Archive for May, 2009

Weight Loss Secret – Fiber

May 23, 2009

A while back I made some discoveries in my diet that helped immenselyto control my appetite. Still working on applying them all the time, but at least I know about it. I will let you in on my little secret. I still have the days where I find myself in the kitchen eating item after item. It used to be getting up from the couch or whatever other sedentary non-activity I was doing. But I am now finding it happens more when I work out more. I basically use up a lot of muscle glycogen and then my body wants to replace it. No problem really as long as I eat the right foods. Therein lies the problem. Here is an excerpt from a blog I wrote a while back but did not post for some reason.

I have been struggling with the calorie counting for 11 weeks or so now. OK, struggle is not the right word, it has been very successful, but it is a battle to do better. My goal was initially to eat 1800 a day and it didn’t happen, I was still successful at 2200 calories daily but it takes longer that way to lose weight. I have been getting it down close to 2000 on average for a few weeks now. This last week I intentionally added some fiber to my diet and the meals are not only making me full, I sometimes feel stuffed. These days where it happens I am eating less than 1800 calories and I have the feeling of being stuffed! I can hardly believe it.

The discovery was that fiber keep you feeling full. And it is even better if it is the bulky stuff like a cup of carrots, as opposed to something that sounds goofy but many people do, like eating a granola bar that wasn’t all that great for you but is laced with several grams of chickory root that was dried and ground up and added to the bar. Yeah this is what a fiber one bar is, only 140 calories and 10 grams of soluable fiber. Soluable means two things, to those with even a little high school chemistry it means that it will dissolve in water. But the real way soluable fiber is classified that way is that it ferments in the gut. Thats right, you can hear it talking back later. Eat a fiber one bar in the morning and evening for a couple days if you need to win any contests.

Now it is recommended to eat several times after a hard workout at short intervals.  The first item is a liquid recovery drink followed by small meals at two hour intervals. Ideally these would be chosen for their nutritional value and they would involve fruits and vegetables and protien and even some good fats. My problem, is they are trips to the cupboard for a snack not a meal. I eat cheese crackers with a glass of milk. Then I am back later for ritz slimed with peanut butter and another glass of milk. Then that weight watchers popsicle for 140 calories calls me out. Then that wasn’t really a meal so I prepare a small sandwhich to go with it.

The thing is I am supposed to eat meals at these intervals when I work out long and hard. The last two Saturdays I did quite a bit. 1.2 mile swim, a 16 mile bike and a 3 mile run here for 1500 calories. Or a half marathon and a 1050 yard swim for 2100 calories. It takes over 2 hours and I get very hungry. I need to skip the dense caloric foods that come prepackaged for quick eating and take the time to eat more like I do during the week.

I eat breakfast during the week, then pack up a snack for the morning, lunch, and a snack for the afternoon. By the time I am out the door for work I know exactly how many calories I will have eaten before I sit down to my dinner, barring unforseen circumstances of course. Things like donuts using Jedi mind tricks to make me scoop them up off the plate when idiots bring them in to work thinking they are being nice. I usually avoid them cause they are not around, but sometimes I am weak. Who the hell needs to eat a 400-500 calorie deep fried pastry slathered with superfine ground sucrose mixed with a liquid and flavors like maple? Maybe I should cut the donut into sixths and take one bite. One 60 calorie bite that is still not worth it. Or better yet take a donut, take a bit, and toss the blasted thing in the trash. That will be what I try the next time, it gets rid of one more donut from the pile so they are gone faster, I get a little taste, and I still only eat 60 calories. I will head out like I am refilling my coffee so no one sees me and gets offended.

On Saturday I have no concept of planning. The only thing I do lately is make sure I get the recoverey drink. And then plan to eat 3 times after each of the next 2 hour periods. I shall plan all the meals the next few times. One of the items should be a soup that has lots of fiber. Another should include veggies, and another should include a piece of fruit. Here is the plan:

  1. after workout: revovery drink (Endurox R4) 270 calories
  2. 1 hour later or when hungry: 1/2 c plain yogurt, 1/2 c fruit, stevia sweetener, with added fiber (T ground flax) and 1/4 c of a crunchy cereal.  200 calories
  3. 2 hours later: 8 ritz crackers, 3 slices lunch ham, 1 slice cheese, 1/2 c baby carrots, 1/2 c raw brocolli. 300 calories
  4. 2 hours later: large bowl of lentil and sausage soup with veggies. This recipe is one of our family favorites and we use turkey sausage now. 200 calories.

