Sunday, February 24, 2013

Diet secrets - Part Four and Last ?

Looking at the stats of the blog, it seems that the weekly change killed my audience ;) or maybe no one is interested by my diet "secrets". Weird, that changed the way I see food, and the world through it, and my life by consequence. Maybe it is a beaten path. 
Anyway, after this series, I may revisit this blog and the content.
Right now, the cruising comes back in my mind with a vengeance, as summer approach and the boat is not selling. Interesting times....

Well, back to our subject for today. Here is my new toy:

I used a plastic mixer for the last 4 months. 
Those days are over !

Ok, at this point, you should now HOW MUCH you should eat. To loose weight, to maintain weight. 
But, WHAT should you eat ? 
It is not a secret. Any food will due the trick, if you are counting calories. But if you want to control hunger, and stay healthy on smaller portions, get all your vitamins, etc.. It is a little trickier. Only one thing comes in mind :  Food high in nutrient. Nutrient quality is a concept that still eludes me, at least from a scientific perspective, but all athletes and nutritionist seem to agree:
  - Vegetables
  - Nuts
  - Fruits
  - Raw food (cooking at high temperature kills nutrients)
  - Lean meat
  - Whole grains and whole grain flour derivative

And ...
  - Avoid processed food
  - Avoid fatty, salty, sugary process food.
  - Avoid junk fast processed food.

If you google 'PaleoDiet', you should get the rational behind this.

But myself, do I follow a Paleo Diet ? Not really. 
First, they ban grains derivative (pasta, rice, bread), mostly because the ratio between calories and weight/quantity is too high from our appetite regulation. But, because it is processed food, too. First hand processed, still. 
And second, for personal reasons, I am targeting more a Vegan diet, even if I don't mind some fish, if raised in a sustainability way (And a good steak once in a while, usually at the restaurant.This makes me be quiet about my rant on non vegan diets - I still enjoy a good juicy steack time to time. Poor cow.) 

What would the vegan version of the paleo-diet ? Proteins from alga and wheat, vitamins from complements if you are too lazy to really pay attention to that.(which is tricky on a vegan diet).

The super secret of my super pseudo-vegan diet ?

Vega, a ready to be mixed vegan powder with tons of vitamins, omega-3 and what ever you need, and your daily proteins as well. With a banana and some almond milk, you are talking around 300-400 calories for a lunch. Enough to carry me until the 3-4PM snack.

Two minutes to prepare, one minute to eat

Why it saved my diet ?
 - Easy to prepare, relatively cheap (3$ the meal, I think) and complete. During a usual work week, I am too lazy, or too focused on my job to prepare a real lunch. Ends up usually to eat crappy food, not fulfilling, low energy, bad quality and usually more expansive.
 - Easy to eat. I can pre-made it, and take it anywhere. During the week-end, I realized my eating habits and need  (12PM sharp), did not meet the one from my wife and kid (1PM to 3PM, when ever needed, when possible), which usually ended to see me super hungry, in a bad moon and over compensating during a late lunch. Eating on a fixed schedule is one of the factor of a successful diet.
 - Fulfilling and rich in vitamins and proteins. As I said before, on a vegan diet, vitamins and supplements are the real issue. You got them all in one serving.

Eating lunch at the beach

Then, what is a typical daily menu ?

- 300-400 calories > 1 cup of cereals with almond milk.
- 100-200 calories > 1 snack : fruits, half avocado
- 300-400 calories > Vega lunch, cookie for dessert or piece of chocolate
- 200 Calories        > 3pm Snack. Chocolate proteins bar, fruits, nuts
- 200-400 Calories > Coconut water after exercise, Nuts, carrots, Raw vegetable, protein bar if starving
- 300-600 Calories > typical family Dinner, could start with Soup, Nuts, glass of wine, Salad, sone tuna or egg, Salmon on toasts, or Pasta, Ice cream for dessert, or chocolate cookies, Cheese too. Anything in a reasonable quantities, following servings, and healthy if possible. 

You see ? not too hard.

And too close this subject, you may ask ... Do you still count calories ?

I would say, No, because I have another secret...

