Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cinnamon and Insulin Resistance

Like most people I always just assumed that cinnamon was something you sprinkle on a Danish or include in an Apple Pie recipe.  This is certainly still true and I eat it often for breakfast with flax muffins or flaxcakes (pancake alternative).  Ancient cultures regarded it as a gift fit for Monarchs and even for a God and it is often referred to in Biblical passages.   Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia, and its origin was a mystery to Europeans until the sixteenth century.  However, it was not a mystery that it had medicinal uses that have been more well documented in recent years through numerous studies including:

·         Increased brain function

·         Soothing upset stomachs

·         Aid in preventing ulcers. 

·         Reduced proliferation of leukemia and Lymphoma

·         Arthritis pain relief

·         Anti-Clotting effect on the blood

·         Antibiotic

However, a new study is providing evidence that it may also help people with insulin resistance sometimes known as “prediabetes,” or the “Metabolic Syndrome”.   The results of the study…

“After 40 days, all three levels of cinnamon reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18-29%), triglyceride (23-30%), LDL cholesterol (7-27%), and total cholesterol (12-26%) levels; no significant changes were noted in the placebo groups. Changes in HDL cholesterol were not significant.”

The sample size, 60 participants, is still small enough to question the accuracy, but not so small that it should be ignored and you can get the details by clicking the link below.

So what does this mean exactly?  Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it properly.  The result is the presence of any one or all of the following problems called metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance, formerly called syndrome x.  Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of any three of the following conditions:

·         Waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women

·         Triglyceride levels of 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or above, or taking medication for elevated triglyceride levels.

·         HDL, or “good”, cholersterol level below 40 mg/dl or men and below 50 mg/dl for women. 

·         Blood pressure levels of 130/85 or above.

·         Fasting blood glucose levels of 100 mg/dl or above.

Source: Grundy SM, et al. Diagnosis and management of the metabolic syndrome: an American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute scientific statement. Circulation. 2005;112:2735-2752.

Our metabolism evolved eons ago, when our diet included fewer (and more complex) carbohydrates. Today most calories in an average diet come in the form of carbohydrates, and most of those are simple carbohydrates — sugars that quickly enter the bloodstream. The body has to release high levels of insulin to keep the level of glucose in the bloodstream from spiraling out of control. But in time the cells quit responding to this signal.  Weight gain, fatigue, sugar crashes and carbohydrate cravings may all be early insulin resistance symptoms.  Eventually insulin resistance could evolve into full blown type 2 diabetes and with it a host of new challenges.

I am not ready to start downing 2+ tablespoons a day but I might begin by sprinkling a little extra each morning on my breakfast.  It remains to be seen where this study might lead but I am excited about it’s potential.

Of course expect the “Natural” remedies companies to jump on this and start pushing it as a supplement.  Just keep in mind that just because something comes from the earth does not mean it’s automatically safe to eat.  Some possible side effects do exist from ingesting to much cinnamon and you should consult with your physician before considering adding this in large doses to your daily diet.  

On On.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


This is a recipe from Linda Sue's low-carb recipe's.  I am reposting so that I can find it again when I need it. 
Source:  http://www.genaw.com/lowcarb/

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flax meal
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon granular Splenda
1/2-1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional
1 1/2 teaspoons dry minced onion
3 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons oil

Put the dry minced onion in a small bowl and add just enough water to moisten; let stand until softened. Mix the dry ingredients; add the onions, eggs, water and oil. Pour the batter into 6 greased muffin top pans. Bake at 325ยบ 15-20 minutes. To serve, split the buns horizontally to make two halves using a long, thin knife.

Makes 6 servings

Per Serving: 140 Calories; 11g Fat; 8g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 3.5g Dietary Fiber; 1.5g Net Carbs 

Tom Sawyer Park Haunted Run?

OK, since you guys want to hear my weird paranormal story.  Here it goes…

First a little background on the park in which I typically run.  "Lakeland Asylum" was actually the Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane. Built in 1869 in Anchorage, it initially housed juvenile delinquents and was called the Home for Juvenile Delinquents at Lakeland. In 1873, it became a lunatic asylum and was renamed the Central Kentucky Lunatic Asylum. By the time "The Little Colonel's Knight Comes Riding" was published (1907), the name had been changed to the Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane. The facility cared for patients with psychiatric disorders, mental retardation and brain damage and was located next to where Louisville's E. P. Tom Sawyer Park stands today. The original building shown below was bulldozed in 1996.

