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Entries in Green (3)

Sunday
Jan172010

Should I stop eating grains? - Part 1

At dinner with friends the other night, I had to explain why I no longer eat grains or processed breads.

This is admittedly a long topic that warrants LOTS of discussion (there are numerous articles and books out there right now) so I'm going to keep things fairly brief.  Even still, I'll have to break this up into a series of mini-posts to give this complicated topic the time it warrants.

To begin - I'll just cover the changes I've experienced in my own body since I quit eating grains.

My entire life I used to begin the day with a giant bowl of cereal.  Giant is not an exaggeration, I used punch bowls or popcorn bowls to eat my cereal.  I also battled allergies and nasal congestion throughout high school and college.  I was also a big fan of french fries, donuts, pasta, and two grains that still call my name to this day - bagels and blueberry muffins. I'm biased, but I also should say that my mother makes the best pancakes available in the continental U.S. 

I was on a cut diet program as recently as a few months ago that (in a nutshell) called for 4-4.5 days of very low carbs and low calories, followed by a full body depletion workout, then immediate carb loading with as many starches and grains as you can put into your system in 48 hours.

It was enjoyable, but I never got as lean as I hoped I would.  I also had extreme energy crashes from the spikes in my insulin and blood sugar.  These carb load days usually fell on Fridays, and I could never last more than an hour before I badly needed another nap. 

I switched to a move high-protein, moderate-fat, low-carb (non-grain) approach, championed by guys like Marc Lobliner with Team Scivation (www.scivation.com) or Mark Sisson (www.marksdailyapple.com) after feeling like there was no way I was going to lean out by gorging on bagels, muffins, pasta, and donuts each week.

Carbohydrates are still required for energy (whether in complex or simple form) so I get them from fruit/plant sources most days like grapefruits, oranges, blueberries, green beans, broccoli, and as many leafy greens like spinach that I can cram into the blender (thanks to advice from guys like Craig Ballantyne and "the Raw Model").

Subsequently, my energy levels are much more steady.  My skin is clearer and I'm as vascular in my arms as I've ever been.  I'm getting closer to having the level of leanness in my abs and torso that I've been chasing.  I don't wake up feeling like I've been in the cage with Brock Lesnar either.  I'm not saying these things are "cause and effect" with eliminating the grains, I'm just providing my experience and letting you draw your own conclusions.

Thursday
Jan142010

Fitness Spotlight: "Raw Model" Anthony Anderson

Anthony Anderson is a model who is very out-spoken about his love for natural foods and "green" living.  He was one of the first sources I began to learn from about the benefits of getting a couple pounds of fresh green leafy vegetables into my system every day if possible.

When I experimented with a vegetarian plant-based diet last year, Anthony Anderson was one of my main sources for information on alternate sources of protein.  Here is his take on non-meat, plant-based protein sources:

"Where do you get your protein???" The question is on cue almost every time. Its like they are trained to say it, and in reality, they are. 

So where do I get it? Brazil Nuts, Hempseeds, Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas), Almonds, Bee Pollen, Spirulina and Blue-Green Algae, Maca Root, and of course, the leafy greens. (Kale, Spinach, Chard, Collard Greens, Wheatgrass and Sunflower Sprouts.) About 45% of calories in spinach come from protein. Thats huge. Especially if you are eating over a pound of leafy greens a day, which really is a good idea anyways. Most of my protein and fat is consumed in my daily smoothie, which I like to have for lunch. This makes is easily absorbed into the body, and allows me more time to do the more important things in life instead of preparing a salad for 30 min."

He also impliments some of the benefits of the famous "Lemon Cleanse" (fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper) each day without going overboard and pushing to the borders of metabolism slowdown.

You can follow his blog at www.rawmodel.com

Thursday
Jan142010

Can you really put spinach in a smoothie?

Yes, you can.  And no, it doesn't ruin the taste. 

Seriously.

I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't listened to Craig Ballantyne (and watched his video).

I didn't have as much trouble with my blender as Craig did, but his advice is spot-on.  Adding leafy greens like spinach or kale to your smoothies or blended drinks is a great way to get high volumes of plant nutrients into your daily diet without having to sit down behind a punch bowl-sized salad three times each day. 

This is sure to be only the first in many discussions about "green smoothies", if you are anything like me (or most people) it will probably take a few times for you to get used to the idea of combining spinach in a blender with the rest of your smoothie.

Here's another video of Atlanta Falcons' tight end Tony Gonzalez using spinach (and a bunch of other veggies) in his blender drink: