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Friday, December 31, 2010

Chuck Roast Beef for New Year's Day

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Got an organic beef chuck roast this afternoon from Choices at 57th Ave in Vancouver.  I'm planning to slow roast it tomorrow on low temperature.

After washing it, it was coated generously with olive oil. I made small cuts and stuffed it with whole cloves of garlic.  Next came Montreal steak spice, black pepper, cinnamon and cumin.  Lastly, added fresh mint.  Its marinating in the fridge until morning.  When I wake up, the plan is to pop it in the oven and start the first meal in the New Year with a nice beef roast. 

I'll take pictures of the finished roast tomorrow and update the post.

UPDATE: January 1, 2011.

Woke up at 6:30 a.m. and put the roast in the oven at an indicated 185*F. Consumer ovens are notoriously inaccurate and the setting on the dial has no bearing on the actual cooking temperature in the oven.  Basically, it was just warm, and I went back to sleep.   Cooking a roast for many hours on low heat naturally preserves the tenderness in the meat without drying it out. It permits less expensive cuts of meat to taste succulent and have that melt-in-your-mouth type texture.

At 9:15 a.m., I turned up the heat indicated by the dial to 225*F.  This is necessary to crisp the outside of the roast.  The following pictures were taken at the stove top around 11a.m. when we started eating the meat.

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The crispy outside was full of spices and had a great bite to it.  The inside middle was tender, moist and succulent.  Some parts of the roast had connective tissue which was too chewy.  We left those aside.

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Sliced chuck roast on a serving plate is shown in the picture above.

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We dipped the beef into pan drippings before partaking of the organic roast.  The beef melted in our mouths. It was a good Primal way to start the new year.

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cinnamon Can Lower High Blood Glucose

If your HbA1c is higher than your target and you wish to lower blood sugars, try taking 2 grams of cinnamon a day for 12 weeks. Research shows it lowers blood sugar.

The study was done in the United Kingdom using 25 males and 33 females in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind trial.  The subjects were all Type 2 diabetics who were given either a placebo or 2 grams of cinnamon per day for 12 weeks.

The cinnamon group's mean HbA1c went from 8.22% to 7.86% while the placebo group went from 8.55% to 8.68%.  Since the HBA1c test measures average blood sugar for the previous 120 days (hence the 12 week trial period), it is no easy feat to lower the average. In addition, systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the cinnamon group was also lower compared to the placebo group.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blood Donation and Paleo Life

So I gave 0.5 liter of blood during my lunch hour today.  In downtown Vancouver, the donation clinic is located at 888 Dunsmuir and it is administered by Canadian Blood Services.

Part of the screening procedure involves checking if you have enough iron (ferritin) in your blood, taking your resting heart rate and blood pressure.  My resting heart rate was 52 bpm with a blood pressure of 112/54 (machine read not manual). This is low for my age and as a marker for cardiovascular health, it is better than having high blood pressure. Prior to my weight loss, I was borderline high at 130/80.

Although some Paleo adherents use blood donation to simulate blood loss on the battlefield, I don't subscribe to the re-enactment school of thought.  I donate blood simply because it might save a life. There is some research which indicates blood-letting reduces iron in the blood which in turn lowers blood sugar which I consider to be a side benefit to donating blood.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Meditation for the New Year

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking,
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others."

~ Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191).

Wishing you a happy new year,

Monday, December 27, 2010

Today's Quickie Workout

Going to my kickboxing class this evening but decided to do some weight resistance before heading out for some shopping.

Decided it was sit ups day. Each line is a set with  less than a minute rest between.

- 50 sit ups
- 30 sit ups & 20 Thai sit ups
- 50 anchored ankle sit ups (ankles hooked underneath something secure)
- 30 anchored ankle sit ups
- 50 push ups (good form, chest almost touching the floor)

That certainly got the heart racing.  :)


Sunday, December 26, 2010

HbA1c and Athletes

This post follows a discussion on the results of my recent blood test where my HbA1c was measured at 6.1%.  My exercise regimen and body shape was described previously.  (At present, mainstream medical practice uses Fasting Blood Glucose (FBG) and the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) to screen for diabetes.  The HbA1c test is typically only prescribed for diabetic patients to measure long term blood glucose control.  Unless you are a diabetic, your doctor may not order an HbA1c for you.  You may have to specifically request one.)

