Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets – who’s an expert!?

I had tea with a friend yesterday and we talked about all kinds of things (as usual) but one thing that got stuck in my mind was the documentary “Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets”. It’s 40 minutes long, so if you don’t want to see it, let me just summarize it here:

Brittish Youtube-star Gracie

tries clean eating on for size. She wants to know if this is the lifestyle change we all need, or if it’s just another fad diet in disguise – a fad diet with potentially dangerous consequences.

“Clean eating” equals vegan or raw food in this documentary, we have a slightly different definition in Sweden but that doesn’t matter. The thing is that
never before have we been so concerned with the purity of our food. Lighting the way are a team of ‘glowing’ wellness bloggers. Gracie dives into the world of clean eating. She vlogs her attempts to change her diet and meets with dieticians, youtubers and those whose desire for health has become an unhealthy obsession. She investigates the claims many gurus swear by and questions whether we should be listening to them at all.

CONNECTION TO LOW CARB AND KETO GURUS!

If you read this blog (or my Swedish blog), it’s a pretty big chance that you follow a low carb/keto diet and read this blog and others to learn more about it. I do that too, I follow bloggers and Youtubers to educate myself on a lot of stuff, and that’s how we use the internet. We teach and inspire each other, but who’s an expert, really? Who qualifies to give professional advice, especially in the “fluffy” area of food, health and fitness?

BE YOUR OWN GURU

My opinion is and will always be that NO internet guru – regardless if it’s keto, paleo, vegan or rawfood will know more about YOU and YOUR body than you do. I try to push this on my blog and in my books, especially when I get questions like:

“I do X, but you tell me to do Y – am I doing it wrong?”

No you’re not. I never ever tell anyone that they NEED to do a certain thing, and I don’t like it when the Swedish magazines call me an expert in this and that. Why would I be the expert?

TO THINK AND ANALYZE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS BEING RIGHT! 

My strong suit and best quality is my ability to analyze things. I can break down any problem and solve it. 

I have never studied anything that has to do with food or health, I have never studied anything that has to do with fitness or training. I am not a dietitian, personal trainer, physiotherapist or nutritional adviser. I have a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering (and one in Biochemistry) and all my insights about food and health, stems from my own experiments and my knowledge of physics, biology and chemistry. I create my own hypotheses from known biochemical processes, and draw conclusions on how things (should) work. Then I try it out for myself.

It doesn’t mean that it’s the best way, and it doesn’t mean that it works for everyone.

BE INSPIRED – BUT THINK FOR YOURSELF!

Some Bloggers and Youtubers can be quite offensive and aggressive about their own stuff, and it’s easy to fall prey for it. I do that myself from time to time, I feel remorse about having a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate and think “Oh shit… I had coffee… I’m not keto enough!”… such bullshit, isn’t it? If this happens to you, just take a few deep breaths. Relax and step back. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does this seem sound?
  2. Do I truly believe this is the thing for me?
  3. Am I ready to whatever it takes?
  4. What’s my goal here?
  5. Does this fit with my idea of reality?

If it’s a YES to all these 5 points, then go for it! I believe that the most important thing is to believe in the stuff we do, to truly resonate with it.

What’s your view on all this? Are you also affected by all the internet gurus out there? 

New collab with Athletic Greens!

This post is a collaboration with Athletic Greens!
WH3
WH11I got super excited when Athletic Greens wanted to collaborate with me and let me test and review their superfood cocktail! I love green drinks and drink it every morning instead of coffee. Since (my guru) Tim Ferriss is an affiliate to Athletic Greens, I thought it must be pretty good! Usually I make my own smoothies from avocado, spinach, spirulina, chlorella and tumeric but I use ready mixtures from time to time as well. I do it because it tastes better, and to save time. My blender is also extremely noisy so I hate to wake people up at 5 am just to make a smoothie!

So I have tried a couple of green drinks and mixtures from other online stores, and unfortunately they are not very tasty. They generally taste and smell like grass, and I am aware that it’s really hard to make them taste good. Spirulina is pretty awful to say the least!However, Athletic Greens are actually pretty good. Not like a chocolate milkshake haha, but like… a pretty palatable green drink. It has a little bite to it, and it’s not disgusting. Pretty good grade huh!? Taste wise I will give it 3 out of 5 stars, but ingredients wise I will give it 5 out of 5 and that’s their strength!

The ingredients

ingredientsNo synthetic chemical, colors or flavors, no preservatives, sweeteners, GMO’s, herbicides, pesticides, wheat, dairy, gluten, corn, lactose, sucrose, dextrose, no eggs, yeast, peanuts and no animal products!

