Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

About 6 weeks ago I discovered something called intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can take various forms, but the most common are a 16 x 8, or a sporadic 24 hour fast. The 16 x 8 method is when you fast for 16 hours and have an 8 hour eating window. For people that work during the daytime, it makes sense to have your last meal at 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. and then not eat again until noon or lunch time. This provides you with a 16 or 17 hour fast, essentially skipping breakfast. I have been using the 16 hour fast method on a daily basis for about 6 weeks now, and found it to be fairly easy to accomplish. The first week is probably the hardest, but fortunately it becomes easier with time. Most of the fast is spent sleeping so depending on when you get up you may only go without food for 5 or 6 hours. I personally lost 5 pounds in the first 4 weeks, and this weight loss was in body fat. Here are some reasons you might want to adopt an intermittent fasting routine:

  • Changes The Function of Cells, Genes and Hormones
    • Insulin levels: Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning
    • Human growth hormone: The blood levels of growth hormone may increase as much as 5-fold. Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, and have numerous other benefits.
    • Cellular repair: The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells.
  • Can Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat
    • Lower insulin levels, an increase in metabolism, and higher growth hormone levels, are combined to use fat as an energy source. This occurs because you have no carbohydrates in your system to burn, so your body turns to the next available source of energy body fat.
  • Can Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
    • Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin resistance and lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels
    • In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 3-6%, while fasting insulin has been reduced by 20-31%
  • Induces Various Cellular Repair Processes
    • Fasting causes the cells in the body initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy
    • This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time.
    • Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Other benefits may include:

  • Helping to prevent cancer
  • Intermittent fasting is good for your brain
  • May protect against Alzheimer’s Disease
  • May extend your lifespan

With so with so many benefits that have been attributed to intermittent fasting, it is worth researching. In fact I have not been able to find any research that indicates any negative effects. The only caution here is if you are someone with an unusually low percent of body fat or an anorexic.

My advice is that unless you are doing this strictly as some form of dieting, make sure you are getting those calories in during your eating window. I personally like the 16 x 8 method versus a 24 hour fast. I’ve tried the 24 hour fast and while it is a great way to cleanse your body, it is much more difficult and in most cases you will be very hungry during those additional 8 hours of fasting that you have added on.

To make the fasting period a bit easier you will need to consume some liquids like coffee, tea, or water. This helps by providing something in your stomach, making it easier to endure the fast. Do not consume liquids that contain calories, so no sugar in your coffee or tea and avoid any other liquid that contains sugar like soft drinks.

The YouTube video below provides a great overview of the benefits and different types of intermittent fasting methods. I highly recommend you spend the 10 minutes to view this as part of your own research.

 

I personally don’t view intermittent fasting as a diet, but more of a way of enhancing your health. It is entirely possible that you will not lose any weight at all if you continue to have an unhealthy diet, but if you combine intermittent fasting with a healthy diet there is a good chance that you will lose fat and improve your body composition. Do your own research, and let me know what you think.

Namaste

 

References: https://authoritynutrition.com/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting/

 

Fundamental Post Workout Supplements

When I refer to workout in the title of this post, I am specifically focused on strength training. There are many supplements you can take after a strength training workout, but I am going to focus on 5 that can help boost your recovery and increase testosterone levels.  After working out your muscles are needing some carbohydrates and amino acids to start the muscle building recovery process.  Currently I am using BCCA’s and Creatine prior to my workout in addition to after my workouts. These are the 5 supplements I take after a workout:

  1. Branch Chained Amino Acids (BCCA) – There are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine and valine. The BCAAs are among the nine essential amino acids for humans, accounting for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins and 40% of the preformed amino acids required by mammals. BCAAs not only increase the rate of protein synthesis, but they also increase the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis. BCAAs also work in your favor by reducing the rate of protein breakdown. They might also help improve workout intensity, that is why BCCA’s can be used as a pre workout and post workout supplement.
  2. Creatine Monohydrate – is a natural substance that turns into creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine phosphate helps make a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the energy for muscle contractions.  Creatine will pull water into the muscle cells, and effects the ability for your body to use fast twitch muscles. Note: your body can only store so much ATP so taking more creatine than advised will not be effective.  The ideal dose is around 5 grams (1 heaping teaspoon).  Creatine can be used as a pre-workout and/or post-workout supplement.
  3. L-Arginine – is a naturally occurring amino acid that may help to increase blood flow (in some populations) and anabolic growth-hormone secretion. This helps increase lean muscle mass/strength/power, promotes faster recovery from exercise, and improves the work capacity of active muscles. L-arginine also improves the process of clearing waste products from your muscles. This may result in a reduced sense of fatigue. I like to use about 2.5 to 3 grams after a workout.
  4. L-Glutamine – is the most abundant inessential amino acid in the human body and makes up the majority of the amino acids in skeletal muscle. Despite being involved in many crucial roles in our daily health and function, it’s considered “inessential” because the body is capable of producing it on its own. L-Glutamine plays a big role in supporting workout and muscle recovery, enhances immune function, and improves intestinal health. For me it seems to assist in helping my muscles recover and I have less next day soreness.  I would use about 5 grams after a workout.
  5. Tribulus terrestris –  is a flowering plant that grows in temperate and tropical areas. The compound is rich in saponins, the active ingredient claimed to increase the body’s natural testosterone levels and helps to build muscle. The primary point of the tribulus terrestris extract is that it will increase testosterone levels. It does this in a very secure method – by no means exceeding the physique`s natural upper limits. I have read that it is best to take on an empty stomach after your workout. I usually take about 1 to 1.5 grams after a workout.

My method for post workout supplementation is as follows:

Either use a fruit drink or some powdered post workout drink (even Gatorade would do) to mix with the powdered BCCA’s, Creatine Monohydrate and powered L-Glutamine.  Once mixed, drink and swallow your Tribulus Terrestris and L-Arginine capsules.  Wait 20 to 30 minutes before eating.  This gives the post workout supplements some time to digest and get into your blood stream before you consume anything else.  The reason I advocate that you use a fruit drink or something like Gatorade is that following a workout is the best time to consume sugar. When you train, your body burns glycogen, or sugar. Both blood sugar and muscle glycogen are consumed during a workout, and to recover, as well as progress, you need to restore depleted glycogen levels as quickly as possible. My next step is to follow the post supplementation with a meal that contains a decent amount of protein and some complex carbohydrates.

The only warning might apply to women taking Tribulus terrestris. I would do some additional research on the effects it may have on women before adding it to your post workout supplements.

I would love to hear what kind of post workout supplements you advocate taking.

Sunflower Seeds

Even before I entertained the idea that my diet should move in a more healthy direction, I always like Sunflower seeds.  I was wondering what the nutritional profile of those little kernels that tasted so good would be, so I decided to do a little research. Beyond just the nutritional profile I wondered what the health benefits might include.  Here is the basic nutritional data:

Sunflower seeds dry roasted

Sunflower seeds nutrional profile

As you can see Sunflower seeds are relatively high in fat, but also include a generous amount of protein and some fiber.
Well beyond the basic nutritional data we need to look a little deeper into some of the benefits of the sunflower seed:
  • Low in Cholesterol and Sodium.
  • good source of Thiamin and Vitamin B6.
  • High in Magnesium which studies have shown that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Also contains Phosphorus, Copper, and Manganese.
  • High amounts of Selenium. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.
  • A very good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol).  Vitamin E has been shown to be good for your hair and skin, and contains antioxidants that remove free radicals that damage cells.
  • A good source of protein.

Now while the sunflower seed has a substantial fat content and is fairly high in calories, its many health benefits make it a great addition to just about anyone’s diet.

Health benefits of common nuts

common nuts

The focus of this post will be on the health benefits of some of the most commonly consumed nuts including almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Nuts are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins,  minerals, and essential fats. Everyone can benefit from eating nuts, but especially those of you who are eliminating meat and dairy from your diets. Of course not all nuts have the same nutritional profile, and this will be something we delve into, hopefully providing you some guidance or at least an understanding of the differences between these commonly consumed nuts. Let’s look at each of these nuts for their overall benefits and nutritional data:

Almonds

This is a calcium rich nut that is great for your bones especially if you have eliminated dairy products from your diet. Almonds have a high amount of vitamin E making them good for your skin, and the outer skin on the almond has flavonoids that help protect your heart.

