Hello followers and passers by and welcome to my blog. Here you will find my stories and musings on how to live a heathy and nutritious life based on the Paleolithic way of eating. I've been eating and living like this since 2009 and I've been reading and gatering a lot of information since my journey began.

Monday, 27 February 2012

The Burning Question

Are you a fat burner or a sugar burner?


More importantly, which one do you want to be?

With all of the misinformation that swirls around the health and diet industry I wasn't sure which one I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to reduce the soft belly fat that's been slowly collecting around my midsection and then when I sat down and thought about this, I was hit by how obvious the answer is.  I thought, how can I burn my body fat if I my body is not in a fat burning state.  At the risk of over simplifying this, could the key to losing that unwanted and unsightly body fat be to get my body into a fat burning state?  But how do I do that?

My answer came to me while listening to the Jimmy Moore podcast interview with the Low Carb expert Mark Sisson, the creator of Marks Daily Apple.  It's all about the ketones.  I won't go into a lot of the details that Mark and Jimmy cover in the podcast and it's well worth the investment of time to listen to it.  Also, there are loads of resources via your favourite search engine.

Due to the reading I've done in the past and the podcasts I've listened to over the years I was familiar with the two fuel pathways of glucose and fat, but I'd not thought of this in a glaringly obvious way.

How can I expect to lose the belly fat if my body is not primed to use it as a fuel source?

If I'm eating foods that are providing a steady source of glucose into my blood stream, then my body is going to be using that as it's primary fuel source.  And so therefore, the fat is going to remain planted there on my belly and hips ready for the time that the steady supply of glucose dries up; an occasion when I need to use that fat.  But in today's modern world with supermarkets and vending machines everywhere, the glucose never stops and therefore I never dip into those fat stores and they remain planted exactly where they are.

So I need to switch from being a sugar burner to a fat burner and how do I do that?

It's easier than I thought; if I stop providing my body with a steady supply of sugar/glucose and provide it with a higher amount of fat my body will switch to burning that fat as a primary fuel source.  Once that pathway is activated, then my body will readily unlock the fat as a fuel from my adipose tissue.  Also, as my body switches to fat as a fuel it will generate ketones which is the preferred fuel of the heart and kidneys.  Ketones are the human beings natural and normal fuel source and this was the way we were designed.  This design was useful in our ancestery because when the body is burning ketones it is sparing lean muscle mass and lean muscle is exactly what you require when you're trying to bring down a Woolly Mammoth and carry it back to your cave.  Whereas when you're in a sugar burning state your lean muscle won't be spared in providing energy to burn because you body is calling out for glucose.  What happens is the muscle protein get's sent off to the liver to be broken down to provide glucose.

I've already started to change my diet and will report back with the results over the coming weeks and months with the basic principles:
  • Carb intake to be in the range of 50g to 100g per day (about 5% of calories);
  • Protein intake to be moderate at around 0.75 to 1g per pound of lean body weight (about 35% of calories)
  • Fat to make the highest contribution of energy (about 60% of calories)
There are a lot of really good resources out there on the ketogenic diet which you will easily find with your favourite search engine and I encourage you to take a good look and an even better read of them but feel free to ask me any questions.

Take care of yourself

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Holiday Blues

It’s been a while since my last blog and this is partly due to the fact that I spent four weeks back in the UK with the family doing loads of interesting stuff including four days in Paris.  There was lots of overeating, drinking, nibbling, and socialising and did I mention drinking?  And it is this vacation/holiday that has made it obvious to me how my eating habits and diet of some years ago had lead to the poor physical condition I had “achieved”.  You see, I had eaten more bread in four weeks than I have in the past four years, drank more soft drink, eaten more chocolate, eaten more biscuits and sweets than I could possibly keep track of.  And as for the sweet French bread and croissants, well I was just unable to resist.  I kept saying to myself, “it’s OK, you’re on holiday and it’s only for a couple of weeks”.  Sound familiar?

On my return to Australia I had managed to put on almost 8 kilos (about 16 and a ½ pounds – over a stone).  The other strange thing that started to happen on my return was that I was waking in the middle of the night with a splitting headache and nearly every morning I when I woke up I had a headache.  This was quite strange and worrying for me.  All of my symptoms pointed to hypoglycaemia and this is even more worrying due to the fact that it’s a marker for the onset of diabetes.
Hypoglycaemia is basically low blood sugar caused by your body (primarily the pancreas) overreacting to glucose in the blood stream by releasing too much insulin.  This is a very simple explanation but more detail can be found at the link above

As I have done in the past (those who know me will remember the heat exhaustion and electrolyte saga) I decided to experiment on myself to see if I I was suffering from hypoglycaemia.  This experiment can be done quite easily at home with an inexpensive glucometer.  So, early one morning I was sat there with my glucometer and started off by testing my Blood Glucose (BG) levels.  It was 6.3 mmoL/L.  Normal is anywhere between 3 to 8 mmoL/L, so I was pretty much average. I needed to consume a beverage containing about 75g or glucose.  Interesting to note is that of all of the sugary soft drinks on the market Lucozde has the highest glucose concentration of them all – an hour in the soft drinks aisles of Coles led me to this finding.  Lucozade had 14.4g of glucose per 100ml whereas Coke only has 10.  In fact Coke only just made it into the top 5. “Healthy” orange juice was higher at 11-12g/100ml (depending on the brand).

