Nutrition Experiment & Challenge
UPDATE: As I expected, some people are confused from this article. Keep in mind that the following information is simply an experiment. I’m not saying the following is the “holy grail” of nutrition or anything like that. As always, I encourage people to do what works best for them, whatever that means when it comes to nutrition. And, how will you know what works best for you unless you experiment with a few things from time to time? Please keep an open mind when you read this. If you want my main stance on nutrition, please check out Nutrition Triggers & Tips and Beautiful Badass Nutrition Principles.
I like to experiment with strength training methods and nutrition.
Some experiments are done out of sheer curiosity while others implemented to solve health issues. Some things I shared on my website (such as my experience with intermittent fasting), and others I haven’t.
I’ve been reading a great deal of information in regards to nutrition (specifically improving overall health and preventing disease), and I’ve recently made some changes to my dietary choices in the name of “experimentation”. Some changes have also been made based upon research regarding asthma, inflammation, and other health markers.
My best friend has asthma and she also suffers from horrible menstrual cramps each month that leave her doubled over in severe pain, and sometimes cause her to vomit. In an attempt to alleviate her asthma and woman-troubles, I’ve looked into natural treatments using nutrition, not medications. I’m all for natural remedies when it comes to curing/alleviating any type of illness, so we’re going to give these nutrition tweaks a try and track the results.
I’m going to follow the same nutrition strategies I found for helping people who suffer from asthma and menstrual cramps (which ended up being the same thing) as well to help hold her accountable. Please keep this in mind as you read this article! I can already see it now – people skimming the article quickly and then responding to what they disagree with without taking the entire article into consideration.
Let’s get into it.
Good-bye Grains (cereals, pasta, bread, rice, etc)
Now, I am not saying “grains are evil” and that no one can tolerate them. I’m simply experimenting with taking them out of my diet. The positive effects some people notice (mentioned towards the end of this article) from eliminating them are too many to list.
Eliminating grains isn’t really a challenge for me because I rarely eat grains, and when I do it’s usually in the form of pizza crust.
As mentioned above, my friend suffers from occasional asthma, and reports from many people who suffered from asthma claim that eliminating grains from their diet can help alleviate and/or cure these symptoms.
So far we’ve eliminated all grains for approximately a three week period. Even though are grain consumption was already very low (ate them once, no more than twice, per week) we’ve both noticed less bloating.
Remove Processed Carbs and Sugar (baked goods, ice cream, cookies, pretzels, crackers, etc)
I don’t eat processed carbs as it is, buy my main objective here is to remove sugar from my diet.
Again, this isn’t a big deal because I don’t consume packaged/processed foods with any discernible frequency. However, I do love ice cream! I usually ate ice cream at least once per week, but I haven’t had any in three weeks now (gasp!).
Ice cream was by far the main contributor in my diet of excess sugar. I thought I would really miss it, but actually haven’t had a single craving. To appease my sweet tooth I’ve found some great substitutions such as my banana ice cream topped with crumbled 86% cocoa dark chocolate.
I’ve also made some other amazing, all natural desserts, which I’ll share in the near future.
Processed carbohydrates and sugar are culprits of inflammation, which can lead to chronic systemic inflammation, which overtime can lead to various illnesses and diseases. (More information about this in the Recommended Reading at the end of this article).
Cook with Coconut Oil, Butter, and other Saturated Fats
For the past couple of years I have cooked all of my veggies in coconut oil, but I’ve also started to use grass-fed butter. (Butter made from grass-fed cows has higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and CLA than butter from factory farmed cows).
From an article by John Meadows, “The more saturated a fat is, the less likely it is to go rancid when used in cooking. Rancidity means that the fat is breaking down chemically due to oxidation and ingesting these fats is the reason we see increased rates of heart disease and atherosclerosis. To avoid eating rancid fats, you should cook with oils higher in saturated fat.”
This may cause many people to gasp in horror because of the mainstream information damning saturated fats. However, there is a lot of research showing natural saturated fats are not the culprits of heart disease. (I’ll provide additional reading at the end of this article).
Grass-fed butter. It’s delicious, and good for you. I buy Kerrygold at my local grocery story (it’s in the deli section)
Eat only Local, Pasture Raised Eggs
I made this change a while ago when I discovered these in my area (through the use of EatWild.com), and I’m not going back to store-bought eggs. Ever.
Prior to eating local eggs, I purchased Organic free-range eggs at the grocery store. While those were a step up from the cheap 99 cent variety, there is a huge taste and visual difference when compared to the local eggs. The yolks are brighter with an orange-ish color, and they have significantly more flavor.
Research also suggests that pasture raised eggs have higher levels of omega-3 than even Organic eggs. And as another huge perk – the local eggs are cheaper! Win-win.
Bye-bye Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Trans & Partially Hydrogenated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats such as canola oil, margarine, corn, safflower, soybean and other vegetables oils have been touted as heart-healthy and “good for you” for many years. However, these oils easily oxidize and go rancid, especially when heated during cooking. They also have very poor omega-6:omega-3 ratios.
Oxidized polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs, have pro-inflammatory effects in the body. Having chronic, systemic inflammation can lead to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions.
If you sauté and cook your veggies and other foods in PUFAs, I highly suggest using coconut oil or grass-fed butter, as mentioned earlier.
Hopefully it goes without saying that you should absolutely avoid trans and partially hydrogenated fats, too; these are even worse than PUFAs. Did you know an estimated 40% of products in grocery stores contain trans or partially hydrogenated fats?
Be sure to look at the label of everything you purchase, and if you see trans fat, partially hydrogenated, or hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list, put it back, and step away.
