Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Cream of Fake Health Foods
getting heavy about cream
If we see something that says we can have all the flavours of something supposedly sinful like heavy (or in the EU double) cream but with an Nth of the calories - and in fact that that product will BURN fat and suppress appetite, what wouldn’t we pay for it?

How about 20bucks for 280g (about a pint)? 

Recently i saw this post on a fitness challenge site by one of the participants:
For all multiple cups a day coffee drinkers like me, I have your morning joe's new best mate!
Supresses appetite, taste delicious, and a healthier alternative to pounds of creame in your coffee!My favorite product of the week, Leaner Creamer!
"Leaner Creamer is the realization that a healthy alternative to fatty coffee creamers can exist. Leaner Creamer revolutionizes the cherished ritual of coffee drinking by adding the benefits of appetite suppression and weight-loss while you enjoy your java!"
Made with Hoodia extract, a plant native to the Kalahari Desert that tricks your brain into thinking it's full. Coconut oil easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and endocrine system. Further, it increases the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy and helping obese and overweight people lose the weight. Green tea extract to increase metabolism and fat oxidation, inhibit fat cell development, and increase fat excretion!I love it, use it every day, taste great, stops me from snacking! Check it out!
Wow! and i thought a pint of whole organic cream in the US at 5.60 was expensive. THis is 19.95

"Leaner Creamer is the realization that a healthy alternative to fatty coffee creamers can exist"
Healthy? Healthier? Time for the Claims Check, Please.

First troubling bit: you won’t find the nutrient breakdown on the product site, but you can find it.
Creamer ingredients (14)Coconut Oil, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavors, Sodium Caseinate(A Milk Derivative), Mono, and, Diglycerides, Dextrose, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Silicone Dioxide.17% Proprietary Blend:Citrus Aurantium, Hoodia Gordonii Extract, Green Tea Extract.- See more at food facts:

You know, this does look remarkably like the ingredient list for flamable coffee mate or similar. IN fact about the only differences are the added supplements at the end, and the presence of some coconut oil.

Which on the health side, raises the question:

IF this is the same as regular (flammable)highly processed coffee creamer, how is it "healthier" than cream? Coconut oil (first ingredient) needs to be processed to become a powder that will dissolve like a fat when put in hot water: that's in part the role of the maltodextrin (type of sugar) and the fifth and sixth ingredients: mono and di glyserides as emulsifiers - these also make up some of the fat content. 
In other words fat from the coconut oil is extracted, and some of these other fats are put in. How much coconut oil is really left?
Note also that after the little bits of fat and sugar, there's flavourings. The third ingredient is flavouring - unnamed - who knows derived from what.

Then i looked to find the nutrient calorie info. Amazing reading

First off, the serving size is 1teaspon (5g of a 280g bottle) like a packet of "powdered creamer" for coffee. For 1 teaspoon it's listed as 10kcal. There are 17.5kcal in that amount of heavy cream. Half and half has 7.5! interesting, eh? 

Basic Real Ingredient Comparison

Of the total calories per serving (1 teaspoon or 5g) only .5g is fat. 5 fat calories. the other 5kcal are from carbs. That's the second, third and sixth ingredients: Maltodextrin (sugar) Sodium Caseinate (trace amounts of protein from milk but mostly a flavouring/texture "food additive") and more sugar.
 As said, basic coffee creamer. Free when you get a black coffee at a store.

SO, what are you paying for at 20 bucks a pop? Analysis of basics:

There is Less than half a teaspoon of "coconut oil" and less than half a teaspoon of "sugar. “ in this stuff

on amazon for non-organic sugar and coconut oil, it works out to about just under 2c for real coconut oil and just over 2c for maltodextrin - or 2.5c if using table sugar - per serving. Times 112 per container that's less than three bucks - retail.

Where's the other 17 dollars worth of retail product coming from?

The rest are little bits of stuff to give it the colour/flavour of cream and then there's the "17% proprietary blend" that includes "Citrus Aurantium, Hoodia Gordonii Extract, Green Tea Extract" 

So, LESS than 1/5 of this 5g serving (less than 1g) has these special bits in it. Let's round up and call it 1g to see what 1g of Citrus Auratium, Hoodia and Green Tea are supposed to do there. 

