Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Coconuts: A Peculiar Fruit

Well there I go again, taking another couple week hiatus from typing my articles.  I'm sorry folks, summer is just a busy time for me.  I just got back from the trip of a lifetime to Kauai, Hawaii.  That's right, for 8 days I was immersed in the warm Pacific ocean, the constant cool Hawaiian winds, and more sunshine than my skin knew what to do with.  And there were fruits everywhere!!!  Trees with papayas, mangos, bananas, and of course, coconuts.  I'll let you in on a little secret:  Coconut is probably my favorite fruit of all time.  Something about the taste of it is just so incredible, and so heartily satisfying.  Getting some fresh coconut meat in Hawaii was a dream come true.  But the coconut isn't like your average fruit.  It's nutritional properties are quite unique, and while its still an extremely healthy food, its healthy in a different way than most other fruits.  In fact, the coconut is composed mostly of a substance you wouldn't think sounds very fruity: 


That's right, coconuts are composed of mostly fat. And not just any old fat, but that super scary crazy spine tingling SATURATED FAT!!!  OMG!!!  Crazy right?  Now stop freaking out for a second and let me explain something.  This saturated fat is very, very, VERY good for you.  I've said a million times and I'll say it again:  fat doesn't make you fat.  The fat in coconuts not only gives the fruit an amazing taste, but it also does many positive things for your body.  The saturated fats in coconuts (or specifically the oil in coconuts) isn't a long chain fatty acid like we find so often in products made with hydrogenated oils, but instead are medium chain fatty acids which behave quite differently.  These fatty acids have been shown to have anti-oxidant properties, as well as the ability to speed up your metabolism.  That's right, eat fat to burn fat, sounds great doesn't it?

Now you may be remembering all those times you've heard that saturated fat will destroy your heart, clog up your veins, and in general destroy your circulatory system.  I'll say this right now:  there is no proof that the saturated fats in coconuts will cause any harm on bad cholesterol levels or overall heart health, and in fact there is much evidence to suggest the contrary.  Trans fats from hydrogenated oils are the real killers out there, not the natural saturated fats in coconuts.  In fact, by consuming the fats in coconuts, you're actually encouraging your body to use fat as an energy source, which may help you shed a few pounds.  And to all who are still in the dark about the powers of fat, it's an EXCELLENT energy source.  It's actually better than any carbohydrate, because it has more energy per unit of mass.  Cool, right?

But coconuts don't just stop at the fat benefits.  They're also rich with vitamins C, B1, B2, and B3.  This convenient vitamin package will help boost immune system health and support a fast burning metabolism which will keep you energized, strong, and of course, lean.  Coconuts are actually quite low in sugar compared to most fruits as well, which is a welcome change from the normal enormous insulin spike you get when eating apples, grapes, or bananas.  In terms of overall calories, coconuts are actually a very calorie dense food, and I bet you can guess why:  the fat of course!  This means they're an AWESOME energy source, but make sure you plan your daily diet accordingly, because a coconut could bump you over your daily caloric goals quite easily.  Here's the nutritional information for a coconut:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup of shredded
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 241
Calories 283
% Daily Values*
Total Fat 26.79g41%
 Saturated Fat 23.758g119%
 Polyunsaturated Fat 0.293g 
 Monounsaturated Fat 1.14g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 16mg1%
Potassium 285mg 
Total Carbohydrate 12.18g4%
 Dietary Fiber 7.2g29%
 Sugars 4.98g 
Protein 2.66g 
Vitamin A 0%Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 1%Iron 11%
That's a bunch of calories, eh?  But don't be afraid, believe me it's worth it to fit coconut into your diet.  It's extremely good for you and tastes absolutely delicious.  It's definitely one of the most interesting fruits out there, and will always be one of my favorites.  But remember though, if you ever travel to Hawaii, or another place where coconuts grow rampant, that more people are killed each year by a coconut to the head than are killed by sharks.

And with that, I say, GOOD LUCK!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Eating, The Manly Way

Let's face it.  Eating "healthy" sure doesn't sound manly.  It sounds like you're some pansy who's trying to watch their figure and stay trim.  Seriously, who wants to be all meek, skinny, and worst of all, weak?  Now there's nothing wrong with trying to lose a few pounds, but it just so happens that you're a man, and men should eat big, meaty, chunky meals that fill their belly and build big, strong, manly muscles.  How else are you going to move that massive weight?  The good news is that you can eat that masculine food you love, and still be lean, ripped, and BEASTLY.  

Oh, and to any women readers, there's no sexist nature intended in this article, it's all in good fun.  You can enjoy this food too, and get the exact same benefits, I promise.

