Thoughts on Epistemology and Gender

Again, posting this mostly for myself, so I can look back in several years and retrace what happened and what I learned.  Though I don’t mind that this is also public, so that anyone else who stumbles across this might also learn without having to go through the same vitriol.
The entire purpose of the first post, as I said three times therein, was to ask for feedback and guidance.  I also wanted to voice my frustrations by putting emotion into my post, to help the reader understand what I was feeling, and relate more to the difficulty I was having.  Instead, what seems to have happened was that most people began filling in the unknowns with their own narrative – influenced of course by the unpleasantness of my tone, creating their own character of who I am in their minds, and then responded to *that* character, rather than to me, or anything I actually said.
This lead to a great many responses from other groups, including other transpeople, with all sorts of vicious things being said, and I’ve touched on before about the irony of lesbians, and in this case even trans people, attacking someone for their gender identity.  But the anonymity of the internet, combined with the opportunity to lash out at a wicked person constructed in one’s imagination, resulted in that very thing happening.
Despite this, I began digging through the mud, searching for a pearl of wisdom.  I did actually read all of the hate-posts about me, on the chance that I might find some comment buried within all the personal attacks that might help me re-examine my situation, or give me some new thought pattern or perspective I could explore.  I also revisited epistemology, and went through a period of deeply questioning myself and my life.
The following is take from an email I sent to a friend regarding the insights this experience has provided.
I’ll try to be concise.  Epistemology is the philosophy of “how do you know what you know”.  It generally begins with – how do you know you exist?  Descartes said “I think, therefore, I am”.  Essentially, you are aware that you are aware… in your mind, you are conscious of yourself.  Descartes put forward that this was about the only thing you honestly could know, and everything else was just a “really really good assumption based on things that seem extremely likely“.  There’s no definitive way to prove that you’re not in a constant and ongoing dream… there’s also a fun thing called “Last Thursday-sim”.  It’s one of those thought experiments – I’ll tell you about it next time if you remind me!
Alright now there’s a few ways you can know what you know.
Heuristics is where you build off past experience.  For example, if you go into a new grocery store and you’re looking for tomatoes, even though you’ve never been in the store before, you will probably go to the area where all other veggies are kept.  Why?  Heuristically, that’s the thing that’s always worked before.  This is basically a group of shortcuts we take to navigate the world around us.  It makes things convenient, and most people go through life navigating on “common sense”.
Dialectics is generally a method where some truth is taken from multiple sources and combined to make a new truth that combines all of the originals.  Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is currently the mainstay of modern mental health practice.  We teach people to take the truth of their emotions, the truth of their perceptions, and the truth of reason, and consider that while they may seem contradictory, they are all simultaneously true!  We combine them into a solution that works for them.
Empiricism is the method I explained that uses facts, evidence, and proof.
A fact is any element of verifiably accurate data. “Verifiably accurate” means it can still be shown to be true even to those who don’t want to believe it. Facts alone do not make “evidence” until they collectively prove one scenario over any other (some facts may be strong enough to do this).

Evidence is when factual circumstances which are accounted for, and indicative of one particular explanation over any other. Gather enough evidence together, and you’ve got proof.


Proof, then, is an overwhelming preponderance of physical and logical evidence showing – beyond contention – the accuracy of particular position. (100% absolute proof exists only in mathematics)


There are other methods of knowing the world, such as “revelation” (generally, knowledge gained from some meditation, prayer, or some other method, which skeptics tend to deny), but empiricism is our primary focus for right now.


Empiricism is the philosophy upon which the Scientific Method is founded upon (science being more of a systematized process).  This is the only method we have that consistently produces real world results that we can actually see and use.  However, it’s not flawless.  There are some examples where even science stumbles.  I’ll share just two.

One of the first “scientific” experiments ever carried out happened on board sailing ships at the end of the 1600s to address the problem of scurvy.  Taking a shot in the dark, one ship was assigned to carry various foods which included fruits, while the other carried the usual meat and biscuits (the food of choice since there was no refrigeration back then, and heavily dried / salted meat and biscuits could last a whole voyage).  While the fruits eventually went rotten, the crew that included these in their diets didn’t get scurvy!!
This was in the day *before* there was any understanding of vitamins or minerals, and microscopes were just beginning to be developed (in fact, when they did come around, there was no way to adjust them – so dozens of different microscopes were designed to study all different kinds of material).
What the “science” of the time suggested was that the body had a “balance of different fluids”… so it’s natural to assume that perhaps the body has acids and bases.  Seas and oceans are alkaline… perhaps too much alkalinity in the body is what causes scurvy!
Can we test this?  Sure we can – and guess what!  Every single person who spends time out at sea gets scurvy!  Even if it’s a smaller body of water – if they’re out there on a boat (and have the usual foods), sure enough, they get scurvy.  It has to be from the sea air.  Citrus fruits are acids, so they balance out the alkalinity.  The more you test this theory, the more it seems accurate… all of the information reconfirms the conclusion again and again – taking you further away from the truth, rather than closer to it!
The good news is that while pure empiricism can lead you down a wrong road… science, as a process, is self correcting.  Eventually new information is discovered and someone challenges your ideas (extremely important – coming back to that later!)  The ability to challenge ideas is essentially the fuel that makes science work.  This is why the more free and open a society is, the more technologically advanced it becomes (western nations vs middle eastern nations).
That’s also why it’s kind of a big deal when someone wants to censor the freedom of speech simply because a particular idea hurts your feelings or challenge established dogma.  Countries that clamp down on free speech are almost never as advanced as countries that both allow and encourage it – because social progress happens by the same principle.
There’s a second pitfall to pure empiricism.
In the late 60s, a group of scientist built a large radio telescope that, for it’s time, was the most advanced telescope ever built.  They would be able to pick up new information about stars, and they greatly anticipated the discoveries they’d be making!  A great deal of excitement surrounded turning this thing on – only to moments later, be hit with an extremely disappointing rumble of static.
They worked and worked for weeks to figure out how to fix their very-clearly-and-obviously broken radio telescope.  I mean come on… static is what you pick up on a 5 dollar receiver from Radio Shack.  This was supposed to be above and beyond anything ever previously built – surely it could filter out basic static!
A great deal of frustration was felt as the weeks passed by… until some professors in Europe were giving lectures on the Big Bang, and hypothesized that if anyone ever built a radio receiver sensitive enough, they should be able to pick up static left over from it!
This incident demonstrates how with empiricism, you can’t always know the nature of the information you’ve uncovered.  The ultimate solution you’ve been searching for may appear to be an annoying problem that’s getting in the way.
Thankfully, once again – science is a more complex and self-correcting process (although science itself is also limited, but that’s a discussion for later).  Hence why they were able to figure out finally that the static was the discovery, not an obstacle.
Okay, so.
How does all this relate to that facebook message? [I’m referring to a facebook message where a good friend was being honest in light of my thread being attacked on reddit, and was telling me that I just don’t pass as a woman, because I’m “too masculine”]  And the now dozens of people who’ve decided to tell me I’m clearly afflicted with some mental disorder, that I’m not really a woman, that I’m just a “man in lipstick” and clearly have some sick fetish for lesbians that’s making me “prey on women’s spaces”?  (They said plenty more, but you get the idea.)
First, what is “femininity”?  And is it the same as “femaleness”?  Lets use some empiricism, and maybe a dash of dialectical synthesis.
Femininity, like masculinity, if we were to keep it simple, is a group of expectations that evolved from early survival behaviors.
10,000 years ago, women sat around the cave, communicated, and nurtured children.  Why?  Because women have to give birth and raise kids, or otherwise the entire tribe is dead.  It takes 9 months to do this, then 2 more years of breastfeeding.
Men on the other hand, banded together and killed mammoths.  This required a completely different kind of communication (objective and logical, vs emotional and expressive).  Again, why?  Because if men don’t do this, the entire tribe is dead.  Also, men’s bodies didn’t have to give birth and therefore could afford to dedicate more genetic instructions towards physical strength and endurance.
The “do this or you’re dead” is kind of important, because it’s a key component of how evolution works.  There were actually a number of different intelligence species on earth around 50,000 years ago (no, this is not some X-files conspiracy – it’s quite true.  We have fossils.)  Neanderthals were among them – they weren’t human, they were a completely different species, related to humans the same way humans are related to chimpanzees (although with perhaps a bit more similarity).  While there’s no way to know for sure why they died out, some hypothesize that humans were simply better at the “do this or your dead” part of evolution.  Humans adapted to the conditions by adhering to – AND ENFORCING – early survival behaviors…. whereas the Neanderthals could have been peace loving hippy feminist for all we know.
Neanderthal parent: “Oh sweety, you can wear a dress if you want!  Boys don’t have to act tough.  You can – OH GOD A SABER TOOTH TIGER IS EATING US AAAAGHASHDFHOWER!!!
Human parent: And that, son, is why you better man the f*ck up and not wear a dress.  Mmmkay?
The important concept here is that gender roles were enforced for this very reason.  In order for the tribe to survive, we need a woman’s uterus to stay intact and safe from harm.  Women are the sole life-bringers of this world.  Men cannot do that.  Women can.  Therefore, they must be protected.  (On a side note – most early civilizations were matriarchal, but again that’s for another discussion.)
Men possess greater physical strength.  Also, they’re disposable.  What does that mean?
Imagine a cave with 99 men, and 1 woman.  In a few decades, that whole entire tribe is gone.
Now imagine a cave with 99 women, and 1 man.  They’re safe!  In a few decades, there will be an entirely new generation.
This is why men are disposable.  It’s fine if you die – we can always find another man, now take this spear, get out there, and kill that mammoth!
This is why women are cherished.  You need to stay inside – if you die, we can’t bring new life into the world.  Please stay safe.
This is why modern society treats men and women differently.  Men are expected to rush into a fire and save the woman in the burning building, and never the other way around – and it’s for this reason.  Feminist want you to believe it’s because of “oppression” (because staying in the cave / castle / fortress and NOT being killed by a mammoth / barbarian / enemy soldier is sooooooo oppressive).
Now this is what “feminine” and “masculine” essentially come from.  Throughout the ages, these things have changed, as empires rise and fall and cultures continually change, new interpretations happen, but the core principles are still very identifiable.
However… a purely original form of femininity, in today’s world, wouldn’t actually work, and might even be nearly useless (what woman today lives like a woman 10,000 years ago?).  The concept of femininity has changed because the world has changed, and what is accepted as “feminine” has changed over and over again.
Moreover, there have been countless examples of men who have happened upon situations where they’ve been remarkably successful taking on what would otherwise be considered “feminine” (remember: expectations derived from early survival behaviors).  Nearly any philosopher, from Aristotle to the modern day Sam Harris is considered quiet, flexible, compassionate, understanding, and morally insightful.  Yet we don’t see any of them as “womanly men”.  Same vice versa – no one looks at Judge Judy and sees a man, or even a “manly woman”.
Hence, “femaleness” has to be different than “feminine”.  A woman can be very womanly, yet, ascribe to behaviors that would be considered masculine.  This really jarred me the first time I became aware of it maybe a week ago.  I described on my facebook wall here: [Link removed]

And said:

Then I see something like this:
From the video at around the 1:25 mark:
“These women, we’ll just call them “alpha female”… they’re really successful in all these areas of life, because they have this energy that enables them to get things done, take control, multi-task, be effective. Whatever they want, they create. [This was called “masculine”]
^ And I just feel totally exasperated.
First…. HOW IS THAT MASCULINE???????!!
That isn’t masculine at all!! Who is sitting here saying that women can’t be like that and also be feminine? Some of the most courageous women I’ve ever seen fit that *exact* description, and I admire them tremendously. Someone who is strong enough and never cower away from new challenges.
Second – that’s exactly and precisely what I wish I could find in a woman. I mean that is the character down to a T. I see women like that and I just do not for the life of me see even 1 single iota of masculinity. Women like that are just amazingly awesome, beautiful women.
This contrasts and clashes so completely thoroughly with this other form of being female… seemingly enforced, strangely, by other females… where you’re not allowed to take a stand, or believe in something, or build your position on a groundwork of facts and evidence (these same exact women then go on to complain that women aren’t in STEM fields, or found in congress). Putting yourself out there and trying new things is frowned upon.
This extreme difference in view of what it means to be a woman could be the source of a lot of the difficulty I’ve been having.


^ It’s beginning to make more sense now.

“Femaleness” and “feminine” are not the same thing.

What’s the difference?

While “feminine” refers to a set of expectations belonging to one or the other gender, “femaleness” refers to a concept that matches some presupposed criteria in any given person (this matches other research I’ve done).  Femininity *can* be a part of femaleness, but it doesn’t have to be.  This is why I get “you’re not really a woman because of X Y or Z” – it’s because I don’t match that person’s presupposed criteria for what *that person* understands to be female.  However, another person is fine with me and sees me as female – because I *do* match their presupposed criteria.  This happens entirely independent of how well I’m matching the expected set of behaviors understood as “feminine”.  I could be matching all feminine behaviors perfectly, and I still would get “you’re not really a woman” simply for the reasons mentioned.  A person’s presupposed criteria might be “you had to have been born with a vagina”.

By assuming feminine = womanhood, or femaleness… I may have been getting good answers to a bad question, and getting further away from the answer, not closer.  That’s analogous to the first example (about scurvy) of an empirical flaw discussed earlier.  My simply being who I am, perhaps, a “masculine woman”, is perfectly fine, and doesn’t need to change.  The problems that my masculinity is causing are not actually problems – they’re supposed to be there.  It’s possible that I am simply – as you’ve said before – an “alpha female”.  This is the answer, not the problem (like the static), analogous to the second example discussed earlier.

Now remember way back there when I said challenging ideas was important, and that’s how progress gets made?

Had my friend not challenged my presenting as a woman, and had those people on Reddit not said such horrible things to challenge my identity, I never would have found such answers.  The additional research and philosophizing would not have happened.

I’ve also considered that my current strategy (going to lesbian meetups) will probably not work, regardless of how much research is done or how much effort is put into matching the expectations of femininity, because regardless, I may never match their presupposed criteria.  Moreover, I actually rather hate behaving like some empty-headed do-nothing bimbo who can never just come right out and say what ought to be said for the sake of trying to match this archaic survival behavior, or else I’m not “woman enough” (which I’ll never be for them anyway).  A better strategy may be to go to regular dating meetups, as female sexuality is already documented as more fluid than male sexuality, and it’s possible to meet women who are, if not bi, at least willing to accept me and possibly pursue a relationship.  That’s right: cis-gender heterosexual people appear to be *more* accepting, and less hateful, than LGBT people.
.So I’ll attend regular dating meetups and we’ll see what happens.

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Answers to a Lesbian Questionnaire

A while back, a lesbian youtuber saw my previous post and decided to send me a questionnaire about my dating experiences.  I don’t want to provide her name or link her channel, as there appears to be so much hatred for me, that I don’t want to hurt her channel by associating us together.

After doing a lot more research, it seems I have the answer, and it also seems rather obvious now in retrospect.  The actual reason I do so well with every other group and keep being treated this way by lesbians groups is, most probably, that they just don’t see transgender women as being “real women”.  This doesn’t happen in other groups I attend, which makes perfect sense.  Even more telling is how many comments in the last post were from feminist and lesbians, not addressing anything I actually said, but rather attacking my gender or just posting insults.  Perhaps the reason they get up and leave the table is that I’m  just so horribly disgusting to them that they can’t stand to be around me once I start talking, even for just a few moments.  It does explain why they never approach me, and why I never receive any kind words on my appearance or for coming by.