Hoodia extract has just about nill evidence that it "tricks the body into feeling full" and if you were going to use it, coffee may be the last place you'd pay to have it. Why? Because caffeine IS a certified, verified by a ton of studies, appetite suppresant all on its own. Also - the fat in cream cues the body towards satiety (here's a post about fat tea using some cream and some coconut oil), so no need to play around with hoodia there. But how much is needed to have any effect? well, again: no science means who knows? Guesses anecdotally go from 1500-3000mg a day. A 60 cap bottle of 250mg pills can go for 20bucks - for unknown value. Just saying. 

Green Tea extract (some more info here) - for it to have any sort of real fat burning effect, we're talking about isolating ECGC - the catachins in the green tea. And by the way, as with caffeine, some folks get heart palpatations from this stuff so approach with caution. What we do not know from this company is what the purity of the extract is. You may be paying for the sweepings of the tea house floor as 1/3 or less of that 1g of stuff in your creamer. In research studies, doses to have an effect OVER TIME included green tea with 690mg of Catechins total, of which 136mg were EGCG - but here, we don't know what makes up this extract.

One look at supplement shelves will show you how varied the amounts can be.
Fortunately there have been studies using just green tea, too, where the amounts of catechins are known - and that seems to work too - when calculating your costs). 

Then there's Bitter Orange. another debatable component for fat burning. I love how WebMD describes its use: this stuff, and caffeine and st john's wort and "low calorie diet and exercise" may help with weight loss. That's like saying an iron nail and 3.50 will get you an americano at starbucks. Mind you other studies did not even find that. 
So of all this what do we have where we really can make any claims?

Prices for the rest of the 1g for those 112 servings

If we just divided these supplements into common ways they're bottled
  • 400 mg of GTE by now is 14 bucks for 250 caps or 6.272 for 112
  • 400 mg hoodia is 18.99 for 180 caps or 11.82 for 112
  • and
  • 170 mg is 9.49 for 60 - so need to double this - say 20 for 120 18.66
wow that's 36.75 retail for these extra bits if you were to role your own - that's more than 1.5 times the price of this concoction. That's amazing. That must be quite a deal.
OF course the only way this really works is if the main ingredient of this 17% proporietary thing is green tea extract being close to a gram and then only the tiniest bits of hoodia and bitter orange.
That way the manufacturers can say they have these three ingredients, without saying amounts.
And then again, it's not likely they're using FDA approved labs (like the supplements i was quoting) to add their inredients either.

Metabolism claims??
"Further, it increases the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas,"
I have no idea what that means. Stress on the pancrease? that doesn't quite make sense.
It might be more sensible to say that coconut oil’s particular kinds of fats are used more readily for fuel almost like carbs rather than being stored (citric acid cycle and all that), but even saying that, metabolism is more complicated than that, but heck, the simple truth is, eating too much is eating too much - pretty much no matter what that source is.


From the ingredients we see that this is pretty much coffee creamer powder that costs 8 bucks for 340g or, 6.22 - less than a third of what this stuff costs. Even the dairy derivative sodium casinate is present.

You are in other words PAYING THROUGH THE NOSE - for those UNKNOWN amounts of UNKNOWN quality supplements that are but for the green tea of dubious benefit for weight loss or satiety.


If the concern is to be “healthy” - decrease ingestion of chemicals and increase ingestion of whole foods. Like real cream or real coconut oil.
Or if you’re trying to get leaner quicker, try a no-cal beverage like black coffee or green tea you can enjoy at near zero kcal’s and get the benefits of these real deals.

As for better fat burning and satiety?

Well, the types of fats that lead to fat burnding from coconut oil will also be found - pending the season - in organic milk/cream - along with other types of fat burning fats like CLT. So if you like dairy, organic cream is not unhealthy. 

The fat in cream also has a satiety effect and a great mouth feel without additives. If you like dairy.

If you want the benefits of green tea extract, try exploring japanese green tea.

You can get some of the best in the world at teevana for the same amount as a pint of this stuff and you can reuse the tea leaves - from 20g of genmaicha i can get about five to seven liters (or seven big pots) - that's tea for about a week.

