Thursday, September 28, 2006

I don't do Atkins

Just the other day I had a conversation with another low carber whose attention I caught by politely refusing to indulge in some office goodies. This person approached me and asked, "I heard you say something about low carb and wondered if you were doing Atkins too?" To which I replied "No, I'm not doing Atkins, but I do eat low carb". My common sense was trying to get me to move away quickly, but my feet hesitated, and it was too late. "But Atkins is low carb", she replied. Realizing I was going to have engage in a little education, the devilish side of my nature took over. I smiled a little too wide and retorted, "Yes, thats true, but not all low carb is Atkins." I could sense the fog gathering. The confusion was evident in her perplexed look. Her next question was predictable, "Well, what plan are you on then?" My current answer to that question is "The Hamptons Beach Power Zone". Her head snapped up and back as if to avoid being hit. A dull "huh?" was her reply. "Its my own combination of diets, a work in progress actually" I gleefully answer. She took a step back, raised an eyebrow, and I could tell I'd just been branded a heretic. "Well, Atkins is the best, It worked wonders for me you know" she countered, sounding suddenly defensive. "Cool, I'm glad it worked for you", I answer. I could tell this was not the response she was expecting. Clearly she was ready to defend "doing Atkins". Semi defiantly she says "I believe in Atkins, it changed my life". Ah yes, the moment was at hand, much quicker than I had hoped for. "No, You changed your life, the Atkins diet was just the tool you used to implement that change", I say. A thick silence momentarily hung in the air, as she took in my last statement. The pause was interrupted by a gaggle of co-workers, and she seemed relieved to disengage from our conversation. I thought little of the exchange until this morning when she came by my cube. I was at the time eating a muffin and drinking my coffee. "That doesn't look very low carb" she said with mock scorn. "Ah, but it is. Its made with almond flour, splenda, and such. Quite low carb actually, and yummy!" I say smiling. "What plan are you on today?", she asks. "Same one, but I'm reading about Glycemic Load diets, and it seems like something I may add to the mix", I answer. Her-"Don't you ever get tired of trying out new things" Me-"Uh, no"

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I love Italian food. My mother is Italian, and I grew up eating Italian food on a regular basis along with many American staples such as meatloaf. Now here is the shocking part to most people. In all the time I lived with my parents, the only time I can remember having a PASTA dinner, was when we had company. Yes we had lasagna and spaghetti, but they would have been only part of dinner. We frequently ate pasta like most people ate potatoes. Fish stew with beans, and pork chops with fennel were two my favorite food's growing up. These would have been served with a big salad, more vegetables, and yes, crusty bread and lots of olive oil. Traditional foods have a soul satisfying effect that no modern convenience can match. Our ancestors, both recent and not so recent, knew how to eat for health and comfort. Prior to the 20th century, heart disease was a virtual unknown. T2 Diabetes has only in the past few years become a threat to anyone but the old and infirm. If we look back at the traditional foods of Italy, France, Germany, and every other country that sent it children to the American shores, we will find how we need to eat for our future. While the folks in each region adapted to the foods that were available and grew well, none of them ate a low fat diet. To make a gross over generalization, if we were to assign calories as percentages it would look something like 30C-30P-40F. Not a low fat or a low carb diet, but certainly less carbs then most eat today. There was no refined white flour ( except France in the 19th century), no partially hydrogenated fats, no red dye number 6 etc. Just real food. To make a concrete example, A sandwich with wonder bread, oscar meyer bologna, sliced velveeta, miracle whip, and a coke vs. whole grain sourdough bread, slow cooked pork, raw organic cheese, olive oil, and wine or beer. Which would you rather eat, and which do you think is better for you?

Fish Stew with Beans
Traditionally this would be made with Salt Cod, but I've used many different fish with success
1 lb firm white fish
2 cups Cooked Cannellini beans (can use canned if needed just rinse them well)
2 cups Diced Tomatoes (May used canned)
1 cup stock (may sub half with wine)
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
thyme, orgeno,salt,pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
Heat butter and oil in a heavy skillet on med heat. When oil is at temperature, add onions and red pepper and saute till onion is soft. Add garlic and cook for a minute then add stock, tomatoes, beans and seasonings. bring to a simmer. Place fish on top of stew and cover tightly. Cook till fish is done, it should fall apart. When serving, drizzle with olive oil, and a dash of fresh romano cheese.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Your Cheatin Heart

