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Going to the Dark Side….

Stack of powdered doughnuts

 

In our extreme fat loss classes these are the types of struggles that are very common, we don’t just help people understand their food choices.  We provide them other people with shared experiences.  Some of whom (me) have come out of the other side.  For information on how to join click here.

If you have been reading my blogs (and not just enjoying my recipes) you’ll know that I have struggled with my weight all of my life.  I didn’t need to worry or struggle with my weight when I was in highschool, but I did and this certainly lead to a path of unhealthy living and eating, which of course lead to me actually needing to worry about my weight.  Over the past 25 years or so, I have learned a lot from my successes and failures…more from my failures than my successes since most of my successes were achieved by the wrong means.  One thing I have realized and really owned recently (by recently, I mean today) is when I begin going to that dark place….any of you who have struggled with their weight know what I am talking about.  It’s that time when you start getting frustrated, the weight is not coming off and you are focusing on the numbers.  No matter how much you or anyone else tells you that you look great and the numbers don’t matter, you are brought back to that logic that got you to where you are in the first place.  Numbers, numbers, numbers…logic doesn’t matter…self destruction begins…

I feel myself going there.  I don’t know why, but I think that by writing about it and owning it, it will help me get through it and hopefully help someone else that may be going through it.  I realized I was going there today when I was walking through Walmart and saw a bag of powdered donuts…suddenly, I had this urge to eat the entire bag.  What is crazy is that I became very aware that this sudden urge to eat this bag full of sugar and carbs was a signal that I was getting frustrated with my progress.  That has never happened before…

PROGRESS??????

I feel like this is a major step in my journey to “be the person I am meant to be”.  To be aware of the triggers that can lead you back to the person you used to be is a HUGE accomplishment and in 25 years of struggling with my weight, I have never chosen to listen to those triggers.  I am listening now.  I know that bag of donuts could have been the turn in the road that lead to self-destruction and am so proud that I have been able to listen to my body and my mind.  People always say that to lose weight you need to find out why you are eating the way you do, find the underlying reason….

I think that’s bullshit for the most part.

Of course there may be certain situations where some traumatic event occurred in someone’s life which lead to a life of overeating, but for the most part, we are overweight because we make bad choices and form bad habits because we don’t know any better!  I am not going to blame my mother, my father, how I grew up or a bad relationship for the condition I let my body get to.  It was my fault and now it is time to fix what I have broken.

I am not sure if this will get me out of my “dark place” but the fact that I am aware I am starting to go to my “dark place” (and now so are thousands of other people) I know I will get through it and be stronger (mentally and physically) than I was a week ago.

Sorry, no recipe with this one…just me and my words :)   Keep working hard, don’t give up and don’t buy the bag on donuts…I didn’t….

Tackling the Sugar Addiction question

First let me start off by saying I don’t make light of addiction.  I have been free of chemicals for 26 years, it destroyed my life as a teenager and I had to leave my family to get treatment for that illness.  So while things kind of worked out for me in the end I still deal with repercussions of that illness to this day.  Let me give you the timeline for this addiction.

- At 18 I was admitted to a treatment facility for 3 months where I underwent extreme psychotherapy

- I then was admitted to a halfway house in Minnesota (where I currently live), I stayed in that facility for 6 months as did most of the residents there.

- I am originally from New Orleans, La. one of the coolest places on the planet.  Most of my family still resides there or near there.

- After leaving the facility in Minnesota I decided to acclimate for a bit before heading back home.  New Orleans held a lot of temptation then and now so I really wanted to make sure I had it right.

- 26 years later I am still here, I met my wife about 6 months after leaving the halfway house.  I often get asked “what makes a person come from a warm weather place that seems as cool as hell to a miserable wasteland (their words not mine, it’s really not so bad and Prince is from here)” my simple retort is often “had to be a woman, right?”

- My children have a great life and our family is well supported by people that care for us but it’s incomplete.  It’s a little tough looking your father in the eye as he tears up because he is being robbed of seeing his “grand babies” grow up.  That is one small casualty of addiction.

So yeah, I take addiction real serious.  As a drug treatment counselor I heard many stories of people who stole their grandmothers microwave to buy crack or compromised their humanity to get a fix.  So while sugar is a powerful chemical can we at least set the bar as a SEVERE consequence that possibly compromises who you are as a result.  Before anyone suggests obesity, let’s not confuse not knowing WHY with uncontrollable behavior.  So let’s start there.

The insulin hypothesis

The insulin hypothesis goes like this, if you can keep insulin suppressed it solves body fat storage because insulin is said to be a “storage hormone”.  Let’s be clear about this, body fat can store without the presence of insulin through multiple channels.  Insulin is more accurately described as a building hormone.  Eat correctly and it builds muscle, eat incorrectly and it BUILDS/stores fat.

