Monday, December 22, 2014

200 Calories of Food

A while back, an article in The Atlantic went around with pictures of 200 calories of various types of food. It linked back to an app called "Calorific" that contains, apparently, a full database of these images.

There was some talk about food shaming surrounding this post, which I think is absurd. I could go on a whole diatribe about how annoying I find it that, recently it seems, just making someone aware of decisions and consequences and telling the truth (if you over eat, you're going to gain weight) is now seen as shaming. It's facts. Just don't be a dick about it (hey, lard-o, you really gonna eat that?). 

It's easy to put this much cheese and mayonnaise on a sandwich. 
So I really liked this imagery. Let's say you want a 600 calorie dinner: based on the few images on the page I could have half an avocado, most of a bagel, and presumably some meat. Not bad. Oh, notice how you would need to take a larger chunk out of the donut than the bagel to skim it down to 200 calories. That's useful to know. 

I love a good donut, but you can generally eat more of the bagel for the same calorie punch.
Just watch how much mayo you put on either.

But then another Atlantic article recently came out, same idea, this time of Christmas foods

This one makes me sad. 

There is only one holiday time of year that gets this intense with festivities and breaks from school and work. And let's face it, many times when family gets together, it's around food. Food is the natural ice breakers for interacting with family that you don't see often. 

You know what? Eat the food if you want to. 

I'll be having AT LEAST something like this around the holidays.
Multiple times.
If you've been eating bad all year, this one week won't move the needle either way, through deprivation or over indulgence. The holiday season is stressful enough, with expectation from family, friends, work. Travel, vacation, gifts, the whole nine yards. 

It's okay, eat the food. 

Don't beat yourself up. Don't crash diet afterwards. And please, please, please, don't do a detox or cleanse

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bulletproof? Eating Shouldn't Be That Hard!

That doensn't mean it's EASY per se, because anytime you have to change a habit (or when we talk about eating it's usually multiple habits and triggers) we generally have a tough go at it.

That is a conversation for another time, though.

What I take beef with (mmm.... beef) is the whole Bulletproof THING that has been gaining more and more notoriety. I credit The Bulletproof Executive for stopping me with my whole Paleo journey.

You see, about three or four years ago when I was just starting out on this whole coaching journey, I figure I should start walking the walk a little more and decided to go Paleo/Primal. I cut out gluten and legumes, I only had dairy in the form of cheese, no more soy, no more sugar or artificial anything. ManFriend and I even hired a cook to prep our meals for the week so that we wouldn't fall off the wagon in a hungry, nothing-in-the-fridge situation.

That lasted for at least 8 months. I looked great at USAW Nationals. But I lifted like shit.

So skinny. And so weak. (That's 93 kg)
I felt like I was missing something. I did WellnessFX testing and got recommendations about what supplements I should be taking. I was told that maybe I had adrenal fatigue. My searching eventually led me to The Bulletproof Executive. That's when  fuse blew. I was reading about all these RULES to being optimal. It was like.... if Methodists are Paleo, then the Bulletproof Executive are Orthodox Catholic.

I grew up in Texas, okay? Leave me alone.

That ended it. Fuck Paleo! This is stupid! Eating shouldn't be this HARD!!!

The Bulletproof Diet has seemed to come more mainstream now. And even I'll admit, butter coffee is delicious. It's got a nice frothiness to it and keeps you humming. But I never bought into the whole mycotoxin fear-mongering, or the need to buy special MCT oils. And in the end, it was too much work to blend my coffee in the morning when I have about 20 minutes to wake up and get out of the house. (extra sleep >>> making fancy coffee)

Lately I came across this article from the website posted to Facebook, as a way to help people start their Bulletproof journey. I'm just going to take issue with a few points:

1) Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS, honey, and agave) .

So apparently we have a "sugar is toxic" person here. I can get behind removing liquid calories for some people because they end up taking in too many calories this way and never feeling satiated. But frankly, that goes for Bulletproof coffee, too. Butter vs sugar? It's all calories and how you psychologically respond to it.

2) Replace the sugar calories with healthy fats from the Bulletproof Diet such as grass-fed butter, ghee,Brain Octane™,  Upgraded™ MCT oil, or coconut oil.

See #1

3) Eliminate gluten in any shape or form.  This includes bread, cereal, and pasta.  Do not make the mistake of resorting to gluten free junk food, which can be almost as bad.
Remove grains, grain derived oils, and vegetable oils such as corn, soy, and canola.  Also remove unstable polyunsaturated oils such as walnut, flax, and peanut oil.

Look, I don't care if you eliminate gluten. Just like I don't care if you eliminate meat. But don't try to tell me that it's universally healthier for humanity. It just isn't true. I've had people tell me to eliminate it for a month or two and see who awful I feel when I put it back in my diet. The funny thing is, I've done exactly that, with no difference! 

9) Switch to grass-fed meat and wild caught seafood.  Eat pastured eggs and some pork, chickens, turkeys, and ducks.10) Switch to organic fruits and vegetables.  This is more important for some plants than others.  See thissite for details.

Let's all go broke just to be some false sense of optimal. 

11) Cook your food gently, if at all.  Incorporate water into your cooking whenever possible and use low temperatures.  Do not use a microwave or fry.

Anyone with any understanding of evolution knows that cooking meats (and some vegetables) allowed us to access their nutrients and evolve to the (cough cough) highly intelligent creatures we are now. 

