Monday, February 27, 2017

Macro-Balanced Monday In Meals

Good morning!

I mentioned yesterday that Mal and I decided to start a Designed to Fit meal plan together this week. We always a rough meal plan to follow every week, but not one custom to our macronutrient needs, so I’m excited to get back on track and have my hubby to help keep me motivated. (Below is a screenshot of Mal’s meal plan on his phone.)

And here’s my Monday In Meals!

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with roasted sweet potatoes + iced coffee mixed with Dandy Blend, coconut creamer, and collagen
  • Snack: Apple chunks (nuked in microwave) with cinnamon
  • Post-workout: SFH protein shake
  • Lunch: Buffalo Chicken & Ranch Bowl (ground chicken breast mixed with broccoli, spinach, buffalo sauce, and ranch dressing) + a Beauty Burst (fruity collagen chew)
  • Snack: Half of a Chocolate Sea Salt RXBAR
  • Dinner: Easy Chicken Fajitas over cauliflower rice mixed with white rice
  • Dessert: Banana sautĂ©ed in coconut oil with chocolate chips + a mug of eggnog tea + a few bites of Coffee Toffee ice cream

Ok, so the Coffee Toffee ice cream wasn’t technically on my meal plan today, but I knew I wanted some after dinner, so I made a few adjustments to my day via MyFitnessPal. We actually provide our clients with their macronutrient goals (protein, carbs, fat), so they can track on their own when their meal plan ends or if they decide to go “off plan” at anytime. And, EXCITING NEWS, clients will be able to use their macronutrient numbers in tandem with our recipes and one-on-one coaching (aka on-going support and accountability) in our brand new Macros + Meals Plan, which will debut later this week. It’ll give clients even MORE flexibility with their meal plans, like if they want to eat Coffee Toffee ice cream at the end of the night. 🙂 This new meal plan was actually created from client feedback, so we know it’s going to be AWESOME! More details to come!

Question of the Day

Do you track macros/calories? What program/service/app do you use?

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Dear Mark: Fasting Followup

inline_Fasting_follow-upFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering questions from the comment section of last week’s fasting post. You guys brought up some great points, and I’ll be addressing some of them. First up, do you need to follow a vegan diet to maintain the health benefits of long fasts? Second, I give a tip or two for appetite suppression during the fast. Then I discuss my definition of a long fast, the potential effect of fasting on gut bacteria (and whether we should consume prebiotics and probiotics while fasting), the reason why fasting makes some people have short fuses, and whether green tea k0mbucha breaks the fast.

Let’s go:

Mark–For the autoimmune case reports, you failed to mention that the patients preceded and followed the fast with a vegan diet, and that the authors conclude the paper by saying a vegan diet appears to be necessary to sustain the results.

Good catch, Margaret. I saw that, knew someone would mention it, and decided to address the inevitable query in a Dear Mark rather than drag it out in the middle of a post.

For one, these are case studies, and case studies notoriously lack the ability to imply causality or make conclusions. They are rigorously-recorded anecdotes containing a seed of a hypothesis for further, more serious study. So even though all the subjects followed a vegan diet, and the authors opine that such diets are necessary for long-term maintenance, we don’t have anything to compare it to. The same applies to the long fast, of course—the case studies can’t establish whether the fasts are actually responsible for the improvements.

Second, my guess is that they’re just assuming the validity of the conventional wisdom. “Of course, vegan diets are the healthiest, least inflammatory diet in the world, so let’s have these recovering fasters follow the healthiest diet in the world.” Is it really necessary?

Your “average” vegan gets more of certain nutrients than your average omnivore, particularly folate, magnesium, vitamins C and E, copper, and fiber. Your average omnivore gets more protein, vitamin D, vitamins B2 and B12, zinc, and iodine than everyone else. Fish eaters eat the most calcium and selenium.

Why not be all three?

There’s certainly strong evidence that healthy omnivorous diets aren’t any worse than plant-based ones for cancer risk, and sometimes they’re better.

Unless the contention is that the recommendations for adequate intake of vitamin D, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, protein, zinc, iodine, calcium, and selenium don’t apply to patients with autoimmune disease….

Lifelong vegetarianism has no effect on breast cancer risk, nor does it affect prostate, colorectal, or (again) breast cancer risk. If anything, “vegetarians” who eat fish have a lower risk of colorectal cancer than strict vegetarians.

For rheumatoid arthritis—the autoimmune disease featured most prominently among the case studies—removing gluten might be the crucial piece of these plant-based diets. A gluten-free vegetarian diet improved symptoms in RA patients, for example, and another gluten-free vegan diet reduced symptoms and improved biomarkers in RA patients. As immunoreactivity to dietary allergens reduced, so did RA symptoms.

Could you get the same results by keeping the gluten out and adding some wild caught salmon and pastured eggs to go with your “vegan” diet? I think so, and I hope we find out for sure some day.

I occasionally do a fast for 24 hours. For an appetite suppressant, I drink ginger tea made from boiling chopped ginger root. Do any of you have suggestions for other appetite suppressants?

Coffee is a good appetite suppressant. The literature is mixed, but caffeine seems to reduce food intake, probably due to increased lipolysis. With more body fat available for burning, you have less desire for food.

Staying active might be the best, though. Not active as in hiking the Appalachian trail or taking CrossFit classes. Active as in busy. Engaged. Walking, working, reading, creating, gardening. Keep mind and body busy, and your thoughts will be less likely to stray toward boredom-induced hunger.

