My Cup of Joe (Yeah, I’m talking about coffee)

Posted: December 7, 2013 by admin in Get Fit, My World

Touch my coffee...

See? Even the Incredible Hulk drinks coffee! Or is that just me after I’ve had a couple of cups?

Ahhh…. Joe, Java, Wake Up Call, Mud, Go Juice… There are as many nicknames for coffee as there are kinds of beans and I love the stuff.  Many people love the taste of coffee, but I’m sure most would say that they drink it to wake up in the morning, thanks to the caffeine in it.

So what is caffeine and what does it do to the human body and brain? Why does it make us feel so good? The answer starts in the brain with the neurotransmitter adenosine. You see, adenosine is a relaxant and when it’s produced and it reaches adenosine receptors in the brain, you feel sleepy and relaxed. Caffeine blocks these receptors and poor adenosine can’t do it’s job. As a result, we feel more alert and energetic.

While this is the main action of caffeine, there is a domino-like effect that involves many other things like dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and adrenaline systems. With the brain suddenly feeling more awake, the body is fooled into thinking we’re in a fight or flight situation.  As a result, the adrenal glands produce adrenaline to give us an extra boost to help us deal with the imaginary man-eating beast lurking nearby. As a result, our anaerobic running capacity, power output and reaction time are all enhanced. What a perfect supplement for an athlete!

And what’s more, with adrenaline pumping, our fat cells free up triglycerides and dump them into the bloodstream for use as fuel.  Paired with exercise, fat-burning becomes a cinch, so dieters can see a benefit as well. However, if these triglycerides are not burned with exercise, apparently they simply return to the fat cells for storage. Also, if you’re taking sugar along with your coffee, be it in the coffee itself or in the cake or sweets you might eat with it, your body will burn that first, taking away the potential fat oxidation.  And what’s more, your body will be more inclined to burn glucose once it’s tasted it and fat oxidation will likely be impaired for the rest of the day.  So if you need some help losing that unsightly subcutaneous fat, drink your coffee black and get some cardio done.

Zoka espresso

Zoka espresso

So how do I take my coffee? I make mine black from beans I buy at Kaldi with a shot of MCT oil in it.  MCT oil is 100% medium-chain triglycerides, which are very ketogenic,  and it encourages your body to burn fat for energy.  A bit of MCT oil (product link) will help it stay in fat-burning mode much longer, especially if you skip breakfast or at least eat a zero-carb breakfast.  As a rock climber, I like to be as strong and light as possible, which means maintaining a low body fat is in my best interest.  Coffee with MCT oil in it is simply one of the tools I like to use to get results and it’s a nice bonus that it tastes so good.

By the way, if you have some time to go out for your coffee before work or on the weekend, check out Zoka in Mejiro, Bridge in Asakusa, Streamer in Omotesando or Jabara in Akihabara.  I’m sure there are dozens if not hundreds of other great cafes with knowledgeable baristas in Tokyo, but these four are my favorites.

Just remember, just like with all things moderation is key.  So how do you take your cup of joe?

Multi-pitch fun, recovery

100m off the ground on a 4-pitch climb in Tenerife, Spain.

Hey there, folks!  I’m back after a long 9 weeks abroad climbing the finest rock Spain has to offer with my good friend and rock climbing partner.  I also spent a couple of weeks by myself at the end seeing Norway’s majestic natural scenery, drinking Germany’s finest beer and trying to understand it’s dark history and learning about it’s vibrant, dynamic future, and finishing with Sweden, home of the infamous, bad ass vikings.  In short, I went, I saw and I climbed.  I had a FANTASTIC time and came back stronger and a bit more worldly…

And worse for wear physically…

And confused by SERIOUS jet lag…

And slightly malnourished.

As you probably already know, travel can really take a toll on the body and rock climbing for 7 weeks with 3 days on and 1 day off for rest can really kick one’s ass, especially if you aren’t used to it!  My tendons took the most beating and required the most TLC (that’s tender loving care for all you non-Americans out there) and a lot of collagen (I’ll talk about this later).

