Posts Tagged ‘stevia’

South Beach Diet – Day 2

August 4, 2008

South Beach Diet Day 2 weigh in

I did not start on Saturday, we had an event to attend and decided to make it the last day to eat up some last bit of fruit lying around. Oh, and there was this piece of cheesecake, Margarita’s yeah they were invited too. I have a lingering feeling there was more, but to read it might be torture. My Sunday weigh in was 218.6 which is going to be my official SBD starting weight. This is two pounds more than the start of the fitness plan 7 weeks ago. Well, have no fear, this was mostly due to poor eating from the knowledge we were slapping on the cuffs over the weekend. And, my weigh in this morning was 216.6, so apparently it wasn’t that much badness. I think I will hit 210 before the end of week 1, just based on how quickly it went last time I started the SBD. I was initially concerned the working out would keep the weight up. It certainly has lately every day I work out hard I seem to weigh slightly more the next morning and then following the rest day go back to where I was. So I worked out about as hard as I have yet yesterday and still got the giant weight loss boost with the SBD so now I am thinking it is going to drop off faster not slower with the working out. My only concern left is how tired this is going to make me. We shall see.


We did not do all the exercise on Saturday, so I just did the 600 yards swimming. We got there late and had that event to attend. I seriously worked out good yesterday to make up for missing on Sunday. I did 800 yards swimming, 12 laps in groups of 4 and 20 in groups of 2. I was swimming each pair of laps in 1 minute and then resting between. I tried various techniques and watched how other people were swimming. There was this girl, on some swim team, that was practicing. She was changing her breathing patterns instead of 3-3-3-3 like anyplace that talks about it says you should do, she was tossing in a 2 here and there, and the longer the swimming got the more twos. So This is my first evidence that I am not just some sort of a aberration and this breathing thing might get to others as well. I was able to do the groups of four only because I tried to breath on the same side more. I get real tired and was even having trouble switching back to the other side so it was 3-2-2-3-2-2-2 which is just about enough to get from one end of the pool to the other. It takes more concentration on the arm pulls to make sure that the breathing doesn’t screw them up and waste energy. I count between 19 and 21 pulls for each length and am pushing off underwater to right where the flags sit for the backstroke warning that the wall is coming. I think I will start adding some groups of 6 in next time and breath as often as I need. I need to average 30-33-36-39-42-or 45 seconds a lap to get 10-15 minutes time for 500 yards. I am swimming almost all of my laps at 25-30 seconds, but then I need rest. If I breath more but swim slower I might be able to get myself to slow down to say 39 or 42 seconds and then not need to rest. The most efficient way to do the exercise is to use a steady pace, so with the race in less than 3 weeks now I had better start practicing this. It sure seems like dropping the time from 42 to 39 wouldn’t be a big deal but that drops you from 13 to 12 minutes over the 500 yards, so it is.  


I did 45 minutes on the elliptical and hit 3.5 miles at 41:40. I was doing the interval where the cross-ramp would raise itself up instead of the resistance getting harder. The whole time the resistance was on 8. So these miles were not just standard miles comparable to a flat run. These miles are just under 13 minutes, but then it is on the elliptical machine so who knows how this relates. I am planning on going out to a trail and marking off 1.75 miles with my bike then doing it to see how running on the street compares to all this practicing on the treadmill and elliptical trainer. I seriously hope it is going to be easier. I have always been using the treadmill with a slope and the elliptical at a high resistance so that it would be. I will be bummed out if I failed to make it hard enough to simulate the street.


So After 600 yards Saturday and 800 yards of swimming Sunday and 4.25 miles on the elliptical after the cool down period was added, what is a guy to do? Jump right into the weights of course. This was, as you might imagine, brutal. I did the leg exercises, and felt the pain in my arms from all the swimming the last two days and figured I would let them off the hook. The whole workout Sunday was just around 1100 calories. 400-660-100 for the swimming-elliptical-weights. If I skipped the weights and added a bike ride, and reduced the swimming distance I would be doing the triathlon and burning about 1650 calories, 250-800-600. I am to the point where I can do the whole thing without some gargantuan effort. I can do each exercise to the length of the race or more and have energy left to do more. The hardest part will be running right after getting off the bike. I think I will do that soon just to see how bad it really is.


