More nutrition babble.

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Just what you all wanted to read/hear about, right? I realize you're probably growing tired of my regular postings about diet plans, nutrition calculations, workouts, and training routines, but hey - this is my blog, so I'll ramble and babble at will. :-)

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the book and plan from Matt Fitzgerald titled "Racing Weight" and I raved about how cool it was, and how I'd been sticking to the plan without fail. And, while that's all true, I also stumbled across another book titled, "The 4-Hour Body" by Tim Ferriss, and it piqued my interest.

Ferriss is a controversial figure; he's not really an accomplished athlete, and from what I can tell, he's not done much of anything other than write two really popular "4-hour" series books: The 4-Hour Work Week and his newly released The 4-Hour Body. A lot of folks refer to him as a smooth-talking snake oil salesman... not really as credible as someone like Matt Fitzgerald, especially when it comes to promoting approaches toward endurance training and related nutrition.

But, I stumbled across a segment on a recent Doctor Oz show that featured Ferriss talking about some of his theories. He talked about how cold temperatures (ice baths, training outdoors with minimal clothing, ice packs on the neck) can accelerate fat loss by activating "brown fat." He talked about how to minimize damage while binge eating by using cinnamon, grapefruit juice, and some basic large-muscle exercises prior to eating something sweet. And he talked about a few other things, all of which drove me to download his book (via Amazon's Kindle Application for the Mac and iPhone) - it was only $5.00, so I figured it was worth a skim.

And, I've got to say, he's got some interesting ideas. But more importantly, he appears to have a bunch of data to back-up his theories. He has apparently measured, monitored, recorded, and analyzed every single bit of diet-related data for himself for at least 10 years. He had a blood glucose meter permanently implanted in his abdomen because he found there was too much inconsistency with the traditional finger-stick systems. He's spent over $250,000 on lab tests, blood analysis, body composition, DNA tests, and so on (granted, all supposedly). If he is as silver-tongued as some claim, he's surely earned the title.

Anyway, I took away a few ideas from the book and have implemented them in addition to my Racing Weight plans, namely:

- Slow Carbs are key. Avoid eating anything that is, was, or ever could've been white: sugars, wheats, potatoes, dairy, and so on. Instead, focus on eating as many "slow carbs" as you wish - lentils, black beans, spinach, kale, broccoli, and so on. Avoid sugar-laden fruits or veggies like bananas, carrots, berries, and so on.

- Protein is your friend. He suggests eating 30g of protein with each meal. For me, that's equivalent to a 6-ounce chicken breast, or 5 egg whites, or 4-6 ounces of pork or fish, or a protein shake. Pretty easy to accomplish. He suggests 4-servings of protein + slow carbs each day.

- Timing of protein is critical, especially in the morning. He advocates that people do two things immediately upon waking: drink 500mL of ice cold water, followed by a "meal" of at least 30g of protein. Ideally, you'd eat your breakfast meal within 30-minutes of waking up.

- Fat isn't the enemy. Healthy fats are good for you, but avoid "trigger fats" - foods that are easy to trigger an eating spree, like nuts or peanut butter, for example (most commercially available peanut butters include a boatload of added sugar, by the way, so they're not a great idea regardless). Avocado, Brazil nuts, and (who knew) Macadamia Nut Oil are preferred.

Why Macadamia Nut Oil instead of Olive Oil? Olive Oil, it turns out, is rather "unstable" - it goes rancid when exposed to air or light for any length of time. It's not heat stable. It's a great oil, no doubt, but in our market it's anything but ideal because of its volatility. Macadamia Nut Oil is much more stable and actually has more of the "good" fats. I scored some last weekend and have been using it with a pump aerosol sprayer from MISTO with great success. It's incredibly delicious - I lightly mist my broccoli, add some pepper, throw it in a 400-degree oven for 12 minutes and WOW. Much better than using olive oil. So far, after using it for a week and a few days, I've used just slightly more than 1-tablespoon in total... that MISTO pump rocks (available at Bed Bath & Beyond for $9).

