30 Day Challenge← Older posts September 25, 2012
Despite what you’ve been told in the past, eating fat won’t necessarily make you fat. Some of you already know this, some of you don’t , and some claim to know it, but they still eat a low fat diet. It’s ok. We understand how difficult it is to separate the fat you eat with the fat that accumulates on your body, since they are the SAME WORD in English! (this isn’t the case, by the way, in other languages)
Here’s the lowdown on fat:
If you’ve over-consumed processed foods and sugar for years, your pancreas may not be producing insulin like it should, and your metabolism is probably a little off. In this case, your body is using sugar (aka carbs and processed foods) for fuel, instead of burning off your body fat, or turning the fat you consume into usable energy. If this is you, and you continue on this path, you’ll get into a bad cycle of over-consumption of fat and sugars, and you will gain weight year over year. This is what happens to most people.
If you restore your natural and ideal metabolism and insulin functions by eating only real foods and you keep your intake of natural sugars to a moderate level, then you can eat all the fat you want, and not see any of it accumulate on your body. This is what will happen to you if you keep a relatively strict ‘real foods only’ policy during and after the challenge.
If you aren’t seeing the fat loss you had hoped for:
If you are someone who is hooked on snacks of fruit and nuts all day long, you might not be seeing the loss of body fat that you had hoped for. Try replacing some of your fruit snacks with protein & fat snacks, such as cucumber slices & guacamole, a salad with olive oil and meat, or a mini version of your lunch or dinner.
If you are constantly hungry:
Fat is satisfying. It leaves you feeling full for longer. Carbs (especially empty ones that provide no nutrients) fill you up for a little bit, then leave you feeling like you’re about to bite someone’s head off if you don’t get something to eat in the next 10 minutes.
Try adding some avocado to your eggs, some extra olive oil to your salad, or cooking your veggies in a little more butter than normal, and see how it affects your hunger levels throughout the day.
Another important point that needs to be made is that not all fats are created equal.
Without getting into the geeky science of it all, here are a few basic principles to remember:
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s) such as canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, grape/cottonseed oils are NOT optimal fats.If you go out to a restaurant and you eat something cooked in one of these oils, you will not die. If you cook on a regular basis with any of these oils, you WILL become very unhealthy. WHY? They are refined, and part of that refinement process is to remove the antioxidants from them, which means they are most likely to go rancid in the bottle or in your body. When they do so, it causes a whole host of problems, one being an overload of free radicals, which leads to inflammation within the body, and may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.
Monounsaturated Fats (MUFA’s) such as avocados, avocado oil, olives, and olive oil are a much better choice for consumption.
Saturated fats (yup) such as coconut, butter (from grassfed cows) and the fat on your meat (again, from grassfed cows, or pastured chickens) are optimal for consumption. These oils and fats are more closely connected to their original forms, and lead to happy bodies, inside and out.
We are told to avoid ‘fatty foods’ but what we should be avoiding is the ‘bad sources of fat’ in foods. Natural fats are good and healthy to consume. For instance, hamburgers aren’t bad for you because the meat is fatty. It’s because the meat is usually from grain-fed cows (ie: low quality), and it’s fried or cooked in a high refined (ie: probably rancid) oil, and served with more refined oil creamy spreads, cheese, and a bun.
Eat fats that occur naturally, cook the majority of your food at home in butter or coconut oil, and you won’t have to remember all of this PUFA/MUFA mumbo jumbo. But just know that it’s here if you ever need it.Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Nutrition Articles | 1 Comment September 17, 2012
Welcome to Week 2 of the challenge!
We’re hoping that everyone made it through week one without any major disasters. Congratulations – the hardest week of the challenge is over. You might be starting to experience your energy levels rising up and staying normal-to-high for the entire day, rather than dipping like they used to. You might have already started to experience some weight loss. Perhaps you got some PR’s in the gym this week. Overall, the days this week, and all weeks going forward, will be easier to get through, for sure.