In addition to the hospital, there are also 2 cemeteries on the grounds.  It is estimated that where 4-5000 patients buried but none of the graves are marked.  The University of Louisville archeology dept came out and studied the grounds and recovered 4 headstones.  In addition they marked off one of the graveyards and placed those headstones in the middle of the cemetery arranged around a large tree.

The hospital is long gone there are still remnants of the old structure found placed about in addition to old walking trails that have aged and weathered over time but still visible and some even paved with old worn concrete.  These paths along with new ones make up one segment of the park in which I run often 3 or 4 times a week.  It is said that the park is haunted and in particular the loop that runs around the old grounds of the hospital.  This is the same path that patients would have used for therapy walks.

So enough of the background, on to my recent experiences.  My Wife and I also occasionally go for walks in this park.  About a month or more ago we were on a walk and I was taking her to the backside on the “Crazy Loop” as my Son and I call it and I told her about this app, Ghost Radar, I downloaded and put on my phone.  It is supposed to track spirits and voices, etc.  I could explain how it works but will leave that up to you if you want to research it on your own.  Anyway, as the app explains spirit voices are supposed to picked up through static.  This app uses an algorithm to decipher that static and attempt to put it into words.  In addition it has a radar, think like a marine radar, that uses the phones built in sensors to pick up on anomalies and quantum fluctuations.  Using this data it will display a blip on the radar in different colors depending on the strength of significance of the anomaly.  I had downloaded this app as a novelty for fun, my Son and I had just watched Paranormal Activity and I really had no intent that it would do anything.

This is getting long, sorry, so my Wife and I are walking through the woods and have this radar on with no real activity on the radar and no words spoken.  I figured it was silly but it was a good source of conversation and since she had never been on the back loop (crazy loop), I told her we could walk back there and see what it does.  We get to the beginning of one of the old overgrown paved trails and almost immediately this thing starts going crazy.  Blips popping up everywhere in all colors and several words spoken are logged.  We have a good laugh and continue our walk on through eventually nearing the beginning of a new trail head that will connect us back to the trail loop. 

There is something unique about this next trail that is coming up.  When my Son and I run this trail this little .15 mile segment climbs a hill that is not terribly steep but is riddled with roots and other technical aspects.  Ever since the first time we ran out here together he has challenged me to race up this hill.  I never win without cheating but we always have a good time climbing up to the top in a full sprint and it helps add a little interval to my workout.  One other note, the top of this little climb comes out at the SW corner of the graveyard. 

So as we approach this little hill the app blurts out the word “James”.  This is my first name, my Wife and I start laughing and we continue on.  Moments later  just as we hit the base of the little hill it picks up “Tie”.  My Son’s name is Tyler and we often refer to him as Ty.  At this point we are both getting the a little hair standing up and think, how weird is that.  We stop and watch the radar, it show’s no blips but we remain for a moment and wait to see if picks up any additional words.  Nothing, so we continue up the hill.  Not more than 25 steps later and it picks up the word “Running”.  OK, so putting this together so far it has picked up the words James, Tyler and Running.  So with Tyler not being with me we wonder, is it possible that some spirit is asking us why Tyler is not running with me.  Is this possible?  Again, we both have a good laugh and write if off as just some weird coincidence.  Still a fun story to tell but who’s knows how capable this thing is of actually picking up real spirits and voices. 

That was the first experience and while it did create a fun story I am not a believer that it was much more than some cheap entertainment.  Now onto my run the other night.  Since my Son has begun running with me I typically run with my Garmin and use my phone to play music through the built in speaker.  This allows to both listen without being attached to headphones allowing us to also talk about the day’s events.  My favorite part about running with him.  The weather had been poor with rain for a few days and I had planned going to the gym after work but the sun came out and I opted at the last minute to try out the park.  I called him and he said he was not feeling into going so I was on my own.  I had left my Garmin at home because I don’t have any use for GPS on a treadmill.  So I quickly downloaded MapMyRun onto my phone and took off to the park.

I was pretty excited because it had been a week or so since I had been due to the bad weather.  My plan was for 8-10 depending on how much I could get in prior to dark.  I was thinking the sun went down around 5:45 and it was 4:20 when I arrived.  No time to waste, in go the headphones and start the GPS on my phone and I am off.  Pretty messy on the backside by the model airplane airport so I am figuring that by the time I get to the woods down by the creek it’s going to be a mess.  I was right, but I have my pair of trail shoes with big knobbies on, see older blog post, digging in and helping me fly right through the muck.  Love running in the mud as it like being a kid again, getting all messy and dirty. 

