Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Funny TV Commercial

   The other day I came across a funny TV commercial and got a big chuckle. I figure I share this information with you. The commercial was for a product called Lipozene. You can watch the commercial and the product information on www.lipozene.com. I am not promoting this product and please do not go out and spend your hard earned thirty dollars on this products. There are no short cuts in life, we have to be able to break out of this mentality that a pill can fix everything. The TV commercial is obviously about losing body fat. The lady in the commercial is professionally dressed portraying her as a knowledgeable authoritative figure. The commercial's background voice continues to describe how body fat is accumulated over years due to bad diet, lack of exercise, and for women even after giving birth. The lady then continues to describe few features of the product:
  • All natural.
  • No need to change your diet.
  • Clinically proven to be safe. 
  • Double blind studies have been done on this product with excellent results. 
  • Take Lipozene 3 times a day and the fat will literally melt away.
  • Satisfaction guaranteed. Money back guarantee if not fully satisfied.
  • And of course the deal maker, the first 30 day supply is free! Just pay the infamous S&H.
   According to their website, the product is made with konjac root. The konjac plant is native to Japan, China, and Indonesia, and in addition to its use in Asian cuisines, it is also used for medicinal purposes. Apparently konjac root pills are sold everywhere and promoted to cleanse digestive tract and cure for constipation. I learned that quickly as I Googled konjac root. So, how is Lipozene using konjac root to create a product that causes fat loss in a short amount of time? They recommend a Lipozene capsule to be taken 30 minutes before each meal. The konjac root has an ability to expand 17 times its size when water is added. Once in your stomach, the content of the capsule create a soft gel creating a feeling of fullness and satiety and you end up eating less. Once you reduce your caloric intake, the body burns the stored fat as energy to make up the caloric deficit from the meal and you end up losing fat. It is as simple as that. If your were to take no pill and reduce your caloric intake by a third, you will lose fat just as well. The commercial claims that individuals do not have to change their diets and continue eating whatever foods, that got them in this trouble to begin with. So basically with this technique you deprive your body with the nourishing foods and fill your stomach with fiber. The fiber that simply creates bulk in your gut, can not be digested, and has no nourishment, moves down the digestive tract where it becomes food for billions of bacteria living in your gut. If your eating habits are bad to begin with and the makers of Lipozene are not asking you to change your diet, then you are seriously creating nourishment deficiency in your system. 

   There are hundreds of products and diet programs out there. They all claim to contain a miracle root or drug that causes us to lose stored baggage that we have nurtured for several years. Things don't happen over night, it takes years for the body to gain fat, and it will take an effort, copious amount of pain, and plenty of self discipline to undo the damage done by the years. There are medical procedures out there fully approved by major governmental establishments to suck out the body fat. These procedures are common theme for many TV reality shows.The common theme in most diets is to restrict calories. For example, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers concentrate on portion control. Which is another name for restricting calories. Thousands of studies and scientific data clearly indicates that calorie restrictive diets simply do not work. You may check out these studies by perusing any of the bibliographies of Gary Taubes' books.  Most calorie restrictive diets are temporary and once stopped, the weight comes back with a vengeance. And also while the users are on the restrictive calorie diets, they are depriving their body of the necessary energy and nourishment. I also know few friends who were on the Weight Watchers, they become miserable. They ate wheat thins and going to lunch with them became a major misery. They were never in a good mood and ready to argue with you on every little thing. The things that make us fat are carbohydrates, and I am talking about simple carbs. Carbs that are in breads, pastas, and simple sugars. Once these elements are taken away the weight automatically comes off and believe it or not it stays off. The human body is designed to eat fat, proteins, and carbs from vegetables, nuts, fruits, and seeds. The refined flours, and sugars are the cause why there is an obesity epidemic. But wait.. if obesity epidemic went away then multi-trillion dollars, food, weight loss programs, pharmaceutical drugs, and not to mention a broken health care system will be rendered useless. 

   Recently Bill O'Reilly made news after he mentioned that he had given up grains and just by giving up grains his health greatly improved. You can watch the news clip here. Bill O'Reilly's success story aside, the news clip spun the story to show poor farmers going hungry and the American grain business falling apart. No one cared about the health and a major obesity epidemic, but the focus was immediately turned to great economic losses ahead, if grain industry were to go away. The experts failed to acknowledge and give credit for the weight loss due to absence of grains, but credited the weight loss to the lack of calories that Bill did not consume.

