When I see patients in the office we often start discussing “healthy eating,” as if we both are on the same page! However, I follow-up my question by asking “What exactly do you believe is healthy?” The majority of the time, the conversation feels like we are speaking two different languages.
The truth of the matter is, everyone’s definition of “healthy eating” is different!!
Now, what exactly is “healthy eating” or “eating clean?” How can this be accomplished?
Although eating healthy comes in all shapes and sizes, I personally follow a “Personal Paleo Code” as described by Chris Kresser. This isn’t necessarily the only “eating healthy” lifestyle change that exists, but I do believe that a “Personal Paleo Code” is a good basis for people to start on. I have seen excellent results from friends and patients that adhere to the principles.
I believe that “eating healthy” starts on the premise of removing processed foods, sugar, and grains from someone’s lifestyle.
The biggest issue I find when I discuss lifestyle modification is the last part of this lifestyle change – the grains. People look at me dead in the face and say, “Why can’t I have grains?” Well, the short story is that bread, pasta, and any other grain-laden product is easily converted into sugar. Once this process happens (the Krebs Cycle, etc.), the laws of adiposity take hold. Insulin is released from the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. Once insulin is released, sugar is broken down into immediate energy where needed by the body, and into fat stores for the excess. People look at me and say, “Sugar makes us fat?” The simple answer is yes. Insulin is a “fat storage hormone” If our bodies can’t immediately use the energy from food (which is usually the case), we store the sugar as fat. This is the fat most commonly seen stored in our abdomen.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of coming home to Florida, and witnessing my family try and transition to a “healthy eating” lifestyle. I have seen some of the common pitfalls and that I will discuss a few of them in depth.
Juices (yes, even “Naked” smoothies) are a huge pitfall. The best way to tell if the juice is real juice is if you juice it yourself, or you look at the nutritional label to see how much dietary fiber is in the beverage. Most juices will have no dietary fiber – this means the beverage is simply pure sugar water. Avoid all juices unless you can reliably say that they have dietary fiber in them. In theory, fiber slows the digestion of the sugar in the intestinal tract so as to not inundate the pancreas with a huge amount of sugar for processing. Drinking beverages like the ones I described above are the same as, or even slightly worse than drinking a Coca-Cola or Pepsi.
Processed foods are generally laden with ADDED SUGAR. Check out my previous blog for these pitfalls. Take the time to look at the nutritional label, and if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you probably shouldn’t eat that item. Companies like to break up the amount of sugar in the ingredients label by using sugar synonyms such as but not limited to:
Brown Rice Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cane Sugar, Coconut Sugar (just because it is from a coconut doesn’t make the sugar any better for you), Brown Rice Syrup, Sucrose, etc. This concept is discussed extensively in Robert Lustig’s book “Fat Chance”. My summary of his analysis of all the “Diets” of the 21st century breaks down to this:
All successful lifestyle modifications/diets have one thing in common, they eliminate SUGARS and PROCESSED FOODS from them!!
In general, labels with a laundry list of ingredients are usually processed and composed of unhealthy ingredients. The closer from the earth the item is, the better it is for you.
Since I will be publishing this just before we all gobble down a few pounds of Thanksgiving Turkey here is my method to having a healthy, fun, and fulfilling Holiday!
Number one priority: TURKEY (Probably a pound or two for myself… lol)
Number two priority: Veggies
Number three priority: Everything else
Fill up on meat and veggies before you get into the sugar laden sweets!!
Finally, just because the box says “low fat”, “low sugar”, or “low carb” doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for you. Always read the nutritional labels on the boxes!! “Low fat” typically = loaded with sugar!! “Low carb” or “Low sugar” may mean that the food is packed with fat. Fats can be good or bad (I will discuss this in a future blog), but sugar is responsible for the epidemic of obesity.
As they say, “Eat to live, but don’t live to eat!!”
I love hearing that my lifestyle involves the “most dangerous workout” there is! When catching back up with friends from home in Florida we do the usual back in forth of:
“How are you doing?”
“I’m doing great, and you?”
“I’m doing well as well…”
But the next question that I often get is, “What have you been doing to stay in shape?” I tell them I have been doing Crossfit pretty religiously for the past year and a half. Having a background in Olympic lifting (thanks to a father who pushed me to be the best athlete I could be, by starting “oly” lifting during high school) gave me a little bit of a leg up, and being a former division 2 college baseball player I found myself craving the competitive atmosphere a Crossfit Gym delivers.
