Tagged: health

The Shakeology and T25 Experiment Part II

I said drink yo Shakeology!  Drink it!!!

I said drink yo Shakeology! Drink it!!!

Ending Week 7 of Focus T25 and about the 2nd month of using Shakeology.  For the Part I article about my experiment, click on over here.    I can easily say I’m in the best shape of my life, and attained within a very short period of time.  I ran through the flooding rain today getting to my truck and I felt like a Cheetah, except way faster and more nimble.  Okay maybe it wasn’t quite like that, but the fact is, this little experiment is working.  I’m trying not to proselytize too much just yet, but if anyone asks, I pretty much turn into a wide-eyed Billy Blanks as I talk about how awesome Shakeology and Focus T25 is.

That’s Billy Blanks on the right.  He really has nothing to do with Shakeology or T25, but if he were into it, this is how intense he’d be.

The Beta stage of T25 is where they starting hammering your core and upper body.  Alpha gets your lower body and cardio out of the way and set you up for Beta.  I started adding whey protein shakes for after-workout drinks to make sure I’m getting up to 150g/day.  With all the pushups and weights, you can definitely start adding strength at this stage.

I’m not quite to the point of posting any pictures yet.  Close.  But not yet.  I think it’ll be best to wait until Week 10 is officially in the books before I do a real before and after comparison.

I have a full 3 weeks to go.  As much as I’d like to just go to sleep right now, at 10:30pm at night, I’m about to do a back to back workout because that’s what Cheetah’s do.  I’m already looking forward to starting P90x3.  For anyone who has used T25 and P90x3, how different are they?  Should I skip the Gamma DVD’s of T25 and go straight to P90x3?

Also, feel free to head on over here if you’re interested in getting started with Shakeology or T25.

The Shakeology and T25 Experiment

Haven’t heard of Shakeology?  It’s a shake of ology, or something.  It sure sounds sciency.  It follows in a long line of meal replacements such as Slimfast and Atkins Shakes.  Over the years I’ve tried some of these little fads such as these shakes and Special K bars, protein bars, etc.  The point was always to fill up and be healthy without consuming 800 calories of wheat pancakes or slamming six donuts down with my morning coffee.

The problem with most of these things is that they’re either loaded with sugars or artificial ingredients.

My wife got me interested in Shakeology, but only after much skeptical hrumph-snortling over the entire thing on my part.  It costs how much?!  And they want you to buy an at-home workout DVD?  Like Billy Frikkin’ Blanks?  How many of those DVD’s of Billy’s are collecting dust?  Let’s pull out ‘ol BB first before we go buying any new drink coasters.

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That’s Shaun T. He is gonna work your glutes over 10 different DVD’s!

So in we went.  A bag of chocolate Shakeology was delivered along with Shaun T’s “T25” workout DVD set.  Shaun T looks ripped, so I guess that’s how I’m supposed to look once I’m done with this program.  Okay Shaun T, whoever you are, let’s see whatchoo got!  (Needless to say, after just 3 weeks of the DVD cycle, I’m already mocking Shaun T as I hear him say the same things over and over.  FLEX those glutes. FEEL IT.  You GOT this!).

Back to Shakeology.  I’m big on ingredients.  If I buy anything new at the grocery store, I spend time reading everything that’s in it.  Shakeology definitely sets itself apart from everything else out there simply by its ingredient list.  There’s a reason it’s so expensive:  BeachBody (the makers of Shakeyohipsology) managed to cram every single type of super-food out there into one bag of tasty powder.  There’s no artificial chemicals, preservatives, and only 6g of sugar (a non-GMO fructose/stevia blend, of course!).  Its got Acai, Goji Beri, Camu Camu, Flax, Quinoa, Blueberry, Barley Grass, you name it…hell, they even threw in some Himalayan Salt just to show off how awesome their ingredient list is.  Check it out for yourself.

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Shakeology, PB, and a small blender is all ya need!