   Bottom line, Lipozene, liposuction, stomach stapling, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and many other thousands of natural and unnatural pills in the market simply do not work. You may be motivated for a while and the method may work for you on the short term basis, but these are not long term solutions and they will not make you thrive. There are no silver bullets out there that can solve problems, simply put there are no quick fixes in life. Until this paradigm is fully understood and adopted then and only then other pieces will fall in place. For my computer geeks, there is no simple CTRL+Z in life.:-)         

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Paleo on the road.

   Summer is finally here and the kids are out of school. There might be a family trip or a business conference on the horizon. You have worked so hard to stay Paleo for a while and now as a road trip looms ahead, you see yourself giving in to the fast foods and seeing all your efforts going to waste. How do you stay Paleo while traveling? This is precisely the time to not give in to the junk foods and the fast foods readily available while on a trip? Below are few experiences, tips and tricks that worked for me this year.

   In January my boss and I traveled to Arkansas and then onto New York on a business trip. While on the trip we ate at Denny's every morning, eggs and potatoes. For lunch we had some kind of a salad with chicken or beef. For dinner we had steak and some kind of a salad. We bought almonds and cashews while in the airport to take care of few meals and snacking needs. I drank plenty of water, decaf and regular coffee. At restaurants we refused the bread baskets and got few funny looks from the waitresses. In Arkansas the Double Tree hotel gives you a nice big warm chocolate chip cookie when you check in. Of course the cookie was refused. The total trip was five days and staying Paleo we both gained no weight.

  In February, went for a two day conference in LA. There were plenty of cookies, cakes, and sodas all over the place for attendees to consume. The conference organizers brought out the sugar loaded foods every two hours. I stayed away from all the danishes, cakes, and cookies. Just drank coffee and club soda to remain social and did not appear a social misfit. Stuck to pretty much the same diet as my trip in January. Once again no weight gain.

   In April, went to see my family in Boston, was invited to many family members for dinners and lunches. Stayed away from the rice, breads, sweets, and sodas. Few family members were extremely annoyed with me, gave me lectures on the virtues of grains and breads. I stuck to my plan, I did probably appear as a social misfit. Me and my brothers made several trips to Dunkin Donuts for coffee. Trip was five days, once again no weight gain. 

   The earlier trips were easy, I was by my self and in total control. But the trip in June was with the family. We decided to take a road trip. The kids wanted to stop at fast foods and eat junk foods from different convenient marts. My daughters had plenty of chips and sodas, and various fruits packed up for the trip. Staying Paleo was going to be a challenge. Here was my solution for staying Paleo:

  • Bought Lara Bars from the supermarket before the trip. 
  • Bought Cashews, almonds, and macadamias.
  • First night's dinner was at a Chinese buffet. Feasted on salads and their Mongolian Hibachi grill. 
  • For breakfast had boiled eggs that my wife so thoughtfully packed, and coffee. 
  • At McDonald's bought a salad and a quarter pound burger minus the bun.
  • Family went to another buffet in Reno, once again had salad with various meats like fish and chicken.
   The trip was 2 nights, stress of a long drive, screaming kids and not optimal eating did not cause any problems for me. The body was able to maintain and endure these hardships without any major problems. Remember our hunter gatherer ancestors who traveled several miles per day. Three square meals per day did not exist in the Paleo time. Once again managed to gain no weight and came home and just caught up with my sleep and was up and running the next day.

   The summertime also means barbecues. Make sure to stay away from the condiments and sauces these things are loaded with sugars, corn starches and will derail you from the Paleo path. I enjoy a simple steak cooked on the barbecue drizzled with olive oil. A little salt and pepper on the plate and it is good to go. In the summertime, I am active with golf and hiking, so eating potatoes does not cause any problems for me. I eat potatoes just about every day. Planning ahead for an upcoming trip is very important. keep a small zip lock bag full of macadamias, cashews, and almonds in your bag or near by. I always keep a Lara Bar near by when on business trips or family trips. Skipping a meal here and there is perfectly OK. Summer is suppose to be fun, make it enjoyable, don't feel that a trip leaves you with no options. These days even Carl's Jr and In/Out Burgers have protein burgers, that are really good. Be creative, have fun, and don't let a road trip or a business trip derail your hard earned efforts.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

All carbs are not bad

   OK, all carbs are not bad. Many people equate carbs with breads and pastas. Although, it is true that breads and pastas contain a boatload of carbs, but there are many other foods that contain carbohydrates and they are nutritious and are totally allowed on the Paleo Diet. I realized it recently when a friend, almost horrified, mentioned that a Lara Bar contains about 26 grams of carbs and he was staying away from it. I realized that he did not know the difference between good carbs and bad carbs. So let's get this get out of the way first; carbs from the grains, legumes, and simple sugars are bad on the Paleo Diet. The carbs from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are fully acceptable on the Paleo Diet. Foods are essentially nutrients. Hence, the word nutritious, foods provide nourishment for the body. The human body can not survive on just sunlight and synthesize the nutrients for its survival. The nutrients have to be ingested and they are obtained from various foods. The body converts the nutrients into energy and the life goes on. This is the reason, Paleo lifestyle's main focus is the foods that we consume.

