5 Ways to get omega-3 in your diet aside from the typical pills

Omega-3 has been the king of all supplementation lately. Omega-3 is paramount in so many processes in the human body, including insulin sensitivity and fatty acid metabolism. I mean, if everyone in the fitness industry takes omega-3, something must be significant about it, right? They are knowledgeable people who cares big time about their health. The current standard western diet is so high in omega-6 because of how farm-raised animals are fed, and that oils containing omega-6 are just cheaper to use in any processed foods. So when someone comes to me and complains about acne, I tell them to go get good Omega-3. Lingering pain or injury? Go get your Omega-3. Can’t lose fat? Go get your Omega-3. Can’t grow muscles? Go get your Omega-3. Have brainfog or sleeping problems? Go get your Omega-3. Depression/stress? Go get your Omega-3.

I have my Omega-3 fish oil softgels every day (total of DHA + EPA about 3.0 g). You don’t wanna go cheap on this supplement. First, because the DHA and EPA contents will be lower. Second, because the manufacturer can be getting the fish that are higher in pollutions like mercury, which is most likely stored in fatty tissues.

Supplementation is not the only way to get your omega-3, of course, because we evolved to eat food, not pills. Humans evolve to get about 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-3, so if you have about 60 g of fat a day, about 20 g should be saturated, 20 monounsaturated, 20 polyunsaturated. Of the 20 g polyunsaturated, 10 g should be Omega-3 and 10 g Omega-6. I don’t know anyone who’s naturally eating 10 g of Omega-3 unless they deliberately supplement it. Like always, I would rather eat foods.

Here are some of the ways to get your Omega-3 in beyond the softgels

1) Snack on seeds that have higher omega-3 content. These are flax, hemp, chia and walnuts.

  • Flax: I have fallen in love with toasted flaxseeds. They taste very nutty and can be snack just like that, although you will get more benefits by grinding the seeds. Learn to add ground flaxseeds to your cereals and smoothies. (More posts to come about flax snacks, and flax milk)
  • Hemp has been my go-to source of protein rather because I don’t need to cook it. It’s like scoop-and-go. Recently I found so many nice recipes about hemp salads, hemp nachos and even hemp cheesecakes. I invented my own basil hemp pesto recipe.
  • Chia makes nice gel which is high in soluble fiber, so it makes awesome egg substitute and puddings. I am seriously addicted to chia pudding. It also makes my stomach very happy.

2) Eat grass-fed beef and dairy products, flax-fed chickens and their eggs (omega-3 eggs)

3) Eat wild-caught salmon and other fatty fish. Usually farm-raised animals are fed corns, grains and things that are high in omega-6, unless the farmer states otherwise. More often than not, the canned fish have more omega-3 if they are wild caught. (I am known to stack up my canned fish everywhere because they are cheap and quick, although there are other concerns with canned foods.)

4) Variety: rotate your protein sources between organic grass fed meats, dairy, flax-fed or wild poultry, wild game and seafood

5) Eat lots of vegetables. You can’t go wrong with this. By lots I mean eating at least 1 – 2 cups for all meals and snacks. Veggies do have proteins and fatty acids, among other benefits, just you gotta eat lots of them.

12 tips to eating clean on a budget without boring yourself

1)   Buy a lot of something when it’s on sale or buy bulk/group purchase. Spend 10 min each week browsing flyers for what’s on sale and store coupons. Be willing to shop at multiple stores in the vicinity.

2)   Check out Chinatown or other types of ethnic stores, or stores in areas that rents are cheaper than others (hence cheaper food prices). Again, comparison shop so you know for your staple items.

3)   Make your own foods AKA don’t eat out

4)   Buy the biggest salad containers. Don’t buy pre-prepared fruits or salad boxes

5)   Buy without labels. If something doesn’t need a label, you can tell what it is in its original forms.

6)   Schedule grocery time so you don’t fall off the wagon and end up eating out. Once a week is okay. Twice is best so you always have fresh groceries on hand.

7)   Have a good spice rack and a collection of (unflavored, unsalted, not fried) seeds, vinegars and cooking oils

8)   Don’t turn your diet into a salad diet. Think of what you really like and improvise the recipes to make it healthier.

9)   Buy directly from farmers

10) Don’t go nuts on the supplements. Spend money on the foods first.

11) Don’t spend money on matching dishes and fancy cookwares if you don’t have money to spend on good foods.

12) Get organic items for the dirty dozen http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/ (they change from time to time), or just eat small amounts at less frequency of those.  Also check out EWG’s guide on shopping on a budget http://bit.ly/TML9HA

Ending the carb wars by learning your genetics

In one of my previous posts, I stated that I opposed genetic testing to determine lifestyle decisions. One of the reasons is because your phenotypes (traits) are influenced by so many things more than just your genes. The best thing to do is to look at your phenotypes rather than your genotypes (changes in your DNA sequence).

I have tried 7 different diets, been anywhere from 90 lbs to 165 lbs. Finally I settled in to low glycemic impact eating and eventually really like Paleo although I don’t fixate on following either of these all the time.

