Thursday, February 25, 2010

1 More link

One more link everyone should read today. Everyone. No qualifications necessary...

Good Running, Bad Running

I'm sort of with Sisson on the whole idea of running in general. I love it in short, extreme bursts as part of HIIT or evo-/natural style of exercise regimes.

But if you want to really understand both that and why running shoes do more harm than good (and running barefoot/faux-barefoot a la Vibram Fivefingers), here's an excellent article that was pointed out to me by one of my readers.

In my opinion, it's not just running that necessitates our evolutionarily afforded posture and joint alignment. I do all my lifting, box-jumps, plyometrics, etc... in my Vibrams (who do not pay me for my endorsement, but I'm willing to negotiate!). I wear them to the grocery store and the mall and anywhere else I can, weather-permitting, and I'd wear them to work if they were permitted (Whoever designs the first steel-toe barefooting-type shoe will get my business for sure).

On a related fitness issue, I've been trying to swim longer distances without changing strokes, while avoiding what Mark Sisson calls "Chronic Cardio." I was able to go 1/4 mile of freestyle easily just by pushing through the minor fatigue that I feel after 3-5 laps. I felt at the time that I could have done more, but I was late for an appointment.

I will probably not do much more distance without turning it into a high-intensity interval or hypoxic workout, where I only breathe every 10 or 12 strokes for increasing lung capacity by training the diaphragm muscle, but I don't think an occasional long cardio session is bad, so maybe I'll get in the pool one day and really push myself to the limit, train for a while doing no long swims, and then do it again to see how much progress I make. My hypothesis (which will have to remain untested) is that the distance I'm able to cover will increase more by me doing short, intense training sessions than it would increase were I to simply practice longer steady-paced swims.

That's it for now.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why you should read Good Calories, Bad Calories

I figured Kurt Harris was exaggerating when he referred to the book as "The Bible" on the "Livin' the Vida Low-Carb" show with Jimmy Moore. After reading the book, however, I think that may actually be an understatement.

My analysis is just buy it. If you want to understand why we live in a society that is so hell-bent against giving us the nutritional advice that tells us to eat in a way that probably causes type 2 diabetes, obesity, most cancers, Alzheimer's disease, coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis, and all of the rest of the "diseases of civilization," despite the science (and why the definitive science fails to get funded in the first place), read this book.

If you are unsure of whether your high-saturated fat diet will cause you all the problems the mainstream media tells us it will (see above), if you're even remotely afraid to replace all the carbohydrates in your diet with natural animal-sourced fats, read this book.

If you want to see what good scientific investigative reporting and analysis look like, read this book.

That's basically it. I have linked to this great outline/summary before, but there's no substitute for really looking at the info Taubes presents.

The evidence mounts...

I really want to sit down and put my thoughts together after reading Good Calories, Bad Calories, but I came across a link (I found it from Conditioning Research, one of my favorite sources for links) that I couldn't wait to share.

The paleo/primal-blogger community (of which I sort of consider myself something akin to a junior member) do a great job of talking about the evils of carbohydrates and the need for dietary fat. Sometimes, however, I think there's a fear that jumping up and down about the benefits of saturated fats (butter, lard, tallow, cream, etc...) will alienate the laymen who might stumble upon the idea of going primal and want to learn more.

Well, here's a post that lays it right out there on the table, citing evidence new and old to back it up. And of course this follows perfectly with the paleolithic principle. In other words, like all good scientific theories, the idea that we're products of natural selection is predictive of the results we see in actual studies.

I'm thinking of reorganizing the concept of the big 5 anyway. Maybe replace the "fresh fruits'" spot with butter (although I was considering it a member of full-fat dairy" and specify that the vegetables should be what used to be called 5% vegetables (leafy, green kinds of things as opposed to starchy things that are delicious with balsamic glaze on the grill or in a rollatini).

Again, this is with the understanding that going 100% Big 5 is next to impossible for most civilized people. While it's been proven time and again that a basically 100% meat diet results in great health and vitality (not death!), I don't expect anybody to take the idea that far, and I don't expect anyone who would to be a reader of my little, silly blog.

That's it for now.  My full endorsement of the awesome of "Good Calories, Bad Calories" hopefully to follow later today.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Too long...

since I've posted. Been stuck in snow, away for the weekend without internet, dog ate my homework, etc...

I definitely plan to post this weekend about finishing "Good Calories, Bad Calories" a/k/a The Bible.

A couple other things in mind. Suggestions are always welcome and my apologies for the slacking.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Common objection...

One common objection that always seems to be made when I tell people the hows and whys of my dietary and fitness lifestyle is that tribal people all died too young to know whether they would have died from Coronary Heart Disease (although post-mortem atherosclerosis data, for one should negate that issue).

I've been putting off gathering data to refute this claim, which I know to be false from several anthropological studies I've seen and read first hand, but it looks like it's already been done in a great post by Don at Primal Wisdom, and I don't see any reason to repeat the effort when the internets make it so easy to just post a link.

Slightly snowed in at the moment, so further posting is a possibility. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Clearing things up...

Had an argument about this very issue the other day. As luck (and common sense) has it, I was right.

Today at work, I opened a can of coconut milk, which I ate with a few nuts and dried pieces of fruit (that unfortunately contained peanuts), a bit of cream cheese and carrots, and some whole milk plain yogurt. There was basically pandemonium about the nutrition information on my coconut milk. 39% USRDA for Saturated Fat. I had to point out that was per serving, and I had consumed an entire can, or 6 servings, for 234% USRDA.

