Friday, May 18, 2012

List of Highest Omega-3 Sources Besides Fish

Way to Die Young #12: Avoid Omega-3's

A recent study revealed that diets high in omega 3 fatty acids make rats smarter while other diets high in sugars make them well, stupid.
Everyone knows fish (especially fatty fish) is abundant in omega 3s. But what if you aren’t a fan of fish? Here are a list of other paleo friendly foods high in omega 3’s. (Please note all foods in “full lists” may not be paleo friendly). The top sources from this list are flax seed and chia seed. Please see the links to find the amount of omega-3's in each food source.
Foods besides fish that are high in Omega-3’s: 
Seeds and Nuts





I hope this list helps you finds some new ways to incorporate Omega-3’s into your diet. Please note that the above sources are not significant sources of DHA or EPA (which many credit to the improvement in cognitive function). To learn more about the different classes of Omega-3's and food sources visit the DHA Omega 3 Institute, your brain will thank you.

6 “Health Foods” That Will Ruin Your Weight Loss Efforts

Way to die young #11: Binge on these health foods.

The first step many people take on their journey to weight lost is identifying healthy alternatives to the junk food they once enjoyed so much. And, many people get frustrated after a while because they claim they are eating healthy but, are still gaining weight. Grocery stores are full of foods that claim to “healthy” but, which ones really pass the test?

I realize there may be more healthy versions of the foods listed in some instances, especially “beef jerky” and “health drinks.” But, the majority of foods in these categories are really junk. And, don't worry, I will give you some healthy alternatives for each. Here are the top 6 fake health foods:

1. Granola

Granola has been around a long time. It made a big revival as a hippie health food in the 60’s and then came back again to become a health food staple in the 80’s and 90’s. It was highly touted as a healthy breakfast food and better alternative to cereal as it was “whole grain”. Many companies jumped on board and started adding flavors, sweeteners and other ingredients, like dried fruit. They also started making granola bars and marketed them as a healthy snack.

Doesn't this just look so healthy?
But once you look past the marketing B.S. you quickly realize that granola is more of a dessert, much like a sugary cereal, than a health way to start your day. Granola consists of the worst types of carbohydrates in the forms of simple starches and sugars. They then add more sugar in the form of honey, brown sugar, or dried fruit.

Here is a look at the nutrition profile of a typical granola:

Healthy alternative: If you absolutely have to get your granola fix reach for something like Grawnola. It is a raw alternative made without traditional grains offering a lot more nutrition with fewer carbs, more protein and vitamins & minerals. Check them out at You can also buy a case here:

1 CASE, Grawnola, Granola Bar, Sweet & Sour, 1.3 oz, 12 per case

2. Health Drinks

The health drink market is a multi-billion dollar industry. Even the dairy alternative industry has surpassed 1 billion dollars. The winning combination for health drinks is this:

Sugar+Flavored Water+Perceived Health Benefit=Profit. 

It doesn’t matter if it is an energy drink, a relaxation drink, a concentration drink, a recovery drink, or a hangover cure tonic. They all follow the same formula and rarely ever work as promised.

One of the most popular marketed health drinks of all time is Gatorade. Gatorade claims to help recovery and hydration for athletes. Sure, maybe it contains electrolytes and sugar. This does help the recovery process. But, then again, so does tap water and an apple. I understand the convenience of these beverages for athletes, but I guarantee 99% of the market for Gatorade aren’t actual athletes who need this instant replenishment. Since normal people see fit, healthy, athletes drinking Gatorade then naturally, if they drink it, they will be to. They are just drinking empty calories and somehow feel proud because it is not a soft-drink.

Coconut water is also a very tasty drink that is often labeled, “natures Gatorade” because of its high levels of potassium and electrolytes. While it is true that coconut water is natural and much healthier than Gatorade it doesn’t give you an excuse to make it your exclusive beverage. Just remember, in nature you would have to scale a tree and then hack away at a fresh young coconut just to get a cup full of the liquid. Imagine the calories you would expend!

Unless you look like him-you probably don't need gatorade.
The same goes for Vitamin-Water. People shouldn’t need a sugary beverage to obtain their vitamins. They should obtain the vitamins they need where they are found naturally, and best bio-available-in actual fresh food.

