Now that I have your attention, let's talk about CrossFit Fire's next weight loss challenge.
In the past, we have hosted an in-house Better Body Challenge (BBC). Participants each paid $40 into a pot (to be split by the male and female winners) and had their success (or lack thereof) judged solely on before and after photos.
Believe it or not, the BBC was never as successful as we would have liked. Therefore, we tried shortening the contest length as well as increasing it. Neither option helped. We also created a forum where participants could keep a daily food log, share recipes, ask questions, and offer support and encouragement to one another. Monitoring food logs became a problem though due to there being 30 participants, but only 24 hours in my day. Jennie and I simply didn't have the resources needed to monitor every participant to that degree.
The good news is, we think we might have finally found a solution; Enter HealthyWage.
HealthyWage is an online company that organizes weight loss challenges. Their next challenge, The Matchup, pits team vs team in a weight loss showdown. The way it works is that teams of 5 sign-up online, with each person paying a $60 entry fee. From there, each person on your team will have an initial weigh-in at the Fort or another official weigh-in station. Your team then has 12 weeks to lose weight. There is one caveat: each member on your team is restricted to losing a maximum of 16.7% of their starting body weight. Anything above that amount will not be counted. They do this to prevent unhealthy weight loss and to keep 1 person from carrying the entire team.
At the end of the 12 weeks, the team with the highest average percentage of weight loss will take home $10,000. That's right, $10,000! The second place team wins $5,000 and the third place team wins $3,000.
What we like about this challenge is that you will be part of a 5 person team with a large monetary incentive to do well. This means that the 5 of you will be accountable to one another. Not only will you want to do well, but your 4 teammates will want you to do well. This will increase the daily accountability that Jennie and I were never able to sustain on our own.
Our private forums will also remain open. This will provide each team with a way to communicate with one another. We can even setup forum groups for each individual team.
If you are interested, find 4 other CrossForters and sign-up at HealthyWage.com. If you don't have 4 other people from the Fort, write your name on the list on the extra whiteboard at the Fort to let others know you are interested. Be sure not to wait though. The challenge starts Friday, August 26th!
Mmmm......gooey chocolate macaroons! Before you read any further, be warned that these are kind of addicting. (Ok, more than kind of) Reserve these for a special family gathering, or a paleo potluck event!
6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup agave nectar
1 T vanilla or almond extract
3-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 c chopped macadamia nuts (reserve some for topping if desired)
7 oz dark chocolate (ghirardelli 60% chips are yummy)
- In a mixing bowl beat egg whites and salt until stiff. To speed this process along, place your mixing bowl and hand mixer beaters in the freezer for 20 minutes to get them cold
- Gently fold in agave, vanilla, coconut and macadamia nuts. Add more coconut if mixture is too runny
- Drop batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet, one rounded tablespoonful at a time. For chewier consistency, flatten out the mixture instead of leaving it rounded
- Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned
- Allow to cool slightly, then place on wax paper.
- Melt chocolate and drizzle over the top of the macaroons, finishing with a sprinkle of additional macadamia nuts if desired
What's unhealthier, 2 small apples or a 12 oz can of Coca-Cola?
I think we all agree that the can of Coke is unhealthier.
If I were to ask you why drinking pop is unhealthy, you would probably mention something about high-fructose corn syrup. This leads me to my next question:
Which of these contains more fructose: 2 small apples or a 12 oz can of Coca-Cola?
2 Small Apples - 21.222g of Fructose
12 oz can of Coca-Cola - 22.449g of Fructose
As you can see, the amount of fructose is staggeringly close and if just one of those apples was even a little bit bigger, the apples would have surpassed the can of Coke in fructose content.
The point I'm trying to make is that we all see a can of pop and know that it is unhealthy because of it's fructose content. At the same time, we see a couple of apples and think we would be making a wise decision by eating them, never questioning their fructose content. At the end of the day though, total fructose consumption is what matters to your liver, regardless of where it came from.
It's like Uncle Ben always says...."With great power comes great responsibility..." It's almost as if Uncle Ben KNEW Peter was actually Spiderman. How did he know!?
