Monthly Archives: August 2010

Alcohol 101

Alcohol addiction (any addiction for that matter) is bad for health. Period.

While some of us drink nonstop to forget some great tragedy in life, most of us drink for fun. This post is for the second case. Chronic drinkers and addicts please go here.

You down a few shots of tequila and in about 30mins… Boom!… you’re smarter than the sober ones, you’re more handsome than your model friend, you’re stronger than the bouncer in the club and you can speak every language there is… including your dog’s. What is this mystery substance that makes you do stuff you normally wouldn’t do to save your life?

The alcohol we refer to when we’re talking about getting hammered is actually Ethanol  (C2H5OH).  It is for all practical purposes a psychoactive drug and it has a depressant effect on the consumer. Depressants decelerate central nervous functions which causes some messages that need to go to the brain to be slowed and/or blocked. This is why you walk funny, speak gibberish and feel like Neo when you turn your head fast.

The Bad:

  • Ethanol inhibits the secretion of vasopressin from the posterior pituitary gland causing severe dehydration when heavy amounts of alcohol are consumed.
  • There’s evidence that alcohol consumption can raise the risk of certain cancers, particularly breast cancer in women and cancer of the head, neck and esophagus in both genders. Read more here.
  • This study says that getting drunk at least once a month puts women at a significantly increased risk of heart attack and I doubt that the verdict is any different for men.

The Good:

  • One study found that men who drank moderate amounts of alcohol three or more times a week were up to 35% less likely to have a heart attack than non-drinkers, and men who increased their alcohol consumption by one drink a day over the 12 years of the study had a 22% lower risk of heart attack.
  • British Heart Foundation says daily intake of 1-2 units of alcohol (2-4 oz of wine) is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease in men over 40 and post menopausal women.

So from a long term health stand point there are both pros and cons to alcohol consumption and it’s hard to say if one overshadows the other.  But, like everything else, alcohol consumption in moderation seems to do more good than bad.

What about from a fat loss/body composition perspective?

First of all, alcohol is wacky in a couple of ways.

  • Alcohol does not belong to carbs or proteins or fats and has 7.1 calories per gram (1 gram of carbs = 4 calories, 1 gram of protein = 4 calories and 1 gram of fat = 9 calories).
  • When you consume alcohol it goes from the stomach to the blood to the liver and gets converted into acetate by enzymes in the liver. Now once the acetate is released into your bloodstream, the body seems to want to burn this for energy instead of burning fat (or carbs).
  • Despite  this, alcohol consumption does not seem to result in increased body weight. Read here for more.

So it’s fairly conclusive that alcohol consumption by itself doesn’t cause fat gain. So what does then?

  • We all know about the ‘beer belly’. What we dont know is that the belly from drinking gallons of beer is mainly due to the monstrous load of carbs from the beer than the alcohol content in the beer.
  • One study shows that alcohol consumption increases appetite. With the increased appetite and compromised common sense due to the psychoactive nature of alcohol we end up with truckloads of french fries and chicken wings in our tummies.
  • Downing multiple cocktails is the equivalent of downing liters of soft drinks and/or fruit juices! We know soft drinks and fruits juices are basically liquid sugar… and we also know sugar causes fat gain. Mixing spirits with soft drinks or other juices have the same net effect.

Obviously, not getting sozzled is the best option for health reasons and to avoid fat gain… but that ain’t gonna happen now is it?! So what’s the solution?

1. Watch the carbs in your choice of alcohol. Choose your liquor wisely. Remember a drinking night will involve 5-10 drinks and the carbs/calories add up!

2. Stay away from cocktails. Tasty but definitely not worth the flab in the mid section.

3. If you’re a fan of hard liquor/spirits, stick to ‘neat’ or ‘on the rocks’. Granted it is a drinking night – still no reason to chug liters of soda!

4. If you’re drinking at a bar stay away from the junk food. Eat before you go to the bar. Bar food blows and you don’t want to pay half your week’s salary for sucky food anyways.

5. If you have to eat something when you drink (and you definitely should if you want to avoid a messed up stomach and a hangover) eat some cheese and drink plenty of water. This will keep you up and about the next morning. Some awesome stuff about hangover cures here.

6. If you’re very serious about your fat loss but equally serious about getting leathered then you have to listen to Martin Berkhan.

Peace.

Transition to Clean Eating

Irrespective of what I say or how I communicate it you will end up doing what ‘works for you’… but there is really no harm in trying something right? So here is some information on what not to eat, what to eat and how to transition from one to the other.