If you want to read more about it – CLICK HERE!

All product ads and collaborations with companies will be marked like this. Yellow blog posts are ads, and white blog posts are just my personal thoughts and opinions. I don’t have much collaborations right now, but when I do they will look like this!

Your brain on meditation!

DSC_0318b2

I love meditation and recommend everyone to not only try it but to make a daily habit out of it. My impression is that a lot of people would like to meditate, but are unsure of how to do it. Unsure of the “rules” and what to expect from it. First of all – don’t believe all the crazy stories about people levitating and having the most blissful or transformative experience in their life. It’s not like that. The essence of meditation is this: a calm mind. No more, no less. Secondly, you don’t need anything, not even rules. If you just sit (or lay down) in a quite room and breathe, that’s enough. You might want to try to focus on your breath or try to feel your body from withing, but it’s not mandatory.

Your brain on meditation

SVDThe cool thing with meditation is that you can actually (physically) change the structure of your brain! Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) it’s possible to see these differences. It’s also possible to detect differences in the emittance of brain waves.

(To the left) is me in one of the biggest daily newspapers in Sweden, showing the reporters my brain measuring devices! 😀

Parts of the brain being affected by meditation

  • Lateral prefrontal cortex (LPC)-The part of the brain that deals with logic and reason.
  • Medial prefrontalacortex (MPC) – “The me center”
  • Insula – “gut feeling” and empathy
  • Amygdala – The body’s alarm system, “fight-or-flight”. Amygdala + Insula is responsible for “uh-oh” feelings, and Amygdala + MPC give raise to anxiety and impulse based behavior.

Your brain off meditation

Among non-meditators it’s possible to observe a strong neural coupling between MPC and Amygdala. That is a connection between the “me center” and the alarm system. It means that whenever you experience anything physical, you feel the urge to react. If you experience hunger you will put something in your mouth, if you get nervous it quickly escalates into more nervousness (for example)

Your brain on meditation

Meditation weakens the connection between MPC and Amygdana, which makes you less reactive. When a physical sensation appears, it becomes second nature to observe rather than act.

If you suffer from anxiety, you will stop associate the physical symptoms of anxiety to something dangerous. I was suffering from severe anxiety for many years, and I remember the first time that I could just sit through a panic attack. It was a war inside of me, and I could accept it and observe it with a calm mind, until it passed. Everything that arises, passes away.

Amygdala decreases with meditation, and LPC gets an increase in neurons and actually grows bigger. That increases your skills in logic and reasoning.

My personal benefits of meditation

The most profound benefit for me is that I don’t take my own thoughts all that serious anymore. When I think a thought, or feel something – I acknowledge it, accept it, and I let it pass. I was acting on my impulses a lot more before, and nowadays I almost never do that!

I also experience better endurance with mundane work, I can sit for longer hours and just work until the work is completed.

Meditation is truly one of the coolest hacks, do you meditate?

The China Study – Should we all be vegetarians?

aww-shit-i-ate-me-desk-againI was asked to comment on the Vegan Bible (The China Study) and I would love to do that! Have you heard about it? It’s one of the most popular books about health and nutrition ever written, and it’s been sold in over 1 million copies!

The title of the book is the title of the largest nutrition study ever made, performed by professor Colin Campbell at Cornell University. The study compares different diets and their correlation to diseases on the Chinese countryside. In the beginning, Cornell was a convinced carnivore, but as the study progressed he started to question the health effects of eating meat. The book includes the results from Campbells own 50 year long science career, showing the detrimental effects of the standard western diet with a lot of meat and processed foods. The claim of the book is that this diet is the main cause of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and other chronic illnesses. The book therefor suggests a vegan or vegetarian diet.

My comments

I agree that processed and unnatural foods are unhealthy, and that a lot of people eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) would be far well off if they switched their SAD to a sustained vegetarian diet. A lot of veggies and few or no processed items are a good idea, but… Buuuuuut the thing is that Colin Campbell is not quite honest in his book! He made the same trick Ancel Keys did in his “Seven Country Study”. Cherry picking results that fit a certain hypothesis, instead of looking at all the results with an open mind.

The book is not based on causation, but on selective observational data!

For example; the book claims that the correlation between coronary heart disease and meat protein is +1, and for fish protein it’s -11. But he doesn’t mention the correlation between heart disease and wheat that is +67!the-china-study

Wheat is also correlating to cervix cancer with +54, hypertension with +47, stroke with +41 etc. This is not mentioned in the book, at all. 