Or 20bucks can get two big jars of organic coconut oil - if you don't like the taste - don't get the extra virgin: it's pretty taste-neutral.

And sugar -well - if desperate you can get that for free where you buy your coffee. 

And skip the hoodia/bitter orange.

Bottom Bottom Line: we’re suckers for a quick fix,eh?

We are trusting creatures, especially when folks are selling things that sound great. If we're affluent enough, we'll buy it and try it.

I'm just testing the claims. and sadly, Coffee Creamer even with a literal pinch of hoodia added is still coffee creamer.

As per usual: whole real food is better and (unless super subsidized like sugar in the US and EU) cheaper than supplements.

Eat less; mostly plants, as Michael Pollan says. and Save your money - for more whole food?
just food for thought

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Loving and Leaving the Scale- managing weight by feel

How I’m leaving the Scale and Daily Weigh-In’s behind.

I am an inveterate weigher

I have a wifi enabled scale, and have been using it - near religiously - since i got it several years ago. Data, do i have data. And guilt.

Every morning. And fear to start the day.

First thing in the morning it’s been how i either feel good about myself (lost weight; didn’t gain weight) or use it as a Judgement of Failure (gained weight), and sets me on a path for how to change my food practices that day.

And that, my friends, is crazy. I’m a frickin’ certified strength and conditioning coach, nutrition coach, performance researcher. I publish research on just this stuff (eg no such thing as gaining a pound). I've participated in being coached around these principles. I KNOW that daily weigh ins cannot be used in this way. And yet, and yet.

Finally, last week when i was on the road and away from the scale for a week - and i confess, i was in france eating the best sourdough bread in the world after six months of zero bread. It was AMAZING. and i sorta finally had a break - a break through; a break down.

French pain au levain - or sourdough bread. mmm. opiods
I don’t know. But i thought: i’m eating all these processed carbs; my workouts this week are less intense; i must be putting on weight. I should be freaking out. I will freak out as soon as i go home and step on the scale. I really will. and then i’ll feel horrible. Like what i’m doing right now will fill me with shame. Bad bad person.

And so i thought: what if i don’t step on the scale?

Which thought lead to:

Why am i stepping on this scale?

I write and talk alot about how we should use any of these measurement tools to help us listen to our own body signals better.

We are WAY more sensitive systems than any trackers we can build and use, so why not use these measures to help us recover our senses?

So i thought: how do i take my own medicine here? how do i apply learning about listening to my body signals better by using the scale to support that sensitizing rather than as a rod to beat myself up with first thing in the morning?

Let’s do an experiment, me thinks. An experiment has an hypothesis, methods, presents data from these methods, then carries out analysis of the data, to see if the hypothesis has been disproven or proven.

Quick Overview of Approach. For a couple weeks or so, maybe longer, i’m thinking, how about trying to go by feel, and see what happens in terms of outcomes for which i care - getting stronger, leaner faster.

By feel, i mean, putting together feeling hungry vs too full; having a good sleep, a good workout and how this translates to adapting practices on the one hand and results like body fat% on the other at the end of the period. Can going by feel - really focussing on feel - let me learn how to do a better job of tuning my performance to feel better.

The hypothesis i’d like to test is that: by focussing on how i feel, and using measures in the background to assess how “feel” lines up with “measures”
  1. i’ll actually be able to get fat down
  2. i’ll feel better
  3. i may find an optimal way to conenct feeling with “reality” and that feeling to tuning, that will all be both more “tracker free” and better than “measure first” approach - in other words i’ll have evidence that i’ve been able to dial in “how i need to feel” against food/rest/movement etc to perform better - including being leaner, stronger, faster.
The null hypothesis would be: fat gain will only go up; i will fail in your leanness and strength progress aspirations without constant numerical monitoring.

The Method for This Experience

- every experiment needs a plan. Here’s how i’m measuring what i’m doing.

The Un-Scale: since the real push here is to get off the scale and its daily guilt trip, i’ve done this: i’ve put a hunk of gorilla tape over the number part of the scale window. I can see that a measurement is being taken, but i don’t see the measure. THis way, post experiment, i can look back on the “feeling” log and map what happens against that.