Energy drinks are on a class of their own, besides being laden with sugar they often cause other serious health problems. I won’t go to deep on this but just Google “Energy Drink Health” to find thousands of articles.

There are many other types of health drinks but always beware of the “health drink formula” and ask yourself if you couldn’t better obtain this health benefit by eating some actual food.

Healthy Alternative: Sugar-free tea and herbal infusions. Mountain Rose has an amazing selection of bulk herbal goods and teas. Davidson’s also makes a very good cranberry orange tea.

Davidson's Tea Bulk, Herbal Cranberry Orange, 16-Ounce Bag

3. Dried Fruit

One of my personal favorite weaknesses. It is hard to say fruit is unhealthy but, let me explain. The reason fresh fruit is so healthy is because its on average 85% water. When you extract the water from fruit it essentially becomes sugar and some fiber. Since its volume and weight is reduced you eat a lot more of it and end up consuming a lot more sugar. You still get the vitamins and minerals but, you are overdoing it! There is too much of a good thing, even vitamins and minerals. So, don’t let this be your defense.

Another problem is that most commercial dried fruits are prepared with added sugars, oils and preservatives to keep the fruit looking appealing and to help avoid it from getting all stuck together. The sugar is just a flavor bonus. Needless to say, this makes the dried fruit situation even worse.

Healthy Alternative: Fresh fruit. If you must have something dried, try dehydrating your own fruit and you can avoid all the added junk. This guy will show you how to build a solar dehydrator. I bought a commercial dehydrator off Amazon and use it for Beef Jerky, which I will discuss next.

Nesco/American Harvest FD-80 Square-Shaped Dehydrator

4. Beef Jerky

Beef jerky can be one of the best health snacks out there if done right. Unfortunately most commercial varieties of beef jerky are loaded with sugar, sodium and msg. Just look at the ingredient’s list for JackLinks Teriyaki Beef Stick:


One serving of this beef jerky has ⅓ of your daily recommended sodium intake. If the second ingredient to your favorite beef jerky is sugar-this should be a red flag.

Healthy Alternative: Make your own! It is incredibly easy, way cheaper and beats store bought any day, hands down. If you’re not that ambitious, there are a few healthy alternatives out there with low to no sugar and low sodium.

5. Agave Nectar and Other Alternative Sweeteners

Organic. Raw. Still not healthy.
It doesn’t matter what health benefits they try to push on you. One may have more minerals than another, one may have a lower glycemic index but, they are all just different forms of concentrated sugar. This include: coconut sap, coconut sugar, honey, brown sugar, white sugar, confectioners sugar, powdered sugar, maple syrup, maple crystals, and any other new sugar I haven’t seen. Please don’t be fooled. They all have the same nutritional value with a different flavor and label.

Healthy Alternative: This might sound weird but, I use cinnamon to sweeten things (like smoothies, fresh fruit, etc). I also use licorice root to sweeten tea. Don’t use artificial sweeteners, they only make your cravings for sugar worse. If you have to use sugar, just use it sparingly and pick the one with the flavor you like best!

6. Trail Mixes and Nuts

I don’t know where trail mixes got a reputation for being a health food but, they are far from it. Trail mixes are one of the mostly calorically dense foods in supermarkets, today. They are mostly fat and sugar. We all know this is a recipe for weight gain. The problem with trail mixes are that it very easy to eat over 1,000 calories in one sitting because the amount it takes to satisfy your appetite.

Nuts are very delicious and have many vitamins and minerals. I try to avoid eating nuts all time, but when I do, I do so sparingly. Also, please note that peanuts are not nuts and are a legume. I avoid peanuts at all costs because of harmful elements they contain. You can read more here about why peanuts and peanut butter is bad. I know this will be heartbreaking for some of you.

Healthy Alternative: Avocados, seeds (pepitas, or pumpkins seeds are really high in protein). I know someone who also makes a mix of nut butter with water and ground chia seeds. The chia seed water mush creates a gelatinous goo that lends itself well to the nut butter when mixed.

Are you eating any of these foods while trying to lose weight? Try eliminating them completely from your diet for 30-days and record your results. You will be pleasantly surprised. If you have any questions on any other foods you suspect to be “faux” health foods, please ask in the comments below!

Friday, January 13, 2012

6 Dirty Secrets You Never Knew about Protein Powders and Supplements

Mom--where is my Muscle Milk?!
Way to die young #9: Drink protein.