After I stop babbling about Crossfit, I tend to get the question, “Being a doctor aren’t you worried about getting injured? Crossfit is so dangerous!”
Crossfit has been shown in one study that, Crossfit-Based High-Intensity Power Training Improves Maximal Aerobic Fitness and Body Composition. Currently there are no Peer Reviewed Journal Articles that can definitively state that Crossfit leads to more injuries than other conventional strength training. This is something that could use studying in the future. I’ve thought about this for some time now and here are my recommendations on this:
Crossfit is just as dangerous as someone following their own training program in the gym. The key to staying injury free is finding a gym that really takes pride in coaching perfect form and techinique.
- A good Crossfit coach is going to sacrifice a new personal record (which feels amazing to accomplish) for doing the exercises with correct form.
- A good Crossfit coach is going to work with you when your technique on your squat is just a little bit off (ie: curving your back when driving out of the hole).
- A good Crossfit coach is going to put you through a good warm-up and several mobility exercises to ensure that your muscles aren’t cold and susceptible to sprains and strains.
This is what people should look for when joining a Crossfit gym – coaches and a community that cares. They should find a gym that has beginner classes/elements courses that walk you through all the movements that Crossfit will involve. Every movement in Crossfit can be modified to someone’s capabilities. For instance, if pull-ups are something that you just can’t do, then a good gym and coach will modify the exercise. Generally, they will give you a band to use in order to strengthen the muscles that are weak (I personally think a pull up is a goal that everyone should set to accomplish. You never know when you may be required to pull yourself to safety…)
A coach that you do not want is the one that will encourage you to push through a repetition with improper form. A coach who pays more attention to his phone during the workout, than your curled back as you do a deadlift. A coach who would rather be elsewhere when teaching the class. A coach who just tells you to limber up on your own. These gyms and coaches are few and far between, but as the saying goes “One bad apple gives the whole bunch a bad name!” and I believe this is why Crossfit gets a bad name from time to time.
I believe that if you find the Crossfit gym and/or coach that are right for you, you’ll find that there is a smaller chance of injury than potentially doing workouts incorrectly on your own. The added bonus of finding a good community and friends is also very beneficial to ones overall health!
REMEMBER, Crossfit is what YOU make of it, don’t let other athletes in the gym dictate YOUR fitness goals!
I hope everyone is seeing great results so far! Only 9 more days to go!
My next recipe calls for ground beef. My roommate and I buy beef in bulk from Bringhurst Farms, and its become a staple in our fridge! http://www.bringhurstmeats.com The variety pack of grass-fed beef from this butcher usually has somewhere between 10-15 pounds of ground beef. We have come up with various different uses for the ground beef: it is not onle a good source of protein and fat, but can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, OR dinner! One of my favorite recipes calls for:
1- one pound package of ground beef
1/2 of an onion (chef’s choice here on type)
Butter or Ghee
Coconut aminos (for some additional flavor)
Feel free to get creative and add any paleo ingredient you want!
Get a mixing bowl and add all these ingredients in. Now, the fun part is using your hands (after you have washed them of course) to mix everything together. Add salt, pepper, and coconut aminos to taste.
Once you’re done mixing this “meatloaf” style mix together, make burger patties to the size of your liking. Set the old iron skillet or pan on the stove with either ghee or butter on high heat. Cook the burgers on this high heat to the internal temperature of your liking.
Brussel Sprouts – these go great with Beef!
Get a bag full of brussel sprouts from Trader Joe’s or any other grocer. Rinse the sprouts, cut off the bottom portion, and cut in half. After doing this put the sprouts in a bowl, and pour in some balsamic vinegar and honey (enough to coat the sprouts). Salt and pepper to your preference, then place the cut sides down in an iron skillet with leftover bacon grease or butter. Brown the sprouts on this side until a good carmelization has developed and then flip over.
Place a lid on the pan occasionally to allow the sprouts to steam as well as sauté.
Enjoy this delicious dish, I know that I do!
This is my first of four blogs about easy Paleo recipes that can be very satisfying, easy to make, and relatively inexpensive. This first recipe will feed two average sized people. I get all of my products in this post from Trader Joes.