The good, the bad and the ugly:

Based on the nutritional benefits each of these foods contain I have graded them from A to E.

Grade A : Green Vegetables, starchy vegetables, berries, lean meats, seafood, eggs, nuts, dairy, whey protein

Grade B : Beans, legumes (including peanuts), white potatoes. Why beans & legumes are not good.

Grade C : Rice, corn, quinoa (all non gluten containing grains). 10 Reasons to go grain-free.

Grade D : Wheat/gluten related products (bread, roti, tortilla… anything with gluten). Why gluten is bad.

Grade E : Sugar and junk foods (soda, cookies, pizza, fries, cheese puffs, biscuits etc.). Why sugar is pure evil- Must read!

Obviously  all your meals can’t contain only grade A ingredients.  But as long as the majority of your meals contain only grade A foods… you are super good to go!

Making the transition:

Reasons to make the transition:

  1. You will be gradually transitioning to meals which are far more superior than grain based meals.
  2. You will stay fuller longer due to consumption of real foods which have loads of fiber and high satiation.
  3. You micro-nutrient (vitamins and minerals) intake will drastically increase.
  4. You will lose fat without the pain of weighing and measuring food or counting calories.
  5. If you workout or play some sport you will  recover faster and perform better.
  6. You will still be able to eat your favorite foods every week. (Trust me when I say this, a once a week cheat meal makes you favorite foods taste so much better!)

The Transition:

  • Week 1: Have one clean meal per day. Clean meal = food prepared using Grades A & (if required) B. For the other two meals stick to your usual foods. Sunday will have 3 open meals. 6/21 (30%) meals will be clean (assuming you eat 3 meals a day)
  • Week 2: Have two clean meals per day. Clean meal = food prepared using Grades A & (if required) B. For the other meal stick to your usual foods. Sunday will have 2 open meals. 14/21 (65%) meals will be clean.
  • Week 3: Make all meals clean. Clean meal = food prepared using Grades A & (if required) B.  Sunday will still have 2 open meals. 19/21 (90%) meals will be clean.
  • Week 4: Stick to week 3… and if possible try to reduce the number of open meals on Sunday from 2 to 1. 20/21 (95%) meals will be clean.
  • By week 5 or 6 you should start experiencing higher energy during the day, fat loss, sound sleep, better performance, faster recovery and overall betterment in the quality of life.

    Sample 4-Week Transition:

    Week 1:

    • Monday & Tuesday: Dinner [Grades A, B only]
    • Wednesday & Thursday: Lunch [Grades A, B only]
    • Friday & Saturday: Breakfast [Grades A, B only]
    • Sunday: Open [All meals]

    Week 2:

    • Monday & Tuesday: Breakfast and Dinner [Grades A, B only]
    • Wednesday & Thursday: Lunch and Dinner [Grade A only]
    • Friday & Saturday: Breakfast and Lunch [Grade A only]
    • Sunday: Open [2 meals]; Other meal [Grade A only]

    Week 3:

    • Monday & Tuesday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner [Grades A, B only]
    • Wednesday & Thursday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner [Grades A, B only]
    • Friday & Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner [Grade A only]
    • Sunday: Open [2 meals]; Other meals [Grade A only]

    Week 4:

    • Monday & Tuesday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner [Grade A only]
    • Wednesday & Thursday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner [Grade A only]
    • Friday & Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner [Grade A only]
    • Sunday: Open [1 meal]; Other meals [Grade A only]

    Grain Free Recipe Resources:

    None of this in here could hurt you (except that you might love me for making you do this and that can’t be a good thing!). May be after 4 weeks you’ll end up eating clean only 60% of the time. But that’s still way better than eating crap 7 days a week (1400 times a year)!

    Peace.

    As a side note…

    My diet:

    Grade A – 95%

    Grade B – 0%

    Grade C -3%

    Grade D – 0%

    Grade E – 2%

    I don’t count calories but my estimation is that I eat anywhere between 1600-1800 calories per day. Let’s say 1700 calories for easy math. I have an awesome cheat meal once in 2 weeks which accounts to about 1000-1200 calories (The most recent cheat meal looked exactly like this + this +  this). Since my total calorie intake for 2 weeks is 1700 x 14 = 24,000 calories (apprx), the 1200 calories works out to 5% of my total calorie intake.

