Gluten Free Fitness

nutrition

FitFluential product review: The Chia Co Chia Seeds, found at GNC stores!

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My first vlog product review! Going forward, you will be seeing more vlog product reviews.  They give a much better feel for the actual product, I think.  However, I am a newbie to the whole video thing and am still getting the hang of volume, where to put the camera, etc. so bear with me.  They will get better, I promise!  This video is about 6-7 minutes long.  I am trying to keep them fairly short. 🙂

This review is part of my work with my Fitfluential family and our partnership with GNC.  The Chia Co chia seeds can be found at GNC online and also at your local store.  Chia seeds are naturally gluten free (be aware of any cross contamination issues-these are free of any possible contamination from gluten, but are processed in a facility with other nuts and seeds, so be aware of that if you have any sensitivities.)

In the video I talk a bit about the benefits and uses of chia, and also about this product specifically.  Let me know your thoughts, and I’d also love to hear your favorite way to use chia seeds.  Feel free to post a link to a recipe in the comments!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

Enjoy your Omega 3 goodness!

Now, these recipes are delicious and healthy, but they all have calories.  Calories count.  Gluten Free and Fit 101 gives you some more information on fitting treats like this into a healthy diet.

What’s your favorite way to eat (or grow 😉 ) chia?

Ridiculously High Protein High Fiber Gluten Free Muffin Recipe

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I’m a tweaker.

Not a tweeker, a tweaker.  Meaning I have difficulty leaving something well enough alone, even when it’s good.  To adjust, to fine tune.  Yup, that’s me.

A few months back I posted a recipe for Gluten Free Protein Blueberry Muffins.  These were really tasty.  But, if you’ve been around these parts you know I’m also a fan of baking with beans.  No, not baked beans like the maple syrupy and bacon baked beans.  Bean puree instead of flour.  Dessert hummus style, or as Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs stated so correctly…bean butter.  Doesn’t that sound better?

Anyhow, I personally prefer to soak and cook my own beans from dried rather than use cans.  Yes, it takes a little longer, but it’s essentially no actual hands on time, is much less expensive, and I know the beans have been prepared to minimize any digestive gurgling.  I prefer white navy or cannellini beans for baking.  I find that they give a smoother batter than garbanzo beans, but that’s just my opinion.  I have used black beans (and will continue to do so) for brownies for the color.

So, tweaker that I am, I took my previous incarnation of protein muffins and combined it with my love of baking with beans, to create this ridiculously high protein, high fiber, gluten free muffin recipe.

I’m not designating it as “blueberry” or “chocolate chip” or whatever kind of muffin, ’cause truth be told, you just go ahead and add in anything your little heart desires.

Gluten Free for the Holidays

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Gluten Free for the Holidays, and we conjugate our own verbs around here – Glutened

How is it almost Thanksgiving?!?  Really?!

I am the chief cook and bottle washer for Thanksgiving, so fortunately I have the POWER!!

(If you are approximately my age, you will get the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe reference.  If not, enjoy the kitteh at least.)

There is a metric ton of great information being shared out there in the gluten free world about staying safe this holiday season, and making some kick ass recipes while you’re at it.

So here’s a quick and dirty low down on some of the info.

There is definitely more out there that I am not hitting, so be sure to click the links at each of these resources for some more great stuff.

 

You’ll get them at Home for the Holidays, Gluten Free Style.  Be sure to check in over at gfe for the details!

That’s it for now!  Go forth and be healthy, happy, and as wise as you need to be, but cut loose from time to time.

Gluten Free Protein Powder Review: NeoCell Whey Isolate Collagen Sport

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I was very, very skeptical when I first read about this product.  After trying it, reading more, and reading some more, my skepticism is still there, but has been suspended a bit.  Quite a bit.

To explain, let’s talk about protein.

My go-to source for all information protein related is Lyle McDonald.  He has a great website, Body Recomposition, with tons of articles, and he also is the author of several books.  Of which I think I own all of them.  When it came time for me to do some research on the type of protein in NeoCell Whey Isolate Complex Collagen Sport (which I’m getting to) one of the first places I went was to my bookshelf, pulled off The Protein Book and started reading.

I didn’t find what I was looking for.  I had remembered learning in the past that collagen protein was used in a weight loss research study, and that collagen protein was essentially worthless when it came to sparing lean body mass during periods of caloric restriction.  I finally found it, kind of, in Lyle’s Rapid Fat Loss Handbook.