   Essentially, there are 6 classes of nutrients. Only 3 out of 6 nutrients are energy yielding nutrients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. The energy yielding nutrients are also known as macro-nutrients, because they are made up of complex chains of molecules. The other 3 nutrients: water, vitamins, and minerals do not yield any energy but they are essential for life. Any nutrient that contain carbon is called organic and the nutrient that does not contain carbon is called inorganic. The term "organic food" popularized by outfits like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are purely marketing and mean something altogether. Their definition of organic is foods grown and treated without pesticides and antibiotics. According to our definition all foods are organic. I am probably sounding like a text book by now, so I might as well go all the way with this fancy table below...:-)

Carbohydrates: Anything that you eat other than fats and proteins is a carb. Carbohydrates are complex sugars and eventually are broken down by your body as sugar. So if you ate a spoonful of sugar, you just consumed carbohydrates. Since sugar is already broken down, it requires little effort on the body's part to break it down and absorb into the blood stream. If you ate a piece of carrot, that is also a carbohydrate and body will eventually break it down into a sugar before it enters the blood stream. So no matter what you eat other than fats and proteins, it enters your body as a sugar. Carbohydrates from processed and refined flours and sugars tend to enter blood stream very quickly and cause the blood sugar levels to spike.

Proteins: In addition to carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, proteins also contain nitrogen. Some proteins contain sulfur as well. The four elements compose amino-acids and amino-acids form chains to build proteins. These amino-acid chains are called peptides. All proteins are broken down by the body as individual amino-acids and are absorbed into the body through small intestine. Once absorbed in to the blood stream the amino-acids are distributed all over the body to repair and rebuild cells. That is why amino-acids are the building blocks of the body. Proteins obtained from the animals is the best source for the body and your daily diet should consist animal proteins. Proteins obtained from legumes, and grains are below par, and should be avoided in the Paleo Diet.  

Fats or Lipids: All fats are broken down into triglycerides and are used by the body as fuel and to build cell membranes. The fats are also responsible for making hormones which are essential for creating a balanced signaling mechanism throughout the body. The hormones control everything in your body from hunger signals to mood swings. In the absence of carbs the fats are used by the body as the primary source of fuel. This is the reason folks on Paleo Diet do not get fat, because the carbs from breads and sugars are not present in their diets. In the presence of excessive carbs the blood sugar goes up, which causes the insulin to spike. The insulin released in the body causes fats to be stored away as hormone insulin works hard to lower the blood sugar levels. The ingested fat never gets used and we get fat. This is fine and dandy if our lifestyles were more active, but really, I get in my car to go around the block to pick up milk. In the absence of carbs this process is reversed, the diet consisting from fats, proteins, and cabs from vegetables do not cause a spike in the blood sugar, and the body uses fats as the fuel for the cells. When you sleep at night, you are essentially entering a fasting state. The next meal will be at least twelve hours away. That is why the morning meal is called "breakfast", breaking a fast. In this fasted state the body very efficiently switches to burning fat and preserves the stored glycogen for the functioning of brain and the red blood cells. It is a good thing because we need to use that stored glucose for dreaming and making sure the blood continues to run through our body while we sleep. If your dinner consisted of a big pasta meal, with meat balls, spaghetti, and topped off with a cheesecake. This dinner is loaded with carbs from spaghetti and cheesecake, fats, and proteins from the meatballs. If you go to sleep say couple of hours after you eat, then the body uses the sugars from the carbs to fuel itself all night and burns very little fat. You wake up feeling hungry in the morning and consume orange juice, fruits, and toast and this sugar spike cycle starts all over again. Very little fat is burned, and over time depending on your level of activity you will accumulate some extra baggage. On the Paleo Diet the dinner may consist of some veggies, a piece of meat and some fat. Since this meal does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels, the body switches to burning fats and uses the scarce glucose efficiently to supply fuel for brain cells and red blood cells. This is the most natural way for body to function. 

   The moral of the story is that do not be afraid of carbs. Carbs are not bad and should be consumed. If you lead an active lifestyle, then by all means consume starchy carbs like potatoes and  sweet potatoes. Add potatoes with you eggs, steaks, or ground beef. The combination is very nutritious and satisfying. Just remember all carbs end up becoming sugar before they are absorbed in your body.