It’s one of those things where, once understood, I look back, and every interaction now makes perfect sense.  I can’t help but feel it’s a bit ironic that I would get hit on by straight men and treated kindly by them because they find me attractive (and know that I’m trans), and how this contrasts with the treatment received from the very people who argue for inclusion and blame straight white men for being oppressive.  My strategy going forward is to attend regular dating meetups, and hopefully meet women who aren’t lesbian, and therefore hopefully won’t be as hateful and perhaps more accepting of who I am.

I doubt I’ll change anyone’s minds with this post, so this is mostly for me, so I can have it to look back on and recount my experiences in searching for a significant other.  Here are the interview questions I was given, and my answers.


>> 1. What are your preferred pronouns (I usually ask this because some of the Tumblr people want to make sure I’m being all PC) and do you have any names/ alias you would like others to know you by (for example, I also work as a dancer so I have another name other than Flye)


^^^ While I’m transgender, I identify as a woman, not as trans.  Being trans is simply a biological fact.  So my pronouns are she / her.  My full name is Kasey Athena Brown, but I often go by Athena.

>> 2. What’s the best date that you ever went on?


^^^ I’ve only been on a handful of dates over the last few years, despite having numerous dating profiles and routinely attending meetups. But a good date will include having deep talks about our lives, our purpose, the universe, philosophy, ethics, and sometimes relating stories into all of that.

When a girl can talk about the battle between Batman and Joker being allegorical to the comparison of ethical imperatives juxtaposed to utilitarianism, or discuss possible extrapolations of quantum theory that explains the problem of free will – THAT is a fantastic date!  I actually remember one fantastic encounter from a few months ago; I was sitting with a woman, and we got on the topic of whether or not everyone, regardless of their mental status, should be allowed to vote.  She really challenged my view with an effective argument, and I was deeply intrigued by her.  Unfortunately she had an issue with me being trans, so this never went anywhere.  But dates like that would be fantastic.

The worst encounters (which is almost all of them) are when the woman is talking about folding laundry for 3 hours, and trying to ease the discussion over to something just *slightly* more engaging causes them to withdraw and find someone else to talk to.

>> 3. Advice to other women about jumping into the lesbian dating scene?


^^^ I’ve attended probably 40 or so lesbian meetups.  I’ve been around *lots* of lesbians.

So far, only one single time have I ever seen two women show any interest in each other.  Besides that, there’s never any flirting, no one ever shows interest in anyone else, there’s no hand holding, no hugging, touching, kissing, and the discussion is nearly always about the weather, folding laundry, taking the bus to go somewhere, or some other topic of similar caliber that loops back into itself for 2 or 3 hours.  I’ve never seen 2 women holding hands or kissing at these things, and if you didn’t know ahead of time that it was a lesbian meetup, there’s no way you could know by attending.

Lesbians tend to be outstandingly fragile.  Say the wrong thing even once, and they completely withdraw and the conversation is over.  I’ve had times when I accidentally mentioned I’ve traveled overseas and lived in Malaysia – and it was over.  I’m a fitness performance athlete, but any mention of gym training is an instant turn off.  I can’t discuss my work history or my profession, and I’ve actually had women get up and leave the table mid-sentence over that.

As such, I’m not actually aware that there is any “lesbian dating scene”… there are meetups, which you can find on, but lesbians only sit around and talk about the most banal subjects that loop back into themselves over and over until the meetup ends.  They’ll go to these meetups over and over, and it’s never any different.  This lead me for a while to consider whether or not lesbians are asexual, but then I saw your video… and it’s extremely difficult to reconcile my experience on this matter with evidence that women actually do sexual things together.

I would say if you’re going to a lesbian meetup, or a lesbian bar, if you’re accomplished, well traveled, or have any education, then just shut the hell up and don’t mention it.  Also drink plenty of coffee so you can stay awake when you hear a 30 minute story about how someone saw a cloud that looked exactly like a cotton ball once.
>> 4. Any experiences in lesbian dating that you want the world to know about? 

^^^ Hm, I’m answering these as I come across them… I guess I mentioned a lot in my last answer.

I can say that by attending these meetups, and learning to keep my mouth shut about where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and sitting through incredibly long discussions, I actually have gotten girls to give me their numbers and follow up with one-on-one dates.  I’ve had this happen twice over the last 3 years.

The first date actually seemed to go quite well… the woman talked a lot about her life and her past relationships.  As we walked away from the Subway where we met up, I thought we had talked enough and made a connection, so I tried reaching over and holding her hand – which she responded to by immediately jerking her hand away.  I tried to ease what just happened by mentioning something about the traffic and letting the conversation go somewhere so that moment passed.  When I got home, she sent an email saying she was actually still interested in someone else, so that was the only date we had.

The other date played out pretty much the same exact way that most meetups go, though with slightly more interesting subject matter talked about.  We went to a Thai restaurant, so I was able to talk at length about how I lived in Malaysia for 4 years and made occasional trips to Thailand.  Besides that and the weather, that’s pretty much what we talked about.  Then she dropped me off and we never went out again.

That’s about the only experiences I’ve had.  I’m still attending meetups and sitting through extremely long talks about nothing, and hoping someone wants to see me again afterwards.  That’s the only way of meeting lesbian women that I know of.  We don’t have any lesbian bars here in Portland, Oregon.

>> 5. What would be your idea first date?


^^^ I would like to be able to have deep, meaningful discussions.  First, I’d like to be able to speak freely about who I am and what I’ve done without the other person getting scared and wanting to leave.  I specialized in biomechancis for 10 years, lived in Malaysia and taught classes on nutrition science, wrote a few books on the subject, then came back to America and switched careers.  I now work in mental health and am trained to work with people in crisis.

^ I’d like to be able to say that without the other person without them leaning back, going quiet, looking at their phone, then finding an excuse to get up and go somewhere else.
But lets say I actually was able to introduce myself and talk comfortably.  The rest of our discussion would naturally be us sharing our thoughts and feelings on different subject matters as they came up.  It’d be great to meet someone who stands for something, believes in something, doesn’t become “triggered” the moment someone disagrees with them, and is able to challenge my view, and maybe even change my mind with a rational argument!  Being able to speak freely and share my thoughts on things without them being scared off almost never happens, but it feels fantastic when it finally does happen.
If we genuinely liked talking together like that, and hearing each other talk about our life experiences, then after a while I would probably start to feel emotionally connected with them.  I’d think of them often and want to share thoughts and ideas with them.  And from there it would gradually become more intense and turn into a relationship.  It’s doubtful at this point that this will ever happen.
6. What drew you to fourth wave feminism and how do you define it? 

[answer removed]


7. Favorite lesbian couple in movies, music, or media in general?


^^^ Haven’t watched TV for 15 or so years, with only a few exceptions along the way.  I may have seen 3 or 4 movies during that time.  I’m generally reading, researching, or working on something.

I’ve tried watching clips of The L Word on youtube, but was unable to determine really what the purpose of the series was supposed to be.  Real lesbians do not act or behave anything like that.  I mean they don’t even hold hands, so for sure they’re not going to be all over each other as they’re sometimes seen in the show.  Was this depicting an imaginary world where lesbians acted totally different than they do here?

But yea, I don’t own a TV, so I don’t know what shows are typically out there of which ones feature lesbians.
8. An Embarrassing/ Worst Dating Experience you’d like to share?
^^^ Well I’ve only had those two I mentioned earlier.  I’ve put tons of research into it, and have started perfecting a way to talk to lesbians without them getting scared and leaving.  Soon I might get more women to agree to see me again personally after the meetup.  So gradually I may go on more dates, and probably it’ll take months more research and trial-and-error to figure out how to get women to actually do something besides talk about a shirt they saw at Macy’s for the entire date and not be scared when something slightly more engaging comes up.
9. Scenario: You take home your dream girl. You offer her a drink at your place and she says yes. What drink would you likely pour for her?

^^^ I’ve never drank alcohol before, and am not partial towards keeping any in my apartment.  I could brew some tea though, as I generally do have tea on hand.  I also have diet 7up.


10. What is your dating ‘fight song’/ the song you play when you’re prepping for a romantic adventure/ pre game/ etc?

^^^ ….. people do that?  This is the first time I’ve heard of it.

Generally though, I like things similar to Chopin… here’s one of my favorite pieces: It’s Frédéric Chopin – Prelude in E-Minor (op.28 no. 4)
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What Lesbian Dating has Been Like, For a Transgender Woman

The site you are reading this from was at one time a nutrition blog.  It’s been discontinued for some time now, and I was looking for a place to post this, so I decided here would do fine.

My reason for posting this is to gather information and feedback, and learn what I can so I can improve the situations I’ve been facing, in regards to dating.  While support and understanding are nice, and it’s undeniable that explaining my experience will most likely also be therapeutic in a way, what I’m hoping for here is guidance.  Ultimately, right now, I am totally and completely at a loss, and it seems the more research I put into this issue, the more lost I get.  I’m not able to reconcile the vast differences between my experience and everyone else’s, and my effort to find answers seems to be worsening this discrepancy, rather than improving it.

As said in the title, I’m a male-to-female (MtF) transgender woman, and I’m also lesbian.  I’ve been living full time as a woman almost exactly 3 years to this day.  In that time, my life has been almost completely devoid of any intimacy, and it certainly isn’t for lack of trying.  Over the years, I’ve repeatedly tried, and failed, to get anything beyond a second date, much less a girlfriend or a steady partner.  I’ve certainly never gone as far as kissing.

Shots at Online Dating

At one time I had around 5 dating profiles, including OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, Craigslist ads, and a few others.  For OKCupid and Plenty of Fish in particular, in all, I probably sent out over a thousand messages, and only ever received a handful of replies.  I would need to send out 50 or 60 before I got even one response.  I tried dozens of profile rewrites, and watched instructional guides on how to write a profile, but nothing changed.  I did mange to get around 15 or so dates.  Of these, 6 of them – consecutively – failed to show up.

relationship-rainydaysThe few that actually did show up were generally ones who dressed up their online profiles with terms like “sex positive”, “touch positive”, “kink positive”, and always said they were looking for casual sex.  So to be honest, I had expected at least *something* to happen in the direction of intimacy!  Like, hand touching, flirting, getting winked at, or something (I mean if you’re *SEX* positive, you’d expect at least that, right?)  But when we went out, they’d sit across from me, usually not making eye contact, speak in a flat tone with very little emotional affect, shy and withdrawn, talk about extremely mundane things, maybe order a sandwich, and then leave, usually with only a handshake, if that, and then never contacted me again.  In total I only had a few dates, since out of the thousand or so I messaged, extremely few ever replied, almost no one ever messaged me first, and nearly half of the ones who agreed to go out wouldn’t show up.  So I don’t have a lot of experience to draw from, but I became confused as to what “sex positive” means, if this is what it looks like on a date.

I’ve recently joined a sex positive group, because their meetup page seemed to have a rather detailed explanation of what that word means.  I’ve been attending this meetup for a while, but more on that in a bit.

I’ll speak more about myself in a moment, but usually around this time, I understandably get questions about what I must be doing on these dates.  Am I doing something, and am not aware of it?  I’m actually a mental health specialist, and am a well respected member of my team at the facility where I work.  I designed and teach classes on social skills and social interaction for people with persistent mental disabilities, and I’ve also given talks on how to engage people publicly, and assert one’s needs without invalidating the other person.  The courses and materials I’ve written come from evidence-based psychology.  Added to that, I’m also a former marketing executive, so even before going into mental health, I was familiar with how the mind and emotions work from the perspective of advertising.

Moreover, I have lots of straight friends, guy friends, friends at work, and I’m the woman people often come to when they need advice.  That makes this puzzle all the more frustrating to solve, as I honestly can’t figure it out.

To deal with most dates not showing up, and the dates that do show up being so extremely withdrawn, I decided to stop trying that method, and went on instead.  This allows you to find social meetups all around the city where you live.  That way, I know for certain that people are definitely going to show up, and there’s a better chance of meeting someone.  It just seems like a more efficient method.  But this hasn’t worked either.

At any given lesbian meetup, I’ll speak to someone for 2 minutes (often times less than a minute), and they seem to get scared off.  Admittedly I’ve only gotten feedback a few times, but from what I’ve been told, I’m somehow “overwhelming” and “intimidating”.  I put those in quotation marks because I can’t for the life of me see how I’m either of those things.  Here’s a little about myself and my background.

About Myself

I specialized in biomechanics for 10 years, nutrition science for 6 years, and spent several years in Malaysia teaching those subjects. I wrote a few books on those fields which were also used in teaching classes. I switched careers for a short time and became a marketing executive, as I mentioned, for a few different companies. I decided to come back to America about 5 years ago, and I landed in Portland. I now work as a mental health specialist for people with mental disabilities, and teach classes dealing with basic psychology.

relationships-desertI *love* studying philosophy on my free time! I’ve recently spent a lot of time with existentialism, and wrote a few simple introductory guides on the subject. Epistemology is another favorite of mine, including pessimistic induction. I also do a lot of other research on social issues. In 2015, I wrote a book on feminist theory.  I decided to upload it online for free, as I have no intention of selling it.  I just found the subject enlightening, and others can have a look if they want.

I like writing articles on modern day issues through the lens of questioning existence, facts, and knowledge. I simply love challenging ideas, having my ideas challenged, and learning new things. I also like learning new things in general, whether it’s academia from Cornell University’s website, or channels like Vsauce or Sci-Show. I sometimes write responses to such things, and I love having deep discussions.

However, I can’t say any of that, because every part of it, from what I’ve gathered, comes off as “intimidating”.  Nearly everything listed there seems to be an insta-kill for any conversation I’m having with a woman.  There are times when I can even see their facial expression and body language change as I talk – they start leaning back, arm are crossed, expression changes, and then they find someone else they want to go talk to just moments later.  I’ve even had women get up and leave the table mid-sentence.

But… what else can I say?  I don’t watch TV.  I stopped watching a long time ago because trash-TV became so popular.  I’ve never drank alcohol, never smoked, and never used… and I’ve found mentioning any of these things *also* nearly always elicits a negative response (like clean and sober is a bad thing).  I’ve learned one thing I absolutely should not ever mention are my fitness accomplishments.  I don’t include sugar in my diet, and eat mostly whole foods (spinach, kale, carrots, peas, etc).  Because of this, and because I train consistently, I can lift around 400 pounds, and can finish 100 one-armed pushups in under 4 minutes.  Sometimes my arms look too muscular and that’s a put-off as well, so I try to wear long sleeves to cover them up.

Sometimes I feel so frustrated; as if I have to now apologize for making good choices with my life.  The stereotypical trope here is that men put women down for being educated or accomplished, but I kid you not – I can leave my apartment right now, at this moment, and come back in 20 minutes with a guy on my arm.  Men love it when I talk smart to them.  Moreover, I can take off the makeup, comb my hair back, use male voice – and women will eat it up too.  It’s specifically lesbians that this always happens with.

Examples of Where It’s Gone Wrong

And there are so many times when I got comfortable and ended up talking casually about a given topic, or about myself, and it ends with a woman being totally turned off before I’m even aware.  Once I was on a hike with a bunch of other girls as part of a meetup.  I started feeling comfortable being with the crowd about a half hour in, so one of the women approaches me and we start talking.  She talks a little about trying to start a business.  I added that I new a little about business too, then talked a little about what I knew.  After a few moments, I notice that she’s gone quiet… I look over at her while we’re hiking, and yea… I see I’ve turned her off.  Alright.  She was trying to start a business, so I thought I’d share some experiences, but okay.  Wrong move.

