Sleep: Get some rays to help you get some Zs

Sunlight, Vitamin D, Melatonin, Serotonin, Cortisol, Lights out

Treating Diabetic Hyperglycemia With, High Carbohydrate? FAIL!

Giving people who can't metabolize carbs more carbs is not such a fantastic idea.

Alzheimer's: Type 3 Diabetes?

How sugar contributes to diseases of the brain.

Fruitology

Is fruit REALLY all that healthy?

Spouse not paleo?

The trials and tribulations of making a lifestyle change with a loved one who's not quite on board.

7.30.2011

Paleo/Primal Meetup

The Paleo, Primal, Evolutionary nutrition community is growing by leaps and bounds.  Despite that fact, as a person who eats the way we do, you get a lot of crossed faces when the mention of our lifestyle pops up in conversation.  This can lead to all sorts of awkwardness, especially if one isn't particularly steeped in science (as most of us are not) and the non-paleo eater (NPE) asks you to defend your position on nutrition.

In my case, I'm always having scientific discussions and debate with all sorts of variety of NPE, particularly those in the medical industry like RNs, RDs, and MDs.  Thankfully, I've got a moderate background in science and I've recently geeked out on the subject sufficiently to hold my own in such encounters.

But still, this gets old.  JUST once, I've wanted to have a meal with like-minded folks who "GET IT."  Since I've been on this journey, I've longed for the chance to sit and chat about subjects related to evolutionary nutrition and lifestyle without people thinking I was either:
a) crazy
b) in a cult
c) misinformed
d) all of the above

Well finally I got my chance!  The folks over at Paleo Parents hosted a Meetup group here in the Northern Virginia/DC area.  (You can find this group here)  I have to tell you, what a breath of fresh air!  It was so nice to not have to worry about the food quality, and whether or not it was paleo-friendly.  Not to mention the food was FANTASTIC!  And more importantly, the company was fantastic.

We shared stories about how we got in to the paleo lifestyle, how our health and lives have improved as a result.  Many amazing results were evident.  One gal, Karen has just about reversed her diabetes.  The hosts of the party, Matt and Stacy, have lost a combined total of 200 lbs!  Stacey herself has lost a miraculous 134 lbs!  Of course, all of that was overshadowed by the deliciousness of the pulled pork, salmon, walnut based red pepper dip, and apple pie cupcakes, just to name of few of the delicious entrees gracing the dinner table.  

Some of the folks were newbies, and they had lots of questions!  Particularly, on the subject of breast feeding.  Stacy, as you may already know, authored a guest post on the Angelo Coppola's blog, entitled:  "Breastfeeding: Advice from a Recovered Boob Nazi", and did a wonderful job of alleviating some of the concerns the mothers had about some of the misconceptions of how paleo and weight loss may or may not affect the quality of breast milk. To me, this is the brilliance of such gatherings! It's about socializing, education, and spreading the word of paleo, towards which the meetup was a fantastic success! Kudos to Stacy and Matt for the wonderful event. I'll be attending regularly.

If you have a chance, I strongly encourage you to look for a local community of some kind, be it thru Meetup, or online forums, Facebook, what have you. The experience will be well worth it I assure you. For those of you in the Northern Virginia/DC area, I encourage you all to try and make it to one of our meetups! Again, here's the link to our Paleo Meetup Group.

For the next Meetup? Perhaps a primal workout group for Weekly workouts? What do you all say?

7.29.2011

Fat Head and King Corn on Hulu for free.

Not a big blog entry here, but just wanted you all to know that 2 very good movies of interest to Paleo folks are on HULU for free!  Enjoy!

Fat Head          



7.22.2011

Spouse Not Paleo?

Converting to a Paleo lifestyle has many challenges.  You deal with the uneducated, the educated but skeptical, and the people who don't care about nutrition.  You'll get strange looks when you tell people how and why you eat the way you do.  People (and this is the weirdest part) will actually get mad or put-off by the fact that you have a special way of eating.

