Five so-called “Health foods” that are making you fat

  1. Granola. I love granola, but I don’t delude myself into thinking it’s good for me. It’s just oats (carbohydrates) coated in sugar (more carbs) and fat. As Xzibit would say:
    Sprinkle a tiny bit of it on your full-fat Greek yogurt once in a while, which brings me to my next point.
  2. Low-fat yogurt. Real, natural yogurt, is incredibly good for you, in moderation. But most of the yogurt we eat has had sugar added, and what’s worse, the fat has been removed, so your body absorbs the sugar even more quickly. This should make you very angry. Instead, it just makes you fat.
  3. Fruit Juice. Fruit is good for you because it’s fresh and it has fiber. But fruit juice is just the sugar water with everything else discarded. Yes, it’s natural sugar water. But it’s still sugar water. Why do you think hypoglycemics reach for orange juice when their blood sugar is low? And how many vitamins do you think it has after it’s been pasteurized (boiled) and left sitting on a shelf for weeks?
  4. Whole-wheat bread. The term “whole wheat” is very loosely regulated by the FDA, so a lot of the time your “whole wheat” bread might not have that much whole wheat in it. But even if it does, the extra fiber and protein doesn’t really slow down the absorption of the carbs that much. Treat bread like the high-carb treat it is, and eat it very sparingly, preferably right after working out. And put lots of butter on it to slow down the absorption of the carbs!
  5. Honey. Just ‘cause it comes from bees, doesn’t mean your body won’t treat like it treats every other form of sugar – by sending it straight to your fat cells. Use in extreme moderation.

Stay sexy, my friends.

Why Setting Goals Doesn’t Work

It’s the received wisdom that we should set goals and work toward them. But amidst all this positive thinking, no one ever talks about why it fails. Laziness and lack of motivation are obvious reasons, but I think another important reason is that people get focused on the milestone instead of the behavior that leads to it. They focus on the product instead of the process. Some examples:

“I just want to lose ten pounds”. This is a classic example of stupid goal setting that leads to stupid counter-productive behavior like juice fasts and other crash diets that destroy the muscle that was keeping your metabolism high, screw up your hunger-regulating hormones, ensuring that you’ll get fat faster in the future. Weight is a meaningless number, after all. If you told me you gained or lost 10 lbs in a month, the first thing I would ask you is how much of it was muscle.

“I wish I could get her phone number/get her to go out with me”. Ok, and then what? Getting a girl to go out with you is just a milestone in the whole process of attraction. A lot of guys focus on getting girls’ phone numbers, not realizing that that’s actually the easiest part. Believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way. I have a lot of numbers in my phone of extremely hot women, most of whom don’t text back. That’s ’cause I didn’t take the time to develop a real connection with them BEFORE I asked for their phone numbers, because I was stupidly focused on getting the phone number as though that was the magic key.

“I wish I had a million dollars”. Most people who win the lottery end up bankrupt and in debt within a year, because they haven’t learned how to be rich, successful people.

Instead, for each of your goals, you need to dig a little deeper and figure out what you REALLY want, and not just look at the outer signifiers or the milestones.

“I just want to lose ten pounds”. No, you don’t. You want to be a fit, healthy person. But that’s not a two-week project. It’s a lifestyle change. But trust me, it’s worth it. And the two-week crash diet will just make you miserable in the short-term and fatter in the long-term. It’s scientifically proven.

“I wish I could get her to go out with me”. No, what you really want is to be so attractive that women like her actually WANT to go out with you. That requires you to work on yourself and improve your social skills. But it’s worth it.

“I wish I had a million dollars”. No, you don’t. What you really want is to be successful. The million dollars is just a trophy that proves you were successful.

Try this with all the goals you set for 2015 and see if you’re focusing on dumb external measurements instead of the things you really want.

How eating more fat can help you lose weight

What's the most unhealthy thing on this plate? Hint: it's not the bacon or the eggs.