There are times in a mans life when the straight and narrow just seams confining. When faithfulness is just boring. There are just those times when you need a little something-something different then the same-old same-old. Its those times that I go visit my favorite den of iniquity. Genos . God help me, I know I should be faithful, but the siren song of slathered cheez wiz and shaved beef on the big honkin Amaroso roll just gets too much to bear, and I give in to temptation. Just the other day I was driving by the local pizza and steak joint, the smell of fried meat, cheese, and sauce in the air, and this feeling came over me. Its like I was on a mission from God. Compelled by forces greater than man, the next thing I knew I was on I-95 headed for Philadelphia. South 9th Street and Passyunk Ave, I get tingles just writing about it. Upon arrival I get in line and get my money out before ordering. Unlike the tourist a head of me who gets sent to the end of the line, I know how to order. "wit wiz and onions", that's all they need to know to get me my fix. Sitting at the table outside, finishing up the last few bites, I think, Oh, no, what if my wife finds out. The tell tale signs of dripped cheese are on my shirt. I'll have steak breath. I've cheated and I feel good about it. This was not some little incidental cheat, no, this was the real deal, and it was worth it. A wet napkin and a couple of certs later I arrive home, pretending like nothing happened. A quick kiss and some casual conversation, my wife gives me a quick raised eyebrow but says nothing, she knows, she always knows.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Why Research Sucks

Lets address one thing right up front, the real purpose of research has little or nothing to do with actually finding real answers or cures. If it did we would not see such studies as have been in the press lately about milk shakes and carrot cake with poly vs saturated fat. I mean do we really need some one to spend several hundred thousand dollars to tell us that high sugar, high sat fat meals are bad for us? Protein causes high levels of satiation, ok fine now we why, but so what, it doesn't change anything. Calorically n neutral meals with a starch blocker don't significantly change post meal glucose response. Yup, I see the importance of that one too, not! No friends and neighbors, the two real purposes of research are; to get funding to do more research; and to support a previously arrived at conclusion. The first of these reasons is perpetuated by the researchers themselves. The data in the studies never is never really conclusive about anything. It always "seems to indicate", "trend towards", "possibly supports", or "correlates positively", but never "conclusively shows" anything. I can explain why this happens in two words, government grants. If they solve the puzzle, the gravy train stops. The people doing this work, do not stand to profit from there own discoveries. Their self interest lies in incrementally moving things forward, not in finding conclusive answers. In the second case, things get a bit more tricky. The conclusion the research is designed to support can be for commercial or political reasons. In most cases, the answers you get are based on the questions you ask. Following this line of reasoning, many company's and lobbying groups have scientist on staff for the sole purpose of figuring out how to ask a question in such a manner as to get the answer needed. These same scientist then design the study within the confines of the question and arrange the parameters to support the conclusion already decided on. If at the end of the study, the data doesn't fit neatly into a hard and fast conclusion, that's ok, as long as it "seems to indicate" etc. Occasionally real discoveries do sneak through. Generally they are the product of independent research and often met with great resistance from people/groups with opposing interests who are much better funded. Cynical? You bet. Wrong? Doubt it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gettin Freaky

One of the biggest difference in the way the strength training community at large approaches a reduced carb diet versus the wieght loss community is in "doing the math". More than Once I've read, heard, and listened to people who are unwilling to track calories, fat grams or any thing else, but will with meticulous precision count and calculate thier carb requirements to remain in ketosis. They will weigh, messure, calculate Net carbs, keep a journal, and pee on sticks. But, count calories, hell no, thats to much work One of those things in life that just make me go hmmmmmmm. Strength trainees in general, and bodybuilders in particular, embrace their inner control freak. When I posted my food log on "Average Sunday", and I wrote .5 cup of this and 6 oz of that, I mean everything that went on my plate had been on a food scale or in a measuring cup. Right now, as I am not activley trying to move my body composition or weight one way or the other by any significant amount, I only do this once every 3 or four days. Over time I have learned that I, like most people, suck at estimating what I am actually putting in my mouth. So to compensate for this, I shoot for a littel under maintenace. By shooting for a little less than I need, I end up actually eating what I should.
How do I know how much I should eat? I am so glad you asked. I'll make it easy for you, go to and plug in the numbers, no math required on your part. Now you need to know how much protein to eat. Very simple, eat 1 gram of protein for every 1 lb. of body weight, or for those of you in metric countries 2 grams per kilogram. Yes I know its not the exact same amount, but I'm trying to keep it simple. Take your protein grams and multiply that number by 4. Thats your calories from protein. Subtract that number from your caloric requirements. Divide the remainder by 2. Thats how many calories you should get each from carbs and fat.
Quick example.
Wt = 200lbs
Cal Rq = 2500
Protein = 200g x 4 = 800 cal
2500 - 800 = 1700
1700 / 2 = 850
850 cal /4 = 212g Carb
850 cal / 9 = 94g fat


