How to eat well:
When I first started exercising I oscillated heavily between lots of enthusiasm and heavy procrastination. This was especially so with anything cardio related – weights are so much easy for me to force myself to do. When I first started running I continued my lazy technique of rolling out of bed, put your gym clothes on, walk the five mins it takes to get there and be halfway through your workout before you’ve really woken up. With running, I would pull on clothes, jog to the nearby park, do a few stretches and then do my 5-12km run. And this worked pretty well for up to 12km. After that I started having to look into eating beforehand taking water/carbohydrate drinks with me.
One thing I still have problems with is eating when I get back. This morning I finished off my last paleo chocolate coconut pudding before the run to make it a bit easier. Even though I took it pretty gently (11km in 1hr 15) fighting the wind meant it was a hard run for large parts. It just seemed to take ages to cool down and stretch, and then I thought I’d wait till after my shower to make something to eat. Well, I’ll put some coffee on and then I’ll cook something. By the time I sat down with my bowl of coconut prawn soup I was feeling woozy.
Would I have been better to just get up and go and save the pudding for when I got back? As I start looking to up my mileage on the weekend should I be looking to have food ready to eat when I get back – something like paleo muffins?
On the plus side with today’s running is, despite the wind, it felt easier than last week when I barely made 6km. I still walked the steepest part of the hill (a fact I don’t care about) but I didn’t feel like I was exhausted or my legs are giving up on me. My last two days of comfort eating had meant I’d upped my carbs a bit although I had intended to try that anyway. And I think it helped. With the amount of exercise I’m aiming to be doing I think its better for me to be eating closer to the 100-150gm rather than 50-100gm. At least on the days I am actually exercising. I also measured myself this morning (during that will I run outside/go to the gym decision making) and have lost another half centimetre of my waist, hips and thighs. So its not like eating more carbs have hindered me that way either.
Some stories that caught my eye this last week (and slightly longer…)
Another quack practice attempts to intimidate critical examination of their services and serve to bring attention to their dodgy practices.
Oh the embarrassing body – Mark Sisson looks at the causes and solutions to the not-always-hilarious problem of flatulence.
It seems guidelines to avoid alcohol during pregnancy were drawn up without actual evidence of safe or unsafe levels. New studies are suggesting light and moderate drinking is not a problem.
Due to a multitude of life stress going on I’ve really feel behind on this site. So in an attempt to catch up I’m going to just link to all the stories that have caught my eye over the last few months.
Vitamin C supplementation may aid recovery from intense exercise in the cold. Is honey even honey any more? Why do we keep messing with our food. Are our agricultural staples trying to kill us? A look at which nutrients are essential for healthy mitochondria. Can you eat too much liquorice? Yoghurt doesn’t work the way we thought. A look at the effect of a paleo diet on testosterone. The evolution of lactose tolerance and how to use it if you have it. An interview with Dr Loren Cordain. Wholegrain pasta offers no benefit over refined pasta. A look at preparing traditional grains. Are eggs the answer to weightloss? Here’s seven more reasons to eat them.
Meat doesn’t rot in your colon – grains do. Another study shows that grass-fed red meat is healthier. A diet high in fat is not fattening. A ted talk on using diet to stop angiogenesis. And a diet high in carbohydrates is linked to cancer. So while low carb seems better for reducing cancer and heart disease, its best to keep it high in vegetables.
However, is it just a matter of eating whole foods that’s more important than individual nutrients. The Perfect Health Diet offers a food apple guide, and lifehacker suggests how to begin eating ancestrally
Are you always aware of what you eat – a look at how your subconscious mind affects your diet. The link between omega3 imbalances and depression and how increasing your omega3 levels can reduce inflammation and anxiety. How to balance your omega 6 vs omega 3 ratios. A guide to cravings and what your body might actually be needing.
Mark Sisson talks about the idea of gateway foods and helpfully provides a delicious sounding recipe for pumpkin pie. How about paleo egg-cupcakes? On the low-carb front – if you’re missing burgers how about a recipe for an oopsie bun. When the winter colds hit – here’s some suggestions for healthy comfort food. And now you’re inspired – here’s a big recipe roundup.
