Category Archives: Dieting

wtf COME ON–detox smoothie

Just saw this on pinterest under “fitness”:


Come on, wtf? Is the logic here that if you put in something Asian, some leafy greens, and a bunch of vitamin C in anything, it becomes detoxifying? Because I’m just going to throw this out there: one of these is a cup of pineapple juice, and one of these is a can of Coca Cola.

nutritionfacts cocacola nutritionfacts pineapple juice

I also take issue with the idea of calling this concoction a “smoothie.” I don’t know exactly how to define a smoothie, but I’d imagine that some juice with a bunch of spinach in it does not a smoothie make. Don’t you at least need some ice for viscosity or something? COME ON.

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The Brush-Your-Teeth Dieting Technique


Dentist recommended Toothpaste® brand Toothpaste

Growing up in a Chinese1 household, there was one rule that was really ingrained in me: you do not eat for the rest of the night after you’ve brushed your teeth. Simply having the feeling of clean teeth after brushing my teeth at night would completely deter me from wanting food. The idea of sullying my freshly cleaned pearly whites was just so disgusting.

That led me to the creation of the “Brush-Your-Teeth Dieting Technique.” Now, any time I’m finished eating for the day, I’ll brush my teeth immediately, preventing me from wanting to eat for the rest of the night. Sure, I’m not going to lie, I’m thinking about having a bowl of ramen right now, but in the battle of appetite vs clean teeth, clean teeth prevails. Brilliant!

1Is that a Chinese thing? I had always assumed everyone was like this, but when I told a former non-Chinese2 roommate that I couldn’t order late night Chinese food with him because I had already brushed my teeth, he pretty much gave me this look:


2He’s Chinese now. No, just joking, I just omitted a comma and thought it’d be funnier to leave it out.


Comparing cost effectiveness of fish oil supplements

fish-oil-companiesA little while ago, I made a post about the cost effectiveness of protein supplements, and I found it useful enough that I thought I’d do another one that’s basically the same but looks at fish oil supplements.

Once again, I’m not really going to go into any real depth as to why I take fish oil. If you are interested, Lyle McDonald has a good article on supplements, and Martin Berkhan has one specifically about omega 3s (though it’s pretty dense).

For this post, I just took a look at a couple brands that I’ve used or read about in the past and compared how much you’re getting for your money. Here’s the table:


And here’s how to make sense of the table:

  • Cost per bottle – Just like last time, since we’re talking about value, the absolute cost per bottle doesn’t mean much, but this is the cost of the bottle that I’m evaluating.
  • DHA and EPA per serving – When we talk about fish oil, we don’t actually care about the volume of the fish oil. It’s the DHA/EPA omega-3 content of each tablet that we want.
  • Serving Size – Serving size does not affect the value of the pills, but it is useful to know how many soft gels you’ll be taking per day.
  • Soft gels per 3g DHA/EPA – Once again, I’m not going to get into how much fish oil one should take per day, but a common recommendation is 3g DHA/EPA, so this is just the number of soft gels you’ll have to take on a daily basis to hit this goal.
  • Cost per g DHA/EPA – This is the cost per bottle divided by the DHA/EPA per serving divided by the servings per bottle. It tells you how much you’re paying per gram of EPA/DHA.

The two cheapest fish oils I found were both by Kirkland. I personally prefer Kirkland’s Enteric Coated Fish Oil because:

  • I don’t have to take 10 of them per day to hit 3g DHA/EPA
  • It’s got an enteric coating (which supposedly prevents fish burps)
  • It appears to be Meg-3 certified. I read the link and still don’t really know what it is, and I’m sure it’s a scam, but it sounds cool, so I refuse to use products without it.

One last thing I’ll note is that I added Nature Made to the list because it always seems to be on sale in grocery stores with 2-for-1 deals. However, it actually ends up being almost double the price (per g DHA/EPA) as Kirkland’s Enteric Coated Fish Oil (and requiring double the soft gels per serving), and I’m guessing that it’s only 2-for-1 when the original price has been marked up by 100%. So watch out.