A lot of people just get turned off outright when we start talking about carbs. I won’t argue that a lot of people are attached to carbs in one form or the other, maybe because they grow up eating pasta, bread, rice noodles as staples. For most North Americans, those are way too much carbs for our activity level. Diet trends came up and say you should eat low fat and high carbs, and then one that say very little carbs and high fat. Neither one has 100% success rate. The determinant comes to your phenotypes as determined by your genes and your current state of health and lifestyle choices. There’s rarely a generalization that is correct. Researchers often find primitive populations that are unbelievably healthy on any diet that contradict what western dieticians suggest. (I’ll leave that topic for another day.)

To people who care about body composition, it is quite clear that a high protein diet is great for improving your body composition (i.e. increasing or preserving muscle mass, given that you do activities that stimulate muscle growth or preservation). The rest of the macronutrients remain to be manipulated are carbs and fat. Some people get leaner by consuming more fat because fat consumption increases fat oxidation for them, others fail miserably (have their hormones go wired) as they reduce their carb intakes. Whether you will do well on a high carb or a high fat diet can be determined by 2 things: your insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion.

You can determine your insulin sensitivity by how you feel after a large intake of starchy carb:
1. Does increasing carb intake give you more energy or does it make you bloated and groggy?
If the former, you have good insulin sensitivity. Otherwise, you may be insulin resistant.

2. After a high carb meal, do you have steady energy levels all day or do you crash after an hour? If the former, you have normal to low levels of insulin. The latter, you have higher insulin secretion.

People with low insulin secretion and high insulin sensitivity tend to do well in moderate to high carb/low fat diets. At the other end of the spectrum, insulin resistant people tend to do better with low carb/high fat diets or a full-blown ketogenic diet.

That being said, everyone is different, and there are always exceptions to the rule. Individualization is key. Bodybuilders always know to self-experiment. They try things out and record what they do to figure out what is best for them.

As much as I hate calorie counting, protein counting, carb counting or anything that makes me more obsessed with foods, I have to admit that I need to do it when I try to get really lean. For starters, you may only need to start with perhaps about 40% carbs, 20% fat and 40% protein if you are insulin sensitive with low insulin secretion. If you are insulin resistance and/or have high insulin secretion, you may do better with lower carbs like 35% fat, 25% carb and 40% protein.

It is a good idea to do a basic calculation and measure things out the first time to see what a typical portion should be like with respect to your hands, and then just live by doing hand measurements. For example, 4 oz of chicken has about 30 g of protein and it is about the size of my palm. It saves my sanity that way.

For more reading or references on this topic, click here.

 

 

The quickest, guilt-free, crowd-pleasing green tea mousse cake

I have a thing for green tea, and it really has picked up lately. My favorite drink at starbucks is soy green tea latte, I would confess. The thought of green tea mousse cake always excite me.

This cake takes about 15 minutes to make. It is paleo, super high protein and is high in good fat and fiber. I would even eat it for breakfast.


The quickest, guilt-free, crowd-pleasing green tea mousse cake
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Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 - 8
I have a thing for green tea, and it really has picked up lately. My favorite drink at starbucks is soy green tea latte, I would confess. The thought of green tea mousse cake always excite me. This cake takes about 15 minutes to make. It is paleo, super high protein and is high in good fat and fiber. I would even eat it for breakfast.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp buckwheat flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp matcha green tea powder
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 1 egg of choice (e.g. flax can be an egg replacement by using 1 tbsp of ground flax seed and leave to expand in 4 tbsp hot water)
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 pack silken tofu or tofu for dessert (about 1½ cup)
  • 4 scoops of TLS vanilla protein shake see http://bit.ly/Sfi7Rm (or replace with ⅓ cup of honey and omit almond milk, 2 scoops of plain whey protein powder and 1 tsp of vanilla, but it won't be as good)
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp matcha green tea powder
  • 1 tbsp of gelatin, dissolved in ¼ cup water
  • (optional) 1 tbsp of psyllium husk
  • Berries, fruits, white chocolate pieces or anything you like to decorate
Instructions
  1. Mix first 8 ingredients in a bowl and pour into a sprayed microwavable container.
  2. Microwave for 3 - 5 minutes until firm. Allow to cool. I haven't tried this with conventional oven, may take like 15 minutes. It may be a good idea to use spring form pans. Go ahead, try it and let me know how it turns out.
  3. Put the remaining ingredients (except fruit and gelatin) into a blender and blend until smooth. If this is not sweet enough for your liking, feel free to add sweetener of your choice (I prefer honey).
  4. Add dissolved gelatin while blending, be careful not to let it clump up.
  5. Blend together well and pour on top of the microwaved cake above. Chill until firm.
  6. Decorate with fruits, white chocolate pieces or dust with matcha powder.
Notes
It might take like an hour to chill until firm. My strategy is prepare it and chill at in the host's fridge at the party. Most of my friends have no problem eating this with it being a little less firm because we like green tea milk shake. Oh and I wait until they finish the whole thing before telling them that it has tofu. It's very well-hidden.