I’ve tried nothing but the chocolate so far because I love it.  I basically drink the same thing every morning:  1 scoop shakeology, water, ice, peanut butter…sometimes adding strawberries, vanilla extract, banana, etc.  It’s so damn good I really don’t care to try much else.  This one shake fills me up until lunch and gives me plenty of energy.  My hair feels pretty damn smooth too.  I heard the flax does that.  Or is it the rose hips?  Did they really go to the Himalayans for that salt??

They give you shake recipes that are all very simple, and rarely require more than 3 ingredients (other than the shake powder itself).  A small blender is perfect for these recipes.  I use a $15 Hamilton Beach blender that is very easy to clean and use.  I made a no-bake cookie recipe tonight that was just the choc powder, peanut butter, oats, and stevia (they asked for raw honey, but I said aw hell nah!) and they’re great too.  Thankfully none of these recipes take much time or energy.

As a side note, I’m not following the dietary plan they give you.  I’m still adhering to the high (good) fat/low carb diet.

I’ve done Shakeology for about 6 weeks now and highly recommend it.  The shakes definitely make me feel healthy and with 17g of protein per scoop (plus another 8-16g with the peanut butter), I’m consuming the equivalent of a 1/3 lb. hamburger’s worth of protein in the morning.  I’m definitely not hungry until lunch.  Bottom line is, if you want to get healthy and use a meal replacement, spend the money on Shakeology.  There’s a reason shakes like Slimfast are cheap.  If you’re serious about getting healthy and are looking for a good meal replacement, this is a great start to your day.  A 30 day supply of Shakeology is $129 if you don’t use any discounts.  That comes out to $4.30/day.  It’s not that much if you factor this cost as part of your normal food budget, considering you’re replacing one meal a day (which probably cost you at least $4 anyway).

Now, back to Shaun T’s “Flex Your Glute” DVD set aka “T25”.  Look, I’ve done the gym.  I’ve done the at-home DVD’s.  I’ve done Kettlebell (which still ranks as my best “get in shape” program).  So what does T25 have to offer besides tight glutes?  (You GOT this!)  I actually love the T25 program for three very specific reasons:  each DVD is only 25 minutes, those 25 minutes are intense, and there are 10 DVD’s spread through two phases of the 10 week program to mix things up and progress your fitness level.

shauntI’ve got a family, a full time job+, and I write novels in what free time I have.  So 25 minutes is the most I’ll realistically give to any kind of exercise program right now.  Those 25 minutes are intense, sweat-soaked experiences.  They work.  Color me impressed.  I can’t stress how important the 25 minute time frame is.  It really helps get me inspired to just do it because I know it’ll be over soon.  I’ve done the exercises in the morning and at night, that’s how convenient they are.

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T25 Progress Poster. NAILED IT.

I’m starting Week 4 on Mon June 2nd.  Once I finished Week 5, I go from the Alpha DVD’s to the Beta which is a new set of DVD’s that amps up the exercises.  I’m taking before and after photos along the way, and will post a mid-point review at the end of Week 5 (3 photos will consist of the before starting Week 1 (the sad photo), end of Week 3, and end of Week 5.  I’ll then do two more with the final being at the end of Week 10.  Hopefully my washboard abs will be showing through by then.  I’ll make sure to oil them up so they glisten.

If you’re interested in Shakeology or T25, let me know!  If you’re already doing either, what has been your experience so far?

We were wrong: Saturated fat is GOOD.

A new,extensive study came out the other day that suggested saturated fat isn’t linked to heart disease.  Whaa-?  In light of this, I recently went over some historical data regarding heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and fat/sugar consumption over the past 100 years courtesy of the CDC.  What I found is surprising:

Total Energy Consumption over 30 years.

Total Energy Consumption over 30 years.

