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Diet

Several things you should know about food, diets and overzealousness – Part 2 – Why eating like a caveman might be a fabulous idea

Ciao!

It has been again a while since I wrote (there goes my promise to do a post every week on either this page, or Inspekcija’s site), but the time for THE TALK has finally come.

As I described in the previous post, my first shot on changing my eating habits was moving from the Lithuanian diet to being a Vegan. You can read more about that there, so I’ll simply continue where I left from.

Past the first vegan month, my friend Claudio, whom you might know from the interview I posted some time ago, suggested trying a completely different diet – the Paleo diet. Ranked even lower than the vegan diet (#28!), it ended.. the whole “Diet Expedition“. Sort of.

So what is Paleo all about?

Main idea of the Paleo diet is that most of the highly processed and agricultural age foods aren’t actually that good for your body – they lack the actual sustenance real products have – such as unprocessed meats, vegetables, nuts etc. –  instead have empty carbs (pasta, rice, i.e. you can eat a lot of them, but won’t feel really full), cause issues for your health (gluten in grains) etc., so eating real food must be a good idea, right?

So I started thinking – in most cases if you go to a restaurant – you will get a dish with a pinch of actual food (meat, awesome cooked vegetables or similar) and then – 70% of the dish is covered in pasta/rice/potatoes, in some cases – some bread slices are added to the mix. When I was younger, I remember I could eat looots of such dishes and would still feel quite hungry afterwards.

From the restaurant owners perspective – for sure, serving people a 20 LTL dish with 3 LTL worth of meat and 1 LTL worth of empty carbs is a bargain, but what if you ate a bunch of healthy veggies and some meats (by the way, paleo can be vegetarian, meats are not necessary) which are worth 10 LTL instead..?

One short disclaimer: paleo diets are, indeed, a tad more expensive than those filled with cheap products such as rice and grains. Let’s follow up with an example – this awesome meal I ate for friday lunch – Paleo burgers with guacamole.

Expenses: beef (~9 LTL), avocados (6-8 LTL), some salad, tomatoes, onions and garlic (several LTL); three eggs (0.5 LTL). Result – 5 massive paleo-approved burgers, free of processed foods and surprisingly tasty, filling (I didn’t eat anything for the rest of the day; ‘cept cider:D) and really refreshing (it was a warm day that day). So the total cost is about 20 LTL for two people – not that bad.

All the products mentioned are simple, healthy and available everywhere.

One thing you might ask though – “Looks like there is little seasoning and flavour (sauces etc.) in the dish, it would taste plain”. My answer, which is born from practise – god, when I changed the diet nearly six months ago, I started liking pretty much all the vegetables and meats with little seasoning, because there was no more conservatives, sweeteners or E621 in my diet so my taste buds returned to life. So no, the burger tasted freaking great.

Wait wait. But what about alcohol? Beer, most importantly? As are grains themselves, beer is prohibited on the paleo diet (vodka, whiskey etc. as well), while tequila, wine or cidres are loved by paleo eaters. Imagine how silly I look during events in smaller still the-lithuanian-diet pubs where the main drink is beer – “Wine please.”. Or how many times I discussed whether cidre is a girly drink (go try the real cidres in Piano Man or Sarkozy). Somehow earlier in the spring finding a viable drink was rather difficult, but now, luckily, cidres have a hefty chunk of the market (and after trying, a bunch of my non-paleo friends now prefer cidre before beer).

Weigh loss and sports

What about the paleo diet as a weigh loss option? There is really little research done on the Paleo diet and the results are mixed, so I’ll talk from my experience.

If you’re currently eating loads of grains (breads, pasta), rice and potatoes, mixed with vegetables and meats and if you simply remove the first three from your diet (the empty carbs) you might be surprised at the level of weigh loss you’ll see. For me, even after the vegan diet, the difference was almost 3 kilos in the first few weeks – the fat of my body burned soooo fast I was really pleased to see the results. As you might know already, the unused carbs (empty or not), if your diet is filled with them, will end up in body fat (google pictures of African children fed on rice only, a perverse scene in a way – although completely skinny, the children are fat around the waists, with bloated out bellies).

A friend once told me of a bet he did with one girl – if she dropped a certain number of kilos (a hefty number, but I won’t be specific about weigh, dangerous thing to do) in two months while eating paleo, she’d send the guy sexy pictures. She dropped more:))

But what about sports? Although some might argue, that Palaeolithic people (that’s where the name come froms, as you might imagine) didn’t do that much sport and would only need energy for short bursts, so lots of walking, some sprinting and a bit of heavy lifting is enough a sport for Paleo people, my opinion is slightly different. Sure, if your only goal is some weigh loss, this will be enough. You will burn through the fat you have and if its ok for you, its ok.

For me though – I always do sports. I wrote about Insanity last time and mentioned, that when I was Vegan, doing the program was a wrecking experience – my muscles hurt, my knees and feet joints ached and I had to quit. On Paleo though. Oh boy, while writing, I have less than a week to go for the whole program, my muscles are tight as hell, no pain anywhere, I recuperate really fast so the next day – I can dig even deeper.