- Schedule one cheat day per week. He wants you to trick your metabolism back into overdrive by eating whatever you want for one day each week. He suggests using the "anti-damage" binge controls (grapefruit juice, cinnamon, and squats) to help stabilize your blood sugar, but other than that - go crazy. Have at it. Just get right back on the plan the next morning.

- Don't rely on supplements, vitamins, or other stuff. I agree. I do take a multivitamin, some calcium, and some Omega-3s each day, but that's it. Nothing exotic or too crazy.

What don't I agree with from Ferriss?

- Less is more for exercise. He claims that you can add tons of lean mass by working out for just 10 minutes a week with Kettle Bells. That may be true, but I've got to keep-up with my running, riding, and swimming. Sorry, Tim.

- Protein timing. I fully realize the benefit of eating breakfast - I notice that as soon as I stop doing so, I gain weight, even if I'm restricting calories. But, I also recognize the benefit of a "fasted workout" from time-to-time, so I'm torn on this one... I've tentatively planned to eat breakfast immediately after my morning bike rides (30-45 minutes most days, save for the weekends, which last 2+ hours); that gets me a fasted workout in the morning, and I still eat within 1hr of waking, which I hope is ok.

- Ice Baths. I appreciate that they work wonders for sore legs, and they may help speed-up your metabolism, but yikes - they're painful and difficult. I tried taking a fresh ice bath this weekend (after a 9-mile run) and couldn't do it. The water temp was 48F and it was freakin' painful. I sat in it for about 3 minutes and jumped out. Sorry, Tim.

- Some of his other theories around "the body" as it pertains to exercise/mass, testosterone, and so on. I'm just not interested in adding 30-lbs of muscle or increasing my testosterone levels, so I didn't bother with those chapters.


So there you have it. What's the net change from my original plan?

- I've cut sugar from my diet from 35-40 grams per day down to less than 10 grams.

- I've added a little fat to my diet by way of Macadamia nut oil and "regular" (nitrate-free) bacon (with breakfast). By the way, one of my new favorite breakfast meals goes like this: slowly pan fry 2 slices of nitrate-free bacon (60 calories), remove, drain on paper towels, and pour off the excess grease. Add 2 cups of frozen chopped spinach to the pan, using the residual bacon grease to prevent sticking (75 calories). Cook until spinach is tender, add pepper to taste. Mix in 5 egg whites, stir regularly until eggs are cooked (80 calories). Remove from heat, and serve with 1-cup of cooked black beans (140 calories) and the bacon. All told, you've got a monster breakfast that totals 355 calories. It literally keeps me full for a solid 6 hours, and it's super tasty. You could get away with 3-4 egg whites and 1/2 cup of beans if you wished, and that would drop the calories to about 275...

- Slow carbs only. My carb sources now come solely from black beans, lentils, broccoli/cauliflower, tomatoes (1 per day), and Lawash wraps (1-2 per week as a treat at lunch).

- Water, water, water. No Splenda. I still drink a Diet Dew or Pepsi Maxx every day, but I limit myself to one.

And that's about it. The rest of my plans stay true to the Racing Weight guide. I've seen a 1.1% drop in body fat since January 16, and my overall weight is holding fairly steady. I didn't include a cheat day this weekend, but with the Superbowl coming next week, I figure I'll probably indulge a bit, so that'll be good. Immediately following the game, I start the heavy-duty marathon training schedule, so I'll be interested to see how Ferriss' ideas work with the endurance training efforts.

I've noticed even fewer cravings since last week, and my energy levels have been really good, so that's a good sign. I did eat like a maniac for a few days about 2 weeks ago, but have "recovered" and am back on-track, thank goodness.

If you'd like to watch the video clips from the Doctor Oz show, you can see them here:

Part I

Part II

Part III

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on January 31, 2011 11:04 PM.

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