Letting children’s playground be fun results in less accidents then those awful safety playgrounds. A look at the differences of American-European values. Interesting how a respect for individual rights plays out when the people are women. Alas offers a simple primer to evaluate the anti-women’s health arguments. Another reason to damn the development of agriculture. Sam Harris looks at how to be safe in a world with a propensity for violence.
Weightlifting for women is starting to hit the mainstream. A guide to dynamic stretching. Does muscle really burn more calories? Its important to pay attention to muscle imbalances. Is chocolate milk the best post-exercise drink? Exercising on an empty stomach may not be a good idea. Why cardio is not the best way to lose fat. How exercise can you become more sensitive to feeling full when eating. What ever you do – just stop sitting down!
Cycling can be dangerous – the Florida Dept of Transport says riding 4-5 ft from curb, not wearing spandex, being a woman all cause cars to move further over in the lane when passing you. And its shown to be cheaper to build cycling infrastructure than not.
More studies suggesting the link between chocolate consumption and good health.
They analysed the results of seven studies, involving over 100,000 participants with and without existing heart disease. For each study, they compared the group with the highest chocolate consumption against the group with the lowest consumption. Differences in study design and quality were also taken into account to minimise bias.
Five studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiovascular events. They found that the “highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with lowest levels.” No significant reduction was found in relation to heart failure.
The studies did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of chocolate bars, drinks, biscuits and desserts.
Interesting points – wheat has changed dramatically since ancient times but especially in the last hundred years; it’s in most processed foods; wheat consumption increases appetite and is correlated with an approximately 400 calorie increase, it has a higher glycemic hit than sugar due to enzymes that speed it’s digestion – and whole wheat is worse than white bread.
This book is going on my wishlist.
Update: found another Interview with Dr Davis, written one this time for those who don’t want to listen to it.
Dr Davis has also written an letter to the Grain Foods Foudation answering their criticisms of his book.
For those of an experimental bent – what about removing all animal products for a month?
Personally, I’m still trying to get myself disciplined enough to follow a 30 day Paleo challenge. I’d love to follow the blog of someone eating a paleo/primal diet trying vegan.
Yes, yes I’m going with an unfounded and sensational headline. But its justified – there’s been a study that has shown some promising results that small amounts of dark chocolate is beneficial or specifically the flavional epicatechin (the principle component of cocoa). As reported in the New York Times
By and large, the animals that had been drinking water were the first to give out during the treadmill test. They became exhausted more quickly than the animals that had received epicatechin. Even the control mice that had lightly exercised grew tired more quickly than the nonexercising mice that had been given epicatechin. The fittest rodents, however, were those that had combined epicatechin and exercise. They covered about 50 percent more distance than the control animals.
The muscle biopsies offered some explanation for their dominance. The muscles of all of the animals that had been given epicatechin contained new capillaries, as well as biochemical markers indicating that their cells were making new mitochondria. Mitochondria are structures in cells that produce cellular energy. The more functioning mitochondria a muscle contains, the healthier and more fatigue-resistant it is.
The leg muscles of the mice that had been given epicatechin and exercised displayed far more mitochondrial activity than the leg muscles of the control mice. Even the mice that had drunk epicatechin and not exercised contained markers of increased mitochondrial health, suggesting that the flavonol prompts a physiological reaction even among the sedentary. But that response is greatly heightened by exercise, no matter how slight.
So eating small amounts of dark chocolate helps you if you don’t exercise, and even more if you do? I’m not sure I want to see any further studies that might negate this. However, epicatechin is closely related to the green tea extract (epigallocatechin-3-gallate; EGCG) which some studies have investigated for endurance enhancement and found lacking (here and here). What I’d like to take from that is that clearly its only chocolate, and not green tea that will help.
A study was reported a month ago that looked at the correlations between people’s diet and weight gain. The key findings were reported as:
Within each 4-year period, participants gained an average of 3.35 lb (5th to 95th percentile, −4.1 to 12.4). On the basis of increased daily servings of individual dietary components, 4-year weight change was most strongly associated with the intake of potato chips (1.69 lb), potatoes (1.28 lb), sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb), unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb), and processed meats (0.93 lb) and was inversely associated with the intake of vegetables (−0.22 lb), whole grains (−0.37 lb), fruits (−0.49 lb), nuts (−0.57 lb), and yogurt (−0.82 lb) (P≤0.005 for each comparison). Aggregate dietary changes were associated with substantial differences in weight change (3.93 lb across quintiles of dietary change). Other lifestyle factors were also independently associated with weight change (P<0.001), including physical activity (−1.76 lb across quintiles); alcohol use (0.41 lb per drink per day), smoking (new quitters, 5.17 lb; former smokers, 0.14 lb), sleep (more weight gain with <6 or >8 hours of sleep), and television watching (0.31 lb per hour per day).
