Interview with former FDA Agent – Exposing the Supplement Industry

Hey guys! This morning I watched this video posted by Abel James of The Fat Burning Man of an interview done with Gary Collins, who is a former FDA Agent. He exposes the supplement industry fakes, and explains how to find a quality supplement company you can trust. This video is very interesting and informative, I highly recommend taking a look!

 

Why You Probably Should Be Drinking More Water

Water. We all need to drink it to survive, but how much is enough? If you are like most Americans, you probably aren’t drinking nearly enough to stay fully hydrated throughout your day.

Recommendations on optimal water consumption differ depending on who you’re talking to. Many people suggest drinking 8 glasses of water per day, while the Mayo Clinic recommends women drink 2.2 Liters while men should drink 3 Liters (or about 100 oz) of water per day.

Other sources will tell you to drink at least 1 oz. of water per pound of body weight. This seems a little closer to what I believe is optimal, at least for myself.

I’m definitely not a medical doctor, and am not qualified to recommend any specific quantity of water for you to drink per day. What I have found what works for me, however, is much more than what has been recommended by medical and fitness professionals.

On any given day, I typically drink between 6-10 liters of water (which translates to 200+ ounces, sipped on throughout the day, not chugged all at once), depending on my activity level on any given day. On days when I have a challenging workout I drink more water than those with minimal physical activity. This is more than triple the volume of water recommended by most sources. When I drink less than this, I begin to feel dehydrated and lethargic.

My typical daily water intake looks like this:

Morning: 1 cup of coffee + 2 liters of water before lunch time
Afternoon: About 2 liters of water from 1pm-5pm
Evening: About 2 liters of water from dinner time to bedtime + 1-2 cups of herbal tea

The Benefits of Drinking Plenty of Water

  • Water flushes out toxins and cleanses the body.
  • Water supports healthy kidney function.
  • Drinking plenty of water will help your skin look younger and healthy. Maybe even radiant 😉
  • Aids digestion and keeps things moving.
  • Can help relieve and prevent headaches  or migraines.

Tips for Drinking More Water Throughout the Day

  1. Keep a refillable water body on hand at all times. If your water is sitting on the desk in front of you all day, you are more likely to remember to drink it.
  2. Right when you wake up in the morning, drink a minimum of 8oz of water (up to a 1 liter is extremely beneficial). Since you’ve been sleeping all night, your body has become dehydrated. It’s important to get that water in!
  3. Water too boring for you? Try adding some lemon slices or frozen berries to give it some flavor. Just fill up a container with water, add the fruit, and refrigerate it over night. In the morning, strain the fruit out and enjoy all the benefits of water with some added flavor and vitamins!

 

What about coffee or soda? Do those count towards my water intake for the day?

 My answer – NO. Since coffee is a diuretic, I don’t think it gives the same lasting benefits as a glass of water. It may even work against your water intake, since it flushes fluid out of your body. As for any type of sugary or alcoholic drink (soda, juice, sweetened iced tea, beer, martini, etc.), this does not count towards your water intake. Alcohol actually dehydrates you. As for the sugary drinks, enjoying them in moderation is fine (fine, but not encouraged), but you should not guzzle down soda after soda because you think it is hydrating you. Think of it more as a dessert than a tool to hydrate your body. If you must drink sugary drinks, try to only enjoy them only in moderation.

 

To summarize… 

If you know you aren’t drinking enough water (you know who you are!), make a conscious effort to up your intake! Drink a few glasses as soon as you wake up, and keep a refillable bottle full of water near you all day.

 

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Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/water.html

Why Go Organic?

 

 

We’ve all had the moment while walking through the grocery store when we see two seemingly-identicle bins of fruits or vegetables next to each other with one obvious exception: the price. We think to ourselves: “Why would I pay twice as much for these apples, when I can just buy these ones?” This logic seems reasonable, until you learn the true difference between the two.

The cheaper produce I was referring to is termed “conventional.” These fruits and vegetables are treated with pesticides (usually synthetic), are often chemically-ripened, and are probably genetically modified (GMOs…eek!!). They are nowhere near to being grown in the way nature intended, which dramatically reduces their amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial micronutrients that are essential for a healthy diet.

