Archive for April, 2011

Review: Spirulina & Chlorella Superfoods

After  contemplating for a long time, I finally decided to buy some bulk spirulina and chlorella.  They are superfoods.  My understanding of a superfood is a food that is dense in nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, but in general it is a loosely used term gaining steam in marketing.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw Superfood Cheetos.

Spirulina and chlorella also contain a near uniform distribution of carbohydrate, fat, and protein, which I thought was pretty neat.  They are both very small algae (less than 10 microns).  This means it’s a powder, much like flour, but it isn’t modified like ground flour.  Due to the low amount of processing necessary and the quick reproduction cycle, these foods are very sustainable.  If you feel inclined, a simple search will allow you to find more benefits reported about these algae.  However . . .

I don’t recommend these superfoods, based on my experience.

Spirulina

This algae is a cyanobacteria.  The science of cyanobacteria is very neat.  However, in my experience bacterias smell very similar to feces.  Call me Protestant, but I am not excited about acquiring that taste.

Chlorella

Chlorella is a phylum (plant), and it smells like grass.  Acquiring the taste of grass seemed much more reasonable, for the benefits of the superfoods.  However, like others, I slowly developed a chemical sensitivity to chlorella.  What this means is that in two weeks the effect of it started as a headache progressed into satiation then a stomach ache and finally full on food poisoning.

Future Plans

I’m sticking with Michael Pollan’s advice: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

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Insulin Resistance

Two nutrition books have made their way into my reading list this year.  They are Why We Get Fat and You: On a Diet.  I was impressed by both.  Both share a similar stance that the common calorie energy balance is the incorrect model for human accumulation of fat.  By calorie balance, I mean Calories In – Calories Out = Fat Accumulated.  Instead, the fat accumulation balance may be more complicated and based on types of calories ingested, carbohydrates being a much more significant contributor than ingested plant and animal fat.  The book Why We Get Fat really dives into this subject with amazing clarity and objectivity.

I think we are still in a development phase in the field of nutrition*.  One concept new to me is insulin resistance.  In summary, insulin resistance is different for everyone and how efficiently your body converts carbohydrates into fat.  It would explain why my girlfriend can live on a constant HFCS IV drip and remain nearly single digit body fat, and why a beer and pasta is probably not a good diet for me.

*We as opposed to the ever popular “they.”  When you look at the world as we being the experts, there are a realm of unknowns waiting to be discovered or at least found in the literal definition of the word research.  We are always waiting for answers from “them.”  I don’t know who these “they” people are, but “they” often are the root causes and experts on everything known to man.  What if “they” don’t really care about solving our problems?  </rant>

It’s also interesting to me that I didn’t think much beyond a sideline interest in the Paleo diet trend going around.  People need to hear an agenda tailored for their own audience.  As a Myers-Briggs -NT-, I prefer logic.  Others will prefer convincing historical analysis.  We all tick differently.

There definitely are more similarities than differences with Paleo and the concept of insulin resistance.  And perhaps even more importantly in the nutrition subject is to take George Sheenan’s advice that we are each an experiment of one.

There are somethings I am more on board with than others in both books.  However, as a recent couch surfer passionate about nutrition, who we coincidentally had while I was reading one of the books above, said: it’s like saying we digest food the same as fire consumes cardboard.  In that simple example, the calorie balance model seems too simple for our digestion system that relies on multiple biological conversions and side-reactions.

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Miyagi Functional Conditioning

The title is from the Kirate Kid movie.  Mr. Miyagi first starts his apprentice Daniel training in karate with only mundane chores: waxing cars, painting fences, and sanding floors.  Just before the apprentice burns out and gets fed up, Mr. Miyagi shows that the rote chores that are now burned into Daniel’s memory are ways to defend himself.  The waxing and painting motions block punches and the sanding motion blocks kicks.

It’s probably a bunch of BS, but it’s inspirational.  This year, I’ve changed my cross-training workouts from a more traditional weight lifting to also include Miyagi Functional (MF) type.  I really like MFing.

Last week I spent the whole week MFing.  I took a week off my weight training and we moved our stuff from one apartment to another.  This is functional weight lifting.  It’s both cross-training and produces a visualize end result.

More generally this year, I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning.  I’m not sure if I can block punches or kicks.  I bet I can’t run any faster (a more representative physical constant).  However, I think it can be a more rewarding workout than going to the gym.  When you do a workout at the gym, you get the satisfaction of endorphins and (short-term) fatigue.  The only other accomplishments are abstract: traveling 3 miles while not moving, lifting metal up only to bring it right back down, etc.  MFing is more comprehensive.

When you clean, you try to collect as much dirt and dust as possible.  So you scrub, brush, vacuum, and then move stuff so you can scrub, brush, vacuum some more.  This can be as physically as demanding as you feel like.  However, after scrubbing, brushing, and vacuuming you get physical accomplishments: negative entropy!!!

Lately, I’ve been focusing on general cleaning, but trying to specifically detail one area (e.g. shower door, black trim on the car, wood polishing).  I think the general cleaning helps maintain endurance, while detailing might provide instances to improve strength, due to any straining in awkward positions.

Also to appease my appetite for learning, I’ve been formulating my own cleaners: laundry detergent, window cleaner, and wood polish.  (Search DIY ___ for formulations, if you want to make your own.)

I feel in better shape, based on the fact that I have more endurance for a cleaning session.  The added bonus is an organized environment and belongings which promote efficiency.  I find it more exciting using well maintained equipment, in an organized environment.

That’s what I’ve got.  What do you think: Is this lame . . . or, the start of my amazing , MFing path towards enlightenment?

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