During your conversion, you'll have to order differently when eating out.  You have to learn what constitutes "paleo" and "non-paleo" types of foods.  There's the immense amount of information one must consume in order to understand the diet.  There's the challenge of understanding the science, because without the science, any doubters simply dismiss you as a quack.  And even WITH the science, many doubters will dismiss you as a quack.  You'll get eye rolls, and condescending smirks.  Waitresses will mess up your orders, and starbucks will INSIST that half & half is the same thing as heavy cream.
You'll read and read and read, and still not understand the biochemistry.  (Luckily, you don't HAVE to understand it to live it)

Then come your own doubts.  You'll ask: "Am I doing the right thing?"  "Am I eating the right thing?"  "How is my blood work?"  "Am I doing "Chronic Cardio"?"  "What will my doctor say?"  "What if the lipid hypothesis isn't a myth?"
Good Food / Bad Food


But the above challenges happen to those who are already firmly engrossed in to the lifestyle, aka "Practicing Paleo eaters" so to speak.  But what about about the beginning?  Transitioning to this way of eating happens (typically) with an overhaul of  the kitchen and the cupboards.  Most tutorials start by telling you to throw out all of your junk food.  ALL OF IT.  Because the first thing that will derail you in the beginning is temptation.  Giving-in to the foods that you've unwittingly become addicted to, is most often the first thing that causes a person to fall off the paleolithic wagon.  Trash the sodas, pretzels, Doritos, and the sourdough.  Donate the canned soups, peanut butter, and rice.  Just get the grains, legumes, dairy, and sugar all out of your house! 


But what if your spouse isn't convinced to start eating in this way?  Most couples go into the paleolithic way of eating as a team.  However, as in my case, this isn't always the case.  Not being on the same page presents some very unique challenges to a person starting out on a paleo diet.

First, from an economical standpoint, it's costly.  Buying paleo foods is more expensive to begin with, because of their whole food, grassfed, organic, non-gmo characteristics.  But because you're in a household that isn't quite converted, you're now having to buy yourself paleo foods and your family conventional foods.  


Also, because you and your spouse are not on the same page, you're stuck with preparing 2 separate meals, one paleo, and one conventional.  This is problematic from a time management standpoint, and a group dynamic standpoint as well.  In my case, I was always eating a separate and seemingly "Special" meal.  Our children were always asking me why I got to eat steak or salmon and they had to have spaghetti.  This caused a schism in the house which caused a lot of frustration for both myself and my wife.  

Next...there's the temptation.  Because I had others to consider, I couldn't exactly throw out the non-paleo food.  This was hard, as I was faced with seeing cookies and candy behind every cupboard, and pizza and noodles every time I opened the refrigerator.  

Also, my wife got to the point that she was sick and tired of hearing about paleo in general.  As a result, she became one of the folks who doubted and dismissed the lifestyle, and rolled her eyes every time I brought it up.  Admittedly, it was partly my doing, as I was perhaps overly excited about the new lifestyle.  

So, what to do if your spouse (and family) is not on board?  

Offer to cook meals, and if they don't wish to partake in what your eating THEN and only then do you cook a separate meal.  This will convey the message that you're offering the family to eat the same foods that you're eating, which emphasizes a culture of "inclusion."  No longer are your foods deemed "special" or "different."  Some folks just need to get exposed to whole foods to see just how good they really are.  

As for not being able to clean non-paleo foods out of the house, that's a tough one.  In my case, I couldn't force my lifestyle on my family.  With my wife not ready to commit to paleo eating, I had to allow the chips and noodles to stay in the house.  Again, I reiterate, THIS WAS HARD.  There's no way around it, you must show some resolve.  But you know what?  It was only hard in the beginning.  After the first 2 weeks, I was so satiated and so sugar controlled, that my cravings were a non-issue.  I was rarely hungry, and sometimes I would skip a meal and not realize it.  On a paleo diet, you simply make less trips to the kitchen!  As a result, saying no to cookies when I opened the cupboards was easy.  But you must get through the first few weeks as it's during this time that your body still isn't changed from a metabolic and genetic standpoint to not crave conventional foods.  Now, I'm so used to avoiding those types of foods, that I never feel like I HAVE to have any sweets.  On special occasions, I may indulge in some dessert, but often find sweets to be too sweet.

