Combat-Aging.com Newsletter Volume 1, Number 6
January 5, 2006
Damage Control: The holiday season is not a time for fat loss. The best most of us can do is keep the weight gain within reasonable bounds. I seem to have regained almost all of the weight lost during the last four weeks, leaving me about half a pound (0.25 kg) lighter than I was at the end of the previous HST cycle. I hope that some of the weight regained was muscle—after all, the gain occurred during the 10RM mini-cycle, which is supposed to build muscle. But that's probably wishful thinking. Let me be thankful I did not gain more than I did.
From my Diary
- Strength Training and Abs: For the last three weeks I have been describing how my workouts follow an 8-week cycle, based on Bryan Haycock's HST program, (Hypertrophic Specific Training).
This week I started the second week of the 10's (10 repetitions). This mini-cycle actually appears on my workout sheet as 10RM, "10-repetition maximum". This means that, in theory, the last of each set of ten repetitions reaches the limit of my strength and endurance. In practice, this is not done because the risk of injury is too great. Injury forces layoffs for recovery, which wastes time.
Slow and steady is the fastest way to go. What Bryan Haycock proposes for HST is that maximum weights are used only on the last day of every two-week mini-cycle.
Read the first part of my next
e-book, A Guide to Bryan Haycock's Hypertrophy Specific Training (HST).
- Aerobic Exercises: Low intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, is all we need to burn off the fat. But low intensity is sometimes boring. To increase the intensity without increasing speed, just increase the slope. Walk up a hill or set the treadmill to a higher angle. To warm up before weight-lifting, I walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes, setting the slope to 10 degrees, gradually increasing speed, starting at 2 mph (3 km/h), increasing when I start feeling bored, until I reach 3.5 mph (6 km/h). After weight lifting, I like to use the ski machine (elliptical cross-trainer). Moving the whole body seems to relax and stretch all the muscles—a good way to wind down.
To make self-control automatic, I use
psycho-cybernetics to build an image of what I want to look like in a year or so. At first, I practiced the visualization every night for 15 to 30 minutes just before dozing off. A month or so was enough to fix the goal in my unconscious mind. Now, I briefly refresh the image about once or twice a week. That's enough to put the mind on autopilot.
Holiday Treats: Yes, I ate ice-cream four times during the holiday, one scoop each time on a slice of homemade Christmas pudding, smaller slices of pudding each time, reduced automatically—without thinking much about how I was slicing. I had about six small slices of homemade pizza—I didn't count—containing the only cheese and the only red meat that I have eaten in 18 months. Plus, I drank four half-bottles of red wine on separate days, volume 6 ounces (180 ml) each. But the real gluttony was with nuts—I'm nuts about nuts. Most of the nuts had to be shelled, which did slow me down a little.
More about nuts below.
So what's the point? Restructuring the body, shedding fat and gaining muscle, is a venture that relies at least 50% on a person's mental state. If we say to ourselves, "This food is banned forever" or "I must not give in to pleasure", we are asking for trouble. Our ancestors passed on to us the drive to eat anything and everything possible: humans are omnivores. We are driven by habit and biochemistry to eat for pleasure. Our task is to trick the unconscious mind into trading the food goodies for health and appearance goodies. Prying away the "food goodies" from the hungry child within us is no easy task, as all of us know only too well. Better to say, "Just until the next feast day. Then you can have your pizza, your cake and your ice-cream." A neat trick, as any parent will confirm.
Tips of the Week
- Trans fats: Evidence has been mounting for years that most trans fat is unhealthy. In September 2002, the IOM/NAS (Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences) issued a report, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. The report stated that trans fatty acids act like saturated fats in raising bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein-cholesterol or LDL-C). Trans fats are believed to add to the risk for heart disease. The IOM/NAS report recommended keeping the intake of trans fat as low as possible. Because some trans fat occurs naturally, this means consumers should avoid all foods with added trans fat.
American food manufacturers can no longer hide the trans fat in their food products. As of January 1, 2006, producers must provide transfat information on food labels. Samples of the new labels. In a recent newsletter, Dr Irene explained how to read the labels:
"To see if your favorite foods still have TFAs, [Trans Fatty Acids] look for a separate line under Total Fat in the nutrition facts label. Trans fat content must be expressed as grams per serving to the nearest 0.5-gram increment below 5 grams and to the nearest gram above 5 grams. If a serving contains less than 0.5 gram, the content, when declared, must be expressed as '0 g.'" Dr Irene's site.