If you think about it… the human body consists of animal protein, animal saturated fats (60%) and monounsaturated fats (40%) so it would make sense to eat stuff similar to this. What we put in our mouth is converted into building blocks in the body. We don’t have any trans fats in the body naturally, and we don’t have grains and cereals, and not much sugar. We have about 500g sugar (1.1lbs)

I don’t think there’s any problem at all eating meat, fish, eggs and poultry, but why overdo it? You don’t have to binge salami, cheese, bacon and processed ham! A lot of veggies and green stuff can easily be included in a keto diet, and I do prefer fish and seafood over meat (not that it matters)

We have different metabolism and different preferences for food, so I do believe some people truly benefit from a vegetarian diet if it’s well thought out. Natural foods are the best despite any specific diet 🙂

Have you read The China Study? 

Read more… 

Carbnites, re-feeds & going in and out of ketosis

carbnitesTime to discuss re-feeds, carbnites and going in and out of ketosis!

First I just want to say that when I started eating keto almost 7 years ago, no one was talking about re-feeds. No one knew what it was, but it doesn’t mean we never ate carbs. Of course we did (and do!)

It’s not every week or even every month, but when I feel like it. I had cake at my birthday party in December (regular one, not sugar free) and I had a Cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory when i visited US last September. No big deal. No re-feed.

Between these two events I haven’t had any carbs, and between now and December (6+ month) I’ve had a couple of kidney beans and a sugarfree (LCHF) cake.

 

Re-feeds/carbnites is not a trend. It’s several decades old and it’s called cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD for short). It was very popular among bodybuilders during the 60’s and 70’s, and I talk a lot about it in my latest book (sorry it’s in Swedish, English version isn’t available until next year!) Bodybuilders used CKD because it enabled them to lose fat during the weekdays and gain mass during the weekends. Even to this day a lot of big guys (Mr Olympia big) are still doing versions of the keto diet from time to time, because it’s so effective!

I’ve tried “carbnites”

I  experimented with carbnites or carb backloading or whatever you want to call it. I was keto during the week and carbed up every Saturday. It didn’t work that well for me, but it is better than TKD in my opinion. TKD = targeted ketogenic diet, and means that you are keto (or fasting) during the day and have strategic carbs around your training session. The reason for me not liking “carbnites” is that I don’t like going in and out of ketosis like that. My body likes being ketogenic, and if I break my ketosis with a lot of carbs I get heart palpitations, start sweating like crazy and go completely loco! It’s not comfortable and I don’t gain anything from it either.

But how does it work – can we just go in and out of ketosis when we feel like it? 

YES OF COURSE! THAT’S WHAT WE’RE MADE FOR! Our bodies are designed to be mostly in ketosis, and to be able to handle long periods without food. If we eat carbs, the body is equipped with both insulin and glycogen storage. Tada! We can switch between these two systems, and it’s not a problem.

What do you prefer? 

CKD and TKD doesn’t work for me but I have friends that love it and gain great results from it. I do think it’s inappropriate to do carbnites or re-feeds if you are having an eating disorder (love binging), if you are a sugar- or food addict or if you are severely overweight. Then the biochemical benefits of a re-feed won’t work. If you’re curious about re-feeds and want to give it a try, I would recommend (good) carbs like white rice, sweet potatos, pumpkin, nutbutter (cashew, almond) etc instead of McD, Dunkin Donuts and Ben & Jerry’s 😉

This is my opinions about re-feeds, but what do you think!?

Artificial sweeteners and its effect on weight loss

Aspartame, Sucralose and Acelulfame K are the most popular artificial sweeteners. They are calorie free and “diabetes safe”, as they leave the blood sugar unaffected. These sweeteners are included in many “sugar free” products including diet/health bars,”sugar free” chocolate, diet soda and so forth. They are often used together with sugar alcohols. A sugar alcohol contains both calories and carbohydrates. Examples of these are Sorbitol and Xylitol. They end with -ol. They lower the pH in your mouth and is therefor considered to be “good” for your teeth. That’s why you find them in sugar free chewing gums. Ethandiol and Erythritol are other examples used in pastries, such as sugar free cheesecake for example.

All products containing artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are labeled “Sugar Free”!

Sugar alcohols have a very volatile nature, which is why they don’t stay in the blood stream for very long. This is why they don’t affect the blood sugar as much as other sugars. If you’re counting carbs, cut the sugar alcohols by half. It means that 10g sugar alcohols equals 5g carbohydrates, approximately. Be careful if the number of carbohydrates are suspiciously low on the label. Look for other names such as “dietary fiber”. If you want to be ketogenic, count everything!

Insulin hormone

But how about Aspartame, Sucralose and Acesulfame K, aren’t they un-digestible?