Other physical body measures: my main reality check will be a saturday tape measure up and skinfold caliper check in. By using 7 point caliper method against girth i’ll be able to see what my body seems to be doing. If lean mass goes up, and fat doesn’t move, weight will go up, girth will go up a bit - likely. If lean mass goes up as strength improves and fat burns up a bit, girth should go down a bit.

Girth measurements use weight so i won’t be doing the calculations at this point to give me a specific Body Fat Percentage measure, but i’ll have the data to put back in at the end of the study for that calculation. This is really good: data is there, but i won’t have to focus on it while going by feel.

Other Input Measures: Workout, Food, HRV, Time

Workouts: what i’m also tracking: my daily practice. I’m currently in another experiment of doing nothing but bodyweight progressions right now - building a base for things like hand stands, levers and the such like. Here’s a shout out to the german lads of CalisthenicsMovement for fantastic beginner and intermediate programs -and awesomely useful vids on youtube.

So, i’m logging my workouts using these specific protocols to measure progress. What is fascinating to me already is that in the past week that was my fifth week i think into these new protocols, it became a back off week. This week there is a BIG boost in performance. Very cool.

Food: all i’m doing with food tracking is taking pictures using my fave ap for this, diet snap: take a photo, that’s it. There’s no calorie counting - it’s here’s a record of what and how much you’re eating. Great.

HRV for Recovery: For the past few months i’ve been using the best phone based recovery measurementapp, HRV4Training by medium author Marco Altini(Great story of PhD’er and App builder.)
HRV stands for heart rate variability. It is a very reliable measure by which to assess fatigue - or really - how well have you recovered from the stress of the day before. Let’s say this again: how well you’ve recovered. That is an incredibly valuable measure against which to assess feel: how do you feel; does it align with this score. I’m making progress in terms of predicting what my waking score is feeling roughly to be. While the actual scores in my head may be a bit out, i’m rarely surprised about the direction, up or down from the day before.

How i use HRV: I already have killed my alarm clock. That is i sleep as much as i need and get up when i’m ready, so measuring sleep is not really something that is a big value add for me. All i need to know is how well recovered i am so i can rebalance as needed for the day ahead: above baseline, go go go; below base line - pending how much - either back off a bit (lighter workout for instance) or just rest (go for a walk).
This data can also be exported to a spreadsheet for review at the different periods for review in the study.

Calendar: A biggie in any experiment is also to understand what the heck was going on when. For instance, if i was on the road, does that explain shifts that may show up in weight data on a given day, but no bump in trend of weight overall? How does daily load affect recovery and progress that week, etc?
Wy do i want to know this? to connect back to feeling feel. And from this, to connect with some knowledge, skills and practice to TUNE IN better performance, reliably.

HowDoYouFeel tracking. Each day i’ll be tracking on my own how i feel on a lickert scale - better or worse than the day before in terms of body feel, energy, and anything else i can think of as relevant.
Active Engagement with Feel Checking Another part of this process is what in learning is called Active Learning: we engage with a process deliberately - reading a text, practicing a movement, whatever, with a specific intent. In this case, my specific intent is to ask at various points during the day is HowDoIFeel - in terms of energy, body, attention etc. Make a note that i’ll be able to connect back to any of the data captured.

THe goal of that connection is not just to see if i was right or wrong, but to see if i am building skills to tune in feeling better - better.

Checking In or Analysis: at different check points - the first one i’m thinking will be a month - i’ll be able to see what’s happening with the hypotheses.
I’ll be able to put all the data together - including the scale - to get the trends over time - and to coorelate these against particular food/workout/recovery practices.

Hopes: impact from outcomes

Best case scenario, after a month, if nothing else, i’ll have broken the Morning Madness of beating myself up about a number that is meaningless when trends are where it’s at.
What i am hoping of course is that i’ll have data to support the hypotheses listed above. What i may find is that the first check in may show if i’m not on target to confirm the hypotheses i may need to tune in awareness of a particular feeling better - and i may need some more data to help that. But my guess is that, at the very least, i’ll see i get better at tuning in performance - without a scale - over time.
That is - i’ll be able to use measures for a period to learn how to take care of myself - have confidence in that - without the measures.