The last chance diet

In the book, Lyle touches on something that was called the Last Chance Diet, which was centered around a liquid collagen protein product only.  Yes, essentially a liquid diet.  This was not the best for health, as Lyle stated, providing “…essentially zero nutrition to the body.”  Collagen is considered an “incomplete” protein, meaning it does not contain all the amino acids, which are considered the building blocks (ie: raw material) with which to repair and build tissue.  It does not contain tryptophan.  However, there are many anecdotal reports of people using collagen supplementation who report improvement in joint pain and skin, hair, and nail condition.

Collagen and vitamin C

Collagen is actually the main component of the connective tissue in our body (ligaments, tendons, etc.) and makes up 25-35% of total body protein content.  You also need adequate Vitamin C in order to synthesize collagen properly.  Let’s remember, the Last Chance folks were getting no supplemental nutrition, and therefore were definitely not getting enough Vitamin C, nor any of the other nutrients necessary to sustain life.

OK, enough on collagen for the moment.  Let’s talk about whey, baby.

Whey protein is likely the most commonly used and favored in sports supplement products.  It is highly bioavailable with all essential amino acids, and in it’s isolate form also has little to no lactose.

In the last installment of his articles on protein quality, Lyle gives the below chart:

FoodProtein ContentDigestibilitySpeedQualityImportant AA*Micro-nutrientsFat ContentFatty Acids
BeefHighHighSlowHighN/AIron, Zinc, B12VariableN/A
ChickenHighHighSlowHighN/AIron, Zinc, B12VariableN/A
PorkHighHighSlowHighN/AN/AVariableN/A
FishHighHighSlowHighTaurine?B12VariableW-3 fish oils
Whole EggModerateHighSlowHighN/AIron, Zinc, B12
If you eat a lot
ModerateN/A
Egg WhiteHighMediumSlowModerateN/AN/ALowN/A
BeansModerateMediumSlow?ModerateN/AN/ALowN/A
Soy BeansModerateMediumSlow?ModerateN/APhytoestrogensModeratePolyunsaturated
NutsModerateMediumSlow?ModerateN/AN/AModeratePolyunsaturated
Whey powderHighHighFastHigh23-25% BCAACalciumLowN/A
Casein PowderHighHighSlowHigh20% BCAACalciumLowN/A
Soy IsolateHighHighFastHighBCAA/GlutaminePhytoestrogensLowN/A
Grains/FruitVery lowLowSlow?LowN/AN/ALowN/A

(reproduced from Bodyrecomposition.com, home of Lyle McDonald.)

 

As you can see, whey protein is pretty much the bees knees all around.  I touched on whey protein very briefly in Gluten and Dairy Free Protein Powder 101.  The interesting thing about whey protein isolate (WARNING!! SPECULATION, EDUCATED GUESSING, AND THEORECTICAL WANKING AHEAD!! This is my opinion only, and you should consult your doctor and registered dietitian about your own personal needs.)  is that the lactose has been removed, so theoretically those with lactose intolerance *should* be able to tolerate it, and there is no casein protein, so theoretically those with casein sensitivity *should* be able to tolerate it, so MAYBE dairy intolerant folks would be able to use a pure, high quality protein isolate.  I’m just sayin’.  Your mileage may vary, and we are all biochemical snowflakes.  Unique, that is.

Anyway.

Neocell whey protein

NeoCell Collagen Sport Whey Isolate ComplexNeocell Whey Protein Isolate Collagen Sport is a combination of hydrolyzed collagen  and whey isolate.

It also contains 1,000 mg of L-glutamine.  As I mentioned in my Supplements for the Gluten Free Athlete-Glutamine Edition article, glutamine can assist in healing the gut, which can then absorb nutrition better all the way around.

Jean at Neocell was very kind and sent me samples of the French Vanilla and Belgian Chocolate Powders to try.  Before I get to the taste review though, let’s talk a little more about the ingredients and why this sets this product apart from the collagen protein in the Last Chance group.

Neocell’s big selling point is that this is a “4 in1” product.  It contains whey protein isolate, hydrolyzed collagen peptides, L-glutamine and amino acids, and vitamins and minerals.

From Neocell’s website:

The 4 in 1 Breakdown:

1 – Refuel

Whey Protein Isolate is THE preferred and superior form of protein for athletes. It’s rich in essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), necessary especially after strenuous workouts. BCAAs also play a role in the body’s levels of glutathione, an important antioxidant in the immune system. NeoCell’s whey protein isolate is developed using selective ion-exchange technology, which selects the primary functional and nutritional proteins alpha- and beta- lactoglobulins and other protein fractions for a highly effective and bio-active protein.