Another time I was at a party, and the women sitting next to me said she was a “sapiosexual” (someone attracted to intelligence).  I smiled and said I was too, so I started talking a little about what I’ve been reading lately from Soren Kierkegaard.  She went quiet, her facial expression went neutral.  A few moments later, she stands up and goes somewhere else.  Maybe we have a different understanding of what “sapiosexual” means.

One of the most frustrating examples happened at the gym where I train.  One of the women behind the desk had shown an interest in me for some time – I could tell by the looks she gave me, and the way she’d try to sneak in some short conversations when she had a chance.  Now, she works in a gym.  Remember that.  So one day I saw a chance to stop and talk with her for a bit because there weren’t any customers around.  We started talking about our training routines.  I mentioned mine, and how I usually train, and the weights that I normally lift.  Right after I said that, I saw her expressions totally change, and her attention went back towards doing menial tasks, excusing herself from the conversation.  I was nearly exasperated when it hit me what had just happened.  Because.  You work.  IN A GYM!!!  What the hell are you actually expecting???  I train there all the time.  Everyone sees me there like 4 or 5 times a week.  Why would you not expect that I…. just…. you know what.  Forget it.  If I took off the makeup and used male voice, would that still have been a bad thing?

Over 3 years, dozens of meetups, and dating sites, the takeaway lesson for me was to just shut the hell up about literally anything I’ve ever done, studied, accomplished, the places I’ve traveled… pretty much everything about me needs to be kept quiet.  So I’ve got alternative answers to the most basic questions I might get asked.

Where do I work? – In an office.

What do I do? – I type letters and stuff.  Sometimes.  For a big company.

dont-hear-ringtone-for-2-weeksWhere am I from? – Originally born in Louisiana, then flew to Oregon, and that’s it.  (I actually went to college in Georgia, and then lived in California, Alaska, and plenty of other states, including a few years in Malaysia – but yea this needs to be left out of the conversation completely)

What do I do for fun? – I like watching cat videos.  And seeing selfies on facebook.  (I’m not sure what else I can say actually.  Maybe I also spend a lot of time going to meetups?)

Plans for the future? – Hoping to make more money one day.  (Again, if I gave actual plans for the future, you’d stand up and leave.)

What’s my background? – Graduated high school, now work in an office.

What do I like? – Kittens and rainbows.  And fluffy things?  (What else am I allowed to like?)

Tell me about yourself? – um…. I mean… I like the colour pink?  And sometimes I eat ice cream and watch movies and cry?  I actually don’t eat ice cream *or* watch movies, but the “tell me about yourself” question is the toughest of all, because it’s so open ended, so I’m not sure what else to say, and I sure can’t say what I actually want.  So when I get this question, I have to think fast.  I usually mention something briefly about spending my time in the office, then turn it back over to them, and praise whatever they say next.

Using this method has actually worked…. conversations have gone from ending after 2 minutes to actually lasting a good long while.  It’s also resulted in not one, but TWO followup dates from the meetups!  Neither went very well, and neither resulted in a second date.  One ended with a friendly hug (the one where you’re bent over and lightly patting the other person’s back), and the other ended with a handshake.  But hey, this was still a pretty extreme improvement!

There’s been a few times when I’m having a conversation, and I *accidentally* say something – like the other day at a meetup where there was a clothing exchange, and someone mentioned a sarong (which is something like a Malaysian kilt).  I of course know plenty about that, and started talking – then suddenly realized what I was doing and shut myself up.  “Never mind!!  Forget what I said!”  Then quickly shifted the focus by mentioning how pretty one of the shirts looked.  There’s been other times where I’m talking, and I hear myself talking, and it sounds like I know what I’m talking about, and I feel irritated because I realize I need to somehow turn that down several notches.

Sex Positive Portland

Now about the sex positive group I’ve mentioned earlier.

I’ve learned a good deal from this group.  Whenever I asked anyone who claimed to be “sex positive” what that term actually means, the only answer I ever got went something like “I like sex”… which doesn’t tell me anything.  Most people like sex.  But this group has a pretty articulated definition that they teach new members.  They also have membership divided into these steps you go through, and each level can last for several weeks.  There’s 4 levels, and at level 1 (where I’m at now), it’s mostly just discussions about consent, how consent works, and really basic social interactions.  Level 2 is where activities involving touch and physical intimacy (hugging) are introduced.  Level 3 is anything short of full on sex, and level 4 is activities involving sex.

Now, when I’m with this group, I don’t even *try* to invalidate or minimize myself!  Because what’s going to happen when I’m at level 3 or 4, and people are propositioning each other for “play”?  In my entire time as a transwoman, no one has ever flirted with me, and I can count on one hand the number of times anyone has shown any degree of interest in me.  Women are put off instantly if I sound smart.  But here, I’m not going to hide it.

Is someone going to approach me and actually want anything to do with me physically?  If that were the case, I’d be absolutely fascinated, and would really want them to explain to me why.  What’s the reason?   No one has ever wanted that.   How’d you get passed me, well… talking normally?  I would need a moment to really take that in and let it process.

But if no one approaches me, then am I going to end up being the only one in the room, sitting on the couch by herself, with everyone around me having sex?  Either result is going to be a complete mind bender, and I can’t wait until I pass through level 2 and find out what actually happens.

So on lesbian meetups, I’ll continue the strategy that seems to have worked recently; remove anything that might present as intelligent, downplay myself by as much as possible, speak as though I’ve never done anything with my life, and give as much focus to the other person as possible.  (If this is wrong, or if it can be improved, go ahead and let me know how please, that’s why I’m posting this.)

At the sex positive meetups, I’ll just be myself, and break the ice by briefly mentioning some thoughts I’ve had on an extrapolation quantum field theory in regards to the argument of free will, or ask if anyone’s familiar with the Trolly Problem (famous thought experiment in philosophy that examines ethics and moral dilemmas).  Will probably be a hundred times more comfortable at the sex positive meetup.  Am still really interested what’s going to happen when I’m at level 3, and who on earth is going to approach me for any kind of intimate encounter.

Maybe All Lesbians are Asexual?


It’s starting to get where I see someone like this, and I instantly feel it’s useless. What could I possibly say? I can ask about her just fine, but I can’t talk about myself, where I’ve been, what I do, what my thoughts are, what I do on my free time, my ideas, my opinions… minimizing myself and only talking about her will at least keep the conversation alive for a while, but there’s no way to go forward after that.

In fact, before I joined the sex positive group, I had actually come to the conclusion that most lesbians were asexual, and that being lesbian simply meant a general dislike of men, and perhaps only involved a preference for the company of other women.  I’ve been to dozens of lesbian meetups.  Looking at the way everyone generally conducts themselves at these things, if you did not know beforehand that this was a lesbian meetup, then there’s no way you could tell otherwise.  I’ve been to straight women’s meetups, and there’s honestly no difference between the two.  There’s absolutely no obvious signs of romantic affection or sexual attraction between other members, and certainly never anything like that towards me.  I can put on all my best makeup, dress in my best clothes, and rarely does anyone notice.  You do hear about how lesbian porn is made mostly for men, right?  So it began to seem rather plausible that maybe lesbians really are just non-sexual, and any other ideas about them were just thought up by men.  This started to change my views on gay marriage… why on earth are lesbians so anxious to get married, other than for some symbolic gesture, if there’s literally never anything intimate or affectionate that ever happens?  I even got into some debates on social media about this.  It’s extremely rare that I’ve ever seen two women holding hands, or kissing, or anything – certainly not at these meetups.  And if they’re constantly scared away by almost anything I say, then it seems difficult to imagine how intimacy would ever happen in the first place.

Honestly, how would that even happen?  And also… *when* does it happen?  It’s been years now, and I’ve only recently managed to get a conversation to last longer than a few minutes.  And that brings us to the incident that lead to this post.

I Finally Give Up.  Please Just Explain This To Me.

See, I really have been doing research, and drawing from dialectical behavioral therapy, I’ve been putting together potential models and conversational structures that might elicit a positive emotional response from the person I’m speaking to.

Then I attended this meetup called “Conscious Lesbian/Queer Dating & Love Portland”.  It was hosted by two PhD researchers on the subject of lesbian dating.  Figured I might learn something.  Around 50 or so people attended.

The discussion that followed was hopelessly alien.

Speakers: So, how many of us here have seen a woman from across the room, our eyes met, and we went right over to them because we felt that attraction??

Crowd: Yea!!

Athena: Wait…. what?

Speakers: And as soon as you meet you feel so attracted to each other that you’re just attached at the hip!

Crowd: (someone in the back) Happens all the time!  (Everyone laughs)

Athena: No….. no, that… that never happens.  Like, ever.  At any of the places I’ve ever been.  Not once.

Speakers: And you want to move in with each other on the second date, right?

Crowd: Mmmm Hmmm!

Athena: That’s not how this works.   That’s not how any of this works.  None of you are making any sense.  Second date?  How do you even get a first date??  How do you even get them to look at you??

Speakers: The real problem with lesbian dating, is that you fall in love so fast, you have sex, and then you’re not ready to build a long term relationship.



People from the crowd shared their stories of meeting women and instantly moving in together.  After that…… I give up.  I’ve put in hundreds of hours of research and trying out different methods.  I am so utterly and completely lost.  This just doesn’t make sense anymore.

If you are a lesbian, and you are reading this, please, help.  Tell me how I can talk to you and not have you want to get up and leave.  I’ve been to so many lesbian meetups and I’ve never even seen other people hooking up, so I really a just utterly mystified.  I have to abandon the asexual lesbian hypothesis, especially after the meetup describe above, because I received so much direct contradictory evidence.  I can’t bridge the gap between that many women having so many stories that everyone in the room finds oh so familiar, and what my own experiences these last few years have been like.

Anyway please do feel free to leave comments below.  I’ve been single for 3 years now.  I really want to know how I can change that.

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Ultimate Diet Guide, Part 3: Fats and Cholesterol

Body fat has 3 functions:fat 1

1. They cushion the body from outside contact and cushion between internal organs

2. They help insulate heat in cold weather

3. They act as an energy reserve.

However, fatty acids – the fat found in food – has dozens of functions.  There are more myths than ever surrounding fat and cholesterol.  This section is extra important, as it will go a long way to helping you understand why McDonalds and Pizza are actually good for you, and again why there is no such thing as junk food.

It might get a little complicated, so please hang in there.

First, what is a fat?  A fat is a small chain of carbon and hydrogen.  Harmless enough, right?  Well, this small chain performs an unbelievable number of functions in the body.  When a few hydrogen bonds are missing, you have an “unsaturated fat”.  Fats that are liquid at room temperature tend to be unsaturated, while fats solid at room temperature are saturated.  It’s called saturated because it has the maximum number of hydrogen atoms attached – and thus its “saturated” with hydrogen.  That’s where the names come from.

fat moleculeA “triglyceride” is simply 3 fatty acids attached to 1 molecule of glycerol – which is a carbohydrate.

A “phospholipid”, like lecithin, is when one of those 3 fatty acids is replaced with an extra goodie, like choline. That’s what lecithin is basically. Its a triglyceride with choline in the place of a fatty acid. Choline helps build a healthy nervous system and improves brain function, along with many other functions.

See?  It’s not so complicated!

Body fat (the kind around your waistline) is made up of many fat cells. Within each fat cell, there is stored carbs and stored fats.  If you’ve been on a low carb diet for a long time, you may have spent up all the stored carbs in the fat cells.  Now there’s fatty acids occupying the body fat tissue, but you’re still on a low carb diet.  It may help to occasionally switch things up. Go on a moderate carb diet and go very low fat for a week or so.  This would encourage greater release of fatty acids from your body fat, reducing your body fat more effectively.

As we touched on, there are primarily 2 kinds of fats: Saturated and Unsaturated.

Saturated fats are traditionally called “bad fats”. However, there is little scientific evidence to support this claim. The truth is that diets low in saturated fat are linked to many health problems!  The idea that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol contribute to any health detriments on their own is a complete myth, and is one of the biggest nutrition myths going. In fact, the only time you’ll ever read “benefits” and “saturated fats” in the same sentence is… well, you just read it.

The Benefits of Saturated Fats

  1. Maintenance of individual cell membrane (stronger bodily cells)
  2. Play a vital role in the uptake of calcium to bones (stronger bones)
  3. Protect the liver against toxins (such as Panadol)
  4. Reduce enzymes that are linked to heart disease (Yes, read that again – saturated fats can help reduce the chance for heart disease)
  5. Enhance the immune system
  6. Proper regulation of unsaturated fats
  7. Fuel for the heart, especially in times of stress (yet another way it benefits the heart!)
  8. Saturated fats can protect against some harmful bacteria found in the stomach and intestines
  9. Production of hormones (including testosterone for men and estrogen for women)
  10. Food satiety

So why on earth would you ever want to avoid saturated fats?

Unsaturated fats are oils at room temperature.  How many health gurus out there have you heard advising you stay away from oily foods?  Since unsaturated fats have traditionally been held as “good fats”, it’s perplexing why anyone would give this kind of advice.  Oily foods are indeed good for you – but you need a balance of oils!  We’ll get to that in a bit.

The Benefits of Unsaturated Fats (oils)

  1. Reduced inflammation. This means faster recovery times from injury, illness, or workouts.
  2. Improved blood circulation, which means greater performance during exercise.
  3. Prevention of various forms of cancer
  4. CNS maintenance and fuel
  5. Works alongside saturated fats and cholesterol for proper hormone production and regulation.
  6. Platelet formation and control
  7. Improves calcium absorption
  8. Reduction of blood pressure by regulating the constriction of smooth muscles around the blood vessels.
  9. Reduces blood triglyceride levels, which may prevent a cardiac infarction (heart attack).
  10. As with other fats, can transport fat soluble vitamins.

So why on earth would you ever want to avoid oily food?

Artificially created trans fats have been thought of as heavily carcinogenic, but as I covered in another post, they only “increase your risk for cancer”, and they do so very mildly.  Avoid transfats if there is a similar product of equal nutritional value nearby, but you don’t need to go out of your way to avoid them (regular consumption of trans fats can cause a myriad of other health problems however – so don’t make a habit of chowing down on them).

Trans fats are created by industrial process in which heat, pressure, and chemicals are used to change the structure of a fatty acid so that it lasts longer on the shelf. It’s possible that some trans fats may be created by using the same cooking oil over and and over again at very high temperatures. Note the key words in the previous sentence; “possible”, “some”, and “may”. To create trans fats, you need

trans fats1. High temperatures, usually 350 to 400 degrees,

2. A catalyst, such as nickle, zinc, copper, or some other reactive metal, and

3. Hydrogen.

It’s hard to get all of those at the same place at the same time when cooking foods, even if you’re repeatedly using the same oils again and again. Whether or not any significant amount of transfats get created this way is still a matter of debate, and requires more research.

McDonalds tends to use the same cooking oil repeatedly for their French fries, and yet very little, if any trans fats are found in McDonalds food. This caste even more doubt on whether repeatedly using oils at high temperatures is harmful to health.

However, if you see “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the back of something, it contains transfats. Partially hydrogenated means “some trans fats” and (fully) hydrogenated means there’s a lot.  Again, avoid transfats where possible.  It wont kill you if you eat it once, but it will if you make a habit of it!