Well… let me do some reversed engineering!

What’s in sweetened light products? The sweeteners, a bunch of chemicals and a couple of acids. Mostly phosphoric acid. The sweet taste is affecting the brain directly when the sweet taste receptors on the tongue are activated. Sweet taste is sweet even if it’s artificially produced. When the tongue detects the sweet taste, it signals to the body that more sweet stuff are on its way. Small amounts of insulin are then being released, even before the food reaches the stomach. If there’s no actual carbs, just a bunch of chemicals, we will experience a drop in blood sugar. It will eventually make us hungry or give us cravings for more sweet tasting things.

Artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame affects the serotonin levels in the brain, influencing our mood and behavior. It inhibits our sense of fullness, thus making us eat more than we need or want. This is especially true if we drink diet soda to a meal, compared to a glass of water.

The acids

Acids like phosphoric acid and citric acid are tampering with our metabolism via the citric acid cycle. Artificially produced citric acid doesn’t come from a citrus fruit, but grown from mold. Many people with allergies are experiencing a worsening of their allergy symptoms, when consuming products with artificial citric acid.

Conclusion 

How are you reacting to “sugar free” products with artificial sweeteners? Do you get cravings or does it trigger you to over-eat? If you experience increased hunger or cravings, it means that your body and brain reacts to the sweet taste. Personally I seem to tolerate diet coke pretty well, as I experience the taste as bitter rather than sweet. But I don’t drink it for the same reason I don’t drink random chemicals. Best thing is to avoid anything unnatural, especially unnaturally sweet, as it won’t promote a healthy behavior. As soon as I eat “sugar free” bars, low carb candy and stuff like that I turn into a monster craving more and more! One thing I CAN’T stand is Atkins and Questbars! They are forever banned in my home 🙂

Resources

Hard science 

Dark chocolate is not a health product, and here’s why!

healthy-or-not-chocolateLet’s face it, we all love chocolate and we love it for many reasons;

  • The combination of sugar and fat makes it very desirable from an evolutionary perspective, as we’re drawn to high caloric foods.
  • It raises the levels of serotonin (the happy hormone) as dark chocolate contains the amino acid tryptophan, which together with a couple of micronutrients (folate, B6, iron, B3, calcium etc) are its building blocks.
  • It raises the levels of GABA (the anti-anxiety hormone) as the polyphenols (type of antioxidants) in dark chocolate can increase the number of GABA-receptors.
  • It has a great health reputation which allows us to idulge without too much guilt.

Both chocolate and red wine are claimed to have a lot of health benefits, but that’s actually not true. Yes, they do contain polyphenols which is an antioxidant that counteracts aging, and is beneficial for heart health. But, let’s get real about it, is it really loads of nutrients in a chocolate bar?

No it’s not.

Let’s look at it!

Polyphenols
Entire list is here (link)

Look at the difference in content between number 1 and number 4 (cocoa powder) and bear in mind that the cocoa in your chocolate is processed. Raw cocoa might be a bit higher, but as long as you’re eating processed stuff the bioavailability is severely decreased.

tabloidIf you want to indulge in a source of polyphenols with high bioavailability I suggest organic blueberries. They are also a great source of flavonoids, another antioxidant said to be abundant in chocolate (beneficial for brain health)

I have noticed a sneaky trick from the tabloid press (at least here in Sweden) and it’s taking a popular habit (coffee, alcohol, sweets) and then find evidence that it’s actually quite healthy. I don’t know why but it apparently sells a lot of single copies of a magazine…

Swedish tabloid “lose weight with soups and
Chocolate, Elin lost 21.5kg”

 

Tryptophan, GABA and the joy of chocolate
During PMS we experience a dip in our serotonin levels, making us crave everything that could raise them back up again. It includes high caloric foods but especially anything rich in tryptophan and B-vitamins. Chocolate is highly desirable because of the combination calories + carbs + tryptophan. However, if we look solely for tryptophan, we would be better off with algae, fish, eggs and cheese.

tryptophan

Let me just make clear that the polyphenols and flavonoids are the main reason for the stated health benefits of dark chocolate, and as we can see it’s not that impressive. (List of flavonoids here)

Micronutrients; Mg, Cu, Fe, K, Z
Dark chocolate is also rumored to be full of micronutrients such as magnesium, copper, iron, potassium and zink. The truth is that dark leafy greens, nuts and fatty fish are the best sources of these minerals. There’s no reason in the world to consume chocolate if you can eat mackerel and kale.

Chocolate and weight loss

Does chocolate help weight loss? And can you trust nutrition science news in the media? My answers would be “probably not” and “certainly not”.