  • 1910 was the first year Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) made the #1 top causes of death.  It rose steadily until 1963 when 375 people per 100,000 died of CVD.  In 2011 that number has been reduced by nearly 50% to 191 per 100k.
  • Cancer rates have remained relatively unchanged in the past 30 years, hovering around 181 deaths per 100k.
  • Diabetes has risen a staggering 50% in the past 30 years!
  • Sugar consumption has been on a perpetual rise for 150 years, but particularly since around 1900.  Starting in 1980, sugar consumption skyrocketed over the next 30 years.
  • In 1980, the FDA issued its dietary guidelines warning Americans to stay away from saturated fats.  Over the next 30 years, dietary fat slowly decreased but was replaced with increased carbohydrate consumption.  The overall effect was that people simply started eating more.
  • Americans who are considered “obese” has increased from 15% in 1990 to 36% today.

So why has CVD risk gone down so dramatically?  Is it really due to the decrease in fat consumption?  Not

Total US sugar consumption trend.

Total US sugar consumption trend.

necessarily.  Fat intake hasn’t dropped THAT dramatically to see a 50% decrease in CVD deaths.  Instead, we have seen a massive increase in the use of statins and surgical procedures to prevent or delay CVD.  This doesn’t mean the food we are eating is suddenly healthy, it just means more people are able to “have their cake and eat it too”, quite literally.  While it appears statins are likely having the intended effect on heart disease, the side effects are wide-ranging and we may be swapping one problem for another (such as increased risk of diabetes).

While saturated fat has been demonized for decades, we blindly swapped our fat for carbs and sugar.  After all, food tastes like cardboard if you’re missing both.  You need carbs OR fat, so when the fat was removed, in came the carbs.

Fat makes one feel fuller and more satisfied, and it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels.  The more fat you remove from your diet, the more you turn to carbs and sugar which will fluctuate your blood sugar levels and, consequently, cause you to eat more.  You’ll feel less full and when you “crash”, you crave more carbs to get balanced again.  This indulgence in carbs goes a long way to explain our exploding obesity and diabetes rates.

In 2012, an extensive study (and I mean, extensive!) on red meat consumption and mortality painted a pretty clear picture:  the more red meat you eat, the higher likelihood of dying early of CVD or cancer.  It didn’t matter if it was nitrate-free or not.  So if we combine the latest study about saturated fats and this study about red meat consumption, something doesn’t add up.  This would mean that there is a particular element specific to red meat that increases our mortality rate, but it’s not the saturated fat content.  What could it be?

Conclusion?

We need to rebalance our diets away from the carb-heavy load we’ve been told to eat, and not feel guilty about adding back in certain types of fat in our diet.  Good fats help keep our cravings in check and they’re healthy for our body.  The real enemy that we can all agree on?  Sugar.

The 50% increase in diabetes and the 36% obesity rate is 100% NOT associated simply from fat consumption.  The facts simply don’t back it up.  Fat doesn’t make you fat.  Period.  And if you want to look at it from a total caloric intake, fat does have more calories, but it makes up for it by curbing your appetite.  By eating carbs and sugar , we’ve been subjected to hunger swings all day which causes us to snack and overeat (How many times you’ve heard someone say “I’m STARVING!”).  You should rarely feel that hungry.

So add that fat back into your meals, and cut out the sugar.  The World Health Organization recently revised their suggested daily sugar consumption to <25g per day.  Go ahead and try that.  I dare you.  You’ll be shocked how difficult that is with all the added sugars in our food.

Stay strong.  Stay healthy!

Stop Counting Calories.

There’s a reason most diets don’t work.  It’s not because you’re a failure or you have poor willpower.  It’s because everything we thought about food is wrong.  If you care to take a drive with me down the rabbit hole, we can sort this thing out.  Let’s go.

Typically, a diet tells you not to eat this and that and to only eat this and that.  Meanwhile, you’re constantly hungry.  You crave.  You want to eat the doughnut, but you don’t because the diet told you so.  The diet is watching you and IT WILL KNOW.  Drop the doughnut and suffer like a good dieter.