The bigger question is: where do all the health problems linked with fat – heart disease, heart attacks, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and so on – come from if fats are actually good for you?

These health problems seem to have their origin in the imbalance of fats, not the fats themselves.

Your diet should have around 50% saturated fats, and 50% unsaturated fats.

In the unsaturated fat category there is Omega 6 and Omega 3 (omega 9s are not essential, so while they’re good for you, they’re not discussed much here).  Serious health problems seem to occur when there are too many omega 6’s and not enough omega 3’s.  “Avoid oily foods” may seem to have some merit when one understands that nearly all oils – especially cooking oils – are omega 6.  In fact nearly all unsaturated fats everywhere are omega 6!  Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds – all of which are packed with vitamins – are also packed with Omega 6.  Oats are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and – you guessed it – Omega 6.

Your omega 6 to omega 3 balance should be around 2 : 1.   That is, for every two grams of omega 6, you need one gram of omega 3.

You’re still safe with a ratio of 4 : 1.  That is, you’re getting four grams of omega 6 for every gram of omega 3.

However, most people get a ratio of 30 : 1.  Thirty omega 6s for every one omega 3.  This is tremendously unbalanced and all the evidence currently suggests that THIS is the actual cause of our health problems, NOT our intake of saturated fats or oily foods!!!

The problem comes from the sources of omega 6s and 3s.  There’s only 2 significant sources of Omega 3s on planet earth: fish and flax seed oil.  It is not found in large amounts in any other food (although some fruits and vegetables may have it in very low amounts). So anytime you look on the back of a package at the health label and see “unsaturated fats” – unless you’re looking at a package of fish or flax seeds, nearly all those unsaturated fats are omega 6s.  While they are good for you, if they’re out of balance with omega 3s, then you’re just asking for trouble.

So wolf down those cheese burgers and large fries!  They will not hurt you!  Not as long as, at some point, you’re also getting omega 3s in your diet!  Cheese burgers and large fries wont make you fat either – we’ve covered that when we talked about calories.  Cheese burgers and large fries (from McDonalds anyway) do not have any significant level of trans fats – which are only mildly carcinogenic (cancer causing), and are hardly worth the trouble to avoid (basic sunlight is far more carcinogenic).  Cheese burgers and large fries do not have any of the “deadly chemicals” that so many health bloggers would love for you to believe they have.  Cheese burgers and large fries can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet.

“But wait!” you might be thinking… “You didn’t cover cholesterol yet!  Surely THAT must be bad for you!”

Nope.  It isn’t.

The Benefits of Cholesterol

  1. Works with saturated fats to maintain cell membranes.
  2. Produces hormones like androgen, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
  3. Is a precursor to vitamin D, which is needed for bone strength, CNS function, proper growth, mineral metabolism, and a host of other functions.
  4. Production of bile and stomach acids.
  5. In some instances, acts as an anti-oxidant
  6. Is essential for brain metabolism. Among other things, cholesterol enhances the brains ability to use serotonin – a vital neurotransmitter. A lack of cholesterol has been linked to severe mood swings, violent behavior, and depression.
  7. Is utterly vital to a children’s development. Breast milk is extremely high in both saturated fats and cholesterol. Feeding a newborn child low fat / low cholesterol milk is idiotic.
  8. Maintains the health of the intestinal wall, and prevents “leaky-gut syndrome”.
  9. Builds and maintains the protective “sheath” around nerve fibers, keeping them from being damaged.
  10. Repairs damaged blood vessels. These repairs happen in small amounts every day.

Your body produces around 10 grams of cholesterol a day.  When you consume cholesterol, you body simply stops making some of its own.  A negative feedback loop exists, so any incoming cholesterol from your diet is balanced out by the body shutting off some of its own cholesterol production.  This means you can gorge on as many high-cholesterol foods as you want, without danger of high blood cholesterol.

What causes high cholesterol?

The answer is we don’t know!

colesteroloIt hasn’t been discovered yet.  It is a fact that high blood cholesterol – specifically, LDL, can lead to atherosclerosis, but what causes high LDL cholesterol?  That, we don’t know.  We know for certain that it isn’t the consumption of high cholesterol foods, though an entire industry has been built around this myth.  This is why heavy meat eaters may never get high blood cholesterol and why some vegetarians still do.  Once you have high blood cholesterol, it may help to avoid foods high in cholesterol, but otherwise avoiding cholesterol in your food is entirely pointless.

That’s why we encourage you to enjoy your bacon and eggs, complete with the butter and cream cheese.  Enjoy your burger and fries.  Remember these wont make you fat unless and until you exceed your caloric needs, and they wont harm you as long as your fats are balanced.  A bag of chips and some ice cream can all be part of a balanced diet – especially if you lift heavy weights and its a gaining day (remember – zig zag!) because then all those added calories contribute towards muscle building!

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Ultimate Diet Guide, Part 2: Amino Acids and Proteins


The body’s muscles are made up of proteins.  During exercise, your muscles are damaged.  It’s when you rest from exercise that you grow, because the damage from exercise triggers growth.  For growth to happen, the body needs extra proteins from the diet.

protein 1A protein is made up of 20 amino acids. Each of these aminos has a very important job!  You don’t have to remember each one, but here they are in case you’re curious. Another reason they’re listed here is because you can find all of these amino acids sold as supplements online.

While protein in your diet usually includes these aminos (as long as it’s complete protein), taking an individual amino acid separately in larger quantities than you’d get from dietary protein alone means that amino will perform its function in a more pronounced way. For example, arginine releases growth hormone into the body. By taking arginine pills, you will get even more growth hormone than simply getting arginine from protein. Growth hormone helps burn fat and builds muscle, so this information is important. GABA helps put you to sleep at night, so taking GABA pills can really help you zone out and sleep.

All the Aminos and What They Do, Simplified:

Alanine – converts easily into sugar, allowing your own sugar stores to last longer.  This is good for marathon runners.

Arginine – promotes growth hormone (which builds muscle and burns fat), and promotes blood flow (don’t take it in supplemental form with medication for cold sores, or if you’ve had heart trouble)

Asparagine – does nothing

Aspartic acid – increases brain activity, spares glycogen (letting your own glycogen last longer; again, good for marathon runners). In supplemental form, an overdose can cause excitotoxicity (too much brain activity / seizures). If MSG or Aspartame exist in your diet, do not supplement with aspartic acid.

Citruline – cleans up the blood, and help with detoxification.

Cysteine – aids in making strong hair and nails. In emergency room situations, is sometimes administered to stop damage done by drug overdoses.

Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) – decreases brain activity, aids sleep, aids focus, and is counter-anxiety. Effects are enhanced when taken with vitamin B6, manganese, taurine, or lysine. In supplemental form, GABA must be taken with food, or improper absorption may occur, which can cause shortness of breath or dizziness.

Glutamatic acid – clears ammonia build up, increases brain activity (opposite of GABA), shares similar functions to glutamine.  Is also found in MSG – do not supplement if MSG exists in your diet. Glutamatic acid also mediates how well other aminos can be used.

Glutamine – stops catabolism, fuels brain and nerve function, prevents muscle wasting, prevents sickness, fuels immune system during times of extreme stress, speeds recovery, and maintains gut health and liver health. In high doses, it is used in cancer treatment.

Glutathione – also known as alpha-glutamyl-cysteinyl-glycine, simply because it is a bond of 3 other amino acids: glutamate, cysteine, and glycine. Acts as a powerful antioxidant, cleans blood, removes toxins, and is important for older athletes. Direct supplementation may not be possible – it is more practical to supplement with substances which will assist the body to increase its own Glutathione levels. These include acetylcysteine, choline, alpha lipoic acid, B12, vitamin E, and Selenium.

Glycine – precursor for many things, but most notably, creatine and growth hormone, and is a neuro-inhibitor (decreases brain activity).

Histidine – boost immunity, increases red blood cell count, speeds recovery and repair from injuries, reduces inflammation, and can help with intimacy performance.

Isoleucine, Leucine, Valine (These 3 are the Branch Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs) – exceptionally anabolic, can markedly speed recovery, and improve performance. Extremely important note: endurance athletes may need up to 5 times the amount of Leucine, as the body metabolizes it quickly. All 3 are essential.

Lysine – absorbs calcium, helps make carnitine, fights herpes, soft tissue maintenance, is essential.

Methionine – makes neurotransmitters, carnitine (a substance used for burning fat), detoxifies the body, and aids in a wide range of metabolic processes. Also becomes homocysteine, which is a toxic substance. Vitamin B is needed to destroy this toxin. Is essential.

Ornithine – when combined with arginine, increases impact on growth hormone.

Phenylalanine – Acts like a stimulant, controls hunger, helps produce neurotransmitters and fat burning hormones, and is a pain killer, though ironically too much may cause headache. Caffeine causes this amino to be spent up faster in the body. Is essential.

Proline – forms collagen (tissue found in tendons and ligaments), and may also help cardiovascular health.

Serine – a “wild card” amino – can become other aminos and perform their functions.

Taurine – neuro-inhibitor (reduces brain activity), produces bile, protects from irregular heart beats.

Threanine – helps make collagen, tooth enamel, elastic tissue, and can possibly treat depression. Is essential.

Tyrosine – increases ability to deal with stress (especially sleep loss), promotes neurotransmitters and fat burning hormones, and helps to produce a healthy tan.

Tryptophan – aids sleep, neurotransmitter production, fights depression, and increases growth hormone. Is essential.

If you’re shopping for amino acid supplements at your local GNC and you wanted to know what the L in front of the name stands for (L-arginine, L-orthinine, L-glutamine, etc), it stands for “levo” (which means “left”), and refers to the molecular structure of the amino (that its curved “to the left”).

Protein 2

Exaggerate much?

The opposite of L would be D, as in D-arginine, or D-glutamine. D stands for dextro, and means “to the right”. As a general rule, your body cannot use D aminos, and can only use L – so unless otherwise stated, an amino is assumed to be L. Why bother putting L on the label then? Because it makes the supplement look cooler.

Aspartame is a common sweetener in diet soft drinks (all diet Coke’s have this), and is created by combining 2 amino acids – aspartame and phenylalanine. This bond can easily be converted into methanol, and in turn, formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen (cancer causing substance). This process begins to happen at warmer temperatures (around 31 degrees C), so some of the aspartame can convert to formaldehyde before its broken down in the stomach.  A safer alternative is sucralose, sometimes listed by its brand name “Splenda”.

The good news is, if you only have 1 or 2 diet drinks a day, you’re probably not getting enough formaldehyde to hurt you.  You would have to go out of your way to get too much of this.

So just take a look at how many aminos there are from 1 single protein, how many jobs they all do, and realize how important protein is!

Essential Amino Acids and Vegetarianism

For easy reference, the essential amino acids are:

Isoleucine, Leucine, Valine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Methionine, Threanine, and Tryptophan. The 8 EAAs cannot be produced by the body, and are needed for survival.  The other 12 are non-essential.

protein 3Its interesting to note that a diet consisting of only EAAs in place of protein has been shown not only sufficient for survival, but also for increasing athletic performance! This is because EAAs can convert into all other amino acids (Tryptophan can become tyrosine, for example). Taking non-EAAs can help spare the conversion of EAAs, increasing the effectiveness of their roles in the body.

If you consume 200 grams of protein (enough for plenty of muscle building), yet you consume only 2 grams worth of methionine, then it will be as if you only consumed 2 grams of protein that day.  You need the essential amino acids, and plants frequently don’t supply all of them.  What’s more, scientific research has shown that proteins coming from plant sources do not contribute to muscle growth nearly as well as meat proteins, even if the plant proteins sources are combined to make complete proteins!!

The best protein sources are whey, milk, soy, eggs, fish, chicken, and turkey (these are all sources of complete proteins).  The worst protein sources are most vegetables, breads, lentils, and rice (these are all sources of incomplete proteins).  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have these foods (they have all the vitamins and minerals you need!), it simply means you shouldn’t expect quality protein from them.

Strict vegetarians (vegans) can go for long periods with very few EAAs in their diet, and can experience side effects as a result.  We try not to step on anyone’s toes when it comes to religion, so if your choices for being vegetarian are religiously motivated, then the conversation ends there.  But scientifically speaking, the human body performs better and lives longer with a balanced diet (meats and vegetables).

Even though from a scientific perspective it’s best to consume meats as part of a balanced diet, we do advise that you avoid beef consumption. Beef production actually does cause problems to Earth’s ecological balance, and is the only point the vegetarians have that can’t be argued with.

Protein, Health, and Fat Loss

As we covered earlier, the body needs around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for muscle growth, or 2.2 grams per kg. The actual amount of protein needed may be less, given lean body mass, fitness goals, and other factors, but this general recommendation is easy to remember. When guessing how much protein you need, aim for more rather than less. Protein requires more effort to digest and use. This effort raises the total number of calories burned each day (metabolism), which helps if your goal is fat loss.

Proteins must undergo gluconeogenisis before they can be stored as fat. This is a complex process, and the body is more likely to use protein in some other capacity. Even after protein is converted into glucose, it still has a chance to be burned as energy before it’s stored as fat. For these reasons, protein does not store very well in fat tissue. However, the process of converting protein into glucose is irreversible. This means it can never become protein again.

Because of this, and because the complex processes needed to handle protein require more energy, replacing carbs in your diet with protein is an effective means to increase your metabolism, or how many calories you burn at rest.

Further, protein encourages the release of the hormone glucagons from the pancreas. This hormone’s job is to release fat from fat stores, and decreases the body’s ability to store fat. Higher protein intakes also positively impact the production of IGF-1, a muscle building hormone. More muscles mean more calories burned, and will eventually mean greater fat loss. Finally, studies have shown that a diet high in protein tends to reduce risk for heart disease, improve blood cholesterol, and reduce appetite. This is all good news for those wishing to drop fat!

Raw protein stores are kept in the muscles, not in fat tissue. Starvation diets, in which there is very little incoming protein, means ALL the protein must come from the muscles. In a 3 day fast, around 70% of the weight you lose will be muscle mass. Starvation diets suck.

This is also another reason why you need to eat every 3 hours. If your body needs methoinine, one of the amino acids, to do it’s job somewhere, it will easily and happily take methoinine out of your muscles. How? By tearing down the muscles and reducing their size and strength. The body doesn’t care about how good you look, or how much fat you lose, it only cares about survival. You can easily prevent your body from wanting to reduce your muscles by always having protein in every meal, every 3 hours. Then your body has no need to ever take aminos from your amino acid stores (which are your muscles), because it’s getting a constant supply of aminos from the diet.

What’s more, eating every 3 hours makes the body less able to store fat. It may be tough at first, but once you’ve built the habit, it becomes quite easy. Bringing small Tupperware containers of lean chicken or egg whites with you to work isn’t hard, it just requires a little planning ahead.

Simple Facts about Protein

The body typically cannot process more than 400 grams of protein per day. The limiting factor is how much nitrogen the liver can liberate from the protein, converting it to ureic acid. Beyond 400 grams, the body cannot liberate the nitrogen, which means the protein cannot be processed. This is related to Rabbit Starvation Syndrome – in which hunters would try to get most of their daily calories from rabbit meat, which contains almost no fat or carbs. The result was getting a diet of mostly lean protein, and since 400 grams makes only 1600 calories, the hunters would eventually starve to death, no matter how much rabbit meat they consumed.

The idea that only 40 or so grams of protein can be digested in one meal is a myth. There are no set guidelines to how much protein an individual can adequately process per meal.