It has been proposed that if you can control insulin you can control your health, that is the basis for all low carbohydrate diets.  As many of you know that frequent this page/blog I recommend eating carbohydrates with strategies related to the time you workout or even eating in a smaller window in the evening.  No matter which macronutrient we are talking about I believe you should have a strategy as it relates to that macronutrient.  I also believe that you should have some general idea of your overall intake needs daily and adjust those needs related to your activity level.  Let me give you an example of what that might look like, for protein I try to get around 160g a day, each gram of protein equals 4 calories, so I need 640 calories from protein a day (you don’t really need to count calories daily to have a good idea of your protein intake but it might be helpful for a week or so just to check, knowledge is powerful).  Through massive trial and error I have found a good balance of about 200g of carbohydrate, up to 300g if my activity is higher, once again, I do this intuitively but as most of you know I am pretty good at this whole nutrition thing.  Carbs also equal 4 calories per gram so I need 800 to 1200 calories of carbohydrate to support my daily activity.  While yes I realize carbohydrates are a non-essential macronutrient they are very favorable as it relates to metabolism.  I know this because I basically cured my hypothyroidism related to chronic dieting once I went down this road of discovery related to my intake needs.  Which brings me to fats, through various ways including dexascan and bodpod testing as well as trial and error I know that I need about 3000 calories a day to support my activity levels.  Once again I don’t actually count this stuff but I am also not naive as it relates to the caloric values of the foods that I eat and also know what those foods represent in my body.  Which is another article for another day and not germain to the discussion of sugar addiction.  So fat calories basically equal the rest, if I get 640 calories from protein roughly and 800 calories from carbohydrates that leaves me with 1560 calories coming from fat, fat calories (as most of you know) equal 9 calories per gram, so my fat intake represents more than half of my calories, which is right about 170g a day of fat alone.

For the ladies in the crowd I will use my wife as an example without all of the dirty details. Protein 120g, carbohydrates 150g, total calories for her (she is a crossfitter so quite active) are 2400 a day (she doesn’t count either but eats in an intuitive manner similar to the way that I do).  So her fat calories represent also over 50% of her calories at 1320 or roughly 146g from fat.  From what I have seen my wife is pretty average but I would like to put out there that everyone’s life journey should be a bit more self discovery.  In a lot of ways that is why I made this blog and my accompanying Facebook page, it is my life’s mission to help people navigate these personal struggles.

If you think you don’t need to eat that much to support your activity level you are almost certainly wrong.  Even if you are right it is only minor degrees.  I am not saying this as someone using two people as an example, I have many case studies that prove this.

So let’s start there as it relates to your sugar intervention.  Until you actually KNOW these types of numbers and have worked towards this level of self discovery and you haven’t had to miss carpool to prostitute yourself for a twix bar (you are going to have to imagine this in Jeff Foxworthy voice switching our redneck for sugar addict) “you might not be a sugar addict”.  Just so people know I am not stereotyping I pick up carpool for my children and I can say to you “god willing” I haven’t had to miss carpool for a twix.

So why so much fat?

I like fat as a primary fuel because it’s very stable, I have heard it said that over reliance on glucose (carbs) for energy is like burning a fire with kindling and fat is like putting a log on the fire.  At rest, for most people, fats are a great source of daily energy levels.  Fats also keep insulin blunted and while it seems odd fats can be a good STRATEGY as it relates to your body fat levels.  I highlight the word strategy because my way and my wife’s way might not represent the best way for you.  That will be part of your self discovery but stick with me and I will give you some clues on how to get there.  Don’t be fooled though, the insulin hypothesis goes like this,  keep carbs out of your diet and you will be in fat burning mode all of the time.  Not only is this wrong it’s borderline irresponsible and has left many people broken with eating disorder type behaviors as a result.

The effects of Carbohydrate on a Ketogenic approach to eating

In an attempt to figure out if they are in ketosis many people pee on their hands each morning to check their ketone levels.  I don’t mean to make light of people working towards a better style of eating but there is a crucial aspect they are missing.  Carbs are said to be a non-essential macronutrient because your body can exist without them, the body requires glucose (a fuel source readily available through actual food) so much that it actually can turn fats and mainly protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis (I misspell this word non-stop).  It’s an inefficient process and can often leave the user with headaches as a result.  The brain functions mostly on glucose but I don’t want to get ahead of myself, it can however function on Ketones which is the by-product of fat metabolism.  So while yes if you can suffer through the bad workouts and the headaches it is indeed possible to use fats as a primary fuel source but the net result as it relates to body fat mobilization becomes dependent on the amount of fats you eat as a result.  The process is relatively inefficient for athletic populations and virtually impossible as a strategy for Crossfitters that want to excel.

It has been well known for a long time that when you eat in a ketogenic way and then cycle your carbs that stimulates metabolism whether it by intraday, bi-daily, weekly or whatever floats your boat.  When you eat low carbohydrate and then you have a carbohydrate re-feed (you eat a good amount of carbs) you not only mobilize fat but the net result tends to be more favorable than the “eat less do less” model of eating.  This is because a low carbohydrate way of eating suppresses the hormone leptin which is the primary mover as it relates to body fat mobilization.  Suppressed leptin levels can lead to hypothyroid like symptoms and is often the result of extreme dieting.

So low carbohydrate dates get to a point of diminishing returns as it relates to body composition.  I will say there are always outliers where it can work but those are not the majority of folks that go down the low carb path.

I am going to stop here because this is going long

I am not going to make any promises related to WHEN I will write the second part of this article but you already should have some thoughts flowing through your head related to “sugar addiction”.  The next article is going to focus more on strategies related to eating that will allow to better understand your bodies signals.  Let me end on this note though, most people who think they are sugar addicted are underfed, plane and simple.  Since low carb dieting is not favorable as it relates to metabolism down the line people often need to reduce their fat intake to try and chase their body composition goals which is like driving towards a point that is continuouslyy moving.  Those that aren’t underfed are simply relying more on glucose (carbs or sugars) as their primary fuels and this can be handled easily by adjusting their diet patterns.  Here is the deal, you miss the sugar because the brain really really likes sugar, if you gave the brain sugar all of the time it would just ask you for more because, well, brains are gonna brain.  That’s what they want.  If you provide your brain adequate nutrition with strategies related to how the rest of your body manages your fat the equation for optimal health starts to appear.