“Somebody’s watching youuuuuu.”

This invariably causes failure.  Time and again.  An entire industry is built around YOU failing, and then trying again.  Big money is waiting to cash in on you jumping into and out of diets for the rest of your life.  They roll the advertisements out for the New Year, since everyone knows you’ve committed THIS year to losing weight.  Time to jump on the Weight Watchers bandwagon and lock yourself into a 4 year gym membership which you’ll only use for a month, right?

Dieters “fail” because most diets require a strength of will that only a marathon runner could endure.  Hunger is a daily, sometimes hourly, desire tugging at you like a little addiction.  Eat.  Eat.  Food.  EAT!

When you crash and burn and give up, the sugar-laden food industry welcomes you back with open arms and a knowing grin.  “Welcome back, old friend.  Have some ice cream, it’ll make you feel great.

The battle is always between carbohydrates and fats.  The majority of diets espouse a low fat/low carb mantra.  Basically, you’re supposed to deprive yourself like you’re living in a POW camp.  Enjoy your starvation!

I asked myself the other day,  “What’s the point of eating ANY kind of grains at all?”  The FDA recommends 9-11 servings of grain a day.  The basis of our diet revolves around grain.  Why?  What’s so great about it?  Let me blow your mind:  they aren’t necessary.  In fact, most carbs keep you hungry by spiking and then crashing your blood sugar levels.  Ever get that “shaky” feeling when you’re hungry?  That’s the carb addiction kicking in.  Eat more carbs.  Rinse.  Repeat.

We all know sugar is bad, but we eat a lot of it anyway whether wittingly or unwittingly.  The World Health

How could something that tastes so good, be so bad?

Organization released a report today stating that cancer rates will increase by 70% over the next 20 years, with sugar and obesity being among the top reasons alongside alcohol and tobacco consumption.  Wait.  Sugar and cancer?  Come to find out, cancer loves it some sugar.  And not just the refined white stuff or high fructose corn syrup, but also potatoes and flour.  Doesn’t the FDA recommend we eat 9-11 servings of this every day?  They do differentiate between whole and refined, but only suggest in a footnote that over half of your servings should come from whole.

In fact, the entire FDA “MyPlate” nutritional guide is based around calories.  Spend three minutes there and your eyes gloss over from the load of information they provide.  The very act of counting calories is a part-time job, and something most people will not commit to for very long before giving up.

Here is the problem with counting calories:  not all calories are created equal.  We’re told to eat 2,000-2,500 calories a day with a balanced diet.  Yet, 500 calories of sugar or refined carbs is vastly different from 500 calories of protein.  The physiological effects on your body between these two couldn’t be farther apart.  Sugar spikes your blood sugar, doesn’t fill you up, and has little to no nutritional value.  Proteins don’t spike your blood sugar, DO fill you up, and is an essential building block for your body.

What about fats?  Saturated fats have been enemy #1 for a very long time, and still are.  We’ve been told they clog arteries and raise our bad cholesterol.  Any kind of hydrogenated oil (trans fat) will definitely do those nasty things.  Unfortunately, this is the kind of oil we see in most of our food.  Hydrogenating oils make them stable, which means they can exist in your food for a long time before going rancid.  A fairly recent campaign to end use of trans fats in food was successful, but it’s still widely used, even in small amounts (Something may say 0 Trans Fats but can still have some).

The first widely used hydrogenated oil was a little something called “Crisco”.  Crisco was used for decades in American households for everything, from frying to baking.  Crisco is hydrogenated cottonseed oil.  Cottonseed oil is one of the worst kinds of oils, and then they hydrogenated it.  A generation of Americans clogged their arteries with this stuff and were told it was better for them than butter.

A balanced meal devoid of fat.