212g @@##CARB!!! thats not very low carb you say. Compared to the USDA recomeded level of 60% carbs or 375g, it is certainley a reduced carb diet. Also bear in mind, this is maintanence level based on activity level. To lose weight you would maintain your protein level and reduce your carbs and/or fat. To gain, do the opposite. Tracking all this may seem daunting. But I say, embrace your inner control freak, you know you want to.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Average Sunday

Today was a pretty average day, so I thought I would share.

Butter 4 teaspoon(s)
egg sub lucrene 0.5 cup(s)
Egg whole 2 large
Ezekiel Bread Sesame 2 slice(s)
Mushrooms raw 0.5 cup(s)
Turkey dark without skin 2 ounce(s)
Vegetable Juice (V-8) 8 fluid ounce(s)
Fresh Fruit cup 1 cup(s)
Mahi Mahi Fillet 6 ounce(s)
Oil olive 1 tablespoon(s)
Spinach raw 2 cup(s)
Post Work Out
Designer Whey Protein Powder 0.5 serving(s)
flax oil 1 teaspoon(s)
Milk 1% 1 cup(s)
ovaltine 2 tablespoon(s)
Cottage cheese low fat 2% 0.75 cup(s)
Fiber One cereal 0.5 ounce(s)
Walnuts 0.5 ounce(s)
Broccoli cooked 1 cup(s)
Cauliflower cooked 1 cup(s)
Garden Salad 1 serving(s)
Oil olive 2 teaspoon(s)
Top sirloin 6 ounce(s)

Totals for the day 2225 cal 195g pro 94g fat 150g carb 45g fiber
This is a little under maintenace levels for me and results in about .5 - 1lb weekly fat loss as long as I am consistant with the exercise.

30-60 secs rest between seets
Squats 2x15
Superset 1
Lunges 2x15
DB Rows 2x15
SuperSet 2
Pushups 2x15
Swiss Ball Crunch's 2x20

Friday, September 08, 2006

Muscle Heads Vindicated

I must admit, I have had a hard time holding my lounge, and giggled more than once over the past day or two as all these modern low carbers who feel that Atkins has been vindicated by recent study showing the benefit of a high protein diet. Well, guess what, your beloved Robert Atkins is a johnny come lately into the world of high protein, reduced carb eating. Physical culturists, weightlifters, bodybuilders. power lifters, and strong men had that figured out long before Atkins ever went to med school. For decades, we have been told that eating all that meat, eggs and whole milk would destroy our liver and kidney's, ruin our bones, makes us bald, blind and cause any other infirmity they could think of. Now, I will give Atkins his due, he did hold his ground for years against some pretty strong criticism. However, going back to the turn of the 20th century you can find similar advice from physical culturists like Eugene Sandow and many others. My favorite golden age bodybuilder, Dave Draper, could teach you more about how to lose fat and change your body composition using a reduced carb diet, than 99 percent of all the Internet low carb experts. While I'm on the subject of Dave Draper, I would like to recommend his book, "Your Body Revival". It is an excellent beginning for those who would like to get healthy and strong. I am in no way affiliated with, I just really think he has something to say that is worth hearing. Having met Dave once at a book signing, he also seems like a heck of a nice guy. So enjoy the moment, it will be fleeting. But you can take some comfort in knowing that High protein diets have a long tradition of health and strength in another subculture that has been marginalized for decades. Now, lets address the idea of muscle bound.......

Lets blame Reagen

Is it just me, or is there a trend here?!?!?

