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nutrition

Workouts

This will be a fun post!

No, seriously. We’re having the best time.

To review, I’m shooting for an Iron-distance race in 2019 or 2020. This summer’s goals are a sprint race or two, and an Olympic distance (double the sprint length). And I’m planning to do it as a keto-fed, fat-burning, intermittent-fasting machine.

My workouts are built around the progressive training that incorporates all 3 sports. If you Google Triathlon Training, you’ll find dozens of plans, and there are trainers everywhere who are capable of taking you to that level.

I’ve trained for and participated in 3 Iron-distance races, each time with a little different training schedule. This time I’m building my own. Keep in mind I’m not competitive, which just means that my goal is to finish, and suffer as little as possible, not to establish any records or win any awards. (Although this is funny – I’ve won my division in this race before because no one else was in my category!)

Here’s what my training looks like:

Every week, on Sunday, I plan my workouts (and food) for the week. I have to work around the weather (bike rides), the lap lanes at the pool, my work schedule, social events, etc. And I have to stay flexible when life happens and scuttle the whole week and start over sometimes.

With a tweak in length/distances from week to week, this is what I schedule each week (blog posts to come about each session):

Two 45-minute full body strength training exercises

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Not me

 

One tabata sprinting session

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Not me.

 

One bike ride

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Me

 

One swim session

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Not me

 

Two walk/runs

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Me. And my honey.

 

One brick (2-sport workout like swim/bike or bike/run) or one long bike ride or run

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Tri humor. Try humor?

 

One rest day

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Definitely me

You can see that there are days when I have to have 2 workouts to fit them in to the week: strength training and swim in one day, sprints and walk/run in one day, for example.

Right now, these workouts are little more than 30-minute sessions each. As I build, some will become longer (although some, like the strength training, will stay 30-45 minute sessions).

Additionally, these are simplifications of what I’m actually doing in the workout. If I were to drill down, for example, in the 30-minute swim sessions, it would reveal that I’m working on form, sprinting, technique, breathing, etc. Then I’ll add open-water swims to the basic schedule. I’ll write posts further detailing each of these as I go.

There’s the overview. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have equal parts structure and flexibility: without both, I’d never get the workouts done. The least worrisome part is what occurs within the workout time – getting there is more than half the battle.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more news about Iron Training 4.0!

 

 

 

 

We Tri Together.

There are those days.

Those days that have so much meaning, so much joy.

Today was one of those days.

I’ve blogged about racing with my kids. (Amy, Sam). I’ve tried to express what it means to me to have the children take an interest in what I do, to the point of training for, and competing in an endurance event.

Today was the icing.

Today I completed a triathlon relay with my honey and my grandson.

I recently blogged about a race that my grandson attended and cheered me on, and expressed an interest in joining me. We found a race that worked with our schedule.

Today was that day.

Most triathlons allow for a relay team to participate in the 3 sports: Swimming, Cycling, and Running.

The Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon is a popular, long-standing race in the Tennessee area. While Chattanooga is relatively close to Murfreesboro, it made more sense for us to go a day ahead, stay in a hotel, and be ready for the 4:30am wake-up alarm.

We divvied up the legs like this: Gammy on the swim, Eliott on the bike, and Aden as anchorman on the run. It’s a Sprint distance, so not too taxing.

Before I can get to the 4:30am wakeup call, we need to review a little race prep.

I’ve posted here that I’m in training for an Iron-distance triathlon in 2019 or 2020. I’ve posted about my training and nutrition, and I’ll post more as I do a deep dive into each sub-topic.

This race, however, was relatively chill. Short, fast, no pressure. Me in the water (400-yd swim), Eliott on the bike (14m), and Aden bringing us home (3m).

But it was the first opportunity for us to participate together, as a team, in a relay.

So off we head to Chattanooga.

First stop, Team check-in.

We get bibs, bike numbers, swim cap, the usual. Weather threatened a bit, but didn’t muck up the whole affair. We stayed in a sexy hotel, The Chattanoogan, in a beautiful room that was comfortable and convenient.

Eliott and I implemented a 42-hour fast beginning with dinner Friday night, and ending at lunch on race day. All kinds of posts to come about that.

Our resident 14-year-old opted to fuel his race a little differently:

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Here’s his choice for night-prior dinner – bacon double cheeseburger, french fries, and Mountain Dew. You can see my and Eliott’s lemon, salt, and water shots.

Then to an early bedtime, with this snackage happening in the bed next to ours:

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Allow me to describe:

a couple of ziplocks of the prior’s day Krispy Kreme donuts

peanut M & Ms

his greasy bag of leftover burger and french fries from 5 Guys

sweet tea

Frito Honey BBQ corn chips

Haribo gummies

Hershey’s kisses from the desk check-in bowl

Digestion of steel. Whatever.

The next morning brings a 4:30am alarm to get down to the race site.

65198986_10219387139890064_8447122106159726592_nGammy has the first leg, so this means a pretty brisk 6:45a jump into the Tennessee River.

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My unsure-about-this-non-wetsuit-legal-water-temperature face.

This is a sprint triathlon – the shortest 3-sport race you can participate in. And short it was.

6 and one-half minutes later, I’m out of the water.

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Notice it’s a couple of minutes PAST sunrise.

Then it’s time to put the timing anklet on our bike leg racer.

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And off he goes

After a blistering 14 miles, we have one more exchange to go.

Our anchorman, grandson Aden, 14, takes off out of the chute, and reappears before 9am:

Who in the HELL is doing this hideous camera work?

Anyhoo, a fabulous day out on the circuit with my honey and my grand.

And if you wonder if we ever indulge and eat anything besides meat and vegetables, the answer is yes.

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Breakfast of insulin champions
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This ain’t keto.

All in all, a wonderful day. What a joy and an honor and a privilege to get to watch this boy experience the delight that is triathlon.

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Yes we do. Yes, we do.

Thanks for reading.

Food first.

What is keto? I can’t begin to blog about my training without beginning with nutrition.

I know I’m going to bungle this, but I’ve always believed if you can’t clearly articulate a basic understanding of The Thing*, you don’t have a full understanding of it. So here goes my extreme layperson version:

When we eat food, our bodies begins a series of chain reactions to process the food that goes into our stomach. One of those reactions is to deal with the rise in our blood sugar (blood glucose) that occurs when we eat certain foods. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar a lot, protein raises it a little, and fat raises it almost not at all. Our meals and snacks are usually a combination of all 3 of those macronutrients, and acids and enzymes go to work breaking down the food during digestion.

Our bodies carefully monitor the sugar that is in our blood, and it has some choices about how to maintain the level it wants. Our pancreas secretes insulin, which directs the body to put a certain amount of the glucose into our muscle cells, and when those are replenished, the rest gets stored in the liver and fat cells for later use.

A keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet that results in lower insulin levels. A consistent reduction in carbohydrates results in your body going into a metabolic state known as ketosis. This means that the body burns fat instead of glucose, because a) there’s limited glucose to burn, b) there’s plenty of fat available, and c) the fat storage hormone insulin is low enough for our bodies to access the fat in all of our jiggly fat cells. The fat we burn can come from what’s on our plate or what’s on our body.

The fewer carbs that we eat, the more consistently we can reduce our insulin response, and the more we become fat-burners instead of glucose burners.

This is far too simplistic an explanation to describe the many components, down to the cellular level, that are active in our organic, self-replicating bodies.

We humans have the ability to burn sugar or fat. As long as we restrict the sugars/carbs going in, our body is forced to seek sources of energy elsewhere. Not only does this give us a steady stream of energy (even lean folks have enough body fat to fuel for hours), we don’t experience crazy hunger surges. We can only store so much glucose in our blood and in our muscles, and once that’s depleted, and insulin is low, the body resorts to burning fat for energy.

There are some great analogies that help us picture what is happening when we are fat-burners instead of sugar burners.

Here’s Dr. Jason Fung on his fridge-in-the-kitchen/freezer-in-the-basement analogy (video version). And this is it in blog form.

There’s another illustration that describes switching from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner is similar to reworking a mechanical engine to burn a different type of fuel.

