Nutritional Ketosis Day 60

I LOVE spices. For me spices make a meal, period. You can have the same basic meal, but by changing the spices and herbs combination, you get completely different experiences.

Spices and herbs are also nutritional powerhouse; they are recognized for their antioxidant power and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of them are even used for medicinal purposes and to stimulate the immune system.

Weight loss potential of spices to boost metabolism and promote satiety, is also documented. For example, capsaicin in peppers is believed to have metabolic boosting properties (ginger too, boost metabolism). In addition, if the food you eat is flavorful and satisfying, there is a good chance you will eat less and consume fewer calories.

I like to make my own seasoning mix, because I know that there are no sulfites and preservatives and premixed spices makes the cooking less complicated and time-consuming. I often skip the salt and add it when I cook.

Cajun seasoning is a good basic one to keep around. It can be used on anything: kale chips, any meats, fish and seafood and can be even mixed with Greek yogurt to make a dip for crudités.

Recipe #1 (original, boost metabolism, very hot)

1/4 cup (60 ml) salt

1/4 cup (60 ml) cayenne

1/4 cup (60 ml) paprika

1/4 cup (60 ml) garlic powder

1/4 cup (60 ml) ground black pepper

2 tablespoons (30 ml) onion powder

2 tablespoons (30 ml) dried oregano

2 tablespoons (30 ml) dried thyme

 

Recipe #2 (modified, super anti-oxidant, milder)

30 ml (2 tablespoons) paprika

15 ml (1 tablespoon) ground bay leaf

15 ml (1 tablespoon) onion powder

15 ml (1 tablespoon) dried basil

15 ml (1 tablespoon) dried oregano

15 ml (1 tablespoon) dried thyme

5 ml (1 teaspoon) garlic powder

5 ml (1 teaspoon) cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

I use a lot of spices on my food and the mixes are fairly hot to some people, use less cayenne for milder taste. Garlic and Onion are High FODMAP (fermentable = gas/bloating) so you can replace it with chives if you want. I sometimes put all the spices in a clean coffee grinder and reduce to a fine powder.

Weight this Morning: + 0.2 lbs

Weight Loss Total (Starting day 45): – 9.2 lbs

Today I had: Water with apple cider vinegar (with the mother), cayenne pepper and salt and sparkling water. I also had some black tea sweetened with xylitol. I had some blackened Cajun Haddock (again, but it’s so good!) with sriracha sauce and tofu-shirataki spaghetti noodle with an olive oil/butter sauce. That’s 900 calories for today.

Cajun seasoning is delicious with white fish.

Cajun seasoning is delicious with white fish.

Nutritional Ketosis Day 49, Coconut oil Detox Day 5

I am learning so much about my metabolism since starting this experiment and even more since starting the coconut oil detox. Yesterday, I ate much lower calorie than usual (a lot less fat) but with more total carbs and protein, and I lost the least amount of weight. Perhaps it is a coincidence. I will go back to two days of coconut milk with oil at 1700-1800 calories to see what’s going to happen.

Weight Loss this Morning: – 0.8 lbs

Weight Loss Total (Starting day 45): – 6.4 lbs

My symptoms for today were: A small headaches and a very bothersome earache. I had good energy today. I had a bit of nausea and no hunger. I had a hard time eating all the oil; I might go down to 11 Tbs tomorrow. As I get even deeper into ketosis, I seem to have a harder time ingesting all my calories without getting nauseous.

I’m starting to see a pattern in my weight loss, from this experience and past experiences.

It seems that if I cut calorie too much and/or exercise excessively, or I am being too strict with intermittent fasting, my metabolism will quickly slow down to adapt to what is perceived as starvation; I become cold, lethargic and I will become very hungry. Even if I hit my goal size/weight I will have a though time maintaining it.

If I create a modest calorie deficit, cut carbs to a minimum and cut protein enough to lower my insulin to allow utilization of body fat (carb and protein release insulin, and insulin block lipolysis), I will lose more and without hunger. Cutting carbohydrates is easy but I think the tricky part is to find the right protein number for each person. I think it is highly variable and depends on a lot of factors.

I think that modulation of hormones has a bigger impact on body composition than simply counting calories. Calorie count but, depending of your personal hormonal milieu (and probably state of mitochondria), calories will be directed differently (fat storage, muscle/tissue building/repair, extra energy/heat etc).