It also should be safe to say that at this point, you are starting to realize how many edible non-foods are surrounding you! Home Depot sells chips and candy (all I wanted was a power drill, and I ended up with 1,000 extra calories of crap. Thanks, Home Depot!), Michael’s craft store sells Godiva chocolate, Wawa sells about 90% edible non-foods, (and also some bananas and hardboiled eggs, if you’re in a pinch!). Even the ‘food’ stores are filled with mostly non-foods. And over 60% of our population is overweight. Hooray for us. At least you know better now!
Last week we talked about sugar. You might have learned something new, but you also probably came into this whole thing already knowing that sugar was bad for you. No one ever tells you that sugar is good for you. The doctor never recommends that you increase your sugar intake for optimal health.
So, let’s shift our focus this week to something that we eliminated from your diet, but is commonly referred to as ‘heart healthy’, ‘good for you’ and ‘a good source of fiber’. It’s something that we tell you never to eat, but your doctor may recommend you eat every day.
Being told that grains aren’t healthy is a big surprise to many people, and at first, rightfully so, most people are skeptical. Today we’re going to address some of the most common questions we get asked about grain consumption. Feel free to pass along this post to your family or friends who ask you the same things!
“But grains grow from the ground, just like vegetables, so why can’t I eat them?”
Grains do grow from the ground, but you wouldn’t ever pick a grain in a field and eat it. Instead, you probably encounter grains in the form of refined grains (refined = stripped of all nutrients and made into a substance used in food science) or whole grains in ‘healthy’ baked goods, which contain toxins (more on those in a bit). When we are eating ‘real foods’ we tend to stick to things that are as close to their natural source as possible. The trip that a grain makes from the fields to your mouth is way too long to be considered a whole food anymore.
Also, we never encouraging blind faith in blanket statements like “if it came from the earth, eat it” without some rational thinking. There are plenty of things naturally occur in the earth, that are toxic to our bodies. Arsenic is natural. So is plutonium. You use your better judgment to skip the toxic foods and only eat the ones that improve your health.
Also, grains turn to sugar in your body. We addressed that last week, so you now know what happens when you eat too much of it!
“But I need to get more fiber in my diet.”
In American, we’ve been told over and over again that we need to get more fiber into our diets. One of the most obvious reasons we have digestive issues is that our nutrition is completely messed up and our bodies can’t properly process all of the harmful foods they are ingesting. Once your body makes the switch to eating real foods, your normal digestive function will return. In the beginning, it might be an uncomfortable to adjust, but once you get a steady stream of good things coming in, you’ll be happy with the results. (translation = good food in, good poop out)
The majority of fiber you consume will be coming from vegetables anyway, so eliminating grains definitely won’t mean eliminating fiber! Just know that there are no minerals, vitamins, or fiber that occurs in grains that you can’t get from vegetables.
“I don’t have celiac disease, so gluten doesn’t affect me.”
Yes, it definitely does. Just because a bite of a cookie doesn’t have you running to the bathroom, doesn’t mean your health isn’t being negatively impacted by the effects of gluten. Gluten is a protein inside wheat that protects it from being eaten by animals. It’s wheat’s natural defense mechanism.
When we eat gluten-containing grains (wheat, mostly), it causes micro tears in the lining of our intestines, which eventually can lead to some undigested particles of food to pass through the intestinal wall and into your bloodstream. When this occurs, the body attacks the particles because they are seen as invaders. This is an autoimmune response. If this happens chronically (referred to as ‘leaky gut’), you’ll develop nasty symptoms (achy joints, low immunity, increased breakouts of cold sores, arthritis, acne, eczema, psoriasis) and if the inflammation continues to get worse, you’ll may end up with a lovely little autoimmune condition, such as Crohn’s disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, ulcerative colitis, or a thyroid condition.
To clarify: Eating inflammatory foods may or may not be the cause these problems for you, but eliminating inflammatory foods will certainly ease the symptoms or cause the condition to disappear altogether. The gluten in grains is known for a fact to cause local and systemic inflammation, and systemic (meaning, all over your body) inflammation is known to lead to the symptoms and diseases aforementioned. It’s not that a piece of pizza will give you arthritis, but we are willing to bet that your symptoms get a lot better when you don’t eat foods that cause inflammation.