I approach the connecting trail to the crazy loop and about 1-200 yards out my music starts to act up.  Static and pops, I start fidgeting with the connecter but no luck.  Eventually it seems to start working normal again with the occasional pop and I don’t have enough daylight to stop and work it out so I just keep going.  About the time I round the corner I see a guy in a blue jacket and long pants walking ahead and into the woods.  Not a strange site as this trail is pretty busy this time of the day so I continue on.  As I round the next corner where the guy was, he is nowhere to be found.  He should be clearly visible as he was walking and I was running.  The leaves are gone from the trees so I can see as far as I need to.  The trail ahead is up a slight incline and part of an old service road so nowhere to just disappear like that really.  As I am thinking about just how strange it was that this dude just vanished my phone starts going crazy with static and then one final pop and silence.

It is at this point I am running and thinking to myself about how weird all of this is getting.  I have come to a stop and standing at the exact location where a few weeks prior that app had picked up the word “James”.  I pull out my phone and it is completely turned off.  How did that happen.  My phone has never just shut off on its own like that.  Again I don’t put too much into this but at this point it’s getting dark, I have to make a choice to continue the 1.5 miles around the crazy loop or hit the hill back up towards the park.  I don’t typically spook easily but this time it just got in my head a bit and opted to turn around and head back towards the park.  I held in the button to turn my phone back on but it was unresponsive.  Now I am getting pissed because I think my phone is toast but as I begin the climb up our little hill it suddenly starts to work again.  I see the little Motorola log pop up and it’s booting up.  Phew.

I head back up to the park and continue one more loop around but cut my 8-10 short at 6 and called it a day.  By now I had wasted 8-10 minutes screwing with my phone and the sun was setting.  No way was I going back into those woods in the dark with no headlamp and already spooked.  Better off just leaving well enough alone.  Do I believe it’s possible the woods are haunted…dunno.  I will say the strange events that took place over the course of a couple of months were odd and certainly made my hair stand on end.  However, I am still on the fence about whether or not there are spirits roaming around. 

What do you think?

BTW...in case you run out at this park.  Below is a link to my route as mapped by MapMyRun.  You will see on the connecting road to the old hospital grounds my signal stopped logging and draws a direct line up the little hill where my phone finally starts up again and begins logging my run.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Truths and Myths

#1 Myth: The Atkins Diet doesn’t work.

The Atkins Diet does work. Atkins is backed by over 50 studies validating the diet’s principles and its success rate for weight loss and weight management.

One recent example is the NIH funded Stanford University Diet Study published March 7, 2007 in the Journal of American Medical Association. This study found that the Atkins Diet delivered the strongest weight loss results with the most beneficial metabolic effects among four top diet regimens. (The study compares Atkins against the Zone, LEARN and Ornish diets).

Unlike other diets, Atkins is not based on limiting calories and deprivation, but rather choosing the right nutrient-dense foods that allow the body to feel fuller while burning more fat and working more efficiently.

#2 Myth: The Atkins Diet is unhealthy.

Fact: Atkins is a natural and effective approach to weight loss and weight management. The Atkins Diet encourages consumption of a healthy balance of nutrient dense foods: lean protein, a full array of fibrous vegetables and fruits and good fats while limiting refined carbohydrates, refined sugar and trans fats. Choosing foods in this manner allows the body to burn more fat and work more efficiently while helping individuals to feel less hungry, more satisfied and more energetic.

An ever-growing body of research demonstrates the health benefits of a controlled-carbohydrate approach in the face of the standard American diet of white flour, sugar and other junk foods. Simply put, the Atkins Nutritional Approach (ANA) is indeed a healthier, more balanced way of eating and living.

#3 Myth: The Atkins Diet is unbalanced and means only eating rich foods like steak, eggs and bacon and no fruits or vegetables.

Fact: Actually, the Atkins Diet allows you to eat ample portions of vegetables, and in the later phases, more nutrient-dense carbohydrates like fruits and whole grains.

It’s only during the first of the four phases of the Atkins Nutritional Approach, called Induction, that more lean protein is encouraged as a way to supercharge the body’s fat burning power and jump-start weight loss. But not everyone needs to start at Induction to see positive results with Atkins.

After the typical two-week Induction phase, if you choose to start here, the Atkins program allows you to gradually expand your food choices so you can ultimately enjoy a healthy balance of the nutrient-dense foods from a variety of food groups – lean protein, a full array of colorful, fibrous vegetables and fruits, nuts, legumes, and if your metabolism allows, whole grains and good fats – all while reducing levels of refined carbohydrates, refined sugars, and trans fats. When it comes to the four food groups, the Atkins Diet includes a variety of foods from each one. The plan provides helpful guidelines to help select the best options, steering you away from the starchier varieties.

