Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

13 Mar

Jimmy Moore: Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb & Lovin’ It

Apples: I’m very pleased to bring you a can’t-miss interview with everyone’s favorite low-carb blogger, low-carb rock star Jimmy Moore of Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb. Jimmy’s wildly popular blog (and new low-carb links site) features everything you could ever want to know about the low-carb philosophy from the guy who lost over 200 pounds and remade his health.

As you know, I subscribe to a healthy low-carb lifestyle, and based on my background in biology and professional sports competition, I recommend a reduced-carb approach wholeheartedly.

My personal recommendations:

1. Drench yourself in good fats.

2. Eat plenty of lean protein.

3. Eat green and colorful vegetables with reckless abandon.

The important thing to understand is that low-carb (whether Atkins or a host of others) does not really mean high-protein. It simply means avoiding carbs – for some, that means all grain-based carbs, while for others, it means refined and processed carbs. As Jimmy points out, everyone is unique and there are many ways to go about a healthy diet. However, low-carb definitely doesn’t mean subsisting on bacon.

I’ve been saying for quite a while that sugar is the new fat (and low and behold, here’s a terrific cookbook Jimmy reviewed that says just that). While we were all busy avoiding fat during the 80s and 90s, we were, in truth, just making ourselves sicker, fatter and miserable. It’s safe to say that the fear of fat has come full circle (and it’s about time). But there’s still a lot of confusion about healthy nutrition and weight loss. Is Atkins really effective? Isn’t it just an all-meat diet? What about whole grains?

As many of you know, last week was quite a wild one in the world of health with the release of the Stanford study on low-fat versus low-carb diets. Let’s put it this way: Ornish ain’t happy. It’s been quite a controversial and interesting several days for Jimmy, me and dozens of other health bloggers and nutrition experts, to say the least!

Jimmy took a moment to chat about the reasoning, benefits and myths of low-carb living. We’re featuring his thoughtful responses to your popular “low-carb questions” today and tomorrow. (On the agenda for tomorrow: Can vegetarians go low-carb? What about cheating?) I think the great thing is that blogging, and the communities that develop, are helping people take responsibility for themselves and get control of their health.

Jimmy Moore, before and after:

Jimmy Moore before and after

Here’s what the man has to say about carbs – and what the lack of them can do!

What are the top 3 benefits you have found for going low-carb?

“Do I have to limit it to just THREE?! Okay, here goes:

Numero uno: It’s the most delicious and healthy diet plan you’ll ever go on.

One of the most frustrating parts of weight loss is feeling deprived, hungry, and absolutely miserable. Why do we put up with feeling that way when there is a much better way to lose weight and get healthy? It’s livin’ la vida low-carb, baby!

Truth be told, I lost 170 pounds on a low-fat diet in 1999, but it was not sustainable over the long-term. I gained back all of that weight I lost in only four months because I was rebelling against having to feel that way just to be ‘healthy’. But not anymore. Low-carb is the exact lifestyle change I had been looking for my entire life.

Numero dos: Beyond the weight loss, my health is as stellar as it has ever been.

When you start talking about the Atkins/low-carb diet, most people immediately conjure up thoughts about weight loss. But the benefits of this way of eating go so much further than that: my blood pressure dropped, my HDL ‘good’ cholesterol skyrocketed 50 points, my triglycerides dropped from the 300’s down to below 50, my resting heart rate is around 50 bpm, I’m no longer taking ANY prescription medications (WOO HOO!), and I’m more active today at the age of 35 then I ever was as a teenager.

How can you put a price on getting your health back? Yes, the weight loss was absolutely wonderful, but this newfound energy and excitement about living life again made my decision to start livin’ la vida low-carb one I will never ever regret for the rest of my long and healthy life. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me and I feel like I have been given a real miracle from God.

Numero tres: You develop a healthy sense of skepticism about dietary claims.

When I weighed 410 pounds, my cursory knowledge of eating right meant consuming foods that are low in fat, reduced-calorie, and to eat like a bird. Let’s face it, most people are exactly like I was and don’t have a clue when it comes to diet and nutrition. Is it any wonder why two out of three Americans are overweight or obese?

Getting people to finally care enough about their own weight and health is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in this battle against obesity. Most people just don’t give a rip about those things because they don’t see the imminent danger to themselves or the burden they are or soon will be having on our health care system in the coming years. The low-carb lifestyle woke me up to this reality and is the biggest unsung benefit of transitioning to the low-carb way of life.”

Do you think some people can function well on a higher-carb diet (such as one including whole grains – don’t we need fiber)?

“It’s important to distinguish what is meant by a ‘higher-carb diet’. While I don’t believe livin’ la vida low-carb is necessarily for everyone (GASP!), it is best for everyone to try to eliminate their consumption of sugar, white flour, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, junk food, fast food, processed foods, pasta, rice, and the like. These are all garbage carbs that your body just doesn’t need.