I drank just over 520ml of the Lucozade (about 1 and a ½ small bottles) and then waited 20 minutes to take the first BG test.  The results were as follows:
  • 07:00 – BG on waking = 6.3
  • 07:20 – Drank 75g of glucose (520ml of Lucozade)
  • 07:40 – BG = 9.0 (nearly a 50% increase in just 20 mins!!)
  • 08:00 – BG = 9.3
  • 08:20 – BG = 8.2
  • 08:50 – BG = 7.4
  • 09:20 – BG = 7.1
  • End of Test
So, the results indicated that I DO NOT have hypoglycaemia as the BG levels dropped back to normal gradually rather than coming down abruptly which is what happens in the case of hypoglycaemia.  I should point out at this stage that I woke up with the usual headache and when I finished the test I felt bloody awful.  My head was worse than ever and now I felt nauseous.  I went back to bed!
I measured my Blood Pressure (BP) later that day and also over the next couple of days and found that to be a little higher than I would have expected; it was up around 145/84.  I then thought to take a better note of my urine and that was a lot darker than it normally would be.  The darker urine colour pointed to dehydration and this combined with a slightly elevated BP are what were causing my headaches.

Finally, readers of this blog and others like it will know that Insulin is the only hormone that controls fat accumulation and by controlling Insulin you will control your fat.  There is an absolutely brilliant video on this by Dr. Bryan Walsh which can be found here. As you can probably guess my breakfast from the above results of 500ml of Lucozade were horrific for my fat loss goals so I wanted to bring to your attention a very interesting result for an alternative breakfast.  The breakfast contained 2 pork sausages; 1 very large rasher of bacon; ½ cup of baked beans, ½ a cup of mushrooms; 2 eggs (fried in the bacon fat) and 1 cup of fresh spinach (wilted in the bacon fat).  The BG results were:
  • BG first thing in the morning = 6.0mmoL/L
  • Ate the above breakfast (delicious!!)
  • 30 mins later BG = 6.7mmoL/L
So it’s clear that what many would consider an unhealthy breakfast had almost no impact on my blood glucose levels and consequently would not have caused a spike in my Insulin levels, ergo there would be little to no fat storage taking place.  I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to test myself on the mochochino grande with whipped cream and a blueberry muffin type of breakfast but if enough of you are interested then I’ll give it a go, just make sure to give me your breakfast recommendations for testing.

So, in conclusion it is clear that the poor diet choices (i.e. high consumption of sugar) I had made for four weeks had caused cell inflammation which had increased my BP which would not have helped my headaches and a lack of attention to fluid intake (apparently a fine English Ale doesn’t count) caused my dehydration and headaches.  Imagine if that’s what your life was like all of the time?
Increase my water intake and get rid of the sugar.  I’m glad to say that after having done that for three days the headaches have gone and my head is clear and sharp.

Look after yourself.  Until next time.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

CSIRO Diabetes Diet & Lifestyle - Preview

The CSIRO Diabetes and Diet and Lifestyle Plan.  Worth adding to your collection?

An image of the cover of CSIRO and Baker IDI Diabetes Diet and Lifestyle Plan.

Here on Australian TV this afternoon one of the main news channels covered a story on the new CSIRO Diet & Lifestyle book that has recently been launched.  The CSIRO has a number of diet and lifestyle books (two of which I own and have read) and this one is aimed predominantly at the diabetic community and those who may be at risk of diabetes.  So, in my opinion, a large proportion of the westernised world.

The free down loadable preview is available here and it contains 12 pages covering a basic introduction, some information on kilojoule (calorie) requirements, a sample weekly diet and one recipe.  I've read through it and offer the following advice to any potential buyers of the book.

Firstly, buyer beware.

I get the feeling that it (the CSIRO)  just can't help themselves to tell you about kilojoules (calories) and that to lose or regulate weight you need to eat fewer kilojoules and reduce your fat intake.  This mumbojumboo  claptrap only annoys and disappoints me.  It's not about the calories; it's not calories in versus calories out.  There are a lot of resources out here on the Internet that I would strongly suggest looking for.  You could start with one of the blogs I mention here on this page, and I will definitely make my next post about the calorie topic.