These days, saturated fats are being seriously re-evaluated again.  The growing consensus?  Saturated fats do not cause heart disease.  As the linked article above states, we’ve been told to replace “traditional” fats with ones we decided to make, like corn and soybean oil.  That natural butter and whole milk?  Yea, ditch those.  People have been eating them for generations but, look, this corn and soybean oil stuff is MUCH better.  Not to mention, we’ve genetically modified all the corn and soybean crops to resist our regular poison applications.  Bon appetite!

How has this paradigm been working, America?  Eat your grains.  Ditch the fats.  It’s almost a religious mantra at this point.  Yet it’s unbelievable to say that 1/3 of the US population is obese because they want to be, and are simply victims of their own weak willpower.  No, it’s the “carb” diet prescribed to us that keeps us in a state of hunger all day, even though we’re eating all day.  We’re all told to eat fiber and protein so we stay “full” longer, but that’s only part of the story.  We’re still missing a critical element: fat.

We’re not eating enough fat.  Fat has a bad name for itself because, well, it’s CALLED fat, something we’re all trying to avoid becoming.  Yet it’s not fat we should worry about but sugar, as studies are beginning to show that clogged arteries are occurring due to inflammation along the arterial walls.  Due to what?  Sugars, trans fats, and an imbalance of Omega 6 and Omega 3’s.  O6 is inflammatory to your arteries, and is commonly found in oils we all use and eat.  O3’s are an anti-inflammatory, so the ideal ratio of these two in our body is 1:1 or higher in O3.  The majority of the oils you eat have a high O6 level, particularly corn and vegetable oils.  We’re told to consume oils with polyunsaturated fats (because they’re “healthier”), but these are the ones with high O6 levels.  Most junk food and processed food use oils with O6.  There’s not much that we eat that have O3, so we are ALWAYS unbalanced towards O6 unless you’re also eating a lot of fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, and eggs that have O3’s.

So, what do we do?  Let’s break it down:

  • Stop eating so many carbs.  Let’s face facts.  Carbs are tasty.  Don’t get rid of them, just minimize them and choose good carbs.  Only eat whole grain and stop eating sugar.  Technically, you don’t need to eat any carbs at all.  When your body needs energy and doesn’t have any carbs, it cuts your fat cells apart like lumber in order to burn them for energy.  This is why low and no carb dieters, typically known from the Atkins diet, can quickly shed an incredible amount of weight.
  • Say no to refined sugar.  Stop eating refined sugar.  That sweet taste, often disguised with cute colors and fun packaging, is wrecking havoc on your body and appetite.  One day, sugar will be equated with smoking tobacco in terms of health warnings.  Get ahead of the game.
  • Eat good fats.  What’s a good fat?  Grass-fed butter and virgin organic coconut oil are two, for example.  Both have a great O6:O3 ratio, won’t raise your blood sugar, and they contain Medium-Chain-Triglycerides (MCT’s) which curbs hunger and provides energy like a carbohydrate.
  • Eat low-glycemic.  You still need fruits, vegetables and fiber, but choosing the right ones helps keep your blood sugar levels balanced (which is key in curbing your swings in hunger).  Eat strawberries instead of pineapple, whole oats instead of instant oats, etc.
  • The MCT Advantage.  This is the secret weapon against overeating and weight gain.  Most oils we eat are Long-Chain-Triglycerides, which are not absorbed easily and will store as body fat.  MCT’s, on the other hand, burn like a fire in your body and are well known to promote weight loss.  They also provide energy like a carbohydrate.  If you followed a no-carb diet, for example, you could instead get your energy needs from eating food with MCT.  Sounds crazy?  Read on.

There is a movement out there who rave about the effects of Coconut Oil.  A quick Google search will open that world up to you.  Specifically, Unrefined Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil.  My wife brought home a jar a couple weeks ago and said she “heard it was healthy”.  I looked at the saturated fat and shook my head.  One tablespoon equals 67% of my daily saturated fat content.  Healthy?  Right.