And this is kind of logical – to recuperate my muscles I need proteins. Shitloads of them. And in contrast to the Vegan diet, which contained only little protein every day, I now have excess proteins (while the recommended amount is 35%, paleo has 38%, according to the american dieticians). And I feel freaking awesome.

I also regained the weigh I lost during the Vegan times and the first few months of paleo – in sheer muscle.

Conclusion

Whether you call this type of diet Paleo or any other name, the main takeaway for you might be this – try, at least for a while, eating less of the visual dish fillers (such as pasta) and more of the real foods – vegetables and healthy meats*. If you skim through the diet listings in the links above, you’ll notice the same trend everywhere – skip the grains (only whole grains are allowed), reduce the number of empty carbs, eat more vegetables, balance the amount of meats etc. So there is little magic in the Paleo diet, isn’t it?

*As I mentioned before, you can still be a vegetarian (not vegan though) if you don’t enjoy meats at all.

Plusses:

– Great for sports, productivity and overall energy levels

– Free of gluten and lactose for those intolerant (like me; no more digestion issues. Ever.)

– Most of the recipes are easy to follow and the preparation times are shorter

Minuses:

– Highly restrictive

– More expensive than the casual diets

Last remark

You don’t have to be completely strict, never touching the prohibited foods or ingredients, but when you do – you’ll notice something – perhaps you were being poisoned, silently, for your whole life.

Now I’m off to eat some awesome meal. Ciao, my beloved!

Categories
Diet

Several things you should know about food, diets and overzealousness – Part 1 – Vegan

First, I must apologise to everyone – a long while ago, 6 months before, actually, I had an epiphany – why not try some different diets and write about my experience in the so-called “Diet Expedition“.

The idea failed, miserably, however, in a rather peculiar way. As I mentioned in the first post, I was looking for a way to be more productive, more energetic and simply more happy. As in a saying “in a healthy body, there is a healthy soul” (not trying to religious, but you get the point).

Disclaimer: I don’t have a medical degree so do not consider this as a medical advice, only as an non-professional opinion. If need be, consult your doctor before trying anything.

Vegan

I wanted to try something completely different than my normal diet at the time – the lithuanian diet – eating mostly home-cooked meals, but rarely thinking about how all the product groups interact with each other, which product groups are better, which worse. By chance I ended up watching an awful video, known by some as the vegan “propaganda” video.  Apart from being rather difficult to watch, some ideas, at the time, seemed quite plausible.

Here is the video, for those who are interested (if not, skip past the video).

I often think about the idea of veganism from this perspective – what is the greater reason to “go vegan” – the better suitably of vegan food for a humans body or the thought, that by going vegan, you might make a dent in the animal abuse problem (or at least, not participate in it)? In my case, the idea of a “Diet Expedition” was not meant for animal protection, but as I said – how to fuel my body better. So the next day (still conflicted by the terrible videos shown in the presentation), I decided to try vegan.

Basically, I have no real food preference/taste – I could mostly eat all types of foods. So I had no problem eating dishes that looked awful (for example, a discoloured pile of goo (or vegetables with something and something else)). 

What I ate followed several basic rules:

– no meats/fish (obvious one)

– pasta or any other supplements would never contain eggs

– no milk products

What I didn’t follow:

– refusing products that may in the slightest and smallest of parts contain some animal by-product; I could not be bothered to read each and every label for some minor non-vegan ingredients..

The easiest food group to remove from my diet were the milk products – I was never tolerant of lactose, so this was a no brainer (actually, in the video above, the guy says one thing true, no matter what: a cows milk is for the cows baby, the only milk you need is your moms).

Results

Although the first few weeks were great (not sure whether to account this to the diet or my general mood at the time (first few weeks of december were truly awesome)), later on everything went downhill. As I mentioned in the first post I am really physically active – I usually walk everywhere (20-25 min walk to the city center, so no biggy) and I often try to start doing the Insanity work out again. What is Insanity you might ask? Several years ago this uber difficult workout program surfaced in the Lithuanian lindy hop community with a question – “Are you committed enough to persevere through this god damn tough workout?” The workout program is surely not for everyone, but I’d still suggest challenging yourself. Dig deeper:D

I had done the program before several times and decided to redo it during this winter (little to do when its -20C outside..). Although feeling muscle fatigue was normal in the first days of Insanity (muscles you never knew you had would start hurting like mad), I had different problems – no energy to begin the workout; feeling awfully tired afterwards; started getting cramps all the time (especially in the night) and worst of all, my knees started hurting. My body showed me that I lack some elements/vitamins in my diet.

Was there something I could do differently? To look for products I lack just to feel better? Or should a diet, if it is balanced, work perfectly without cutting corners (such as food supplements or like eating bazillion of bananas (me in december))?

A tad later, when reading more, I saw a more professional opinion on the variety of diets – Best Overall Diets in the US. In amazing place #17 stands the Vegan diet. As stated in the article, vegan diet is considered to be very restrictive, with little choice of products. I envy western europeans / americans, because they have far more available products on the market (such as soy “chicken” nuggets , believe it or not), but in Lithuania – eating this way is rather pricy.