2 – Recover

Athletes all too often do not supplement their connective tissues in tendons and ligaments until deterioration sets in, resulting in the typical aches and pains of exercise. Super Collagen® 1&3 undergoes an absorption-enhancing process that uses enzyme hydrolyzation. This process yields low molecular weight collagen peptides for maximum bioavailability. Super Collagen® 1&3 is particularly rich in the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, and supports recovery, strength, and flexibility of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

3 – Regenerate

L-Glutamine & Exogenous Amino Acids – Strenuous activity burns through your body’s glutamine supplies, which can push the body to rip glutamine from your muscles if it isn’t coming from your diet. L-glutamine is the most abundant free-form amino acid in skeletal muscle and is crucial in the muscle recovery process. The special chemical structure of L-glutamine makes it the primary amino acid that drives nitrogen into muscle cells for muscle synthesis. Exogenous amino acids overall are important for increase of net muscle protein synthesis.

4 – Replenish

Each serving of Collagen Sport™ provides a good source of daily vitamins and minerals as well as the antioxidant power of Pomegranate extract. Increased activity results in higher oxidation in the body, requiring active individuals to counteract with high quality antioxidants. NeoCell’s pomegranate extract is standardized to 70% ellagic acid, an extraordinary antioxidant that fights cell-damaging free radicals generated during exercise.

Connective tissue and collagen

Jean also sent me some company based information which was an overview of the research on connective tissue and collagen.  I am attaching a copy of that PDF here, for any one who is interested.  Keep in mind this is compiled by The Collagen Research Institute, so they do have an interest in showing the positive results.  That doesn’t negate anything that is stated, I’m just sayin’.  Be aware.

Medline/Pubmed, extracts, and articles

I also did a little looking around on MEDLINE/Pubmed, and after getting frustrated reading articles for which I could only access the abstract and not the full text (reading the full text is important, because many times you can see that perhaps methods used were less than stellar, or the conclusion doesn’t match the actual findings, or the study was funded by a company/entity that has financial interest.  You’d be surprised, research is not near as black and white as it appears to be) I was rescued by Daniel Green (@dgrreen on Twitter) who was so nice and sent me the full text of a paper I was very interested in reading.  (Aside-Daniel is a very smart cookie at Cornell whose advisor is Brian Wansink, the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, which you really should read if you haven’t already.  Outstanding book.)

The paper that I was so jazzed to read was Effects of whey and fortified collagen hydrosalate protein supplements on nitrogen balance and body composition in older women.  You don’t have to tell me how exciting my life is, I know.

Protein requirements

One very important point I want to make from this paper first though, is that it is suggested that the current RDA of protein which is .8 grams/kg/day may be inadequate to meet the protein needs of older people.  As we grow older, maintaining muscle mass and bone health gets more difficult, so eat your protein!  Also, protein quality becomes less important if protein quantity and food quality is adequate.  For the average person, all this nit picking about the minutiae of protein is a mute point.  It’s even stated in this paper:

Because subjects in our study were provided about half of their dietary protein requirement using high-quality foods, it is possible that this combination (ie, a diet comprised of foods containing sufficient amounts of indispensible amino acids necessary to meet specific protein synthesis needs and a nitrogen-rich collagen supplement necessary to meet nonspecific nitrogen needs) was sufficient to maintain nitrogen balance despite the low PDCAAS of the supplement.

Conflict of interests?

The study was fairly well constructed, using the same small number of subjects (11 women) for both interventions.  They used the Bod Pod to measure body composition, which isn’t fantastic, but not horrible either.  Nitrogen balance is discussed, but it’s not clear if nitrogen balance has a direct relationship to lean tissue, as far as I understand.  ANYWAY-I promise there is a point here-their conclusion was that supplementing with a collagen based supplement was as effective as a whey supplement for maintaining lean body mass.  This is all good stuff.  Now, a caveat.  The study was funded by grant from Medical Nutrition, USA.  They happen to manufacture the collagen based supplement.  I’m just sayin’.

By now, I’m sure you’ve had enough of my lesson on protein.  I know I have.

So what about this Collagen Sport stuff?

There’s a lot of things to like about it.  I like that it is sweetened with xylitol (some people may not like this), obviously, that it is gluten free, and I really do like the idea of combining the protein sources.  I like the fact that the company has been so helpful in answering my questions and providing me with information.

Flavors, textures and colors

I tried the vanilla flavor first.  Whenever I review I protein powder, I use a shaker cup and mix with water only, as to get a true idea of flavor and texture.  I was a little surprised to see the vanilla (which smelled awesome when I opened the canister) turn a brown color after I shook it.  It mixed well and easily with no clumps.  I did NOT like the taste the first time I tried it.  I know that with hydrolyzed whey products, masking the bitter taste is a challenge, so I assume with the limited amount of additives and sweeteners in the NeoCell you are actually getting more of the true flavor of the protein.