As for the ranting and crusading: STOP.  If your friends and family are not convinced, don't preach and try not to talk about paleo eating too often.  It's boring to anyone not as interested in nutrition (which is almost everybody) and it gets preachy.  If anything, it's counter productive to converting anyone to the paleo lifestyle.  They'll see you as judgmental or condescending, even when you're not trying to be.  The best approach is to lead by example and let your results speak for themselves.  If they ask for info, certainly offer up information, but until then, ZIP IT.  After awhile, you'll see that people will become interested and come to you.  Especially after you develop abs.

Now, my wife is a convert in the sense that she's willing to give it a go, but we've agreed to abstain from making her paleo until after the birth of our baby boy.  (Only because she's completely meat averse.)  For now, she is trying to eat whole foods whenever possible.   I'm excited to say that once my boy is born, he will be introduced to a level of nutrition, health, and fitness, I could have only dreamed of!  

Good luck to anyone having to endure a paleo transition like this, it's a doozy.

7.15.2011

Ginger Beef with Mango Salsa

Ginger Beef with Mango Salsa


The above link is one of Sarah Fragoso's delicious recipes. Sarah is the gal from "Everyday Paleo" and I have to say, the recipes I find on her blog are always well thought out. I like this recipe, because it doesn't follow the "Fake Conventional Food" line of paleo recipes. I tend to prefer eating things as what they actually are as opposed to mimicked versions of other foods. (Like fake bread or pasta)




7.11.2011

Dr. Lustig's video "Sugar: The Bitter Truth"

A big thanks to Angelo Coppola from "The Latest in Paleo" for this video.  While searching his archives months ago, I came across Dr. Lustig's lecture at UCSF.  He's a professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, and believe me, he knows his shit. Check it out:



At about 38 min there a great explanation about LDLs (patterns A & B), Triglycerides, and HDLs.

At about 43 min, he goes in to the Biochemistry behind fructose and how it makes us fat and contributes to inflammation and cardio vascular disease.

This is a MUST-WATCH!

Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, in the Division of Endocrinology Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program at UCSF


7.09.2011

Farmer's Market (Burke, VA)

Farmer's Market Burke, VA
Today, we went to the farmer's market, and thankfully it looks like I've finally found a consistent resource for some grassfed meats.  (But more on that later.)  It was a beautiful but hot day, and I have to say, it's hard not to go overboard on buying stuff with all the sites, smells, colors and beautiful produce.  To most paleo lifestyle people, a farmer's market is something that's been on their radar for quite some time.  However, this post is geared more towards newbies, or people who don't really have a lot of exposure (or access) to farmer's markets.

Heirloom Tomatoes! 
The thing that is wonderful about local produce and meats is that you get to talk to the people who actually generate the product.  People who have had their hand in the soil.  Those who've plowed, picked, gathered, raised, fertilized, fed and yes, even slaughtered that meats and vegetables you're buying.  Talk to them, and most of these people genuinely care about food quality.  

Grassfed Pork
I know what you're thinking: "Local", "Organic", Grassfed", etc has become all the rage these days but c'mon is it really worth it?  I know that many dismiss these terms as hippy or yuppie cultural nomenclature, but you really need to look past the idea that food quality is something classist.  To people who don't really care about food quality (or who have really never really thought about it), I'd challenge you to buy some organic local foods.  Try a tomato, for example, and then try it's store-bought GMO/conventional equivalent.  I guarantee you'll be astonished at the difference in flavor, texture, and quality.  And the research has all shown a pretty large difference in nutrient density.  In terms of grassfed meat, here's a quick primer by Mark Sisson on the advantages of grassfed local meats.   
Organ meats are very nutrient dense.  GF Ground Beef Heart

Another aspect to which people often object is just how expensive everything seems.  But one must pay for quality and it's not all that exorbitant (in my opinion) compared to conventional foods.  Also, one must consider that you are supporting local farms, which in itself has some inherant value.  Lastly, and perhaps most telling, is that in comparison to whole foods grocers like "Whole Foods", "Vitamin Cottage", or "Trader Joes", shopping a farmer's market ends up feeling downright cheap.