Asking The Right Questions?
I wondered why my HbA1c would be high while my fasting blood glucose and lipid profile appeared within normal range.  Average adults have a resting heart rate between 60 to 80 beats per minute. My resting heart rate of 49 bpm at age 44 generally indicates a high stroke-volume efficiency. My blood pressure of 110/75 did not raise red flags. This got me thinking about the metabolic adaptation of athletes.

What About Athletes?
Most HbA1c reference data is derived from diabetic patients.  Risk associations with HbA1c levels are thus based on reference data with underlying pathologies that are abnormal.  Were there any studies that looked at the HbA1c of athletes?  That question led me to a study called Glycaemic Control in Athletes by a group of Italian researchers named Lippi, Montagnana, Salvagno, Franchini and Guidi from the University of Verona in Italy which was first published in 2007 and again in January 2008 in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

What they found was statistically significant differences in fasting blood glucose and HbA1c between the sedentary group, elite cycling athletes and professional cyclists.  Would you like to guess which way the HbA1c of elite athletes differed from the sedentary group?  It trended higher at 5.4% than the sedentary group at 5.2%   The study did not answer why the cycling athletes had higher HbA1c readings. They did hint that sedentary reference data should not be used to evaluate athletes.

Did the cyclists in Lippi's study have higher HbA1c readings due to some metabolic adaptation where the body makes more glucose available for longer periods to meet the energy demands of their activity or were the readings caused by the cyclists eating larger carbohydrate meals to balance their energy requirements resulting in higher post-prandial blood sugar over time?

[January 14, 2011 update:   I have since found this study which shows blood glucose can rise as high as 6.6 to 8.9 mmol/L during recovery from short term, high intensity exercise. As Fast-Twitch muscle fibers are depleted of glycogen during short term, high intensity exercise, the body rapidly resynthesizes glycogen  to replenish muscles by raising glucose and insulin levels.  How hard you exerted yourself during the exercise affects how high your blood sugar levels rise immediately after.]

Athletes Are Different
Prior to this in 2004, Lippi was involved in another study measuring serum creatinine, uric acid, albumin and glucose in professional athletes.  The summary was that laboratory testing results based on sedentary population reference points were not useful for athletes.  This confirms another study which researched the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) - a measure of kidney function - in endurance athletes versus a sedentary control group.  Basically, if you exercise hard and are extremely fit for your age group as measured by weight, performance, strength and cardiovascular endurance, the standard laboratory flags of blood test readings may not be applicable.  The laboratory's range of acceptable readings do not take into account metabolic adaptations by the intensity and workload of your exercise regimen.

Do Genetics Play A Role?
In another study published in May 2005 out of China, the glycemic control between power athletes and endurance athletes was compared.  They took juvenile track athletes between 12 and 13 years old and classified them between short-distance runners (power athletes) and long-distance runners (endurance athletes). They performed an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test on both groups. In the second part of the study, they took adult athlete swimmers and divided them between short-distance (power) and long-distance (endurance) groups. Once again the OGTT was given to both groups.

With both juvenile track and adult swimming athletes, insulin sensitivity was significantly lower with the power athletes.  Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides were also significantly higher with the power athletes.

Their conclusion was that the genetic makeup of an athlete reflects their metabolic composition.  Those who were more insulin resistant favored power sports, while those more sensitive to insulin favored endurance sports.  This confirms the anecdotal saying that the athlete does not select the sport, rather it is the sport which selects the athlete. The athlete with higher average blood glucose in their blood selects a sport which rewards sudden and short bursts of energy.  Whereas the athlete with lower average blood sugar in their system excels in sports where energy outputs have to be sustained for longer periods of time.

I think one reason athletes have higher HbA1c readings is due to the liver releasing its stores of glycogen during vigorous exercise thereby raising blood sugar to meet energy requirements.  When the exercise is intense enough to produce lactic acid in the muscles, the body converts the lactate buildup into glucose via gluconeogenesis which also raises blood sugar especially when the athlete has not eaten prior to the workout. This is known as working out in a fasted state or a fasted workout.

Once the energy demand subsides, the body releases insulin to store the excess sugar which lowers blood sugar once more. This cycle increases the body's sensitivity to insulin; making a person much less likely to become insulin resistant.