My own solution for minimizing trans fats is to avoid eating things that come in fancy packages. I use no margarine or shortening, and eat no ready-made cakes, crackers, French fries, donuts or snack chips, all of which contain TFAs. My wife rarely bakes cakes, but when she does, she uses butter, preferring naturally saturated fat to trans fat. For spreads, we use olive oil or hummus / houmus.
Health food sections of supermarkets and health food stores usually stock nut spreads that contain no trans fat. But I rarely use these spreads. Why not? When I calculate my "calorie budget" for maintaining or losing weight, I am surprised by how little food I need. I am afraid so little food will leave me hungry. The task of deciding how to "spend my calorie budget" is easier if I exclude calorie-dense foods that are low in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and good fats.
To lose unwanted fat, we need to broaden our definition of "junk food". This broad definition of "junk food" includes foods that provide:
1. Lots of energy (calories) but few vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants
2. Added coloring and artificial flavors
3. Added salt/mono-sodium glutamate (MSG)
4. Added sugars and chemical substitutes for sugar
For health, we need to get lots of micro-nutrients, defined as vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. We just cannot afford to eat foods that provide mainly "empty calories" in the form of fat, carbohydrates and protein, but few micro-nutrients.
Instead of "junk food", I choose foods that have a low calorie density foods and are high in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and good fats. "Low calorie density" means high in fiber. Foods that qualify are: fresh and dried fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts and beans. (OK, so seeds and nuts are calorie dense. But they are so high in micro-nutrients that they qualify.) Instead of one bite of high calorie-dense food, such as a biscuit, I eat a piece of fruit. Instead of snack chips, I eat a slice of whole-grain pitta bread with hummus / houmus.
If you eat a lot of what I call "junk food" and decide to change, please consider the following strategy. Use psycho-cybernetics to reprogram your mind, replacing images of "junk foods" with "good food" substitutes. Aim to replace one type of "junk food" food per month. If necessary, give yourself a year to change your dietary habits. Be kind to yourself when you can. For example, if you love chocolate, try a cocoa drink made from sugar-free low-fat cocoa powder. Blend in dried fruit or use stevia to sweeten. Rapunzel Cocoa or
Hershey Dark Cocoa or
Hershey Unsweetened Cocoa.
- Nuts as Treats: Not everyone can eat nuts because of allergies. But if you can eat nuts, this is something you might try. Combine peanuts with almonds or other nuts. Why? Because peanuts are not really nuts. They are legumes like beans and peas. That means they are high in lysine, an amino acid that is low in real nuts like almonds. By contrast, peanuts are low in amino acids found in nuts, such as arginine. Combining peanuts and nuts allows us to get the complete range of essential amino acids needed to make body protein. If you plan to engage in more than an hour of intense training, like running or cycling at speed, add dried fruit such as raisins, figs, dates to get more carbohydrates. To clean your teeth afterward, chew some sugar-free gum. Be sure not to consume excess salt with the peanuts and nuts.
- Chewing Gum Update : Robert J. has commented on my suggestion to chew gum as a way to reduce appetite. He wrote:
"Regarding your newsletter's comments about chewing gum to control afternoon snacking, I would like to suggest chewing a gum called Recaldent, instead of ordinary sugar-free gum. Recaldent's purpose is to replace minerals lost from teeth. The bacteria that normally live in the mouth use sugars and other carbohydrates from food and produce waste products (acids), which deplete the tooth surface of calcium and phosphate. Recaldent is supposed to put the lost calcium and phosphate back in! ... Recaldent is patching up some cavities of mine that otherwise would require dental work, so I recommend it highly."
Robert quotes from the Recaldent website: "It's derived from casein (a protein found in cow's milk), which contains calcium and phosphate that binds to the tooth's enamel, thus remineralizing the surface."
Recaldent information from an Australian site.
While Recaldent was developed in Australia, it is licensed to manufacturers in several countries. In the USA, Trident supplies gum containing Recaldent with the label Trident White.
- If you cannot get chewing gum with Recaldent yet, look for a product that contains
xylitol, such as Wrigley's Extra. The outside of the packet may not say "Xylitol", but the wrapping on the individual sticks does carry the name. Xylitol is reputed to reduce plaque formation by preventing bacteria from sticking to the teeth. Gum disease is so widespread and so bad for health that the benefits of using these products outweigh the risks.
- Chewing Gum Tip #2: Dr Dan Peterson, a dentist who practices in Nebraska, tells us that chewing gum also improves digestion and memory. Dr Dan explains that chronic disease often enters the body through the mouth, so much so that oral hygiene is crucial in the combat against aging. Dr Dan's site is well worth an hour of your time. His advice could add years to your life.