Monday, January 31, 2011

The Buzz Around Resistant Starch

Over the past few weeks I've seen this idea of "Resistant Starch, RS" in a variety of places - a friend at the gym told me that they saw it on TV and Rachel Ray was talking about how amazing Resistant Starch is, Health Magazine's Carb Lover's diet is based on the concept of RS, and then another friend sent me this Yahoo article, 8 reasons carbs can help you lose weight. I read through it and was appalled, here are the 8 reasons and my take on them.

1. Eating carbs makes you thin for life - they cite research that "the slimmest people also ate the most carbs, and the chubbiest ate the least"  There are no facts at all on how this study was set up, I don't trust it.

2. Carbs fill you up - they claim carbs are an appetite supressant, I don't agree.  Fat and Protein have much higher saitey and trigger leptin, the hormone that tells your brain that you're full.

3. Carbs curb your hunger - "According to researchers, when dieters are taken off a low-carb diet and shifted them to an approach that includes generous amounts of fiber and Resistant Starch foods, something wonderful happens: Within two days, the dieters' cravings go away" -- I don't even know where to start with this, what cravings, how low carb are the dieters, really 2 days and cravings go away - no credibility here.

4. Carbs control blood sugar and diabetes - Um no, controlling your blood sugar controls insulin which relates to decreased insulin sensitivty (this is bad).  The less insulin sensitive you are, the higher your risk of type 2 diabetes.  Fat and Protein have a much lower impact on blood sugar than carbs do and do not contribute to blood sugar spikes -- therefore not negatively impacting insulin sensitivity. So I don't agree that carbs can control your blood sugar or diabetes - since they cause decreased insulin sensitivity and blood sugar spikes.

5. Carbs speed up metabolism - article claims that RS speeds metabolism by not depleting muscle mass, but protein is the real muscle builder in your body so not sure about this claim, I don't think they have much to base this statement on.

6. Carbs blast belly fat - carbs are stored as fat when eaten in excess of immediate energy needs (hint this is easy to do when eating large amounts of carbs).  Belly or Abdominal fat specifically is also sepcifically a stress/cortisol issue which doesn't really tie back to carbs at all, I don't agree with this one either.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Attention Walmart Shoppers

Attention Walmart Shoppers, Walmart has partnered with the First Lady, Michelle Obama and is announcing a campaign to cut the amount of sodium, sugar and trans fats from thousands of its store brand products and encourage its suppliers to do the same.  So what does that mean for Walmart's suppliers that produce similar packaged goods without "healthier" versions?  Well Walmart is hoping that it positively encourages other company's to follow suit and also look to reduce sodium, added sugar, and trans fats from their product lines too.  If you want to sell you product to Walmart you need to meet their qualifications, so Walmart publicly announcing its commitment to reduce sodium, sugar, and trans fats from thousands of products has to be a win for all Walmart Shoppers, and that effects a lot of shoppers!  So in this case, I'm excited to hear about Walmart's commitment to creating healthier products and am encouraged that their actions will encourage healthier changes to all its suppliers products.

Why is this a good thing?  Lots of people shop at Walmart, so now lots of normal, everyday people will have more healthy choices to select from.  This change will affect many of the packaged and boxed products that line Walmarts shelves and refrigerated sections - and Walmart's commitment is to reduce sodium but 25% and added sugars by 10%.  Their plan sounds like its off to a good start, tackling lunch meats, salad dressings, and fruit juices that are high in added sugar or sodium but not realized by most consumers.  In addition to trying to have more healthy packaged food options, Walmart has made a commitment to sell more fresh fruits and vegetables and make them cheaper for consumers. 

This is one example of how a large company can make a big impact on what people are eating, encouraging packaged foods to be made healthier.  Those who are still eating packaged foods will have slightly healthier options, but maybe the big win here is really in increasing awareness of the amount of added sugar, sodium, and trans fats that are in many foods in the Standard American Diet.  Don't get me wrong, I'm  not claiming that I think packaged foods are healthy, but its good to raise awareness of what you are really eating when you are consuming packaged foods.   It will be interesting to see how companies respond to this, also to see how their products evolve.  The general industry trend is when you take something out e.g., sodium or fat, you have to add something else back in e.g., sugar.  So by committing to tackle trans fats, sodium, and sugar the food companies may actually create healthier products.

I am really interested in the commitment to having more fresh fruits and vegetables available for lower prices in the store - I don't believe that eating healthy has to be "expensive." If you compare the price of a box of sugary cereal to a dozen eggs, eating healthy seems like it could be less expensive if you stopped buying all the packaged stuff that food companies are trying to sell you and stick to the whole foods that are not advertised like eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat and seafood.  In my opinion flashy packages, TV commercials, magazine ads and celebrity endorsements are trying to sell a sub par product at too expensive a price. And if you think about it, do you really want to eat something that has a 6 month to 1 year shelf life?  Personally, I'd rather stick with fresh foods.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fructose, the not so innocent sugar

I've talked previously on the blog about sugar and how your body processes it.  Now I want to cover why Fructose, a specific type of sugar is particularly bad for you.  This all stems from the principal that all calories are not created equal when we are trying to fuel our body.  If you already subscribe to a Paleo/Primal lifesyle this concept probably makes sense to you.  If not you may assume that the key to weight loss and overall health related to Calories In - Calories Out , if you take in more calories than you burn you get fat, if you take in less calories or burn more calories than you take in, you lose fat.  A few "experts" on the all calories are not created equal subject are Gary Taubes who wrote "Good Calories, Bad Calories" and just released a new book which is a sequel to Good Calories, Bad Calories that is more digestible "Why we get Fat, and what to do about it" along with Dr. Robert Lustig whose lecture, Sugar: The Bitter Truth which was published on YouTube made a huge splash.