So I did some research and found that CO is very high in MCT through what’s called “Lauric Acid“, which is not typically found in our diets.  Breast milk is very high in lauric acid and is one of the reasons why breast feeding is widely promoted.  I decided I had read enough and would go “all in” with a low-carb/high fat diet that focused on using coconut oil daily.  Call me a suicidal guinea pig, but I’m sold.  It’s interesting to tell people I’m eating butter, saturated fats, and tons of food while still losing weight.  Since everyone equates eating fats with going to an early grave, they must secretly think I have a death wish.  It’s even more interesting when I tell them about the buttery coffee drink I have each day.  Read on for that one!

To say Coconut Oil is amazing is an understatement.  In the short two weeks that I’ve supplemented my diet with CO, I’ve eliminated my intense cravings, balanced my hunger, and lost weight.  Before I started eating CO, by the time I came home from work at 6pm everyday, I was so hungry I wanted to eat a large pizza.  Without fail.  Then I started eating 2-3 tablespoons of CO each day, and it all stopped.  At first, I didn’t change my normal eating habits and just added the CO.  When I got home from work I was barely thinking about food.  My caloric intake went down (not that I was counting), simply because I didn’t feel like eating sugar and snacks and  I no longer ate between meals because I just wasn’t hungry.

During the winter, my hands are normally dry and red and cracking.  Since I’ve been eating CO, my hands are hydrated and normal.  Yet, I’m told not to eat this much saturated fat.  Are my arteries clogging?  Time will tell, but it can’t be any worse than the diet that is causing heart disease to be the #1 disease in this country (with cancer being #2, and also directly related to our diet).

Oh, and if you’re really psyched about starting your day off with a bang, check out BulletProof Coffee.  I love it!  I use my own coffee, and my own butter/CO.  I haven’t bought any products from that website, I just like the recipe.  You don’t need a blender though.  Mix everything in a thermos and shake vigorously, you’ll get that creamy foam and a good mix of all the oils.  Fills you up, gives you energy, and tastes great.

Some foods that I eat:

  • Dairy/Meat:  Eggs, non-processed cheese, low-pastuerized/non-homogenized whole milk, grass fed butter (Kerrygold), grass fed hot dogs (Applegate Farms), lean turkey/chicken breast, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, uncured bacon, 2% Fage Yogurt
  • Fruit/Veggie:  Green beans, strawberries (or any kind of berry), broccoli, Morningstar brand foods (anything with ~20 carb per serving or less), Spicy V8, pears, peas.
  • Grains:  Ezekiel bread, Fiber One whole grain English muffins, whole oatmeal, brown rice
  • Stevia is an excellent sweetener for your fruits and snacks.  A bowl of 2% Fage with cut strawberries and Stevia will fill you up!  I also freely cook with the Kerrygold and/or coconut oil.

When I started, I weighed 174.  I’m a 5’11 male that’s already in OK shape and was just looking to get healthy.  I don’t gain weight very fast, but I was gaining and I knew my eating habits were unguided and unhinged.  I ate all day.

It took less than two weeks to lose 5 pounds, and I’m enjoying all the food I eat while keeping my appetite stable.  I’m no dietitian or scientist, so nothing I say here should be taken as gospel.  Everyone is different and certain diets may actually be very unhealthy for people with specific health conditions.  I’m just a guy who likes to look behind the curtain to see why I’m making food choices based on what others have told me.  Experts are regularly proven wrong, from economics to health, and knowledge is our first weapon in making our own decisions in life, for good or for bad.

The food we eat is far more complex than we are led to believe.  Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.  But for me, I’m sticking to low-carb/high fat/protein with a generous daily dose of CO.  I’m losing weight, eating all the right food that I want, and rarely hungry or craving junk.  Someone can tell me not to eat all that fun carby sugary stuff, but it’s just a whole lot easier if my body simply doesn’t want it.