Nutritional Data: 1 ounce (23 whole nuts) of raw almonds contains 6.02 grams protein, 14 grams of fat163 calories, and 3.5 grams of dietary fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 200 mg
Phosphorus – 137 mg
Calcium – 75 mg
Magnesium – 76 mg
Iron – 1.05 mg
Selenium – 0.7 mcg
Zinc – 0.87 mg
Manganese – 0.648 mg
Copper – 0.282 mg

Vitamins

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.06 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.287 mg
Niacin – 0.96 mg
Folate – 14 mcg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.133 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.041 mg
Vitamin E – 7.43 mg

 

Cashews

A great source of protein they are also rich in iron and zinc, which makes cashews a great choice if you’re following a vegetarian diet. Containing generous amounts of the mineral magnesium, which is thought to improve recall and delay, age-related memory loss.

Nutritional Data: One ounce of raw, unsalted cashew nuts contains 5.17 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat157 calories and 0.94 grams of fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 187 mg
Phosphorus – 168 mg
Calcium – 10 mg
Magnesium – 83 mg
Iron – 1.89 mg
Sodium – 3 mg
Manganese – 0.469 mg
Zinc – 1.64 mg
Copper – 0.622 mg
Selenium – 5.6 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.1 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.12 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.016 mg
Niacin – 0.301 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.245 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.118 mg
Folate – 7 mcg
Vitamin E – 0.26 mg
Vitamin K – 9.7 mcg

 

Peanuts

Surprisingly the lowly peanut rivals many of the most nutritious nuts chosen by the USDA. This nut is heart-healthy overall, and contains resveratrol, the same flavonoid sought from red grapes and red wine.  Peanuts have the highest amount of protein, the third least calories, and the absolute highest amount of Folate (folic acid), a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that is rare in nuts .

Nutritional Data: One ounce of dry roasted peanuts contains 6.71 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat166 calories and 2.3 grams of dietary fiber.

Minerals

Potassium -187 mg
Phosphorus – 101 mg
Calcium – 15 mg
Magnesium – 50 mg
Iron – 0.64 mg
Sodium – 2 mg
Manganese – 0.591 mg
Zinc – 0.94 mg
Copper – 0.190 mg
Selenium – 2.1 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.124 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.028 mg
Niacin – 3.834 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.395 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.073 mg
Folate – 41 mcg
Vitamin E – 1.96 mg

 

Pecans

The pecan is a heart-friendly nut that is packed with plant sterols, valuable compounds that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also have high levels of antioxidants which helps prevent the plaque formation that causes hardening of the arteries. The pecan is also rich in oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olives and avocado.

Nutritional Data: One ounce (19 halves) of raw pecans contains 2.6 grams protein, 20 grams of fat196 calories and 2.7 grams fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 116 mg
Phosphorus – 79 mg
Calcium – 20 mg
Magnesium – 34 mg
Iron – 0.72 mg
Manganese – 1.276 mg
Zinc – 1.28 mg
Copper – 0.34 mg
Selenium – 1.1 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.3 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.187 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.01 mg
Niacin – 0.331 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.245 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.06 mg
Folate – 6 mcg
Vitamin A – 16 IU
Vitamin E – 0.4 mg
Vitamin K – 1 mcg

 

Pistachios

Packed with antioxidants,and are the only nut that skyrockets in lutein and zeaxanthin, the only two carotenoid antioxidants that accumulate in the retinas of our eyes. Pistachios also have the most selenium, an anti-inflammatory trace element that aids our immune systems and helps prevent viral infections and cancer. While I love all of these nuts this is by far my favorite just because it tastes so good.

Nutritional Data: One ounce of dry roasted pistachio nuts (no salt) (49 kernels) contains 6.05 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat, 162 calories and 2.9 grams of dietary fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 295 mg
Phosphorus – 137 mg
Calcium – 31 mg
Magnesium – 34 mg
Iron – 1.19 mg
Sodium – 3 mg
Manganese – 0.361 mg
Zinc – 0.65 mg
Copper – 0.376 mg
Selenium – 2.6 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.7 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.238 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.045 mg
Niacin – 0.404 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.145 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.361 mg
Folate – 14 mcg
Vitamin A – 74 IU
Vitamin E – 0.55 mg
Vitamin K – 3.7 mcg

 

Walnuts

With their superior antioxidant content walnuts are useful in the fight against cancer. A good source of mono-unsaturated, heart-friendly fats, and studies show they help to lower the bad form of cholesterol (LDL). The Walnut is also rich in omega-3, so they’re a great alternative if you don’t eat oily fish.