However, if someone has their weight under control and they want to eat a few more ‘whole grain’ products to supplement their diet with fiber, that’s certainly fine with me. But there are better ways to get fiber than from these so-called healthy ‘whole grains’, particularly when you are trying to lose weight on low-carb.

It kills me how the cereal companies especially have latched on to this whole grain craze in their marketing efforts by promoting their new ‘whole grain’ Lucky Charms or Frosted Flakes. What’s bad about this is people are convinced they are eating healthy when they buy this junk! UGH!

Besides the gobs of sugar (if it’s double digit per serving, then that’s TOO much!) they pour into these products, even the supposedly healthy whole grains are carbohydrates that will turn into sugar once they are metabolized. So if the immediate sugar rush from the high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar they put into these products doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels, then the whole grains will.

There are plenty of ways to get all the fiber your low-carb diet needs without resorting to ruining your efforts messing around with ‘whole grain’ products. Remember, the companies that make this stuff don’t care about your health. All they want is to make a profit off of the illusion they are helping you improve your health. That’s an important distinction to always remember (the skeptic in me that I previously talked about is always on alert).”

Okay, but what about heart disease and high cholesterol?

“Yeah, what about it? Ha! The fact of the matter is the latest research being published is proving these long-held beliefs regarding low-carb diets are just urban legends that have been shattered by scientific studies.

On the issue of heart disease, Dr. Frank Hu from the Harvard School of Public Health led a long-term 20-year study of nearly 83,000 women on the heart health effects of the low-carb diet that was published in the November 9, 2006 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. What he and his fellow panel of distinguished researchers found was a low-carb diet is no more harmful to heart health than a low-fat diet. This is remarkable research that was all but ignored by the media and the I’ve-got-an-agenda health ‘experts’ in this country. This is yet another reason people should take their diet and health into their own hands because the truth is being squashed and silenced.

Regarding cholesterol, there’s so much research in this area that it’s gonna be very difficult for the medical community to keep looking the other way about it. While every other commercial on television these days is for another new cholesterol-lowering wonder drug, the fact of the matter is most people DON’T have a high LDL cholesterol problem – what they have is too high triglycerides and too low HDL.”

Well put, Jimmy. Be sure to check back later today for a laugh from the always cantankerous children’s health advocate Fuming Fuji, and visit tomorrow to read the rest of the interview with Jimmy Moore as we address the myths of nutrition and dieting.

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12 Mar

Chocolate & Omega 3’s Benefit Every Body

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

What a great Monday! There’s a lot of interesting clickativity today, with one thing in common: all the news is big!

Click it out:

One More Reason Chocolate Is Great

Science Daily reports that a cocoa discovery may have greater implications for human health than penicillin. Yes, you read that correctly – chocolate may be the biggest health boon…ever.

More research needs to be done, of course, but remember these healthy chocolate pointers:

Stick with dark chocolate (it’s lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants)

Stick to small portions (chocolate, like cheese and nuts, is very high in calories)

Enjoy!

With Lindt truffles in the world, why is there war?

Swamibu Flickrstream

Huge Omega-3 News for the Little Tykes

Thanks to That’s Fit for reporting on a major new study hot off the presses: omega-3 supplements are not only necessary for children’s brain development, these vital fats, in supplement form, yield major results. You’ll be surprised at how major – the scientists were.

Fish oil pills - be sure to buy filtered

What Is Being Done About Spinach and Peanut Butter?

The FDA issued voluntary guidelines today in the hopes that food manufacturers will clean up their act. Legislation isn’t being, er, ruled out, but the hope is that voluntary guidelines will be effective.

Peter Pan: time to grow up

Web It Out:

A very entertaining and interesting article debunks online dating services that claim to use highly-accurate psychological matching. Not only is it entertaining, it’s also a good way to learn about scientific accuracy (or, in this case, the lack of it) in studies.

Something any parent could have told them.

12 Mar

Mark’s Weekly Health Challenge

Happy Monday Morning, Apples! Here’s Mark’s healthy suggestion for getting the most out of your week:

Up your antioxidant intake this week the easy way:

Switch from coffee and cocktails to tea. Get refreshed with iced tea, wake up with piping hot green tea, and simmer down with chamomile at night. While we’re not against a cup of joe at Mark’s Daily Apple, sometimes, it’s a good idea to take a little break from caffeine (and alcohol). Have a cup of antioxidants by way of tea instead.

A great web resource for all things tea.

9 Mar

That’s a Wrap!

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Here’s today’s wrap-up from the world of health, Apples. Thanks for all your great support and feedback this week. Keep those suggestions and questions coming! Stay healthy and have a wonderful weekend!

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Hormones

…in our milk. The latest Big Moo decision is sure to please, although analysts on both sides of the issue wonder how significant the impact of hormones really is. It’s a good question – unfortunately, as of yet, there’s no clear answer, but this decision certainly won’t hurt.