Most people know trans fats are in items like baked goods, but they are also very common in flavored coffee creamers. Look at the label of your favorite coffee cream, and if you see any of those on the label, I highly suggest you stop using it. Opt instead for some half and half or heavy whipping cream. I also recommend coconut milk.
Here are some great suggestions from fellow Beautiful Badasses when it comes to jazzing up your coffee:
- Coconut milk (the full fat version that usually comes in a can; this is one of my new favorites)
- Coconut oil
- Half & half or heavy whipping cream (I recommend grass-fed varieties) and Stevia for sweetening
- Cinnamon (put either in the grounds before brewing and/or into the coffee; please purchase high quality cinnamon – not the $0.50 variety)
- Vanilla extract
- Stevia, for sweetener
- Unsweetened cocoa powder with Stevia (to make a mocha-type coffee)
- High quality flavored coffee
- Flavored protein powder (I’ve used chocolate protein powder and mixed it with cold black coffee – tastes just like a mocha)
Undoubtedly many people will say eliminating something like flavored coffee creams because they contain a small amount of trans fat is an overreaction. However, if you consume several tablespoons of that stuff every day, it adds up quickly over the course of a week, and months. That’s a lot of trans fat, and it can have terrible effects on your body.
Increase Veggie Intake
I absolutely love sweet potatoes. One of my favorite side dishes to a grass-fed steak is a roasted sweet potato topped with a little grass-fed butter and a healthy sprinkling of Saigon cinnamon.
However, I need to up my intake of cruciferous (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc) and other types of vegetables.
What’s a super easy and delicious way to accomplish this goal? Steam or roast your vegetables of choice and top with a pad of grass-fed butter, salt, and pepper. This makes a huge difference in palatability.
Another favorite tip: use spaghetti squash instead of recipes that call for pasta (which I’m doing since I’ve eliminated grains). It’s a great way to enjoy your favorite pasta dishes and sneak in a few extra serving of vegetables.
One of my new favorite meals includes a roasted spaghetti squash (tastes far better than microwaving), a jar of all natural, sugar-free spaghetti sauce, and some ground grass-fed beef or bison. Simple, quick, and dang tasty.
Eat More Fish (preferably domestic, wild-caught)
I’m a huge proponent of supplementing with a high quality fish oil (you get what you pay for!), but I’ve also made it a priority to eat more cold water, fatty fish that is domestic, wild-caught.
Right now my favorites include wild caught salmon (smoked is delicious as well, and a super quick meal) and smoked herring. I was eating sardines that I drenched in hot sauce for quite a while, but then I gave smoked herring a try (the kind that comes in a can). The herring tastes way better, and I don’t need to drown it in hot sauce.
I eat this at least twice per week. Delicious.
I don’t purchase a lot of fresh fish, simply because it’s hard to come by in Kentucky, so I generally eat smoked salmon and herring to get my omega-3 fix.
When you purchase fish, make sure it’s wild caught (preferably domestic), and try to stick to the smaller varieties (mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring, salmon) as they have lower levels of toxins compared to larger varieties such as sword fish.
Other Random Tid-Bits
Here is some additional random information on how I’ll eat in accordance with the previous changes.
- I’ll continue to eat when I’m hungry and stop when satisfied.
- On occasion I’ll employ a 24 hour-ish fat, a la Eat Stop Eat, whenever I feel the desire or I plan on having a busy day. This could be once a week or once every couple of weeks.
- I strongly agree with John Meadows’ statement that “the best food comes from animals that have been fed their natural diet” and “you are what you eat has eaten!” I will purchase all meat products locally when possible, but will only consume pasture raised, grass-fed beef and butter and local eggs.
- Supplement wisely. The two supplements I would label as a necessity are a high quality fish oil and Vitamin D. There is too much research to back these up that I take them every day.
Why did I share all of this with you? Well, mostly because people ask me to reveal my nutrition strategies, but I also encourage you to try out some of the tips for yourself (especially using coconut oil for your cooking, eating pasture raised, grass-fed meats, purchasing only pasture raised, free-range eggs, and increasing your vegetable intake).
In addition, I’ll be sure to update you on the results from these experiments and how the changes affect my friend’s asthma and menstrual cramps (I think a lot of women who suffer from the same thing will be very interested in the outcome).
Are You Game for a 30 Day Challenge?
I don’t usually recommend that people eliminate entire food groups, unless they have a know allergy to them or just feel lousy when they consume them. However, from what I have found in researcher and via the comments of others, many people experience positive effects when they remove grains from their diet such as: greater energy, better gut health and digestion, improved blood profiles, improvement or complete disappear of seasonal allergies and/or asthma, improved body composition, reduced bloating, reduced sugar cravings, disappearance of arthritis/joint pain, reduction in acne, and other improvements.
If you’re up for a challenge that could provide some great benefits, I suggest you employ the following changes for one month:
- Eliminate grains (pasta, breads, cereals, etc)
- Cook your veggies/meat in coconut oil or grass-fed butter
- Stop using PUFAs (using high quality virgin olive oil as a salad dressing is fine)
- Completely eliminate all partial hydrogenated and trans fats
- Take a high quality fish oil supplement and increase your intake of wild caught fish
- Eat only high quality, pasture raised meat and eggs
Just give those a try for an entire month, and make note of how you feel, look (less bloating?), digestion, energy, aches and pains, and any other factors.
If you take the challenge, please be sure to share the results!
Recommended Reading & Resources
Be sure to check out Nutrition Experiment Update for the results thus far!