Anyways, that's not the point. The point is that with amazing dessert recipes, there comes the responsibility of you Paleo peeps to eat them as a treat. A special treat. A once in a blue moon because you don't want to gain 12lbs treat. Bill hates when I "paleo-ify" bad food choices. (paleo pancakes, paleo muffins, paleo peanut butter cups, etc.) If it were up to Bill, he'd have you all eating meat, and eggs and drinking water. That's it. But that's not life. Sometimes life calls for something sweet to be shared with friends, and this recipe is amazingly good. (although not quite paleo because it contains legumes, aka peanut butter)
"But Jennie, why don't we just BUY peanut butter cups?"
Because normal peanut butter cups are full of crappy refined sugars, shitty oils, graham cracker crumbs(not joking) and not to mention, you can't call them "homemade".
10.5oz REALLY dark chocolate. I used 70% Lindt, but only because the 85% was gone.
1 cup all natural peanut butter, smooth
1 tsp vanilla
1T agave nectar
candy molds, or silicone mini muffin baking pan
Melt the chocolate and butter in your microwave on a low setting. My microwave actually HAS a function called "melt chocolate" if you can believe it. Fill your molds 1/2 way, and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a spoon, spoon the chocolate up the sides. I went over each mold twice just to be sure. Place in the freezer to harden. (about 15-20 minutes)
Mix together the peanut butter, vanilla and agave with a hand mixer until smooth. Spoon onto hardened chocolate, and cover with more melted chocolate. Place in freezer to harden. (Mine sat in there about an hour)
I added the butter to the chocolate to give it a little more "softness". Otherwise, as REALLY dark chocolate hardens, it has a tendency to be VERY hard. The butter gave it a little more smoothness, and helped the cups stay together better when you bit into them. These are best served cold, right out of the fridge. I also recommend having a cup of strong black coffee handy, as you'll need it to wash these down. My recipe made 24 candies....but only because I only had 24 molds. Possibly could have filled one more tray of candy molds, but mini muffin pans are bigger, so this would work out perfect.
I do NOT recommend trying to make this in metal muffin cups with papers inserted into them. They stick something terrible...but you'll eat the paper anyways just to get to the chocolate peanut buttery goodness. You've been warned.
It must be said and I have no problem saying it again. Fructose will destroy your liver. And now, fructose has been found to damage the liver of your unborn baby as well.
Fruit juice, apples linked to fetus harm
"It could be that consuming fructose during pregnancy didn't give the mother any particular indicators ... so women may be unaware that their diet could be compromising the development of their fetus."
The study's other major finding was that at birth, female babies were more vulnerable to impaired development from a sugar-rich diet.
The investigators observed that the females had lighter placentas, which supply nutrients to the fetus.
However, post-natally, the males also showed adverse changes, such as higher levels of hormones.
Don't think you are in the clear simply because you aren't pregnant. Consumption of fructose is similar to alcohol in the damage it does to everyone's liver. Yet everyone is in agreement that heavy drinking is unhealthy while most everyone continues to pound the fructose. Do yourself, your fetus, and your nursing child all a favor and stay as far away from fructose as possible. If I had to place an upper limit on fructose I would go with 20g per day. Remember, that is the UPPER limit and less will always be more in terms of a healthy liver.
At one time or another, we have all been told to eat low-glycemic foods. Do you know what the glycemic index is though? How about the difference between the glycemic index and the glycemic load? What if I told you it was all garbage? Interested now? Good, let's start at the beginning.
The glycemic index (GI) is a tool that measures the effect that 50g of carbohydrate from a given food will have on blood sugar levels. It was originally developed to assist diabetics in calculating the amount of insulin required when eating carbs, but has since become a staple of many mainstream diets and the extent of your doctor's dietary advice.
Here is a list of 5 foods and their respective GIs:
- Food - GI
- Glucose - 100
- Boiled Potatoes - 78
- Pumpkin - 64
- Snickers - 43
- Apple - 36
As you can see, 50g of pure glucose has a GI of 100. This is used as the baseline to which all other foods are compared. Before going any further, I should mention that there is a second version of the GI which uses white bread, instead of glucose, as the baseline, but we will ignore that for now. Therefore, 50g of carbohydrate from boiled potatoes will have 78% as much of an effect on your blood sugar levels as 50g of glucose would have. It also means that 50g of carbohydrate from a Snickers bar will raise your blood sugar less than half as much as glucose would and only two-thirds as much as pumpkin would.