I am thinking the next article should probably be called “The case for responsible energy management” but let’s be honest, no ones gonna click that.  So I’ll probably call it something like “The Sugar Addiction Cure debunked”.  I’m tricky like that.  Oh yeah, Doctor Oz can suck it.  I can’t believe people still think his information is even remotely responsible.

Diets have it backwards

Met Flex for Fat Loss is simple, eat the majority of carbohydrates around your workouts.  This would work for people trying to gain or trying to lose.  When you buy the book you get Webinars where you can talk to coaches that will help you as you try to make sense of all of this.  Along with that you get the support of over 1,000 people in the Private Forums that are all on a similar journey.

Weighing-Scales

Whatever diet you are on is based on some sort of caloric restriction, some will even attempt to guess at what your daily caloric burn would be but I do not think that I have ever heard of one system that suggests what I am about to suggest.  Firstly let’s assume you have attempted to address inflammation in your body, even if you are not restricting calories at all you can significantly address your weight by addressing the level of fluids your body is holding.  Truthfully this is a lifelong process and unless you are extremely lean you are simply starting late, it does not mean you should not start at all.  You can significantly affect your health right now, so why not start?

Which brings me to my big suggestion

Why would you want to know how little you can eat? Would it not stand to reason that if you compromise your energy intake you would also compromise your energy output? So let’s assume you have started to make some changes, you are eating healthy fats, more vegetables and some fruits.  What I am going to suggest is that you should eat as much of them as possible and this is the one instance where the scale will help you.  Here is what I want you to do.  To start this process weigh yourself in the morning and whatever that weight is we are going to try and pack in as many healthy nutrients into your body daily with the end goal being to simply weigh that same amount.  This differs for men and women, for men I suggest a week, for women I suggest a month.  The reason for the difference is simple, women retain water differently than men unrelated to food intake.  Also if you view this as a way to gorge on pizza and ice cream you are missing the point of the exercise.  By the way, speaking of exercise do as much of it as you feel, there is no restriction at all, in fact, intaking more energy (food) should fuel your want to be more active.  Also, if you lose five pounds you did it wrong.  If you gain five pounds you really did it wrong.

Yes this does mean you will have to track your foods for this time using a site like Fitday.com, Myfitnesspal.com or Fatsecret.com.  All work in a similar manner and have mobile options.  Also people think they eat more of a variety than they tend to eat, what you will find is that you eat the same foods over and over so the logging should not be that big of a hassle.  Besides, other than re-establishing your maintenance calories for a higher activity level you will not have to count calories going forward.

Simply check in with the scale occasionally to see if you are on track.  The mirror also can be helpful in this respect.  Most of us know the days where we get off track a bit and consume more than a few of the items we should avoid.  Let me give you a few examples I have learned doing this (my most recent one was 2895 a day, I was really mad at myself that I did not maintain 3,000 calories a day, oh well, there is always next time).

I suppose I should mention why this is important because it is not to just eat unrestricted, the exercise is to point out that the calories you can take in daily are often a lot higher than you think, especially when you rely less on energy dense foods for nutrition (think snack foods).  Also once you determine what your “maintenance calories” are in an unrestricted state it gives you a much clearer path to weight loss because you realize that losing pounds is as simple as just not eating sunflower seeds for a month (300 calories a day multiplied 30 is almost 3 pounds).

backward

Here are some tips to think about

1.  Every carbohydrate that you take in requires your body to store fluid, it is one of the reasons ice cream makes you so damn thirsty.  What this does not mean is to avoid carbs altogether but if you have an excessively high carb day and the scale moves a couple of pounds simply be more conscious of carbs the following day and prioritize fats (in balance) and proteins.  Obviously any day higher in sugars can move the scale causing anyone to panic, that is unnecessary, a reasonable amount of carbs the following day will allow your body to release that fluid.  Remember that the majority of your carbs are coming from vegetables and fruit.

2.  Let’s assume you do not eat wild caught salmon every single day, if this is the case you need to be conscious of your fats as well.  So all meat proteins high in Omega 3′s are gold as well as grass fed beef, if these are not options go lean.  Also be careful on nut butters, they tend to be high in Omega 6′s and also very energy dense.  You should always try to get your Omega 3′s from real food but most people can not, this is why I strongly recommend daily Omega 3′s from fish oil.

3.  Take in the majority of your carbs in the evening.  I realize this is contrary to everything everyone has been told for a long time but this trick works for a bunch of reasons.  When you save your carbs for the end of the day you naturally eat more fats starting the day, this provides your body with a more stable energy source.  Carbs also make you sleepy so you tend to be less fatigued.  Did I mention that carbs make you sleepy? Oh yeah, because when you go to bed you will sleep great and you will be full.  This is important in many ways but when you sleep better it is favorable is it relates to fat mobilization so you retain less water.

