inflammation

What’s on the Menu – How Fat Can Be Your Friend

When celebrity fitness trainer Vinnie Tortorich came on the Addicted to Fitness podcast (click here to listen to entire episode) last year, he made a statement that really resonated with me. He said

The worse thing about dietary fat is that it’s called FAT!

That one statement inspired me to look into the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) lifestyle to determine if it suited me better than the not so low carb lifestyle I was participating in at the time. After subtracting certain items that contain refined carbs from my diet and adding more items that were high in healthy fats, I started feeling fuller, longer and was no longer hangry two hours after a meal.

There is one particular “fatty” food item that has been a part of my diet well before my shift to LCHF. I’ve been hearing about its health benefits for well over a decade and its versatility has made it a staple in Shannon and I’s kitchen. It can be used as a cooking oil, salad dressing, finishing sauce and even a skin care product. The multi-talented food item I’m referring to is olive oil and it’s this week’s menu spotlight.

Olive oil is a broad category of oil made from pressed olives. I realize that isn’t “breaking news,” but I wanted to mention that because the different types of olive oils at the supermarket can be quite overwhelming. If you’re looking for the variety that provides the most health benefits, you’ll want to stick with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Any other variety may use solvents to extract the oil or partially consist of cheaper, inflammatory oils.

Even though EVOO, purchased from a reputable producer, doesn’t contain any protein or carbs, it’s still highly nutritious. One hundred grams, which is about 7 tablespoons, of EVOO contains 72% of our recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Vitamin E and 75% of our RDA for Vitamin K (source), both of which can contribute to preventing cardiovascular disease. The micronutrients contained in olive oil are impressive but it’s the type of fat it contains that really sets it apart from other cooking oils.

EVOO consists primarily of monounsaturated fat. This type of fat is more heat-resistant, which means it is less likely to oxidize when used in cooking applications. This is one aspect of EVOO that makes it superior to other cooking oils like canola or even flax-seed, which consist primarily of polyunsaturated fat. Less oxidation means less free radical production, which can cause inflammation that may researchers believe is responsible for chronic health conditions like atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Oh, and EVOO contains a ton of anti-inflammatory phenols and polyphenols to further combat those previously mention conditions (source).

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As you can imagine, I frequently use EVOO to saute veggies and as my go-to salad dressing (2 parts EVOO + 1 part vinegar). I also use it to make my baked sweet potatoes fries nice & crispy, add extra flavor to my fried eggs and add even more monounsaturated fat to my daily avocado snack.

I mentioned it quickly earlier in this post, but it is very important that you purchase your EVOO from a reputable producer to get the optimum amount of health benefits. There are two great books, Extra Virginity Real Food / Fake Food, that describe some of the deception associated with olive oil.

A couple quite tips I’ll give you in regards to purchasing EVOO are buy imported and make sure the container it comes in is NOT clear (light can cause oxidation over time). If you have a brand of EVOO that you swear by, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to share it with us via email (elementaltampa@gmail.com) or snap a pic of the bottle and share it on our social channels (FacebookInstagram or Twitter) and don’t forget FAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU FAT!

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What’s on the Menu – We may be getting a bit nutty

I believe the first time I heard about the benefits of coconut oil was when I heard Dave Asprey (creator of Bulletproof coffee) talk about it on Joe Rogan’s podcast back in 2012. Asprey described how his bulletproof coffee, which contained an ingredient prominent in coconut oil, helped him lose weight, have more energy and be sharper mentally. Even though I wasn’t quite prepared to start downing his bulletproof coffee, I began hearing more and more individuals I consider experts in nutrition and/or medicine talk about the benefits of coconut oil.  People like Vinnie Tortorich, Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Mark Sisson were signing its praises, which in my mind gave me the greenlight to start incorporating it into my diet anyway possible.

I know I’ve talked about my love for coconut oil many times on this blog. Heck, I think Shannon and I have done at least two Addicted to Fitness episodes where we taste tested a coffee + coconut oil concoction (click here to listen). However, I recently learned that my LDL cholesterol is extremely high. I believe the primary culprit for this is my genes, but I’m also analyzing items in my diet that may drive up “bad” cholesterol. Which is why I’m gonna take a closer look at a few of the pros & cons associated with coconut oil consumption.