Eat when you are hungry. 

Think about it, and think about it more. And realize everything that this encompass. That mean , you need to welcome hunger. you need to wait for it. you need to let it grow.If you combine this with the obvious rules:

Eat healthy. Eat slowly and small portions.

Then, you should not gain weight. Ever. Trust your body. And if you are exercising in top of that, you will lose weight. Your body needs to lose weight to perform at a decent level. Until you reach your Fitness level, when your performance and your needs stabilize, and your weight as well. But at this point, you will know more things than me on a healthy and successful diet.

As I said before, a successful diet is a diet that you do not need anymore. 

A successful diet is a healthy lifestyle.

I will not be presumptuous, and tell you my lifestyle is healthy yet, but, looking at all those years before, I feel way better. Isn't it what matters after all ?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Diet secrets - Part Three

Tools, Tools, Tools

Last week, we went with the expensive tools (futurist scale), now, we can go with the cheap ones. A calculator. A math book. Or Internet. Any website that allows you to count calories. (I am using my self 
calories count - but hopefully, you can find something better. At least this one is free at the time I am writing this). 

Fancy one. It is solar powered. Oh yeah.

Ok, Counting calories. Yes, it is cumbersome and will take some of your precious time. But I do believe you need to get a basic understanding of the nutritional value of what you are eating and the energy contained. First, you could you change your diet if you do not analyse your actual diet. We need to start from somewhere. Forget for now the complicated stuff, just focus on the global calorie of a SERVING. A serving is , as you can imagine, how much you should eat from the box. A box is NOT a serving. Usually, they keep servings reasonable (around 100-150 calories for snacks and candies, 300 for lunch or diner food), except for chocolate which they keep pushing for you to eat half of the package.

You will need the ability to read.

Obviously, you should never eat more than a serving in one lunch/diner/snack. Yeah, a can of beer is one serving. Annoying, isn't it ? But, overall, you should not mix too many servings too ;)
Remember your overall count would have to be around 2000 (for a male). This add fast.

For the first couple of weeks, just try to get in the habit to count and define what you are eating. What is your actual diet? We will see how we can reduce this to a reasonable calorific amount within a reasonable suffering amount  (Did you think it will be easy ?). 
This where eating outside is tricky. They do not put the amount on the box. Those website will give you an approximation and eventually you will be able to figure it out just looking at your plate. Some kind of Sixth sense. Not that tricky. But, Yes, the more you are eating at home, meals you can weight and quantify, the better you will get in control of -your calories count. - your money.

Measure..Measure ...

If you are cooking a lot of your own food, this is tricky too, as you may have to weight or measure your food. Yes, that takes even more time. However, you will quickly realize that you do not cook so many different meals. Be realistic, how much to you change your meals through the week ? What is your "real" meal rotation ? a dozen ? twice this ? Once you weight one meal, use it as a reference. Again, those website allows usually the meal creation etc.. Even better, you can compare your own meal to the equivalent in a restaurant.
Weight... weight....

But really, Why do we have to weight our food ? What happened to us ? What about the measuring capacity of our body - stomach ? appetite ?
Well, here is the catch. While some part of the planet is still suffering of malnutrition, in the West, food is cheap. Too cheap. Too rich. Meat was exceptional 30 years ago. Now, you consider to eat at least one serving per meal (It could be per week) as normal. Processed food, with all sugar added, are extremely rich compared to their size or weight. Already pre-made, it goes too fast to prepare - usually none needed - , to cook (barely needed - microwave rules), and give you no time to breath between meals. Too easy, too accessible, too cheap , too rich. What about a 5$ hamburger at any junk food retailer ? How can you pack so much calories in such a small time to buy and eat all together. I will not go on the lack of family values and the fact that Dinner or Lunch time are no more a paced family reunion but a race to gulp down pizzas.
This pacing, our body is not made to respond for. Our appetite, as most of our body reactions, is slow. Takes minutes, or hours, to react. The time that the body signal you that the first meal was enough, you could be already at your second snack in the afternoon. Body adapts. Stomach grows bigger. Generate artificial hunger. The marvelous body adaptation system now works against you, and generate the need to additional food. I guess you get the point : You cannot trust your appetite anymore. At least , not now.
You can reeducate it. Eventually. But first, you need to reeducate yourself. Another tricky part, once you know what you are eating, and want to change, you will have to fight your body inertia. Nothing too bad, you will see. And not forever, too. 