#4 Myth: The Atkins Diet doesn’t allow you to eat any carbohydrates.

Fact: People frequently mistake the Induction phase for the entire Atkins program. During this initial phase, the plan allows you to eat 20 net carbs daily, with 12 net carbohydrates per day coming from a full array of colorful nutrient-dense vegetables. After the Induction phase is completed, you increase your carbohydrate count gradually until you reach your own carbohydrate tolerance level and your goal weight. For some, this number can be as much as 120 carbs per day of nutrient-dense foods, which includes fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.

What makes Atkins different from other diet programs is that you can choose your starting point on the Atkins plan. Depending upon your weight and overall health, you can personalize the diet to suit your individual needs, perhaps starting at a later phase or moving from one phase of the program to another as your needs change. So if you’re not looking to lose a significant amount of weight, but just maintain your current weight or reduce your reliance on carbs in your diet, you can begin with Phase 2, called Ongoing Weight Loss, where the net carbohydrate level is higher and more foods are included.

In sum, Atkins is more than a diet, it is a helpful eating tool that not only leads to weight loss and weight management, but also helps you develop strong eating habits that contribute to overall health and well being.

#5 Myth: The Atkins Diet allows you to eat all the bacon and eggs you want.

Fact: During the kick-off Induction phase, Atkins suggests you incorporate meals with specific amount of eggs and bacon to help you start off successfully. But Atkins is not an egg and bacon diet. In fact, during Induction – and throughout the four phases – the Atkins diet also incorporates a wide variety of lean protein choices that include fish, poultry, lean meat, eggs and soy. However, just because protein is encouraged, following the Atkins plan is not a license to gorge. When following the plan, each of the food groups should be enjoyed in moderation. Following Atkins doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want as long as it is low carb.

#6 Myth: The Atkins Diet is too restrictive.

Fact: Contrary to popular belief, the Atkins Diet allows you to consume a wide variety of foods, all framed within a context of eating fewer refined carbohydrates and refined sugars, and eating more of the right foods.

One of the keys to success with the Atkins approach is learning to eat nutrient-dense carbohydrates for the rest of your life. These are foods that are packed with the most antioxidant vitamins and healthful phytochemicals relative to the amount of carbohydrates--so you’re getting the most “bang” for your carbohydrate “buck.” Once you reach your goal weight and determine how many carbohydrates you can consume each day to maintain that weight, most people can enjoy a wide variety of food choices that include protein choices, vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, legumes, and whole grains.

#7 Myth: Atkins is a fad diet.

Fact: Atkins is not a fad. In fact, thanks to the attention that Atkins brought to the role of carbohydrates in the diet, many Americans today have changed the way they eat. According to the Natural Marketing Institute, 44 percent of the American adult population today controls their carbohydrate intake. There are millions of men and women who have found and continue to find success with the Atkins Nutritional Approach.

At the same time, a growing body of peer-reviewed research also continues to support the fact that the Atkins Diet works and leads to successful weight loss/management along with a variety of other health benefits.

#8 Myth: Dr. Atkins died of a heart attack.

Fact: Dr. Atkins died as a result of a serious head injury from a fall that occurred April 8th, 2003. Hospital records detail the clinical course that occurred following arrival of Emergency Medical Services through the entirety of his hospitalization, confirming that after losing consciousness on the way to the hospital, Dr. Atkins condition failed to improve despite emergency neurosurgical treatment. Dr. Atkins was adamant about not wanting life support, and when his wishes were honored, he passed away on April 17th when ventilator life support was withdrawn.

Near the end of his life, Dr. Atkins was struggling with the effects of cardiomyopathy, and he did not hide that fact. Cardiomyopathy is a serious and progressive condition caused by a viral infection. Though this condition weakened his heart, its cause was clearly related to an infection and not his diet.

#9 Myth: People following the Atkins Nutritional Approach suffer from lack of energy due to the lack of carbohydrates.

Fact: The body is equipped to use two sources of energy; carbohydrate and fat. When carbs are low enough, the body will switch to fat burning, which is our back up fuel system.

Lack of energy may occur in the first few days of doing Atkins, while the body adapts to switching metabolic pathways. It typically takes about three to five days for the body to switch from sugar metabolism to fat metabolism. When your body becomes accustomed to burning fat for fuel, these symptoms go away.

#10 Myth: The Atkins Diet promotes a liberal intake of high-fat meats and dairy products that raise cholesterol levels, ultimately leading to heart disease.