I did not sweeten the tea correctly cause it tasted like diet tea with the steviva powder. At first I thought it was the stevia, but I rememebr having trouble in the begining when making up the recipe. Chai tea has so many spices you absolutely have to sweeten it enough or it tastes terrible. When I finally realized I had the recipe down except for enough sugar it seemed like I was adding too much. I would never add 3 teaspoons of sugar to a cup of coffee so it seemed like too much. I tried the Zevia soft drink and am not happy with the taste of the cola, the orange is better but still. I made oatmeal, with the steel cut oats one day and it sucked as well. I did try another shot at the oatmeal and chai tea with and managed to make it taste better so I should be able to figure it out once I get another couple of cracks at it. I did not try it for any baking yet and now can’t for a couple of weeks until I get to phase 2.

Overall it is very sweet and does not have all that much aftertaste but enough to tell that it is not sugar. I tried it the first day when I got back from my bike ride. I was opening the package and dug out the teeny tiny spoon to measure servings. I got powder all over and decided to taste it straight. It was intensely sweet and had an aftertaste in a large portion. You know how your lips get that filmy sticky layer on them when you work out hard and start to dehydrate, well that is how I was when I tasted the stevia and the power got all over my lips. Over the next couple hours I kept getting a sweet taste when I licked my lips. It was like a sweet ghost was visiting me cause all of a sudden sweetness BAM for no reason. It was kind of cool. It was such a small amount there was no aftertaste. This leads me to believe that some company will be adding stevia to their lip balm soon. That will be good stuff.

So don’t take my complaining of an aftertaste too strongly. I can’t say that I have tried it recently but taking a spoonful of granulated sugar and popping it in my mouth would probably result in me complaining in one way or another too. It is just a detectable difference, nothing to get too excited about. I can also taste a difference in brown sugar. I will keep reporting when I find a useful way to use the stuff.


Workout and South Beach Diet and Stevia Update

July 29, 2008


Over the weekend I got a new best time again for the 500 and 100 yards of swimming, 14:37 and 1:55. So for those keeping track this is only 3 seconds and 6 seconds better, respectively, but this was after I did my toughest workout yet. I do the swimming last out of convenience, which just has to be dropping my times a bit. I burned 405 calories in 30 minutes on the adaptive motion precor, then did my weights. This adaptive motion thing, if you haven’t seen it, is very strange looking. It reminds me of one of those machines you strap into and then start walking around looking a tad robotish. But the ones from the movies that are big enough to pick up cars and stuff (yeah that is right the science fiction ones). So, it is like an elliptical, but your stride length is variable, you can go all out strides or you can do like you are climbing up stairs. I felt like I had a little too much weight on the front of my feet and one foot even started to get numb so I don’t think I will be using it much, I try and get a fast stride and the best I could do was about 110 per minute. With the eliptical I can push it and get to 140 and holding at 120 is about the same as 100 on the adaptive motion thing as far as percieved effort is concerned. I find these machines very easy to work out hard and keep the heart rate up. So it will help me with the cardio improvements I am looking for, but obviously I will need to incorporate some real treadmill and pavement if I am going to get practice for the triathlon.

South Beach Diet

I have it set now. I will commit. (You thought I never would didn’t you?) I will be going on the SBD phase 1 this Saturday for 1 week for sure and if I don’t get too tired then will extend it to 2 weeks. Once finished with phase 1 then I will move to phase 2, then I will stay on the SBD phase 2 until my triathlon. So I am commiting to 3 weeks at this point in time. I hope to get some weight off to make the triathlon a bit easier. I have no idea how much I will lose while working out at the same time. I would imagine that it won’t be quite as fast as before only because it was probably water and muscle before. This is the real SBD test with workouts as far as I am concerned.

Stevia Update

So I got an email from Sweetleaf back that answered some of my questions. So I will share that. See my post and the comments I added if you are not familiar with what I am refering to. Sweetleaf stevia is not a crude extract, although it seems as though it would vary some by plant quality. This is what they told me:

Our new sweetener product is called SweetLeaf Sweetener and is 98-99% pure sweet glycosides, of which 40.5% to 70% are rebaudioside A. There are many different sweet glycosides and even various rebaudiosides; “Reb A” tends to be the sweetest in the context of the other glycosides in its natural state. Our processing also includes the removal of the leaf elements that give bitterness, which allows the fresh sweet taste of the glycosides, including Reb A, to come through more purely and vibrantly.