4.  Rely less on energy dense foods like snacks for your nutrition mostly because they are easy to overeat.  My strategy is just to keep them out of the house altogether.  That way when it’s time to eat I make a meal rather than graze on foods higher in calories.  While yes I do eat them I at least have to be inconvenienced to go get them and often times I just eat the good food that is in my house.  If you are not relying on snack foods for energy you may be surprised at the amount of foods you will be able to consume.

 

Preparation, Performance and Precision

The three p’s.  I often argue for preparation over precision but knowing your actual maintenance calories without restricting your activity is very enlightening.  Performance is different for everyone, for some people it might just be enough to walk more, others might feel motivated to start lifting weights or jogging.  No matter what they all may have a role in your journey but I suspect if you are like me and you can focus on them in the order I am presenting you will enjoy your journey a lot more.  Counting every calorie for life is not something most people want to do so as an alternative making sure there are fresh cut vegetables in the house and time allotted for activity probably makes more sense for most people.  If you want to count calories do it the opposite way, now that you have calculated the values of the foods that you eat for a week or month simply find some of the foods that you can either reduce or be rid of for a short time, earlier I mentioned sunflower seeds, when I am looking to lose a few pounds the seeds have to go.

 

 

Some conjecture and Science on why Fats are important

grass_fed_steaks

It might seem somewhat ironic but “Carb Back Loading” is a book about eating fats most of the time and using carbs to most effectively use those fats.  You can support this site and get a free science lab membership by purchasing items using the links on this site (much of which you probably already buy or want to buy).  Check this link out for directions on how that happens (or you can now purchase a Science Lab membership for $4.95 monthly).

Fat cells are part of the endocrine system, and, as I’ve discussed before, they have the power to influence the degree to which muscle cells prefer glucose versus fats as an energy source. They exercise this control by releasing two signaling peptides: leptin and adiponectin. Adiponectin promotes glucose consumption by the muscles, and it also acts directly on the fat cells to encourage them to take up glucose and convert it to fat. Leptin, on the other hand, stimulates the muscles to prefer fat consumption over glucose consumption.

For several decades now, Americans have come to believe that the following two practices are foundational in a healthy lifestyle:  eat a low-fat diet, and  stay away from the sun. Additionally, if people consume adequate amounts of calcium, then all three nutritional deficiencies that have led to obesity will be overcome: vitamin D, calcium, and dietary fat.

Lack of Dietary fats is a precursor to metabolic syndrome

The lack of adequate dietary fat contributes to the metabolic syndrome in at least four ways:  vitamin D is only available in fatty food sources because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, calcium uptake is more efficient when the calcium is consumed with dietary fats, calcium uptake depends critically on the presence of vitamin D, which is deficient due to (1) above, and the burden of fat cells to manufacture fatty acids from sugar is alleviated by the dietary availability of fats from ingested food sources.

I would also argue that one should make sure to ingest adequate amounts of dietary fat, especially dairy fat . Whole milk (assuming you are not intolerant) is particularly outstanding because it contains substantial amounts of calcium and vitamin D, and it contains the necessary fat to assure that these two elements will be well utilized rather than just passing through the digestive system unabsorbed. Animal fats such as bacon are good sources of vitamin D, while also supplying fatty acids to help with energy needs. Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines are particularly good because they contain both omega-3 fats and vitamin D. One should assiduously avoid the trans fats found in processed foods such as cookies, crackers, and margarine. Butter and eggs are also healthy choices. Egg yolk is particularly good because it contains both fats and vitamin D. Nuts, particularly walnuts, almonds, and macademia nuts, are excellent sources of omega 3 fats.

The fat cells are able to influence the muscles to preferentially take up fats rather than glucose by releasing certain hormones into the blood, hormones that also have a powerful influence over appetite. One of these hormones is leptin. While leptin influences the muscle cells indirectly through its signaling in the hypothalamus, it also stimulates the muscle cells directly, and influences them to oxidize fatty acids in their mitochondria. Leptin also encourages the fat cells to release their fats through lipolysis. All of these actions work in concert to redirect fuel usage away from glucose. The programming of the muscles to preferentially consume fats aligns well with the fat cells’ infusion of fats into the blood and absorption of sugars through their fat-producing factories.

Leptin influences appetite

Leptin also has the effect, via the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, of suppressing appetite. Adiponectin is another hormone released by fat cells, and it is generally agreed that adiponectin induces hunger. Leptin and adiponectin levels would ordinarily fluctuate throughout the day, with leptin levels rising at night to encourage a switch from glucose-based to fat-based energy management. However, in the obese person, the leptin levels are typically high all the time, and the adiponectin levels are kept very low. High levels of leptin in the blood signal to the appetite center in the brain a sense of being full, whereas high levels of adiponectin are hunger-inducing. This means that the obese are being informed both that they are full, and that they are not hungry. You would think that this would protect them from overeating. However, it is likely that the observed insensitivity to leptin as an appetite suppressant in the obese is also related to calcium depletion, because the signaling mechanisms that respond to leptin in both the hypothalamus (Details) and the pituitary gland (Details) depend on changes in internal calcium concentrations.