I took Jean’s advice, and tried mixing it with less water and drinking it immediately after mixing the next time, and it tasted much better.  Also, I much prefer the chocolate flavor, but also will mix it with only a small amount of water (as directed on the canister, actually, of course I didn’t read the directions) and drink it immediately after mixing with very cold water.  Jean shared with me that she will often blend it with frozen bananas.

Given the potential benefits of the protein, I’m willing to have a less than dessert like flavor.  It’s not unpleasant, just “mild” to use Jean’s adjective.  I’ve grown accustomed to some over sweetened and over flavored protein powders, so it is just a question of readjusting expectations.  Like so much in life.  But I digress.   If you are still with me, thanks for reading this massive post!  This turned out to be a monster!

If you are new here and would like to read more information about living a healthy gluten free life, start with Gluten Free and Fit 101.  There are other poorly formatted but well written articles there 😉


References:

PureFit Gluten and Dairy Free Nutrition Bars Review

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No Wheat, No Gluten, No Dairy

Such is the tagline for PureFit Nutrition Bars.  I was contacted by Robb Dorf, owner and creator of the Pure Fit line, to take a look at the bars and give them a taste.  Robb graciously provided samples of the bars for this review.

First, a bit about what is in, and not in, these bars.

PureFit definitely gets points for being aware of food sensitive consumers.  The bars are:

Kosher-certified and vegan-approved… do not contain dairy, wheat, or gluten, and will not melt in their packaging. PureFit works diligently to provide high-quality, award-winning nutrition bars without artificial ingredients, sugar alcohols or common allergens, including milk, wheat or gluten.

However, they have one big ingredient which many are sensitive to-and that is soy.

Ingredients

The ingredient list for the Berry Almond crunch Bar: Soy protein isolate, ground almonds, brown rice syrup, Energy Smart™ (fruit juice, natural grain dextrins), Energy Blend (fructose, natural extract of chicory, dextrose) soy crisp (soy protein isolate, rice flour, calcium carbonate), agave nectar, soynuts, soy flour, textured soy flour, natural raspberry flavored fruit [(sugar, raspberry juice, raspberry extract) cranberries], almonds, inulin, raspberries, natural flavors. Manufactured in a plant that ALSO processes milk, egg and peanuts.

Too much concentrated soy?

Not a horrific ingredient list, in fact, not bad at all.  However, I am concerned about the amount of concentrated soy products.  I personally am sensitive to concentrated soy.  (To complete this review I spared my stomach and simply took a couple small bites of each flavor, spreading the testing out over an extended period of time.)

However, I can tolerate naturally occurring soy (think edamame, and gluten free tamari) just fine.  The amount of actual soy ingested from those items is significantly less that what you would find in a soy milk or soy protein product.  This is definitely an area where your mileage may vary.

Concentrated soy is quite the controversial ingredient.  You can find many instances of soy lovers and soy haters.

As was indicated in the allergen statement, the bars are processed on shared equipment, but not with gluten containing items.

Let’s move on to the taste.

Robb sent me a sample kit, which is also available for purchase if you want to give the flavors a try.  The flavors are: Granola Crunch, Peanut Butter Crunch, Berry Almond Crunch, Chocolate Brownie, and Almond Crunch.  Believe it or not, the one I liked the least was Brownie Crunch.  Shocking, I know, as I am a confessed chocoholic.  All the flavors were a bit chalky in texture.  The Peanut Butter Crunch was the one I liked the most, and the Almond Crunch and Granola shared a very close second.  The Berry and Brownie just had too much of an artificial flavor for me to really get around.  They all required a hefty sip of water to chew and swallow.  They did have a nice crunch and chew texture.

Overall, I think these are a decent option.  The fact that they do not melt makes them good for “emergency” stash, like in your car glove compartment or in a natural disaster preparedness kit.  For that same reason they would be good fuel for outdoor sports.

However, for me personally these will not become part of my ordinary rotation.  Soy protein does not have a place in my diet.  It’s certainly a personal opinion, preference, and tolerance level.  My friend Kim at Gluten Free is Life also reviewed these bars, and she and her family were fans.  Just goes to show, what will work for one of us will not work for all of us, so keep an open mind whenever reading reviews of products.

Wish list

If there is a nutritional supplement company out there listening, here is my wish list for a protein bar:

  • Gluten free
  • Uses whey protein in some bars, and a gemma or rice protein in others for a dairy free option
  • Uses chicory root and/or stevia to sweeten
  • No sugar alcohols, no soy, no artificial sweeteners
  • At least 20 grams of protein per bar
  • Fat source of coconut
  • Low to moderate carbohydrate count

I know, a tall order.  So far the closest I’ve seen is in the Quest Bar. I’ll do a full review of them in the future.  I am very curious to see what their new flavor will be.  In the meantime, you can always make your own protein bars and control the ingredients and nutrition profile completely.