What about the cost of health?  If you buy in to the "whole foods" idea: that cleaner, local, nutrient-dense, toxin-free, and grassfed foods are healthier (they are) then one must consider the significant costs of one's improved health.  Can you put a dollar value on the idea that you'll get sick less often?  What about avoiding heart disease?  What about the cost of NOT having diabetes?  Cancer?  Living primally doesn't guarantee anyone to be free of health problems, but certainly one minimizes the chances of coming down with a disease that is likely put him in the hospital.  Also, from strictly a vanity point-of-view, most folks would pay huge sums of money to simply look better.  To me, NOT hesitating to take off my shirt  at a beach is priceless.

Lastly, chances are you eat less if you're a follower of the paleo lifestyle.  You simply won't need to eat as often or as much, because your sense of satiety is heightened.  High carb and grain-eaters require lots of groceries, because they're always trying to restore glucose levels after a big insulin spike.  They are ravenous snackers!  That doesn't happen with Paleo or low-carb eaters, and thus, we require LESS food! 

When one considers all the above factors, "cost" ends up a relative issue, and it's grossly in favor of buying quality food.  Because really, if you think about it, it ends up saving you THOUSANDS of dollars in the long-run.  (And being a cheap skate, I'm down with that).  Plus, the food is sooo much tastier!


More Farmer's Market Food Porn Below:





7.05.2011

Sitting increases death risk: study | Health & Fitness | Life | Toronto Sun

Sitting increases death risk: study | Health & Fitness | Life | Toronto Sun

So, here's an article which states that studies show an increased rate of death in people who sit for longer hours per day.  Really breaking some new ground there aren't we?  Many folks in the paleo world combat sedentary work life by using a standing desk, and increasing their activity by walking, exercising, and playing.

But here's an example of intellectually dishonest reporting of research.  This is the kind of lazy journalism that makes people freak out about things needlessly.  Perhaps...just perhaps... there are many other factors that go in to causing these numbers.  As scientists, we must critically think about the research, because correlations are made by the researchers, and not by the facts.  (Remember, often when one looks for something hard enough they'll find it)  ALWAYS be skeptical... but in this case, I put most of the blame on the journalism.

First off, look at the brevity of the news article.  It's not as though there are any real details about the study, but all they state are that sedentary people are vastly more prone to dying young.  My guess is that this is a chicken vs. egg scenario:  Are people unhealthy because are sitting for long hours?  Or are people with unhealthy lifestyles prone to sitting more...  I'm sure that the answer lies somewhere in between those possibilities, but the study is inconclusive, and lacks quite a bit of data in that regard.  No mention of diet, and snacking habits of those who sit more.
More annoying, is the way these articles seem to anoint these types of studies as fact, or truth.  And no doubt, millions of people all across this nation will eat this up, and yet another awareness wristband will be invented to bring awareness to the "Anti-Sitting for Your Heart" movement.  Next, they'll start banning sitting desks at all elementary schools (see Nut Allergy post), and sitting at work will garner you the same disapproving lip-smacks and sneers usually reserved for smokers.

Thomas Jefferson Standing Desk
However, I do believe there are some health benefits to doing your work while standing involving back aches and posture.  Many folks in the paleosphere recommend standing desks because of the increased exertion and the fact that other studies show improved brain activity while in the standing position.  Many great thinkers, like Thomas Jefferson, preferred to work standing up.  Here's a great website with a TON of options for stand up desks, aptly named "Standupdesks.com".

Personally, I've been looking for a standing desk, but I'm planning on doing it DIY.

Here's a link to the study itself, something most forms of media won't do:
http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/07/21/aje.kwq155

http://blogs.hbr.org/your-health-at-work/2010/08/the-many-benefits-of-standing.html

7.01.2011

Crossfit burnout, Crossfit Football, Primal Blueprint Fitness, and the Japsican's Fitness Philosophy.