Like calories counting, all the good things come to an end. (that was the joke for the week).

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Diet secrets - Part Two


Metric... Not the Canadian band (which was awesome, but the last album is just  - well - weirdo.), and not the system as well, as I may stick with pounds and inches. Doesn't make any sense. But, well, I am doing my diet on american soil, and they like to stick to those weird measurements and football, and are still calling soccer,  soccer - go figure.
Ok, now the joke part is over (did you have a blast ?) , let's see : I am -kinda- a scientist, at least I am -for sure - an engineer. I like numbers and I like to understand how things works. If I have a problem, I will figure a solution. If you have a problem, I will figure a solution for you. If you have a problem and do not want a solution, but just want to talk about it, I will not listen and find you a solution. Ask my wife. It does not help.

Back to the subject ... People can argue what they want about good and bad calories, and diet is not about numbers, and quality cannot be measured, ya ya, in the end , this all burning fuel for the body and believe it or not, it follows the law of entropy. What's going in, going out. I mean, what you eat in the end, is important, and I will talk about that later, but indirectly.

As some people proved it, you can lose weight in eating McDonald's all day. That's a bad idea, but it works. Why ?

 Energy = calories = food intake.

Do you do not get FAT by eating FAT. I repeat, you do not get FAT by eating FAT. You do get fat by eating fat because it is very difficult to eat the correct amount of fat needed daily, as fat is very calories rich. And your appetite will have hard time to signal you, you ate enough. Basically, you will eat too much fat. And that will get you fat. Still following ? More on that later.

Ok, let's go back to the scientific approach. What do you need to lose weight ?
(except strong will to change your diet, and no fears - see previous posts)

- A Scale that do fat and muscle comparison. (Body Mass Index - BMI).

My scale. Works good enough.

THE scale. the IHealth IScale. with Ibluetooth and IPhone Integrated. I-Really ?

A scale, obviously, because that will one of the main tool to follow your progress and adapt your food consumption accordingly. Because you can make a first guess about your daily calorie intake, you still need to correct it along the way. Because we do not want to lose too much weight too fast, and we still want to lose a little. It is likely (using any calculator online) that you will find a ballpark for your daily calorie intake - let's say 2000 for a male in his 40's. However, you will have to refine this number, while following your food consumption to eat less or MORE. Idea is not to suffer. Idea is to change your diet, and hit a reachable target - let's say 200 to 500 calories less than you need per day. That should give you at least one pound per Month, up to 4. Eventually, you could go for less, but an easy goal, is an easy goal, and the reward is the same.


Why the Scale should measure the BMI. First, it is cool. You know how much fat you are losing - or not. But, the real thing is you do not want to lose muscle. If you lose too much weight and do not train, your body will compensate by eating its own muscles. (Yes, you should train). If you lose really a lot of weight too fast, it will even eat your brain cells. Not cool. No worries, you need a huge deficit for this happen, and no risk at all if you are losing 1000 calories / day. Or 500, which was my target.
Does it work ? Well, not really. It will not get you an accurate reading. Great. Those cheap scale are using an electric current differential between fat, water and muscle, and give you, at best an approximation. However, they work well enough to give a reference point (even if it is wrong) and to help track progress. If you want to know your real BMI, you will have to go to the doctor and that will be expensive (but that will give a base reference for your cheap scale too). IN a matter of facts, We do not really care about the real fat percentage, we already know it is too much. What we care is not losing muscle, that we do not have enough, or not losing water, yes, we do not drink enough - Coffee does not count - It is the opposite, and losing fat - that we do have plenty. And that will do the trick.

- A Tape Measure.

