Who you gonna call? Part III: nutrition advice from personal trainers

My friend Cheryl told me at the gym the other day that she got online with a “Virtual Personal Trainer.”   This guy has quite a following here locally and helped a friend of Cheryl’s.  

She  said to the trainer, “I’m trying to be vegan.   Can you help me increase my muscle mass and get more toned?”   (Don’t know why–Cheryl is turning 50 and is a size 3–she’s incredibly fit and looks about 34.)

 He said, “Sure, you can do that, if you’re willing to eat a lot of soy or whey protein powders.”   Cheryl’s pretty educated and knows why BOTH of those are a rotten idea.   If you don’t, see my Nutrition Manifesto Myth #1 on the GreenSmoothieGirl.com home page (and my “Soy Is A Health Food” myth is coming soon in  a free e-letter).  

Cheryl told him she didn’t want to eat that stuff.   The trainer told it would be impossible for her to get more toned, then–she simply HAS to eat chicken or fish or protein powders.   One of my personal-trainer friends is eating a 60 PERCENT animal-protein diet right now in preparation for a powerlifting competition!   I spend a lot of time at the gym, and every single trainer I know is pounding the protein bars and powders and slabs of dead animal carcasses (that’s what my vegetarian daughter calls them, lol).

Again, like most medical doctors and dieticians, like the Diet Doctors and Celebrities, personal trainers just aren’t a good source for nutrition information.   The vast majority of them accept the mainstream position wholesale, and the only thing they know about nutrition is to MAXIMIZE PROTEIN.  Thank goodness for that rare M.D. or dietician who does extracurricular homework.   And props to bodybuilders like Jason Ferruggia, Stephen Arlin, and athletes I blogged about last month.  They show you CAN be fit–even huge and ripped, if that’s the goal–eating a plant-based diet.   I’ll run a blog in a couple of days with good stuff from Jason Ferruggia.

 Ask a personal trainer how to lift weights.   Just please don’t ask him what to eat.

Who you gonna call? Part II: I have more stuff to say about the diet docs

I thought I was done taking down the high-protein, fad-diet, doctor-scam-artists.   But I want to say a bit more, starting with this quote from “Dr. Atkins’ Health Revolution”:  

“Imagine losing weight with a diet that lets you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, heavy cream in your coffee, plenty of meat and even salad with dressing for lunch and dinner!”

I don’t know if Atkins knew he was hurting millions with this outrageous “advice,” or if he somehow studied the human heart for all those years and remained ignorant of the effects of globs of fatty, cholesterol-dripping junk on your faithful, trusty heart and and arteries.  The brilliance of Atkins’ (and Sears’, Agatson’s, and others’) approach is that they got to tell people what they wanted to hear.   People WANT to eat eggs and bacon for breakfast.   They want to eat a steak for dinner.   It’s the fantasy diet of the Southern United States, right?   And an M.D. told them they could.

Problem is, like every other diet, Atkins is really just another calorie-restriction program.   Add up the caloric intake of a day on the program, and you have about 1,200 calories.   If you eat 1,200 calories on ANY diet, you’re going to lose weight.   Then you’re going to gain it back when your mind, body, and spirit get sick of being deprived.

And this “ketosis” thing that Atkins tells you to trick your body into?   I find the whole idea of tricking or manipulating your body offensive–that would only come from somebody who subscribes to the drug theory of health (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one).   No one has studied the long-term effects of “ketosis,” but it’s a highly unnatural state.  Don’t trick or manipulate your body.  Take good care of it, nourish it, love it: it has served you all these years, and you get only one.

Joel Fuhrman, M.D. accurately calls cancer a “Fruit-and-Vegetable-Deficiency Disease.”   And yet what do Atkins and the other protein-mongers ban and criminalize?   Most all the foods with the phytonutrients, the insoluble fiber, the power to prevent cancer and heart disease–fruit and most veggies.  Campbell’s research in China showed that vegetarians can eat several hundred calories a day more than meat eaters–and are leaner!  

Tomorrow I’m moving on, away from the Fat Diet Doctors and onto more of the false gods of nutrition . . .

heart disease and degenerating DNA

[I’ll come back to “Who You Gonna Call” blogging on the false gods of nutrition, tomorrow . . .]  

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: I have 100 lbs. to lose, am on Lipitor for high cholesterol, and started drinking green smoothies a few weeks ago.   My cholesterol has begun to come way down, but my HDL [good cholesterol] count is going the wrong direction!   Should I stop drinking green smoothies?

Answer:   [Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, for which you should go to a GOOD cardiologist or knowledgeable naturopath.   A really good cardiologist, hard to come by, is doing more than offering you surgery and drug regimens: s/he’s eating a healthy diet and advising you in that mission-critical area, too.]