“Why can’t we eat other grains that don’t contain gluten?”
Good question. The answer revolves around phytic acid, which is found in high concentration in all grains, nuts and beans. Phytic acid binds with calcium and other mineral such as iron, zinc and magnesium. Phytic acid basically strips out bodies of essential mineral and nutrients, so we file it under ‘going to make you less healthy’, and therefore, we keep those items off of our ‘to eat’ list. We do still include nuts, with the understanding that they are to be eaten as a snack, and not as the base of your meals. Rice, beans and corn typically are eaten in much larger quantities than nuts, and therefore have a much larger impact on your overall mineral absorption.
Remember, we recommend no grains at ALL on the 30 day challenge. After the challenge, it’s up to you to make educated decisions in everyday life. That doesn’t mean that you’ll go back to eating rice and beans with all of your meals, but it also doesn’t mean you’ll be that person at the table trying to pick the rice off their sushi. After the challenge is over, we enjoy sushi and corn tortillas on occasion, realizing that they are no healthy for us, but they are not as detrimental as the food you’d get at fast food joints.
If you have any other questions about grains, please ask in the comments section! we have a lot of knowledgeable people here who are more than willing to help address your questions.
“People have been eating grains for centuries. How come they are so bad NOW?”
First, there are certain parts of the world in which people still subsist on the hunter/gatherer diets and are pretty much grain-free. They are among the healthiest in the world. The Inuits, who survive on mostly meat and fat, have had drastically low incidences of heart disease and cancer (until recently, when they started importing ‘Westernized food products’. Go figure).
Second, people haven’t always been consuming grains at the rate and in the quantities that we do now. (Same goes for sweeteners. Corn syrup or some type of sugar is in just about all processed/packaged foods.) Obesity due to over-consumption of baked goods and sweets has been research and documented for centuries - almost everyone seems to be afflicted with it now, and somehow we all forgot what causes it!
Third, the wheat that people have been eating up until very recently (until the 1970′s) is different than the wheat we have now. In a response to the potential inability to feed the growing world population, scientists engineered a new type of grain that produced a bigger yield. What they weren’t concerned about, however, is how this new grain affected the health of humans. Turns out that a piece of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar levels more than actual table sugar! Click here to read some other facts about this ‘new wheat’.
Other topics to discuss this week:
1. Bringing lunches to work. Do you do that, or do you buy lunch? What do you buy, if you buy lunch?
2. Have you been eating enough? Do you find yourself hungry often?
3. What’s one new vegetable or meat that you haven’t yet tried to cook? (We might be able to give you tips!)
Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Nutrition Articles | 15 Comments September 11, 2012
Throughout each Real Food 30 Day Challenge, we try to provide online and in-gym support to those who are new to this whole ‘cooking and eating real foods’ thing. This time around, I’ll be posting weekly blog posts in which each participant is encouraged to talk back and forth in the Comments section, swapping stories of evil cake-wielding co-workers, triumphs over alcohol cravings when out with friends, asking “can I eat this?” questions, and sharing recipes.
The blog posts will be slightly more fact-driven and maybe a little too science-y for some people. We have a record number of repeat-challengers, and we think that warrants some higher level info. You’ve earned the right to know what the heck is going on in your body when you slip from 100% Paleo back to 80% (or less) over the summer, and why it’s so hard to come back to 100%.
If you are brand new to this, and aren’t ready for the science behind everything, then just skip this post and spend your time on Paleo recipe websites! Just remember to come back here and post in the Comments section every day or few days, to keep the conversation going.
This week’s topic is SUGAR! Sweet, evil sugar.
Here is a VERY condensed, oversimplified version of what happens in your body when you consume too much sugar. (Remember that sugar is shoved into just about ALL processed foods. We aren’t talking about eating teaspoons of table sugar here). This info is adapted from a paragraph in the book It Starts With Food from the good people at Whole9. They say it more eloquently, and have tons of info to expand upon these concepts, so I highly recommend you go out and get their book after reading my Cliff Notes version.