Victor's Blood Test Results (2010)

Here are the results of my blood test which was taken on December 20, 2010.  For readers in British Columbia, it was LifeLabs who did the test and the results were obtained the next day through The following figures represent approximately one calender year of eating a Paleo\Primal diet with about 80% compliance.

Test Results
                                               SI            USA
Hemoglobin A1C =     6.1%
Glucose Fasting =    5.2 mmol       94 mg/dl
Total Cholesterol = 5.23 mmol      202 mg/dl
LDL Cholesterol =   2.94 mmol      114 mg/dl
HDL Cholesterol =   1.88 mmol       73 mg/dl
Triglycerides =     0.91 mmol       81 mg/dl
Chol/HDL (Risk Ratio) = 2.78       
Resting Heart Rate (RHR) = 49 bpm
Blood Pressure =    110/75

Exercise Regimen
As part of my profile, it is important to note that I am 5'6", about 143 lbs. and not on any medication.  I workout with a kickboxing class twice a week, do weight resistance exercise regularly and cycle from my home to my office downtown 2 or 3 times a week as circumstances permit.  This is a round trip commute of 40 km (25 miles) with hills.  My torso currently looks like this.

Industry Guidelines
If you compare these blood test figures to the American Heart Association or the Mayo Clinic's guidelines, they represent a relatively healthy lipid profile for a person with no known blocked arteries or ischemic heart disease.  An aggressive doctor following the recommendations of Merck Frosst might prescribe statins to chase a magic cholesterol number.  However, as we have already discussed previously, cholesterol is less important a predictor of coronary heart disease than post-prandial blood sugar levels as measured by HbA1c.

The one result I have flagged in yellow is an HbA1c of 6.1%.  This means that the average blood sugar over the last 90 days was high. According to Ned Koch's formula, this means my average blood sugar level was 7.1 mmol/L or 128 mg/dl.  As I wrote this post, I tested my post-prandial blood glucose exactly 2 hours after eating a dim sum lunch - hardly primal I know - and it was 6.9 mmol (124 mg/dl).  This post-prandial reading  does not indicate a pre-diabetic or diabetic condition as far as I know.  What is going on?  

If my high HbA1cs was due to pigging out on refined carbohydrates, I would expect my LDL-C and Triglycerides to be higher.  On the other hand, does my exercise regimen and intermittent fasting lower the LDL-C and triglyceride readings even though I am eating too much refined carbs?  

At this point I only have questions, not answers.  Am I even asking the right questions?

So I started researching blood sugar in athletes.  Read up on my findings in the next post HbA1c and Athletes.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Short, intense workout on Christmas Day

Fasted breakfast and had lunch.  Planning to eat dinner that will comprise an 8 hour eating window for the day.

After doing 100 kettlebell swings on consecutive days, I decided to do some weight resistance exercise before showering and heading out the door for dinner. Here was the workout with as little rest as possible between. Typically less than a minute between.
  1. Five SuperSlow pull ups.
  2. 45 feet-elevated push ups with push up bars.
  3. 20 dive bomber pushups
  4. 60 leaping spiderman push ups
Total time? Less than 10 minutes and it was intense.

Update:  The day after, my pectorals, triceps and biceps were certainly feeling the effects from yesterday's workout. :)


Friday, December 24, 2010

Success Story of the Day (Tara)

Meet Tara.  This is what she looked like before.  5'9" and over 230 lbs.

This is Tara now.  Mother of twins and studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.  She is still 5'9" but at 153 lbs.  Read about her experience and how she changed here at

The journey of 10,000 steps begins with the first.  Life's results are the outcome of a million small choices we make each day.  Its a balance between curiosity, long-term quality of life and immediate gratification.  All we can ever do, is make the choice of the moment.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cholesterol & HbA1c: What They Are and Why They Matter

(Dec 26, 2010 - This is now the second most frequented page on the blog.  I have updated it with some new information from Ned Kock's site, the Health Correlator).

Let's say you go for a blood test and the results come back that your cholesterol is too high.  How can you lower your cholesterol safely?