I hope you don’t stop drinking green smoothies!   In the beginning, your HDL (a measure of the cholesterol leaving your arteries) goes up because you are throwing off extra cholesterol and eliminating it from your arteries.   It’s a good thing!   After a while, though, as you have less to eliminate, it will go down as well.   The biggest thing is to focus on your LDL (the bad cholesterol), and the fact that it’s coming down is wonderful news.

The ideal ratio of your total cholesterol to HDL should be less than 3: divide total cholesterol by your HDL.

My entire extended family was recruited to be in a national study of families with high cholesterol and bad heart-disease markers–and people at the other end of the spectrum, very low cholesterol and positive measurements for heart disease.   They fly out and take our blood and scratch their heads over why we have no known heart disease.We are a huge family, and we all–uncles, cousins, grandparents–have excellent cardiovascular markers.

My own cholesterol has always been below 100 (anything below 150 is considered “ideal” in the U.S.), and they  told me I have the cardiovascular markers of a triathlete.   Dr. Colin Campbell (The China Study) studied Chinese peasants eating a plant-based diet.   Their average is below 100, and 150 is very HIGH for them!  

My family has good heredity, you want to say to me—lucky you, you bragger!   Possibly, but I don’t think that tells the whole story.  My grandparents, and my grandfather’s five brothers, owned a produce dealership throughout the Southwest.   For many, many years, everyone was virtually vegetarian, because the diet strategy was “use up whatever we have in excess at the warehouses.”   My mom, though she got married and moved away, didn’t even know how to cook meat, and didn’t teach me.   (Thanks, Mom.   Seriously, I’m not being facetious, thanks!)  J

I believe that our family–those original produce dealers now have great grandchildren–will eventually look worse for cardiovascular disease.   Romney Produce, after all, is long defunct.   But for generations, we ate a diet very similar to what the Chinese ate in Campbell’s huge study.  We’re just a couple of generations behind the genetic deterioration that most families have experienced as a consequence of eating lots of animal protein, refined  foods,  and fat.

That’s right, your DNA actually deteriorates as you eat food that isn’t really food.  And you pass that along to your children.   Our grandparents lived with the typical American diet and were okay, but they had  better genetics, since their parents ate whole foods.   Our kids have much higher risk because we’ve been degenerating their DNA!   How’s that for a motivator for future parents to eat right?

Who you gonna call? Part I: fat diet doctors and celebs

This starts a multi-part blog about the false gods we worship in the field of nutrition.  

First, I often wonder why people buy diet programs from overweight doctors in poor health.  The worst offender is Dr. Robert Atkins.   I would say “was,” but of course his  company and family are still raking in millions of dollars by damaging millions of people’s health.   I have a friend who has made the Atkins “diet” a lifestyle–for 18 months now (not because the weight has been kept off, but because it yo-yos).  

One doctor who treated Atkins for many years estimated him to be 40-60 lbs. overweight.   If you follow his diet (which is up to 60 percent fat), you can count on digestive problems, constipation, and foul breath right away.   Down the road a bit, you’ll be at risk for heart and kidney disease, cancer, and osteoporosis from the excesses of animal protein and fat and the  a dearth of fiber and nutrients.   The American Dietetic Association calls the high-protein diets like Atkins “a nightmare.”

 Dr. Barry Sears authored the Zone diet (another high-protein scam) that sold millions.   He states in his own book that he’s overweight.  

Then we have Dr. Agatson who authored the South Beach Diet.   His program is the third in the triumvirate of high-protein crimes against the public health.   He has admitted to taking aspirin and a statin drug every day because he’s terrified of heart disease.   He’s a cardiologist, so you’d think that if he were designing a trustworthy healthy diet, he could come up with something that doesn’t require drug dependency.

 Now Dr. Phil is getting in on the $40 billion industry with his own diet book: he’s 6’4″ and 240 lbs., which is clearly overweight on any body-mass chart.   But he says his weight is “age appropriate.”   What age is it “appropriate” to be overweight?   Over age 40? 60?   And why?   Why is an overweight psychologist in the business of  telling people what to eat?

Kirstie Alley has abandoned Jenny Craig, gained back much of the weight she lost as its spokesperson, and announced she is starting a new diet program!   She’s neither a health-care specialist NOR successful at weight loss and health.   Who wants to be first in line to buy her program?   That decision would be approximately as rational as buying books from the dudes listed above.  