A challenge here: i *know* about what the right things to feel and to do are. That’s the whole trainer thing - so i have the professional knowledge - and have also gone through coaching around the skills and practices to get to my happy body place. Previously, I’ve used the scale as a stick to re-inforce this knowledge even when i haven’t practiced the Things i Know Work - or worse, have demanded compliance when too stressed to work at that level. I’m hoping that this path may let me just be in my bod and find out what a real, happy place might be - to start to feel ok in the ebb and flow of seasons of our bodies.

Something potentially scary - these past few days alone of stepping on an un-scale without seeing the data - has been such a huge relief i really believe i must be on the right track: like the hitting oneself on the head - it feels so good when it stops.
Here’s to us all learning about how to tune in feeling great.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tools i Use, Episode 1: Notebooks App is Your Infinite Workout Log

Notebooks APP for logging workouts. Are you looking for an awesome app to help you log your workouts? Maybe thinking you should be able to take use your phone or tablet at the gym - since you have at least a phone with you anyway?
Great idea.
And the humbly named "Notebooks App" makes it dead easy to log your workouts your way, including adding photos (want to track your gun show progress after all) and back up your data to whatever sync service you wish. What could be easier/better. The infinite logbook has arrived.

This is the first post in a series on “tools i use” for different aspects of personal performance. This first post is about the tool i use for logging my workouts. It’s called Notebooks ( and you can download it from the iTunes store or get the mac app OR - yes the PC version TOO (isn't that cool?) -from the developer site 

There are several key attractors for me and the way i like to record workouts.

ipad with external keyboard running Notebooks- fantastic for
logging at home or in the gym - really.
Adding photos - like this screen shot from iThlete Precision Pulse HRM
is easy with yes the "add photo" button

  1. Cross iOS.The app is available on iOS and Mac so for me, that’s cross device accessibility
  2. Network Storage. The device supports all sorts of remote storage and syncing like dropbox and iCloud - none of which i use. I use webdav: my own home-rolled data service - and the cool thing is that Notebooks supports this independent syncing solution. Though outside the scope of this post, let me just say if you have an old mac hanging around, it’s pretty straight ahead to set up a “webdav server” and set up your own networked/cloud/whatever storage. The main takeaway here is that Notebooks syncs to your server of choice, meaning that no matter what device you use to log your workout, your complete log is always with you.
    There are a few more attributes for which i dig Notebooks for logging.
  3. Notebooks and sub-notebooks How i set up my workouts is a big enclosing Year notebook called “workouts YEAR” and then sub notebooks per month. They stay ordered by giving them their number, e.g. “02-February WO"
  4. Each Workout is its own Page For every workout i add a new “formatted” page.
  5. TIMESTAMPS  and Calendar Adds At the start of each workout i hit time stamp - to get the date and time in their. WIth the preference settings, these dates become links that when clicked on, put an Event into your calendar - fantastic - easy way to add workouts to “workout” calendar to see at a glance how consistent (or overdoing it) i’ve been.
  6. ADD PHOTOS At the end of each workout if i’m working with something like PP Heart Rate Monitor from iTHlete (another tool i use - and have used for years to get HRV r-r data), i can take a snap shot on the phone of the Chart from that workout, and add that to the Log page: how many times did my lifts go into the red? What is the estimated calorie load? it’s nice to have that visual. I can do likewise for scale data to see how it’s trending and interogate any possible links in fluctuations between that and say hours slept or meals (i like meal snap for MEAL not calorie tracking - another tool i use).

    Photos are also great when traveling as a hotel gym may mean different than regular tools - a photo means i can quickly log what the set up was. Can take the photo with the iPad or iPhone directly into Notebooks App as well. Nice
    taking pics at a hotel gym to remember what the set up was.
    YOu'll note some other tools i use - on the road - travel with bands
    These pics are then added to Notebooks in the Workbook log page.
  7. iPhone iOS view of monthly workout
    books inside Annual workout book
  8. SYNC i’ve mentioned this, but bares repeating: you can easily sync your data to a network service, and next time you’re at a different device, hit sync with that service and voila: your data is there.

Notebooks makes logging workouts and reviewing workouts kinda fun.