To begin, let's define a few terms:

  • LDL - Low density lipoprotein.  This is the bad type of cholesterol that clogs arteries.  You don't want this.
  • HDL - High density lipoprotein. This is good cholesterol because high levels of HDL seem to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
  • Triglycerides - this is a type of fat made in the body.  High triglycerides typically mark a diet high in refined carbohydrates.  When triglycerides are high, LDL also tend to be high and HDL tends to be low.

Most informed doctors today no longer worry about any one number in isolation.  What is important is the ratio between HDL and LDL and the amount of trigylcerides.

Stop Eating These Foods
To improve your cholesterol numbers, simply stop eating:

Foods That Are Sweet
Why do those foods cause cholesterol to be high?  They tend to be high on the glycemic index. They are sweet and will cause the body's blood sugar to rise rapidly. It may surprise you to know that whole wheat bread will cause your blood sugar to rise more than a Snickers bar. Having a lot of sugar in the blood leads to glycation. Imagine what happens when you heat sugar in a pan on the stove.  It melts and become sticky right?  The same thing happens inside our bodies when high levels of sugar are present. The test to measure how much sugar is in the blood is a test called the HbA1c (pronounced hemoglobin A-1-c).

HbA1c  Correlates Cardiovascular Disease
Red blood cells have an average lifespan of 120 days.  The HbA1c measures the average blood sugar during the past 120 days expressed as a percentage.  The lower the number, the better. Numbers between 4% to 5.8% are OK.  6% and higher means the risk of cardiovascular disease is greatly increased.  Greatly.

To calculate your average blood glucose level  over the past 3 months using your HbA1c number, apply the following formulas (choose mg/dl or mmom/L.  x is multiply, - is minus).  Take moment to calculate it if you have your HbA1c number.

Average blood glucose (mg/dl) = 28.7 × HbA1c − 46.7
Average blood glucose (mmol/l) = 1.59 × HbA1c − 2.59

Having high blood sugar in the bloodstream causes arteries to harden. We need to understand that  high HbA1c values are a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than cholesterol.    The graph below is charted using raw data from the EPIC-Norfolk Study by Petro Dobromylskyj who publishes a blog called Hyperlipid.

EPIC Norfolk data. IHD = Ischemic Heart Disease. CHD = Coronary Heart Disease.

What trend do you see here?  I think its pretty obvious that once the HbA1c reaches 6% or greater, that the risk of ischemic heart disease rises rapidly. You can read a summary of the conclusion from the Annals of Internal Medicine - one of the most widely cited peer reviewed journals in the world.

Doesn't Cholesterol Cause Atherosclerosis?
Wait a second!  HbA1c measures sugar in the blood.  What about cholesterol?  Isn't cholesterol the cause of heart attacks?  Eating fat, makes us fat and eating fat will clog our arteries?  This is known as the Lipid Hypothesis.   Although Rudolf  Virchow first articulated the theory in 1856, we have to credit Ancel Keys for selling the idea to North America. Have a look at this video:

Decades of Low-Fat, Obesity Still Rising
For years conventional wisdom waged a war against fat.  This gave rise to a food industry that made "low-fat" variations of every food product imaginable.  Despite 30 years of following the "low-fat" mantra, obesity rates have only increased. Why?  There are only 3 main food groups:  protein, fat and carbohydrates (vegetables, grains, fruits).  A low-fat diet inevitably means a high carb diet.  Have a look at cholesterol levels compared with HbA1c plotted against IHD events.

Same data as above. IHD = Ischemic Heart Disease, TC = Total Cholesterol, LDL = Low Density Lipoprotein.

What this graph shows is that Total Cholesterol and LDL could vary between 4.5 mmol per liter to 7.5 mmol per liter and the relative risk would stay stable at 6 and 4 respectively. Relative risk was not able to be lower than 3.9 regardless how low total cholesterol or LDL was measured at. Only larger amounts of sugar in the blood over the last 120 days track with an increase in coronary heart disease events.  Even better news, HbA1c values of 4.5% equate to a relative risk of 1 (a risk reduction of 3.9 times compared to LDL).

Prolonged High Blood Sugars & Coronary Heart Disease
Looking at the graph and assuming your total cholesterol and LDL are within the range shown above, should you worry more about reducing cholesterol or reducing sugar in the blood?  Still not sure?  Have second opinion here or see what this cardiologist has to say.  Or this: Ned Kock, an evidence-based evolutionary biology researcher also comes to the same conclusion using a different data set. We now know that a high carb diet causes blood sugar to rise and consistently elevated post-prandial (after meals) blood sugar levels damage the body. Could it be that high carbs are more damaging to the body than healthy animal fat?