If you’re gonna sell health, doesn’t it logically follow that you should be HEALTHY?   One of two things is going on here with four multimillionaire doctors and one celebrity–Atkins, Sears, Agatson, Phil, and Kirstie.   One, their diets don’t work.   Or two, the authors are hypocrites and don’t “walk the talk”–they want you to do as they say, not as they do.   Maybe both.    In any event, Americans ought to spend that $40 billion instead on whole plant foods–that just might put the Diet Doctors and Diet Celebrities, a whole lotta doctors and insurance companies, and Big Pharma out of business.    

raw sweet potatoes and Jamaican cheese

Costco has the coolest new item in produce: raw sweet-potatos, peeled and cut in  sticks.   Sweet potatoes are something you may not have eaten RAW before, but they’re crunchy, mild, and best of all, one of just a handful of foods that have all of the eight amino acids your body cannot manufacture on its own (cucumbers are another one).

The lady in line in front of me asked how I keep them from getting mushy.   I drew a blank and said, “They’re not mushy–they’re crunchy.”   She said, yeah, but when you freeze and thaw them, when you go to cook them . . .Instead of cooking sweet potatoes, try putting them in your kids’ lunches.   I just came home with some, and my kids have almost disappeared them already.

You know the lady who writes on your receipt with a marker on your way out of Costco?   She said to me, hey, these things are so great deep fried!   I couldn’t help it–I busted out laughing. (She doesn’t know me, like the checkers and baggers do.)   I said, “Awesome!   Then you make a really, really healthy food into junk food!”   She said, yeah, but it tastes so good!

I laughed all the way to the car.   (Still, I’m going to try  sauteeing them in a little coconut oil, since it doesn’t create trans fats even at high temps,  and see how they are–I’ll let you know if they’re any good.)

Jicama is another vegetable for you to try raw, cut into sticks: it’s crunchy and sweet.  If you don’t know how to pronounce it, it’s Spanish, “hi-ca-ma.”  You had to be there at the salad bar years ago: we were going through the line.   A young boy in front of us pointed to jicama on the salad bar and asked his mom what it was.   She looked at the label, tried to sound it out, gave up, and told her son, “It’s . . . it’s . . . Jamaican Cheese!”   In my family, we’ve called jicama “Jamaican Cheese” for 10 years now.

tips for eating right inexpensively

Q:   Dear GreenSmoothieGirl, I can’t afford to eat the way you suggest. Any ideas?

A:   Most people base their purchasing decisions on taste, convenience, price, appearance, and shelf life.

Of course, what tastes good is dictated by our addictions, and you know if you read my blog that sugar is the most addictive substance on the planet.   Having to wash fruits and vegetables can’t compete, for convenience.   Organic produce doesn’t always look shiny and pretty.   And produce and most whole foods don’t last long on the shelf.   Nutrition is the loser in most buying criteria and decisions!   (If you don’t believe me,  take a peek at  what’s in virtually all grocery carts next time you’re in the store.)

I do have 11 tips for you to save money (and many more are in 12 Steps to Whole Foods):  

  1. Plan meals ahead of time and keep a shipping list to avoid impulse buying.  Along with your shopping list, keep a list of what constitutes “good” prices, as well as a calculator to take along on shopping trips. 
  2. Quit buying chips, soda, and packaged cookies and candy. Quit buying meat.   Quit buying fast food. These things are costing you more than you may realize.
  3. Instead, buy grains and legumes, which are higher in protein than people expect, inexpensive, and they keep in storage for years.   Try serving grains/legumes most nights a week instead of meat.      
  4. If you have a family, invest in a big freezer.   Put it in the garage.   Buy it used if you need to.
  5. Start learning what things cost, and buy larger quantities (5# or more) of produce, nuts, seeds and grains when they’re in season and on sale.
  6. Freeze on-sale fruits in small bags in the freezer.   Put greens in the freezer for green smoothies, if you can’t use them before they will go bad.   Freeze bulk-purchased nuts and seeds in freezer bags.
  7. Ask around and find the buying co-ops for local produce and health-food items.   Get on email lists for those co-ops.   You don’t have to buy huge bulk amounts for Azure Standard and other co-ops.
  8. Dig a cold-storage hole in the ground against your home, if possible, line it with plastic or wood or straw, and put a wooden lid on top.   Store potatoes, onions, carrots, homemade sauerkraut, nuts, seeds, and oils through the winter.
  9. Grow a garden.   Even if all you have is a patio or tiny backyard, you can grow a surprising amount of produce.   This will give you organic produce, and you can freeze whatever you’re not able to use, for fall and winter months.
  10. If organic produce is really expensive, buy conventional and just wash it well, with a veggie soap.   I use Shaklee Basic H.   A gallon of it lasts me a decade.
  11. Go shopping when you’ve just eaten, not when you’re hungry.   Then planning and intelligence informs your shopping decisions (not cravings and addictions).