Unsurprisingly this had been picked up by a lot of the media with headlines screaming Potatoes Make You Fat. While eating potato crisps and hot chips is associated with weight gain hasn’t surprised many, the fact that potato in any form is strongly correlated to weight gain seems to the big surprise. From the Washington Post
Every additional serving of potatoes people added to their regular diet each day made them gain about a pound over four years.
Although the study did not evaluate why potatoes would be particularly fattening, other research shows that starches and refined carbohydrates such as potatoes cause blood sugar and insulin to surge, which makes people feel less satisfied and eat more as a result, Mozaffarian said.
As an observational study, it is problematic to try and draw conclusions. Are potatoes inherently fattening, or do people who eat a lot of them unhealthy with their whole lives. Are whole grains correlated with lower weight-gain because they are objectively healthier, or because people who eat them are particularly health conscious. The same question could be asked for why yoghurt is apparently the dieters friend. The lifestyle factors also raise questions:
Lifestyle factors were clearly important. Those who exercised more gained nearly 2 pounds less than those who increased their physical activity the least. People who slept less than six hours a night — or more than eight hours — were more likely to gain weight, possibly by unbalancing hunger hormones such as ghrelin. Every extra hour per day of television watching added about a third of a pound, perhaps by encouraging snacking.
There’s a to advocate a low-carbohydrate diet. The most calorie dense carbohydrates tend to come from grains. While the paleo crowd have arguments about the dangers of grains in terms of gluten and lectins, from a purely weight-loss point of view, grains are calorie-dense and nutrient poor. Removing dense carbohydrates from the diet (and depending on the approach can include fruits, potatoes and other starchy vegetables) certainly frees up a lot of calories that can be used to bulk up the meal – leafy vegetables and meats and fats.
There is also the argument against carbohydrates as outlined in by Gary Taubes : Outline here that looks at the health issues caused by spiking our blood sugar levels. Unfortunately this tends to fall by the wayside and the reason most people hear about low-carb diets is the weight-loss side – or more specifically fat loss.
This is where the debate gets more complicated over how far to cut back. Do you need to go to a ketogenic diet in order to get the advantage of low-carb? A new study suggests not:
In terms of weight and fat loss, at the end of 6 weeks both groups had lost roughly the same amount of weight (6.3kg for the ketogenic diet, and 7.2 kg for the non-ketogenic diet; this was not statistically significant). As well, the loss of body fat was the same (3.4 kg in the ketogenic diet and 5.5 kg in the non-ketogenic diet; again this was not statistically different even if the non-ketogenic diet seems to have lost ~4 pounds more fat). There was no significant change in fat free mass for either diet.
You could argue that ketogenic diets make things simpler – but if you’ve ever looked on a message board as people discuss the merits of one or two grams of carbs, you might doubt that. However, I appreciate that the internet is the place for that kind of nerdery and you can get a false idea of its complexity based on people having fun with that kind of detail. Personally – I prefer eating some carbohydrates. I’ve adjusted enough that I think of bread, pasta and rice as cheating along with more standard cakes, chips etc. But I’m at a point where I don’t want to be not adding a zuccini to my stirfry because of the the carbs.
Hunger ratings improved for both diets with no difference between diets. An oft-heard claim is that ketogenic diets cause hunger blunting due to the presence of ketones or what have you; but this study does not support that. Given that protein is the most filling nutrient, the effect seems to be mediated by the increased protein content, not decreasing carbohydrates per se.
While I acknowledge the study was small and relatively short-lived, I found it interesting that there was no difference in perceived hunger. As someone who responds quite strongly to blood sugar level peaks, the moderating my hunger was one of the key reasons I started looking at cutting back my carbohydrates. I’ve of late been trying to push the fat content of my diet up, but now I’m wondering if I should be trying to push protein instead.