I know, I know. This is one of the problems with the GI. It standardizes everything by using 50g of carbohydrate even if a typical serving is nowhere near 50g. Using cooked pumpkin and a Snickers bar as our examples, you would need 2.2 POUNDS (35.3 ounces) of pumpkin vs 2.8 ounces of a Snickers to have 50g of carbohydrate. I don't know about you, but when I eat pumpkin or other types of squash, it is never in the multiple pound range.
This problem was solved in the late 90s by the introduction of the glycemic load (GL). This new tool would not only account for the type of carb, but also the amount eaten. To do so, the GI of a given food is divided by 100 and then multiplied by the amount of net carbs in the serving being consumed. Remember, net carbs is equal to total carbs minus fiber. Let's look at an example once again using a Snickers bar and pumpkin.
A regular Snickers bar (2 ounce variety) has a GI of 43 and 34g of net carbs. This equates to a GL of 14.62.
A cup of mashed pumpkin, weighing in at a little over 8 ounces (half a pound), has a GI of 64 and 9g of net carbs. This equates to a GL of 5.76.
As you can see, the Snickers bar fairs much worse than pumpkin when using the GL. What this means is that a food may have more of an effect on blood sugar levels (GI), but if eaten in a smaller quantity, that rise in blood sugar will be minimized (GL).
The GL definitely improved on the GI, but it still has many flaws. Most importantly, the GI and GL only account for the effect that food will have on your blood sugar level. This means that fructose gets a free pass. Load something up with fructose instead of glucose and it will score very favorably. This is due to the fact that fructose goes directly to your liver for processing instead of entering the blood stream. A low GI or GL diet will not necessarily equate to a low fructose diet and this can be dangerous (Fructose 1, Fructose 2)
Another major problem is that the GI of foods were calculated by measuring blood sugar levels for only the first 2 hours after eating. Some foods will continue to increase blood sugar levels for an additional 1 or 2 hours past this point. It is a critical flaw that this was not taken into account.
A third problem stems from the fact that the GI of a food is averaged from samples. These samples typically have very large ranges and are easily impacted by outside factors. For one, how you prepare a food may change its glycemic impact. This is because the cooking process breaks most foods down, making them easier to digest. Easy digestion equates to faster digestion which in turn increases blood sugar levels more dramatically.
Food combining may also alter the GI of a food. When the GI of a food was originally calculated, it was eaten by itself. Combining fat or fiber with a food will slow digestion and possibly lower the GI.
Finally, each and every one of us are highly individualized. Our bodies do not all respond the same to a given food. What may cause a spike in blood sugar for one person may not cause as much of an increase in another and vice versa.
To sum everything up, the objective of the GI and GL is to minimize blood glucose levels and the resulting insulin response. A low carb diet has the same objective, but without the confusing charts and numbers. Not to mention, very few foods are actually on the GI list.
So what's the bottom line on the GI and GL?
If the picture wasn't clear enough, I think they are useless.
Let's all keep it simple and stick to eating real food, including veggies if you are so inclined, but minimizing carb intake while avoiding fructose as much as possible.
In 2007, researchers at the University of Bordeaux, France, reported that when rats were allowed to choose between a calorie-free sweetener and intravenous cocaine, 94 percent preferred the sugar substitute. The researchers concluded that "intense sweetness can surpass cocaine reward. . . . The supranormal stimulation of these receptors by sugar-rich diets, such as those now widely available in modern societies, would generate a supranormal reward signal in the brain, with the potential to override self-control mechanisms and thus to lead to addiction." Nicole Avena, an expert in behavioral neuroscience at the University of Florida in Gainesville, has spent many hours analyzing the behavior of rats enticed into sucking up sugar. She says that feeding on sugar can, like snorting coke, lead to bingeing, withdrawal, and craving. It does this by lighting up the same circuitry within the brain triggered by cocaine and amphetamines, the dopamine center.
March 2011 issue of Details magazine - "ARE CARBS MORE ADDICTIVE THAN COCAINE?"
I know it seems silly to think of carbs in the same light as illegal narcotics and alcohol, but this is no laughing matter. The effect that carbohydrates have on our hormonal processes makes them truly addictive and potentially lethal.