So let's go over a list of the manliest, most heftily nutrient packed muscle building man foods we can find, and see if we can't figure out how to fill that plate with something big and meaty (and then maybe slip a few of those meager little veggies on the side...as if they'll even fit...HAR HAR.)

Beef:  Steak, ribs, burgers, veil, ground up, I don't care.  Beef is delicious, protein packed, and filled with so many nutrients that I won't be able to list them all here.  It's packed with B-12 and B-6, two vitamins that will aid in maintaining healthy metabolism and high energy levels, as well as assisting in central nervous system health.  We've already mentioned the protein, you'll get a LOT of it in every delicious, perfectly juicy bite.  Worried about the fat content?  Of course you're not!  And you shouldn't be, as every bit of fat in that beef is beneficial in some way.  Most of the fat is monounsaturated fat, the same stuff in olive oil!  The saturated fat is actually an EXCELLENT energy source, and may actually aid in losing weight, as it encourages your body to use fat as fuel instead of sugary carbs.  And contrary to popular belief, the saturated fat in beef isn't related to rising levels of bad cholesterol.  Pile a big fat steak on your plate and dig in, beef will make you BEEFY.

Whole milk:  That's right, we don't need none of that frilly "fat free" stuff, we want the whole, creamy, yummy, thick and refreshing kind of milk, the way nature intended it.  Every cup of whole milk is packed with 8 grams of protein from various sources including both whey and casein, and the natural sugars are great post workout to help those growing muscles suck up all those nutrients quick.  Mix in some whey protein and you've got yourself some of the most delicious drinkable stuff on earth.  And the fat?  It's the same deal here.  Saturated fat gets a bad rap, but when it's in its natural form it is actually quite healthy.  It will benefit blood lipid levels and is an AWESOME source of energy.  Pour a glass and be proud of that milk mustache.

Bacon:  OK....seriously...WHO DOESN'T LOVE BACON?  Thought you had to avoid it on a healthy diet???  WRONG-OH!!!!  Bacon is no less healthy than many cuts of chicken, turkey, beef, or any other meat you can think of off hand.  Sure it has some fat in it, but that fat, once again, is a great LOW CARB energy source that will both satiate you quickly and actually elevate your mood.  That's right, dietary fat makes you happy.  Before you complain that it can't be part of a clean diet, realize that there are thousands of people who've lost untold amounts of body fat while eating bacon almost every day.  Don't believe me?  Just do some online searching.  Bacon, like beef, is also packed with B vitamins, and DEM DER PROTEEEEEIIINNSSS.  I can hear those heavenly strips sizzling now, mmmmm.  Breakfast of the gods.

Eggs:  Fry 'em, scramble 'em, poach 'em, boil 'em, and PIG OUT.  Egg protein is one of the greatest sources of protein in the entire world, with a bio-availability in the high 90%'s when cooked.  That means your body can use almost all of the protein available in eggs with the upmost efficiency to build strong, lean muscle.  BUT, as manly as it may look, drinking raw eggs is a bad idea.  When left uncooked, egg protein only has a bio-availability of about 50%, so much of that protein is wasted in your body.  Plus, nobody wants salmonella.  You won't look too manly puking your guts out all night, right?  But seriously, eat those eggs.  Oh, and dietary cholesterol hasn't been proven to have nearly ANY effect on blood cholesterol, so don't worry about that either.  Sound good?  Great.

Sausage:  Awww yeah, brautwerst anyone?  Sausage comes in all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of fillings.  Sure, it's not the highest quality meat you can buy, but it's a great source of protein and has a lot of healthy fats in it as well.  Want something lean?  Go for the chicken or turkey sausage.  Want the tastiest thing this side of Neptune?  Get some biggun's packed with pork and beef, and pile them next to that big morning omelette.  I recommend eating sausage in moderation, but you definitely don't have to cut it out of your diet.  Just watch the sodium, as it can pile up quickly in certain kinds.  Also, look at the ingredients, and make sure as much of the stuff inside is stuff you can pronounce, preferably meat without additives.

Peanut Butter:  I eat this stuff by the spoonful.  Packed with healthy fats and Omega-6 fatty acids, peanut butter is the bomb.  It's an incredible source of healthy calories, especially when you get the natural, or "natty" stuff.  Natty PB brah...all the way.  In fact, the best peanut butter out there has the fewest ingredients.  While the general rule of thumb is to make sure there is NO trans fat in the peanut butter, you also generally want to avoid the stuff with "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils."  Those oils are used to make sure the peanut oil doesn't separate out of the butter itself, which is a pretty useless task unless someone is unbelievable lazy.  A little stirring might help those forearms develop anyway.  Brands I like are Teddie natural chunky, Smucker's natural, Jif Natural, Naturally More, and Power Butter.  Go ahead and have a couple tablespoons, and watch those muscles EXPLODE.