Now this 1000 calorie blitzkrieg might sound like I am going overboard. But I tell you I just burned 1500 calories and only ate 1400 (breakfast of 400 plus 1000 recovery) and I am sitting at just about dinner time with a negative calorie balance for the day so far. If I am not just raving hungry I have accomplished my goal. Besides looking back over my calorie counts I notice on Saturdays I have been doing better since I started doing a recovery drink alone, so this is the easy first step to a successful workout and not eating too much later. But I still do poorly when I eat unheathy snacks by the time I get to dinner I still have big hunger cravings. Granola bars, cheese-n-crackers, cheesy-crackers sandwiches, and those darn weight watchers cookies-n-cream popsicles, and the skinny cow ice cream sandwiches are the typical things that find their weigh into my belly. (yeah I spelled it wrong on purpose).

There was one saturday where I ate 300 calories for breakfast, 200 in gel and sport drink during the 1700 calories workout (1.2 mile swim, 14 mile bike, 3.2 mile run). Then went on to have 550 calories for lunch, 600 calories in afternoon snacks, and found myself with such an urge to eat that I ate 1400 calories around what should have been dinner time in snacks that consisted of: girl scout cookies, ice cream sandwhiches,crackers n peanut butter, popcorn, and cereal. Good thing the day ended there.

 I really do think fiber, by way of eating it in naturally low calorie high bulk foods is the key to not being hungry and eating too much. I will leave you with a little more from that blog entry that never got posted where I was dicussing what I learned from eating fiber.

 I am skipping an afternoon snack here and there not because of will power but because I don’t feel hungry. I can really pack away the calories when we go out and eat for example at Red Robin Burger a couple of months ago I had the banzai burger (1000 calories) with steak fries (hundreds more) and then a tase of the kid’s milkshakes and birthday sunday for a total of 1500 calories in one meal. Granted I was full, and a little uncomfortable, but it is the same feeling I had the other evening when I ate about 600 calories of lentil and sausage soup which had about 18-20 grams of fiber in the one serving (lentils are amazing). And get this, less than half of the calories came from the soup, the crackers and milk were more calories. I did not even consider a late night snack and ended the day on 1760 calories stuffed and wanting no more. Every other time I ate 1760 calories or less (11 times about once a week) the following day I ate (2145, 2420, 2320, 2460, 2570, 2000, 2620, 2260, 1935, 2165, 1950) which is an average of 2260 and this time I ate 1920 the lowest followed by another day that was better than my goal of 2000. (It is cool to have the spreadsheet of data for comparisons like this.) And this second day the heaviest workout day of my workouts at 2300 yards swam in 64 minutes and 4.7 miles run in 44 and a half minutes. That is 1380 calories burned and still I sit here without hunger writing this, full for the day on 1850 calories. This fiber stuff is magic I tell you.

Tricky Nutrition Labels

May 22, 2009

I hate how marketers use the nutrition labels to display unrealistic information. They are following the rules sure, but the biggest thing they love to do is make the portion size so small they can put a big fat zero for everything. You are thinking silly am I being? (Yeah I love Yoda, so what)

Take this example. Pam spray, which is an oil, has zero calories. This is oil, pure oil, nothing else. Oil has 9 calories per gram, so they make sure that the hole size on the can does not spray out more than 1/18th of a gram in a third of a second so they can round the half down to zero. Then they tell you the serving size is a third of a second of spray. Well I spray about 2 seconds to cover a small 6″ pan to cook an omelet, maybe it is more like 1.62 seconds on further reflection. So let’s see, 6 times zero, oh that’s easy, zero. I am sure marketers are telling the food engineers, packaging engineers, and whoever else is involved to come up with certain numbers. Gosh if you could just make this 5 calories per serving then people will write it off as nothing but if you have to put 13, then we are not only going to lose those people that read labels for weight loss but anyone that is supersticious as well. Oh, well that is easy the group of engineers says, we just replace 15% of the sugar with erythritol and cut the serving size in half.

Now I am willing to bet there are much worse things going on than the simple serving size example of Pam spray. I have no proof, but if I thought of it after thinking about it for a total of say a few minutes then certainly someone in a position to do something about it could have. And one of them probably did it. So what might they do? How about sending a batch of food for testing that is not the same as the one they sell. Now outright lying is probably not a good idea, let’s say they get a batch of avacados for their guacamole that are not so creamy. They grew in less than idea condition or were picked too early or something and they have less fat content than the norm. Well send this batch off to test for the labels and voila, we have the lowest fat content in our guacamole of all the leading brands. There is variance in all foods that grow, it can be seasonal, it can be a bad area or bad farming techniques or just bad weather that year. It would be easy to alter the content of a test batch to get the results desired. Even if by accident this will be happening all the time. This is part of why buying your herbal remedies is frowned upon, no matter what you think you are getting if you are not going with a company that actually has to charge more to do it right, then you are getting junk quality, which is certainly not what they sent in for testing. We are talking billions of dollars in this business every year.