I’ve also read another comparing burning sugar to burning twigs and leaves, and burning fat is a big log on a nicely-banked bed of coals.

At some point all of these analogies collapse, as analogies do, but you get the general idea, and maybe one of these would be helpful.

I think my explanation was a little messy and wordy. You would be much better served hitting up a few good Google search links to get a more comprehensive understanding of ketosis and the ketogenic diet. Both of the following are awesome, but heavy on the science:

This site is called ketoschool:

The concentration of glucose in your blood is the critical upstream switch that places your body into a “fat-storing” or “fat-burning” state.

This site/blog is among my favorite: Virta Health  – it’s LOADED with good information and clear science.

I’ll post more extensively soon about what I specifically eat, but it’s pretty simple: meat, fat, dairy, eggs, nuts, and low-carb vegetables.

I don’t want to finish without adding this little thought: I’ve been working on understanding nutrition science for years. I’ve experimented with paleo, primal, and all the buzzwords in this category. It’s taken me a while to get it all dialed in, and I’m still tweaking and learning.

I’ll also write a post soon about what I would suggest if you are just starting out, because this way of eating (WOE) is so drastically different than the standard American diet (SAD), I think it would be overwhelming to jump from SAD to keto.

I’ll repeat my disclaimer here that I fully embrace that there is more than one way to skin that proverbial cat. This is what has been working for me and my body and my training.

Thanks for reading.

*This works with financial investments, studying for the Bar Exam, defending your non-evidenced beliefs, and explaining your politics. 😉

 

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But are you surprised, really?

I don’t place much value on conventional wisdom.

This blog has served me through the years as a place to sort out my thoughts, express my feelings, absorb my rage, share my positions, and relate my experiences. I initially created it to write about endurance training, then it wandered into life on the farm, then religion, politics, the intersection of religion and politics, and now this entry circles back to endurance training.

I’ma do it again.

For those readers who haven’t followed this blog, I completed an Iron-distance race in 2010, the year I turned 50. It was wonderful and gratifying and difficult, and now I want to do it again.

Training for an ultra-distance race requires a progressive, linear plan that includes nutrition, running, swimming, cycling, recovery, research, and race planning, among other things. It’s my plan to compete in an Iron-distance race in either 2020 or 2021, which means my path to completion begins now.

Back to my opening sentence.

Conventional thinking holds that training for a race such as this is best promoted by the standard nutritional dogma of high carbohydrate, moderate protein, and low fat. Science teaches us that the human body can burn different types of fuel, glucose/fructose or fat. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is one in which carbohydrates are abundant, ubiquitous, and inexpensive. Looking at high-performance through that lens, it’s reasonable to deduct that, since we do burn glucose, and a lot of fuel is required for endurance performance, one should consume volumes of this macronutrient in the form of carbohydrates, up to and including during the endurance event itself.

Here are 3 of the first-page Google results to “nutrition for ironman training”.

Men’s Journal:

Load 1/3 your plate with complex carbs.Energy is essential for an endurance athlete, and nutrient-dense carbohydrates—like potatoes, rice, and whole-grain pastas and cereals—replenish glycogen and stimulate insulin production.

Triathlete.com

Your body also needs a lot of carbohydrates to support training and recovery. Your carb needs can easily increase from 5 grams per kilogram per day to 8-plus grams when training jumps from an hour to two or more hours a day (a jump from 350 to 580 grams of carbs per day for a 160-pound athlete, and from 275 to 430 grams of carbs per day for a 120-pound athlete).

Livestrong.com

Most of the calories in your diet should come from carbs — 55 to 60 percent. That’s because carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy, especially when working out for a long period of time. Getting enough carbs also spares protein, so you don’t burn muscle when training. For proper fueling, most of your carbs should come from complex sources, such as whole-grain bread and cereals, beans, pasta and potatoes.

Or.

Not.

I’m not terribly keen on conventional wisdom. It lulled me into accepting religious dogma for years. It betrayed me as a young adult into believing debt was a “financial tool”, which would serve me well as I matured. And nutritionally, IMO, it has kept millions of Americans (including me at one point) unhealthy, overweight, and unhappy.