Today I had: Water with apple cider vinegar (with the mother), lemon juice, cayenne pepper and salt and sparkling water. I premixed, with the immersion blender: 200 ml of coconut milk and 12 Tbs of coconut oil with 4-5 drops of vanilla extract, xylitol and stevia. I divided the resultant sweetened “milk” in 2 equal portions and made with it: a Coffee Latte with cinnamon at 2 pm (14h) and a Chai Rooibos Latte at 7 pm (19h). I also drank some Detox tea, to help with elimination. That’s 1800 calories for today.

Nutritional Ketosis Day 30

Hunger is faint, and rarely present. I didn’t eat before dinner. It’s really hot and humid weather wise here; I think it might be part of it.

Still on track with the 8 Tbs of coconut oil and lower protein around 63 grams per day. I also increased my vitamin D intake three days ago, which is supposed to help with hunger and weight loss.

Quotes from Dr. Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD. THE leading expert in Vitamin D:

“Vitamin D is in a class by itself; its far-reaching effects on the body are aligned with how hormones act to influence metabolic pathways, cellular functions, and the expression of myriad genes.”

“Fat cells, too, have vitamin D receptors, and fat cells can be more metabolically active (burn more calories) if they have more vitamin D. People tend to think that fat cells are like inanimate blobs of lard when in fact they are active participants in the process by which your brain learns that you’re full and don’t need to take another bite of food. When you’ve had enough, fat cells secrete a hormone called leptin that allows you to push away from the table. A lack of vitamin D will interfere with this appetite-suppressing hormone whose job it is to regulate your body weight. And we all know what an unchecked appetite can lead to: weight gain and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Speaking of which, vitamin D deficiency has also been shown to exacerbate type 2 diabetes, impair insulin production in the pancreas, and increase insulin resistance.”

http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2010/sep2010_The-Vitamin-D-Solution_01.htm

Today I had: Coffee, water with apple cider vinegar (with the mother), cayenne pepper and salt before 6pm (18h). For diner I had some chicken strips, prosciutto and a curried mayonnaise made with ½ cup refined coconut oil. I had some red wine with that. That’s 1500 calories for today.

Prosciutto is not in the picture, I had to add it after to up my protein.

Prosciutto is not in the picture, I had to add it later to up my protein.

English: A glass of red wine.

Spanish red

Autophagy, what it is and why you should care

Could there be a physiological reason why we usually don’t feel hungry when we are sick with a cold or a fever? Or that every religious or spiritual tradition has a planned dietary restriction period as part of their structure?

Let’s look at what happens when we restrict our diet for one reason or another.

When insufficient amount of protein and/or carbohydrate are available, ketones are produced by the liver. Ketones utilization as an alternative source of fuel, is the adaptation mechanism of the body to the scarcity of macronutrients. Ketones will signal the body to up regulate autophagy.

Autophagy (self eating) happens when defective, old or dying cells are cleaned or killed, and their clutter and parts are recycled into simple amino acids. The recycled proteins are then reused by newly regenerated and healthy cells. It is a survival mechanism, a form of self-repair and of deep internal “spring cleaning”.

Not only is this metabolic state protein sparing, but it stimulates the immune system to defend us more aggressively against microbes and infections. Studies also suggest that it might be part of a complex mechanism that detects and kills abnormal cells like cancer.

There are strong indications (and research in this field is very active) that using one or more of the known ways to stimulate ketones production and autophagy could be used as a dietary intervention in the treatment of conditions like:

  • Inflammation
  • Infections
  • Migraines
  • Aging
  • Insulin resistance
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) amongst others

There is several ways to boost ketones production either as a short-term anti-aging and regeneration strategy or as a longer term tool for medical reasons:squareautophagylast

It is important to note that the abuse or reckless use of any of those tools could overstressed our body and lead to health deterioration instead of amelioration. Sometimes benefits will be observed in the beginning (because there is a lot of cleaning, repairs and recycling done) but, long-term aggressive caloric and/or macronutrients restrictions will lead to problems (think musculoskeletal losses, poor resistance to cold, adrenals/cortisol, low sex hormones, thyroid issues etc).

Low-carbohydrate vs Ketogenic diet what is the difference?