It’s fun to see the pages in a book build up. There’s a max of 31 pages in a month book. IT’s fun to
see how many of those slots get filled or reflect on what was happening in a month where there are fewer or more.
The syncing still strikes me as a kind of magic.

Additions i’d like to see in Notebooks

There’s only a few things i’d love to see in notebooks for logging workouts to make the logs even more effective.
  • It’s own calendar view to show entry dates for a given notebook. This calendaring was a terrific feature of a now-unsupported app on iOS ipad called Max Journal.

    I have a few years of logs in that one. Being able to glance a simple calendar image to see where there were entries was a great way to see consistency. I can imagine notebooks being able to set up calendars for various Notebooks - i have Clients notebooks and Workout notebooks for instance - being able to see some kind of date of entrey/calendar scrolling option perhaps like Max Journal would be grand.

    How Max Journal incorporated calendar data for views
  • A single click timestamp option Right now timestamping is a two-step process. One of the things with myJournal is that you could hit “timestamp” and it just plopped one in - which was great for checking how long a set took today vs. last week. Or even how long the last set took vs the first. In notebooks, you have a bunch of types of timestamps you can choose, so it’s hit time stamp, then pick the one you’d like - a way to set a default that single clicks in fast would be awesome.
  • Weather THis may be asking for one too many things but some logging / journaling apps are able to add location and weather. That would be just a nice option to add to an entry like timestamps. A macro or something to pop this in to be able to see oh ya it was cloudy all that week but my times on the bike went up. Wow, it seems 9C is a great place for me to work on X.
  • Smart Notebooks it would be great to be able to create a kind of “smart notebook” that could pull together all my “upper body heavy” workouts - maybe that’s a tag - for the past month/six months, whenever just to see what’s happening or not, to be able to page through such a notebook quickly would be awesome. Fantastic if things like “saturday” became a smart notebook, or whatever - to gather practice trends. Afterall i might believe i’m killing it on saturdays: may turn out to be only once every month is saturday as intense as i think it is...
Logging workouts has a long and valuable tradition. We can get so much more from these logs than just our practice performance.

Notebooks app is the first universal and cross platform app i’ve encountered that has the rich variety of features, in an easy to access fashion, that makes workout logging both highly (re)usable and just a treat to keep.

Conclusion: Notebooks App to infinity - and beyond for Rich, Useful Workout Logging

Highly recommend exploring Notebooks App for your workout log - bet you’ll be using it for more than just your workouts, too. The great thing is: you can!

If you found this review helpful, and you'd like to support this blog, you can use the following links: for US itunes store and

for uk store

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Going Vegan - an Exploration of Eat Less; Mostly Plants - to avoid death

Concerned about Death? want to avoid it in a robust way of youth/health preserving? Oh ya. So how about "mostly plants" for eating and less death? Does that help? Magic 8 ball and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says, looks promising. 

inadvertently, increasingly raw: home grown kamut wheat grass - so easy
with spinach, banana, brown rice protein powder fresh ground cinnamon
Hence, over the past 5-6 weeks, i've been exploring going vegan. That is eating less; mostly plants. It's not about weight loss - though i have been curious about that effect. It's been about budget - is it cheaper - and most especially - sustainability - and not really of the planet - but that's there - i mean about my health. And longevity. 

Death - and really the ill effects of aging - are things i'd like to avoid right now. IF you're over 24, that's where you're heading. We peak around 24-27, eh? So how optimise telomere length for this post peak period - which is usually longer than the pre-peak? Well, deliberate exercise, eating slightly less (the occasional fast) and a more plant-based diet seem to be worth exploring, based on research. 

A bit of context: long time on and off vegetarian but not vegan. getting real.

on the road, travel with nuts and seeds; soak overnight
have during morning with coffee. yum
About five years ago i started eating meat again quite happily based on what i saw in blood work - my veg eating was not optimised for performance, so thought screw this, i’m checking out meat again. and that’s been fine. Perhaps not the best way to ditch a dietary practice, but i was hanging with a Paleo / Perfect Health Diet crowd so i had support. I also dropped 4 pounds of fat, so bacon is my friend. 

But to get back to thinking about longevity (and sustainability from a good for person; good for planet synergy as a nice co-incidence)

So about five weeks ago, right before going on a road trip - super timing, right? i started a vegan experiment. And i’m still on it. The decision was to explore what going the full yard - going vegan - was like. 

