Link Love

Health & Nutrition Links

  • The Hidden Truths About Calories – This article delves into the complicated science of calorie calculation. Though many of us were already suspicious of calorie counts on labels, this article proves that those counts can be wildly inaccurate. The way you prepare a food, the way the food was grown, how processed the food is, AND your various aspects about your body composition – these are four factors that contribute to how many calories your body will actually take away from a food. For example, the more processed a food is, the less “work” (energy) your body expends while digesting it, and thus the more calories your body gets to keep. If you have longer intestines than your spouse, you will get more calories from a food (or vice versa). It’s a really good read, and not that long either.
  • 5 Ways to Make Going Vegan Easy – I am not a vegan, but I like these ideas. The ideas include drinking green juice,  eating quinoa, using almond milk, eating more greens and fruits, and giving up one animal a month. Click through to read more.
  • Chocolate Buckwheat Cake. Need I say more! I haven’t made it yet but it looks awesome.

Yoga, Fitness & Happiness Links

  • 6 Things I Do to Be Consistently Happy – written by a person who does startups. The ideas include 1) waking up early, 2) exercising, 3) disengaging, 4) helping others, and 5) learning new things regularly. Click through to read the last one, and to hear his thoughts on the ones I just listed.
  • Track Your Happiness – a cool app idea for the iPhone (I don’t think it’s for Android yet).
  • Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga – this is a great illustration of them.

NYC Links

  • Broadway Week – 2 for 1 tickets coming up (Sept 4 – 16).
  • All You Need to Know to Compost in Your Apartment – to be honest, I have not started composting yet. There is a compost station at the farmers’ market Sundays (it’s less than half a block from my apartment) so I can drop it off there if/when I do start.

Experiment: My IBS Management Plan

This title sounds like the title to some kind of report I might write for work. Or school. I hope it goes as well as some of my papers did for school 😉 I used to do fairly decently in my classes.

The problem: I’ve been eating well recently (meaning not much late-night eating, minimal overeating, not too many salads, etc…), but my stomach is really bothering me. It’s been worse than usual ever since I moved to New York back in November. I was diagnosed with IBS ages ago, but never took it seriously – so I’m doing some research.

The solution: use diet to treat and manage my IBS. I’m reading Heather Van Vorous’s book, The First Year: Irritable Bowel Syndrome . While it’s not my first year, it’s the first time I’m actually going to try to treat it. The book has rave reviews on Amazon and I picked it up at Borders this weekend with my 33% off coupon.

Overview:

People with IBS have very sensitive digestive systems. The slightest things can set us off. Here are the basic things that I *must* follow if I want relief.

  • Don’t let myself get too hungry
  • Never eat anything but soluble fiber on an empty stomach (more on this below)
  • Follow a low-fat diet, high in soluble fiber, being careful with insoluble fiber, and avoiding my IBS triggers (like whipped cream and frozen yogurt)
  • Keep stress levels low (includes doing yoga and getting enough sleep)
  • Drink herbal tea (peppermint, ginger, chamomile)
  • Soluble fiber supplements

Let’s talk about soluble fiber. Soluble fiber foods are things like white bread (not wonder bread!), sourdough, white rice, pasta, oatmeal, potatoes (white and sweet), squash (yay! kabocha squash), turnips, carrots, beets, applesauce (or peeled apples), papayas, and avocados. These are supposed to be the basis of an IBS-er’s diet. Eat these before anything else and your stomach will thank you. They should make up more than half of each meal.

As for insoluble fiber, you should only eat this after eating the soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber would be things like whole wheat breads, bran, popcorn, berries, oranges, greens, peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower… you get the idea – non-starchy veggies, basically. And these should preferably be cooked before eating for easier digestion.

Fats – be careful. Avoid them in large quantities. Stay away from fried things, dairy, red meat. I already stay away from most of these things; the fats I eat a lot of are butter and nut butters (and whipped cream, which really really makes my stomach hurt).