And if you want more, Gluten Free and Fit 101 has a lot more reading on living healthy and gluten free.

If you have tried the Pure Fit bars, I’d love to hear your feedback!  Also, if you’d like to weigh in on the soy controversy, feel free to comment below!


The Most Important Meal of the Day: Gluten Free Brinner

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Yes, that’s right.  Brinner.

Just in case you have not seen this fine piece of film, I hereby share with you the clip from the notoriously funny show, “Scrubs.”  It’s totally worth the 40 seconds.

My friends Kim and Kim (funnily enough, and no I did not plan that) at Cook IT Allergy Free and Gluten Free is Life are also big fans of brinner.  What’s not to like, really?  In the days before my celiac diagnosis, after a stressful day at work I would sometimes go out with some of my fellow therapists for pancakes aka “breakfast for dinner.” Same thing.  Hence: brinner.

Now that I am a gluten avoider, and also a bit more aware of the impact that those carb and sugar heavy meals (pancakes, ya’ll) had on my physiology and my physique, my perspective on brinner choices has evolved.

But not my love of brinner.

It’s kind of hard to beat brinner.

You have many choices when it comes to preparing a gluten free, nutritious brinner.  And really, who’s rules say that “breakfast” foods have to be eaten in the morning anyhow.  Really.

Here’s a short, totally-not-all-inclusive list of some ideas for a celiac or gluten sensitive friendly brinner:

OK, so now on to my particular brinner.  This was a kind-of-a-frittata version of my egg bake.  I used Al Fresco Chicken Sausage and here’s why.  There’s an old joke that sausage means “we don’t know what’s in it either,” but that’s not the case with these babies.  This is the ingredient list on the Sun Dried Tomato, which is the type I use the most.

  • SKINLESS CHICKEN MEAT
  • WATER
  • SEASONING (SALT, TURBINADO SUGAR, SPICES, TOMATO POWDER, DEHYDRATED ONION & GARLIC, PAPRIKA, BASIL, NATURAL FLAVOR)
  • DICED TOMATOES,SUNDRIED TOMATOES (UNSULFURED)
  • NATURAL PORK CASING.

Nice!  All recognizable as food by my great grandmother.  No nitrates, nitrites, or gluten.  And they are already cooked.

Check out my frittata egg bake recipe here.

What’s your favorite brinner?  Hit it up in the comments and share your ideas!

ABC News-Really? The disappointing news piece and the Gluten Free Fit opinion

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Nightline, an ABC news show, aired an episode last week where they discussed the gluten free diet, celiac disease, and living with celiac disease.

Personally, I thought this particular piece was pretty terrible.

Kind of horrific, in fact.

Before I go any further into my rant, here is the piece so you can watch for yourself.  It was titled “Is Gluten Free Good?”

  • They start off with touting all the celebrities that are on a gluten free diet, and then of course, Chelsea Clinton’s gluten free wedding cake.  It’s portrayed as a fad diet right off the bat.
  • Celiac disease isn’t even mentioned until almost 2 minutes into the 6 minute clip.
  • Elisabeth Hasselbeck is pictured in front of a freezer, stating that this is where all her food comes from.  WHAT?! Are you kidding me right now?!  No mention whatsoever of ANY naturally gluten free food.  You’d think that there is no life, or even eating, without pasta.
  • She also states that she believes in “replacing” foods in a gluten free diet, not eliminating them.  I would agree with this if by saying replace, she meant replacing refined flour items with fruits, vegetables, all the naturally gluten free bounty that nature avails us.  But no.  She was talking about replacing gluten breads and pastas with gluten free substitutes.  Hence the need to stand in front of the freezer, and not in the produce section.  In my article on my top 5 choices of gluten free carbohydrate sources, not one of them is found in a freezer.
  • E.H. also encourages people to adopt a gluten free diet without any kind of medical testing.
  • Dr. Green (bless his heart) mentions that there are no benefits for those without celiac disease to go gluten free, and that there is no weight loss guarantee on a gluten free diet, as we all know.  I even did a 5 part series of posts about weight issues and the gluten free diet.  You can eat a crappy nutrition yet calorie dense gluten free diet just as easily as you can on a “regular” diet.
  • However, they also indicate that a gluten free diet can be dangerous.  WHAT?!?  Dr. Green actually says, and I quote “a gluten free diet is not entirely healthy.”  I will give him a little slack, in the sense that if someone is only eating refined and processed gluten free crap, that they will receive even less nutrition than the standard American crap diet.  This is true.  BUT (and this is a big but, people, really big, the biggest butt of them all[ intentional]) a gluten free diet can also be incredibly healthy. You have to look at the big picture!  Eat naturally gluten free real food.  Meats, fish, poultry, veggies, fruits, dairy (if you can tolerate it, another can of worms for another day,) nuts/seeds, oils, nut butters, rice, potato, etc.  There is a BOUNTY of naturally gluten free foods.   I GUARANTEE that a gluten free diet can be extremely healthy.  I GUARANTEE that you will get plenty of fiber if you just eat some damn VEGGIES!!
  • Dr. Green mentions calcium deficiency.  Many people, not just those with celiac disease or that are on a gluten free diet, have calcium deficiency.  He also doesn’t mention that many of those diagnosed with celiac disease are also intolerant to dairy, and thus must find alternative sources of calcium in their diets.  Or that the damage done to the villi often causes impaired nutrient absorption and therefore, deficiency.  I covered this in Common Nutrient Absorption Issues in Celiac Disease and What to Do About It.