Tokyo ART Graston Chiropractic Recovery

The famous Dr. Tomo, chiropracter and ART/Graston specialist and owner of K-MAP, a clinic in Akasaka.

Lucky for me there’s an AMAZING soft tissue specialist in Tokyo by the name of Dr. Tomonori Kawai D.C., M.S., who is often lovingly called Dr. Tomo by his patients, including yours truly.  He runs K-MAP Chiropratic & Sports Therapy (home page), a clinic located near Akasaka Station (Metro Chiyoda Line).  This guy can just look at you and know exactly what hurts, why it hurts and what to do about it.  He’s a licensed chiropractor who’s also mastered soft tissue techniques such as ART and Graston.  It’s 100% due to his treatment that I can continue to climb as hard as I can and I can’t recommend him enough if you have any issues with your muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves.  If UFC MMA all-stars like Frank Shamrock, Josh Thomson and Hatsu Hikoki, former K-1 champion Tetsu Yamato and Iroman champion Tim Berkel go to Dr. Tomo, you KNOW he’s legit.  Here’s a pic with Dr. Tomo from this morning’s session, into which I walked in broken and came out with a new spring in my step, as I always do.  And yes, I AM wearing a wonderfully tacky t-shirt, thank you very much.

Secondly, I had to do something about the horrible jet lag I’d been dealing with. It’s similar to the jet lag I had from the South America tour I did last year, except this time sleeping in a different bed in a different hostel with different people every night the last couple of weeks thoroughly exhausted me and seemed to make recovery that much harder. This time I tried 3mg of melatonin and 400mg of magnesium nightly a half hour before bed to help make me sleepy when I wanted to sleep. I also put on Blu Blockers after the sun went down or whenever I got home at night to help reset my circadian rhythm. A week later the jet lag is completely gone and I’m sleeping like a baby… the soundly sleeping variety, that is.

Lastly, when you travel, it’s hard to 1) cook, 2) get all the nutrition you need and 3) avoid tempting, delicious non-paleo-friendly local foods. I mean, come on, I know you can be 100% paleo with your home kitchen and grocer that provides familiar products with labels written in a language you can understand. Traveling abroad is a whole ‘nother animal and you’re gonna wanna try the local cuisine at least once. And judging by a worsening skin rash that developed at the end of the trip, I figured might have developed a case of leaky gut. So when I got back, I wanted to make up for 2 weeks (the first 7 weeks I had access to well-stocked supermarkets and a great kitchen) of very unbalanced eating and I knew 2 things would set me right in a jiffy: beef broth and cow liver. I absolutely love the former and can barely stand the taste of the latter, but both are essential in any recovery strategy. Liver can be called nature’s multivitamin with tons of iron and retinol, the form of vitamin A most easily used by the body, along with just about every other vitamin and mineral under the sun.

Beef broth and recovery

Beef broth, made from real cow bones, has glycine to help heal any leaky gut issues caused by damage accumulated from eating wheat or other questionable foods over time. One study also shows that this amino acid can help promote better sleep quality if taken at night. It’s also rich not only in collagen, but also a precursor for collagen so you’re body can use it as is and make it in house, as well, if needed. Tendons and ligaments are made of collagen, so drinking broth was and is a MUST.

To summarize, I think my recovery strategy was spot on and I look forward to healing up 100% so I can get back to the sports I love, rock climbing and mountaineering!  Speaking of mountaineering, I’m going to Akadake in Nagano this weekend for a day hike with a Japanese buddy. I’m sure the gorgeous fall colors will blow us away and make for a memorable day trip and I highly recommend everyone gets out there before it gets too cold.  See you all next time!

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So, you’re coming to Tokyo on vacation and are looking for accommodations. But wait… You want to be paleo/primal while you’re here, you say? So where’s your gym? Where do you get your meat? Can you cook at your accommodations? What kind of sleep quality can you expect?