Will cheese ever be healthy?

(Ian Britton photo)

Side Effects Include Death

Yeesh! The FDA issues a warning for anemia drugs (the kind typically used for those who have undergone chemotherapy).

Don’t Have One This Weekend

Apparently, having a stroke over the weekend is riskier than having one during the week. But don’t worry too much: studies show the risk varies between being 4% and 15% greater. While 15% is statistically significant, bear in mind it’s not 15% across the board (oh, fun with stats…). Our take? Since this isn’t really something you can plug into the Blackberry anyway, don’t sweat it too much.

Sometimes a check-up is just a check-up.

Striatic Flickrstream

Productive Sleep

And you thought productive leisure time was enough. This is a fascinating article about scent, sleep and memory. Don’t miss it!

Locavores Vs. Organicans

Time has a great piece on the edible issue of going local versus going organic. The debate? What is better: eating an organic apple that traveled halfway around the world thanks to Middle Eastern oil, or munching a local yet pesticide-bedecked Red Delicious? It’s a tough call. What are your thoughts?

If it's not one thing, it's another...
9 Mar

Mat Magic

Introducing a new feature at Mark’s Daily Apple:

Sara Shops (it’s a tough task, but she’s up for the challenge.)

I recently took to yoga and have had quite a bit of fun (make that hip pain) finding the ideal mat. I’ll spare you the pain and eyebrow-raising I endured by sharing my newfound knowledge of rubber rugs with you.

In case you’ve never tried yoga, or think it’s for hippies or Madonna, I highly recommend it. Not only will you glow like a little glowworm, you’ll feel relaxed and loose. Bonus: you’ll lose a few pounds around your middle after just a few sessions (yoga really does massage your organs and flush toxins). It can be pricey, but I’ve managed to find a few spots that offer great package deals, and I even learned about a group that gets together for free – and apparently, this goes on all over the place. Cool!

There are many different types of yoga, of course. Personally, I’m loving good old hatha for increasing my flexibility and sense of relaxation. Although, the two hours being pushed and prodded in iyengar by a very serious husband-and-wife team – easily in their 70s – was more entertaining than anything the Wilson brothers have come up with lately. He was good cop, she was bad cop (I’ve never been so intimidated by someone who weighed, at most, 85 pounds soaking wet).

On to the mat. Not knowing if I would want to stick with yoga, I chose the cheapest mat available. Not a move I’d suggest following (unless you want to put up with some smirks and a lot of pain). After the first session, I knew that I would definitely want to stick with yoga. Unfortunately, I also stuck to my new mat. Though it only cost about $15, the lightweight, all-synthetic foam was far too thin (only about 1/8″) and not nearly squishy enough. Being so thin (the mat), all my joints ached like the dickens the next day.

So, I upgraded to a vinyl sponge mat for $25. This one was a little more generously proportioned (72″ instead of 68″) and is the standard mat most folks go with. It’s still just 1/8″, but it’s squishy, waterproof, and closed-cell non-Latex (this just means it’s better for you because it won’t harbor bacteria). It also has a nice meshy grid that helps you grip. However, after a few weeks with this guy, I was seriously hurting. Maybe my joints are a little too princess-and-the-pea, but I decided to see what else was available.

Your standard yoga mat

I began really investigating the world of yoga mats. All yoga mats break down with use, which actually tends to make them more comfortable (sort of like shoes). And there is a mat for everyone: there are breast cancer mats (a mat for every cause), organic mats made of jute and bamboo (ego-friendly!), temperature-sensitive mats, travel mats, microfiber mats. There are probably even mats that read your mind (ok, maybe not).

The eco-mats are typically made of a thermal plastic elastomer that contains nothing chemical, synthetic or metal. A lot of instructors I asked are really into this new material (prices tend to be a little higher – around $40-60). I wasn’t as sore after using it, and I did feel very, well, close to the ground, but it just wasn’t squishy enough for my tastes. I’m willing to give up a little grounding to feel completely comfortable.

Eco wonder

After spending many hours of eye-glazing surfing at various web sites, I decided my best bet would be visiting a few different stores. The private yoga boutiques had the latest organic, eco and super-comfy offerings – but at really high prices (no surprise there).

Eventually, I settled on a mat from Big 5 that didn’t even claim to be a yoga mat. It’s a meshy, waterproof, 1/4″ wonder that is so comfortable, I could hug it. Though this $40 wonder didn’t come with any special marketing or branding, a similar one is available online (and for much less).

tapas mat

Various instructors suggested different mats, but they all agreed on one thing: my initial selection was totally inferior. If you’re new to yoga, I suggest borrowing a mat (just clean it!) until you know if yoga is for you. Then be sure to splurge on the most comfortable mat you can afford. It’s well-worth it.

Yoga clickativity

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