... To get an idea of your belly size. Use it at the belly button level. For girls, it is more complicated, but for men, weirdly enough, your fat percentage is directly related to your waist size. You will store fat everywhere, but at the same ratio than around your belly. I repeat : your waist size is directly proportional to your fat percentage. You can talk about your abs, your weight, your body composition, blah blah. Your belly does not lie.

As a funny story, right now, at size 28 - which matches a 29 inches waist size at the belly button - I am not capable of finding my size in shorts in any surf shop on the island. They do not carry anything smaller than 30. And most of the typical size are 36 and more. And yes, it is true that - a while back - they began to widen the size to matches with the evolution of the population and than a SHORT size or  a '28' does not matches anymore the original measurements 20 or 30 years ago. People are getting bigger, but that's Alright  because Jeans too.

Anyway, here is the lesson for today. Do not lose weight too fast and at the wrong places. A simple measurement tape and BMI scale should give you plenty of indications about your body evolution.
Now, You are almost setup. You are still missing one SUPER important tool, but this is already a very long post, then ... next week !

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Diet secrets - Part One

I started last year to talk a little about ,my change of life style, diet and overall pacing. As all changes, good ones and bad ones, there is always a trigger, usually a fundamental one. Coming into Maui, starting working remotely and gently exiting the rat race, was a certainly a big step for me. It allowed me to reestablish myself on new basis and redefine my goals, personal, and family related. Maui, a Surfer's island and Kitesurfer's paradise helps you to get on tracks, and stay on tracks. 

Not so brief encounter with the "BoneYard".
Glad I had my gloves and wet suit.

Stepping outside, the reef is there to remind you the right of way.

I still believe it is possible to change your diet and lifestyle anywhere, but there is obviously some atmosphere that helps, and having a better way of organizing my time, balancing personal life, work life and fun stuff without too much struggling, made it easier. I don't think that coming to live on an island in the middle of the Pacific is an easy choice, and it has its inconveniences, obviously, it is not made for everyone, but when it is made for you, it is definitively a good kicker to change things.

Shark Repellent

Ok, Now we are done with the philosophical stuff, let s go back on the subject. 
Checking back those posts, /relatively-easy-diet-explained-1-fears, I went through the basics fears I had to go over, before even considering changing my diet. Let's say, you have the time and the will to try it too. Where do you start ? Not sure, but I can say where I did start.
Google. Everything started with "Surfer Diet" keywords. Yeah, I know, I consider myself as a surfer. Presumptuous ?

Super simple. But there is a lot of truths in those simple evidences. No Junk food. Not too much fat. Some proteins, some carbs. Carbs ? what do you mean? One link after another, you begin to get the terms, hidden truth behind the fad diets and weight watchers b***t.
Eventually ....To my point, today I was during a quick run through this book at the supermarket. 

A Texas Firefighter , professional Triathlete, Vegan .. Unusual.

Guess what. Did not see anything new. Except the setup. I think at this point, we can assume we know what is good and what is not.
The only question is, are you ready for it ?
Another book that I am reading (full time this one) and that covers more in details the diet profile I am using:

I discovered it AFTER I was already deep into my diet, and just got a more scientific explanation about why it is working and how you can push it further. But the basics, I grabbed them on Google. As would say my wife, I am pretty good at diagonal reading and filtering the crap on the internet. I think this is a skill of survival in the 21th century.

What is my point ? The information is there, free and available. You have books too. I will explain my tactics, but you can have yours. Beware the easy path, it is the way on the dark side. And if you start dig into that , you will understand pretty fast :
Stop talking about diet as a losing weight method. A diet is a way of eating, and will evolve into a way of life. Someone said (I am pretty sure - people have said everything and its opposite- But I am too lazy to google it - too late - I did - hey, this guy was french) - You are what you eat. Kind of obvious to me that you cannot change yourself - and your body is part of your self -without changing what you eat. 

Then, stop looking for an easy route, a quick way of losing 5 pounds, stop losing weight, just change your diet.

The best for the end :

Ridiculous picture, And , yes, I kept the T-shirt on purpose. 
But yes, it is working. Figures to prove it. 5 inches - 13 cm to prove it.
And frankly, before .. I was not what people will consider fat... and miles from obese.

I regret this picture already ;)