Spinach:  OK, you may be looking at me funny.  But hey, if it made Popeye a monster, it could do the same to you.  It's an aquired taste, but the aggressive flavor almost makes it manlier, right?  Try some light sauces or spices on it to make it more palletable, like mustard, salsa, cayenne pepper, curry powder, whatever floats your boat.  It's packed with vitamins and minerals, and will help you lose extra  body fat covering those shredded guns of yours.  Have a couple of forkfuls a day, and release your inner Popeye.

There you go you beastly dude you, eat up and get big, shredded, ripped, and NOTICED.  Enjoy your meat, your steak, your peanut butter, and those huge, giant, bacon filled omelettes.  Compliment any of these manly dishes with a side of veggies and you're in business.  You can eat healthy and retain your manhood, it's easy!  Now go eat some food, lift some weight, and growl at all the little meager folks cowering away from you.  You're a beast, and noone gets in your way.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Eat Fat Get Thin

OK, just a warning, I'm about to blow your mind.  That's right.  You will soon be so astounded that you may have to rethink all you thought you knew about dieting, losing weight, and gaining muscle.  Also, what I'll say kind of goes against some advice I've been giving (but not really) so far.  Are you ready?  Are you sure?  You say yes...but I'm still thinking you're going to be pretty surprised.

Remember when people told you to eat only lean meats?  How about when your mother and father told you at the dinner table to cut off all that fat on the side of the steak?  That globby white stuff that was so delicious, yet everything you ever read said that it would kill you?  Destroy your heart?  Clog your veins?  REMEMBER THAT??

Well I'm here to tell you that...surprise surprise..............THEY'RE WRONG!!!!!!  THAT STUFF IS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU!  Imagine with me for a second.  Your distant ancestors, the cavemen of ancient times, survived on meat, and lots of it.  There was no sort of "dieting" going on back then.  If you were a vegetarian, you died.  If you refused to eat meat because it wasn't "lean" enough, you died.  You ate when there was food.  That's that.  Now cavemen didn't live very long, I'll give you that, heck their lifespan was only about half of what ours is now, at best.  But evidence shows that's not because of their diet, its more because of, well, predators, disease, and other misfortunes either brought on by nature or...stupidity.  In fact their diets were pretty darn good for what they needed to do, which was a LOT in one day.  Run, hunt, swim, climb, jump, run some more, all on nothing but raw foods and meats.  Not so bad, eh?

And when it comes down to it, the men of ancient days ate a LOT of saturated animal fat.  Did it cause them heart attacks and clogged veins?  Nope.  Saturated animal fat is a remarkably powerful source of energy, and kept them running hard all day.  And despite people thinking it'll clog your system and kill you in a few years, they're completely wrong.  It's a complete MYTH that saturated animal fat destroys your heart and circulatory system, as is summed up conveniently in this quote:

"A hundred years ago, fewer than than one in one hundred Americans were obese, and coronary heart disease was unknown."

One hundred years ago, people WEREN'T cutting the fat off their meat.  Foods were more natural, more pure, more RAW.  cholesterol levels were low, plaque in the veins didn't stick, and hearts beat more strongly.  It's simple, yet baffling at the same time.  But remember this:  People with the highest amount of saturated fat in their diet actually have the lowest risk of heart disease.  CRAZZYYY...RIGHT?

So why is saturated animal fat actually good for you?  Well instead of getting deeply into everything, I'll just list a few immediate benefits.  Saturated animal fat has been PROVEN to promote a healthy circulatory system, support immune system strength, allows for skin to remain healthy and vibrant, is an EXCELLENT energy source, and also.....here's the kicker...PROMOTES WEIGHT LOSS.

So if this stuff is so great, why are we so afraid of it?  Well in the 90's, there was a big movement called the "fat scare."  Just because the word fat means both a state of unfortunate bodily situation AND is a piece of food composition, food companies linked them up and began marketing "low fat" foods to get more customers.  They took fat out, sure, but guess what they put in instead.  Highly refined carbohydrates such as starches and sugars.  THOSE are what made America fat.  Yes, that's right, carbs make people fat, not fat itself.  Now remember I'm not against carbs, not by a long shot.  But if you're going to eat carbs, make sure they're quality, complex carbs.  Whole wheats and grains, as unrefined as possible.  Ya feel me?