Ryan Andrews (b2d interview) in his Drop the Fat Act and Live Lean (b2d review) points to Victoria Moran as inspiration. She has a lovely book, Main Street Vegan (US Amazon Link || UK amazon Link ), on exploring veganism as a moment to moment choice (my paraphrase - all inaccuracies mine) My approach is very much informed by Victoria Moran's one day/one meal at a time approach to doing the vegan thing. so not a vegan, but committed to exploring "mostly plants" as Michael Pollan's eat less, mostly plants, phrase goes.  

Mostly Plants: Here’s what i’ve found so far:

  • IT's EASY i find it so much easier to do clear vegan than dealing with dairy / eggs.  it’s also cheaper and one might argue healthier.
Lentils, soaked over night, cooked in pressure cooker,
with fresh sautéed onions tomatoes and mm mm spices.
Cheap, super nutritious - serve with greens - lasts a week.
  • VEGETARIAN COP OUT?  intellectually - knowing how meat is processed whether free range or organic or grass fed is for dairy - i’ve been to the farms so labelled. i don’t see how animal (ab)use with chickens and cows for egg/dairy is much different than eating the slaughtered or asphyxiated end product. If you can use a cow for milk, you know what happens to the beast at the end of its life cycle? You know what happens to male chicks? so WTF. I feel like an idiot for doing that so long.
    Dark chocolate: vegan - beyond vegetarian
    - no dairy (and often no sugar or just a touch)
  • Feels like yoda: either eat or don't eat animal products; their is no try.
    In other words, and this is just me - for me - i’ve kinda given up on vegetarianism -  intellectually - as a cop out.  The arguments about animals at that point just get too nice. And there’s no energy/sustainability argument that can save it either. it just doesn’t work. Either you’re in or you’re out - i say to myself - if you're going to claim to be something. And right now, i claim to be an opportunistic vegan - i opt for that right now as a default.
  • ASK! Restaurants Will Go Theere - for your Green Backs. When i’m out, i also find it empowering to ask a restaurant if they can just put together something green and beany/lentilly - lots of dark stuff - i’m amazed how willing to accommodate these places are. Sometimes completely surprised. Like testing for wifi where you KNOW they won't have it and oh wow there it is. Yesterday this gastropub bent over backwards to figure out a way to do something that met the vegan way - made sure i knew something i'd suggested "red pesto" had dairy "well let's try something else..." This is cool as a way to help folks i work with say "see, you can ask; it's ok if it's not on the menu" 
Restaurant (@theGoatUK) truly iterated to pull every usable item from its full
menu - v. non-vegan - to create a vegan lunch. No
idea what the orange stuff was, but kinda tasty.
  • It's a Choice When push comes to shove - it did out a a business dinner the other night and rather than to -and fro’ing with the waiter about me and my dietary needs, i was fine to eat a piece of fish - opportunistic vegan - creating opportunities as frequently as i know how so far.
  • BUDGET Oh ya, and my food budget? that's part of the experiment i'll be looking at again in another week, but it's looking like a SIGNIFICANT difference in my grocery spend. Esp. when you're the must be free range, grass fed, not grain finished, home schooled type of meat eater. 
stuff sprouts - just add water - soak, drain
and literally rinse, wait, repeat - good things happen like increase protein quality
  • New Way to Explore Food for Fuel not Fat In terms of clients working with me around fat burning, and healthier relationships with food and their bodies, and we look at dairy - that becomes one of the easiest performance ways both to save calories (assuming there are sufficient nutrients in the mix already, so this may not be a starting point at all)  i’m stunned at how much extra *stuff* comes into meals from processed dairy and eggs. If you say goal: reduce/eliminate dairy/eggs, that also gets rid of processed food pretty much in a heartbeat. it’s stunning. Not saying these things are evil, and not saying it's good to do UNLESS there's a great practice for how to replace the protein/healthy fats that are there, but it becomes part of the conversation now.

Optimising for Mostly Plants - one meal at a time. 