So I’m not relying on conventional wisdom this time. I’m using my own research. I’m using my own data. And I’m using my own body.

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I will write about that which I am an expert: Me.

This biohacking, experimental, n=1 journey upon which I’m embarking will be based on loads of personal data: blood glucose and ketone testing, sleep patterns, fasting schedule, stress management, weight, training stats, mood, activity, workouts, nutrition choices, bio-feedback, and sensations.

At the present moment, I’m describing myself as a fat-fueled, high-fat, low-carb, moderate-to-high protein, intermittent-fasting human being. I seek to be in ketosis most of the time, which simply means being in a fat-burning mode rather than a sugar-burning mode. I’ll use the shorthand “keto” often to describe this state.

I won’t insult the scientists, researchers, and doctors by trying to lay out all the science-y stuff myself; I’ll post several resources that I have used to reach my current conclusions about nutrition (critical word “current” – science is ongoing, as is my learning). Nutrition science is not my field, it’s not my formal education, and at best I could only give a layperson’s interpretation of the incredibly complicated process of nutrition.

It’s my intent to have this blog be the journal of the journey. I commit to both honesty and transparency in relating my progress. My general plan is to compete in a Sprint triathlon or two and an intermediate triathlon this summer (2019), continue training through the winter, then compete in a Half-Iron, then a Full Iron in 2020, with wiggle room to delay til 2021 if beset by injury or illness or life circumstances. This will be in addition to various road- and cycle- races that catch my fancy and fit my schedule.

Buckle ups, buttercups. Here we go.

Thanks for reading.

 

Suggested resources – These are just a few of my favorites. There are scads of resources currently for the keto lifestyle. I’ll add specific topic links as I write about them.

Books: 

(If you shop at Amazon, and don’t have a dedicated non-profit that will receive a small contribution as you shop, please consider Recovering from Religion. Click here to set up your Amazon Smile account.)

The Complete Guide to Fasting: Jason Fung, MD

The Big Fat Surprise: Nina Teicholz

Eat Rich, Live Long: Ivor Cummins and Jeffrey Gerber, MD

Protein Power:  Micheal Eades, MD and Mary Dan Eades, MD

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Gary Taubes

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: Jeff S. Volek, PhD, RD and Stephen D. Finney, MD, Phd

Death by Food Pyramid: Denise Minger

Websites/blogs:

marksdailyapple.com

www.proteinpower.com

www.dietdoctor.com

www.idmprogram.com

Podcasts:

LowCarbMD

The Fat Emperor

2KetoDudes

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Paleo Post, Part 6

The Healthy Fats post.

The posts up til now present information that you have heard before:  cut out grains and sugar, consider dairy carefully, eat lots of veggies and high-quality protein.  This has been at least on the periphery of mainstream for several years.

What you don’t read so much about is the idea of healthy fats.  Keep in mind that our approach is still about eating foods that make us healthier and create a good physical response, and not just because our ancestors may have eaten some version of it.  Also keep in mind that this is going to presented highly simplified, and from a nutritional layperson.  My interest in nutrition is personal (and professional related to my personal training practice), and I am influenced not a small amount by application and implementation to my own body.

First let’s identify what fats create a good response in our bodies.  You probably already know there are different kinds of fat that have to do with the chemistry of the molecules.  Monounsaturated fats (MUFAS) are good guys that improve blood pressure and lower cholesterol – olives and olive oil, avocados (and oil), macadamia nuts, hazelnut oil.

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Then there are the saturated fats (you read correctly).  Don’t freak out!  Those 2 words – saturated fat – have been unfairly blamed for effects that have usually come from the nasty bun/french fries/onion rings/bread/pasta/your-choice-here that accompany that fat.  Here’s a link to an abstract – read the conclusion.  Healthy saturated fats include clarified butter (an exception to the dairy rule since clarified butter is the fat only, with the milk proteins removed), pork and beef fat with this caveat:  Remember that when choosing meats, it’s pastured-meat all the way.  Toxins can accumulate in the fat of animals exposed to antibiotics and chemicals, and if you’re not eating grass-fed, cut off or don’t eat the fat.