Nutritional Data: 1 ounce (14 halves) English walnuts contains 4.32 mg protein, 18 grams of fat185 calories and 1.9 mg fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 125 mg
Phosphorus – 98 mg
Calcium – 28 mg
Magnesium – 45 mg
Iron – 0.82 mg
Sodium – 1 mg
Manganese – 0.968 mg
Zinc – 0.88 mg
Copper – 0.45 mg
Selenium – 1.4 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.4 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.097 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.043 mg
Niacin – 0.319 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.162 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.152 mg
Folate – 28 mcg
Vitamin A – 6 IU
Vitamin E – 0.2 mg
Vitamin K – 0.8 mcg

While there are differences in the nutrients derived from these nuts, there is also a many similarities and they all provide a healthy dose of potassium and phosphorus, generous amounts of protein, the good kind of fat, and much needed fiber. So instead of reaching for that bag of chips or bowl of ice cream, grab a handful of cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, or peanuts. You will feel so much better about what you are putting in your body, and you will find nuts are both a delicious and satisfying treat.

Munch on my friends.

 

References:

http://www.health-alternatives.com/nut-seed-nutrition-chart.html

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-nuts

http://voices.yahoo.com/6-best-healthiest-most-nutritious-nuts-chosen-usda-7227788.html?cat=5

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635?pg=1

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/go-nuts-your-diet

http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/the-best-and-worst-nuts-for-your-health-1

Pre-workout drinks

I’ve been using one of those pre-workout powders that you mix with water to get energized for my strength training workouts and I question whether it is really worth it or not.  These pre workout drinks typically have a number of ingredients like Vitamin B6, caffeine, Vitamin B12, Creatine, L-Arginine, and a bunch of proprietary substances. I’ve used one of them for about a year, and while they do help you get through the workouts, they have side effects. The most bothersome side effect is that if you take this in the evening like I do prior to lifting weights you have a tough time getting a good nights sleep.

mad_scientist_pre_workout

Is it worth it?

Consider that recovering from a good strength training session must also include getting sufficient sleep, you have to question the value of getting all jacked up and compromising your rest. I do advocate that you take L-Arginine, L-Glutamine and Creatine after your workout to help you recover, but neither of these should greatly interfere with your sleep.

I was using N.O. XPLODE, but am rethinking my strategy, and may opt for something a bit less potent. I’m going to try one of those energy chews next time as my pre-workout supplement and see if that has a less disruptive influence on my sleep.

If you have any ideas on a pre-workout supplements or foods you would suggest I try please let me know.

Namaste

 

Day 4 of the Vegetarian diet

A long long time ago I blogged about my terrible diet that consisted of pizzas, hamburgers, ice cream, and a variety of other foods that had an absence of fruits or vegetables.  I always suffered from the work out like a maniac and eat like a pig syndrome.  So for the last 4 days I have stopped eating all forms of meat.  I have allowed myself some cheese, milk, and yogurt and most of the other things I have eaten has been vegetables and fruits.  It has only been 4 days so the jury is out as to any long term affects of following an lacto (milk) octo (egg) vegetarian diet, but I do have a few observations to share.

vegetarian week

Let me make it clear I don’t despise meat it is just that I loved it so much that I tended to eat very little vegetables and almost zero fruits.  This obsession with animal protean was really limiting the consumption of other good foods and my diet was not really great, although I did a pretty good job limiting the amount of simple carbohydrates I consumed.  As I seem to have a problem with moderation I just decided to eliminate the meat which would force me to consume more fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.  Here is what I found out:

  • I feel lighter
  • I don’t gorge myself anymore and don’t feel so bloated
  • I swear my stomach is shrinking at least a little
  • The additional fiber is doing wonders for my digestive system
  • I feel like I have more energy

Not bad for 4 days.

There are additional reasons that I am pursuing this lacto octo vegetarian diet, but some of those might sound like preaching, so for now I would rather talk about how it makes me feel versus some meat eaters vs. vegetarianism world view.  I would love to hear from others who have tried vegetarian diets.

Namaste