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Dear pinterest fitness, plz post harder workouts

abs1 abs2 back1  

One of my roommates recently said to me, “you should check out pinterest’s fitness page. It’s got a lot of pictures of hot women.” That sounded pretty good to me! (He actually had me at “should”! Advice he gives is often sound!).


So I checked it out and noticed a pattern. The vast majority of content in the fitness page fall into the following 3 categories:

  1. Pictures of attractive women with amazing bodies. Just as promised, there are lots of these, and they’re generally accompanied by comments like, “my goal for my abs.”
  2. Pictures of attractive women with amazing bodies with motivational captions. They usually say things like, “Be strong! Don’t give up! Stay tough! Do it for your health! No excuses! More exclamation points!”
  3. Suggested workouts that can be done in under ten minutes with no equipment. This is my favorite part. The other two categories get you all pumped thinking that everyone pinning stuff must be highly motivated and hardcore. They’re probably doing crazy weights with barbells and then running half marathons on a daily basis! …and then you see all of these workouts that are like, “Blast fat away! Doing 500 jumping jacks in 5 minutes is like 40 minutes of running!”

5 minute workouts are way better than nothing, and I’m glad that everyone’s sharing some ideas ideas that will help people fit exercise into their daily schedules, but I’m going to go ahead and throw this out there: the women in these photos probably didn’t get to where they are by doing jumping jacks or taking the Special K challenge. Their workouts probably weren’t very convenient.

In conclusion: to everyone on pinterest, plz post harder workout suggestions. Thx!

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A few thoughts on cheap protein supplements

optimumI’ve been buying protein supplements for the past few years without actually knowing whether I was getting a good deal, so I figured I’d finally do some math and share it. I took the four protein supplements I’ve used most in the past and looked at how much they cost per stuff inside the protein powder. Here’s the table I made:


Here’s how to made sense of this table:

  • Cost – Since we’re trying to figure out what the best deal is, absolute cost doesn’t actually matter. However, you will generally get a better deal as you buy bigger jugs/sacks of protein, so I listed the cost of the jug/sack on which I was evaluating the value.
  • Cost/oz – This is the cost of the jug divided by the mass of the powder inside of it. I’d best describe it as “how cheap the powder seems.” However, we don’t care about the mass on its own because the mass could just be a bunch of cheap filler.
  • Cost/serving – This is probably one of the more useful metrics as it tells you how much you’re paying for whatever it is that the manufacturer is advertising in their “nutritional information” panel.
  • Cost/g protein – This metric is interesting if you only really care about the protein and you just want to know how much each gram of protein costs.

Putting everything together, I’ve concluded in my very non-scientific survey that Syntha 6 seems the cheapest, but it’s actually a bit more expensive per serving. This is possibly because you’re also paying for all of the other stuff they put in Syntha 6 (fiber, vitamins, minerals, unicorn tears). This is also possibly because they have a pretty, translucent red bottle, so they think you’ll value it more. In any case, if you just want cheap protein, Optimum Gold Standard Whey seems like the way to go.

That said, there are a bunch of other factors that you may want to consider when buying protein like:

  • total number of calories
  • amino acid profile
  • speed of absorption
  • taste
  • what color it makes your poop1

…but I don’t plan to get into that on this blog as I’d just end up summarizing The Protein Book, so if you’re interested, you can probably just go straight to his blog. Good luck!

1Just kidding about that. Protein powder shouldn’t actually change the color of your poop. If it does… you may want to get that checked out.

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Banquet TV dinners past and present

Can you tell what’s missing here:


Take your time.

Time’s up. The correct answer is: A SECOND PIECE OF CHICKEN.