Let’s look at today’s lunch as a good example of an IBS-friendly meal. I went to Burger Heaven with Bobby and I got a baked potato with sauteed veggies (broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and cauliflower). I started off with the potato. It looked pretty much like this, but more humongous:

I had some plain, then added a little butter, ketchup, and pepper. After I let that settle into my stomach, I ate the veggies, which were delicious. I didn’t stuff myself (I took part of the potato home, but ate it almost as soon as we got back). I had the soluble fiber first, then the insoluble broccoli et al. I am pretty sure broccoli is another trigger for my stomach acting up.

I will *definitely* keep y’all updated on this.

I’m feeling hopeful. I want my stomach to feel great while we’re in Miami visiting the family 🙂 I am so tired of missing things because of my tum!!

What are your plans for Memorial Day weekend? (We have a wedding to go to – my coworker’s.)

How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

How much protein do I really need?

::Steps onto soapbox::

The current accepted answer (in the medical community) is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. This is what I learned in my nutrition class (from a PhD in nutrition). This means that a 125 pound woman needs about 45 grams of protein a day. This is actually down from many outdated recommendations.

Want to hear something crazy? That number might be overestimating.

I saw my brother about a week ago and he is STRONG. Rob is a vegetarian and has been for probably 7 or 8 years now (he’s 20). Rob is 6’4″ and close to 200 pounds, but he wears the same size shirt as my 6’1″ 165-170 pound fiance (hope they don’t mind me telling their weights, heh – and the shirt size is a men’s medium).

What I’m trying to say is that Rob is skinny and all muscle. I asked him how he bulked up. “I’m working out and eating tons of protein,” he says to me. “How much is ‘tons’?” I respond. “Oh, you know – maybe 50 or 60 grams a day.” The fact that he could gain so much muscle on just 50-60 grams of protein a day is quite a shock to some people, but Rob is living proof.

For some people that amount of protein may seem like a pittance. Those people would be wrong (IMHO). As a disclaimer, I will admit that protein needs can vary drastically if you are sick or have a specific medical condition. I’m speaking more about the average person, not those in extenuating circumstances. And I will admit that there is variation within the average – maybe Rob and I need less protein than the “average” person… but not that much less. I do best on a high-fat, high-veggie diet.

According to this site, the body burns about .34 grams of protein a day per kilogram of body weight. To add in a margin of safety, we can bump that number up to about .45 grams per day per kilogram of body weight (this would be just 26 grams per day for that 125 pound woman). That’s barely half of what the medical community is telling you the “required” amount is. I’m not shocked at this anymore. Our country likes to prop up big business – what better way to promote the meat industry than by telling our citizens that more protein is better?

If the requirements really are that low, it is nearly impossible to be protein deficient if you’re eating enough. Fresh vegetables and whole grains are fantastic sources of protein. Have you ever met someone who had a protein deficiency? Probably not. People that are protein deficient are usually junk food junkies or people who aren’t eating enough, period. One other way to be deficient is by eating poor sources of protein that are hard to digest (dairy comes to mind).

This is a direct quote for this site, because I can’t say it better:

By the way, breast milk, which has been the ideal food for human babies for hundreds of thousands of years, provides 6% of calories as protein – far less than cow’s milk, which has 22% of calories as protein.”

How interesting. 6% of a 2000 calorie diet is just 120 calories – or just 30 grams of protein.

If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates (or enough in general), your body will start to use its protein for energy – a process called gluconeogenesis. If you have too much protein in your diet, gluconeogenesis breaks down the protein into glucose. You pee out the extra amino acids. One benefit of getting glucose from protein is that it doesn’t cause sharp spikes in your blood sugar (which is why higher protein diets can be good for people with diabetes). However, gluconeogenesis is taxing on the liver which is why high protein diets can damage the liver.

Basically, if you’re eating enough carbs, the your body uses carbs and spares protein – and is able to use the protein for the amino acids it needs. If it breaks down the protein for energy all those extra amino acids are wasted.

The other neglected and ostracized nutrient that I think is incredibly important is… FAT! Specifically healthy fats (this can include animal fats). Healthy fats promote hormone balance, fight depression, and fill us up.

::Steps off of soapbox::

What’s your favorite carb? Fat? Protein?

How much protein do YOU feel that YOU need?

(Back later with today’s journal-y entry. Just had to get this post out there.)