You need lots of B vitamins if you consume a lot of protein. It is extremely important to note that all of the proteins and amino acids the body can use must be processed, and this processing relies heavily on the B vitamin complex. Vitamin B6 is often the limiting factor in how much a protein or amino acids can be used by the body. Further, all the B vitamins (B1 – B12) work in tandem – they all rely on each other to function properly. A high protein diet requires proper vitamin intake before it can be considered effective. Taking a multivitamin can help.

You should never exercise after you wake up without breakfast. The theory goes that since no food has been ingested, the body will be forced to use its fat stores for the exercise. The problem is that upon waking, the body has just finished 8 hours of starvation, and is in an extremely catabolic (muscle burning / wasting) state. The body is filled with hormones that will try to tear down your hard earned muscle to supply it with needed amino acids! Exercising under these conditions would make the threat a reality: muscle will be lost; fat will be spared, effectively reversing your dieting efforts. Protein should be consumed immediately upon waking.

You do not need whey protein powders to build anything. They are only a luxury. Whey protein drinks are not necessarily “better” than simply eating normal protein food, like chicken.  They’re are simply a luxury for when you cannot have access to regular food.  Many people work a full 10-hour-a-day job, and bringing a case of lean chicken breast out at a business meeting may be frowned upon.  You might also find yourself stuck in traffic and seriously not in the mood to drive around looking for a restaurant.  For when you can’t get to your regular meals, a zip-lock bag of protein powder is very convenient.  Simply mix into water and presto!

Protein will not strain your kidneys. This is a myth. Studies on high protein diets have actually shown improved kidney function. High protein diets, however, do require that you drink plenty of water.

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Laziness and Evolution

Why do we get lazy to begin with?  Why can’t we just feel up, alive, awake, and productive all the time???

lazyLaziness, like racism, was at one time beneficial.  Identifying people of our own race / tribe / community, and bonding with them against others, helped us survive.  In fact, this was absolutely crucial for survival!

Remember that we once shared the planet with neanderthals.  We did not come FROM them… they were something of another species.  Much the way chimpanzees and silver-back Gorillas are difference species… homosapians and neanderthals were different.  Both were intelligent, capable of abstract thought, and lived in communities, but nothing else about neanderthals is known.  Ironically, they may have been peace loving hippy beat-nicks who embraced others with love and kindness… which is why they died.  We were the lazy racist assholes that killed anything different than us.  Hence, we lived.

But “lazy racist asshole” is only a bad thing by modern standards.  Today we would say racism and laziness are bad.  Evolution doesn’t say they’re good OR bad.  It simply doesn’t care!  Evolution has been called the “blind watchmaker” for a reason.  Much like a blind watchmaker, it grabs a random piece, puts it in a watch, and if it fits, it fits.  If it doesn’t, it gets tossed.  There is no aim, no plan, no partiality.  It doesn’t care what piece gets used, how it fits, or what the watch looks like.  All of these are modern human concerns.  Evolution does not care about them, much the way gravity doesn’t care who jumps off a cliff.  You could be the most important and well loved person to have ever lived – you still fall to your doom.

So lets get into precisely how evolution works, from beginning to end.  Lets say we have a species of Yar.  Yar is any old animal of any strange sort that I just made up.  Here goes.

Like in all animals, Yar’s DNA undergoes random mutations, and its offspring exhibits a variety of results.  Think of random mutations as the watchmaker grabbing a random piece and putting it in.  If it doesn’t work, the species dies.  If it does work, Bam! – new variation, and (over time) new species!

Offspring A – has longer legs! Doesn’t help get food or reproduce – it dies.

Offspring B – runs faster! Has to sacrifice body weight for speed.  Bad mistake – it dies.

Offspring C – Is smarter! A thinking animal may hesitate when it comes time to kill or be killed – it dies.

Offspring D – Has claws! Is out-competed by another species that already has claws – it dies.

Offspring E – Is ugly.  The disfigured appearance wards off preditors somehow – it lives!!!

Offspring F – Is beautiful.  Is more attractive and noticeable to predators – it dies.

Offspring G – Is dumber.  Being dumb leads to more ham-fisted aggression – It lives!!!

Offspring H – Has a harder shell.  Requires more calcium which the environment doesn’t provide – it dies.

Offspring I – Is a peace loving vegetarian.  Hahahahahaha! – it dies.

Offspring J – Learns to climb trees.  Doesn’t help get food or reproduce – it dies.

Offspring K – Learns to swim.  Gets eaten by sharks – it dies.

Offspring L – Becomes fat.  More energy can be stored during times of famine!  It lives!!!

Offspring M – Is lazy. Saves on calories, less energy burned, hides from predators in a cave all day while laying around and doing nothing. – It lives!!!

Offspring N – Is hard working.  Gets pounced on by a tiger one day while building stuff – it dies.

Offspring Q – Is loyal to his wife.  Doesn’t help get food and reproduces less often, and probably gets nagged to death – it dies.

Offspring R – Is a complete asshole.  Other members of the tribe learn to not touch this guy’s stuff – It lives!!!

(Note: While you could say “But what if other members of the tribe didn’t like him and left him to die?” – yea, that could have happened, but it didn’t.  That’s just now how it played out.  Maybe the other members of the tribe kept him because they still needed strength in numbers.  Maybe they were a bunch of forgiving hippy peace loving beat-nicks.  Maybe this.  Maybe that.  Doesn’t matter – that’s how it played out.  He lived, and his genes were passed on.  Today, we have assholes everywhere.)

Offspring S – Grows a beak.  Doesn’t help get food or reproduce – it dies.

Offspring T – Grows 4 more arms.  The brain must now build 4 times the circuitry to control the additional arms, and cognitive coherence is lost – it dies.

Offspring U – Invents things and makes society better.  Doesn’t help get food or reproduce – it dies.

Offspring V – Learns to read.  Doesn’t help get food or reproduce – it dies. (origins of dyslexia)

Offspring W – Can jump higher.  Doesn’t help get food or reproduce – it dies.

Offspring Y – Lies about everything.  Deception and dishonesty allows him to confuse enemies and take advantage of them for his own gain – It lives!!!

Offspring Z – Lacks critical thinking skills, and follows whatever he’s told.  Enhanced group cohesion, ability to act as a team, and not upset things with questions – it lives!!!

Now take a look.  We have a species that evolved into a bunch of fat, lazy, lying, dumb, ugly assholes!  That’s because they were rewarded by nature and were useful at one time… in the same way a meteorite crashing to earth and killing everything is “rewarded by gravity”.  There is no “reward” in actual fact… that’s just how the cards got played.  Evolution is like physics – it’s simply a deterministic set of laws that predict how things will happen.  That’s all.  We are what we are because that’s simply how the cards were played.  The things that once helped us survive, now just get in the way.  We are no longer playing by Evolutions rules… we’re playing by our own rules.

To expand on being lazy even further: thousands of years ago, the guy who was lazy was like the noobtard in an MMORPG.  (If you’re not familiar with these terms, an MMORPG is an online game you can play with other people.  A “noobtard” is the idiot who joins your team then screws everything up somehow, or stands there and does nothing and lets his team get killed).  Imagine you go into a dungeon, ready to fight all the monsters… you and 2 other guys on your team go at it – but this one guy stays at the starting area and doesn’t move.

The result?

You all get killed, and he lives.  Then he comes by, takes all your treasure, and goes back to town.  “FUGGIN NOOB!!!”  We utterly HATE people like that!  But hey, he survived, now didn’t he?  And he also succeeded.  He lives, and in evolution, he would pass on his be-a-lazy-asshole genes, while we all got killed and removed from the game (or gene pool).

Being lazy meant you laid around in a cave all day being safe while hard working folks would risk getting killed.  It meant you conserved energy when it wasn’t necessary to move around.  The things that feel good – not moving, having sex, laying around, watching clouds pass by – all helped you survive.  That’s why they feel good.  “Do more of this and you’ll live”.  That’s all evolution cares about.  Just like “matter is attracted to matter” is all gravity cares about.

We still needed to work hard SOMETIMES… the guy who was lazy ALL the time died.  The guy who worked hard ALL the time also died.  That’s where our laziness comes from.  “Got food?  Got shelter?  Relax and be lazy!

Remember though, we no longer play by evolutions rules, even though the game pieces are still there.  Now you know WHY you feel lazy, and you can achieve a higher level of self-acceptance.  You now understand why lazy stupid racist assholes have the market cornered when it comes to evolution.  The “dont question the group” and “think happy thoughts!” combined with the “justify what you do” genes sadly lend themselves to the militant-religion bullshit we now have today as well.  The good news is, like I said, we now have a choice, and no longer play by those rules.

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Nothing Causes Cancer

First, what is cancer?

Cancer zodiacYour body is made up of cells – tiny living machines that make up all the tissues of your body. Skin, bone, muscle, all of you – it’s all made up of cells.

In each cell there is something called DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid if you wanna impress your friends.  DNA contains the instructions that determine everything about you, like how tall you are, how long you will live, how close together your eyes are, how many teeth you have – every detail! The DNA also tells the cells what to do and how to behave.

DNA tells the cells to live for a while, then divide, then die.

Lets take cell A.

When cell A divides, it creates a new cell – we’ll call this cell B. Then cell A can go ahead and die. Cells cant live forever you know! DNA tells them to die off.

Then cell B lives for a while, then divides to create cell C, and cell B dies.

Cell C lives for a while, then splits to create cell D – and cell C dies. This process is governed by DNA and continues your whole life.

Ok now here’s where cancer comes in. Pay attention because we’re going to put an end to this silly idea some people have that everything causes cancer.

Lets say your cells are sitting around happily dividing and dying just as they should. One day, something goes wrong in cell Z. It’s encountered a problem and cannot divide the way it should. Remember it’s DNA that tells cell Z how to divide!

However, sometimes the DNA gets damaged. There are millions of things that can do this, so we cant even begin to make a list. Everything from nuclear radiation to breathing oxygen has the potential to damage DNA.

So when the DNA is damaged in cell Z, it can’t tell the cell how to divide properly. If Z divides improperly, then an improper cell will be formed. This cell is cancer! Sometimes this cancer cell can just sit there and do nothing. This is called “benign cancer”, and is less of a concern. Sometimes this cancer cell can start fighting with the surrounding cells, and wants to take over the body. This is called “malignant cancer”. That’s the cancer you need to watch out for.

But fear not, each of your cells comes with its own “self-destruct button”. This is located – you guessed it – on the DNA.

Now suppose for a moment that the self destruct button gets damaged. Then what? Now the cell cannot divide correctly or kill itself before its too late. Thankfully, the immune system comes in and kills the new, weird cell that might end up invading the body. However, what if the cancer cell looks too much like the normal cells? That’s when the immune system completely skips over the cancer cell and allows it to invade the body.

Cancer bossAnd that’s the story of how cancer happens!

It all comes down to what damages the DNA. Once again, millions and millions of things can either damage DNA, or allow DNA to be more easily damaged. Things like exposure to car exhaust, air pollution, cigarette smoke, barbecued meat, arsenic, depleted uranium, depression, alcohol, chlorofluorocarbons, radon, x-rays, radiation, bug spray, obesity, lack of exercise, sunlight, stress, drugs, medicines, benzene, asbestos, aspartame, D isomer amino acids, trans fats, pesticides, germs, viruses, or breathing oxygen.

How does breathing oxygen damage the DNA?

Oxygen has an unstable pair of electrons. When it enters our body, one of these electrons can break free, and the oxygen molecule will then go around the body trying to take an electron away from another atom. The atom it steals from will then try to reunite itself with an electron by stealing one from another atom. That atom steals from another, and so on. This process goes on and on, and the electrons being swung around everywhere tend to cause damage. Imagine swinging a morning star / spiked ball and chain around in a china shop. Things are going to get broken.

If the damage happens to the cell, the DNA simply tells it to repair itself.  No biggie. But if the damage happens to the DNA? Well there you go. Possible cancer formation.

Now lest you think I’ve forgotten, the title of this post is “Nothing Causes Cancer”. What do I mean by that?

free radicalIf breathing air caused cancer, we’d all have cancer right now.

Breathing air increases your risk FOR cancer. It does not CAUSE cancer. And that same thing is true with damn near everything in the world. It’s the reason why you find some people who smoke for 40 years and still haven’t developed lung cancer. If their risk before they began smoking was 0, and smoking increases your risk by 10,000%, then 10,000% times 0 is still 0. Some people simply have incredible genetic resiliency. Others do not.

So why do we say it causes cancer then? In English, we say “smoking causes cancer” simply because it’s a shortcut and easier to say. “Causes” and “Cancer” both begin with the “kah” sound followed by the “s” sound. The words “Causes Cancer” fit well together. Peter Parker, Clark Kent, and Louis Lane all agree – the repetition of sounds tend to make a name more catchy. That’s why we don’t correctly say “smoking increases your risk for cancer”. Too many words and syllables, plus people the people who want you to stop smoking really want you to stop smoking. CAUSES hits with a more case-closed sense than “increases your risk for”, which invites debate that you may still not get cancer.

Anything at all that is capable of damaging the DNA is also capable of causing (read: increasing your risk for) cancer – even sunlight.  So are you going to stay inside during the day and live like a vampire?

The goal should be to avoid the most obvious things that cause the largest increases in cancer rates. Anyone can stop smoking, which leads to a significant increase in cancer rates and is easy to avoid. Breathing oxygen and exposure to sunlight often cannot be avoided, and lead to a very small increase in cancer rates. So it’s not even worth the effort.

AntioxidantAs far as preventing cancer is concerned, this simply comes from avoiding the most obvious risks, as well as eating plenty of fruits and veggies because they have antioxidants, which help contain the run-away electrons (called “free radicals”) that cause all the damage. Exercise makes the body stronger, and a stronger body handles potential cancer issues long before it can become a serious problem.

Being “Linked To Cancer” Doesn’t Mean Anything

Another popular term we need to touch on is “linked to”. Sometimes to avoid coming off too strongly and provoking someone to ask questions, the term “linked to” is used.

Did you know that prostitutes and violent crime are linked to schools? It’s true. As the number of schools goes up, the number of prostitutes and violent crimes go up. There’s a positive link between the two.

I’m of course using the most ridiculous examples here to show how faulty the conclusions can be. Obviously schools do not promote prostitution and violent crime. If 1,000 people live in a town, you may find 1 or 2 schools, and only a little crime.  But if 10,000 people live in a town, we’ll of course will find 5 or 6 schools, and many more people committing crimes. This is because as the number of people increase, both schools and crime will increase. One does not cause the other. If you google “correlation does not imply causation”, you’ll find a nice series of easy-to-understand articles explaining this in further detail.

We now have more processed foods than ever. We also have more cancer than ever. What does prove? Absolutely nothing. We use shampoo more than ever. We listen to music more than ever. We sit in chairs more than ever. We wear ear rings more than ever. We read books more than ever. To imply that these things are linked to cancer simply because cancer rates and these things have both increased is just nuts.

So the next time you hear something like “fried foods cause cancer”, don’t let it scare you.

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The Ultimate Diet Guide, Part 1: Calories and Carbohydrates

In this multi-part post, I’m going to cover absolutely positively *every*last*single*thing* you will ever possibly need to know about dieting, diet programs, and general nutrition. By the time you’re done reading, you will finally understand how dieting works on a fundamental level.
Some crazy insane things we’ll cover:

Why McDonalds, Burger King, and Pizza Hut can not only be good for you, but can be included as part of a balanced diet.