I have noticed a lot of confusion on the web about the two diets. Both are low in carbohydrates but the ketogenic diet put the body in a metabolic state that can only be achieved if proteins are also limited (excess protein are turned into glucose in the body ie. Gluconeogenesis). All ketogenic diets are low in carbohydrates but not all low carbohydrate diets are ketogenic.

A true ketogenic diet is usually used as metabolic therapy in cases of epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other metabolic disorders.

The goal of this chart is to make the complex concept of body fuel utilization as easy to understand as possible. A lot of nuances will be omitted in favor of clarity and simplicity.

Depending on which food and macronutrients proportions human consume, a cascade of adaptation mechanisms will happen in the body. From an evolutionary perspective, we can imagine that those adaptations occurred in order to maximize survival in different climates, environments and food availability.

We will consider two main energy consumers in the body; the brain and the muscles. It is important to look primary at the brain consumption of energy; it is the organ that will consume the most energy by weight and it can only use two types of fuel 1.Glucose (derived from dietary carbohydrates or proteins) and 2.Ketones (derived from dietary fat). Muscles are more flexible and can adapt to different types of fuel.Capture 3

The Role of Proteins in our Diet

Proteins are the building blocks of life. Actually, the word protein is derived from the Greek word proteios, meaning “primary”, “in the lead”, or “standing in front”. Proteins are so important for our overall health and well-being, that we should think of including them first in setting up our meals and overall diet.  Proteins are what we are made of at 45%. That’s what we need. Besides some fat and essential fatty acids; the rest of our diet is fuel for energy.

In fact one of the most drastic weight-loss diet protocol, used on morbidly obese individuals, is called a Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF). The patient must consume enough protein, which depends on lean mass, quality essential fatty acids, along with multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplements. (Please do not do this. It’s not a healthy and/or efficient way to lose weight for most people).

What are proteins?

Proteins are made up of amino acids. Think of amino acids as the bricks in a brick wall. Of the 22 standard amino acids, 9 are called essential amino acids. They are considered essential, because it’s indispensable that our diet provides them in sufficient quantity. Protein sources are also qualified according to how many of the essential amino acids they provide:

A complete protein source is one that provides all of the essential amino acids. Animal-based foods; such as, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and cheese are considered complete protein sources.

An incomplete protein source is one that is low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Complementary proteins are two or more incomplete protein sources that will provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids when they are combined. This is very important for vegetarians. Sources of incomplete proteins are vegetable-based foods; grains, nuts, beans, and seeds.

Proteins have many important functions in the human body, without them we would be unable to repair, regulate, or protect ourselves:

  • Building and repair of body tissues, including muscles
  • Enzymes, hormones, and many immune molecules are proteins
  • Processes such as water balancing, nutrient transport, and muscle contractions need protein.
  • Our hair, nails, skin, collagen, cartilage, and eyes are made of protein
  • Most neurotransmitters are made from amino acids
  • Amino acids are the building blocks of our brain’s network.
  • Amino acids can stimulate or calm our brain as well as nourish it.

What makes us feel satiated? The other benefit of protein.

Some foods can more easily contribute to the feeling of satiety than others. The calorie-counting tables do not reflect this, so studies examining the effects of foods on hunger can be interesting.

Highest satiating power was found in foods with high levels of protein and fiber content. What is means is that if hunger is an issue for us, a breakfast of composed of a vegetable omelet with a bit of cheese would sustain us better until lunch, than a bowls of cereal with skim milk and some fruits of equal calories.

So how much protein should we get in our diet each day?

There in no lack of opinions on this topic on the internet and numbers are all over the places.

My short answer is: it depends. It depends on you sex, age, height, lean mass, health condition, level of activity, if you are in calorie balance or not, if you take anabolic substances, etc. We should never calculate our protein needs as a percentage of our diet. Our body needs a set number of grams of protein per day and it will not vary greatly even if we modify our activity level. Our fuel intake, fat and carbohydrate, will.

Let’s start with the “sufficient” U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) per age groups.

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein

  Grams of protein/day

Children ages 1 – 3

13

Children ages 4 – 8

19

Children ages 9 – 13

34

Girls ages 14 – 18

46

Boys ages 14 – 18

52

Women ages 19 – 70+

46

Men ages 19 – 70+

56

Sufficient does not mean optimal and vibrant health for most people. Actually the RDA was developed during World War II by a committee established by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to investigate issues of nutrition that might “affect national defense”. The allowances were meant to provide nutrition for civilians and military personnel. Because of food rationing during the war, the food guidelines took food availability into account.