It's not all bad news, as there is some really good advice on shopping - making a list, shop with care, shop on the periphery.  All of these are sound advice.

Going through the sample weekly diet menu was a little disappointing because the diet suggestions for breakfast are basically a cereal and wheat feast with orange juice, cereal and toast with margarine all appearing almost each day.  On only one day does it suggest having one (I repeat ONE) poached egg and bacon never gets a look in.

However, although I think that the breakfast options are atrocious the other meals aren't too bad and the recipe offered in the down loadable preview looks good and is something I will try soon.

I will buy the book after taking a more detailed look at the weekly menu and meals and the recipes offered in the book.  So, like I said at the beginning, buyer beware. Remember, the CSIRO is a Government agency, the CSIRO Board is responsible and accountable to the Australian Government.  Therefore, they need to toe the line on the food pyramid.

Take care of your health until next time.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Spot the odd one out?

In the tune made famous by Sesame Street, "one of these things is not like the others, one of these things is different from the rest"

Take a look at the below and then really think about it and tell me which one is the Odd One Out?

Before I give you the answer, I'll tell you about how the idea for this blog came about.  I was having lunch with a friend at work the other week and this very topic came up in discussion.  We were talking about my friends particular choice from the canteen menu and how that the body itself doesn't make the choices and also doesn't (and can't) tell the difference between many foods because almost everything that we put into our mouths has to end up as glycogen because this is the fuel that the body uses for nearly every bodily function.  I should point out that there are things called ketones and micronutirents; I've simplified this.

So, to understand which is the odd one out we need to appreciate the fact that the cells in the body cannot tell the difference between the foods above because they only see the result of the foods once they are broken down and (at the risk of over simplifying this) all they see is glucose.

If you guessed that the odd one out is the T Bone steak, then you were right.  Why do I believe that it's the odd one out?  Well, the orange juice (a breakfast staple), the pasta, the sugar and the bread are easily and quickly converted by the body into glucose and then to glycogen.  This drives an insulin response which then shunts the glycogen into the adipose tissue - BODY FAT anyone?  And in fact, the orange juice is perhaps the worst of the bunch because it contains a high amount of fructose, a monosacharide and fructose is (according to Dr. Robert Lusting - listen to this podcast) turned into glucose in the liver up to seven times faster than other sugars.  Whereas table sugar is a disaccharide and is made up of fructose and glucose and therefore converted slower (no where near as slow as the steak) and remember, sugar drives glucose drives insulin drives body fat.

Whereas the steak is not converted into glucose quickly; does not cause an insulin response; contains essential amino acids (building blocks); contains essential fatty acids.  And that is why, in my humble opinion, I believe that the T Bone steak is the odd one out.

I'd really appreciate any feedback and comments on topics for upcoming blogs.  The next blog article will be about calories and how the calories in / calories out is nonsense.

Take care until next time.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Paleo Sports Gel

In my last post I made mention of a home made paleo sports gel I had made and in this post I'll tell you about how I made it and how I went using it as the only fuel source during the AROC Adventure race I did on Saturday.

This paleo sports gel is based on an idea I got from one of Robb Wolf's Paleo Solution podcasts.  My own recipe for the paleo sports gel is:
  1. green apples (450g)
  2. sweet potato (125g)
  3. raw sugar (2tbs) To make this a better paleo option you should use raw organic honey (I wasn't thinking at the time - doh!)
  4. water
It's very simple to make, here's how:
  • Peel the apples and sweet potato
  • Boil the apples and sweet potato in a pan with the water covering them (add some cinnamon if you want)
  • Leave them boiling until they're nice and soft
  • Separate the apples and sweet potato from the water and put the water to one side. you'll need that in a minute
  • Put the apples and sweet potato into the blender and blend on high until nice and smooth
  • This next step is not necessary but I wanted to increase the glucose content.  So, take about 250ml of the water and add some honey. (I added raw sugar but will definitely use raw organic honey next time)
  • Add the water into the mixture slowly and blend in.  You want to have the mixture nice and runny so that it flows easily and is easy to eat/drink
  • Leave the mixture to cool slightly and then add to small plastic bottles you can take on the trail.
I used this gel during a four hour event this weekend and it worked beautifully.  I had made enough that I also had it for breakfast before the event as well.  It was nice and tasty and gave me the energy I was after.  Right through to the end of the event (3hr57m) I had plenty of "go" in my legs.  I did suffer a rather nasty cramp just 500 metres from the end but this was due to an electrolyte problem.

There's a couple of things I would do differently next time.
  1. I'd add some natural Himalayan salt to the mixture to bring up the electrolyte profile; and
  2. I would use raw organic honey instead of raw sugar to make it a better paleo option.