What a “balanced diet” really means. And it has nothing to do with “food groups”.

How sugar works. All carbs (carbohydrates) are sugars, and there are supposedly “good carbs” and “bad carbs” (there aren’t), yet sugar (which are carbs) have been blamed for everything from diabetes to cancer (it causes neither). We’ll straighten this out.

Why nearly all diets work, but they don’t work for you. And it has nothing to do with your blood type. Or acidity vs alkaline. Or mixing the wrong foods together.

Why there is no such thing as “junk food”. Only bad food choices. And no, that’s not just another way of saying “junk food”; broccoli and carrot sticks can be bad food choices.

So in other words, forget everything you know about dieting. Find that “diet folder” in your brain, and click “delete”. I’ve taught classes on this material before, and it frequently resulted in exasperated students with jaws dropped in utter disbelief in what they were hearing, along with amazement and joy that they can now create their own diet plans and decide what they eat, and when they eat it!

In the fitness and nutrition industry, there are strong profit motives to mislead customers and no incentives to educate them. “Health food” sales increase as long as you believe there’s such a thing as “junk food”. Putting “fat free” or “cholesterol free” on a package increases the sales of that package as long as you believe fat and cholesterol are bad for you.

I want to help shed some light on all this, so I’ve decided to post the results of over 10 years of science and research here, and make it available to everyone. I’m not sure if I’ll make a dent in the country’s obesity epidemic, but at least I can try.


First let’s cover “calories”.  What is a calorie? A calorie is a measure of energy, the way an inch is a measure of distance. Specifically, a calorie is the amount of energy needed to heat 1 liter of water by 1 degree Celsius.  When you eat, you consume calories form carbohydrates, proteins, fats, or alcohols.  It’s these 4 things that contain calories, or usable energy.  Normally, that energy gets either used in daily activity, or stored.  And how does it get stored?  As fat!  So you either burn those calories or they become fat.

It’s really that simple. In fact we could probably end there!… but you’re probably still curious about all those things I built up in the introduction to convince you to keep reading. So we’ll continue.

Calories are burned through every day activity, but are burned up much faster by exercise.  Having greater muscle mass can increase the number of calories you burn at rest or during exercise, and that’s why muscle building is a good strategy to include in any fat loss routine.  If you don’t consume enough calories to supply the body’s energy demands, the body will simply use some of its stored calories to supply the energy needed.  That, in a nutshell, is how body fat comes off.  It is The Only Way fat will ever come off, short of surgical procedures.  That’s real important to understand, because this one central concept will explain dozens of things later on.

So you can lose fat (stored calories) in 1 of 2 ways:

1. Burn more calories through activity

2. Eat fewer calories in your diet.

It’s usually a combination of these that makes a winning fat loss strategy.  There are hundreds of ways you can design a diet around this very simple concept, which is why there are hundreds of diets on the market today.  Most follow this basic principle.  If you’re on a diet, you’re eating more calories than you need, and you’re not trying to build muscle, the diet will fail.  That’s it – hands down, no further questions – the diet fails and you get fatter.

You can eat cookies, ice cream, and cakes, and it won’t matter so long as you’re getting fewer calories than you need.  If you eat 400 calories worth of ice cream, then jog for an hour and burn 500 calories, well congratulations!  You just ate a bowl of ice cream and still lost fat!  That’s how it works.

You need 2,000 calories a day (for sake of example).

You eat 1,500 calories.

You lost 500 calories that day.

It takes around 3,500 calories to make a pound of fat.

Lose 500 calories Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and you’ve effectively lost 3,500 calories. You’ve lost 1 pound of pure fat in 1 week (1 kg in just over 2 weeks).

It’s that simple.

calorie volumeSo what’s the point of “eating healthy” (as in carrots, spinach, celery, etc)?  Well besides having dozens of vitamins and minerals (which don’t impact fat loss nearly as much as long as there’s no deficiencies – it’s the calories you’re concerned with here) fruits and veggies tend to have far fewer calories per volume.  A large apple and a cheese burger may be almost the same amount of food… but the apple has only 120 calories, while the cheese burger may have upwards of 300 calories.  A bowl of celery and carrots may have 50 calories total, while a large fries can have up to 500, even though they’re the same “amount” of food.  You can still eat large fries from McDonalds and lose body fat!  You’re just going to have to burn those 500 calories somehow, because if you don’t, they get stored as body fat and your diet fails.

(It should be noted that for the purposes of this course, we’re assuming that you’re getting plenty of vitamins and minerals already.  Although you’re probably not.  For more on that, click here and here.)

So again, calories only come from:

1 gram carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram protein         = 4 calories
1 gram fat                 = 9 calories
1 gram alcohol         = 7 calories (should not be included in your diet, but who are we kidding. Some are going to include it anyway).

The above 4 are called macro-nutrients, and they provide calories.  Vitamins and minerals are called micro-nutrients, and they do not provide calories.  When speaking of “nutrition”, we could be referring to either one or both.

Empty calories” are those which do not have corresponding micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).  For example, a slice of white bread has around 70 calories, but almost no vitamins or minerals, and a can of Coke has only sugar with absolutely no vitamins or minerals at all.  A small bowl of spinach, on the other and, gives you less than 100 calories, and yet also provides nearly the entire spectrum of vitamins and minerals you need in a day.  Spinach would be called a “nutrient dense” food, whereas the white bread and Coke would be examples of “empty calories”.  Foods that are filled with empty calories have traditionally been called “junk food“, and “eating clean” refers to a diet with mostly nutrient dense foods (no junk food). However, there is no such thing as junk food and health food.  We’ll explain why later.
Simple Facts about Calories

Drinking cold water will not help burn more calories. The idea is that drinking enough cold water makes the body lose heat, so it must work harder to re-heat itself. However, drinking an entire gallon of cold water may result in only 1 calorie being burned.  Research demonstrating the use of this technique uses different methods to measure the calories burned.  In reality, while drinking water is good for you, it’s not going to assist very much with fat loss.

Some foods have ‘negative calories’, which means you burn more calories eating them than you get from them.  The only food that really fits this description is celery, which does indeed burn a few more calories than you get from it. Most vegetables, especially when eaten raw and without any dressing, require calories to digest that leaves them almost being negative calorie foods.  However, you can’t just eat celery and lose weight.  Strategies like this must be used as part of a larger diet and lifestyle plan.

Some products show “Kcal” on the label, while others just show “Cal”.  Which is which?  They’re the same.  Kcal means “kilo calorie”, but that’s essentially what we mean anytime we say “calorie”.

So now you know you need fewer calories than you burn.  And to find out how many calories something has, you can always look on the back at the health label.  If a health label isn’t available, the website is a great place to figure out how many calories you’re getting.

Now that we covered some basics about calories, you need to know how many calories you burn each day.  This can vary wildly based on body weight, body fat percentage, and activity level.  A professional athlete on a hard training cycle will of course burn far more calories than Mrs Smith (Your average everyday woman).  Because of the complex calculations needed to gain an accurate measure of your caloric needs, its best to consult a qualified trainer who is skilled at using hand held fat calipers.  I’m not fond of bio-electric impedance (a machine you normally stand on barefoot which measures body fat), as in my experience, these tend to be far less accurate.

Simple Facts about Nutrition in General

Your BMI does not tell you how much you should weigh.  BMI, or body mass index, should not be used as part of your health assessment or body fat analysis.  The BMI simply divides your weight by your height and comes out with an “optimal weight” which tells absolutely nothing about your actual condition.  A professional body builder would appear grotesquely overweight on the BMI scale because it does not calculate how much of that weight is muscle or body fat.  BMI cannot be used to accurately assess any health conditions, and was never designed for this purpose.  It was originally developed in the mid 1800’s, long before we knew much about health and fitness as we do today, and was used to study populations, not individuals.

So how much should you weigh?

Take off your shirt, and look in the mirror.  If you like what you see, you’re good to go.

The RDA tells us how many vitamins and minerals we need, but is not for athletes. It’s common for people to refer to the RDA, or Recommended Daily Allowances, in reference to their nutritional needs.  The RDA’s are only estimates for what the average person needs.  Athletes, or those engaged in heavy training, may require far more vitamins and minerals than the average person.  If you train only on the weekends or are engaged in something less demanding, like yoga, then the RDA’s are probably still an accurate estimate for you.  But if you engage in heavy weight lifting 3 or more times per week, it’s suggested you aim much higher for many of your nutritional needs.

The Food Pyramid and the “4 basic food groups” is another source of misinformation to dispose with.  This concept was developed in the US to help Americans deal with food shortages during World War II.  This was a time far different than modern day world, and certainly did not have modern fitness in mind. It’s not the food that matters – its what’s in the food. Would you rather have an orange that provides more calories, or an orange that provides more vitamins? Bread and white rice have very few vitamins or minerals, and easily turn to fat. Why on earth would you need a whopping 6 to 11 servings as recommended by the food pyramid?  Ironically the same advocates who recommend you stay away from empty calories like bread and rice often advise you follow the food pyramid, which recommends… bread and rice.

Next we’ll cover some very basic facts about the 3 things that make up all foods: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  All food in the world is made up of a combination of these 3.

calorie burn chartDon’t worry about how accurate the numbers are.  Just understand the concept; the more you move and the harder you work, the more calories you burn. Burn more than you eat, and you’ll lose fat.



Carbohydrates, or “carbs” for short, are sugars.  All carbohydrates that can be digested will eventually break down into simple sugars in the body, if they’re not already simple sugars when you eat them (important concept – keep it in mind!)  A carb can be simple or complex in structure. They provide very little function other than energy, though some are needed for regular brain metabolism and internal organ maintenance. It is theoretically possible to survive without carbs, since proteins can be converted to carbs (gluconeogensis) if a deficiency exists.

Of carbohydrates, there are 3 main kinds.  This gets a little complicated so hang on.

monosaccharides = “mono” meaning 1.  “Saccharides” meaning “sugar”.  Basically this is a simple sugar.  Examples include candy, sodas, and honey.

disaccharides = “di” meaning 2.  This is 2 sugars combined together.  After you eat this, it will break down into monosaccharides, or simple sugars.  Examples include milk, table sugar, and maple syrup.

(Speaking of milk, people who are lactose intolerant simply lack the enzyme needed to break apart lactose in the stomach for digestion.  The lactose passes to the lower intestines where it is digested by bacteria.  The bacteria produce by-products from digesting the milk, which results in diarrhea.  The more you know!)

polysaccharides = “poly” meaning “many”.  So basically its many sugars linked together.  These are sometimes called “starches”.  Again, once you eat them, they break down and eventually become monosaccharides.  Examples include rice, cornmeal, spaghetti, bread.

Some starches cannot be digested by the human stomach, and these are called “fiber”.  Fiber helps the intestinal tract to function and can help lower cholesterol. It also slows down digestion, can help you feel more satisfied with your meal, and makes you fuller for longer. Fibers do not provide calories.

It does not matter how complex a carbohydrate is!  This is very important to understand! The complexity of a carb has absolutely nothing to do with how healthy it is or how good it is for you or how much of it you should have! Complex carbs do not necessarily stabilize blood sugar, or provide fiber, or provide vitamins, or have any health benefits whatsoever. It is a complete myth that you should stick to “complex carbs” and avoid simple sugars.  Fructose, the sugar found in fruit, is a simple sugar… yet the same people who tell you to avoid simple sugars will tell you to eat more fruits.

Complex carbs bonkFrom, the site is clearly mis-informing the customer about complex carbs to help boost sales of their product.

Speaking of fructose, always eat fruits, and carbohydrates from fruit sources, before you workout, never after.  Fruit sugars cannot “re-energize the body” after a hard workout, because the body’s muscles cannot use fructose for recovery.  Fructose is a great source of energy, however, if taken before your workout.

Good carbs vs Bad carbs

You may have heard of good and bad carbs, when in reality no carb is inherently good or bad.  The “glycemic index” divides the two, with high glycemic carbs traditionally being called bad, with low glycemic carbs being called good.

The glycemic index is how much a carbohydrate impacts your insulin levels.  To measure a food’s glycemic index, or GI rating, test subjects are given a glass of pure glucose to drink.  Since nothing can absorb faster or have a higher impact on insulin levels than liquid glucose, the effect this has on insulin is taken as a ‘bench mark’.  Any other food the subject consumes results in a blood insulin level that is measured against the glucose drink.  From this, we have GI ratings for all the various foods.

Pure glucose is given a GI of 100.  White bread then has a GI of around 76.  From this we know that white bread absorbs very fast from the stomach and into the blood, causing blood insulin levels to rise very quickly.  Kidney beans, on the other hand, have a GI of around 29.  This means it absorbs very slowly into the blood and has a much lower impact on your blood insulin levels.

White rice and bread are both considered complex carbs, and yet both have a GI of around 76.  A simple sugar like that found in apples has a GI of only around 36.  So here we can see that complex carbs affect insulin levels much more than simple carbs.  Again, the complexity of a carb has absolutely nothing to do with how “healthy” it is, or whether it’s “good” or “bad”.

Glycemic Load

The glycemic index does not take into account the amount of carbs you’ve eaten.  A banana may have a GI of around 65… but surely eating 2 whole bananas will not be the same as taking only 1 bite.  To adjust for the amount of carbs eaten, the Glycemic Load scale was developed.

To find the Glycemic Load, use the following formula:

GI/100 x Net Carbs – dietary fiber

Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated!  It simply means take the GI, divide it by 100, then multiply it by the total number of carbs.  That’s all.

So if a plate of white rice has 50 carbs… and we know the GI is 76…

donut76 divided by 100 = .76, times 50 carbs, = 38.  And that’s the GL.  A GL of 20 or over is usually considered “high”.  It’s perfectly ok to have a GL of 40 or higher, however, as sometimes this really can’t be avoided.

Kidney beans have a GI of 29. But if I’m getting ready for a heavy leg workout, I may need upwards of 100 carbs. Using the GL formula, 29 divided by 100 = .29, times 100 carbs, = 29. Even some of the lowest GI food in the world results in a high GL if you eat enough of it. That’s fine. Just keep in mind the point is to have longer lasting energy that’s more stable that can get you through your workout, and low GI foods tend to do this better than high GI foods in your pre-workout meal. After your workout, you want more sugar and more insulin, because getting this can make muscles grow a lot more after a bodybuilding workout than if you didn’t have them. So high GI foods are best after you workout.

Now if you’re not working out and don’t exercise, your diet should consist mostly of low GI carbs. High GI carbs have been shown to increase hunger. Not a good idea unless you want to make yourself more hungry.

So in summary:

Low GI carbs before your workout.

High GI carbs after your workout.

Low GI carbs if you’re not working out. You’ll be hungry less often.

Some examples of low GI foods include yogurt, milk, beans, oats, pasta, most citrus fruits, nuts and lentils. Some examples of high GI foods include rice, most breads, bananas, soda drinks, French fries, potatoes, and prunes. For a very complete list of foods and where they rank (high, medium, or low) please see

Carb Loading

Some athletes may benefit greatly from a technique known as carb loading.  Carb loading is normally accomplished by slowly reducing carbs in the diet over the course of several days, dropping total carb intake by 20% each day, until almost no carbs are consumed by day 4 or 5.  In response to the decreased intake of carbs, the muscle cells in the body become extra sensitive to any incoming carbs.  On the 6th day, the athlete will finish a hard workout, then consume a gargantuan amount of carbs, which will be taken up by the now-extra-sensitive muscle cells rather than the fat cells.  Jelly donuts and chocolate cake (normally called “junk food”) are a good food choice at this point!  You want extra sugary foods to spike the insulin as much as possible, since the muscle cells are extra sensitive and are ready to use all those carbs for growth!  When the muscles are filled with sugar, they become bigger, stronger, and generally perform better.  Along with a sudden intake of Cookie carb loadingsugar, the muscles also draw in water that’s stored beneath the skin.  This provides lots of definition along with the added muscle mass.