So now for one other example. Weight Watchers points is the perfect example. I did weight watchers way back when and got the little slider to figure out the points of a meal. Well, the handy dandy pocket slider tool was not something I was going to carry around. So I figured out the formula.

ww_points = (calories – 20 – 10 * fiber_grams + fat_grams * 50 / 12) / 50

So there are a few things to notice about the formula, first off each 50 calories is a point once you are past the free 20 calories and the fiber and fat modifiers. If you calculate 5 items separately you get an extra 100 calories. This is not only silly, but the Weight Watchers tells you to do the whole meal not item by item. Another thing to notice is that you get bonus calories for the fiber. It is supposed to stop at some number but I cannot remember what, I seem to recall 4 grams. It would depend on how much food you are talking about I think. You can’t just add fiber to a yogurt until it reaches 0 points and then suffer the abdominal pain, you can only count so much per item. If you are doing the calculations for an entire meal then obviously the limit would be higher and 4 grams would not be enough, but then who knows. I don’t use the program anymore so I am not going to look it up again. It should be very clear that if you are designing a meal to be labled with the weight watchers points you could easily do some things to make it look better. That is by reducing portion size to round down. Points were not meant to be broken apart.

Now for the product we are going to pick on. Progresso Soup, I have two cans, one each of Light Italian-Style Vegetable / Light Chicken Noodle. The label says 0 / 1 points and 60 / 70 calories. All of this is per serving of course. The serving size is 1 cup which is 242 grams/236 grams. Yeah, each soup weighs a different amount. The label says about 2 servings on both.

<<About?>>, what the hell!

Who is going to open a ready to serve can of soup and not eat the whole thing. It appears to be 120 or 140 calories which is not too many calories for anyone, so just put 1 serving on the darn label guys. Each can of soup has 524 grams in it. So the actual servings in each can is 2.17 / 2.22. I wish I could pay my taxes like this. $3225 tax bill is about $3000. Better yet let me pay about $125 every two weeks from my check and wind up paying $100  x 26 times.

So each can has

veggies: calories = 130, fiber = 9g,fat = zero of course,

chicken: calories = 155, fiber = 4.4g, fat = 3.3g

If you ate a can of soup for lunch you think you either had 0 points or 2 points if you just read the label, or you would probably assign the whole can of veggies 1 if you had any sense that they were tricking you. But in fact you would be eating 2 points for the veggie, or slightly under if you were not willing to round up, and 3 points if you appropriately round up the number for the chicken noodle. And if you just ate the soup every day for lunch thinking it was two servings and therefore 120 /140 calories, you would be surprised to learn that you ate an extra 3650 / 5475 calories during the year. Yeah I am using their “skewing data” techniques against them but they do it all the time so they can’t really complain that I am now can they?

Now all said and done I love the soup and didn’t buy it because of the weight watchers points or the exact calorie counts. It simply lets me fill up on soup and eat my crackers too. An easy way to get a meal under 400 calories is all I am shooting for when I grab a can.

So what can we take away from this? Besides the fact that I am long winded? One should always take advantage of a poor situation. I do this by math exercies in the store as I shop to work my way through all the obfuscation and to stay sharp so I can live longer.

Oh and another thing. Let’s all force the beer and wine and hard liquor companies to put the nutrition labels on their product too. It is, after all, something we ingest, although using the word nutrition is kind of an oxymoron.

sore foot and a sprint tri

May 21, 2009

I hurt my foot a bit the day of the half marathon. I am not sure how cause it never hurt during or after the run until later that day. I did a bunch of stuff around the house and much of it involved standing while doing it so my theory, which my wife does not approve of course, is that I need to rest off my feet after a race. I guess the other option is only to do race distances that are not a stretch.

Speaking of which, I just entered a sprint triathlon the last day of this month. 500 meter swim in a pool, 10 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. This will actually be an easier workout than I have been doing on Saturdays when I do a much longer swim and bike and about the same run. All of the workouts are at a not all out pace with relaxed transitions that involve a trip to the locker room. So this should bring me my first chance to practice the transitions. I still need to go buy some triathlon shorts that can be used to swim and then bike and run too. With a short race I might be able to make do with what I have and adding the bike shorts over the swim suit. We’ll see if I make it to the store or not.

I am not treating this like an all out effort, but I still have some expectations. I will see how good I can guess this stuff. Assuming my foot is completely fine by then here are my expectations:
9:00 swim: (I did this pace the other day and think I can repeat it)
3:00 T1 : (I don’t know how far the walk to the bikes is and I also have bike shoes now)
33:20 bike: I hope to go 18 mph avg, but I don’t know about this
2:00 T2: I have to change to running shoes so I can’t just dump the bike and take off
27:00 : I would like to think I could hold the 9 minute pace for just 3 miles

1:14:20, this seems fast. I can’t find previous years results, but I did find a triathlon club that listed it’s members results. That time would put me in 6th or 5th place. So either I can’t estimate well, there is more to the race that I don’t know about, or the course is shorter than it used to be. I guess maybe only newbies might show up or there are only 20 people in the thing as well. I guess I will wait and see.