Overall, I was incredibly disappointed.  There has been so many great news pieces done on celiac disease and gluten intolerance lately that this was like a kick in the teeth.  This was a wonderful opportunity for education and discussion on the beauty of naturally gluten free food, on the importance of eating “real food,” how you CAN get nutrition in your diet, how celiac disease is underdiagnosed, and it wasn’t that at all.

I understand it was only a short segment, and that editing is done to the Nth degree, and that what ended up in the final cut may not have been Dr. Green’s intention at all.  But the implication that a gluten free diet is inherently unhealthy really,really, ticks me off.

As always, it’s the choices you make in the QUALITY of your food that matter, not just the gluten or gluten free status.

OK, I’m going to jump down off my soapbox and give you guys the floor.  What did you think?

And, if you’re new here and didn’t get turned off by my little rant, go ahead and check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for tips on how to get going on a HEALTHY gluten free diet.

See, you can tell I’m upset.  That’s a lot of caps 😉

Intermittent Fasting: Not Nearly as Scary as it Sounds

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It’s OK.  Don’t click away yet.  There’s nothing to be afraid of, I promise.

Fasting.

Didja jump out of your chair a little bit? That just doesn’t sounds good, does it?

Here’s the facts

Fasting by definition: to abstain from food, to eat sparingly or abstain from some food.

I think we’ve all done some form or fashion of fasting at some point in out lives.

Sleep much?  Yup, that’s a fast.  Ever have to have surgery?  You had to fast prior to the surgery.

Spend the day really busy running around, working on the house, or outdoors?  Fast.

Now, these are unintentional for the most part, but they are in fact, fasts.  You’ve already done them!  Less scary already, right?

So why do I care about fasting at all?

As many of you know, I am a fitness enthusiast and have competed in figure shows in the past.  It’s been fun, for the most part.  The commonly accepted eating pattern in this type of fitness circles is that eating small meals every few hours is the best way to maintain a healthy metabolism and lose weight if needed.

For years, I followed that idea, eating 5 or 6 times a day, feeling certain that my tiny little muscles would fall off if I didn’t eat exactly every 3.2 hours, or that my blood sugar would plummet and I’d fall into a brain fog, or that (oh noes!) my body would go into the dreaded starvation mode.

Horrors, all.  So I was a good girl and packed my meals ahead of time, toted a cooler, and revolved my life around my meals.  To others, it looked as if I was very dedicated, but more than a little weird, and maybe even a bit fanatical.

Over the past 2-3 years or so, research began coming to light that there really is no advantage to eating so frequently at all.

But I was so accustomed to eating this way, I thought it was the only way.  The truth is, I was too scared (read:wimp) to try anything different to see.  Plus, I was working in an office where I was stuck at a computer all day, sitting, and used the meals as an excuse to get up.  I also knew that boredom would be an issue, and at least with having meals so often it kept me from mindless snacking.

Intermittent fasting

I had been reading more information about intermittent fasting.  There was a very smart dude, Martin Berkhan, who was posting really intelligent content as well as awesome success stories.  My friend JC has used Martin’s intermittent fasting protocol (aka Leangains) and had great success with it.

Then, the heavens opened up, and angels sang.

OK, not quite.

But, I did change jobs, and I now work from home in a more mentally stimulating and rewarding position.  This allows me to have more flexibility in my meal times, and also I have set up a treadmill desk, so I am walking slowly instead of sitting on my butt all day.