So there you have it.  Eating junk = ripped, cut, and defined muscles with less fat!!

Carb loading is most typically done by bodybuilders and long distance runners, but the average person can also take advantage of this technique to make themselves look and perform better.

And yes, cookies count.

Zig Zagging

It is a well established physiological fact that the body will adapt to any stress it is exposed to for a prolonged period of time.  This includes a diet plan.  If you’ve been on a fat-loss diet for an extended period of time, the body will try to adapt to the lowered food intake and will stop responding to your dieting efforts.  The body’s hormones and metabolic rate will begin adjusting to the decreased intake of food.

To combat this, you should deliberately try to gain weight (preferably in muscle) 2 days per week, while losing fat the other 5 days per week. The gaining days readjust your metabolic rate upwards, and puts back muscle you lost on the fat burning days, both of which make fat burning more effective.  If you’re a woman, don’t worry – you cannot and will not turn into the incredible hulk from trying to gain muscle just 2 days a week.  The muscle you gain will be lean and slender, and will probably be lost by the next 5 days of weight loss anyway.

To gain muscle, you generally need more carbs in your diet for energy, and more calories than you burned.

But to lose fat, you need fewer carbs and fewer calories than you burned.

It’s difficult to burn fat AND build muscle on the same day, so it makes much more sense to pick one or the other.  Either lose fat today (called a “losing day”) by going low carb and low calorie, or gain muscle today (called a “gaining day”) by going high carb and high calorie.  Just make sure your “gaining” days are also the days you train super extremely hard!  Eating lots of food on a day you don’t work out is a bad idea.

Finally, zig zagging gives you a mental break from dieting every day. It’s cool to hang out with your friends and eat all your favorite foods. You just have to plan for it.  Hanging out with your friends on Super Bowl Sunday next weekend?  Wake up extra early that day and slam that training routine HARD in the morning.  Train as hard as you can with as few carbs as possible, then show up and eat all the junk you want.  Most of it’s going to muscle recovery and strength / stamina building, rather than as fat.

Similarly you may gain muscle 5 days a week just to be sure you’ve restarted your metabolic rate upwards and regained some muscle mass that will help you burn more fat.  This means 5 days of eating a lot more than you normally would – but this also means 5 days of hard training.  Time it properly!

Carb Timing and Balance

How do you time your carb intake properly? You’re going to do 2 things.

1. Give yourself a 3 hour time limit in which you’ll have to eat again. If you eat at 9 AM, the latest you can go is 12 PM before you need to have something else to eat. If you eat at 12 PM, you have until 3 PM to eat again – but if you eat early, say around 2:30 PM, well the 3 hour time limit starts over and you have until 5:30 PM for your next meal.

This is one of the cardinal rules of dieting that we’ll cover again later on.

2. You’re going to ask yourself, each time you’re about to eat, “what will I be doing for the next 3 hours?”

You need protein in nearly every meal. At least a little bit. Fats can generally be taken “whenever”, but a little in each meal wont hurt (though fish oils are best before you workout – discussed later). What you’re adjusting up and down for the most part is the carbs.

If you’re sitting in front of the TV for the next 3 hours, you don’t need any carbs.

If you’re teaching a class for the next 3 hours, a few low GI carbs might help.

If you’re running a marathon, you’re going to need truck loads of low GI carbs!

If you’re doing powerlifting, you’re going to need a moderate amount of low GI carbs before, and a small amount of high GI carbs after.

If you’re doing bodybuilding, you’re going to need lots of low GI carbs before the workout followed by lots high GI carbs after the workout.

If you’re working construction, scaffolding, or some other manual labour job and you’re trying to reduce body fat, you’ll aim for only a few low GI carbs.

If you’re working construction, scaffolding, or some other manual labour job and you’ve got a deadline to meet and the boss is breathing down your neck, you need a lot more GI carbs for the energy to get as much done as you can as quickly as possible.

Remember that proteins and fats stay pretty consistent. For muscle building you need around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight – or 2.2 grams per kg of body weight. So a 150 pound (70 kg) person will need around 150 grams of protein. You need about half that in fats, so around 70 grams of fat in your day. The amount of carbs you need is based largely on what you’re going to do, so it’s unnecessary to follow a “40% carbs, 30% proteins, 30% fats” plan (which we’ll cover later too).

If you’re a regular person, not exercising or building muscle, then the protein requirements are effectively cut in half, and so are the fat requirements. A 150 pound person would need around 75 grams of protein, and 35 or so grams of fat in a day. Again, carbs go up or down based on the demand.

Simple Facts about Carbs

Eating sugary foods cannot and does not cause diabetes.  It is a myth that too many sugary foods can influence the development of diabetes.  Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder that normally occurs at birth, when the pancreas does not produce insulin.  Type 2 diabetes is a disorder wherein the body’s cells stop responding to insulin.  The cause of type II diabetes remains unknown, but it appears to be linked to a sedentary life style, bad food choices, and poor nutrition.  Simply eating refined sugar, by itself, does very little to contribute to the disease.

It is true that eating high GI carbs will cause an insulin spike followed by an insulin crash. Besides making the person hungrier more often, this is harmless.

Eating carbs before bed – it’s your call. First, remember what we talked about when it came to calories. If you don’t burn the calories they tend to get stored. A bowl full of carbs just bed is a bowl full of calories you’re not going to burn. A chicken salad may be a better choice than a stack of Oreos.

However, carbs also change the brain chemistry just before bedtime, helping your body to slow down and making your brain want to sleep. If you worked out hard that day, the carbs are also likely to be used restoring some muscle and fitness levels.

If you’re on a stringent fat loss cycle, it’s best to avoid carbs whenever you can, since you’re also keeping yourself sensitive to insulin this way for your zig-zagging. But if you’re not on a cycle, it’s your call.


A typical diet strategy.
vicious cycleWould zig zagging and meal timing help?
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Complete Mineral Guide

To go along with the guide on vitamins, here’s the guide on minerals, what they do, how much you need, what happens if you don’t get enough, and where you can find them!

Calcium – Is extensively used by the body. It’s one of those do-all substances… its needed for muscle contractions, nervous system function, bone and teeth formation, and blood pressure control. Also a high calcium diet actually reduces the incidence of kidney stones, rather than help cause them.

Dose – Most people should try to get around 1,200 mgs of calcium per day. Athletes may need as high as 2,600 mgs.

Deficiency – Your body has plenty of calcium in these huge reserves called “bones”, and doesn’t need massive doses each day. However, long term calcium deficiency will result in muscle weakness, spasms, tingling sensations, brittle bones, heart irregularities, and eventually death.

Toxicity – The LD50 (point at which 50% of the subjects die) is around 450,000 mgs. One cup of spinach has around 450 mgs. So unless you’re trying to eat an entire corral reef for breakfast, you’re probably not gonna die from this.

Elevated blood levels of calcium can reduce the effectiveness of other minerals, and can also impair kidney function. The “Tolerable Upper Intake Levels” (UL) is set at 2,500 mgs… however, this was not written with athletes in mind, who are going to be using up and sweating out a lot more calcium than everyone else. The suggested intake of an athlete who routinely trains in hot environments seems difficult to find in research, but is probably set around where the UL is for non-athletes.

Good: Beet greens, mustard greens, turnip greens
Better: Cheese, spinach, collard greens
Best: Yogurt, sardines, sesame seeds

ironIron – When heated and combined with carbon, becomes steel. Great for engineering and architecture. Also allows the body to form hemoglobin, which transports oxygen around the body, and myoglobin, which makes oxygen available for use by the muscles. Also involved in cell regulation and with immune system function. Further, iron allows the production of energy from food. In other words, iron is really damn important.

Dose – 10 mgs per day for men, 15 mgs for women, and around 25 mgs if you’re pregnant. As a general rule, iron found from animal sources absorbs better than those found in plant sources. Endurance athletes may require upwards of 30% more iron. So a female vegetarian distance runner needs to seriously watch out for this deficiency.

Deficiency – apathy, irritability, fatigue, reduced athletic performance, inability to concentrate, depression, and has been linked to restless leg syndrome.

Toxicity – more than 30 mgs a day for an extended time can be toxic in non-athletes. The official upper tolerable limit as set by the US Institute of Medicine is around 40 mgs a day for most people. Iron is not quickly excreted from the body. It stores easily, so an overdose is easy to come by. Long-term toxicity results primarily in liver damage. Ironically many of the toxicity symptoms are similar to that of a deficiency: fatigue, irritability, and reduced athletic performance, along with a grayish tone of skin colour.

Good: Kidney beans, navy beans, swiss chard
Better: Olives, garbanzo beans, sesame seeds
Best: Spinach, lentils, soybeans

Phosphorus – The primary component in multi-purpose phosphorus hand grenades. It’s also involved in nearly every cellular function in living organisms. ATP – adinosine tri-phosphate, uses phosphorus. Without it, you would instantly die. It is also a key component in cell formation, assists calcium in strengthening bones, and assists the B vitamins in releasing energy from food.

Dose – Around 800 mgs per day for the average person. Around 1,600 for athletes.phosphorus

Deficiency – You’d really have to go out of your way to get a deficiency here. Diets that contain convenience foods are definitely getting more than enough phosphorus already, as it is commonly used additive. But if you did have a deficiency, you’d have weak bones and teeth, weakness, fatigue, and irregular heart beats.

 Toxicity – Can be delivered all at once, usually thrown at a distance of 20 meters to take out infantry. This frequently results in death. Too much phosphorus in your diet and not enough calcium can seriously effect bone strength, or when enough calcium is present, lead to calcified deposits under the skin.

It appears around 4,000 mgs is considered the “upper tolerable limit”… so presumably anything above that is toxic.

Good: Lentils
Better: Beef
Best: Salmon (though you are very unlikely to not get enough of this)

Iodine – This mineral is primarily responsible for the production of thyroid hormones, specifically, T4 and T3 (for all practical purposes, it’s only T3 that matters). T3 is responsible for the body’s metabolic rate, and largely responsible for the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Dose – Around 150 micrograms for regular folks, and about 290 micrograms for nursing mothers. The upper limit level is around 1,100 micrograms per day.

Deficiency – May cause hypothyroidism, characterized by low body temperatures, fatigue, weight gain, weakness, depression, and goiter (enlarged thyroid gland). Try typing “goiter” into google and click “images”. It’s rather unpleasant.

Toxicity – Burning sensation in the throat and mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and goiter are possible. This happens at doses over 1,100 micrograms per day.

Good: Tuna, eggs, cow’s milk
Better: Salmon, sardines, shrimp
Best: Yogurt, scallops, seaweed

Magnesium – is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium allows muscles to relax, helps end muscle contractions and maintains a steady heart rate. It assists in building strong bones, regulates the immune system, blood pressure, energy metabolism and protein synthesis.

magnesiumDose – Around 350 mgs for those who are not training. Athletes may need upwards of 1,000 mgs per day.

Deficiency – Irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, spasms, fatigue, possible seizures and mental disorders.

Toxicity – It’s actually rather hard to pin point an exact level where Magnesium becomes toxic. Symptoms tend to come on gradually after around 1,000 mgs, and the most common symptom is diarrhea, followed by nausea, loss of appetite, and similar to a deficiency, muscle weakness, spasms, and irregular heart beat. It appears that overdoses can only happen from supplements and not from food.

Good: Beet greens, sunflower seeds, cashews
Better: Black beans, soybeans, sesame seeds
Best: Swiss chard, spinach, pumpkin seeds

Zinc – Vital in nearly 100 metabolic functions, it is important for wound healing, anti-oxidant activity (greatly benefits long distance endurance athletes), immune system function and brain function. It’s also needed to maintain a good sense of smell and taste.

Dose – The average person needs around 15 mgs a day. Athletes may benefit from up to 150 mgs per day.

Zinc does interfere with copper and iron absoption, so you may need to keep those in check, or consume them at different times apart from the zinc.

Deficiency – Impaired sense of taste or smell, impaired immune system function, loss of appetite, and slowed mental performance.

Toxicity – Try to stay below 150 mgs per day.

Good: Shrimp, turkey, cashews
Better: Cashews, garbanzo beans, lentils
Best: Pumpkin seeds, lamb, beef

Selenium – A potent antioxidant that can protect against free radical heart daselenium1mage, and regulates thyroid hormone output. Good for endurance athletes. Also apparently good for those suffering from AIDS. Though AIDS is considered an unstoppable disease, a diet high in Selenium helps those infected live much longer. Selenium has also shown in some studies to play a role in assisting with mild to moderate depression.

Dose – 60 mgs a day for normal folks. Athletes can benefit from up to 400 mgs.

Deficiency – There does not appear to be any immediate symptoms from a selenium deficiency. The most common result from a long term deficiency is heart deterioration and possibly joint problems.

Toxicity – The upper limit intake suggested is 400 micrograms. Research shows that doses of 800 micrograms can be taken without any problems, but there are no additional benefits from this dose, and it still may be dangerous for some. Selenium supplementation is not recommended unless you have a special reason. Symptoms are hair loss, fatigue, irritability, irregular finger nail growth, garlic-breath, and minor nerve damage.

Good: Beef, scallops, lamb
Better: Chicken, turkey, salmon
Best: Sardines, shrimp, tuna

Copper – This pulls you over and writes you speeding tickets.

The wikipedia article states:

Copper is found in a variety of enzymes, including the copper centers of cytochrome c oxidase and the enzyme superoxide dismutase (containing copper and zinc). In addition to its enzymatic roles, copper is used for biological electron transport. The blue copper proteins that participate in electron transport include azurin and plastocyanin. The name “blue copper” comes from their intense blue color arising from a ligand-to-metal charge transfer (LMCT) absorption band around 600 nm.

Wow. That’s… helpful. ( ._.)

I’m sorry, we just want to know what copper does… didn’t think it was as complicated as building the international space station.

But anyway, it’s involved in iron metabolism, meaning a copper deficiency will result in iron deficiency symptoms. It’s also involved in reactions that create antioxidants, skin pigmentation, and the formation of connective tissue and the protective sheaths that surround nerves.

Dose – Around 3 mgs a day for non athletes, and upwards of 6 mgs a day for athletes who sweat a lot during training.

Deficiency – Volumes of research suggest that copper deficiencies are very rare. Results are iron deficiency symptoms, brain disturbances, elevated LDL cholesterol and reduced HDL cholesterol levels, poor immune function, loss of pigment in the hair and skin, weakness, fatigue, poor thyroid function, and irregular heart beat.

Toxicity -Cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver damage. There are case studies where copper overdose resulted in schizophrenia. This is perhaps the most interesting overdose fact I’ve seen yet… so cooking foods in copper pots and pans while drinking water from copper pipes could make the underpants gnomes come and visit. More than 10 mgs a day can cause this to happen. The LD50 is 30 mgs. At this point, the underpants gnomes get angry and kill you. Also, milk appears to be the antidote. Besides for blocking copper absorption… underpants gnomes hate milk!