1lb of Pork Loin (I get the unseasoned kind, so I can save a few dollars and know that I am staying Paleo)
2- Sweet Potatoes
One bag of organic spinach
Ghee (or Kerrygold Grassfed Butter)
Cast Iron Skillet (preferably one you can put into the oven)
If you cannot put the skillet into the oven, a cooking sheet will work.
One pot to boil water (for the sweet potatoes)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Season the pork loin with the sea salt and peppercorns. Leave the pork to sit for about 10mins. After about 8 minutes turn the stove onto HIGH heat and place the skillet on top of the stove. Put a copious amount of ghee into the pan that covers the cooking surface. After allowing the pork loin to season for the full ten minutes, place the pork in the skillet and brown all sides.
By this time the oven should be preheated. After browning all the sides of the pork place the skillet into the oven. If the skillet/pan can’t be put in the oven, transfer the pork onto a cooking sheet. Set a timer for approximately 20-25 minutes. If using a cooking thermometer the internal temperature of the pork should be 145 degrees with 3 minute rest.
Sweet Potatoes Prep:
After you put the pork in the oven you have about 25 minutes to cook sides for your meal. First, I set a pot full of water with a lid with a little salt, on that same burner that was used to cook the pork. I then like to cut the sweet potatoes into either little wafers/chips or I will cut them longitudinally into about 4 strips per potato. After done cutting these into strips or chips I will drop them into the boiling water. I then set a second timer for 10 minutes. After I remove the sweet potatoes from the boiling water I will use another pan or the same pan if I transferred the pork to brown the sides of the sweet potatoes.
Pick a pan and place the whole bag of spinach in the pan with some fresh ground garlic, salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil. Sauté the spinach.
So for just about 10 dollars and in roughly 30-40 minutes this whole recipe can be prepared. Enjoy!
For the next 30 days, you will be embarking on a journey that will leave you, and your body thanking yourself for changing your lifestyle for the rest your life. My focus in writing this is for the CrossFit Aspire and DT1 members who are on the verge of making serious lifestyle change. This is meant to be a guide of what is and what is not Paleo. This will not be all-inclusive, and if questions arise feel free to contact me.
Now, what exactly is Paleo? My favorite description that I have come across thus far:
“Paleo is the blueprint for healthy living and is still rooted in the food: Choose sustainable, nutrient dense foods, locally sourced when possible and good for you above all else; eliminate inflammatory foods, avoiding unnatural, heavily processed foods and administering a turn of the back to sugar, gluten, and grains.”
Starchy vegetables (ie: yams, sweet potatoes, Yucca, tapioca, etc.)
Non-starchy vegetables (anything green or colored in produce section)
Traditional fats (coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, Kerry gold butter (for our challenge it is ok), duck fat, lard, etc.)
Sea salt and spices.
Grains (including: “wheat, rice, cereal, oats, pseudograins, and nongluten grains like sorghum, teff, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, spelt, rye, barley, couscous, malt, graham flour, and so on. No bread, pasta, cereal, or PIZZA. And for now, don’t go shopping for gluten-free substitutes.”
Legumes (black beans, etc.)
Processed foods (almost everything in a box or a can!)
Sugar and all sweeteners in all forms
Any kind of soda
Any kind of fruit juice (unless you juice it yourself)
What’s the easiest way to be successful in this challenge? My best advice is to completely rid your homes of non-paleo items. Can’t be tempted if it isn’t there – Out of sight, out of mind!! I will be posting 4 different Paleo-friendly recipes that I regularly enjoy!! Check back next week!
Great Paleo resources:
He has shopping lists available if you sign up for his free registration.
If anyone has any questions about any foods or beverages feel free to email me!! Good luck!
Breakfast, while being the most important meal of the day, is often the most underrated meal of the day! When working on modifying someone’s lifestyle, my first question is, “What is your typical breakfast?” The response that I usually receive often reflects how little time most people have to prepare breakfast in the morning, since many say they either have a cup of coffee or a bowl of cereal.
Although these two options are common, they illustrate extremely unhealthy options for breakfast.