If this is so, why does mainstream media and the average family doctor obsess over cholesterol numbers to the point of prescribing statins to "control cholesterol"?  I suggest that pharmaceutical marketing pressure on physicians and the deliberate skewing of certain studies to frame cholesterol as the culprit in coronary heart disease benefits drug companies.  They want to sell us a pill to lower cholesterol.  They can't make money just telling us to stop eating sugar and wheat.  Too many industries have too much to lose if people reduced sugar and wheat consumption.  If you find this compelling, read more here.

Hearty-Friendly Foods
So what should we eat instead of the list of foods above?

Eat more eggs, meats, bacon, fish, organ meats, seeds, nuts (peanuts are legumes!), butter, lots of fresh vegetables and fruit in moderation.  Bear in the mind the meats should be free from antibiotics and growth hormones. Wherever possible, they should be free range and pastured. Even though humans are at the top of the food chain, we have an ethical duty to the animals we eat to minimize the suffering they experience being raised as food.  Animals raised in factory-farm conditions typically suffer from overcrowding issues such as disease and deformities requiring antibiotics and chemical feed.

The key here is eating food prepared from a raw state.  Simple dishes that are tasty, satisfying and healthy without pesticide exposure or genetic modification.

Get a full blood test done that measures lipid profile, HbA1c and C-Reactive protein.  More on C-Reactive Protein in future blog posts.  In British Columbia, doctor's don't normally request HbA1c unless you are diabetic so make sure you ask for it.  When you go to the lab for the test, sign up to receive a copy of your test results electronically.  This is done via (available only in British Columbia).  If your blood sugars are high, try taking 2 grams of cinnamon a day. It lowers blood sugar and HbA1c.

Now start talking to your doctor and researching what those results mean.  If the answers are not in-depth enough, start looking for answers on your own. Getting fit after 40 means minimizing our risks to diseases that plague our age group by changing what we eat and how we exercise.

Healthfully yours,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bodyweight Exercises - 1

I am a firm believer in bodyweight exercises.  Bodyweight exercises can be used for toning muscles, increasing muscle endurance, improving muscle definition and metabolic conditioning.  Its great for improving flexibility, range of motion and cardiovascular health. I've embedded some of my past workouts in the videos on this page.

Here are more reasons why I like bodyweight workouts.

1) Convenience.  Bodyweight exercises can be performed pretty much anywhere and at any time.  You don't need special equipment.  Just lifting your own bodyweight is a good workout.  Not heavy enough you say?  Then do the same exercises, just do them faster.  That will increase the load.

2) Safety.  Bodyweight exercises are safe because you work the muscle group until the lactic acid buildup is so great that you simply cannot do another repetition.  There is very little risk of tearing or straining a muscle beyond normal hypertrophy with bodyweight exercises compared to free weights or gym machines.

3) Simplicity.  You can do them by yourself, with a partner or in a group.  You don't need a spotter neither will you have the risk of dropping a weight on your foot!

4) Scalability.  You can start with a basic exercise then scale the difficulty according to your level of strength or fitness.

5) Efficiency. It is possible to be completely wiped out with just 30 minutes of bodyweight exercises.

Maybe you can't do 100 burpees in a row like the guy below, but we can all start somewhere right?  Aim for 10 and work your way up?

When you are ready, post your own bodyweight workouts!

Healthfully yours,


Monday, December 20, 2010

Fasted Exercise Has Many Benefits

My Softride Classic I rode today.
Today I decided to run a few errands on the bicycle.  Even though it was 4* Celsius with a forecast of light rain, I was looking forward to riding my bike again and trying a pair of winter gloves I bought to keep my fingers warm. Since cavemen suffered the cold on occasion while braving the outdoors, I thought giving up the heated leather seat in my car would an introduce some randomness of temperature exposure. The hormesis would do me good.  The plan would be to ride from west Richmond to Shaughnessy in Vancouver using the Arthur Laing bridge - a route I had never taken before.

Figuring our Paleolithic ancestors used fairly simple tools, I built this bike as a singlespeed which provides a better workout when riding uphills and bridges.