Now time for the disclaimer.  Notice how the main subject of this article is saturated ANIMAL fat, not just saturated fats in general.  When it comes to sat fats, they are not all created equal.  Processed, man made fats do not have the same kind of benefit as the pure saturated fats from animal meat.  In fact, many processed fats WILL raise your bad cholesterol and CAN lead to heart problems.  Avoid trans fat and other processed foods rich in saturated fat, as they will do you no good.

So how would I suggest you change your diet?  Well, first of all, don't go crazy.  Don't worry about eating some of the fat on that dinner meat, as it will only do you good when kept within calorie limitations.  Now remember that fat is a great energy source for a reason, which is that it contains the most caloric content per unit of mass.  What does this mean?  That means that if you have 6 oz of super lean chicken, and 6 oz of fatty beef, the fatty beef will have more calories and less protein, as some of the mass is taken up by fat instead of muscle.  Make sense?  This means that if you're looking for the largest protein content, lean meats are still the way to go.  Does this mean that you should be afraid of the fatty meat?  I think we've already covered this........no you shouldn't.  It all just depends on what you want.

So there.  Your mind is blown.  Now go eat some fat.



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Barney Butter (Crunchy Almond) *Review*

The Food Guru here with another review of one of my favorite products of all time.  Surprise surprise, it's ANOTHER nut butter!  I'll tell you what, I'm completely addicted to this stuff, whether it be peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, pistachio butter, or all of the above mixed into one.  Heck, when I get the chance I usually whip up my own batch of homemade nut butter, a mixture of almonds, peanuts, and cashews.  Nuts butters are EXTREMELY good for you, especially in their natural form, and on my weight gaining journey I've been consuming a LOT of them.

Today's product is called Barney Butter, and specifically it's the crunchy almond butter variety.  I will say one thing first and foremost.  THIS STUFF IS FREAKING TASTY!  Seriously, be careful about sticking your finger in and having a little morsel, because more than likely you won't be able to stop.  I have to FORCE myself to put the lid back on sometimes, belittling myself with mental phrases like "OK Seth, come on now, what happened to all your self control?  You've had enough.  Stop eating it.  STOP."  And yet, for some reason it's like this stuff STILL jumps out the jar and into my mouth.  It is good, oh so good.

Health Factor:  As I've already mentioned, natural nut butters in general are VERY good for you.  That's because they contain a lot of healthy, unsaturated fats that help to maintain good cholesterol levels, slow digestion, and can actually be used as a good fuel source by your body on ketogenic diets.  Almonds themselves contain a lot of Omega-6 fatty acids, which when balanced properly with Omega-3 fatty acids (found in tuna, salmon, shrimp and all sorts of other fish and shellfish), can ensure your body stays in top form and is resistant to excessive inflammation.

Almonds themselves are also packed with antioxidants, which help to neutralize free radicals in your body and prevent disease.  They're also loaded with vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium.

Finally, almonds may actually help you to lose weight, despite being a high calorie, high fat food.  There have been all sorts of studies done on the consumption of raw nuts, including many tests on human subjects regarding diet and weight gain.  People who eat nuts at least twice a week were drastically less likely to gain unwanted fat when keeping their diet in check.  So what are you waiting for?  Have some almond butter, and don't you dare feel guilty.

Nutritional information:  

Here's the label from the back of the jar, which is probably easier to read than me just spewing off all the nutritional facts in the article. More efficient too, I'd say:

As you can see, this almond butter has similar caloric content to peanut butter, however much less saturated fat.  The ingredient list is short and sweet, and free of things like HFCS and hydrogenated oil.  It also has a relatively low sodium count, and low sugar as well.

But my friends, where I have to go off on this butter is the taste.  It is truly remarkable, and is without a doubt the best nut butter I've ever eaten to date.  You put a spoonful in your mouth, and it's like you took a little trip to heaven.  If the spoonful is big enough, you may close your eyes in ecstasy.  It's sweet, salty, and crunchy, and has such a beautifully strong taste that your whole mouth is enveloped in it.  Besides the perfectly sized chunks of almond, the butter is super creamy, and makes it awesomely hard to chew it.  It's like the perfect blend, and I'm not exaggerating.

Guys, this stuff is gold in a jar, NOT KIDDING.

So what are you waiting for?  Pick up some Barney Butter ASAP.  It's healthy, natural, and RIDICULOUSLY delicious.  It's a great break from peanut butter too, if you've gotten stuck in that rut.  It can fit into pretty much any diet too, whether it be weight loss, maintenance, keto, paleo, or mass gain.  Get some NOW, because these guys got it right.

......Barney Butter rules.  Good luck!