1. A cup of coffee, while not necessarily the worst option, due to the benefits of intermittent fasting leaves most people wanting more. Most commonly after their cup of coffee, I see people picking up something convenient, such as a muffin, bagel, granola bar, or some other carbohydrate laden food item. This adds numerous empty calories plus introducing more added sugars into our “most important meal of the day!”
2. A bowl of cereal, often results in patients consuming excessive amounts of sugar and carbohydrates, without any real nutritional benefits. If the cereal is at least eaten with whole milk, or raw milk, there would be a minor nutritional benefit. However, since our nation is hooked on reduced-fat milk, there isn’t much in it that would necessarily help provide a satisfying breakfast.
The lack of quality nutrition in the morning had me thinking on my drive into work the other day. I found myself pressed for time and needed to satisfy my belly. I started looking around and I realized just how difficult getting a good wholesome breakfast can be. Every on the go breakfast restaurant will give you powdered eggs (SEE ABOVE or BELOW) or low-grade bacon, with some high glycemic index carbohydrates (ie: Biscuit, English Muffin, Toast, etc.) to go with these options. By no means is this a wholesome breakfast. When I say wholesome, I mean a breakfast packed full of good fats, proteins, and some complex carbohydrates through vegetables.
What I recommend for Breakfast (when time isn’t an issue):
2-3 Slices of good quality bacon: Great source of saturated fat and protein
3-4 organic free range eggs: Great source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and protein.
-Please eat the yolks (All of the 13 micronutrients in eggs are found here!)
Half of an avocado- High in Monounsaturated Fatty Acids, especially oleic acid (MUFAs), and naturally low in sugar. Helps rid the body of “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
Fats, especially saturated fats, along with protein, help stabilize blood sugar throughout the day.
If you lead a hectic lifestyle and are on the go in the morning, or can’t make bacon and eggs, here is my advice. Get a dozen organic free-range eggs from the store, and on Sunday night (or any night you have time) put all dozen eggs in boiling water for 10 minutes. This gives you a dozen hard-boiled eggs for consumption throughout the week. These are great for on the go in the morning!! Unsweetened full fat yogurt is another option for the on the go individual. This not only gives you plenty of active cultures for a healthy gut microbiome, but is full of good protein and fat.
Remember as the Abraham Lincoln once said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years!
A new study conducted by the Bill and Melinda Gate’s foundation has brought the world’s biggest health-related problem to the forefront. Our world as a whole is OBESE, and the latest data shows that although the rate of children becoming obese is slowly declining, the prevalence of this pandemic is still rising. We as physicians have failed the general public. We have given you diet recommendations (ie: low fat and high carb (condoning high sugar diets)) that were based on weak evidence, and made these recommendations the dogma/doctrine for a healthy diet for the past 40+ years.
I realized this upon reading Gary Taubes’ “Good calories, bad calories.” This book exposes the physicians of the 50’s and 60’s (especially Ancel Keys) for making recommendations on carefully chosen (dare I say “cherry picked”) evidence. For those of you would like to investigate further without reading the book check out the “Seven Countries Study”.
That being said, in our previous posts (PEPSI and DIET), we gave our best recommendations for preventing cardiovascular disease and the improper release of hormones (ie: insulin) with the consumption of diet beverages. This past week I came across a new study that links both diet and regular sodas to obesity. We must continue to reduce our overall added sugar consumption, as well as decrease our consumption of diet beverages. When we drink diet beverages (brain response to artificial sweeteners), the diet beverage triggers an insulin release in the body in order to break down the sugar we ingested. Unfortunately when we consume these artificial sweeteners, insulin is unable to break down the artificial sweeteners the way it does real sugars. This leads to our body craving more real sugar, and often times we don’t feel too well until we consume some convenient sugar product (ie: cookies, pastries, candy bars, etc.) If we replace sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks in our daily routines with water, or some carbonated flavored water (since studies show our bodies may be addicted to the carbonation), I believe we will not only see a decrease in the prevalence of obesity in the world, but we will also see an overall reduction in chronic diseases, such as, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis.
My recommendations for cooking from scratch and adopting a “NO BREAD” lifestyle will help our country defeat this epidemic that has been taking the world by storm.
A healthy lifestyle starts by stocking our pantry the right way. I had the privilege of going on grocery store tour with a preventative cardiologist friend of mine, I noticed that shopping for and preparing nourishing food is extremely difficult in supermarkets dominated by the marketing industry. We put all the wholesome and nutritious foods in the back, so we constantly are walking by less nutritious highly marketed empty calorie items. The term that he used was to shop the periphery of the supermarket and stay away from anything with a shelf life longer than one week.
Make a commitment to yourself today to start living a healthier lifestyle by choosing sustainable, nutrient dense foods, from local markets when available. Eliminating inflammation from your body by avoiding unnatural, heavily processed foods and look the other way from sugar, gluten and grains. By subscribing to my blog today you will be doing exactly that! My future posts will feature healthy dishes to make for the family in addition to the posts I am currently writing!!
Ok, I have to admit, for the past few weeks I have been on vacation and… over these past few weeks I have become enamored with FIFA World Cup Futbol!! Specifically, I was excited by the performance of team USA – especially their goalkeeper Tim Howard!! He put on the best performance in the World Cup by a goalkeeper, with 16 saves, since FIFA began to keep track!! Since his top-notch performance he became a focus of US news media, covering everything from his tattoos to his recent change in food consumption. What intrigues me is how he made a decision a year ago to convert himself to a PALEO lifestyle and how this lifestyle modification not only made him a better athlete, but also changed his life! I too believe in a PALEO lifestyle and I have adopted it as my own, the exception of mine is that I follow “my own personal Paleo Code”.
Like Tim, I firmly believe that we as individuals need to make a decision on what exactly we want in life from our bodies. He is a lot more blunt about it (“Do you prefer sweets and crappy food, or do you prefer to have a nice body?”),but I believe we both agree that we as a nation need to take responsibility for our health and wellness. Once we have made the decision to take responsibility for our health, then and only then can we start to make lasting changes in our lives!
So when I was asked numerous times while catching up with old friends, “Ron, you have always been in excellent shape, but what have you changed since you left?” I was flattered, as this comment totally caught me off guard. After a little introspection, I realized I had really began to focus on the food I was putting into my body.
This answer would spawn an instant conversation about exactly what foods I was eating and what else I had done. I believe that we as humans are all similar to Formula One Race cars. I would ask most of my friends, “What do formula one race cars run on?” They would tell me racing fuel (100 octane). I would then follow up this question with another: “What if I put regular unleaded (87 octane) into a formula racer?” We know that the race car would still run on the less expensive fuel, but would start to have various issues and/or break down completely. Try and apply this concept to your body. If you are fueling your body with less than optimal fuel, we will see similar results as the race car – your body will be running in a much less efficient manner, which can lead to chronic diseases over time.
This epiphany and transformation came after I read the book, “Your Personal Paleo Code” by Chris Kresser. After I tell my friends about this book they always ask me, “What exactly is a paleo code?” I found myself referring them to his website and book, which I find to be excellent resources for anyone who is looking to make real changes in their lives. However, most of the time my friends want to hear exactly what I am eating on a daily basis. So I break it down for them like this:
I eat a portion of meat or fish (protein) with every meal. I would suggest, especially for females, to eat most of your protein in the morning. Protein is very satiating and also has the ability to stabilize a person’s blood glucose throughout the day. I start my typical morning of with bacon, eggs, and an avocado. I will usually cook these in butter or ghee to get some healthy fats in my breakfast.
I try to switch out the pasta (grain) on my plate for a delicious vegetable (sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, etc.) or fruit in addition to the other vegetable or fruit on my plate. Craic, a crossfit gym that I went to in Boston has a patent on the term “no bread”. This is what I would say to most people to understand exactly what I allow myself to consume on a day to day basis.
The biggest complaint I will get from my friends is that they don’t want to be the only person in their group of friends that makes culinary demands when going out to dinner. I tell these friends that as long as we can abide by an 85/15 principle (85 percent of the time we adhere to “paleo code” principles and 15 percent of the time we cheat a little) that our bodies will be able to tolerate this. A good way to do this is by eating from scratch and staying away from added sugars and artificial sweeteners (diet sodas, etc) whenever possible. Going out and having fun with friends is an extremely important part of being happy in life and we must be able to enjoy some of the finer things (often times less health conscious things) when we desire to in order to stay happy. So I say eat, drink, and be merry, but when able do it on a “personal paleo code”!!