    Treadmill Tricks

    If any of the following describes your case then this blog post should be immensely helpful to you.

    1. You like running and you want to do more of it to get better at it… or…

    2. You spent a good chunk of money buying a treadmill (for whatever reason) and now within 2 weeks you’re bored running on it aimlessly… or…

    3. You want to work on your endurance (running especially) but can’t do any speed runs on the road because where you live cars and pedestrians don’t coexist.

    Treadmill Workout 1:

    5 mins Warm-up @ usual running pace (6-7mph for me)

    3 rounds…

    20 sec @ high intensity (11-12mph for example)

    20 sec @ rest (stand on railing with treadmill running)

    4 rounds…

    20 sec @ higher intensity (11-12mph @ 3-4% incline for example)

    10 sec @ rest (stand on railing with treadmill running)

    6 rounds…

    15 sec @ high intensity (11-12mph @ 5-6% incline for example)

    5 sec @ rest (stand on railing with treadmill running)

    5 mins Cool down @ slow running pace (5-6mph for example)

    Total workout time – 16 mins

    Treadmill Workout 2:

    5 mins Warm-up @ usual running pace (6-7mph for example)

    10 Rounds…

    10 Pushups

    60 sec run @ high intensity (8-9mph for example)

    5 mins Cool down @ slow running pace (5-6mph for example)

    Total workout time ~ 25mins

    Treadmill Workout 3:

    10 mins Run @ usual pace (6 mph for example)

    8 mins Run @ usual pace + 10% usual pace (6 mph for example)

    6 mins Run @ usual pace + 20% usual pace (6.6 mph for example)

    4 mins Run @ usual pace + 30% usual pace (7.2 mph for example)

    2 mins Run @ usual pace + 40% usual pace (7.8 mph for example)

    1 min Run @ usual pace + 50% usual pace (8.4 mph for example)

    5 mins Cool down @ slow running pace (5-6 mph for example)

    Total workout time ~ 35mins

    Treadmill Workout 4:

    Run 2 miles as fast as possible. But… at the end of every 4th minute get off the treadmill and do 25 push-ups.

    For example: If you run your 2 miles in 21 minutes you would have done push-ups at the 4 min mark, 8 min mark, 12 min mark, the 16 min mark and the 20 min mark. So the faster you run the lesser push-ups… the slower you run the more push-ups.

    Treadmill Workout 5:

    5 mins Warm-up @ usual running pace.

    Turn off the treadmill. Hold on to the front rail and push your feet hard against the conveyor belt to move it. Do this for 30 sec.

    Rest 30 sec.

    Repeat for a total of 15 rounds.

    5 mins Cool down @ slow running pace.

    * This move will recruit muscles from your posterior chain (glutes & hams) in addition to your calves and quads. Since this move recruits more muscles the energy expenditure is much more than running and so the 30 sec push (assuming intensity is high) should beat the piss outa you.\

    And if you’re looking for some more action…

    Peace.

    PS: Please exercise caution when stepping on the treadmill when it is on. You’d think this is obvious but you have no idea what people are capable of!

    Flippin Delicious Four Course Meal

    The weekend was pretty awesome in a multitude of ways with creative and delicious food definitely being one of the highlights. I happened to cook lunch for a couple of lovely ladies who are ovo-lacto-vegetarian. [Lovely lady 1’s blog and lovely lady 2’s blog.]

    For those of you who think delicious meals cannot be made without grains and cereals… eat this!

    Main Dish: Crunchy Tofu on Romaine

    Ingredients:

    4 oz Organic Firm Tofu (or any other protein), Romaine Lettuce Leaves, 1 cup Mushroom, 1 Sweet Red Pepper, Green Onions, 1 tbls Butter, 1 tbls Soy Sauce, Salt, Cayenne Pepper

    Instructions:

    1. Cut the tofu (or any other protein) into tiny cubes and saute in 1/2 tbls butter till the sides turn brown. Set aside.

    2. Chop the mushrooms and red pepper into tiny cubes and saute in remaining butter till done.

    3. Add browned tofu to the pan. Mix.

    4. Add soy sauce, salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

    5. Place mixture on fresh and crunchy lettuce leaves.

    Side: Buttered Baked Sweet Potato Oregano Fries

    Ingredients:

    1 Sweet Potato, Salt, Crushed Black Pepper, Oregano Flakes, Chili Flakes, 1/2 tbls Butter

    Instructions:

    1. Cut the sweet potato into french fries and put them in a bowl.

    2. Add salt, pepper, oregano, chili flakes and melted butter to the bowl and mix. (You can season these any which way you like. Garlic goes awesomely well by the way!)