Why have we, as a society, changed the way our food is grown? Simple explanation. Profit. By using these “conventional” farming practices, produce grows and ripens faster, lasts longer without spoiling, and can be mass-produced for increased earnings. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to support these huge corporations that are purely profit-driven, and who have lost sight of what truly matters: feeding society with quality food.

That’s where the beauty of organic farming comes in. Organic farming uses no artificial fertilizers, pesticides, are not chemically ripened, and if the produce is “Certified Organic,” then you can rest assured that it is not genetically modified. These seem like some great benefits of organic farming and produce, but the list of positives is just beginning.

Great Benefits of Organic Farming:

  • It’s better for the environment. Organic farming means no chemicals being put into the water and earth. Everyone benefits from that!
  • You aren’t ingesting tons of chemicals that reek havoc on your body.
  • Deliciousness. Have you ever eaten an organic strawberry? If you haven’t, you need to do that. Right now. Unless you are allergic, of course. Try eating a conventional strawberry, then follow it up with an organic one. The difference is mind-blowing.
  • Nutrient density. Organic produce offers a higher percentage of awesome nutrients than conventional. That means more vitamins and minerals, which is great for your health!
  • Supporting small and local businesses. Most organic farmers do their farming on a smaller scale, and sell their produce locally. This is great for your local economy, and helps take away business from the huge conventional factory farms (buying organic may even persuade some of the corporate farming agencies to switch to organic practices…who knows?)

These are all amazing reasons to switch to organic produce if you haven’t already. But these are only the benefits of organic produce…there are still a multitude of great things about organic meat and eggs that I haven’t mentioned (post to follow). For now, check out the chart below for a quick explanation of what organic really means. It may surprise you!
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Sources: http://truefoodsmarket.com/organic-food

But Where Do You Get Your CALCIUM??

“So you don’t eat dairy? But where do you get your calcium??”

This is one of the most common questions I’m asked about my diet. No, I don’t consume any dairy products. And no, I’m not at all worried about getting enough calcium. Why? Let me explain.

It is a complete fallacy that milk and other dairy products are the best and/or only source of calcium. The U.S, along with multiple other developed countries, have been brainwashed into believing that if you want strong bones, you must drink milk. According to the new American food pyramid for 2014, you should consume 3 cups of dairy per day. HA! (About 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant…so why is dairy so high on the food pyramid? Doesn’t make sense.)

There are many whole-food sources of calcium that most people are unaware of, kale being the best example. Just 1/2 cup of kale has 205mg of calcium, compared to only 150mg in 1/2 cup of milk. For a comparison of other food choices and their calcium levels, see the chart below.

 

Source: Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. - thepaleomom.com

Source: Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. – thepaleomom.com

 

Clearly, many vegetables and leafy greens are great sources of calcium. Almonds and salmon are good choices as well, and they also contain healthy fats and other great nutrients. To strengthen my argument, let’s take a look at absorbability, shall we?

In this study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they compared the absorbability of calcium in kale and in milk. The results showed that the calcium in kale was more easily absorbed and had better bioavailability than the calcium in milk (by about 10%). So when you eat kale, you are not only ingesting more calcium, but you are also absorbing a higher percentage of it as well.

The bottom line: if you’re looking to increase your calcium consumption, eat more kale! For an easy snack, try out my recipe for Crunchy Kale Chips. They are tasty and great for you!

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 5.31.00 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/2013/09/why-dont-i-need-to-worry-about-calcium-2.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/daily/graphics/diet_042005.html

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/04/03/over-75-of-earths-population-is-lactose-intolerant-for-a-reason-dairy-is-harmful/

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/51/4/656.full.pdf+html

Paleo Protein Powders?

Paleo protein powders…where do I begin? Just the phrase “paleo protein powder” seems to contradict itself, considering the fact that processed foods are not considered paleo in the slightest. So what gives? Recently, many of these new companies and products have been popping up and increasing in popularity, but I have to ask: should they deserve the recognition of being ‘paleo friendly’? Let’s find out.