I normally try to exercise before eating and I definitely do NOT drink anything that contains sugar before working.  Ingesting sugar before a workout would make the body use the glucose from the drink instead of burning fat for energy. Since I had dinner at 7p.m. the night before, starting out from the house at 10:30a.m. this morning put me at around 15 hours since my last meal - a perfect fasted window for a workout!  It might help me improve my linea alba and fulfill my wife's Brad Pitt fantasy.

A ripped Brad Pitt for the movie Fight Club.

Some readers may prefer Ryan Reynolds - he's just turned single again...

Recent studies confirm fasted workouts are more efficient for weight control and fat loss.  Fasted workouts force the body to use intramuscular fat as an energy source which improves insulin sensitivity and increase muscle definition.  Even The New York Times had an article about fasted workouts.

So if you want to ramp up your fat-burning, appetite control, insulin sensitivity and gain some muscle definition, try working out in a fasted state.  Do it couple of times per week and see it accelerate your fitness goals.


Harvey's Take On Fasted Exercise

I totally agree with Victor. In fact I wasn't aware of all the experiments that were being done on this topic. I learn something new everyday. Maybe I will do more fasted exercise now.

I do sometimes fast and exercise if my MMA session is before 1pm. I have to admit that I feel really good during and after the session. I feel lighter on my feet and I am more alert. But I do feel hungry afterwards.

My advise to beginners is patience. If you decide to start Paleo, it is quite a change for mentally and physically. So start slowly. Don't go all out doing everything we are telling you. Your body will go into shock and you will feel like sh.. er...( not good ).

I suffered through sugar and carbohydrate withdrawal. It took me at least 4 months for it to totally go away. I suffered through wanting to pass out during MMA sessions. I was forced to take it down a few notches. Even now I am not sure how hard I can push my body yet. But I sensed that it can take a little more punishment. The great thing about Paleo is one can start getting results just by changing the food we eat without being a gym rat.

Sorry to say, but we are not in our twenties anymore. In fact, we are 'over the hill' already. So if you are just starting the Paleo program, just take it easy one step at a time. Or else I bet you will quit this lifestyle because of all the ill effects you are going to feel when you change too fast. But don't go at a snail's pace either or you may not see any result.

My recommendation is as follows:

1) Cut all refined sugar FIRST AND FOREMOST. i.e. all sweet tasting drinks and food that are packaged nicely and sold at supermarkets and convenience stores. Desserts too. However, you can cheat. I cheat once a month with my family.

2) Start playing a sport that you enjoy. Mine is boxing and jujitsu. I do a little tennis in the summer too. Might golf a little too.

3) Cut 70 - 85% of all wheat and carbohydrate food.

4) Start intermittent fasting. Start shortening your eating window. I find skipping breakfast and/or lunch is the easiest. Hey, you might even get a promotion if you tell your boss you'll skip lunch in order to stay at work!

5) Now, you can start to go easy on fasted exercise.

I wouldn't recommend going from step 1 to 5 within a month. I did everything right away. I survived but let me tell you, it wasn't fun when my body complained of all the changes. Take one step, let your body adjust and then go to the next step.

Good health,


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baked Chard with Pork

Get some chard, fresh mint, eggs, beans, pork and red onion.

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I use non-factory farmed pork and meats wherever possible.  Here is why.

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Slice the pork and veggies.  Dice the onions. I use cast iron or stainless steel exclusively.  No non-stick pots or pans of any kinds.

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Pan fry the sliced pork with red onion and your favorite spices (I used salt & pepper here) until brown.

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While that's cooking, fry the chard.

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Once everything is cooked, mix everything together in a large pan as shown in the picture above.

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Sprinkle crushed almonds (also known as baking almonds or almond flour) generously on top.  The large chunks of yellow stuff is aged cheddar cheese.  Now bake it for 10 minutes on high. After it comes out of the oven, it should looks like this:

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Portion out individual servings and garnish with fresh mint.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dealing with Holiday Feasting

Tis the season for Christmas lunches, gift baskets, chocolates, cocktails, corporate dinners and family get- togethers.  How does one not gain weight during this time of feasting?