Check out this story on how all kinds of media were easily fooled by a recent fake study, eagerly reporting that eating chocolate speeds up weight loss (link)

fooled-millions
Even if you buy the finest chocolate you can find with nice fat profile and high cacao content, it’s still not the perfect health choice, because of the microtoxins in cacao, because of theobromine and because it’s a processed product containing refined sugars (even if it’s just a few percent)

Are you struggling with your weight loss? Do you suffer from strong cravings? Are you following a ketogenic diet (LCHF/HFLC) and can’t seem to reach homeostasis – quit the dark chocolate, alcohol and caffeine and I promise you it will make all the difference!

Please give me your thoughts on this topic, I’ll write a post about alcohol and caffeine as soon as possible ?You may agree with me or you may not, I don’t care about that as long as you think for yourself. Find what rings true for you and what works for you.

Unexpected benefits of quitting caffeine

Quitting coffee has been a natural step for me on my journey towards optimal health. I’ve been following the keto diet/LCHF since 2010 and try to make small improvements along the way. Drinking coffee/caffeinated beverages was my last ‘bad habit’ and also the most stubborn. I started my caffeine addiction as a 4 year old, so I’ve been on this drug quite a while!

This post is dedicated to the unexpected benefits of quitting caffeine, that I experience every time I go off it. I’ve been on and off for a year now, longest time off was around 6 months but this time I hope to stay off for good!

1. Increased motivation

Caffeine is a mild dopamine stimulating drug, it’s a common feature among stimulants. When you eliminate caffeine the first reaction will be less motivation because the brain is used to the dopamine boost. When the receptors are restored, your motivation will come from the activity you are performing and not the caffeine. It will be more real and endure for longer periods of time.

2. No energy dips
When I’m on caffeine, I’m a zombie before I have had at least one cup of coffee. I’m not doing any work until I’ve had this first cup. Without coffee there’s no before/after periods, nothing to obstruct my work flow or creativity. No burning need for something before I can get going. Energy is more constant and doesn’t need any boost during the day.

3. Better sleep!
Both in terms of deep sleep and REM-sleep. Some people claim they never dream, that’s not natural. We ‘should’ remember at least 3 separate dream cycles when we wake up, that indicates a healthy brain and endocrine system. I had a very high caffeine tolerance (> 1g/day) and I could have a cup of coffee and then fall asleep. That’s why I thought caffeine didn’t affect my sleep, but it did and it affect yours too!

4. Less stress
NO doctor ever ask a stressed/anxious patient about his or her caffeine habits, isn’t that weird? Caffeine will increase the stress in your life and your brain will tell you that it’s because this and that external factor. It’s not, it’s the caffeine.

5. Less hunger
Caffeine inhibits hunger and cravings WHILE you are ingesting it, but not afterwards. That leads to higher caloric intake in total, at least for me. I eat significantly less when I’m off caffeine, and my energy intake is more evenly distributed throughout the day. If I’m cutting (aka losing fat) it’s so much harder with coffee, strangely enough.

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Photo from last year when I got my hands on a “Venti Brewed” (700 mg caffeine!) 

Well this is my experience, I guess we’re all different and some people can enjoy a cup here and there. I can’t. If I have one cup, I want 10 more cups + some more stimulants, it exhaust my adrenals and is simply put; unhealthy. I know bulletproof coffee is very popular in the low carb community, it tastes good and it generates a more even flow of energy but it affect the adrenals and have negative impact on the blood sugar. If you really want to keto adapt, you will need to quit bulletproof coffee as well.

Decaf is NOT popular in Sweden. I’ve tried it and it’s awful, maybe Americans have better decaf coffee? In my opinion drinking decaf is like drinking beer and wine with no alcohol, pretty pointless and watery. Besides, decaf still contains up to 15 mg caffeine per cup, which would be enough to stimulate the craving for more stimulants. A worthy replacement if any is yerba matté (while you are tapering down. It contains a little caffeine, it has a strong taste but has no resemblance with coffee!)

Please share your experience on quitting caffeine, I truly want to know! ?

Old international interview – LowCarbCruise

This is cute! I was soooo nervous as you can probably tell, I wasn’t used to speaking English back then but I think I did pretty well 🙂 (Oh, and yes – the name of the blog was Highfatfitness before, I changed it but kept it for my instagram)

6+ years on Keto – My LCHF Journey

Time: ca 9 min

Content: My journey from being a vegetarian with severe IBS, inflammation, frequent colds and throat infections, anxiety etc to a full on keto enthusiast! Please comment, like and subscribe for more videos 🙂

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