Here’s the vicious cycle:
The “=” means “equals” and the “->” means, “which leads to”
Sugar over-consumption = excess sugar in the bloodstream -> Insulin Resistance. Your body is so overwhelmed with sugar that it no longer responds to it by sending in insulin to bring blood sugar levels back down. Blood sugar stays high.
Excess sugar in the bloodstream -> Triglyceride formation and Leptin Resistence. (Leptin is the hormone tells your brain that you are full and don’t need to eat anymore. When leptin stops working, you keep eating.)
Lots of triglycerides = fat accumulation in your cells -> excess body fat.
ANALOGY: You know when an old lady walks into the room and her perfume REEKS but she can’t seem to smell it at all? Her sense of smell has become resistant to the smell because it was so overwhelming when she first put it on. She doesn’t smell it anymore. Well, your body is that old lady, and sugar is the perfume. You’ve gotten into a horrible cycle of overeating it and your body has come to rely on it to function. It barely recognizes what “sweet” tastes like any more, and requires you to eat so much of it, in an effort to feel satisfied.
Don’t worry. It’s not your fault. Edible non-foods (anything in a package, with ingredients you can’t understand) are specifically engineered to cause this cycle. After all, companies want you to buy more of their foods, right? It’s just good (for them) business.
Now that you are enlightened, you can pick out the times over the course of the next 30 days when you are craving a sugary non-food treat, you can make a better choice, and you can get on with your day. You’ll also have several instances where fruit all of the sudden tastes sweeter than you remember. Heck, even some vegetables taste sweeter. Those are your taste buds coming back to life, after years of being dulled. Welcome to an awesome real-food existence. I have a feeling you’re going to like it!
Discussion topics: Here’s some things you can talk about in the comments section:
- What did you eat today for breakfast?
- What did you cook on Sunday? What is your favorite meal to cook?
- How do you plan on tackling your first weekend on the 30 day challenge? Do you have any plans that involved potentially non-approved food/drinks? Let us know and we can all help. We’ve been there, too.
- Has anyone at work asked you what you’re eating for lunch, or why you won’t go in on the pizza that everyone ordered? How did you answer?
Welcome to the last FULL week of the challenge! Next Wednesday, May 23rd will be the first non-challenge day!
By now you should have started to see some physical, mental and systemic changes. You might be sleeping better, you might have more energy throughout the day, and maybe something in your digestion has cleared up. Either way, you should have noticed that by altering what you put into your body, you are changing how your body works and reacts.
What you put into your body affects what you get out of your body.
Want rock hard abs? Minimized muscle soreness? Pain-free joints? A more optimistic outlook? Better sleep? Less ‘hunger pains’ and ‘food babies’? A generally better life?
Treat your body well and it will reward you.
Wondering what do to AFTER the 30 days is over? First read this blog post that I wrote after the last 30 day challenge. It’s applicable here, and should provide you with some general guidelines for venturing back out into the fake food jungle. It also goes into detail about what I typically eat while not on a 30 day challenge, for those of you who are looking for extra guidelines or examples.
OR you could just decide that you like yourself, your body, your energy so much more while eating perfectly, that you don’t want to mess that up, and you feel like staying on a strict real food diet forever.
That is, after all, the point of these 30 days. It wasn’t to starve you and make you lose tons of weight for a before/after photo. It wasn’t to make you ‘skinny’ or give you a magic pill that will solve all of your problems.
It was to help you make a very significant lifestyle change. Food is all around us. We eat multiple times every single day. We associate food with special events, family gatherings, social activities, and emotions. It’s a BIG deal. And it’s hard to make a shift in the way that you think about food.
During these 30 days, we told you over and over that it’s not really that hard to make this change. Except it was. It was really tough to throw everything you’ve been told by the government and your doctor out the window. It’s been tough to come to the realization that ‘food stores’ rarely carry any food. It’s been uncomfortable to endure social events, surrounded by non-foods and booze. It’s been weird to feel all of these changes to your own body – a body that you thought would always be achy, tired or cranky.