For decades, it was the received wisdom that fat made you fat. Yet despite the proliferation of low-fat foods, obesity has only continued to rise. I don’t need to quote statistics to convince you of how fat Americans have become. You can see them all around you. Maybe you see one in the mirror.

If you are what you eat, then why doesn’t cutting the fat out of your diet cut fat from your waistline? Allow me to illustrate with an example from my own life:

I recently was out with a friend and I suggested getting gelato and she said “I prefer frozen yogurt because it’s low fat”. So we go to the frozen yogurt place and she orders a large. FAIL! She reduced her fat intake, but doubled her sugar intake. Of course, this is fairly typical behavior at a frozen yogurt place, many of which now price their yogurt by the pound, and have a whole selection of toppings so you can add in the flavor that was lost when they took out the fat. Gelato places never have toppings, and they always price their product by the scoop, because you don’t need more than a scoop or two to feel satisfied because it’s so rich in flavor and texture.

Maybe if the yogurt had more flavor, you wouldn't need to pile all that other junk food on top of it

Now, some of you may be thinking that none of this matters, that since fat has more calories per gram than sugar, you end up eating the same number of calories anyway. But not all calories are created equal. The human body is not as simple as the calories in/calories out model of weight management would have us believe. In reality, the sugar is digested much more quickly by the body, causing your blood sugar to rise. Your body can’t tolerate this condition, so it pumps out insulin to get the glucose out of your blood and into your muscles, liver, and fat cells. If you’re a sedentary, well-fed American, your liver and muscles are already storing everything they can, so your body puts the surplus glucose the only place it can: your fat cells.

This is why frozen yogurt is worse for you than gelato, despite the fact BECAUSE it’s low-fat. There’s no fat to slow down the absorption of the sugar, so all of it goes straight to your fat cells.

But that’s not even the worst part. You see, now that the insulin has done its job, you have low blood-sugar again. You start to feel hungry and cranky, and your willpower gets weaker. And eventually you give in and eat another low-fat, sugary snack, and the cycle repeats itself.

This is how we’ve become a nation of big fat dieters. Everyday, somebody eats low-fat cereal with skim milk for breakfast and then feels hungry two hours later, so they eat a muffin or a donut. Every day, somebody orders a salad with low-fat dressing, then has to hit the vending machine around 3pm because they’re hungry and cranky.

But if you add fat to every meal, you’ll feel full and satisfied longer. It’s not a silver bullet. You can’t eat gelato every day and expect to be thin. You can’t put butter on all your pastries and hope to mitigate the damage caused by the carbs. Fat is not, as one author suggests, “a condom for your carbs”. But adding healthy fats to healthy meals will decrease your appetite for junk food and help you get through the day without running to the vending machine to eat whatever some corporation thinks you should eat.

Here are four easy ways to add more healthy fats to your diet:

  1. Eat raw or dry-roasted nuts. Avoid salted nuts, since the salt will trick you into eating more than you need to. I like to keep a jar of natural unsalted peanut-butter in the fridge for nibbling.
  2. Eat more avocados. Some people think it’s hard to find good avocados, but the trick is to buy them when they’re still rock-hard and let them ripen on your counter. Placing them next to bananas will speed up the ripening process.
  3. Keep Greek yogurt in the fridge for a dessert. It’s deliciously creamy and very high in protein. And yogurt doesn’t have as much lactose (sugar) as milk does.
  4. Pour olive oil and vinegar on your salad instead of a sickly-sweet low-fat creamy dressing. Cream doesn’t belong on salad.

What you add to your diet is just as important as what you take away. Add more fat to your diet and start leading a richer, healthier, more delicious life.

Stay sexy, my friends.

Nick Cannon forced to start living like a Sexy Geek

Nick Cannon’s kidney problems have forced him to give up junk food and start taking better care of himself. I’m not sure if his poor eating habits caused his health problems, but I’m sure they contributed to his condition or at least aggravated it. Read more here.