Confusing signals cause deficiencies related to blood sugar 

The result of these three deficiencies is defective glucose uptake in both muscle and fat cells. The obese person becomes trapped in an endless metabolic cycle of trying to supply the energy needed for a steadily increasing demand. The fat cells are at the center of the storm, because they are burdened with the arduous assignment of converting the excess consumed sugars and carbohydrates into fat. The fat cells must do this because the muscle cells are impaired with a malfunctioning ability to metabolise sugars. Even if the metabolic problem were not fixed, if the obese person simply ate more fat, and therefore consumed fewer carbs, the fat cells’ burden would be greatly alleviated. In addition, getting plenty of vitamin D and calcium, either through diet or sun exposure, would alleviate the core problem of impaired glucose transport across the cell wall. Now that the heart and muscles can utilize sugars directly, the excessive burden on the fat cells to expand and proliferate is relieved, and the body fat will inevitably melt away.

The metabolic syndrome is a term used to encapsulate a complex set of markers associated with increased risk to heart disease. The profile includes insulin resistance and dysfunctional glucose metabolism in muscle cells, excess triglycerides in the blood serum, high levels of LDL, particularly small dense LDL, the worst kind  low levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and reduced cholesterol content within the individual HDL particles, elevated blood pressure, and obesity, particularly excess abdominal fat. I have argued previously that this syndrome is brought on by a diet that is high in empty carbohydrates (particularly fructose) and low in fats and cholesterol, along with a poor vitamin D status [Seneff2010]. While I still believe that all of these factors are contributory, I would now add another factor as well: insufficient dietary sulfate.

Why being “fat adapted” makes your body run better

Glucogenesis is the process where the body breaks down proteins and possibly fats for energy, what this means is that in the absence of glucose the body can make glucose which is important for brain function.  This is also important for all those people that think they need carbohydrates every fewer hours to maintain their energy.  When a good majority of your energy comes from fats you are said to be “fat adapted” and less prone to voracious hunger related to blood sugar changes.  There is nothing wrong with glucogenesis, nor is there anything wrong with carbohydrate restriction. A glucose fueled body and a fatty acid fueled body are both healthy body’s (the latter arguably more health promoting and anti inflammatory). Insulin in and of itself has little to do with body weight and weight gain. The liver, pancreas and brain take care of this. One could potentially eat a ‘perfect’ diet totally devoid of carbohydrates, and still gain weight. if whatever you are eating is spiking your blood sugar and your pancreas is not releasing efficient amounts of insulin to clear the spike, then in turn you will store fat. This goes the same for EVERYTHING YOU EAT. Insulin is required to live, without it you would die. I think people are missing the point when the carbohydrate junk is thrown around, as well as the fear of blood sugar rises.  To suggest that one macronutrient is “bad” or “good” misses the whole point, conditioning your body to be able to exist on either is not only healthy, it’s optimal.

Lets say, for example, you do a 20 minute heavy lifting session in a fasted state (like first thing in the morning). Your body is PRIMED to produce a spike in blood sugar regardless of what you eat. NOT TO STORE FAT, but to reinstate hormesis in your muscles and deliver nutrients. This is the job of amino acids, but to deliver it you need insulin.

Preparation Over Precision

Precision

Preparing yourself for meals and one-off situations is a topic that comes up in the Science Lab a lot.  The Science Lab is a service I offer CrossFitters that are looking to reach their body composition goals.  The classes work in a similar fashion to the way WOD’s work; they are scheduled and our coaches walk you through what you need to do to achieve your goals. 

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article)

When determining what you should and should not put in your body, there seems to be never-ending confusion not only in deciding, but also in answering to other people who do not understand what real food is.  The messages we get are not always clear; what is real food?

In short, if you can pick it, grow it, or kill it, you should probably eat it. (Chia pets not included.)

  • Protein:  Chew it!  Protein should come mostly from real food and come bundled with Omega 3s.  Include grass fed/pastured livestock and wild-caught salmon, herring, or sardines.
  • Carbohydrates:  You need carbs to fuel your performance.  Glucose is king but you need your veggies as well.  A colorful diet will provide you with plenty of fiber and vitamins!
  • Fats:  Use them as a vehicle for vegetables, fruits and lean meats. It adds flavor, density, and libido!  Fatty meats obviously do not need to be covered in butter.

How to Get your Vitamins

Do not use a multi-vitamin as a blanket for a crappy diet.  Your body needs vitamins and minerals to function properly, and although a multi-vitamin taken with a meal can be effective, real food is where it’s at!

BEHOLD.

The Epic Humongous Salad (proper noun): It’s a bowl of everything:  lots of flavors, lots of colors, lots of textures.  Humongous salads are the best way to throw a ton of vitamins, minerals, and good fats into one big bowl.

¡WARNING!  You may need to purchase a new bowl specifically for epic-sized salads.  Eat To Perform.com cannot be held accountable for the mess you make trying to shove all of this vegetation into a less-than-epic-sized bowl. 

This is not a premixed bag of iceberg lettuce with a few shreds of carrots for appeal.  One of my favorite additions is roasted vegetables;  warm vegetables on cold salad greens is a win.  The list of possibilities is never-ending, but to get started:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Red leaf, green leaf, romaine, butter lettuces
  • Red cabbage
  • Bacon crumbs
  • Grilled sirloin
  • Roasted chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Avocado slices
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Sesame seeds
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Parsnips
  • Collards
  • Okra
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Figs
  • Dried fruit pieces
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Almond slices
  • Jalapenos

Salad dressing options are endless as well. First, you need a fat source (olive oil, butter, tallow, bacon grease), vinegar if you like the kick (white, apple cider, wine vinaigrette, fresh squeezed lemon), and your spice assortment (chili, onion, garlic, fennel, paprika, cumin, coriander, sage…). Fresh herbs work wonders too (basil, thyme, marjoram, cilantro…).  Someone should program a salad generating app…

Now that’s a salad! Eat it for size; it might take a while too.  Time of day does not matter for this beast but I would suggest that your first meal should have a lot of substance.  A lot of people have trouble eating breakfast and most of us are told that breakfast is the most important meal so they start the day off with nutrient-deficient grains and very few foods that fill you up.