You are making your way through a very important, and very challenging month. This month will change your life. The things that you’ve learned about nutrition, your body, disease, aging, sleep, recovery, etc will help you to make much better decisions in the future, and will hopefully allow you to spread the word to others who need some help.
Friday, May 18th, 7:30pm: Paleo Potluck.
Wednesday, May 22nd, all classes: 30 Day Challenge Workout Re-Test. Be there! You can make up this workout on Thursday, May 23rd if you miss it.
Posted in 30 Day Challenge | 7 Comments May 11, 2012
Jamie is also on the Autoimmune protocol, which includes the elimination of eggs, certain spices, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. See how well she is able to incorporate variety into her diet while sticking to the plan!
I went to 6:30 a.m. CrossFit, so at 5:15 a.m. I had four cubes of bone broth (defrosted in the fridge overnight and then heated up in the microwave) and a cup of decaf coffee with coconut milk and cinnamon. I throw an herbal tea bag (usually Lemon Zinger or Pomegranate Pizazz) into my water bottle for the gym.
On Wednesdays I have standing Skype conference calls at 9 and 10 a.m., so my breakfast is usually in two parts because while I’m hungry when I get home from the gym, I also need to shower and get set up for the calls (thanks to Skype I now have to worry what I look like).
Driving home from the gym, I drank a bottle of Kombucha. As soon as I got home, I had another cup of decaf coffee with coconut milk and cinnamon and banana and three strips of Whole Food Black Forest bacon that my darling husband left for me. After showering, I put a pound of grass-fed ground beef in the microwave to defrost, then cooked it on low with garlic, sea salt and black pepper during my first call. I threw in 10 chopped up spears of asparagus for the last 10 minutes and then ate half of it for breakfast part two before my second call.
Lunch was the other half of the ground beef and asparagus with two handfuls of spinach thrown in. I drank the rest of my herbal tea from the gym and seltzer water all morning and with lunch. I was still a little hungry, so I had a few dried mango slices.
30 Day Challenge | Leave a comment May 9, 2012
Liz Levinson is an endurance athlete, mother, and family doctor…and she has some of the most impressive musculature in the gym. What an overachiever! She frequently goes on long runs in addition to CrossFit and her body demands the proper nutrition to help keep her going – in training, and in life.
Breakfast: Omelet with kale, bacon, peppers, onion, basil- some sliced avocado
Brooke Convento is stealthily making a name for herself at CrossFit Aspire. She came to us at first as “Ron’s wife” and is slowly but surely sneaking up on all of your PR’s. She recently learned how to do unassisted pull ups, and her form on most lifts is near perfect. She will be the next big thing. I’m calling it.
Speaking of big thing, Brooke has already noticed body composition changes since she started at our gym. She hasn’t lost any weight (hear that, girls?!), but she has definitely lost fat and built up some muscle. She looks and feels great, and I’m positive that this next 30 days will catapult her into a whole new level of awesomeness.
Lunch: spinach salad: tomatoes, avocados, bacon, roast beef, balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Dinner: Pork shoulder from the crockpot and paleo BBQ sauce from “Make it Paleo” with braised cabbage from Nom Nom Paleo.
Snack: 2 hamburgers and bubbie’s sauerkraut
It’s week 3! You’re more than halfway through the ‘hardest’ part of your transition from Standard American diet to actual, nutritious, delicious, home cooked real food.
For most of you, other than some annoying coworkers and the occasional bought of sadness over all of the beer that’s not being drank by you at the bar, most of you seem to have been having a pretty easy time making this transition. Crock pots are cooking, ovens are on, and grilling outside is soon to become a weekly, if not daily occurrence.
This challenge is one of the easiest yet because the amount of information, recipes and support out there is at an all-time high. And its growing. We are no longer embarking on a ‘risky diet’ that no one understands. Instead, our doctors, family members and coworkers are taking notice and joining us.