I especially like this quote of his:

I always considered myself as someone who was in great shape, but I was doing too much (to my body) so my immune system got confused and just started attacking my kidneys… I look like I’m in shape, but I was putting the wrong stuff into my body, speeding all the time, not sleeping and eating properly – it’s all about taking time and really caring about yourself and how you fuel yourself.

I’m glad that he’s cleaned up his diet, but it’s clear that his attitudes to food still haven’t changed. He and I clearly have different definitions of “good oatmeal”:

Cannon’s since had to replace his beloved sugar-filled Lucky Charms cereal with oats as he “can’t have none of that stuff anymore”, but he moans, “(It’s) not even the good oatmeal. (It’s) real oats, like horse-feed stuff – but it’s cool. I’ve got to start to love it.”

Dude, what do you have against real oats? Maybe you’re just not making your oatmeal properly. Try this recipe from eat2succeed:

  • 1/2 cup (45 g) of rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup (157 g) of skimmed milk
  • 2/3 scoop (20 g) of chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1 cup (125 g) of frozen raspberries
  • A dash of cinnamon

    High protein chocolate raspberry oatmeal (photo by eat2succeed)

 

Personally, I would use whole milk because I think the fat is probably good for me and it’s more filling. And I would add some chia seeds for a nice crunch and some extra fiber and god knows how many vitamins and minerals (’cause chia apparently has all of them in abundance).

Remember, if you put garbage in your body, your body will look and feel like garbage. If you put healthy food in your body, your body will look and feel healthy.

Eat smart, live smart. That’s The Sexy Geek way.

How sparkling water can help you lose weight

I have an oral fixation. Throughout my life, I’ve had problems with drinking, smoking, and eating. Sometimes, I just get bored and I want to put something in my mouth (that sounds dirty, but it’s not. Not usually, anyway). For me, sparkling water, aka club soda, or seltzer water, or carbonated mineral water, is the perfect pacifier.

Sparkling water helps you out by:

  • Silencing phantom hunger pangs — It’s two hours after a meal, you know you shouldn’t be hungry, but your stomach’s doing something funny that you just can’t ignore, and it’s impeding your ability to focus. Don’t reach for a snack, a sugary soda, a beer, or even a piece of fruit — have a glass of sparkling water instead. The bubbles will make you feel full. I suspect this is one of the reasons people drink soda. Well, now you can have your soda without turning into a fatty.
  • Ensuring adequate hydration — this may come as a surprise, but sparkling water contains large amounts of water.
  • Boosting your metabolism — if you consume it cold, your body has to burn energy heating it up. This effect is small, but significant. And don’t overlook the metabolic impact of getting up and walking to the bathroom.
  • Reducing your glycemic response — if you squeeze a lemon into it, according to Tim Ferris: “In my personal trials, three tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice just prior to eating appeared to lower blood sugar peaks by approximately 10%”. That’s a lot of lemon juice for a 10% effect, so consider the lemon juice optional, and rinse your mouth out with plain water after consuming it — you don’t want citric acid sitting in your mouth eating away at your pearly whites.

And finally, sparkling water is just more fun than regular water. As I always say: I like my water to sparkle — like my intellect.

Huy Fong Chili

Here in SoCal, the weather’s been in the 80s for about a week now, which is just bizarre to someone used to New York winters. But for the rest of you who are shivering right now, here’s a chili recipe I found on Huy Fong’s Web site. Simple and delicious:

Chili
* 1 lb. ground beef
* 1 package of chili seasoning mix
* 1/2 cup water

* 1 16 oz. can of whole tomatoes, cut-up
* 1 16 oz. can of kidney beans, drained (optional)
* 1 Tbsp. (or more) of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha Chili Sauce

1. In Dutch oven, brown ground beef and drain.
2. Stir in chili seasoning mix, water, tomatoes, beans and Sriracha Chili Sauce
3. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.

*Serving suggestion: Garnish with chopped red pepper and scallions, if desired.

