Sunday, January 09, 2011

I'm eating less grains.

I'd like more energy.  I'd like to feel good stomach-wise all the time.  I imagine this would help me with life in general.

I think, and write, a lot about what foods would be maximally beneficial to eat.  I haven't done much about it... until now!  I've been tracking my energy, stomach feeling, and mood for the last couple weeks.  I plan to make a dietary shift and see how these things go.

What dietary shift?  Good question.  Here are some things I believe might have some degree of truth:
- Michael Pollan suggests eating more leaves and less seeds is a good idea because of the balance between omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids.  Leaves have more omega-3, seeds more omega-6.
- There's this "paleo" thing.  Here's Wikipedia.  The idea is that evolution moves slowly, and we've only been using agriculture for 10k years, so a lot of recent post-agricultural foods are new to our bodies, so we can't digest them very well.
- A lot of people hate gluten a lot.  It sort of makes sense, if you subscribe to the whole paleo thing; grain has only been eaten recently.  Also, grain has changed a lot even more recently.
- This book called "The 4 hour body" by Tim Ferriss, which I've been reading, recommends a type of low-carb something.  (it's a kind of neat book.  yeah it's a lose-weight-gain-muscle book, among other things, but it's from a pretty nerdy perspective so I can relate to it and trust it a bit.)
- Nobody says "eat more grains."

So what am I eating?  Some sort of paleo.  Specifically, I will definitely eat these:
- colorful vegetables, as much as possible
- grass-fed meat and fish from the farmers' market.
- good eggs.  (from the farmers' market, or failing that, the most expensive eggs that say "omega-3" on the carton.)
- good fats, including grass-fed butter, olive oil, and probably all sorts of other trendy oils
- fermented things like tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt
- tea
These are a little controversial but I will probably eat them:
- fruit.  I think, when you start cutting out fruit, you get out of "what caveman ate" territory and into "low carb" territory.
- some starchy vegetables like sunchokes and sweet potatoes; I'm not sure if these are cavemanish or not, but the consensus seems to be "they're good for you"
- milk, as whole and raw as possible; paleo folks seem to be okay with it even though a caveman wouldn't squeeze some udders.  Not sure if this is consistent, but I can deal.  Anyway, I'm already pretending to be glutarded, let's not be lactarded as well.
- nuts; they are seeds, but also generally agreed that they're healthy
- wine
- coffee; let's not be crazy here either
These are a little controversial and I will probably not eat them if I can get around it:
- beans; low-carbers would like these, but they're not very cavemanly or leafy.  They're definitely seeds.
- tofu; it's still beans.
- regular potatoes, everyone says they're like grains, I'm not sure if that makes sense outside Atkins-land but I can live without potatoes pretty easily anyway
- beer (it's only 3 weeks)
Totally not eating:
- grains
- sugars
- you know all that other bad processed stuff okay

And should I just cut back on grains, or cut them out entirely?  I'm interested in the cut-them-out-entirely approach.  Two reasons:  I hear convincing posts like this one, and I tend to be kinda all-or-nothing.  I'll probably eventually go to "cut back on grains", but for the 3-week experiment, it'll be easier to just categorically reject them.

But I won't only track self-reported variables.  For argument's sake, I'll also track weight and a few key measurements.  I'd like to track body fat percentage, as it seems more useful, but the 7 ways to do that listed in "The 4-hour body" all require scheduling an appointment (meh) or buying a multi-hundred-dollar device.

So here are my pretty rough measurements: (hooray for 1. being young, and 2. being a dude, so I don't feel any insecurity about posting these sorts of things online)
Weight: 151 lbs.
Stomach at navel: 32"
Biceps: 10.5"
Thighs: 21"
Hips at widest part: 36.5" (I don't really know what this means.  Butt?  It's the sort of squeeze point for my lower body I guess: if I were in a hole with circumference 36.4" I would be kind of stuck, and it would be at my butt, so that's what I measured.)
Neck: 15"

Body fat using US Navy method: 12.08%
Body fat using some random website: 17.22%
Using some other random website: 15%
Well perhaps trying to measure body fat percentage using just measurements is kind of silly anyway.  I'm not too fussed about it.

Which brings us to the conclusion: it's all an experiment.  Let's see how my average mood/stomach/energy goes in the next few weeks.  If physical measurements improve too, great!

Finally, disclaimer about comments: Nutrition is something that everyone has a lot of very strong mostly-hand-wavey opinions about.  I am not trying to say that these changes that I'm making are good for everyone.  I don't even know if they're good for me.  I'm interested to debate a little bit, but I reserve the right to stop talking and "agree to disagree"* at any point.
*That is the second time I've said "agree to disagree" in three days.  That makes me sad.

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