Here are several strategies to cope with holiday feasting:

- Portion control.  Eat what you like, just eat smaller portions of everything.  Stay away from wheat products  and refined sugar but pile on the turkey. Alcohol in moderation.

- Skip meals.  If you have a big dinner that day, just eat very lightly throughout the day leading up to the event.  Drink coffees, teas or water without milk or sugar leading up the meal.  You might be surprised to discover that occasionally depriving yourself of food actually down-regulates your appetite.  This is method is called Intermittent Fasting.

Now if you're wondering whether skipping meals or fasting is healthy, read this as a jumping point to more research.  Isn't periodic caloric restriction harmful instead of feeding ad libitum? On the contrary, all the evidence we have so far indicates that periodic caloric restriction prolongs life, decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimers, is anti-aging, anti-cancer and mitigates against neuro-degenerative diseases.

- Eat one day, don't eat the next day aka Alternate Day Fasting. It works for some people although you may feel hungry on the day you skip meals. If you do ADF and feel hungry on the skip day, just eat a small meal when you need to.  The big picture here is lowering your overall caloric intake measured over several days replicating a feast or famine mode.

You don't have to put on weight during the holidays. You do have to take control of your eating habits and be responsible for what you put into your body.


Harvey's take on holiday eating.

So many parties and so much food !!!  We can't give up right now and put our diet in the New Year's resolution again !!

I am going to have at least 8 to 10 parties in Dec. I am sure there are tons of good food. I can't just sit there watching others eat. Its rude to the hosts. I would feel insulted if I was the host and my guests did not eat. Anyways my will power is so weak that when I see food, I have to eat. I am working on my weakness.

Intermittent fasting is the way to deal with feasting. I plan to do a few 24 hours fasting in between parties. If you choose, you can do 24 to 48 hours of fasting after all the feasts. That would kick start your fitness program again. I consider it winning a small battle when I complete a 24 hour fast.

Don't worry. Fasting won't slow down your metabolism if it is not longer than 72 hours. In fact, your metabolism will go up when you fast less than 72 hours. Only prolonged fasting puts the body into starving mode which in turn slows down your metabolism. This makes sense to me when we apply the Paleo theory to this reaction. When the body senses a lack of food, it will initially use its reserve to give the host a boost in order to have a higher chance of getting food. But after  72 hours the body probably gives up on expending energy to find food and starts to conserve energy. That's when your metabolism goes down. As long as you keep your fasting to less than 72 hours, a slowing metabolism isn't going to be a problem.

So feast-and-famine is the way to survive the holiday season's parties.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Paleo in 3 Easy Videos

How Obese Is Your Country?

Health complications arising from obesity

Seeing as we have page views originating from Canada, United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden, South Korea and Norway (as of December 17, 2010), I thought it might be interesting to post one studies' listing of countries and obesity rates.

The source for the following was Medical News Today.

Obesity rates by country (Source: Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development):
  • Japan 3%
  • Korea 4%
  • Switzerland 8%
  • Italy 10%
  • Norway 10%
  • Sweden 10%
  • France 11%
  • Denmark 11%
  • Netherlands 12%
  • Austria 12%
  • Poland 13%
  • Israel 14%
  • Belgium 14%
  • Turkey 15%
  • Portugal 15%
  • Finland 16%
  • OECD average 16%
  • Germany 16%
  • Slovenia 16%
  • Slovak Rep. 17%
  • Czech Rep. 17%
  • Spain 17%
  • Greece 18%
  • Hungary 19%
  • Luxembourg 20%
  • Iceland 20%
  • Chile 22%
  • Ireland 23%
  • Canada 24%
  • UK 25%
  • Australia 25%
  • New Zealand 27%
  • USA 28%
  • Mexico 30%
      • Non-OECD countries:  
      • India 1%
      • Indonesia 1 %
      • China 2%
      • Brazil 14%
      • Russian Fed. 17%
      • Estonia 18%
      • S. Africa 21%
      A Body Mass Index of 25 or more is considered overweight.  When a person has a BMI of 30 or more, they are considered obese.  Now BMI is not a perfect gauge of what constitutes a perfect bodyweight.  One of its shortcomings is a failure to take into account muscular athletes. Nevertheless BMI is one of the most common yardsticks to benchmark a person's weight relative to their height.

      Check your Body Mass Index here or get a PDF version here.  There is also an online BMI calculator.