(Side note-there are many different types of intermittent fasting out there, because intermittent fasting is just alternating periods of eating with periods of not eating.  JC covers them, so I am not going to here, and for my purposes we will be discussing Leangains specifically.  Also, there are many different viewpoints on WHY intermittent fasting could be positive, varying from ancestral eating patterns, to mental acuity, to life extension.  I will be focusing on the mental and body composition aspects only.  For now, at least.)

Mental relationship with food

I had noticed that my mental relationship with food wasn’t the best.  Because of the spacing of my meals, I was always thinking about when my next meal was, what I would be eating, where I would be, if I had to pack food, etc. and so on.  To be fair, I still believe in keeping a healthy snack with you if needed, and packing/making your own food whenever needed, but that is because you have control over the quality and composition of your food that way, not because I feel like I have to eat or something very bad will happen.

When I changed jobs, I decided there was no time like the present to try a new meal pattern as well.

So I read Martin’s entire blog (not even kidding) and set up a meal plan for myself based on his Leangains guide.

I also utilize the fasted training protocol since I exercise in the morning.

My personal feeding window is 10AM to 8PM.

Fasting results

Here’s a quick and dirty summary of what I noticed in myself since I started eating this way:

  • I used to think I HAD to eat breakfast very soon upon waking, because I woke up hungry.  I’ve learned that is really not the case, that we adapt to whatever patterns we use.  If I feel hungry now early in the morning, it goes away quickly.
  • I was always hungry before.  Even though (or because) I ate often, I never felt full and always had a low level of hunger, even when eating at a maintenance calorie level.  Now, instead of eating 6 small meals a day, I eat 4 larger meals, and have a much greater sense of satiety (fullness.)
  • I was obsessed with food.  Now, I realize that there will be no negative implications if I go a bit longer without eating, and my life does not revolve around my meals.  If we want to go out, or do something, we go, and I don’t panic if I don’t have a meal packed.
  • I can get away with eating a little more without a negative consequence on body composition.  Now, I also started my desk-walking, so can’t really differentiate what is making the difference here.  Obviously the walking is burning some extra calories.  There is some yet to be fleshed out indications that intermittent fasting can have positive effects on body composition, all other factors being equal though.
  • I can maintain a body composition and weight that I am very happy with quite easily, without obsessing.

I just recently consulted with Martin to try a recomposition/fat loss phase-that is, fat loss with muscle gain (hopefully.)  This is notoriously difficult to achieve, and being female, muscle building is tough enough.   I’m giving it a good go though, so we’ll see what happens.

Bottom line on intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting can be a very easy, non stressful method of maintaining or improving your weight, body composition, or mental relationship with food.  It is not for everyone, just as nothing works for everybody.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Remember, intermittent fasting is simply meal pattern timing, and you can put any type of eating in there.

Have you tried intermittent fasting?

Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Review

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Have you noticed I’ve done a few chocolate chip cookie recipes?

Well, even if you haven’t noticed, I have.  I seem to have a bit of an obsession with chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies are just such a soothing, all-American treat.  When I was a kid pre-celiac diagnosis, I had a chocolate chip cookie obsession then too.  Soft Batch cookies, remember them?  Oh, yeah.  Heated up for just a few seconds until the chips were all mice and melty…heaven in a bite.

Now that I’m a bit older, gluten free, and aware of nutrition, I try to have some redeeming qualities in my treats for the most part.

As a part of designing my diet to provide maximal quality and nutrients, I try to use coconut products on a regular basis.  Coconut is not a miracle cure for anything, and please run screaming from anyone who tries to tell you so.  However, it is a food that has some very interesting and unique properties.  And, it tastes pretty darn yummy.

Funny random fact about me: I like coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut flour, and coconut flavor in general.  However, I don’t like actual coconut.  Like, the shredded kind.  I hate macaroons.  I think it’s a texture thing.  But I digress.

Coconut oil is also not the devil as opponents to saturated fat may try to state.  Actually, saturated fat itself is not the devil.  Saturated fat in combination with refined carbohydrate may in fact, be the devil.  But again, I digress.

I feel compelled to say that coconut products contain calories.
Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate

Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate

This seems obvious, but I have heard stories of people adding large amounts of calorie dense coconut products to their diet and expecting the laws of thermodynamics to no longer apply.  As much as that would be fabulous, it is in fact false.  If you add calories in, you have to take some out from somewhere, or you will gain weight.

Tropical Traditions is where I get my coconut flour and coconut oil.  I saw they had a product called coconut cream concentrate, which I had never heard of/tried before.  They very kindly supplied me with a complimentary sample to try.