This was after an evening at the grocery store where I had to send a text message to a few folks who know me because I was buying a fatty grass-fed tenderloin, beef liver, whole milk yogurt, several cans of coconut milk, a pound of pasture butter, heavy whipping cream (for drinking, not whipping), cheese, and a few other choice selections of health foods. When I got in line, I noticed the girl ahead of me with Kashi and South Beach products full of all kinds of healthy whole grains. She even had some kind of sprouted grain bread and low fat products of all types. I'd say she was "average" as far as body composition, meaning probably 25-40 pounds over her ideal weight. There I was, behind her, with my 10 billion USRDA or so of saturated animal fat (mostly from grass-fed sources) looking like this photo (that was taken last Saturday, which I've been debating posting):

This all served to remind me of the point low-carb proponents and primal/paleo-style diet pushers always make. The Dept. of Agriculture Food Pyramid wants you to eat 6-11 servings of grains per day. That's pretty much exactly what's given to feedlot cattle to fatten them up for slaughter. The science is there. The anecdotal evidence pours in by the thousands. There are no healthy whole grains. You're being lied to, people.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

All over the board...

I have some very non-contiguous thoughts I need to put on (digital) paper, and I don't promise smooth segues, but I'm going to jam it all in a single post somehow.

Firstly, my brother sent me a 3-character text message today. It said "167" and not another word. I knew exactly what he meant, because he's been trying to get his weight down to 165 pounds unsuccessfully for quite some time, and he's one of the reasons I started The Big 5.  He had been letting me know of all his just-under 170 readings for a bit (which were closer to his goal than he'd been in a long time). I suggested he try a form of IF, or intermittent fasting, to drop the last few pounds, and he googled it and told me that basically, that's how he'd been eating and partly why he had already lost the 6 or 7 pounds he'd struggled so hard to drop before. Getting to the gym more probably didn't hurt him, but I've also had great success with eating 2 meals a day, 5-8 hours apart and pretty much fasting in-between. I do put a nice dollop of cream or half and half in my morning coffee, but since I've been eating my lunch at work and a meal at 5 or 5:30 on weekdays, I've maintained a weight I used to struggle to make for competitions effortlessly and hungerlessly.

There are benefits to your endocrine, immune, and other systems of long periods of not eating (17-20 hours isn't really a long period, but it's probably enough to see a lot of the benefits). Remember that our ancestors probably regularly went much longer periods without any real nutrition and thrived and survived and eventually managed to create you.

The next thing I sort of have on my mind is the connection we lack with our food. I remember as a very small child asking my mother how come the food on my plate and the bird in my coloring book were both called "chicken." We just don't have any involvement with our food other than picking it out of an aisle and storing it in the freezer until we are ready to throw it in the microwave. It's really no wonder we make such terrible choices when it comes to how and what we eat most of the time.

Finally, I've found a new author/blogger/podcaster I really think everyone should read/listen to. This should be at the top of your reading/listening list if you care about yourself at all.

That's it for now. I'm learning a lot from Nora and various others about the hormonal response to eating and how blatantly obvious it is that humans are made to live and prosper on a high saturated fat diet.

That's it for the moment. I have thousands of things on my mind, I've promised to do some research and respond about my findings, and I'm still planning to do all of that. I wish I could find a little more time to do the homework for here, but those who know me understand I have a lot on my plate at the moment. Apologies to you all.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Grass-fed Beef

So my local mega-supermarket (is that redundant?) is advertising Australian grass-fed beef tenderloin for a ridiculously low price, and I decided to head over and pick some up. When I arrived, I had trouble finding the filet mignon-looking steaks, so I did a bit of searching and realized that they were selling whole tenderloins. The smallest one was 4.98 pounds.

So, like any rational primal eater would do, I made a phone call to ensure that I had access to sufficient freezer space to store most of my 5-pounds of deliciousness.  Here's what I whipped up the first night:

Super simple. I melted a bunch of pasture butter in a pan with a pinch of sea salt and tossed in some baby portabella mushrooms.  Put the mushrooms on a paper towel and tossed in my filet mignon. Let it cook for a bit, tossed it under the broiler, melted a little cambozola cheese (I think it's camembert with a gorgonzola mold) and topped with butter-drenched mushrooms. The steamed broccoli were really just for looks.

There are a few things I want to say about grass-fed beef. One, I've worked in many restaurants, but never directly in food prep. The first thing that struck me was that the meat smelled delicious out of the package. No cooking, marinading, tenderizing, seasoning or touching necessary. I had a serious urge to stick a big piece of the raw beef right in my mouth. If it hadn't been one of my fasting times, I would have done just that.

The second is that I'm just learning about the widespread omega-3 vs. omega-6 imbalance that we tend to suffer from in civilized society. Apparently, the ratio of these fats is all screwed up because we eat grain fed beef (which contains way more 6 than 3) and non-animal based fats (same problem). Fish oil is one solution, but I prefer to try to get grass-fed meats when possible.

Secondly, grass-fed beef is far more delicious than grain-fed. If you don't believe it, try it.

2 more notes. One is that there's been some further study of the way barefoot runners run. Apparently some of us primal-inclined people jumped all over the story and got some of it wrong. The authors of the study want to clarify their point:

"Please note that we present no data on how people should run, whether shoes cause some injuries, or whether barefoot running causes other kinds of injuries. We believe there is a strong need for controlled, prospective studies on these problems"

Okay, I say that's fine. But those of us who are familiar with the paleolithic principle know that we work best when we do what natural selection shaped us to do. Which is not just to run barefoot, but to lift things and climb things and move barefoot in all kinds of ways. It seems the science is a barefoot step behind the common sense on this one. Or the authors are just being careful.

The second is that I need opinions from my reader(s). If I have any. The question of whether I should post workout photographs of myself and the results of my extremely high saturated fat diet has been raised. I think seeing what I've achieved might give some credence to what I say, but I don't want to assault anyone's eyes against his/her will. Should I post, not post, or post on an external site and provide links, making looking at them optional?