Most protein powders are made from whey or casein, which is no new information to anyone who has used protein drinks and powder supplements before (especially since it says it right on the packaging). Another bit of information that is common knowledge in the health and fitness community is that both of these ingredients (whey and casein), are made from milk. Out of all the protein in cow’s milk, 20% is whey protein and 80% is casein protein, just in case you were curious.

In general, the paleo diet excludes all dairy. In short, this is because lactose (the sugar found in dairy) causes extreme spikes in insulin levels that increases inflammation, dairy contains active cow hormones which alter human hormone levels when ingested, and it can cause a leaky gut, just to name a few (for more information on why dairy is excluded in a paleo diet, check out this post on ThePaleoMom.com.) A percentage of people involved in the paleo movement do allow grass-fed organic butter in their diets, because they feel that the fat found in dairy is extremely nutrient dense, and the positive nutritional aspect outweighs any negatives associated with the lipids in dairy (my favorite paleo guru who endorses grass-fed butter consumption is Stacy from PaleoParents.com).

With all that said, why would anyone who makes an effort to follow such a nutritious diet as the paleo diet willingly spend ridiculous sums of money on protein powder, especially those derived from whey or casein??

Protein powders and other similar “dietary supplements” are a joke…they are a way to squeeze unreasonable amounts of money out of people for a completely unnecessary product. They claim to be the fastest-absorbing protein, which is why body builders and athletes flock to the protein-shelves at their gyms, but in reality the protein in these supplements can take 1-3 hours to absorb on an empty stomach, which is not much faster than egg or chicken protein absportion. There are plenty of quick and easy sources of protein in whole-food form. If you want an easy and fast absorbing form of protein for immediately after your workout, hard boil a couple of eggs and throw them in a lunch box with an ice pack, and they will be waiting for you in the car for after your “gym sesh”…bam! Just as easy as making a protein shake and it tastes way better anyways. Real food is always better than man-made alternatives.

But, if you are driven by unyielding curiosity about “paleo protein powder,” check out this post on the Paleo Hacks website written by Casey Thaler. I’ve listed below some of the products he mentioned in the post.

Paleo Protein®: The new kid on the block is actually mainly sourced from egg protein, not dairy. While in theory this sounds better, you have to begin to think about where those eggs are coming from, and how they are processed. Are they pasture raised? Not likely.

Are they processed through damaging high heat methods? Likely. As you will come to see in almost all protein powders, an artificial sweetener, in this case, Stevia, is present.

Stevia is has been scientifically proven to augment insulin release from islets incubated in the presence of 7.0 mM D-glucose. So – despite the fact that you aren’t consuming sugar, your body still somewhat reacts like you are. Not a good thing. Overall though, if you have to select a protein powder, this is a solid choice.

MHP’s Paleo Protein®: Another somewhat new product is MHP’s. An interesting wrinkle in this product is the use of ‘hydrolyzed beef protein isolate‘ as the main protein source.

Now was this beef grass fed? Where did it come from? How was it processed?

The answers to these questions are not likely going to be favorable. We are also getting maltodextrin (processed corn starch), emulsifiers (a small truckload) and an artificial sweetener (Stevia). Whole9 has an excellent write up on why these ingredients are bogus. Thumbs down on this one.

Reserve Age® Organic Grass Fed Whey: This is the next one our list, and if you’re looking for a whey protein powder, this is actually an excellent source. Real food is still better, but their protein is minimally processed, undenatured, and grass fed. There also almost no other ingredients. Don’t forget the problems with dairy, but choose this if you want the effects (and detriments) of whey.

Mark Sisson’s Primal Fuel®: This is another interesting product. Going with coconut milk as an interesting addition to the typical protein powder formula, the rest of the mix is less favorable, loaded with sugar, maltodextrin and guar gum. Original formula, if not entirely ideal. Worse choices for sure, but why not just have a can of coconut milk and a piece of chicken?

Progenex®: This is a very popular ‘recovery’ powder. Despite it’s widespread popularity in the CrossFit® community, Progenex is probably the worst formula available, since it contains fructose, sucrose and soy. The epitome of why eating some chicken and a sweet potato are preferable, post-WOD.