My suggestion is that if you do not feel hungry, do not eat.  When you feel hungry you should eat. The epitome of a healthy lifestyle is living in harmony with food.  Don’t fear it, and do not become inhumanely excited over it. I do not know anyone who is addicted to real food, but I know plenty who are addicted to junky, chemically laced and alerted food. You may be able to overeat on a 12-hour standing rib roast, but it is not the same as overeating on a triple family-sized bag of Doritos with a side of Big Gulp Slurpee and Twinkies for dessert. When you are FULL on the rib roast, and you know it- your body now requires time to assimilate and process all the vitamins and minerals in the meat. This is why your appetite is depressed for a long while. No questions asked, and you lose your interest in food. When you’re full on the junk, your stomach is huge and expanded, but your brain is not content. It keeps searching for something that isn’t there. Many overweight individuals are NOT addicted to food as they are led to believe; they are addicted to junk food. Your ghrelin receptors adjust to the crappy food you give your system, which alters your reward path to your brain from your gut. If it doesn’t get nutrients, it does not function properly.

Are you addicted to carrots? No.

Are you addicted to strawberries or oranges? No.

Are you addicted a piece of grilled salmon with broccoli? No.

Do not wallow in your own misery; the only change can be made by you when you accept the difference. You CAN go cold turkey, just like an alcoholic can. But you must eat, right? Yes, obviously you do but you don’t need moon pies and Little Debbie’s all day – you do not NEED them ever…But if you make the conscious choice to sit and enjoy one once a week with control and confidence in getting back to your regular routine, then use it to your advantage. Choose the real food the rest of the time.

After a while, your body will establish patterns that will make this process a lot easier.  Remember, you have no addiction to real food; you have an addiction to crappy food. Eat when you feel hunger, eat a lot, and make it real food. Do not be scared to prepare yourself a huge plate of real food. When you are full you are done, put it away but promise yourself when you get hungry again, the real food is coming out again in full force. It will ALWAYS be there, and there is nothing to fear or hold back on. Freeing, isn’t it? Don’t go around being a grumpy Buddha, you and only you have the power to change!

“But I Don’t Like Vegetables”

Okay let’s just be honest; acting like an adult entails eating like an adult.  When you chose real food, a whole new sensory pathway will open you up to new tastes and textures. You need to shut off the excitatory, over-enhanced, MSG-laden, chemically-pumped-and-altered, flavorless (in reality) parts of your brain that were predominant before.  You need to fill your cells with nutrients to appreciate the well-being that is possible. There are very few vegetables that do not taste good cooked in lard, or roasted with butter and a good seasoning blend, or natural spices. If you need to wean yourself into vegetables, try stuffed peppers with a Tex-Mex ground beef seasoning, or bacon fried cabbage. Two sure fire flavor-yum bombs.

Preparation Over Precision

Many people find comfort in precision and pay dearly for the privilege. Weight Watchers is an example, and so are many of the “boxed systems” that you can buy to help you lose weight.  They all work; the problem is that for many people, these diets leave them hungry and/or ill prepared once the box is gone. “Rules” become “limitations”; what if that 2 point bar doesn’t leave you satisfied and you have no points to spare? Sorry, but your appetite doesn’t run on points; it runs on neurochemical impulses.  What if the Nutri-System bean burrito tasted like crap?  You are left unsatisfied, and your brain is looking for something to fill that void. Even with such systems, you need to remember to bring the food or prepare your meals ahead of time.  Eating well will always entail this.

If you can nail the preparation part, the precision part should follow naturally.  It would be a very difficult argument to make that those people would not benefit extremely from preparation.  Preparation is the answer to succeeding in a lifestyle change. How can you eat a big ass salad with no vegetables?  How can you promise yourself to eat big when you are hungry if you do not have any food waiting for you? Preparation takes out the worry of making food choices; it leaves you calm and determined and in power. There is a confidence in looking into a refrigerator full of nourishing food, ready for when you are hungry. Again, promise to feed yourself well with such foods when you do get hungry. Preparation, execution, confidence.

“Breakfast” simply means the time in which you break your fast.  Anytime you are not eating, you are fasting.  Fasting has such a wide array of benefits that an entire book would need to be published simply to detail its benefits. Most people relate breakfast with eating upon rising – hunger or no hunger.  Others would prefer not to eat when they wake up.  There is no right or wrong here, no benefit or lack thereof; eat when you are hungry but do not allow yourself to become ravenous.  Preparation is the key.  Your first meal should be filled with nutrition.  If you are the type that says, “I cannot eat a lot when I first wake up.” then great.  You do not have to eat then.  If you choose to eat upon waking, be sure to get a good amount of protein and fats. Remember that if you prefer eating when rising, you need to remain consciously aware of this as night time draws. Instead of forgetting about hunger signals and going straight for your old couch-and-chips routine, remember that as soon as you wake up you’ll be eating again. This leaves nighttime and saying no to junk easier by rest assuring you hunger will be met.