Another saturated fat is coconut oil, coconut meat or flakes, and coconut milk.  It’s great for cooking, and the milk can be used as a substitute for cream in sauces and coffee.  The flakes make a killer coating for chicken tenderloin, and as a topping for salads, and for a straight-up snack.

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Then there’s the PUFA’s – the omega 3’s and 6’s you’re hearing so much about.  We want both of these fats in our diet, but we want the right ratio too.  Good sources of omega 3’s are cashews, hazelnuts, and macadamias.  However, it’s common and easy to overeat nuts – they’re snackity delicious, terribly handy, very portable.  Part of our whole foods effort is that food preparation and consumption SHOULD be an event, and take a little time and effort and thought.  The concept of “grabbing and going” has so much traction in our busy culture, and it works against our healthy eating.

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So here’s the piece I mentioned in an earlier post.  Bear with me, same disclaimer as always:  amateur’s understanding.  Your body always uses a combination of fat and carbohydrates for fuel.  When you feed your body an abundance of sugar, that’s the fuel your body will use, leaving your stores of body fat unburned and in place.  When you withhold sugar, and provide enough healthy fats, your body will burn fat for fuel, leading to fat reduction.  (We also use different fuel for different levels of activity – higher intensity burns more carbohydrates, lower intensity more fat).  You can take this to full-on ketosis , which is the point when the body turns almost exclusively to burning fat for fuel in the absence of carbohydrates.  I met Dr. Peter Attia over a full-cream latte in San Diego a couple of years ago and he’s an absolutely lovely man.  He is so much smarter than anyone I know, and while I loveloveLOVE his blog, I very seldom understand it all, even with this effort to make it accessible to non-scientists.  Here’s his post about ketosis and carbohydrates– it’s worth a read, but bring your brain.  But first, watch his Ted talk, and bring a tissue.

This is the last of the substantive posts.  That is it.  It’s how I eat most of the time.  It’s what I think the science guides us to eat.  It’s what I think the precepts of evolution drive us to eat.  I’m going to write a wrap-up post with some remaining details and how I manage eating in this manner.  This has been a fun series for me, and a fantastic distraction from the Brief I’m working on for Legal Writing.

Thanks for reading!

 

Paleo post, part 5

In continuing our title alliteration, this is the Protein Post.

There are 3 types of nutrients we eat:  carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  We’ve already covered most carbohydrates, we haven’t yet discussed fat, and now we look at protein.

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Protein by definition is any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds that consist of large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, esp. as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.  What that means to us is that because protein is found everywhere in our bodies, we need nutritional protein to survive.  Protein is found in animal products (muscle meat, organs, dairy, eggs,), in beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, and some grains (quinoa).

The focus of this post is to discuss the best sources of animal protein, and is not the debate about eating animal protein at all.  That’s an important and interesting and relevant topic that I promise to blog about at another time.

It has been said that You Are What You Eat.  Michael Pollan, the author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, takes that one step further and says: You Are What You Eat Eats.  So there is a point to be made that all that corn and grain our commercial livestock are being fed are showing up on our table after all.  And if we’re trying to eliminate that, we’ve just had a huge setback.

But there’s so much more important a reason not to eat grainfed meat (I’m talking about ungulates now – cows, pigs, sheep).  These animals have not evolved to eat grain in the manner that our American meat industry feeds them grain.  It makes them sick, and necessitates their being on antibiotics most of the time they are being fed grain.  Grain causes rapid weight gain, which of course increases profits, but puts the animal in an extremely unhealthy condition.  And of course, all this unnatural food that makes them sick causes them to suffer.  As much of an advocate of health I am, this suffering should be a much greater motivator than our personal health.  If we are going to eat meat, finding animals humanely raised, humanely slaughtered, and naturally fed should be a goal all of us should strive for.  The fact that they make us healthier should be a secondary concern.  The book I mentioned above, Omnivore’s Dilemma, is one of the best resources for becoming educated about the status of this portion of our food supply.