Casey Thaler

Casey is a NASM certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, as well holding a bachelor of arts degree in the field of film production. He runs a nutrition and fitness consulting company called Eat Clean, Train Clean.

 

 

In summary: skip the protein powder and stick to whole-food sources of protein. Eggs, chicken, fish, meat…batch cook up some chicken breasts and keep them in the fridge for post-workout. Easy and much cheaper than buying these unnecessary protein products!

 

Can you drink alcohol while on the paleo diet?

As we all know, this past weekend was St. Patrick’s Day. It’s certainly not a holiday in America known for staying sober and relaxed all night…it’s known for getting a little wild and drinking Irish Car Bombs and obscene amounts of beer. So the question is, are you allowed to partake in drinking alcohol while on the paleo diet?

To celebrate this festive holiday, James and I threw a party at our house. We meshed together St. Patty’s Day and Mardi Gras (which just occurred about a week or two ago) into one party, with a Masquerade theme.  Of course everyone ate, drank, and was merry…even me!

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My friend Nicole and Me (I’m on the right)

If you have your heart set on drinking at that upcoming party or event, then by all means, do so (as long as you’re of age of course!). Just make sure you drink responsibly, and stay away from the overly-horrible ingredients. Below are some drinks that fit a little better into the paleo diet than others.

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James and Me

Paleo-Approved (ish) Drinks:

  1. Wine – Both Red and White wine are the closest things to “paleo” you will find as far as alcoholic beverages go. In short, wine is made by fermenting fruit (usually grapes). You can find organic wine, as well as wine made from grapes that were grown sustainably. This is your best bet if you want to stick closest to the paleo protocol. Champagne is ok too.
  2. Cider – Another fermented drink, cider is generally gluten-free and made from fruit. There are many lower sugar brands to keep an eye out for, as these are your best options when on the paleo diet.
  3. Tequila – Made from agave (which yes, is a processed food. But hey, we’re talking about alcohol here. All of it is processed and not that great for you!), tequila is a great drink to go to if you want to take a shot. No gluten and no grains.
  4. Vodka – As long as your pick out a vodka that is not made with corn, and is either made from potatoes or grapes, you are good to go. Good brands to try are Blue Ice, Ciroc Ultra Premium vodka, and Famous vodka. My drink of choice is vodka with club soda and lime. Low(er) in sugar than many drinks, and refreshing!

There you have it! Those are the only 4 alcoholic drinks I’ll have when out on the town.

 

 

Alcohol is, in all honesty, horrible for you. I recommend limiting your consumption of alcohol to the least amount possible, or avoid it all together. But, if you must drink, please do so responsibly!

How to Survive a Special Event on Paleo – Bridal Shower

In January I attended my best friend’s bridal shower. There were about 40 guests there and tons of junk food. I knew going into this event that there would be plenty of tempting food that was off-limits to me, so I devised a plan to survive the day (this plan would work for almost any special event, too!).

The Paleo Survival Plan: Bridal Shower Edition:

1. I ate a huge lunch before the party started that way I wouldn’t even be slightly hungry enough to want the chips and dip.
2. I offered to bring a veggie tray. Even though I can’t have ranch dip on the paleo diet, I brought some to make any ways that way the other guests could enjoy it.

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Tons of Veggies!

3. I coordinated with another bridesmaid who was bring a fruit platter (yay, now there’s two things I can eat!).

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4. I actually brought extra food for myself to eat in case I got hungry throughout the day (I just kept it in the back of the fridge until I needed it). I figured that since everyone else would be eating, it wouldn’t be too rude to bring a plate of food that I could enjoy while everyone else enjoyed theirs.

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The Gorgeous Bride and Me 🙂

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Friends and Bridesmaids (I’m in the middle)

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The Bridal Party

Sometimes it can be intimidating to go to parties or special events, knowing that your diet won’t allow for most of the food on the menu. I hope these tips help!! If you have any other ideas or tips you’d like to share, I would love to hear! Feel free to share  🙂