Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer, Summer, Summer Time!

It was is the best of times, it was is the worst of times. Alright. Slightly dramatic. But hear me out. Summer is when it is SUPPOSED to be easy eating because of all of the fresh produce supplied by our hard-working family farmers. Well. I beg to differ. Summer is when my alcohol consumption sky rockets (read: pizza and garlic bread Sundays). I hate turning on the oven and heating up our always warm house, therefore there is frequent eating out / ordering in. And I always find excuses to do something after work that keeps me from regular grocery store trips, etc. So now what????  When will I drum it into my head that eating is essential to me ever reaching my goals? Seriously - Even if I just had the discipline to eat well 6 out of the 7 days, I know I'd lose weight. Hell. I was just doing it 6 weeks ago. But progress has stalled. And dammit. I'm NOT going to fail this time. I don't ever want to simply "start" a diet. Its time to cross the flipping finish line. Sheesh. Its time to hammer down and really plan my meals. Fail to plan = plan to fail for me.

I also was reflecting back that the past few weeks my workouts have been the hardest, I've been sluggish, and I almost feel incapable of pushing myself further. Well, hello! This totally correlates to my crap eating! I'm totally realizing that if I'm not fueling my body with better foods, my workouts will never reach the caliber it will take to do things like run a half marathon - or get me to a sub-30 minute 5k. I need to earn the right to achieve these goals, and fueling my body with crap just won't cut it.

Which leads me to an article our boot camp instructor sent me last summer, about the Ape Diet. Summary is below - not that I expect to eat like an ape, (except for in the quantity category of 11 #s of food) - but what a good refresher on how important fruits and veggies are to a diet, and filling ourselves up on foods that are filling for nutritional content. Not fat and caloric content.

"Jill Fullerton-Smith, who might be considered a pariah by fast food devotees in the U.S., organized a 12-day trial that included nine volunteers aged 36 to 49 who would eat a diet fit for primates. These nine were housed in a tented enclosure at the Paignton Zoo in Devon, England. Because they were adjacent to the zoo's ape house, their eating regimen during the trial has been nicknamed the Ape Diet. Fullerton-Smith turned to King's College Hospital and Lynne Garton, a registered dietician and nutritionist, to devise the Evo Diet consisting of the types of foods that humans evolved to eat over thousands of years, a diet that would also lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Participants sampled ape diet.

Garton took her inspiration from a plant-based diet of man's closest relatives, the apes. She devised a program that was made up of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and honey that would be given to the participants on a three-day rotating basis. The menu had three requirements: 1. It had to be safe eaten raw. 2. It met adult human daily nutritional requirements. 3. It provided 2300 calories--between 2000 recommended for women and 2500 for men

And what did they eat daily? Five kilograms (11 pounds) or 2300 calories of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and honey on a 3-day rotation, typically:

Broccoli, carrots, radishes Cabbage, tomatoes, watercress Strawberries, apricots, bananas Mangoes, melons, figs, plums Satsumas, hazelnuts

The only liquid for the volunteers was plain water. In the second week the participants were given "standard portions" of cooked oily fish that might have been part of the hunter/gatherer lifestyle. Anyone facing the task of devouring 2300 calories of raw food daily will soon discover that is an impossible task for most people. Most of the volunteers were unable to finish their daily quota of food. Guards were stationed outside of the tent to keep any members of the group from sneaking off to the local pub for a pint and some chips.

Roughage has side effects:

Garton revealed that without caffeinated drinks and some foods in their normal diets, the participants enjoyed good energy levels and did not display "unhappiness and grumpiness." The major side effect was the flatulence from all the newfound roughage they were eating, not a subject discussed in polite English society. Of course, the human apes were able to derive health benefits from this diet in spite of the oily fish during the second week. The average cholesterol of the group fell 23%, an amount that is usually achieved by prescribing statin drugs to accomplish those dramatic results. The average blood pressure dropped from 140/83 to 122/76. The experiment was not designed for weight loss, yet the group averaged a 9.7-pound drop.

Commenting on the experiment, Garton said, "The main lesson that they took away was to eat more fruit and vegetables. They also cut salt intake from a group average of 12 grams a day to 1 gram (against a guideline maximum of 6 grams) and reduced saturated fat--which makes cholesterol--from 13% to 5% of calories (recommended 11%)."

One of the participants, Jon Thornton, a 36-year-old driving instructor, was volunteered by his wife. Thornton weighed in at 19-stone (266 pounds) and confessed that he never eats vegetables. What he faced in the tent was quite a change from his usual fare of bacon, sausage, eggs, fish and chips, and Chinese take-out food. He almost quit the experiment on the first day when he opened a cold box and was greeted with raw vegetables, especially the reviled broccoli. After the initial shock, he found himself eating huge portions of fresh fruit and vegetables. At the end of those twelve days he had lost 12.5 pounds, reduced his cholesterol by 20%, and saw his blood pressure drop. "

So better to eat like an ape than a pig I guess!


  1. Cool ape-diet story! I loved it. I think more people should eat like that. But it sounds like you're having problems with cooking and eating out... I can't promise you anything, but bagged pre-cut salads ($2.50/bag) are my savior for dinners.

    Buy 4 at the beginning of the week (perhaps 4 different kinds). Get a light dressing or two and (you don't have to do this but I do some weeks) a package of chicken (about 1lb).

    Basically each night eat the bag of salad (35 calories for the whole bag + ~100 for dressing + ~200 for the chicken). The volume of the salad should easily fill you up. There's little or no prep-time. And the cleaup is just 1 bowl.

    I cook (grill) the chicken on Monday, and slice it up into cubes. Then put in about 10 pieces per salad (3oz) and the rest in the fridge. No heat, no mess, no time, no sweat! It just becomes a question "Can you eat a salad 4 days in a row?" Which is where the 2nd dressing comes into play. Mix it up, change the flavor from time to time.

  2. Very interesting experiment. It seems pretty obvious, but something I'm not very good at sticking to. It's dumb that I don't eat veggies more...because I love them!!!