Our Sweetener extract is produced very differently from our dietary supplement, although the dietary supplement has been a fine product and the stevia leader in the marketplace. In the sweetener, only purified water touches the stevia leaves in extraction. Our new Sweetener has achieved the GRAS(Generally Recognized as Safe) designation by adhering to the highest standards set forth for safety and purity in plant constituents and processing for stevia by all scientific monitoring bodies worldwide. Ours is the first and to date only GRAS stevia sweetener. There is no aftertaste; there is only a sweet, enjoyable taste. We do not need to add any ingredient to the extract to make it taste better. We do add a pro-biotic natural soluble fiber to the packets as a carrier to make it easier to use. People tend to use too much with the pure extract. And the fiber is good for you, too.

Cargill/Coca-Cola product, Truvia, as well as Sweatleaf is GRAS by the FDA now. Generally recognized as Safe (GRAS) means they can sell it as a sweetener, put it in drinks, whatever they want. So we are going to see a lot of it in the coming months. It will take a few months to get people to notice this new sweetener is available as an alternative though. It is still not in my neck of the woods on the shelves.

So the one item now that I am greatly interested in is the bulking up agent they use to make it easier to use and measure. Truvia is using erythritol, while sweatleaf is using a pro-biotic natural soluable fiber. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that does not have the same side effects of other sugar alcohols that cause trouble in the large intestines because it is absorbed before it gets there. Here is an excerpt from an abstract:

Erythritol administered orally to humans was rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and quantitatively excreted in the urine without undergoing metabolic change. At high oral doses, urinary excretion accounted for approximately 90% of the administered dose with minimal amounts appearing in the faeces. A comparison of the human and animal data indicated a high degree of similarity in the metabolism of erythritol and this finding supports the use of the animal species used to evaluate the safety of erythritol for human consumption. It can be concluded, based on the available studies that erythritol did not produce evidence of toxicity. 

Erythritol is a sweetener itself, it is just less sweet than sugar. The combination of a sweetener that is not as strong as sugar makes some sense as a bulking agent as long as the alcohol sugar does not cause trouble. 

The pro-biotic soluable fiber that sweetleaf uses sounds like a good idea to me. It is soluable so it will disolve into drinks, and this is the same type of fiber that people buy on it’s own and take as a health benefit, so it seems to make good sense to add it to a product that is trying to be a healthy sweetener.

I will reserve any further comments on which one is better until I have the ability to taste some of this stuff. I ordered a trick HD video camera and this stevia last week, so if the UPS guy drives by my house not leaving me anything and I see him, he may get attacked. I am seriously jonesing for these things to show up.


July 25, 2008

What would you say if I told you there was an artificial sweetener that was natural and had been used for hundreds of years?

Yeah right? Would that be your response?

OK first let’s define artificial sweetener as not being sugar or fructose. That is something that gets that taste bud to fire off with way fewer calories if not zero, this can still be a natural compound found in nature. The trick of artificial sweeteners is when you hear about how many time sweeter the stuff is than sugar. The press acts like it is a magical quality, but it just means you need that much less of the product to fire off the those persnickety taste buds. The way that “artificial sweeteners” work is that they do one of two things during digestion, first they are not digestable so they pass through the body hence zero calories, or second there is such a small amount that the caloric intake total is small.

As an example, Aspartame is 200 time sweeter than sugar which is of the second variety because it is digested. There is so little needed that they beef up the packet with: dextrose with maltodextrine, so you can actually see what you are using. Try measuring out 1/200th of a teaspoon for your coffee and see if you don’t agree that bulking it up is a good idea. So now, I was a little leary about my previous revalation that Aspartame actually broke down to methanol, that is wood alcohol used for drag racing fuel and is poisoness. But now I am confident in what I found. Right here on the equal websiteit tells you that it breaks down to methanol. They of course try and cover up the fact it is a big deal by saying it is naturally found in meats and fruits, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you would have to eat something like 42 steaks to get the same amount from 3 cans of soda. I will search for that at some point, but sadly, not right now. Because this post is about Stevia (You had no idea did you).

What is Stevia? It is a genus of plants, someone said related to the daisy family, and there are about 150 such plants in the genus. But we are interested in one in particular. It is a bush that grows native in South America called Stevia Rebaudiana. It has been used in yerba mate drinks and medicinal drinks for centuries by the native people in Pauraguay and Brazil. The leaves when used as a sweetener are 30-45 times sweeter than sugar. Some scientists decided to study it and found that there are two glycosides that are causing the sweetness. They were named stevioside and rebaudioside.