Conclusion

Whether you should try a vegan diet depends, in my honest opinion, on whether you intend to do a lot of sports. The amount of proteins you get while maintaining the vegan diet is on the lower end of the recommended amount, so it is possible to run in to certain problems. Most people I know who eat more fruity/vegetable based foods end up rather too lean. Of course you would be able to feel energetic while sitting in a chair, but after a 5 km run or an insanity workout.. You’d most likely end up with torn muscles and no sustenance to recuperate.

Do not take what I say for granted – perhaps your body will react better to such food, but mine didn’t and in this blog I’m simply expressing my personal experience. As I said to everyone I talked about diets – the best way to determine whether some diet is good for you.. try it out. If your intention is to try several diets and choose one – try to maintain other conditions as equal as possible (same level of physical activity, same sleeping pattern..). If something doesn’t work for you, go, choose the next one.

Intro into Part 2

Past the first vegan month, my friend Claudio, whom you might know from the interview I posted some time ago, suggested trying a completely different diet – the Paleo diet. Ranked even lower than the vegan diet, it ended.. the whole “Diet Expedition“.

One unrelated freebie

One of the goals I had was changing my sleeping patterns. At some point in autumn I would often go to bed at a rather hectic schedule, so I would feel rather tired on the morrow. I recommend skimming through a free ebook from Sleepwarrior, which describes some simple ways how to sleep better and feel more energetic.

My rule of thumb ended up to be like this: always go to sleep at a particular time and wake up at an exact time. Yes, I know, always going home at 11 pm sucks, but it works. Nowadays, I go to bed at around 1 am – 1:30 am, start waking up at 7:30am, at 8 am I’m already jogging in an Insanity workout. This way, I can both meet my friends for a while and enjoy a productive day afterwards.

One last thing is about micro napping. Did anyone else try micro napping at some point of your lives? How did you feel? I usually sleep for 15-20 mins at midday and god how that refreshes me. No more drowsiness after 4-5 pm for me:))

Ciao and see you in the next post, this time – sooner!

Categories
Diet

Diet Expedition – The Beginning

Ciao, beloved readers,

(whom would actually read this article I would not even know, but still, I love you!),

while walking down the street I had an idea. Most of the diet pursuers choose their diet of liking and promote it via many awesome ways and highly read blog posts, but rarely give any honest opinion on how the diets compare to each other. Thing is – most of the diets will show a great improvement compared to eat-all-you-can-eat-shit-food-diet, in both weight and productivity, as well as sleep patterns. So why not try a lot of them?

Some background on my physique. I was always involved in some type of sport – basketball, kung fu, running, gym, lately Insanity (oh bloody hell..) and home-based-morning-exercises. I was grown eating home-cooked meals, most of which would include multiple origins of products, often such that should not be consumed together. On rare occasions I would eat fast foods (kebabs are really famous where I live), mostly after some drinking sports and exercises.

I am towering at 1.93 m (6.33 feet) and I topped my weight when I was in twelfth grade, being a bloke of 100 kg (roughly 220 pounds), which was considered overweight. I often reflect on the time, thinking “How the hell could I eat as much..”.

This changed when I joined the university. During one of the parties I got a remark (by a girl of course) on my beautiful and sexy body, so in just a few months I dropped the excess weight via cardio exercises in the gym (running and stuff). I downed to 90 kg (200ish pounds) and felt quite well.

It was just after a few more years when I started a full time job and began taking care of what I eat, tried a more regular eating schedule and simply stopped eating utter crap when I reached, at the time, my then normal weight of 82-83 kg (181-183 pounds). I was still not picky on the products I ate, however always maintained a level of physical activity (I usually prefer walking and using public transportation, that helps).

The tipping point was a few months ago. Since I started working on my own, I felt a lack of productivity and focus. When I was forced into the 9 to 5 routine, I would (for the most part) be forced to be productive as well. But when there was no one to carrot-and-stick me and I was (obviously) the only one to blame for not doing the job, I said “Shit, I have to do something.”

I won’t talk much about the basis of forming and maintaining good habits (at least, for now), but at the time I read a lot about ways of increasing productivity and lengthening the productive hours, as well as how to sleep less, but still gain more energy. I came to the realisation, that first stepping stones in being productive are simply physical:

1. your diet;

2. your sleep;

3. your mental state.

I might someday talk about the second and third points, but as the title of the post suggests, my main goal at this particular time is to find the best dietfor my needs as a freelancer, programmer, startup owner, a generally sexy person and such. I want to do more, I want to have more time, more energy, not only for work, but for my friends and family. So I began the journey, the Odyssey of Diets.

Its been a whole month since I changed my eating habits and only for the basis of food choice (bare with me), am trying out the vegan side of me.

If you’re intrigued by the story which will develop right in front of you, do follow me and my future posts.

Best wishes,

your still vegan-on-paper friend, Vilius.

Ciao!