I’ve the perfect solution for you! I’ve decided to rent out my beautiful “cave”, replete with a huge fridge, well-stocked kitchen, a set of kettlebells and a pull-up/dip station on the spacious veranda that gets decent amounts of sun exposure. And I’ve made sure that the comfortable bedroom is pitch black at night when the curtains are drawn shut for the best quality sleep for all you modern Groksters out there. It’s super clean and stylish and a short walk from Mejiro Station on the famous Yamanote Line, a mere 6 minutes from Shinjuku. It’s also only a 15-minute walk to Ikebukuro, if you’re looking to get a little wild after sundown and don’t want to worry about missing the last train ;-) You can see pics and all the details and book it through https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1247157?preview if you’re interested.

If you do book, feel free to contact me via the blog or airbnb (via the above link) and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have, like where to buy high quality meat for cheap and things like that. As my readers already know, if anyone has the paleo/primal inside info in Tokyo, it’d be me.

I just uploaded a few pics of the joint, so feel free to check those out, too.

Just two days until I start off my European rock climbing adventure! Getting pumped!! :^D

The kitchen

Posted: July 20, 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

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The wolf’s den

Posted: July 20, 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

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Kettle bells!!

Posted: July 20, 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

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Results from the Sagami Lake Warrior Dash

Posted: June 25, 2013 by admin in Get Fit

It’s been a while since I’ve written a full-length post, but with the recent Warrior Dash still fresh in my memory, I thought it was time to write.

So what is Warrior Dash?

Warrior Dash 1Well, it’s basically a 5km obstacle course usually run on hilly terrain.  With mud to slosh through, fire to jump over, walls to scale and repel, there’s lots of good fun to be had at this event.  It’s run by Chicago-based Red Frog Events and is relatively new with a short 3-year history.  But really, this isn’t the only event of it’s kind.  The first Tough Guy was held in 1987 and Tough Mudder and Spartan Race supposedly top the popularity list for mud runs and obstacle courses.  But it’s only in recent years that these events have really gained in popularity.

So what gives?  Why the sudden interest, America?

I would have thought that America was getting tired of being tired and fat and events like these were maybe giving everyone motivation to get fit.  Looking at the lackluster competition and beer offered mid-race at a mud run I did in Nebraska, however, I wonder if it might just be more of a novelty and something fun to do.  And, well, it is fun!

My results

Warrior Dash - Prison BreakSo I decided to go all out at this year’s Warrior Dash, held at Sagami Lake in Kanagawa Prefecture, without training specifically for it.  I wanted to see just how fit I already was naturally.  The results were surprising.  If you go to http://www.results.oztiming.com.au/events/89/ at check out #4495 (that’s me, although they couldn’t get my name in there for whatever reason), you can see for yourself.  I managed to take 58th place out of 1,539 participants.  Pretty impressive considering I didn’t run much at all (I hate running, although I enjoy the occasional trail run) during the months leading up to the event.  To give some perspective, 1st place finished at a blazing 24:50, I finished at 32:35 and last place was over two hours.  In hindsight, not to brag, but I’m pretty sure I could have finished in the top 10 had I trained specifically for this event.  Something to shoot for next time, perhaps.  To the right is a pic from after the race.  As you can see, my team decided to do a prison break theme for costumes to add an extra fun element to the event.  I found it was slowing me down and, always the pragmatist, took it off halfway through the run for better performance.  Hence the nakedness!

So what am I?  Some kind of genetic mutant?

