population growth overnight. I have not fixed my body chemistry enough for the good bacteria to keep the candida in check.
I finished reading the book "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes over the weekend trip. I'm still working on "Good Calories, Bad Calories", but it is a very research heavy book, and takes time to digest. I decided to read through WWGF first because it is a short read I could finish quickly in a weekend. I got some great information to expand on what I've already learned. I will share my discoveries in the coming week.
Get An Email Alert Each Time VHALKYRIE Posts