  

Recently, I've gotten injured (rotator problems), and was suffering from major Crossfit burnout.  I've posted on the subject of over-training before, and after reading countless amounts literature on the idea of "Chronic Cardio" and how endurance training and MetCon training can stimulate cortisol release, cause metabolic derrangement, and in itself Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD), I've taken the stance that Crossfit, as RX'd is not really all that great for you in the long-term.  

Now, I know this is going to garner all sorts of criticism from my fellow Crossfit friends, and I'll probably be hunted down by all of the die-hards out there. (Please, no kettlebell assaults).  Some of them will just call me a "Pussy", and tell me that the reason I'm changing my fitness philosophy is that I've got a weak constitution.  But the TRUTH is all I care about, and between my own n=1 observations, and hours of reading both peer-reviewed and anecdotal evidence, I've come to the conclusion that MetCon and endurance workouts should be limited to 1-3 times per week.  Preferably 1-2.  

Fitness Coma after a MetCon
Now, I know I'm not coming up with anything that hasn't been beat to death on the internet by the many factions of fitness science majors out there, including Robb Wolf, and Crossfit HQ themselves, but again...as Robb wisely stated on many of his blogs and podcasts, "Go with a minimum investment, maximum return kind of a gig".  (He uses the term "Gig" a lot, which I appreciate being a fellow NorCal)  Why?  Because injury occurs if you do the opposite.  And I'm not just talking about musculoskeletal injury.  I'm talking about physiological injury as well.  And the chances of both increases with age, time, and repetitive movements.  I don't care who you are, and how good your form is, if you repeat a motion enough times, eventually, something's going to give.  I could be a knee, a rotator, your heart, or your kidneys.  

So, I find the concept of "Minimum Investment/Max Return" (MIMR) not only worth while, but a more complete approach for the general public out there who want to get in shape, look good, and LIVE LONGER (and not necessarily become an elite athelete)  So, YOU need to determine what your needs are, ie, whether or not you trying to become an NFL linebacker, look good naked, or live longer.  I fall somewhere between Crossfit Football (Performance, athletics) and Sisson's Primal Fitness.  I think that taking time to rest between intervals is huge.  This allows your body to remain in homeostasis, but just on the verge of stress response, and limits the amount of cortisol release and inflammation related to the hormones released when your brain thinks it's in fight or flight mode.  This also keeps you out of the chronic cardio area.  I'm not suggesting you don't push yourself, or be goal oriented in your fitness endeavors (if you don't you'll never improve) but make sure you don't a) train too often each week, and b) don't put yourself too far.  Because let's face it, some of us (myself included) are not necessarily the best decision makers in that regard especially DURING a workout.  And many of us are left as though we are in a "fitness coma" after a work out.  Be honest and listen to your body, if you're going to be pushing too far, don't continue, take a break.  Finish the work out, but take a break during the workout.  Don't lift more weight than you can handle and always focus on form.  

I really like Mark's perspective of playing and having fun during a workout.  The primal methodology itself is a MIMR kind of approach.  He suggests you walk more than you run most days of the week, and that you should "lift heavy things" (weights) once per week, and sprint (ie met con, running, rowing etc) once a week.  This mimics the primal man's typical week, or at least that's the philosophy behind it, and thus gives you the same metabolism with regards to energy output.  Now I'm not in to all of the Grok stuff, because for me, (similar to Dr. Harris) I believe it's not about actually being a paleolithic man, but rather mimicking paleolithic man's metabolism.  But you can't go wrong with being like grok, and many of the primal movements on Mark's site are amazing.  

I find Mark's approach great, especially for those who tend to find fitness monotonous.  So, I choose to do something in between the 2 approaches, which is essentially a combination of the 2.  You could say it's primal fitness a bit ramped up with an extra sprint or lifting day.  And if I feel like skipping a day, I do.  But I do lots of walking, and will steal many of the WOD ideas from the crossfit football site.  And best of all, you don't need a ton of equipment.  In fact, most of the primal blueprint fitness WoW's are workouts you can do without any barbells, bumpers, or squat racks. (although I recommend eventually getting those bits of equipment)  Get out in the sun, and enjoy life.  And for FSM's sake, don't let your workout's be the only form exercise you get.  Go play frisbee golf, flag football, kayak, rock climb... get outside and do something!

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