      I am 5'6" and around 144 lbs. which translates to a current BMI of 23 (December 17, 2010).


      Thursday, December 16, 2010

      Roast Rack of Lamb

      Paleo eating emphasizes eating meats that are free from antibiotics and growth hormones where possible.  This rack of lamb is from New Zealand.

      Click for larger picture

      Get frozen rack of lamb that has been grassfed or pastured.  In the picture above, the rack is rock hard and in a frozen state placed in a cast iron pan for roasting.

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      Brush olive oil liberally all over the front, back and sides of the lamb.  Sprinkle your favorite spice rub or steak seasoning.  I used Montreal steak spice for the lamb you see here. Put the lamb in the oven for 45 minutes at 375* F.  Every oven is different in actual cooking temperature so you will have to just use this as a guideline and test accordingly.  I made test cuts around the minute mark.

      Click for larger picture

      Here is the rack of lamb when it was done.  The roasted skin is crispy, juicy and full of flavor. The rack is on the rare side but will continue to cook as it sits on the cutting board gradually becoming well done over the next 10 minutes.

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      This is a single slice of the rack of lamb.

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      The picture above shows the rack which continued to cook while it sat on the cutting board. Serve with steamed or boiled vegetables and potatoes.


      Wednesday, December 15, 2010

      What is Fit?

      Click for larger version.

      The three guys shown above represent the sporting elite of the human world.  All three dominate or dominated their respective sports.  Lance whom most of you know from Nike advertisements and his LiveStrong Foundation, dominated the world of competitive distance cycling winning the Tour de France a record 7 times. Ronald or Ronnie Coleman as he is better known, won the Mr. Olympia championship a record 8 times in a row.

      Last but not least is Georges St. Pierre better known as GSP.  He is rated one of the best pound-for-pound MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter in the world.  He can box, kick, grapple and submit his opponents 20 ways till sundown.

      As athletes, all three are optimized for different sports.  Lance trains to maximize his power output as tested by his lactate threshold during intense cardiovascular workouts.  Ronnie is a bodybuilder therefore his performance is measured by the size, symmetry and definition to his body. GSP's performance is determined by his skill in defeating his opponents in an octagon.  His body is optimized for that purpose within his weight class of 170 lbs. All three would be considered fit.

      The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines fit like this:

      Definition of FIT

      (1) : adapted to an end or design : suitable by nature or by art 

      Fit can look different depending on its intended purpose.  All three athletes have optimized their bodies within the constraints of their professional sports to win.  Although they look different, one thing all three have in common is their visible linea alba.  Click on the picture of the threesome to see a larger version of it.

      Whatever fitness goals you set for yourself, make it a goal to see your linea alba. Once you do, you'll be well on your way to better health and fitness.

      If you need encouragement, see these success stories.


      Tuesday, December 14, 2010

      Paleo Cooking - 1

      Here are several recommendations for healthy cooking:

      - throw out all aluminum and cooking utensils which have non-stick coatings.
      - buy only quality stainless steel, cast iron or ceramic.
      - get a slow cooker (i.e. CrockPot) 
      - get a pressure cooker
      - learn to boil rice in a pot (it takes 10 minutes) and throw out the aluminum rice cooker
      - throw the microwave

      OK, lets get to some food shall we? The main idea of Paleo is buy raw food of a high quality and prepare it yourself.  We do this to avoid eating processed foods which are linked to the diseases of civilization.  Here is some squash (orange & yellow). I think the meat is bison or deer (can't remember).

      Put everything into the pressure cooker with some mint or bay leaves.  Put on the lid.  Cook for 25 minutes of steam.

      When the soup is done, season to taste.  Everything in the pressure cooker will be soft, tender and full of flavor.

      While waiting for the soup to cook, prepare the greens.  Today lets do brussel sprouts and collard greens.

      Wash the greens.  See that deep green color?  Lots of nutrients there.  You could steam or boil the veggies, then mix it with some olive oil, sea salt, pepper or sesame seed oil.  For the dish you see below, I garnished with sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and dried raisins. You can also add your favorite fresh or dried spices into the mix.  Think cumin, curry, cinnamon or tuna flakes.

      There you have it.  One Paleo meal. If someone is still hungry, boil some eggs. :)