Monday, October 30, 2006

We don't need no Stinking Aerobics

While recently surfing in search of some scientific information related to this half baked idea that I'm working on that I'll write about later, I came across an interesting study. While as I've written before, I am often critical of study's and generally tend to look for the hidden agendas. From time to time, however, I find gleaming nuggets with useful information of a practical value. The particulars of this study by Braith et al. concerns the role of strength training in relationship to preventing heart disease. A summary of the results can be seen here What we find is that two or three days a week of moderate single set strength training elicits a wide array of health promoting changes including increased sensitivity to insulin, lowering AIC, decreased fat mass, increased muscle mass, and just oodles of happy things. The authors of the study state that their is not sufficient data to warrant not doing aerobic exercise. I say lets up the intensity of the training, cut the carbs and get off the freaking treadmill.

Welcome to the Neighborhood.

I'd like to take a moment to welcome a new blogger. Fred Fornicola has a new spot Premiere Personal Fitness from which he shares his perspective on strength training and fitness. Fred is the former editor of the High Performance Training news letter and Co-Author of Dumbbell Training for Strength And Fitness. I look forward to reading what Fred has to say, and I hope you will give his site a look.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I'll drink to that

Most slender, as opposed to skinny, people I know do not eat a reduced/low carb diet. They, in fact, tend to eat a generally carb rich diet. Oddly enough, most of the non-slender people I know also eat a carb rich diet. In both casual conversation, and through general anecdotal observation, it appears on the surface that little difference exists in the content of their respective diets. The biggest difference I've noticed is in their attitude about food. The slender folks tend to not think a great deal about food, the non-slender, are obsessed with it. The slender never profess to being on a diet, the non-slendar are always on a diet, recovering from a diet, or looking for their next diet. The slender folks frequently leave food un-eaten, be it a donut at a meeting, or lunch at a restaurant. The non-slender folks clean their plate, every time. In an informal survey, I kept track over a week of who came by my cubical to discuss something, vs those who sent me an email or called me. Guess what. The slender folks were three time as likely to get up and come over then were the non slender folks. While all of this is highly anecdotal, I'll wager one Internet dollar that if you look around your observations will come right close to the same thing. So, on casual observation, the difference between the slender and non-slender, is that the slender folks eat less and move more. Hmmm, that sounds familiar. 30 years ago when the low fat, high carb thing started to gain traction, some one asked the question, what's the difference between skinny and fat people, and who are the most skinny people? Guess who they picked to model dietary and exercise recommendations after?? Marathon Runners. Yup, our high carb, low fat diet, plus an hour a day of exercise, recommended by the government, is based on the needs of marathon runners. Explains a lot doesn't it.

Oddly enough, one of the reasons Dr Atkins may not have been as successfully with his diet the first time around, is that it was hardly unique. Most of the popular diets of the time were based on lean protein, and vegetables. Tuna fish, cottage cheese and salads were the dietary staples of those wishing to shed a few pounds. Pasta was not the love child it is today, and most diets started by cutting down/out bread and potatoes. Explain to me again some one please, why we gave up the four basic food groups in favor of the pyramid?
My personal favorite, The Drinking Mans Diet . The Rat Pack would approve.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake

Recently the United States hit 300 million people. I know in my lifetime the area I live in has gotten rather crowded, and I have had to move further out to keep some sense of being in a rural setting. Most of the farmland near where I grew up is now developed or being developed. The small family farms are disappearing. Many people of my generation left the farm, and with no one left to take over, the farm is sold to developers. Local produce is only semi-local most of the time, and fresh meat even is getting harder to find. I'm fortunate that with good job and a fairly modest lifestyle, by Mid-Atlantic standards, I can afford to eat better quality food than many. Eating a nutrient dense, natural/organic diet is not cheap, and requires sacrifices in other areas. I'm concerned though, that with the growing populace, that better food, and quality meat may get even harder to find and afford. I question if we have the resources to feed a nation of 300 million a quality diet. Then I consider that India and China have even larger populations. While it is easy to condemn certain practices as being unhealthy for us as individuals, and for the ecology of the planet, without a large percentage of humanities diet consisting of grain products and legumes, and with out large agribusiness, how would we feed the 300 million people here in the United States, plus the 5 going on 6 billion other people in the world? If a crop blight were to suddenly wipe out our ability to raise grains, the vast majority of the worlds population would starve in short order. There simply isn't enough meat to go around, and there is no way we could breed our live stock quick enough to make up the difference. I don't pretend to have an answer I feel good about. Soylent Green? Perhaps Marie Antoinette was right.