SO right now, i’m personally optimising at the moment for mostly plants - the raw and the cooked  - and getting into sprouting grains and legumes to make them more tasty, live and consequently bio-available. I LOVE sprouting chickpeas. Those things sprout crazy fast. As does Quinoa. IN a fry pan with some veggie umami Tast no. 5 paste. um umm good. 
sprouted chick peas, sprouted rice, sprouted oats and
greens and beats and seasonings and WOW. taste bomb
I can make Dal on sunday and it’s tasty and lasts all week long. awesome.  And CHEAP. and fresh. 

Main Street Vegan
US Amazon Link || UK amazon Link )
As Victoria Moran suggests, I take it a day, even a meal at a time, and just ask before i eat, can this be a plant based meal?  Implicit in this question is "a healthy, nutrient dense, satisfying" plant based meal.

Im not religious - last night i had chai tea and that is milk based and i loved it - but now i'm thinking, hmm, what would the social alternative be there without dairy? is there one? if yes what? 

I love this one meal at a time, no judgements; each meal is a choice. I know why i'm making this choice: sustainability of me for as long an happily as possible - and the nice side benefits for the planet aren't bad either. 

This is an experiment - mind you - i haven't committed to this as a way of life - but i'm intrigued, and enjoying on many levels. No massive changes in weight clarity of mind or other such things, but them i'm a pretty clean eating omnivore - so not really expecting much there. And 5-6 weeks is early days yet. But, cool. worth continuing. Today. Right now. After coffee. Black. Fresh roasted

If you're an athlete, lifter, or someone looking for hypertrophy/strength and think how can this be done on a vegan plan? you may find this plant-based experiment by John Berardi interesting (and here's part II)

How about You?

Are you exploring mostly plants? how's it going?
What encourages you to explore - even a couple days a week? or a meal a day?

What keeps you from exploring?
What would you need to know to make it safe and fun?
How goes?

i'm on twitter @mcphoo but please feel free to leave comments here - they go to moderation after a couple days to deal with spam alas. but floor's wide open.
Look forward to your thoughts.

Meanwhile, eat less; mostly plants - lots to recommend it.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tweet your #lunch4science!

Dear All: Please Share your Lunch (photos)

#lunch4science - white whole bowl
for scale and colour balance
by @leslieowensby
It's June 15 (or pretty close)
For the next few weeks, would you please tweet a pic of your lunch - for science?
Would you please ask your friends, colleagues, loved ones to do likewise?

Here's all you need to do:

It's simple:
     Before you take your pic, make sure there's some white in it. If it's on a white plate - showing the whole plate is great for scale, too. That's a bonus.
    If there's no plate - please put something white in the photo - a napkin, or piece of paper - an open notebook - this helps with colour detection by something known as "white balance."
  2. TAKE PIC With the twitter app - or any way you wish - take a pic of your lunch.
  3. Use the hashtag #lunch4science or even #lunch4sciBONUS: if you feel like it, use text to tell us what it is "a ham and rye sandwhich" a "salad with tuna and moz". 

Example Tweets

Example Pics

Thank you

You are making an incredible contribution to science. 
Really? yes you are. 

Two main ways, for this first phase of #lunch4science:

FIRST, you're helping to create an awesome log of what folks actually eat at this time of year (who happen to be connected to the internet and likely have a smart phone).  That's potentially v. interesting. 

SECOND, you're contributing a set of real world images to test out some computational vision techniques. 

What we're not doing:
  • We're not trying to identify specific foods - that's been worked on/done
  • We're not trying to convert what's in the pictures to calories. (We don't think counting calories is particularly helpful or interesting: there are better relationships to have with food).
What we ARE doing in this first phase:
  • We have a pretty simple (but perhaps elegant) hypothesis at play in this wee quest for our lunch images. We'll be sure to share this with you after this collection effort is finished up - if we did before that, that might affect the pictures we take. Hope that makes sense? 
  • If you have quesitons, just ask either @mcphoo on twitter, or here, in the comments.
Again THANK YOU for your help.
#lunch4science (or #lunch4sci if you're running out of characters)
this is work with Alex Rogers, University of Southampton, UK, Stefan Rueger, Open University, UK and well, me, dr. m.c. uSouthampton too.

#lunch4science - white bit, full plate in pic much appreciated 



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