So losing fat isn't as easy as calories in being lower than calories out.  You need to take a look at what you're eating as well as how much.  As a nation Americans are getting fatter - on average we Americans weigh 25 more pounds than we did 25 years ago (~1985).  How are we gaining all this extra weight, beacause we're eating more and too much of the wrong stuff.  And the reason why we are eating more than we need, its because we are increastingly Leptin resistant. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain that you are full and you don't need anymore food to fuel your body. When you are Leptin resistant, that means that your brain doesn't respond as well to the leptin signals, meaning that even though you have enough food for fuel your brain doesn't register that I'm full signal and you still feel hungry, so you eat more than you need. What causes the letpin resistance in your body - one thing is the processing of fructose in the liver. If you look at what the extra calories are in today's diet, it is generally in the form of added carbohydrates.  In the 1990s when the nation started following the high carbohydrate and low fat diet have essentially doomed ourselves to a diet that will make us fat through the increase in carbohydrates in our diets.
   Did you know that 1 soda a day (additional 150 calories) is an additoinal 15 pounds of fat per year that is added to your body.

Americans today eat/consume a whopping 141 pounds of sugar per year!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Did you know...

Did you know that sugar is proven to be as addictive as crack? And that as native populations are westrnized the increase of western diseases rises (cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes) along with the consumption of modern foods, like sugar and grains?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pre and Post Workout Foods

What am I supposed to eat after I work out, what about before I work out? I've gotten a few questions about recommendations on what to eat after you work out.  Figuring out what to eat after a workout is not as easy as "have a protein shake." It's actually a bit of a tricky question to answer, but inevitably it boils down to the "It depends on who you are, what your goals are, and what kind of workout you just did."  Frustrating I know.  The who you are part plays into what you're currently doing with your food. If you are a Paleo follower or eat a Standard American Diet (SAD), what you look to eat after working out may be a little different because you have a different selection of foods to choose from. You also need to work with something that you like and will actually consume after working out.  The recommendations that I have below are primarily Paleo, because I think that you should focus on eating real food as much as you can.  Feel free to read within the guidelines and make substitutes based on what you currently eat within your diet.

So before you can figure out what you eat before or after working out, you first need to figure out what your goals are, for this  post I'm going to cover the following 3 goals:
1. "Lean out" - Primary Goal is fat loss
2. "Get 70s Big" - Primary Goal is to gain a lot of muscle quickly
3. "Just to Recover" - Primary Goal is to heal your body you can workout again tomorrow

In addition to identifying what your goal is, you also need to consider what your workout will be.  How long is the workout?  Are you doing a Brick training session of bike and run for +2 hour as part of your triathlon training program? Completing a 2m leisurely jog?  6 sets of 400mrepeats with 3mins rest in between?  A relaxing yoga class? The type of workout you do also plays into what and how much pre and post workout food you need in order to fuel your body throughout that workout and then what you need to eat after you're finished.  Another factor to consider during longer workouts is if are planning to consume any fuel - dried fruit, salt, gu, etc. while completing the workout - you want to account for that in your fueling and refueling plan. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Paleo Resources Support

Crossfit King of Prussia is using the natural motivation of starting a New Year to kick off a primal challenge, to see details of the challenge click here. To help support you on this journey we’ve gathered some of the best resources to help you better understand what you are doing and why you’re doing it. For those who selected to try to Paleo Perfectionist level the material below will be especially helpful. 

Some of my favorite and easy to understand resources on the web are: Whole 9 and Mark’s Daily Apple. I am also super geeked-out on Robb Wolf’s podcasts – although these are a bit science-y so they aren’t for everyone. Personally, I get excited every Tuesday when the new one is released.

Good luck, happy reading, and post to comments if there is something that you’re looking for that you don’t see any references to.

Help from Whole 9, how to explain what the heck you’re doing with this nutritional challenge:

The Paleo Pitch. Whole9 helps you explain how you eat to friends, family and co-workers.

Whole 9’s Perspective on Paleo via the Whole 30: Why to avoid gains, legumes, and dairy - found on the Whole 9 Resources Page:

The Grain Manifesto. Whole9′s simplified explanation of the trouble with grains.

Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword. Published by Dr. Loren Cordain

The Dairy Manifesto. Whole9′s simplified take on dairy products.

The Adverse Effects of Milk. An analysis from Dr. Loren Cordain and Pedro Bastos

The Peanut Manifesto. Whole9′s simplified take on peanuts.

Robb Wolf’s Perspective on Paleo and Getting Started:

Paleo Overview -What is the Paleo diet?

Basics of the Paleo diet - Answers about diabetes, cardio vascular disease, autoimmunity, calcium, acid/base balance, and more

Get Started - I want to give Paleo a shot. How do I do it?

Mark’s Daily Apple Resources:
The Definitive Guide to Grains – Why are grains not part of a primal lifestyle and Why Grains are Unhealthy

The Definitive Guide to Dairy – Why dairy is problematic and how to incorporate it (or not) into your primal lifestyle

The Definitive Guide to Sleep - Why sleep is important, and why you need to get more of it!

The Definitive Guide to Fats – a primal lifestyle goes against conventional wisdom of eating a low fat diet, if increasing your fat intake is concerning you, check out this post and see why fat is good for you!


Need a quick visual of what your food should look like, use the Balanced Bites food pyramid as your Paleo Food Guide.