Because so many folks have found better health through a more natural approach to eating, it is likely that you can find a supplier of grass-fed, humanely-raised, local, pastured animals.  Whole Foods tries to use local suppliers, and uses a number grade to reflect sustainability.  Hit up your local farmers’ market – even rural Murfreesboro has 2 grass-fed animal farmers, who provide both beef and pork.  You can also easily find pastured chickens’ eggs, since even back-yard chicken farms produce an abundance of fresh eggs.  Or you could investigate the wonderful world of raising hens yourself!  They cut down on the bug population, they aerate the grass, they provide eggs, and if you don’t get Foghorn Leghorn they’re not really noisy – just a little proud clucking when one lays an egg.

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Wild game is a good choice too, as are wild-caught fish and seafood.  Contrary to most folks’ perception of Paleo, it’s really not massive amounts of protein.  Today I had one 6-ounce piece of tuna, and a couple of eggs – the rest was fat and vegetables.  Some days I have a little more, most days about 60-80 grams of protein.

In the next post, when we discuss healthy fats, we’ll also address the importance of pastured animals.  When I first began to eat this way, I considered this a 2nd or 3rd tier issue – if I’m eating good protein, eliminating grains and sugar, eating my vegetables, do I really have to go to the effort of finding and buying grass-fed meat??  I’ve come to the conclusion I was wrong about that.  I think this is a high priority for our health, for reasons we’ll get to in the next post!

Thanks for reading!

Paleo Post, part 4

The Dairy post.

Full disclosure:  except for limiting alcohol, this is the food I miss the most, and is the one in which I am most likely to indulge.

Dairy is made up of some of the same amino acids that are found in the muscle meat of the cow, but there are milk proteins that may cause damage to our intestinal lining.  Milk products, whether human or cow (or goat or sheep) are critically important to the development of an infant of that species.  Milk comes packed with good immune and hormone messages that direct the rapid growth and nutrient capture in those infants.

However, children and other mammals soon lose the enzymes to digest milk not long after they are weaned.  Lactose intolerance is very common because our bodies simply don’t need it after about 2 years after our birth.  If we keep consuming milk and milk products, because we are not efficient at digesting it without lactose, it creates yucky intestinal problems like bloating and gas.  There is also a condition known as Leaky Gut Syndrome, where because of chronic inflammation (our old enemy), the lining of the small intestine has lost some of its integrity, and molecules that could not pass through the lining of a healthy intestine, permeate and go places where they can create problems.  Milk proteins could be potentially be implicated in contributing to this syndrome.

What about calcium?  See what years of marketing has done to us?  It’s the first question I’m asked if I say that I don’t eat dairy.  Calcium is important for bone growth, and muscle contraction, but just like everything else I’ve been writing about, it’s not as simple as Eat Calcium (From Milk) For Strong Bones.

A) Strong bones don’t depend just on calcium to be strong.  Guess what else makes strong bones?  Lifting heavy things.  In a study of obese adults, their markers for health were worse than a non-obese person in every matrix that could be measured except for one:  Bone Density.  Bones in obese adults are thick and strong, because the repeated pressure on those bones have demanded it.

B) Dairy is not the only source of calcium.  In fact, it’s not even the best source of calcium.  Guess what else has calcium, that is more accessible than the calcium in milk?  Green vegetables!  Leafies like kale and spinach and mustard greens have calcium, as does meat and seafood, and even nuts!  And they come without the baggage of the milk proteins that can cause the damage.

I’m planning an entire post about how I manage “nutritional offroading” but I’ll say here that if you have a healthy immune system, and a healthy gut, and all of your visible, perceivable, and testable markers for health are in the good zone, you can probably occasionally ingest some cheese or cream or butter from pastured animals and suffer no lasting ill effects.  Dairy does have some good saturated fat, and those amino acids I mentioned earlier, so there is at least some good going in with the bad (unlike grains which have nothing good to offer).