I will mostly be covering whey protein in this article. Whey protein is by far the most popular protein supplement in the industry. And, while I have plenty to say about soy protein, I can cover that in another article. So here it goes:

1. The majority of protein powder is just powdered milk
The most popular type of protein powder is whey protein. While the word “whey” probably makes many people think about “wheat”, it could be no farther from the truth. Whey protein powder is processed milk solids.Whey is one of the major protein sources found in cow’s milk. Manufacturers use a variety of methods to extract the whey but, in a nutshell, here is the process: The milk is pasteurized, the whey is seperated from casein (the other protein found in cow’s milk) and lactose, it is then purified, dried, and packaged.

Powdered milk is also produced in a similar manner. Powder milk, however, retains other elements of milk, such as natural occuring fats, lactose, vitamins, and minerals. Some might argue that these naturally occuring elements make powdered milk superior to whey concentrates.

2. They contain heavy metals
Arsenic, cadmium, and lead--to be exact.  It is well known that many packaged goods have a minimal tolerable limit for containing these types of toxic metals, and that is why I avoid those products. Heavy metals can lead to kidney problems, neurological disorders, and cancer. The worst part is that it takes your body 5 years on average to rid itself of these toxic elements. Remember arsenic? Yes, people use this to poison and kill other people and it is in your breakfast smoothie. 

Click here to see a full report of the heavy metal content in some of the most popular protein supplements:

3. They are the most expensive source of protein
Many people believe they are getting a good value from buying protein powder tubs but in reality, they are not. A typical protein tub contains nearly 30 servings of protein at 15 grams each. The cost usually averages to $35 for a name brand product. That is 450 grams of protein. That comes out to about $.08 per gram of protein. Now look at a natural food like chicken breast. I can usually find boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.99/lb. One lb of raw chicken breast contains roughly 104 grams of protein (note: I used raw because the weight changes drastically upon cooking. Cooked chicken actually has a highter protein percentage than raw chicken.) Using these figures, you can determine that chicken costs $.02 per gram. That means chicken is 4 times as cost effective as protein powder, and in my opinion tastes a hell of a lot better.

4. They aren’t real food
Like any other packaged food, no matter how many additives, enzymes and other “state-of-the-art” ingredients you add--packaged food will never out-perform real food. The bioavailabity of vitamins, minerals and other bio-active substances in real food works better in its natural form as opposed to created in some lab.There is a reason why calfs don’t drink whey protein shakes. It is because cows' milk has the biological advantage from thousands of years of evolution to provide superior development for the young cow’s development and to build strength. I don’t advocate humans drinking cow’s milk, but imagine if they extracted the protein from human breast milk and then tried to reassemble it in a powder form--oh wait, they do. This is why infants who are breast-fed are more developed than formula fed infants.

5. They contain aspartame and other harmful artificial sweeteners
Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners have been linked to numerous ailments over the years. Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it always is. If something taste sweet and doesn’t have calories, there will usually be consequences. 75% of all adverse food reactions reported to the FDA are linked to aspartame; reported reactions include dizziness, nausea, migraines and insomnia. The Mercola health newsletter cites studies linking Aspartame to severe conditions, including brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, mental retardation, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's disease, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia and diabetes. Some others even link artificial sweeteners to deteriation of the nervous system. 

6. They agitate your allergies
Whey concentrates contain lactose. If you are lactose intolerant, these powders will wreak havoc on your digestive system. Even if you are not, the lactose could still be irritating your seasonal allergies. Lactose is known to harm your microvilli and allow harmful substances (allergens) into your bloodstream. For a more in depth look at how dairy can exacerbate allergies read my article The Secret to Hack Seasonal Allergies.

If you are looking for a protein-rich diet, reach for real food. 
Many people complain that they don’t have the time to make real food, and like how convenient protein powders are. That is a ridiculous statement to make. How hard is it to throw a bunch of chicken breasts on some foil, and put it in the oven? You don’t even have to clean anything. Just wrap the chicken in the foil you cooked it in, put it in the fridge and toss it when you are done. I have cleaned a dried up protein shake cup. THAT takes time. Don’t sacrifice your health for saving time in your protein intake regimen. Real food always wins in both nutritional value and taste. Savour your food. Don’t chug it.