Fact: The Atkins Nutritional Approach recommends the inclusion of all types of fats balancing food choices so that a healthy ratio of fats is obtained. Despite the common belief that the Atkins Nutritional Approach is about steak, eggs and bacon primarily, we encourage individuals to consume healthy protein choices consisting of fish, poultry, meats, eggs/egg whites along with dairy products. In addition, consumption of olive oil, nuts, seeds along with other plant-based food choices provide additional healthy fat intake for well-balanced meal selections.

Research conducted over the past few years on the Atkins Nutritional Approach (ANA) demonstrates that the ANA, when followed correctly, provides a balance of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats from a variety of sources and has consistently p fat, participants had lowered cardiovascular risk factors and none of the problems claimed to be associated with saturated fat.

One must appreciate the fact that all fats are mixtures of the three types of fatty acids, monos, polys, and saturated. Even olive oil, the gold standard for healthy monounsaturated fats contains 15 percent saturated fats. A lean cut of steak, which is often viewed as unhealthy, contains 51 percent monounsaturated fat.

#11 Myth:
Because it excludes fruits, vegetables and grains, Atkins is deficient in nutrients.

Fact: The Atkins Nutritional Approach does not exclude fruits, vegetables and grains. The initial Induction phase of Atkins, which people often mistake for the entire program, is the strictest phase, permitting 20 grams of net carbohydrates. However, 70 percent of those come in the form of vegetables including green leafy salad, as well as nutrient-dense, high fiber, vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, eggplant and spinach.

The concern for the phytochemical content of the Atkins Diet is unwarranted since the diet encourages the individual to consume a daily minimum of 12 net carbs coming from non-starchy vegetables, increasing the amount along with the intake of low-glycemic fruits, nuts/seeds, legumes and whole grains after the first several weeks of induction. The Atkins recommendation of 12 net carbs daily is more than most Americans consume on a regular basis.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Back in the Saddle again.

Well that’s not completely true, but I am getting back after it now and it feels good. Biggest problem is trying to force myself to make those longer runs on the treadmill. Rain kept me indoors on Sunday so I went to the gym and ran on that God awful contraption for almost 1.5 hours. Ughh, it was terrible and I kept wondering how I was doing 3 hour sessions on it last year.

Did manage to get a short 45 minute swim in after. Working on getting my stroke back but I as usual I have hurt myself again. This time my left shoulder trying to play on the Monkey Bars at the park. Over extended my arms and let myself hang and swing, now my rotator is killing me. I figured out I can still swim as long as I only breath left. Seems that I can alter the rotation of my left arm enough during the breath so that I don’t have any real pain. Not a big deal since I was never that good at bi-lateral breathing anyway.

The Triathlon club I am in is in a Nationwide contest to see which club can rack up the most training mileage. December is swim focused with each mile in the pool counting as 10 miles towards the total of Swim/Bike/Run. I set a goal to complete 28 miles of actual swimming this month. So far I am just over 4, a bit ahead, which is good.

Will try to keep my blog up to date, lots going on over the next few weeks. Plus my hiatus from training also led to bad choices in food and subsequent weight gain. I am up 10 pounds from my race weight and would like to drop a total of 20 to see how that works out. Will post more on that later.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gearing up for the Offseason

So here we go into what is considered by most the offseason. However, truth be told my offseason began in July after finishing IM Muncie 70.3. My nagging calf injury that kept me from running much more than a 10K without wanting to collapse in a heap needed rest and healing. I took a good two and a half months off from everything with only 2 or 3 short 3 mile or so runs a week. The good thing is that I am running pain free for now, or at least in my legs.

Being that this is my 4th year I feel like I have some grasp on how to handle it but I still get over excited about the time off and what to work on. ADD is typically in full effect and I am considering all of the things I can do but eventually reality sets in once I realize that I only have so much time during the day to workout. My original plan was to just keep a balanced workout with 3-4 runs, 2 bikes and 2-3 swims a week would be great. However, our Triathlon Club has entered us into a challenge with each month being focused on one discipline. Perhaps this will help keep me focused on one for each of next 3 months.

December = Swimming! This is my new focus for the month of December. Will still be running and will try to get a bike in but I decided yesterday that I need to put in lots of pool time over the next month. In addition to our Tri-Club competing Nationally through USAT we have also setup multiple 6 person teams within our club to add a little bit of internal competition to the formula. My commitment to myself and my team mates is 10K Meters per week.

So here we go, into the Off-Season but with a twist of Competition to keep it interesting.