Pros

  • Contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which unlike long chain triglycerides can be easily accessed by the body as an energy source and are less likely to be stored as fat (source)
  • Contains high concentrations of lauric acid, which has been shown to aid in the treatment of viral, bacterial and fungal infections (source)
  • The consumption of MCTs may increase “good” HDL cholesterol (source)
  • The consumption of MCTs has also been linked to improved cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients (source)

Cons

  • Coconut oil is ~50% lauric acid which some researchers believe acts as a long chain triglyceride, which could raise “bad” LDL cholesterol (source)
  • Coconut oil only contains 10-15% MCTs (if you subtract lauric acid), which greatly reduces its ability to boost metabolism (source)
  • Certain commercially sold coconut oils can be highly refined & processed which greatly reduces its health benefits (source)

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My preliminary research leads me to believe that there is much more upside to using unrefined, virgin coconut oil than downside. However, for someone like myself, who is genetic predisposed to have high LDL cholesterol, it may be wise to use it sparingly. Although, I’ve recently learned that not all LDL cholesterol is “bad” and I plan on getting more blood tests done to determine the makeup of my levels. Until then, I’ll limit my coconut oil use to cooking, instead of throwing it into smoothies & my morning coffee.

Just because I’m cutting down on my coconut oil use, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear how you use it. Whether it’s for cooking, skin care or cold remedy, please feel free to send your coconut oil uses to elementaltampa@gmail.com. We’d also really enjoy it if you send us a pic on our various social channels (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter).

What’s on the Menu – Grass vs. Grain

Today’s menu spotlight will focus on the nutritional differences of grass fed and grain fed beef. Before I get into the nutritional research I gathered, I want to quickly touch on the environmental & animal welfare aspects of both types of beef. Even though the production of both types of cattle can vary widely based on current regulations, I feel comfortable stating a few generalities about both. Grain fed cattle tend to live the duration of their lives in indoor feed lots and consume grain products like corn and soy. Grass fed cattle live the majority of their lives in pastures feeding on the grass available to them. Based on these points, the lives of grass fed cattle are more similar to that of their wild ancestors than grain fed cattle.

I want to reiterate that these are generalities. The USDA has not yet set a standard that all grass fed beef producers must follow (hear more about that here), which means the conditions grass fed cattle are subjected to can vary from one producer to the next.  If you choose to buy grass fed beef, research the producer. The more you know about the beef your buying, the better. Alright, on to the nutritional comparison.

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Image courtesy of American Grassfed Association (link)

Can food and environment actually affect the nutrient composition of a species? You bet it can!

A 2010 study determined that grass fed beef can have up to 5 times more omega 3 fatty acids than grain fed beef. This is important because omega 3’s reduce inflammation and lower the chance of us acquiring insidious health conditions like heart disease and dementia (source).

In addition to fatty acids, grass fed also contains a different saturated fat composition than grain fed. While the amount of saturated fat in both types of beef is relatively similar, grass fed contains a higher proportion of stearic acid than grain fed. This component of saturated fat has been determined NOT to raise blood cholesterol levels, meaning that grass fed can have less of an effect on your cholesterol than grain fed (source).

Grass fed also contains more vitamin E and beta-carotene than grain fed. Our body uses these nutrients to help prevent the production of free radicals, which have the ability to create damaging health conditions like arthritis and cancer. These particular antioxidants also work together to prevent nutrient degradation during the beef’s journey from farm to table (source).

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Even though I’m a big grass fed cheerleader, weird visual, both types of beef are highly nutritious in regards to macronutrients. Three ounces of 85/15 (lean meat to fat ratio) ground beef contains 13g of fat, 22g of protein and no carbs. But when you factor in the environmental impact and animal welfare differences, along with its micronutrient superiority, spending a extra cash on grass fed seems like a no brainer. Plus, your purchases can help revitalize the small farm industry, which I believe is key to changing our current industrialized food system.

I know cost is one reason why people choose not to buy grass fed beef, but I’d like to hear if there are any other reasons. Feel free to send us an email at elementaltampa@gmail.com or contact us on social media.

All you grass fed lovers can hit us up too! Send us a pic of your favorite meal featuring grass fed beef. We’d also love to see pics of the local farm you pick up your beef from.

What’s on the Menu – Efficiency Nut

I don’t know who the PR person for walnuts is, but I feel like they’re doing a pretty lackluster job. Pistachios has Richard Sherman and a giant cartoon elephant, voiced by John Cena, telling me to pick up a bag. California almonds have SportsCenter anchors pushing them and it seems like Mr.Peanut as been telling us to eat peanuts, which aren’t nuts, before the TV was even invented. All these nuts are getting positive press, but the walnut is still waiting for its big break.