    3. Bake in oven at 400 F for ~ 20 min turning once in between.

    Dessert 1: Coconut Apple Cinnamon Pudding

    Ingredients:

    1/3 cup Real Coconut Milk, 1/2 Apple, Cinnamon

    Instructions:

    1. Pour coconut milk in a bowl and bring to a boil. (Remember to use REAL coconut milk… the one you get in Asian or Indian stores).

    2. Add chopped apple and cinnamon to the coconut milk. Simmer for ~ 20-25 min or till the apples get mushy.

    3. Blend in a blender or food processor.

    4. Pour in a cup, dust over with cinnamon and place in refrigerator to set. This cooling step is what gives it the custard consistency.

    * Note: Credit for the recipe goes to Robb Wolf and Andy Deas.

    Dessert 2: Protein Berry Verrine

    Ingredients:

    1/4 cup Coconut milk, 1/4 cup Cottage Cheese, 2 tbls Whipping Cream, 1 scoop Vanilla Whey Protein Powder, 1 tsp Vanilla Extract, 1/2 cup Blueberries, 1/2 cup Strawberries

    Instructions:

    1. Blend the coconut milk, cottage cheese, whipping cream, whey protein powder and vanilla extract.

    2. Pour in a wine glass and freeze for 30-40mins.

    3. Add the berries just before serving.

    Note: Credit for recipe goes to Vidya.

    Just so you know…

    • No crappy chemicals or  syrupy sugars… all natural all healthy ingredients!
    • Not an ounce of sugar in any of the recipes.
    • No grains or cereals or beans or legumes in any of the recipes.
    • All four items together add up to ~ 700 calories with ~55 grams of protein.
    • All fats are from awesome sources – butter, coconut milk
    • All carbs are from vegetables and berries and hence super high fiber content.
    • Calories were not counted (of course duh!) and everyone ate to satiety.
    • All items were made by one person and total cooking time for all 4 dishes was ~ 60 min.
    • Funny story – The two desserts are nutritionally superior than the main dish… thank’s to the MCT’s from the coconut milk and the protein content of the verrine!

    Try it out and let me know what you think.

    Peace.

    16 Ways to Burn More by Doing Less

    Assuming you’re eating right and are active in general, here are some secrets to burn some extra calories! No more jibber jabber… here we go.

    1. If you have a desk job stand up every 20-30min and walk around for like a min or two. That ass of yours need not be glued to the chair ya know!

    2. Stand during meetings. As an added plus, slowly walking around to room with hands on forehead will make it seem like you’re deep in thought.

    3. Park at the farthest parking spot and walk to your destination. If you’re destination is a Chinese buffet then park about 20 miles away from your destination.

    4. Skip the elevator. Take the stairs. If possible several times a day.

    5. Drink 1/2 a glass of water at a time and walk to the cooler more often. Drinking lots of water also keeps you walking between your chair and the restroom.

    6. Skip the 3pm cookie break and go for a 10min walk in the sun. This will save you from a sugar induced coma and get you a quick dose of Vitamin D.

    7. Take a quick stroll or shoot some hoops before lunch… and may be after lunch.

    8. Get a little more hardcore and request a standing work station. You can just buy them assembled.

    9. Be greedy for work! Be the one to take the trash out or to help out with someone’s bags. More work more burn!

    10. Skip a meal every now and then. Don’t eat just because it’s time to eat. You’ll save a few calories and fasting is good for a multitude of reasons including longevity.

    11. Eat more protein. Protein is super satiating and has a high thermic effect and will result in expending more calories during digestion compared to carbohydrates and fats.

    12. Throw in a stick of gum right after your meal. This almost guarantees killing sugar cravings.

    13. Eat spicy foods. Spicy foods have shown to increase body metabolism which results in more net calories burnt during the course of the day.

    14. ‘Eat’ all your foods, avoid liquid foods. The more processed the food is the more readily it will be absorbed.

    15. If possible, walk or bike to work.

    16. Last but by no means the least, drop empty calories (grains and cereals) and fill up with nutritious and satiating vegetables, fruits, nuts and eggs.

    Even doing 50% of these, in addition to your healthy eating and exercising, will make a world of difference in body composition and overall fitness.

    Peace.

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