What is considered a long fast. My usual is 36-45ish, that still be considered short?

In my book, a long fast lasts at least three days. But even two days is “long” for most people. Heck, skipping lunch is absolutely bonkers these days.

What’s the impact of extended fasting on gut flora (the microbiome)? Those lifeforms are obviously going to be stressed, perhaps to net benefit, but that would be conjecture.

And if there are hazards there, could they be mitigated by supplementing with probiotics and daily non-caloric prebiotic fiber to keep the critters happy?

Fasts can be good for us. Maybe a fast is good for those tiny guys living in your gut, too. They’ve co-evolved with humans, relying on us for food. We don’t always get food, so they must be adapted to occasional bouts of not getting any either. They may also be adapted to our current practice of perpetual snacking, given that bacterial generations can be as short as 20 minutes and evolution happens rapidly. (Although since bacterial generations can be as short as 15-20 minutes, perhaps they’ve adapted to the grazing.)

Also, many species of gut bacteria feed on mucin produced by the gut lining. This isn’t sustainable in perpetuity, as mucin maintains the integrity of the gut lining, but there’s no problem for a few days. They’re equipped for it. A 2015 study on “fasting”—mostly fasting with some low-calorie soups and juices—found big increases in mucin-degrading bacteria.

I’ve used a three days fast to clear up some pretty bad stomach issues. Whenever my dogs have diarrhea, I fast them for least a whole day and it always clears up. If “lack of diarrhea” indicates good gut health, I’d say fasting has a neutral or beneficial effect—at least if there’s an existing problem.

Hold off on the probiotics and prebiotics until you’re back. It probably wouldn’t hurt, but I’m interested in fasting the bugs, too.

One thing worth considering with longer fasts is the effect (or possible effect) on mood/personality… I saw Rachel Hunter (on her tv series Tour of Beauty) do a week or 2 fast and she admitted that she got very angry/aggressive/ easily annoyed etc… However she wasn’t primal/paleo to begin with so maybe someone who is already a fat-burning-beast wouldn’t have such side effects, and it was a “TV Series” so I’m not sure how much faith we can put in that, but she did seem genuinely irritable (maybe try meditation, yoga etc when doing longer faster for your family’s sake ?

That’s certainly possible, but I find—and the research backs this up—longer fasts imbue me with euphoria. It’s tough to get angry when the mundane suddenly seems profound. The most likely explanation is exactly your instinct: She wasn’t an effective fat burner. Fat-burners hit the ground running. They can tap into their fat stores and avoid the worst of it. Sugar-burners will go through major withdrawals and deal with a terrible case of low-carb flu.

My question is about the use of green tea Kombucha during an extended fast – would this be something you recommend as I have been using it for a while now and love it…?

Sure. As long as the kombucha culture has digested the majority of the sugar, and there’s not enough residual sugar to break your fast, it should be fine.

The green tea component of the kombucha could actually be really helpful. One study found that green tea protects against the fasting-induced damage to the intestinal lining during a 3-day fast. 

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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What Goes Up Must Come Down

And I am down with the flu. Or something. I got a flu shot, but I guess it’s a strong one this year. I’ve heard that most of Cville is sick right now!

But before I was attacked by this virus, we had a great little weekend.

The power toast craving is strong these days!

We had wonderful 75 degree weather on Friday, and Mazen and I spent the whole afternoon outside. We played with our neighbors and went on scooter rides, drank smoothies, and jumped on the trampoline across the road.

Do you like Mazen’s new shirt?! It’s from Indy Rose Co owned by KERF reader Katy. If you don’t watch Game Of Thrones you might not get the joke, but wildlings are the free folk who live beyond the wall in the show. Kady sent Thomas and me grown-up versions and I’ll show you my shirt soon! Kady is also offering any of you 10% off anything in her store with the code KATHEATS10 : )

This is his best wildling face:

We teamed up with our neighbors for a cookout on Friday night. I made a big salad, and we grilled burgers and hot dogs and sweet potato fries.

Most days Mazen wakes me up by jumping on me in my bed. Often there are pillow forts involved. If he wakes up and I’m already dressed and downstairs, he gets really mad!

Sheet monster:

Saturday morning oatmeal! I made it with cottage cheese, granola and almond butter.

We went out to the country on Saturday to visit with Thomas’s family.

The boys had a great time romping around. (Mazen dressed himself – can you tell?!)

We had Caesar salad and pizza for lunch at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie! Soooo delicious.

And then that’s when this sickness hit me like a truck. I convinced Mazen to have a quiet time with a toy from my surprise closet so I was able to rest. Luckily Matt had plans to take Mazen out to dinner and spend the night, so he could stay away from my germs. I sure hope he doesn’t get it – eeeek. I had a fever of 100.7 that evening.

After taking some Advil, my appetite came back and I started feeling better. Thomas brought in curry for dinner. Green and panang – yum.

I was able to sleep in a bit and rest most of Sunday. I bought Moana for Mazen on the TV, and we had a good time watching that on the couch. I sure hope this goes away soon!

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How To Blanch Almonds

How To Blanch Almonds

What are blanched almonds?

Blanched almonds are almonds that have had a short cooking period in hot water which loosens their skins so the skins can be easily removed. Basically, they are just… Read more →



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