I think I may have an idea of why walnuts aren’t getting promoted as much as they should. The outside of a shelled walnut is covered in a thin, paper-like “skin” that some people attest to having a bitter taste. The flavor of the skin can be off-putting to certain folks, but much like an apple, there are a ton of nutrients in the skin of a walnut.  It’s believed that 90% of the walnuts beneficial organic compounds are contained in the skin.

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The beneficial compounds contained in walnuts include a special form of vitamin E, hard to find antioxidants and the highest alpha linolenic acid (omega-3) concentration of any nut (source). The positive health aspects of walnuts prompted the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University to conduct a study on the daily consumption of walnuts. Preliminary results of the study suggest that daily consumption of 1.5 oz of walnuts can reduce LDL cholesterol & inflammation which can lower your chance of developing heart disease (source).

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If all these health benefits aren’t enough to make you run out to buy a bag of walnuts, the fact that they are one of the cheaper nuts should be all the convincing you need. Raw nuts, which is what you should buy if you want the maximum health benefits, can be a bit pricey. However, compared to cashews, almonds or the luxurious macadamia nut, walnuts are at least $1 cheaper per pound (according to my research).

Walnuts: the nut with the highest ROI. It’s no “get crackin'” but I think it has potential. Let me know if you have any suggestions on what walnuts’ promotional catch phrase should be. You can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or email us at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – Exercise & Diet: When, what and why

Shannon and I have fallen into a pretty good rhythm of recording the podcast on weekends, which use to have a lot less obligations than our weekdays. However, the script has flipped on us recently, and it seems we’re more busier than ever on the weekends. Which is why this week’s episode was recorded late into the evening hours on a school night. With that said, I think working outside our comfort zone led to one of the most entertaining Addicted to Fitness episodes yet.

We kick off this week’s podcast discussing Shannon’s upcoming yoga teacher training weekend. Yep, it’s that time again. We quickly transition into my current personal training schedule at my new home gym, Tampa Strength (link). My first client at the new location is taking advantage of my early morning training sessions and I’m about to start an early morning running program for a longtime ETT client. Discussing these morning training sessions segue nicely into the first main topic of this week’s episode: morning exercise.

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Click here to learn how you can train with ETT

Both Shannon and I prefer morning workouts. We both feel that completing a workout first thing in the morning sets you up for success for the rest of your day.  Shannon also believes that morning exercise helps you make better dietary choices throughout the day. Which is an interesting assumption because according to a recent Shape.com article discussing the benefits of morning exercise, she’s right. The article (link) uses research published in peer reviewed journals and other credible sources to explain how morning exercise can help you lower your blood pressure, get better sleep, burn more fat, and prevent chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes. The next topic we broach in this episode offers some of the same benefits as morning exercise, but it has more to do with what you eat. Actually, it has more to do with when you eat.

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Photo courtesy of Terry Crews’ Facebook page

This week, my buddy Dan Greene, who happens to be owner of TUFMED, posted a video of the actor Terry Crews explaining his approach to nutrition. In the video (link), Crews explains that he uses intermittent fasting to help his body function optimally. He states that during his 16 hour daily fasting period, his body is undergoing autophagy, which is essentially your body recycling old and possibly damaging cells. Seeing this video was extremely coincidential because I’ve also been trying intermittent fasting as of late and have really had some positive results. Most obvious to me is that I’m not nearly as hungry as often and I don’t feel the need to indulge in not so healthy food items. Those “not so healthy” food items is what we dive into next, and this topic brings on a rant from me in which I call out one of the most powerful people in all media.

When I talk about “not so healthy” food items, I’m really talking about pro-inflammatory foods. Inflammation occurs when the body sends out white bloods cells to protect itself from foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. However, ingesting certain foods can also create an inflammation response. Pro-inflammatory foods include sugar added beverages, refined carbohydrates and fried foods to name a few (link). A more extensive list of pro-inflammatory foods can be found on another website (link), which as you can tell when you listen to this episode, got me really miffed. I’m not going to go into too many specifics but I’m pretty sure I’m on the “DO NOT INVITE” list for the Oprah Winfrey Show. I KNOW YOU LOVE CHIPS OPRAH, THAT’S THE PROBLEM. Sorry, sorry.

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Nothing like a good rant to end another episode of the Addicted to Fitness podcast. We always enjoy producing these episodes for you and we really hope that you enjoy listening to them. If you do, please let us know by giving us a rating or review in iTunes (link), or by sharing the podcast with a friend (just text them one of the links below 🙏). As Shannon always says “sharing is caring!” We care about you all and we hope you stay healthy this week peeps!

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/exercise-diet-when-what-and-why/id1121420986?i=1000382543350&mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/exercise-diet-when-what-and-why