Nope, although I do think I have good genes.  There are other factors at play here.  For example, fuel.  My fuel?  Me, pretty much!  I ran this event on a mere 5g of leucine (a ketogenic amino acid), 30g of MCT oil (also highly ketogenic and derived from coconuts) and 20g of coffee beans, a mere 300 kcal.  Why?  I wanted to be in a ketogenic state so I could use body fat for energy after my glycogen stores ran out.  MCT burns quick, and running on an empty stomach also means that no energy is going towards digestion, so I have more energy to complete the event at full throttle.  Muscle glycogen was topped off the night before with indian food (rice and more rice) and bananas for dessert.  Glycogen burns much faster than fat, so maximizing glycogen storage the night before the race was critical.  This provided me with fairly stable energy throughout the race.

Warror Dash 2Another thing to consider is the fact that my mitochondria, the power plant of the cell, are efficient and abundant.  Why?  According to Mark’s Daily Apple: “The single most fundamental – and simple – way to improve mitochondrial function is to turn away from relying on sugar-burning and transform yourself into a fat-burning beast.”  Apparently, mitochondria burn fat more efficiently than sugar and with less damaging free radical bi-products.  In a previous post, Mark also talks about clinical studies that showed that mitochondrial biogenesis happens when we do resistance training and interval training.  I kill two birds with one stone with my workouts using a 24kg kettle bell, performing swings and presses once a week and swings 2 or 3 times a week by themselves.  I do other training, as well, such as rock climbing, the sport I’m truly passionate about.

So basically, I had caffeine which encouraged adrenaline secretion and enhanced athletic performance, my muscles had over 500g of glycogen to burn as glucose for fuel when needed and I had body fat to burn for fuel when glycogen wasn’t needed or was depleted, both being burned efficiently by my superman mitochondria.  I liked this setup for this race and I think I’ll do it again next time, although with a bit more event-specific training done leading up to the event.

Anyone else doing challenging athletic events out there?  How do you train and eat for them?  Let us know in the comment section down below!

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Progress with modified warrior diet

Posted: June 5, 2013 by admin in My World

Update: I’ve decided to write these quick journal entries in the morning, with food and exercise give for the prior day.

Status: Weight 78.1kg / Waist 79cm / Mood fantastic

Breakfast: I’ve added 10g of whey protein to my morning coffee and MCT ritual.

Lunch: 1 can of sanma, 30g of whey protein

Dinner: 300g chicken, 90g of fat (50g olive oil, 40g coconut oil), 500g of lotus root, 1 pack of nattou, 1 egg.

An example of lotus root food, boiled and seas...

Exercise: 4,574 steps walked, 40 kettle bell swings @ 24kg in the morning

Notes: So I’m 2kg down from my long running average of 80kg!  Waist is down, too, so I’m losing fat.  Energy and focus are both still consistent and great and I’m sure I’m pulling some calories from body fat, especially in the mornings and afternoons.  Hopefully I’m not losing muscle, but with my shoulder injury, it’s hard to lift heavy or do pull-ups, so I won’t know if I’m getting weaker until that heals.  The protein in the morning should be preventing lean tissue loss.  I’m going to my A.R.T. doc/chiropractitioner tomorrow to have him work on my shoulder.  Will do a military press / swings workout afterwards once everything is released and will see where I’m at strength-wise.  Analysis for yesterday’s food…. ~2000cal, 135g protein, 110g fat, 75g carbs.  The cals were lower than expected and likely slightly under maintenance levels (maintenance needs to be recalculated).  I’ll stuff my face after tomorrow’s workout, as usual, a la Lean Gains (under maintenance on rest days, over maintenance on workout days) with a decent sized carb refeed PWO.  Note that I’m not measuring calories beforehand and am simply eating to satiety and while loosely measuring macros.  What’s fascinating is, just like the last time I tried this, hunger signals are being pushed to the evening, right where I want them to be.  This way of eating is just too easy!

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Stats: Weight 79.3kg / Waist 79.5cm / Mood: Supercharged

Okay, I felt fanfriggintastic ALL DAY today…  So what’s goin’ on?  Take a look at what I ate for a clue.