Also, this bullet point at the end:

  • High healthy fat intake is optimal.  General ranges are 50-80 percent fat, 5-30 percent carbohydrate, and 10-30 percent protein.
Which, dammit all to hell, is so wrong on so many levels. If' you've read my recent blogs, you know why I take issue with this. 

I get it when people try to say that science moves forward and teaches us things that we once thought were right are now wrong. But that new learning is usually in the nuances of how our biochemistry works. 

At one point people vilified fat because, well, it seemed obvious that putting fat in our system would make us fat. We eventually found that to be a false story line. Really, eating a lot of fat just packed calories into our diet easier. But rather than take this easy moderate approach, people with an agenda are trying to say we had to completely backwards. We didn't. We just didn't have the details. 

I'd like to leave you with an article that explains much better than I could why the Bulletproof diet is such a sham: 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Nutrition Resources

As I mentioned in my last post, many people have come to ask me about my nutrition coaching, how I like it, how I feel, and ask if they should also look into nutrition coaching.

My answer is usually along the lines of:

I'm doing this because I'm older now and trying to squeeze a few more competitive years out of myself. I think I have my training dialed in pretty well, and the only stumbling block left is my nutrition. And much like programming, it's so much easier to have someone else just tell you what to do and hold you accountable rather than try to figure it out yourself and cheat yourself.

That said, if you're a casual exerciser, not competitive, you probably don't need to drop the money on a nutrition coach just like you probably don't need to drop the money on a sport specific coach. So, here are the resources I think everyone should look into:

1) Eat To Perform

At, there is a blog, a forum for people to bounce ideas around, a members-only area, and (this is important) a calorie and macros calculator to help you get started on your If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) journey.

They also have an e-book out that I think is really good and can help you get the information down in a concise manner, rather than digging through all the blog posts and forums. If you join as a member, there are admins in the forums that can help you get started with macros calculations and tweaks based on your data and experiences.

They are definitely more Paleo driven than my other resources, which makes some people very happy, and people like me kind of roll my eyes. Irregardless of your stance on Paleo and "clean eating", it's a good place to start.

2) Renaissance Periodization

I've actually not followed their blog, but I know a few people who have been working with them and have gotten great results. I've started reading their e-book (got side tracked) and everything so far is super solid. The book isn't on their website, but you can get it through JTS by clicking here.

Dr. Mike Israetel, who I think is the head honcho at RP, has a lecture series on YouTube that I think is just great, click here to watch.

The only possible downside is that the one athlete I've talked to about her diet specifics says she is FUCKING SICK OF RICE, but I don't know if they are of the "clean eating" camp or if that is part of her personalized plan. Either way, it's basically IIFYM, and they will break up to what your macros should looks like for each meal.

3) Alan Aragon's Research Review

If you enjoy the science behind nutrition and training research (and I mean real research, not just Googling something), this review is a great introduction to the science behind it and how it's all progressing. It's $10 a month, a new review is posted every month, and with membership you also get access to all of the back issues.

You can find a free sample of the AARR HERE.

Each review has a comprehensive over view of new research that has come out, noting the results, strengths, and weaknesses of each study, also pointing out how results to translate to real world use. There are also guest authors who write about training, diet protocols, or more basic health things such as "What celebrities do and don't understand about nutrition."

4) Get Coached! 

Okay, so you've looked at all the resources here. You've laid out your macros according to various calculators, but you can't seem to get yourself to stick to it. Or maybe you sabotage yourself when doing the calculations because of inherent biases you hold. Go ahead and get a coach!

Obviously I'm a big fan of Joy Victoria, as I've been working with her for close to two months now and feel great for it! You can access her contact information HERE.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Nutrition Coaching Update

I've had a hard time getting myself to write blogs lately. As evidenced by the dearth of entries in the past month. However, I've had many people come up and ask me about how my nutritional coaching is going and would I recommend them doing something similar.

So here is my update on working with Joy Victoria.

We've been working for closing in on two months now. For the first five weeks we did a maintenance diet where I would get used to tracking my food in a different manner and making sure my body was truly at maintenance and used to the new food ratios. You can read about that HERE.

This is the change in physique before starting the calorie cycling.
Carbs for the win!

Now we've been doing a calorie cycling program for about two weeks. Three days at a lower calorie level, small deficit, and then one day at maintenance. This has been a particularly interesting process because at first I didn't think much was happening. For the first ten days or so, my weight didn't change, it stayed fluctuating between 179 and 181 lbs.

Then, I was scheduled to have a high calorie day on a Tuesday. That morning I weighed in at 180.6 lbs, the higher end of my natural oscillation. I thought, "well, I can't stay at a deficit for forever, that will ruin my lifting, so whatever. Eat more cereal and trust the process."

The next morning I weighed in at 178.2 lbs. After a day of eating an "extra"100 g of carbs.
The following morning I weighed in at 177.6 lbs.
The following morning (today) I weighed in at 176.7 lbs.
Ummm... so much for it not working. I guess I just needed a bit of time for my body to adjust.

I'm actually not thrilled to suddenly be 4 lbs lighter. My mentality is one of "OMG, I'm wasting away and might lose my gainz!" I'm trying very hard to reserve judgement on this until I've trained today and see how I perform on Sunday. So far, this weight loss and calorie cycling hasn't adversely affected me:

Who knows why I suddenly dropped weight over the past 3-4 days, despite not doing anything different from when my weight was stable. The body is kind of weird when it comes to change. Weird as in, it doesn't like it much and behaves accordingly.

Next up: Resources for people who want guidance themselves.