Average daily per capita calories from the U.S. food supply, adjusted for spoilage and other waste
Year Meat, eggs, and nuts Dairy Fruit Vegetables Flour and cereal products Added fats Added sugars Total
1970 380 267 63 124 429 428 402 2,093
1973 364 266 62 121 431 438 411 2,094
1977 371 256 66 121 447 435 414 2,108
1983 386 253 73 120 468 481 402 2,183
1988 408 262 79 124 555 510 439 2,377
1993 410 256 79 136 599 546 469 2,496
1998 415 256 79 133 616 511 502 2,513
2004 447 263 78 133 609 660 475 2,665

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lets Get Dense

Now that I've sufficiently extolled the virtue of grains in our diet, you might think that I've jumped ship to the high carb - low fat side. Nothing could be further from the truth. With proper planning, and sufficient intake of the correct vegetables and fruits, all the nutritional value derived from grains can be replaced. But, much as lumping all fats together is an asinine thing to do, so is lumping all grains together. Crisco and enriched white flour are equally worthless. EVOO, raw butter from grass fed cows, Steel cut Oats and whole barley however, can find a spot on my table any day. Eating low carb does not guarantee proper nutrition, any more than any other chosen way of eating. We need certain nutrients, and many of these nutrients are easily obtained from grain sources. So how many servings should we eat? Well, that depends. Are you sensitive or intolerant to grains? Are they a trigger food for you? If either of these is the case, then you should rightfully avoid them. If, however, you are avoiding them because grains are "evil", then you may wish to reconsider. That being said, how many servings of grains should you eat? Well, like any other food, it depends, and by and large, really doesn't matter. Rather than focus on where the nutrients come from, focus on getting the proper nutrients. Use the USRDA as a guideline to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Then eat to provide your body with sufficient nutrient intake, with out consuming excessive calories. In so doing, your intake of grain products will be limited. Those who are engaged in activities that require high levels of energy, marathon runners for an extreme example, can eat more starch, as well as everything else, as they will burn it up. Those who are desk jockeys will need to eat less. Eating to provide your body with proper nutrient intake is quite a challenge, which is why so many folks advocate supplements. There is no need to restrict your choices, making it even harder.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Darwin's Finches

Evolution of Darwin's Finches Caused by a Rare Climatic Event
Grant, B. Rosemary; Grant, Peter R.
Biological Sciences, Volume 251, Issue 1331, pp. 111-117 02/1993

Abstract:Populations of animals and plants often undergo conspicuous ecological changes when subjected to climatic extremes. Evolutionary changes may accompany them but are less easily detected. We show that Darwin's finches on a Galapagos island underwent two evolutionary changes after a severe El Nino event caused changes in their food supply. Small beak sizes were selectively favoured in one granivorous species when large seeds became scarce. The effects of selection were transmitted to the next generation as a result of high trait heritabilities. Hybridization between this species and two others resulted in gene exchange, but only after the El Nino when hybrid fitness was much enhanced under the altered feeding conditions. These observations imply that if global warming increases the frequency or severity of El Nino events on the Galapagos, microevolutionary changes in animal and plant populations are to be anticipated.

Now I suppose your wondering, what on earth does this have to do with diet and exercise? I am so glad you asked. I often hear from various sources that many of the problems associated with our health are due to the fact that we don't eat the way our paleolithic ancestors did. In conversation, I have been know to reply, "Darwin's Finches". This generally leads to a puzzled expression that might be similar to the one you had when you first read the above abstract and wondered where this is going. When reading/talking/hearing about the virtues of the paleo diet keep in mind that in less time then it has taken human beings to develop agriculture, dairying, and to figure out how to make beer, the finches have colonized the Galapagos, adapted to completely new food stuffs, and developed into several distinct species. In fact, they even evolved over the course of the relatively short time span of one "El Nino" to adapt to the change in food supply. Now, with all that in mind, are we to believe that human beings are incapable as a species of successfully incorporating into our diet, the most abundant food source available on the planet today? What exactly does that say about our future as a species? Is it really the grains causing the problems here, or just the technology what we have developed to process them. We didn't start developing type 2 diabetes at epidemic levels until recently. Grains have been around for 10-15 thousand years as part of our diet. The preponderance of that time they would have been eaten in a relatively whole state, or if ground, not finely ground like today. Additionally, the bread, porridge, and other grain products eaten, would have been fermented and not leavened by industrial yeast. Not only have grains suffered from industrial food processing. Are some of the processed meats, say chicken nuggets, available today any better for us than processed grains? And the ever popular Velveeta cheese, mm mm yummy goodness. This stuff has only been part of our diet for about fifty years. In all likelihood this is what we have not adapted to. More importantly, do we really want to?