I will defiantly use this in the future for any endurance events I do.  It was delicious, easy to carry and easy to digest.

Give it a go yourself and let me know how you go.

Take care until next time.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Well Done to Men's Health.....welll, almost

This post's story is related to a question I had from an old friend of mine asking about what my diet looked like before and what it looks like today.  A great question and one that I'll half answer in this post.

I'd like to start by talking about the March 2011 issue of Australian Men's Health.  In there is an article about saturated fat.  I quote from the article "fat is by no means the sure fire way to a heart attack" and that what we've all come to "learn" about fat could be wrong.  I applaud Men's Health for publishing such an article but unfortunately this is nothing new in the modern day media as the article "What if it's all been a big fat lie" written by Gary Taubes in 2002 will attest.  And if you ever get a chance to read any of Taubes' books you'll discover that there's never been a link between saturated fat and heart disease ever, period.

The Men's Health article is a good one and at the very least will get a bunch of us rethinking and questioning what we "think" we know about saturated fat.  However, I wanted to pull them up on a couple of things.

In the article they give a suggested diet and in that suggestion they suggest having a serving of pasta (albeit brown) followed by a big bowl of ice cream.  These two foods are a long way away from the paleo diet. Both are highly processed, one contains wheat and the other contains a large amount of sugar.  To cut a (very) long story short, both will induce hunger and weight gain.

To answer my firend's question about what I eat now and to give an alternative recommendation to the Men's Health readers and writers here's what I suggest and do eat on a very regular basis:

  • Breakfast - Scrambled eggs (made with a little cream), chopped frozen spinach (microwaved with a little lemon juice) and a tomato salsa
  • Lunch - Simple salad of red lettuce, cucumber, tomato, avocado and topped with a big tin of tuna in oil
  • Dinner - Sliced veggies (eggplant/aubergine, onion, capsicum/bell pepper, zucchini/courgette coated in spices and olive oil and then thrown onto the BBQ; T-Bone steak done on the BBQ with some butter; some (undrunk and saved) red wine with butter, garlic and spices simmered in a pan.
  • Dessert - a handful of blueberries with coconut cream
The dinner above sounds exotic (steak with a red win jus) but only takes about 10-15 minutes to prepare and about 5-10 minutes to cook.  And for anyone with children this is a dead-set way to get your kids to eat veggies; mine love them!

Above is a pic of my veggies cooking nicely just the other day.  I'm feeling hungry just looking at them.  Make extra and pop them into a container and have them with breakfast tomorrow morning!

Feel free to contact me for any other paleo cooking tips and advice and tomorrow I want to talk about my home made paleo gel that I'll be using on an adventure race this weekend.

Take care until next time.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The story continues.....

As I said in my first post, this will be a collection of my regular stories and conversations with people and low-and-behold one of those conversations took place today.

I also got an email off of an old school friend yesterday who told me about their high blood pressure, so high blood pressure or hypertension to give it it's medical term, is the topic of my first post and is also how and where it all began.

In 2003 as I went through the process of getting my permanent residency for Australia, the doctor noted that I have a very high blood pressure.  I can't recall it exactly but it was something like 190/110.  I went to my GP and then had a million tests.  But I knew something was wrong because every time I went to one of the places/clinics to have a test, I was surrounded by much older much larger people.  A young, slim, athletic looking person stood out in those waiting rooms!  Every test came back with no answer and so I was diagnosed with "essential" hypertension and a week later started taking a low dose of medication.

Not that I ever understood the "essential" part; as if I was missing something, or needed it? Go figure??

Initially, I was on the lowest dose of medication but the dosage increased a little in 2007 as my blood pressure had crept up from the 120/80 range to the 140/90 range which was out of the so called normal range.  That's another blog post right there.

And as I said in my first post, I went back to my GP in late 2008 and my blood pressure continued to raise and now my cholesterol was high.  So, after that bad news I researched a lot of Internet material and read the book "The Paleo Diet" by Dr. Loren Cordain which, I followed very closely for just over three months.  When I returned to the GP's office and had more tests my cholesterol had been cut in half and my blood pressure has dropped to below normal.  Consequently, my GP halved my medication and I was back on the lowest dose.

My GP was astounded as to how I had managed to turn this all around in such a short period of time.  I owe that to Dr. Lorien Cordain's book.

Hypertension is a serious condition and is an indicator of future health problems such as stroke, heart disease, cardio vascular disease, kidney disease to name the usual suspects.  However, in my opinion high blood pressure is a disease of inflammation of the arteries.  And through the changes I made to my diet, I managed to significantly reduce and potentially remove, that inflammation.  And that inflammation was caused by the processed carbohydrates and seed oils that I had in my diet.

I encourage you to check out my opinion and let me know what you find.

Look after yourself and take care until next time.