This ‘real food revolution’ has been brewing (stop thinking about beer) for quite some time now. Robb Wolf, one of the smartest and loudest voices in the Paleo community started his work about 15 years ago. Finally, it’s gaining traction, it’s making sense to other people, and most importantly, it’s starting to be recognized by the medical community (<—looking for a new doctor? Check this out!). It’s going to take years (decades, probably) for the greater medical community to recognize and fix their errors and for the general public to knock ‘low fat & hearty healthy whole grains’ out of their brains, but we’re making progress every day.
What can you do to help?
1. Know your stuff. When someone says – “What about your cholesterol?” or “Saturated fat clogs your arteries. You might get heart disease” or “You aren’t getting enough calcium without dairy.” do you know how to answer? If not, please check out some of the articles and podcasts that we list here, and on Free Paleo, a comprehensive collection of all relevant Paleo resources out there today. This way of eating (which used to be the ONLY way of eating, BTW) is based on hard science. It’s nothing new. It’s just new to you and to other people who’ve been steered in the wrong direction.
2. Lead by example. More about this next week will be written next week when we discuss what to do after the 30 days. But for the rest of these 30 days, the best thing you can do is to stick to your original plan of eating and drinking 100% ‘real’, and working toward your goals.
By ‘doing’ and not just simply ‘talking’, you’ll be taking yourself one step closer each day to becoming the happy,healthy, energetic person you want to be, and the people around you will notice. Instead of giving them unsolicited advice about what they should or shouldn’t be eating, wait for them to come to you and ask. The hardest people to talk to are the ones that don’t want to be helped. (<—Read that article. It’s really good.)
3. Vote with your dollar. This weekend, coconut milk was sold out at Whole Foods & Wegmans. Coconut aminos were also out. Coconut oil was sold out at Trader Joe’s the last time I went, and yesterday, sunflower seed butter was sold out. Did I miss national coconut day? OR could our 70 challengers, plus the other local real-foodies be causing a shift in availability of certain items and eventual restocking/purchasing habits of major stores? If we continue to use our money to buy real food and real ingredients, leaving more packaged foods on the shelves, we will send a message to the food manufacturers, suppliers, and to the stores. We Want Real Food. (<–sign that)
This Spring-Fall, take it one step further and start doing the bulk of your grocery shopping at the local Farmer’s Markets or join a CSA. Being in the Garden State, we are lucky to have easy access to so many fresh fruits, vegetables and Grassfed meat/free roaming chickens. Take advantage!
Please post your comments, questions and thoughts to the comments section of this post!
Discussion Topics for this week:
1. Have you noticed any weight loss?
2. What’s your favorite real food recipe so far?
3. What would you bring to a party to ensure that you had something to eat while you were hanging out?Posted in 30 Day Challenge | 41 Comments May 4, 2012
This is a day in the life of Eric Allen, man about town. Those of you who live alone know how hard it is to muster up the energy to cook for yourself. Also, “cooking in bulk” usually means eating the same damn thing every day. Here’s a great example of how to eat well, and keep things new throughout the day/week.
“I’ll gladly represent the live alone bachelor demographic After only 3 months at CrossFit Aspire I am definitely stronger than I have ever been. However, my diet has been CRAP, and as a result I am slow and my metcons have seen little-to-no improvement. I’m hoping this challenge will shed some unwanted pounds as well as help me recover faster and keep my energy and strength up for an entire metcon!”
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with sauteed onions, hot sausage, and roasted long hots. Also, some fresh fruit in coconut milk. I can’t believe how amazing that was, I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to regular milk!
Lunch: Pork shoulder cooked in a crock pot with cinnamon and apples, and roasted sweet potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and peppers
Snacks: I had some of those amazing hot sausage stuffed mini peppers, pictures were impossible to take because they literally went straight from the fridge to my mouth. They just taste too good! Also had a Larabar (gluten/dairy/peanut free variety) and a few almonds
And yes, all of my food is served on the finest of paper dishes and eaten with plastic cutlery – I did say I was a bachelor!!Posted in 30 Day Challenge | Leave a comment ← Older posts