Breakfast@6am: 15g MCT oil with 10g roasted coffee beans

Lunch@12pm: 1 can Sanma (Pacific Saury?), 10g BCAAs and 5g creatine monohydrate (micronized)

“Snack”@5pm: 1 can sardines, 10g BCAAs, 5g creatine

Dinner@9pm: 500g beef heart in a red coconut curry with pumpkin, onion, EVOO and a bit of cane sugar

Exercise: Today; 8114 steps, 30 kettle bell swings @ 24kg.  Yesterday; 3700 steps, a few minutes cycling, and HUGE dead lift workout (3×100/12×110/12×120/1×130)

What do you notice?  Yup, my lunch was pretty small at roughly 300 cal, which is amazing considering the colossal dead lift workout I did the night before.  I should’ve been starving!  Anyway, recently I’ve been noticing that my energy has been dropping after lunch, even though it’s a zero-carb 300g hunk of sous vide chicken or beef.  That should cause little to no insulin spike, so why the afternoon sleepies?  I started thinking it might just be a matter of ease of digestion and decided to make things easier on my body.  I put all animal protein to night time, eating a light meal of fish, eggs, or whey protein for lunch instead (weighting on the whey protein isolate shipment right now).  I’m in mega fat burning mode with the coffee and MCTs from the morning doing their magic and don’t really feel hungry at lunch anyway.  I did this yesterday and today with the same results.  AMAZING ENERGY!  No energy dip, fantastic mood, solid focus, clear mind.  All cylinders are firing and operating at peak conditions, sir!  :^D

And what’s more, even though I did a massive carb-up last night after the work out, this morning expecting to weigh more with the synthesized glycogen and accompanying water retention, I weighed less than yesterday and my waist shrunk a cm!  Sweet!!  With a much lower carb dinner this evening and all the walking I did on a near fast, I’m curious what my measurements will come to tomorrow.  Stay tuned, but for the time being, I guess you can say I’m back on a modified Warrior Diet, baby!

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Current stats: Waist: 81cm / Weight: 80.0kg / Mood: Upbeat

Hey y’all.  So I thought I’d start a journal of sorts.  This will keep me writing more regularly while I come up with ideas and material for full articles.  I’m planning to add the exercise done and food eaten each day for the time being.

Recently I’ve been starting the day nearly the same way for the last couple of weeks.  I wake up at 5:30-6am without an alarm clock.  I’ve been waking up this early ever since a 3-day camping trip up in Yamanashi Prefecture.  Something about the air up there, waking up with the sunrise… changed my internal clock and it never went back.  At first it was a pain, waking up so early.  I mean, who wants to be up before 6am for no particular reason?  Now that I’ve gotten used to it and become a “morning person”, I’m enjoying the extra hours of productivity in the morning before I go to work.

Breakfast: 15g MCT oil and 4g coffee beans (chewed and swallowed)

Lunch: 300-350g of sous vide cooked beef or chicken, with a bit of coconut oil and/or olive oil, sea salt and curry powder (if the chicken)

Dinner: 6 scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil with kimchi, chopped onion, bell peppers, 2 cans of fish (1 saba and 1 sardines), 1 pack natto, 1 banana (eaten after dinner), followed by a cup of delicious beef stock and chicken broth

Supplements taken: 400mg magnesium and 50mg 5-HTP (both for sleep, the former also to aid many biological processes and the latter also to aid in seratonin production and mood regulation), both before bed

Exercise: Moves App offline for some reason so no data there.  Two days ago I did 90 kettle bell swings and 46 1-arm military presses with a 24 kg kettle bell.  Wasn’t focusing as much as I should have and I loss tension in my left arm during a press and my shoulder collapsed on itself, with much crackling and snapping on the way down.  Only hurt for a moment and I was able to complete the workout.  It’s been bothering me since, but it’s gotten a lot better.  I think I’ll be good to go for dead lifts tomorrow before sushi dinner with a friend.  Lesson learned, don’t underestimate kettle bells!  They’ll bite you in the ass!!

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