The Sexy Geek’s suggestions:

  • Definitely do not consider the beans optional — they’re what fills you up.
  • Buy organic, grass-fed ground beef. It’s better for you, and not to mention for the cows. May cost a little bit more, but you’ll probably get several meals out of this pot of chili, so it’s worth it.
  • Make sure your chili seasoning doesn’t have MSG or sugar or anything else nasty in it
  • Add lots of Sriracha sauce!

I’ll make some later and upload a picture.

Update: Here’s a picture. I added an extra can of beans because I felt that the meat-to-bean ratio was too high.

So spicy!

Garbage in, Garbage Out — the secret of successful cooking

A fundamental precept of programming is “Garbage in, garbage out”. It means that a program that is fed garbage input can only produce garbage output. It can’t work miracles.

It’s interesting that most introductory books on programming describe a program as a recipe for solving a problem, for turning input into output. Think about a program that has to try to extract information from text. If the input is garbage — poorly formatted, misspellings — then the program will have to be exceedingly complex. If the text is well-formed and structured, the program can be incredibly simple. A simple script or parser will often suffice.

Now turn the metaphor around and think of a recipe as a program for turning raw ingredients into an edible dish. When your inputs are fresh, high-quality ingredients, you can cook the simplest dishes with a minimum of time and effort and they will taste amazing. If, however, your input ( raw ingredients ) is garbage, then your output ( final dish ) will be garbage as well.

When you start with high-quality, fresh ingredients, turning them into something delicious is pretty simple. For example: A steak. A pork chop. A nice piece of salmon or tuna. All of these things can be prepared by putting a pan on the stove, setting it to medium-high heat, and cooking for a few minutes on each side. You can get more complicated if you want, but start simple.

Obviously, just as a bad program can still make a mess of perfect data, a bad cook can make a mess of good ingredients. Good ingredients do not guarantee success. But they make it much more likely.

The lean glutton

Your body wants to eat a certain amount of food, so dieting and starving yourself doesn’t work because sooner or later, something’s gotta give. Unfortunately, because we’re surrounded by junk food these days, the odds are very good that your willpower will tap out right at the moment when you need it the most.

So, I take the opposite approach. I fill my belly with good food as often as possible to ensure that I never experience the kind of hunger that deludes me into thinking that garbage is tasty. And I really go for it. I pour olive oil onto my salad, eat a tablespoons of natural peanut or almond butter after every meal, and snack on carrots and hummus like there’s no tomorrow.

Everything in my fridge is strategically chosen to ensure that I experience maximum satisfaction with a minimal number of calories and little or no sugar. From the two greasy eggs (slowly-digested protein) and giant pile of beans (slowly-digested fiber) that I eat every morning to the salads swimming in olive oil that I have for lunch, to the dense yogurt I eat for dessert at night, all my food fills my belly and satisfies my soul.

If you fill up on healthy food there’ll be no room in your stomach or your life for garbage. Develop a monogamous relationship with healthy food and she’ll reward you with so much pleasure that you’ll never dally with the skanky whores of junk food.

Fish with chili-garlic aioli and avocado salad

People who think that eating healthy is difficult or expensive need to think again. See this delicious meal? I prepared it in about ten minutes for less than $5

Tastes as good as it looks

Making it was easy: I fried the fish with some olive oil for about five minutes on each side while I made the avocado salad. To make the avocado salad, I simply chopped up two avocados and one tomato and tossed* with olive oil, sea salt, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. The chili-garlic aioli is just a tablespoon of mayonnaise mixed with Huy Fong sriracha sauce, available in any good grocery store.

Tilapia costs about $5/pound, and there is about a 1/4 pound on this plate.

I got the avocados at 5 for $1 at my local Mexican grocery. (Btw, never buy ripe avocados — they’ve been manhandled too much. Buy them when they’re hard and let them ripen on your counter. Putting them next to bananas will speed up the process, because of the ripening gas coming off the bananas).