For those of us that don’t know what the heck a glycoside is, it is a compound that is made up of a sugar molecule and another part. The purpose in nature is to store that other part (some chemical that performs a specific task) until needed later. The sugar and it hold on tight to each other and the chemical, when needed for its job, is released by introducing it to an enzyme which breaks off the sugar part and lets the chemical do its thing. This is natures way of saying, ok this chemical here might do some bad things to part of the body/plant/whatever so lets make sure it is locked up where it can do no harm until we get it where we need it. The nice thing about them is that we don’t have the enzyme that breaks it apart so we don’t digest it and the chemical remains locked up along with the sugar, but lucky us the molecule fires off those sweet taste buds like nobodies business. When setvioside is extracted it has 300 times the sweetness of sugar. So it needs to be bulked up so it is easy to measure. There are two companies, Coca-cola and Cargill, that have an FDA application in to get this stuff approved. They will brand it as Rebiana and call it Truvia and hope to have it available in 2009, they even set up a website for it . So as for the name to compare to something meaningful here are the equivalents:

Nutrasweet / Equal / Aspartame
Rebiana / Truvia / rebaudioside A

Now the thing about this stuff is that they are claiming that rebaudioside A is the best tasting component of the stevia plant. There are many other companies that are selling stevioside or crude extracts as a dietary supplement. The Crude extracts from the plant apparently have a medicinal taste and this will be sold and called “stevia plant extract” or something to that effect. The pure stevioside is available when it is refined and not sold as the crude form, and it can also be found bulked up with other things like soluable fiber for example. According to Coca-Cola even the pure stevioside is not the best tasting though they have something to sell me. Other’s selling the stevia describe it’s sweetening as something that is slower to come on but lasts longer, to me that tells you something is up. I wouldn’t think you have to describe sweet to anyone so I am a bit leary of taste here. So the main issue with stevia is going to be to come up with good tasting version, maybe certain extracts will do the trick, like Coca-Cola is doing, or maybe it will only work as they add their own little bit of flavor. I will be trying some and will update once I do.

Here is what I bought for $36 with shipping to try it out:
Item: 101 – Steviva 1.3 OZ. WT. in 8.0 OZ Bottle / Quantity: 1
Item: 102 – Steviva Blend 1 lb. Bag / Quantity: 1

Now for the fun part. Government regulation is always fun. You can buy it as a dietary supplement and it is legal to do so in the US (I just did it so it better be legal). The reason being that it is natural like many of the herbs and plants so can legally buy and sell this one is no different, it just can’t be labeled as a sweetener. You can even grow your own plants and use the leaves or other extractions yourself. Now the fun part I was talking about is there are many countries where it is being used already. Japan has been using it for 30 years. It’s what they use in their diet Coke right now. That’s right 30 years. In fact, Coca-Cola when they announced their own version of sweetener they are trying to get approved by the FDA, said they are developing their own drinks to use it and sell them in the 12 countries that already allow it to be used as a sweetener. If it is in their Diet coke in Japan already I would say it is going well.

Once approved I think we are going to see this stuff everywhere. It is already being exported from China and you know they can ramp up production for the US in just 1 year if that, so we come online and there is already a lot out there available it should hit the markets fast.

Now for a little more science, here is the report from the European Commission. The crude extract of the plant contains 8 diterpene glycosides:

rebaudiosides (A,B,C,D,E) and
dulcoside A

Because of their amounts found in the plant and their high multiples of sweetness as compared to sugar, only stevioside and rebaudioside A are considered to give the sweet taste when a crude extract is tasted. The problem is that different studies are being done, so although there is a lot of testing going on many times it is only part of the plant. Either a crude extract is studied or the two important parts stevioside and rebaudioside A are tested alone.

So what is a diterpene?  Diterpenes are a specific type of terpene that are composed of 4 isoprene units, anything that is made of isoprene units ( C5H8 ) is a terpene. C20H32 would be part of the chemical symbol for a diterpene. Terpenes are very common in the world and are parts of most all plants and animals. For example, Vitamin A is a diterpene. Terpenes are commonly found to be the key part of essential oils as well. So the stuff is common (even though all the chemical sounding names might seem scary) and we just need to find out if it is safe for humans to consume. I could not find a study that has not been overturned with further studies to show that it is unsafe. So although that doesn’t mean it is safe for sure, the early signal is in that this stuff is going to be the holy grail of the artificial sweetener world. And by early I mean, yeah Japan has been using it for 30 years and people in Paraguay and Brazil for hundreds of years. If there were a long term problem associated with it’s use we should be hearing about it in Japan any day now.

Like I said I will report what I find with the stevioside I just bought. I expect that is will have a bitter slightly bitter aftertase, although not like I might find in a crude extract which I did not buy and have not tried. I am excited to be able to drink my low-cal chai tea once again…