The other day, I was at my local “supermarket” looking for “backup meals.” Back up meals are just a source of calories for when you may not have had the chance to cook and just want a quick meal without a lot of hassle. Good back up meals should have a low cost/calorie ratio. Naturally, I go to the TV dinner section thinking that Moore’s Law of Frozen/Preserved Meals should be yielding 10,000 calorie meals for only $1 (way more than when I last ate a TV dinner). What I saw instead were:

  • Stouffers – $6. These are surprisingly tasty and yield a fair number of calories, but it exceeds the “Cheap Chinese Food Barrier.” The “Cheap Chinese Food barrier” is the price of a cheap Chinese food takeout meal. If a frozen meal exceeds that price, I’d prefer to get cheap Chinese food.
  • Smart Ones – $4. These look like a pretty good deal at first until I realized that a box only had 230 calories and 11g of protein! At this point, I might as well have a protein shake for $0.75 (cost of protein powder+ milk)!
  • Banquet Fried Chicken – $1.50. I was pretty excited that these were on sale for 2 for $3, so I bought a whole bunch of them. However, I was really sad that they were missing the SECOND piece of chicken. Back when I was a kid, mother Banquet would prepare me frozen meals with a tiny scoop of potatoes, a tiny scoop of corn, and TWO pieces of chicken. Though it was still probably a pretty good deal for $1.50, it just made me sad. Oh how times have changed!

Oh, and here were a few other acceptable answers that have nothing to do with this post:

  • a spoon (a cha!)
  • most of the stuff you actually want in a meal (micronutrients, fiber, etc)
  • ketchup

Next up: Why does my Kefir have clumps in it?

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The Ramen Kit

I’m pretty excited today because my “Ramen Kit” has arrived in the mail. What’s a “Ramen Kit” you ask? It’s:


  • A 7” Bowl
  • A couple pairs of chopsticks (textured at the bottom for enhanced grippiness!)
  • A soup spoon (that I don’t really use, but the Ramen Kit would be incomplete without it)
  • ~40 packs of Chinese instant noodles

Often when I tell people about my Ramen kit, I’ll get a either the response of “oh. nice, I guess?” or “hey, for a guy that works out as much as you do, I’m surprised you don’t care more about what you put in your body” (cough cough, Andrew). To those of you that are thinking the latter, I’ve put together the following responses. (They’re kinda mutually exclusive, so imagine that if someone said it to me, I’d pick one of these responses at random.)

  • Hey, that’s a rather bourgeois comment! I’m a starving college student with almost no income (due to my love of beer, whiskey, and high-rise apartments). This is a solid number of calories for a fraction of a dollar!
  • There’s all this nutritional “voodoo” about how bad everything is for you and how one study shows this and another study shows that. Yeah, preservatives probably aren’t great for you, but worrying about it seems to be a second order problem compared to having solid health fundamentals like exercising a lot and making sure you’re getting your macro nutrients (protein, carbs, fats), which I’ll make sure I get across the entire day.
  • Yeah, you’re probably right, but I make up for it by having Tasti-D. Did you know it’s only 70 calories????

So that’s that for today. Next: my thoughts on how Banquet TV dinners have changed over the years.

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Me ripping on an innocent, well-intentioned person cowardly on the Internet

I found this adorable article while I was reading blogs about the season finale of Bachelorette 7. Well, okay, it’s not really an article. It’s just a list, and it’s titled “10 Things to say to a Friend Who Says “I’m So Fat!” In this post, I will be responding to a few highlights from the post.

  1. “Would you say that to me? Okay, so don’t say it to yourself.”
  2. “I think you’re hurting your feelings.”

So, you’re agreeing that they’re fat and just telling them not to admit it because it’s rude?

“Compared to what? Photoshopped magazine covers?”

Legitimately obese people are also “so fat” compared to Photoshopped magazine covers.

“You feel fat? I feel like it’s BS that we judge our bodies by how they look instead of what they can do.”

Bodies can generally do a lot more if they’re not overweight.

Okay, now that I sufficiently sound like a dick, I’ll try to add more clarity and perhaps even be constructive.

First off, if your friend is not actually fat, don’t come up with a line that may leave open the possibility that you agree with their assessment.