What a small meal looks like:

2 egg omelet with a coconut milk smoothie.  If you followed that meal up with the humungous salad at noon, you are well on your way to a healthy nutritious day where your appetite is self regulated.

What a big meal looks like:

A 10 ounce grass-fed rib eye, big ass salad and sweet potatoes followed by a bowl of full fat greek yogurt with strawberries and cacao nibs.  It is extremely filling and since I delayed my meal timing it allowed my body to detox and heal a bit better, promoting cellular repair.

Getting fat has nothing to do with when you break your fast for breakfast; it has to do with learning to listen to your body and choosing real food. Most people like to go until they are ravenous and somehow justify pounding through a sleeve of Oreos dipped in milk.  “It’s okay, I was hungry…I really needed to eat!”

Going hungry inevitably leads to grabbing the most convenient options which also lack nutrition. Why? Hunger leads to low blood sugar levels, and low blood sugar levels force the brain to use less glucose, which is the only energy source the brain can use.  So, when you are hungry, your brain is lacking glucose or in need of it. A piece of junk candy bar or cookie will send a high to your brain of satisfaction, which lasts…maybe 5 minutes followed by the same scenario on repeat. Up, down, high, low. Behavior is a result of what the brain perceives (aka the reaction to unreal food). The behaviors you are addicted to, the bad patterns you get caught up in, are all direct results of the information you are giving your brain and how it reads such signals.  However, when hunger hits and you feed on protein and fat alongside some vegetables, your rise in the blood is slower, longer, and controlled. This is because both glucose and glucagon are released when protein is eaten. It leads to a steady supply of energy for the brain and a happy content body.

In the book “Nutrition Against Disease”, author Dr. Roger J. Williams points out that like all other living cells, brain cells often receive less than perfect nutrition. He goes on to observe that brain cells get nutrition from blood, which in turn gets its nutrients from the food we eat each day. At first, it takes a while to get past that and let your body readjust to a new way. Psychologically, your brain may want to get that rush back, even at the expense of feeling bad later. It’s the same reason why people like to smoke. They cultivate an addiction and then enjoy the pleasure of satiating that addiction.

So you need to deal with feelings of:

  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Futility
  • Fear of change
  • Nostalgia
  • Fear of deprivation
  • Denial
  • Obsession
  • Loathing
  • Hyper self-criticism

        It has to do with healthfulness, and mindfulness, and gratitude, and forgiveness.  It has to do with having a free mind, and using food to fuel that beautiful capacity.

        You get back whatever you put out, so don’t think about what you don’t have or what you didn’t get. That is unhealthy thinking in itself. Think about the possibilities because they are endless. Perhaps learning to let go of baseless misconceptions like ‘”artery clogging saturated fats” and the necessity of eating every other hour is the best thing to do. To be satisfied with what you have, and what you receive, are aspects of success not to be overlooked.

Summary

  • Although taking a multivitamin every day can help you get the vitamins and minerals your enzymes need to function properly, you can’t beat eating real food.
  • A great way to get your micronutrients is to have a humongous, colorful salad for lunch. 
  • Salads are also a great way to get some extra fat in.  Olive oil and vinegar is a common dressing choice, but don’t be afraid to throw in some seasonings and herbs like paprika and cilantro.
  • Making sure you have a kitchen stocked with nutritious, whole foods is one of the best ways to make sure that when you’re hungry, you don’t make bad decisions and go for convenience/junk foods. 
  • There’s a big difference between binging on a slow-cooked, bone-in roast and eating a whole bag of Doritos.  Real food will satisfy you whereas junk food will typically make you hungrier; don’t be afraid to eat when you’re hungry!
  • Don’t force yourself to eat breakfast if you’re not hungry in the morning.  Listen to your body, and break your fast with quality nutrition rather than processed foods! 
  • Cravings for junk food and relying upon poor food choices to fuel your body can lean to negative body composition changes as well psychological hang-ups that reinforce the bad eating behavior. 
  • Satisfy your nutritional requirements first, and then consider satisfying your taste buds.

Carbohydrates Part 1 – A Sugar Tutorial

Carbohydrates or Carbs is the new boogie man of nutrition, even more so than fats though there are groups on both sides that disdain both of them with equal fervor.  Most of the time though there is some type of qualifier and in the case of carbs that would be simple versus complex.  Simple carbs are things like sugar, you know the real bad stuff in a super refined state.  On the other side complex carbs are things like Spinach.  That is a pretty wide spectrum to paint with a very broad brush.  That is where diets lose me and ultimately lose most people.  This is also where I very noticeably depart from people that think my approach is similar to the Paleo Diet, well that and the fact that the word diet implies restriction but I digress.  While the Paleo Diet proponents might suggest they are not against carbs and have a heavy vegetable component to their diet there is one vegetable that is clearly Paleo that they lose their mind over, that vegetable is the potato.  That is because the potato is very high in carbs.  Certainly if Paleolithic man had come across a potato he would not have hesitated to eat it.  Which is where all this Paleolithic Man and Caveman talk falls apart.  So let’s be clear, the Paleo Diet, especially for people without a lot of activity is a decidedly low carb approach.  Which is fine but it’s really just a version of Atkins with a few more vegetables.  Fair? I think the Paleo Diet is a fine diet if you want to be on a diet and you want to restrict your intake by eating certain foods (it needs a few tweaks for active people), I do not personally think that is necessary but if you are in pain as it relates to weight issues and you would rather not count calories many people have had great success restricting what they eat using those rules.  That group includes me at one point.