Monday, October 16, 2006

the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow

In the Middle Ages knights searched for the Holy Grail. Ponce De Leon Searched for the fountain of youth. Cortez searched for gold. Ahab searched for a big white whale. I search for the optimal diet. In my definition of optimal, nutrients come from food not supplements. If we need certain nutrients, we are, according to biology, required to eat those foods, or suffer the consequences of deficiency. In many cases, such as the tomato and lycopene, we have learned that trying to extract one particular nutrient with out the rest of the plant often does not provide the same benefit as eating the food itself. By and large getting our vitamins is easy. By eating a variety of meats (including organ meats), fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, tree nuts, and whole dairy, we can accomplish meeting our vitamin needs with out too much effort. One key part of this, however, is variety. Once we get into the Mineral side of our nutritional needs, things get a bit more complicated, and difficult, especially for those who keep their carb levels very low. Many of the richer sources for mineral content are nuts, legumes, and whole grains. On a side note, the more I research this, the more convinced I become that Nuts should be their own food group and you should eat at least 2 ounces a day. But, to use Sally Fallon's term, the "diet dictocrats" wouldn't like it as they are too high in fat. I digress. Now it is not only possible, but feasible, to prevent deficiency with out eating legumes or grains. The question in my mind however is, does prevention of deficiency mean optimum? I think not. Prevention of deficiency is like getting a C-minus. I'm looking for the A-plus. In typical US fashion, I want it all, not just to survive, but to thrive. A body that feels good, looks good, and performs well. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Book Reviews

New Rules of Lifting
I've read and enjoyed several of Lou's other books, I like his style of writing and find his work entertaining and informative. His style is such that he comes across like an every-man. This book, to me, is the logical successor to his popular Testosterone Advantage plan. The diet advice and planing is similar but updated. He recommends a zone like diet with a focus on protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Nothing revolutionary, just good advice for folks who exercise hard and regularly. The exercise plans follow a similar periodization scheme. Fat loss circuit, Medium reps for Hypertrophy, and low reps for strength. These routines are not for the faint of heart. They are demanding. The routines are designed by Alwyn Cosgrove, who lives up to his reputation as "the evil Scotsman". They are medium volume, moderate intensity routines that even the well conditioned will find a challenge. While there is a break in routine, I would not recommend this book to some one who has not worked out regularly for at least six months. But for some one looking to move from beginner to intermediate, or an intermediate looking for a change of pace, this would be an outstanding resource.

The Glycemic-Load Diet
Written by Rob Thompson, this is an ok book for someone who already understands the concept of glycemic load. For a person who has no idea, it could be very confusing as he uses different values than all other standard resources relating to glycemic load. His dietary advice could be summed up thusly, don't eat sugar or grains. Not necessarily bad advice, but he really doesn't paint a complete picture of what glycemic load is. His whole eat chocolate candy to avoid carb cravings made me go "hmmmmm". On the upside, if you follow his recommendations you will eat a healthy, generally nutritious diet. Two thirds of the book is recipes, some good, some not so good, IMHO. I actually think of this book more as user friendly introduction to low carb eating than a guide to eating based on glycemic load.

The GL Diet
Written by Nigel Denby, this book is in many ways the companion to, and the missing parts of the Rob Thompson book. While this book too, is two thirds recipes, it gives a much more useful method for dealing with glycemic load based eating. The summary version of this diet would be, don't eat junk food, get your carbs from vegetables and fruits first, and keep your daily GL under 80. Not bad advice, and it rely's on standard GL values available on the web and in many books related to the glycemic index. I would recommend this as a first book on glycemic load based eating, then followed by Thompson's book to round out the picture.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mastadon and Merlot

Scrapple is beautiful. Here in the Mid-Atlantic it is one of our most traditional foods. Created by the colonists as a way of using up the parts of the pig that weren't fit for sausages. REAL scrapple is made with bits of the meat that is boiled off the head of the pig, the liver, and all the other un-pretty parts that most people these days would never consider eating. "From tooter to snooter", any part not previously used, goes into scrapple. According to stories, It was the first solid food I would eat, and aside from that brief flirtation with vegetarianism in college to impress some girl, I've never stopped eating it. Not limited to scrapple, I eat chicken livers, turkey gizzards, hearts, tongues, sweet breads, and brains. I've hunted, killed, gutted, skinned and eaten animals. I'm not bragging, Its just that I get such a kick out these modern day carnivores who profess to eating like a caveman by going to a grocery store, buying a roast and putting it a crock pot. This whole train of thought was precipitated by a recent exchange on one those Internet boards where such things are "discussed". While there, I was to learn that mans real diet was meant to be steak. So, being me, I inquired as to the disposition of the remainder of the animal, and was summarily informed that people don't eat those parts. Imagine my surprise to learn that people eat steak, or roasts, and that those other parts were just too gross. I sat, head in hands, blinking in disbelief, trying to fathom where this belief came from. I made myself some scrapple to reaffirm reality, people do and have eaten those parts for a long long time. But the question still remained in my mind as to why, and from where did this idea originate. Being familiar with Cordains association with the Eades' who wrote protein power, I googled him. Low and behold, right up top there on his web site is "Lean Protein". I spent several hours surfing thru his site and not one mention anywhere of eating the whole animal. Does anyone besides me really question if this is even a remotely accurate view of what constituted a paleolithic diet? I mean, did caveman Bob really eat "Trout Simmered in wine sauce"? Wine after all is a product of Agriculture. Do I think, he presents one version of a healthy diet, yes. Do I think Its a paleo diet, not just No, but HELL NO.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Jaques is the man

One more reason to eat low carb!!

Lobster Salad with Taragon Next time some low fat dieter gives you crap, say yeah well I can eat Lobster Salad!!