The price of a tablespoon of mayonnaise and a tablespoon of sriracha sauce is negligible.

Total cost for two people (have a double portion if you’re single and hungry. It’s all healthy food):

Fish(1/2 lb): $2.50

Avocados(2): $.40

Tomatoes(1): $.25 or less

Mayonnaise: $.30 or less

Sriracha: $.25 or less

Total: $3.70

This even strikes me as a little on the extreme end of cheap, so let me clarify that I didn’t set out to make a really cheap dinner. I actually just threw this together from what I had on hand. And the point of this is not that you should eat only cheap food. Sometimes good food costs a little bit more, and it’s worth the expense.

No, the point of this is that eating delicious healthy meals is not complicated or time-consuming.

And a side benefit: does the picture above look like a meal that a girl would really appreciate? Of course it does. Women have more refined palates than we do, and they love to eat fresh food, tastefully prepared and presented. Learn to cook like this, and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

And you’ll be a lot healthier, too.

Notes: Try to find a mayonnaise with no trans fats or added sugars. And if you’re unable to find Huy Fong sriracha sauce in your grocery store, you can get a sample pack for $8 plus shipping at Huy Fong’s Web-site.

*Toss, in the context of salad, means to stir around in a bowl. It does not require you to toss anything into the air.

 

You are what you eat repeatedly

“We are what we do repeatedly. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle

Who you are is determined by the millions of little choices you make everyday. If I perpetually go around acting like a total asshole and then make one charitable contribution per year or give a homeless person a handful of change once in a while, does that make me a nice guy? No. You become a nice guy by being nice every hour of every day.

The same is true for being lean and healthy. You can’t get lean and healthy by following a fad diet for two weeks and then eating garbage the rest of the year. You get lean and healthy by making the right decisions about what to put in your body every hour of every day.

Do the math: if you eat crap all year round and then go on a crash diet in January because you made a new year’s resolution to eat healthy, congratulations. You ate (sort-of) healthy 1/12th of the time. You’re 8% healthy, 92% fat-ass.

To be 100% healthy and lean, you’ve got to eat healthy 100% of the time.

Does the thought of eating nothing but healthy food fill you with dread? I used to feel the same way. This is because we have a lot of fake shit in our society that not only masquerades as food, but has the nerve to trumpet itself as healthy. You know it when you see labels like “low-fat” or “lite”. This stuff tastes worse than the garbage it’s meant to substitute. It’s full of sodium and sugar, which means that instead of satisfying you, it leaves you feeling empty and craving more junk.

What is healthy food, really? What I’m talking about here is real food, not processed junk. Real food tastes better and satisfies your body and soul in a way that junk food doesn’t. And, for the most part, it’s less calorically dense, so you can eat to abundance and never feel hungry while consuming fewer calories.

Other benefits of eating real food are:

1) Simplicity — Fad diets are complicated. Eating healthy every day is not. You don’t have to keep a food journal, count “net carbs”, or go to a support group every week.
2) Eat as much as you want. Real food makes you feel full and satisfied quicker than processed food does.
3) Better nutrition — Have you noticed that every week they discover a new vitamin, mineral, polyphenol, or antioxidant? If you’re eating processed food, you literally don’t know what you’re missing.
4) Better health — Increased energy, better moods, better sex, less frequent illness, better sleep.
5) Saves money — Eating out all the time is a gut-buster and a wallet buster. If you know how to cook your own food, you can save a ton of money.
6) You can indulge periodically without “wrecking your diet”. I’m not a Nazi or a vegan. I make exceptions to my eating habits, but only when it’s really worth it.

The catch is that you have to do it all the time. Every day. You must eat right as a matter of principle. This is not a quick fix. It’s a permanent lifestyle change. You must become the type of person who does not eat junk food. Which of these two sentences sounds more manly and confident?

1. “No thanks. I don’t eat that kind of stuff.”
2. “Oh that looks delicious but I can’t eat it — I’m on a diet this week.”