If they are fat… well… I realize that sometimes, people don’t want to hear the truth, and they just want to feel better about themselves. However, realistically, someone that is overweight isn’t being done much of a favor if all of their friends are reinforcing the message that it’s okay to be overweight. Aside from aesthetics, with obesity comes serious health risks, and if they want to reduce their risk of having to spend the rest of their lives measuring their blood glucose on a daily basis, they should probably consider changes in diet and exercise.

So what would I say? Well, if they’re male and have <15% body fat or female and <20%, I’d call them an asshole and tell them to F off. If they’re above that but not obese, sure, I’d probably use something in the article above (that doesn’t actually imply that I agree with their assessment of being “so fat.”) If they are actual risking their health, I’d probably ask them if they’d considered making some changes to reduce their health risks. Easier said than done, but that’s probably the right thing to do, right?

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Dieting–What happens when you stop caring

In March, I started following a diet and workout routine based on Lyle McDonald’s “Ultimate Diet 2.0.” (Yes, it sounds gimmicky, and McDonald explains the origin of the name in the book). To me, that was meant to be an experiment to see if I could gain muscle mass while losing or maintaining weight (and specifically, took better for my trip to Hawaii). Along the way, I posted a bunch of blog entries about my observations around dieting, and then I just kinda stopped. I thought I’d use this entry to talk about the results of that experiment and where I am now.

First, the numbers:

  Weight Bench Press Squat Deadlift
Effect of Diet 172lbs +10lbs +60lbs +20lbs
Results since diet 178lbs 0 +30lbs +20lbs


It’s kinda hard to tell from just looking at the numbers, but with UD2.0, I was able to roughly maintain my weight, break through a plateau I had been hitting for weeks on the bench press, and add some weight to squats/deadlift (you can probably ignore the +60lbs on the squats – there’s a long, boring explanation as to why that was so impressive).

However, the cost of this was that I was hungry a bunch, spent a lot of time on Sundays prepping food for the week, and I was mostly brain-dead on Wednesdays toward the end of my depletion phase.

After a few weeks of dieting and a trip to Hawaii, I just stopped caring. In my world, this means:

  • If I’m hungry, I eat.
  • Aim for ~2000 calories/day.
  • Lift weights 3x/wk
  • Try to get lots of protein (~1g/lb of bodyweight).

Even though I gained ~6lbs since I stopped UD2.0, I’ve continued to improve on the bench, squat, and deadlift without brain-dead-on-Wednesdays tax and without having to feel hungry all the time.

So what’s the moral of the story? UD2.0 was pretty cool, and I thought it really helped me break through a plateau I was hitting. However, it’s probably not a terribly practical long-term solution, and for normal people, you probably just want to be able to have your definition of “not caring” somewhat resemble mine (or better!).

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Dieting and my new appreciation for food


A while back, I hit a point where I just stopped being excited about food. I mean sure, there were some meals that were good, but really good food was expensive, and I figured that if I wasn’t going to have really good food all the time, I’d just kinda try to eat healthy food not caring about how it tastes. I even tried looking for substitutions for real food so I could get all of the nutrition I’d need in the form of smoothies (for convenience). Cake, cookies, chocolate, candy, sushi, steak – they all really didn’t mean much to me.

This is a really depressing way to live.

Fast forward to the present where half the week, I’m eating a low calorie, low carb diet. I aim for roughly 1500 calories a day and no more than 50g of carbs. I eat a lot of salad, lean meat, and for dessert, I have string cheese. After several days of dieting + intense workouts, I’m finding that I LOVE MEDIOCRE FOOD AGAIN AND IT’S EXCELLENT.

Last night, I was walking by the patient family waiting room at the hospital where I volunteer, and all I could smell was cafeteria food, and it was awesome.

To begin my carb loading, I decided to hit up this local Chinese buffet that’s known for mediocre-at-best reviews, and it was amazing. Little things like donuts make me happy again.

So final thoughts: dieting – it not only helps you lean out (provided that you do it right), but it’ll also help you appreciate your food more.

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