The easy peasy way to know if your intake is sufficient, is to make sure you eat at least a palm-of-your-hand-size portion of cooked animal protein three times a day.

For those who want something more precise, I suggest this easy calculation as a starting point:

  1. Height in centimeters.  Ex:  5’8 = 173 cm   http://www.metric-conversions.org/length/feet-to-centimeters.htm
  2. Subtract 100.  Ex:  173-100 = 73
  3. 73 rounded to 75 grams +/- 10 grams = (65-85), should be a daily target for a 5ft 8in or 173 cm woman. If you are a 5ft 8in or 173 cm man, add 10 grams to the calculated range (75-95).
  4. Never go under the RDA recommended amount for your age group.

If you are dieting, are lifting weights, are sick or are recovering from an injury, aim for at least the top of the range.

If you are recovering from an addiction or are recovering from an eating disorder, aim for a minimum or 90 grams of protein per day, independently of your height.

One ounce of lean-ish cooked meat, poultry or fish, contains roughly 7 grams of protein. An egg contain 7 grams. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, mozzarella and  protein powder are a great sources too, look on the label of your particular brand for their protein content.

If you find you have trouble digesting proteins, you could look into Hydrochloric Acid supplementation.

Hope it help!

Pinch the Cinnamon, reap the rewards

Current research has confirmed that many common spices have medicinal properties. One of the most beneficial is also the most common: cinnamon.

There is evidence that cinnamon can be used to reduce the glycemic index of a meal up to 29%. It can lower blood glucose, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Cinnamaldehyde, an active organic compound in cinnamon, is an effective anti-microbial agent.

There is many ways it can help manage our blood sugar regulation; it can increase our glucose metabolism and has been found to have insulin-like effects. Cinnamon slows down gastric emptying to reduce the rise in blood sugar after meals, improving insulin sensitivity.  A bioflavonoid found in cinnamon called proanthocyanidin may alter the insulin-signaling activity in our fat cells.

Cinnamon also enhances our antioxidant defenses, improves digestion, reduce inflammation, and improve blood circulation.

Cinnamon Variaties - Robin

Cinnamon

A number of species are often sold as cinnamon:

  • Cinnamomum verum (True cinnamon, Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon)
  • Cinnamomum cassia (Cassia or Chinese cinnamon)
  • Cinnamomum burmannii (Korintje, Padang Cassia, or Indonesian cinnamon)
  • Cinnamomum loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia or Vietnamese cinnamon)

European health agencies have warned against consuming high amounts of cassia bark, because of its coumarin content. A teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon powder contains 5.8 to 12.1 mg of coumarin and the tolerable daily intake for humans is 0.1mg/kg body weight. Measurements of coumarin in Saigon cinnamon are much lower than those in Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon contains hardly any coumarin.

Saigon cinnamon is the most effective on blood sugar regulation and is low in coumarin. Cassia and Padang Cassia are acceptable choices; it is effective but has higher level of coumarin. Ceylon has a much smaller impact on blood sugar management and is the most expensive.

One possible way to avoid coumarin and still use Cassia is to steep it in a non-fat hot liquid. Coumarin is fat-soluble so we can extract the beneficial compounds this way and leave out the coumarin. Just use the liquid and throw away the stick.

Cassia or Padang Cassia are the most commonly found in American grocery stores and coffee shops, if you ask for cinnamon. Finding Saigon cinnamon needs a bit more research. Some grocery stores will carry it, make sure the label say: Saigon Cinnamon. Look for it in higher-end/whole food type grocery stores, usually it is offered in the organic spices section.  I buy mine at Costco. They carry a very good Kirkland signature Ground Saigon Cinnamon.  It is a staple product for them; I was able to find some at several of their locations in Canada, United States, Hawaii and Australia!  Plus it’s very affordable.  I also sometimes use the Cassia sticks in teas and coffees.

To get the maximal benefits out of the spice get fresh ground cinnamon or grind it yourself. The polyphenols and active ingredients oxidize overtime.

You don’t need to eat cinnamon at every meal to get the benefits; it’s the total amount per day that counts. 1 gram is the lowest effective dose. ½ – 1 teaspoon per day is a good number to aim for.