I also am planning to address how to approach all of these rules to integrate them into your life, whether to go all in or take up one rule at a time.  When we get to that, I’ll explain what I’d suggest (and what I did) with dairy, and all the other food groups, to determine if dairy is problematic for you.  I can tell you what the science says about it generally, and how we go about using self-experimentation.

I think I have written this post and the next post (pastured meats) out of sequence.  It’s important to understand how ruminants’ (cows and goats and sheep) digestive systems work, and why they should be pastured, to understand how their milk and meat are affected.  So come back and read this one after the next post on Eating Meat.

Thanks for reading!

Paleo post, part 3

Today is the vegetable post.

Eat them.

Thanks for reading!

 

OK, I’ve already covered the hardest part – the No Grains and No Sugar part.  This next one is an affirmative rule, and it’s one you can learn to love.

We should eat vegetables every day.  Lots of them.  Lots of different kinds of them.  You already know they are loaded with good stuff – nutrients, vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals.  There is research showing that vegetables with their phytochemicals can be helpful in fighting cancer.

Additionally, there are SO MANY different kinds of vegetables, which becomes important when you eliminate grains and sugar as a way to keep your food interesting and new.  There are only a few types of animals we eat, and because the Standard American Diet (aptly abbreviated to SAD) is so full of grain-based foods, if you do make a transition to a more traditional diet, you are likely to experience a feeling of depravity, and all those veggie varieties can help with that.

imagesimages-1So whether you have a big salad of fresh vegetables, or a stew or stirfry full of cooked vegetables, shoot for having them at 2 meals out of 3, or maybe start with one big meal of non-starchy veggies every day.

And I have good news about your next question.  While we’re ditching the croutons and shredded cheddar cheese, we’re adding good fats so you can have some kickass dressing on that big ol’ salad.  Here’s a recipe for homemade mayo (stay away from the ooky grocery store stuff) that can serve as a base for scads of dressings.  I make you a personal promise that it will be the tastiest mayo you have ever tried.

You can also add olives, nuts, chopped boiled eggs, a protein, and even fruit.  You may, like me, find that your salad meal is your favorite meal of the day.

For your cooked vegetables, try roasting almost any vegetable for the best flavor (400 degrees, one layer deep and tossed with sea salt and olive oil, 12-25 minutes depending upon size of pieces).  This gives broccoli, asparagus, kale, squash, brussel sprouts, and zucchini a crunchy, roasty flavor.  Another personal promise that you’re gonna LOVE this.

Fruits can also be a part of a healthy paleo diet.  I’m going to address this further in the post about Fat (to come).  Some fruits are high in sugar (bananas, apples), and you remember from the Sugar post that this can create a problem if we eat too much.  But Gayle, you rightly ask, how does that fit with the whole Paleo mentality?  Aren’t we supposed to be eating similar to our ancestors, and wouldn’t they have eaten fruit?  Why yes, they would – when they could get it, which would be when?  Seasonally.  (Just like veggies, by the way).  And the fruit that would have been available would not even have resembled a big juicy Red Delicious.  Finally, remember that we are building a diet that is healthy, not just historic, and too much sugar, from any source, leads to an insulin response.  Get to know the sugar content of fruits (and vegetables), and eat them as toppings, or see them as they treat they are.

Probably everyone has heard the analysis of whether or not to spend the extra for the Organic label – that if you are going to peel it (bananas or pineapples), non-organic is suitable; for leafies or veggies that are hard to wash, or whose peel you plan to eat (spinach, lettuces, sweet potatoes), go ahead and spend the extra.  Here’s my thought on the Organic issue:  I consider this issue to be about Tier 3 or 4 as it relates to priority.  If you’ve taken grains out of your diet, eliminated dairy, if you’re eating grass-fed meats and quality fats, THEN worry about whether or not your strawberries are organic.

I think a better focus is to seek LOCAL sources for your fruits and vegetables for at least 3 reasons – it supports local farmers and not superstores, it reduces the energy cost and carbon impact of transporting food from sometimes thousands of miles away (banana, anyone?), and the produce does not have to be genetically engineered to survive the journey and handling it takes to get to you.

By the way, corn is a grain, not a vegetable.  Beans are legumes, not vegetables.  A potato, while botanically a vegetable, is nutritionally a starchy tuber.