Or, you can eat lean meats (or meats high in Omega 3′s), vegetables and some fruit.  Even the dreaded potato can be eaten on occasion given those parameters without a great deal of consequence, I can assure you that is very difficult to become obese eating like that.  That said if you start your day eating hash browns, eat some potato chips with lunch and mashed potatoes for dinner the issue is not the potato it is that you are a moron.  You are eating a nutrient deficient diet and unless your head has been underwater for the last thirty years you are likely well aware of that fact.

So now that we have cleared that up let’s move on.

While there are no bad foods, excessive intake of sugar is close

Sugar has no nutrients and depletes your body of vital nutrients because it requires your body to hold excessive fluid without the value of added vitamins (micronutrients).

Feel free to hit me with any questions in the comments on this point but I think this is fairly clear and should allow us to move on relatively easily.

Anything that ends in ‘Ose is a sugar, it is the delivery method that matters

Sucrose is what is commonly thought of as “table sugar”, Lactose is the sugar in milk, Fructose is the sugar in fruit and Dextrose is sugar that is exclusively glucose.  All sugars are inflammation foods because they generate a lot of insulin and to process them your body retains fluids, this is just a natural process within the body, it only becomes problematic when it happens too often.  On a side note when you have sugar cravings it is typically a symptom of protein deficiency, I would personally make the argument that it is nutrient deficiency in general that is causing the cravings but it is pretty clear that when you eat protein in most instances where you have sugar cravings they go away.  You are welcome, now you know one of the biggest ways to control your weight.  With that said if you are a highly active individual exercising with intensity and your carbohydrate intake is excessively low it can cause you hormonal problems that will result in using your muscle for energy and retention of fat.

Sucrose is a disaccharide composed of the monosaccharides glucose and fructose.  It offers you nothing from a nutrient perspective but it does enhance the flavor of things that do provide your body good nutrients, the brain also REALLY likes sucrose and it can be a quick energy source if you are lethargic.  That comes with some additional costs but temporarily it can provide you with some joy.  Denying the fact that sugar makes things taste better is one of the problems with diets because none of them really embrace sugar.  I personally do not eat a lot of sugar but I do eat it, it is literally in everything from salad dressings to mayonnaise and of course the obvious sweets we all enjoy so much.

Lactose is the sugar in milk, Lactose is a disaccharide derived from the condensation of galactose and glucose.  You could really argue that it is a worse sugar than Sucrose because it has more issues.  Many people are intolerant towards Lactose and do not know it, I personally am not lactose intolerant but if I consume a decent amount of milk I definitely feel run down.  I have recently been diagnosed with an allergy towards milk protein, while the symptosms aren’t extreme and don’t require me to abstain from dairy completely I suspect there are many people walking around without this knowledge.  Milk is commonly thought to be good for you because, well, they have pretty good marketers that tell you this over and over.  Add Vitamin D supplementation and the dairy industry looks like a knight in shining armor.  Another often overlooked issue with lactose as it relates to sugar is how easy it is to consume, while people have been distracted by the low fat versus 2% vs whole debate the sugar element is completely overlooked.  Think of how silly that is, people are focused on drinking low fat milk with no regard at all for the sugar in milk.  I will talk more about insulin sensitivity in a later chapter but as a short primer insulin is a building hormone, when your insulin levels are raised your body is more likely to build, sometimes this means fat storage but can also mean muscle building.  This is one of the reasons chocolate milk is often recommended as a good post workout option.

Fructose is the sugar that you get from fruit.  The debate on whether or it is better or worse for you is almost irrelevant because it is the delivery method of the sugar that takes precedence here.  In the case of sucrose you have sugar totally refined, lactose is not dissimilar in the way it gets you the sugar.  Fruit is different because your body in an effort to get you the sugar first needs to break down the food part with all of those extra vitamins and nutrients, do not misunderstand me, the sugar is still not great for you but the other parts of the food provide you benefits that make fruit worth eating (I feel like I need to say on occasion here but I will talk more about this in the next section on carbohydrates).

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a very powerful form of sugar derived from corn, many people mistakenly believe that corn is good for you because they think it is a vegetable.  In fact, corn is a grain and the syrup derived from this grain is an insulin nightmare.

You should notice that all sugars have some combination of glucose (or in the case of Dextrose exclusively glucose), this is an important sugar as it relates to muscle energy and I will talk further about it in the chapters on activity.  It alternatively is called Dextrose or any of it’s derivatives.  As a teaser I will say that for athletes all sugars do not act equally, as an example fructose refills liver glycogen as a priority while glucose (or dextrose, one of the sugars in gatorade) has a more direct relationship with muscle glycogen.

I tried to stay unbiased as it relates to sugar but if you can become pretty conscious of your sugar intake that will go a long way to controlling your waistline, energy and overall health.  Sugar of course is not the problem for most people because they are well aware that too much sugar intake could have bad results.  So in that way people naturally regulate their sugar intake in a lot of ways, some of those ways unfortunately end up with other consequences.

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