Sunday, November 29, 2009

Great post on Free The Animal

Everyone should read this blog post today, whether they already believe in high fat/low carb, are on the fence, or remain stubbornly unconvinced by the mountains of evidence.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My take on fasting

Before I start my post about fasting (a request from a reader), I want to direct everyone to an excellent post by Dr. Harris at PaNu about the "paleolithic principle" I earlier discussed. He makes some excellent points about not jumping off the deep end of fringe lunacy and noble savage theory that I hope everyone will keep in mind when making decisions about their health and wellness.

So to begin talking about my opinions and experiences with fasting, why not stick with Dr. Harris and post one more link to his wonderful blog that I just found? Basically, in his post about Intermittent Fasting and Infrequent Meals, Dr. Harris points out the metabolic benefits of fasting (the short, but true version, not the prolonged "cleansing" version), along with how easy it actually is for those of us who have kicked the sugar addiction that our society so blatantly promotes.

Speaking of fringe lunatics, I have to say that the proponents of prolonged cleansing fasts where you consume juice (or cayenne peppers and maple syrup or whatever) always come off as pseudoscientists and wingnuts to me.

I have some experience with 24-36 hour true fasts. The Gracie Diet encourages occasional day-long fasts, and I have heard/read many good arguments for the health benefits of a regular fast. I have to say I enjoyed my weekly fasts for the short period I was able to do them (my work and training schedule eventually ceased to accomodate them with that frequenct). I always felt refreshed and renewed afterwards, and once the 2 p.m.-or-so moderate feeling of hunger passed, I felt extremely calm and relaxed.

I have seen/heard many arguments that giving your liver and other digestive organs a break is good not only for them, but for your body's other systems (i.e. immune) to have a chance to utilize metabolic resources typically spoken-for by the intensive obligation of processing our meals. Injuries are supposed to heal quicker, free radicals are supposed to be lined up and executed, weight is supposed to fall off, and your taste buds are supposed to get a re-boot, making food that had become mundane explode with flavor.

My experience definitely includes more "awake" taste buds, but no weight loss, as I felt I was compensating for the fast on the days before and after. I'm told (and I believe) that had I stuck with the regular fasts, I would have gotten over this (We can go 3 weeks or so without eating. Skipping a day is only a big deal if you're addicted to carbs and the resulting blood sugar spikes), and probably seen a weight-loss benefit. On the other hand, I'm not a person who is currently pursuing weight loss, and I think I could safely fast without danger of becoming unhealthily lean.

I definitely would support giving a try to Intermittent Fasting to an obese person interested in making great changes to their size and shape. I can totally envision it working wonders, but I worry that it may be too extreme for those who already have suspect levels of willpower...

I absolutely advocate allowing one meal to fully digest before eating another (as opposed to the conventional wisdom-advocated "bovinesque grazing" concept). I totally advocate a weekly or otherwise regular (or occasional, like I'm planning on doing now) true fast, based on the fact that I actually enjoyed these when I was doing them, and there is at least a preponderance of evidence suggesting some of the benefits I mentioned above.

As far as long-term "cleansing" and other false fasts, I remain unconvinced. If there's any peer-reviewed journal-published articles demonstrating any of the outrageous claims associated with "cleansing" "fasts," I would appreciate someone pointing me in their direction.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nitty Gritty

Okay, for my first topical post, I want to talk about something I've seen Richard Nikoley at Free the Animal refer to as the "Paleo Principle." I felt like he handled it very well, so I'll just summarize and let you follow the link if you're interested.

The fact that a valid scientific theory is predictive is something that the "just a theory" folks misunderstand and mis-state with regular frequency. The fact that Natural Selection is a predictive and valid scientific theory means not that the diets and lifestyles of tribal hunter-gatherers are perfect, but, to use a phrase that is stuck in my head thanks to Daniel Quinn, are "damnably hard to improve upon."

In other words, we were shaped by the "hands of the gods" or the blind forces of natural selection to match our primal diets and lifestyles. Our bodies are molded to be consumers of wild animal and plant food sources, not breads and muffins, not high fructose corn syrup, not Splenda, etc...

That being said (and argued all over the internet. Let's not do it here. We're animals. Lions are animals too. Nobody suggests Lions go vegan for the sake of their health.), here's a post suggesting that it's not just iron and B vitamins that you might have trouble getting as a vegan.

Now for a little clarification on one of the "Big 5."

What fresh meats includes:
Ground beef/lamb/animal of your choice
Steaks of beef/lamb, cuts of uncured pork, chicken pieces, bone-in or not
Seafood (fish, arthropods, bivalves, etc...)
Organ meats (Whatever you find appetizing. Or at least not too repulsive.)

What fresh meats does not include:
Cold cuts/deli meats
Bacon (See note below)
Hot dogs (Unless you buy the organic nitrate-free, all-natural kind)
Fancy and delicious forced meats and sausages, like soppresata, capicola, chorizo, etc...

Remember, I'm not saying don't eat bacon. Life might not be worth living if not for bacon for me and many people I know. The big 5 is about opting for the healthiest choices when you can bring yourself to. I love going out for cheese and charcuterie, and I eat bacon as an accompaniment to otherwise all big-5-approved salads frequently. I'm just saying I do my best not to make forced/cured/preserved/salty meats a dietary staple. And that's what the big 5 is all about!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Tonight, Professor David Adiv promoted me to purple belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Those who know Gracie Jiu Jitsu will recognize the magnitude of that honor. I'm still in shock and I promise to post more about this soon!

A little background...

I stopped eating grains almost entirely this past March. I certainly get my share of exercise, both via my gym membership and my competition and training in the sports of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts.

Over the past few years that I've been training and learning to eat better and better, my body composition has changed greatly. But that's not the only change I've noticed. I think that my neural pathways and brain chemistry have also changed in such a way that I stay more calm under what could be stressful situations. I also crave feeling good like it's a drug of its own, and this itself is a motivational factor against drinking and eating poorly.

That being said, people often ask me for my advice, but find my choice of lifestyle extreme (3 workouts a day, 4 days a week, with active recovery on some of the off days, 0 grains except on very rare occasion, etc...).

For this reason, I am proposing that people make the following pledge to themselves: That they will make an effort to replace as much of their dietary intake with my big 5 as their lifestyle can accommodate. I will post links and ideas about the science behind my suggestions in the days to come. Many of my beliefs about diet and exercise run contrary to the conventional wisdom. I will post frequently about subjects such as the benefits of saturated fat, moving as your body was intended, taking frequent naps, and occasional fasting.

First Post

So, enough people have asked me to write down/explain/give them links to some thoughts and ideas I have on diet and lifestyle that I've decided to start a little weblog to keep them posted. I see links all the time that I find valuable, and I think the Big 5 program is the answer for a lot of peoples' dietary needs.

I hope you enjoy the posts and links to come. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you.