One more time I’ll state my disclaimer – this information I’m sharing is what I accept about nutrition science, and it matches pretty squarely with my own experience with my own health and nutrition.  This might be a good time for me to post this link which addresses the book The China Study, whose claims contradict Paleolithic nutrition science.  Denise Minger is a rockstar in the movement – here is her 2012 presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium.

Next up:  Dairy!  One of the hottest topics within the Ancestral Health movement.

Thanks for reading!

 

Paleo Post, Part 2

So we covered grains and their inflammatory effects.

Today’s topic is Sugar, in all of its non-grain forms.  Brown sugar, white sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, AND artificial sweeteners, all of them, that I don’t need to name.

But before I get into that, let me issue another disclaimer about all this.

I blog because I like to, because it lets me organize my own thoughts, and because enough people ask me to focus on a certain topic.  If you are reading this, thank you.  But in this area, unlike my secular posts, these posts are not written to convince you.  I am not knowledgeable in this area, not enough to be a valid source of information.  This series of posts is written to explain what works for me.  I am easily convinced that, in the area of nutrition, there is more than one way to skin that proverbial cat (gotta come up with a replacement for that horrible idiom).

So here’s the disclaimer:  if what you are doing, nutrition-wise, is working for you, continue to do that!  And by “work for you” I mean so many more things than just weight; there are markers for health that include answers to the questions How are you sleeping, and How are you feeling, and How are your bowels, and How is your sex drive, and How is your appetite?  If you’re not happy with the answers to those questions, then maybe you’ll have an good experience with the Paleo concept. In addition to those self-check questions, there are tests your physician can do including triglycerides, cholesterol, blood pressure that are probably more related to our overall health than our size and weight.

Back to sugar.  Here is a link I read just today, that is more on inflammation from the first post, but it applies to the inflammation caused by sugar as well as grains.  He gets into fats a little, which is a later post, but his description of the effects of the inflammatory process is powerful.

Even nutrition scientists who don’t embrace Paleo agree on the sequence that occurs when sugar, in all its forms, enter the body (here’s a pretty sciency explanation).  When my mother was diagnosed with diabetes 5 years ago, I wanted to make sure she understood the disease so she could be better equipped to make the best decisions for treatment.  I asked her what diabetes was, and her answer was that her pancreas was not functioning correctly.  To the contrary, I told her, your pancreas is functioning exactly as it should – it’s responding to the sugar in your bloodstream, and it’s working as hard as it can.  And that’s just the problem – we’re overworking that poor little organ, and our cells get insensitive to getting the message to DO SOMETHING WITH THE EXTRA SUGAR!  Insulin is a fat storage hormone, because the sugar has to go somewhere – it can’t stay in the bloodstream, so into the fat cells it goes to be used later.  Over and over and over, every time we put in sugar (whether it’s in the form of cakes, cookies, pasta, pretzels, pancakes, popsicles, or bagels).

A secondary effect is that when we get on the blood sugar roller coaster, when we hit those lows, we know, even subconsciously, that the way out of the low is the big hit of sugar.  There’s even evidence that artificial sweeteners, while they don’t have the same impact, because of their sweetness cause even a saliva response that  begins an insulin response.  Health experts even throw around the word addiction, although I don’t know enough about that phenomenon to know if our love of sugar qualifies.

And sugar is everywhere.  Check the labels of products in your pantry, and look for sugar words like corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, cane sugar, and molasses.  It’s relatively easy to refrain from adding extra table sugar to foods we eat, but it’s not so easy to avoid it in packaged products.  So the Paleo position is to stay away from any pre-packaged, processed food items.

Sugar in fruit:  yes, there is sugar in fruit, and there is also sugar in vegetables, some are even high in sugar.  I will touch on this again when I write the post on healthy fat, because it will factor in again there.  Until then, the general thought is to limit even fruit, especially those fruits high in sugar.  Melons and berries are good choices, and you will be surprised at how sweet all fruit is when sugar is removed from your diet.

Next post:  Vegetables!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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