Coconut Cream Concentrate is pretty cool stuff.

From the Tropical Traditions website:

Coconut Cream Concentrate is certified organic whole coconut meat in concentrated form. It contains no additives* (not even water). The dried coconut meat is ground very finely, giving it a creamy consistency due to its high fat content. Since it is 70% fat, it is a rich source of pure coconut oil. Note: this is a food, not a cooking oil.

It reminded me a lot of natural nut butter, how the oil separates and comes to the top?  Same gig.

I highly recommend watching the video provided by Tropical Traditions on how to prepare your concentrate to use.  Me being me, I skipped that part thinking I could stir it like nut butter.  No, you can’t.  Warm it first.  What’s really cool about this product in my opinion, is that you could theoretically pour off the top coconut oil and use that, and then use the meat part to make coconut milk (they recommend a couple teaspoons per 16 ounces of water, and it will be “grainy” due to the fiber in the coconut.)  It’s pretty darn versatile.  I mixed up a couple tablespoons in a quart jar with water and use it in my coffee.

Here is my coconut cream chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Have you used coconut cream concentrate?  What’s your favorite way to use coconut?  Hit it up in the comments!

Labor Day Weekend Edition: Gluten Free, Celiac and Nutrition Goodies and News

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Happy Labor Day weekend to everyone here in the US!

I find it completely crazy how fast time is flying by.

First, a special announcement

I was asked by the NFCA to help out and present a webinar titled “The Gluten-Free Effect on Athletes: Improving Performance Through Diet.” This free webinar will be taking place on September 21st, at 8:30 PM EST. (Yes, Kristin at the NFCA (who has been incredibly helpful and awesome, by the way) has talked me into staying up past my normal bedtime. Ya’ll can tell me a bedtime story after the webinar.)

Click here to register.  Make sure to sign up ahead of time, because we will be accepting audience questions before the event.  I’m very excited and happy to be involved with such a great organization and event.

OK, onward!

Gluten Free and Celiac Stuff
  • Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free has designed a Labor Day Menu for you.   Total yummies.  Definitely check it out.  I bookmarked some of these to make for our “not really a wedding reception” party here at the house in October.
  • Karina, the Gluten Free Goddess, shared a recipe for Gluten Free Peach Cobbler.  The recipe looks fabulous, but my favorite part of the post is her commentary.  Check it out, I’m not giving a spoiler.
  • Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl shared a guest post from David Abed on Gluten Free Hurricane/Disaster Preparedness. This is important stuff for us all, and I am especially aware of it living in South Florida.  We are now in the busiest part of hurricane season, and although the past few years have been quiet, we cannot be complacent.  The memory of 3 weeks without power when Wilma hit here is very fresh in my mind, and of course no one can forget Katrina.  Be prepared for the worst, and then everything else is a pleasant surprise.
  • Everyday Paleo is a blog devoted to feeding a family paleo-style.  They are gluten free by choice, not necessarily for celiac disease, and share lots of tips and recipe ideas.  I especially liked this one for Paleo Pizza.
Nutrition News
  • I’ve mentioned before that I like to use coconut oil and coconut flour in recipes, and did so in my Cookies that are Almost Good for You post.  There’s lots of information out there on coconut products, but I always like to see it from a neutral (i.e. not financially involved) standpoint.  Stephan at the Whole Health Source blog is one smart gluten free cookie, and he is doing a series on tropical plant fats.  This post examines the science behind coconut oil.  If you are even a little bit a science geek like me, you’ll dig Stephan’s blog.  I made a new recipe using coconut cream that I’ll be sharing this week.
  • Dr. Stephen Wangen wrote a great post on Understanding the Healthcare Business. This is important stuff.  I’ve been working in healthcare for 14 years (holy cow) and have seen it from every angle.  As a provider, as a patient, as a case manager for insurance companies, and as a specialist appealing denials, I’ve seen it all.  It’s so important for people to understand their policy, what it covers and what it doesn’t.  Do this when you are well.  There’s lots of confu  Understand sing language, so don’t hesitate to make a call and get someone to explain it to you in plain English.  Nothing is free, ever.  If your policy covers an ambulance ride 100%, great.  But it’s not free.  Either you are paying for it in your premiums, your employer is, or the taxpayers are.  Nothing is free.  Understand your policy, and be your own healthcare advocate.  If you can’t, find someone who can.  (Steps down from my soapbox.)
  • Eat An Apple (Doctors Orders). Love this.  I hope this becomes more common.

That’s it for today!

Everyone have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday, or weekend at the very least.

And do it all gluten free!

If you’re stuck indoors, check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for some goodies to keep you busy. 🙂