Good: Lima beans, walnuts, lentils
Better: Garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, shiitake mushrooms
Best: Soybeans, cashews, sesame seeds

Manganese – Involved in bone and connective tissue formation, and creates anti-oxidants. Does tons of other stuff too. Some of these are actually hard to describe as their functions are so varied. Manganese also releases energy from carbs, fats, and proteins, maintains hormonal balance, immune system function, blood sugar regulation, and maintains the health of the immune system.

Dose – 5 mgs per day for regular folks. For athletes, this may assist healing, so taking doses as high as 20 mgs per day is advisable.

Deficiency – Is very rare. May result in impaired growth, eye and hearing problems, ataxia, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, infertility, weakness, heart disorders, memory loss, muscle contraction, tremors, seizures, and reproductive disorders.

Toxicity – There doesn’t appear to be many sources suggesting that toxicity would come out of food or supplements. Toxicity looks similar to Parkinson’s disease, but most toxicity warnings are about breathing manganese dust in industrial zones. 20 mgs from the diet is considered “high”, and there are no recorded cases of toxicity coming from diet alone. I can’t find evidence that supplementing with higher doses, reaching towards 50 mgs, would cause symptoms.

Good: Soybeans, rye, pumpkin seeds
Better: Pineapple, spinach, garbanzo beans
Best: Brown rice, oats, ground cloves

PotassiumPotassium – Is an essential electrolyte. Electrolytes conduct electricity, and help control the water and acid balance in the body. Conducting electricity allows the signals from the brain to travel through the body and control various parts of the body. As such, Potassium, along with sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium, helps in allowing muscle contractions, regulating the heart beat, and regulating fluid balance in and outside the cells.

Dose – Minimum requirement is 2,000 mgs. If you’re not getting this, you’re gonna have some problems. Athletes may need upwards of 2,500 to 4,000 a day. Excessive water intake – drinking a gallon (3.75 liters) or so a day – diminishes the potassium levels in the body.

Deficiency – Starts off with muscle weakness, irritability, fatigue, and heart disturbances, which gradually progresses to unresponsive muscles, muscles that suddenly contract on their own, and increased heart disturbances, followed by muscle destruction, difficulty breathing, and death. Correcting a deficiency at any time is easily accomplished by consuming foods high in potassium.

Insufficient potassium intake is widespread among Americans and Europeans.

Toxicity – Nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. These come on gradually with doses over 6,000 mgs in some individuals. Doses of 18,000 or higher may cause paralysis or heart attack.

Good: Avocado, lentils, pinto beans
Better: Spinach, soybeans, potatoes
Best: Lima beans, swiss chard, beet greens

Choline – This is an essential substance most often associated with the B vitamins. It is responsible for nerve function, allows the body’s cells to “open and close” the gates leading in and out of the cell so nutrients can come in and waste can get out, reduces inflammation, and keeps the blood clear of homocysteine, a toxic byproduct of protein metabolism.

Choline is especially important to endurance athletes. Post exercise, these athletes show a sharp reduction in blood choline levels. Athletes who supplement with choline have shown significantly improved performance.

Dose – You need about 550 mgs of this a day. Athletes may take upwards of 1,200 or 2,000 mgs a day without any problems.

Deficiency – Memory problems, insomnia, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Toxicity – Nausea, increased sweating, and bad body odor due to choline coming in faster than the body can process it. It’s released through the sweat, which will then smell. Faintness or dizziness happens with doses of around 4,000 mgs a day. More severe problems may happen with doses of 5,000 mgs a day or higher.

Good: Collard greens, beef, salmon
Better: Tuna, turkey, chicken
Best: Scallops, eggs, shrimp


Once again, just a few different foods cover all the minerals listed here.

I’ve tried to keep the food sources to a minimal, listing only 3 in each group, but that doesn’t mean other foods don’t have a nutrient if it’s not listed.  Spinach only contains modest amounts of zinc, so I didn’t list it as a source – but spinach does still have zinc!

You could theoretically live on a diet of tuna, spinach, and punkin seeds, almost forever.  They contain the entire spectrum of nutrition, including omega-3s, and omega-6s.  And again, this kind of diet is exceptionally cost effective!


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Complete Vitamin Guide

So as I mentioned in an earlier post, here’s a guide on vitamins, what they do, how much you need, what happens if you don’t get enough, and where you can find them.

CarrotVitamin A – Also called “retinol”, it maintains eye site, immune system function, mucus production, and cell growth. Cells need Vitamin A not only to form properly, but to hold on to each other. Also plays a role in reproductive health, bone metabolism, and blood formation. (Bet you thought it was only good for your eyes.)

Dose – Around 5,000 IU for men and women. 1 cup of bell peppers (capsicum) provides around 5,200 IU. 1 cup of carrots provides around 34,000 IU. The recommended dose for athletes is around 20,000 to 25,000 IU per day. 50,000 per day for years at a time may cause toxicity. It’s fat soluble, so you can store it in your body. This means you don’t have to worry about getting it every single day.

Deficiency – Blindness, stunted growth, brittle bones, sickness (immune system dysfunction), hair loss, and stomach dysfunction.

Toxicity – Happens at around 660,000 IU for adults, and 330,000 IU for children. That’s about 20 cups of carrots if you’re an adult. You must REALLY love the @#$% out of carrots! Damn are you a rabbit or something? It’s either that or you accidentally overdosed with a supplement containing vitamin A while eating a diet high in the vitamin. You can also overdose by getting around 15,000 IU every day for months on end. It’s a fat soluble vitamin so it stores and builds up in the body.

Symptoms include dry and itchy orange-colour skin, fingernails that break easy, headaches, vision problems, bone and muscle pain, fatigue, irritability, depression, fever, liver damage, anemia, and loss of appetite. These typically go away once intake of the vitamin is stopped.

Good: Winter squash, swiss chard, turnip greens
Better: Beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens
Best: Spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes.

Vitamin B – The essential vitamins in this category are B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 (folic acid) and B12. Trying to summarize these is difficult, as they’re responsible for a countless number of metabolic processes. Generally speaking, they’re responsible for the metabolism of carbs, proteins, fats and their metabolites (glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids, respectively).

The other B vitamins, such as B4, B7, B8, etc are less talked about because either the body can manufacture these from other B vitamins, or they’re so plentiful in most diets (as with biotin, which is vitamin B7) that there’s little need to discuss their importance.

Dose for each:

B1 (Thiamine) – Minimum requirements is 5 mgs. Doses higher than 50 mgs showed additional benefits, such as clear mindedness and emotional stability. Athletes engaged in heavy training may benefit from up to 300 mgs.

Good: Oats, lima beans, spinach
Better: Lintels, pinto beans, green peas
Best: Barley, sunflower seeds, navy beans

B2 (Riboflavin) – Minimum requirement is 1.5 mgs. Those on various medications may require as high as 20 mgs to 25 mgs. Athletes may benefit from up to 300 mgs.

Good: Almonds, turkey, asparagus
Better: Eggs, crimini mushrooms, yogurt
Best: spinach, green beats, soybeans

B3 (Niacin) – Minimum of 15 mgs per day. An athlete may require upwards of 100 mgs per Vitamin Beeday.

Good: Shrimp, peanuts, sardines
Better: Beef, lamb, salmon
Best: Turkey, chicken, tuna

B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – Minimum of 5 mgs per day. Doses of around 2,000 mgs have implications at improving athletic performance by delaying exhaust times (the athlete can work longer and harder before giving out), and possibly speeding up healing times. Doses as high as 20,000 mgs have been used to treat acne. This much B5 (which is actually a lot) has been known to cause fatigue and nausea. The fatigue may be due to B5 metabolizing away all the B12. Make sure you balance your vitamin intake.

The standard recommended dose for athletes is 200 mgs.

Good: Yogurt, turkey, crimini mushrooms
Better: Broccoli, chicken, lentils
Best: Sweet potato, avocado, shiitake mushrooms

B6 (Pyrodoxine Acid) – Minimum of 1.5 mgs per day. Athletes may need as high as 50 mgs per day. Stay below 100 mgs!

Good: Bananas, spinach, sunflower seeds
Better: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, salmon
Best: Beef, turkey, tuna

B9 (Folic Acid / Folate) – 400 micrograms. Read again. MICROgrams. That’s kind of important because 400 miligrams, which is exactly 1,000 times as much, might just kill you.

Important: Folic Acid is highly essential for women who are pregnant. You’ll need twice the recommended dose, around 800 micrograms. This dose has also been shown to improve mental clarity in both men and women, so double bonus there. Still some literature suggest an intake of up to 1,200 micrograms per day.

Good: Broccoli, turnip greens, kidney beans
Better: Black beans, spinach, asparagus
Best: garbanzo beans, pinto beans, lintels

B12 (Cobolamin) – 1.5 microgram for men, around 2.5 for women who are pregnant. B12 can be absorbed perfectly fine – despite what anyone tells you – so long as you have a fully functional digestive tract. A problem anywhere in the gut (which is like a clock – there’s a million parts) may inhibit B12 absorption and require special supplementation, like injections. Athletes may benefit from up to 200 to 500 micrograms per day.

You can’t store any of these, as they’re all water soluble, not fat soluble. You’ll need to get them all over again each day for optimum athlete performance.

Good: Cow’s milk, yogurt, beef
Better: Shrimp, scallops, lamb
Best: Tuna, salmon, sardines

Deficiency – A deficiency in any of these can result in a never ending list of health problems, ranging from lack of energy and general feelings of tiredness / laziness, to death. That’s a fairly broad spectrum and would require several more chapters to cover. Since athletes typically require more B vitamins than do non-athletes, the possibility for a deficiency is much greater.

Toxicity – Most of these you can’t really overdose on. B1 and B2 have virtually no overdose limit. However, B3 taken at 500 mgs a day for prolonged periods can result in liver failure, and B6 taken at 200 mgs for prolonged periods can cause neuropathy (damage to the nervous system) and possible dementia, including out of body experiences. Don’t try this. Avoid B6 overdoses, cuz along with the tripping-out you can get serious nerve damage that may not recover.

Other B vitamins, like B9 and B12, we’re really not sure what happens if you continually overdose. It’s probably not gonna be awesome.

Heat and light tend to destroy some B vitamins, but not all. That’s why it’s best to eat your veggies raw, or at most steamed, instead of cooked.

Vitamin C – Humans are among the few animals that cannot make this in the body and require it from the diet. Allows the formation of connective tissues, storage of iron, production of bile acids and neurotransmitters, required for wound-healing and immune system function, and is a powerful antioxidant. It also synthesizes carnitine (a substance also responsible for dozens of many important functions, which include fat burning).

Vitamin CImportant: Unless you have an existing deficiency, vitamin C does not prevent colds. It cannot shorten the duration of a cold. It may, slightly, lessen the severity of symptoms, but that’s all.

It has been suggested that vitamin C can improve athletic performance. A staggering number of contradictory studies exist on this topic. The variable responsible for this confusion might be the fact that those with enough vitamin C in their diet already will respond differently to the administration of C than those who have some level of deficiency

See, I read 5 or 6 articles like this for each and every one of these (which has driven me partially insane) to make sure I’m staying up with the science, and then taking that science and simplifying it so you can know what the hell’s going on. Please, no autographs. Just send money.

But in all honesty its damn hard to tell what’s what. I’ve looked at countless studies in text books and online and no one agrees on anything. What we can ascertain is that vitamin C is important. Even a slight deficiency can impact your results.

Dose – Non training individuals need around 500 mgs per day to stay healthy. Athletes may benefit from 2,000 mgs per day. 1 orange has 70 mgs. 1 cup of bell peppers (capsicum) has about 175 mgs.

Deficiency – Infections due impaired immune system function, nosebleeds, injuries that do not heal properly, weakness, fatigue, weakened teeth or possible tooth loss, dry skin that breaks open and bleeds, internal bleeding, hair loss, rapid aging, and depression. Severe deficiency results in a disease called “scurvy”, which has many of the same symptoms. A deficiency is rare. Just eat an orange!

Toxicity – Main symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, red flushed skin, and sleep disturbances. But you’d need to get around 6,000 mgs for this to happen. That’s like 100 oranges. I don’t think your stomach can hold that much.

Surprisingly the LD50 (point at which 50% of the subjects die) has been established for this vitamin! It’s around 11,000 mgs. That’s like … and ungodly number of oranges. Surely you wouldn’t even have that much room in your fridge.

Good: Cauliflower, cantaloupe, kiwifruit
Better: Oranges, pineapple, strawberry
Best: Broccoli, bell peppers, papaya

Vitamin D – Allows calcium to strengthen bones, strengthens immune system, and reduces inflammation.

Dose – Is synthesized by UV light on the skin. Lighter skinned people need only around 20 minutes of sunlight on the hands and face, 3 times a week. Darker skinned people may need twice as much – around 40 minutes on the hands and face, 3 times a week.
Non athletes need around 400 to 800 IU (about 20 micrograms). Athletes may benefit from up to 1000 IU. (about 25 micrograms). The higher dose has been shown to cut the risk of some cancers by as much as 50% or more.

Deficiency – Bone deformation disease called “Rickets”, bone thinning, and muscular weakness.

Toxicity – 50,000 IU a day, every day for weeks on end can cause nausea, vomiting, weakness, excessive thirst, urination, and eventually kidney failure.

Good: Standing outside in the sun for a while.
Better: Shiitake mushrooms, eggs, cows milk
Best: Tuna, sardines, salmon

Vitamin E – For athletes, this has been shown to reduce cramping, reduce muscle fatigue, boost anabolic hormones, and fight inflammation (which improves recovery). In some literature, vitamin E has been called the “master antioxidant” (remember that an antioxidant slows down aging). It’s the vitamin all other antioxidants are compared to.

Important: It is highly recommended you get your vitamin E from food sources only! Some research into supplemental vitamin E has shown disastrous effects, such as increased mortality, over time.

Dose – Regular folks need around 30 IU (about 20 mgs). Athletes may not benefit from vitamin Emuch more than this.

Deficiency – This appears to be quite rare with vitamin E. Most people with an E deficiency are those with impaired digestive tracts which cant absorb the vitamin. Symptoms are vague and hard to place, but it appears that the nervous system is affected, resulting in pain, tingling, or pin-pricking sensations, with eventual nervous system damage and impaired immune system function.

Toxicity – this is also hard to place. It seems that you’re gradually get easier and easier to kill as your intake of vitamin E exceeds 150 IU.

Good: Mustard greens, beet greens, asparagus
Better: turnip greens, avocado, peanuts
Best: spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds

Vitamin K – Allows blood clotting, helps make stronger bones, and grants some protection against age related artery calcification (artery hardening).

Dose – Around 100 micrograms. However, fitness diets frequently supply upwards of 800 micrograms of vitamin K.

Deficiency – Symptoms include gum bleeding, stomach bleeding, nose bleeding, easy bruising, blood in the urine, excessive bleeding from cuts, hemorrhaging, and bleeding. Did I mention bleeding?

Toxicity – It’s impossible to overdose on K from the diet. In fact there is no observed toxicity level from supplements either. Only a synthetic form of K called “menadione” has been shown to be toxic. As a result, it was banned.

Good: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, parsley
Better: Turnip greens, swiss chard, beet greens
Best: Mustard greens, spinach, kale.


You can start to see how simple it is to get everything you need… just look how many times the same exact names appear over and over again.  Spinach, turnip greens, and broccoli pretty much have you covered.  Add a little tuna for protein and additional vitamins, and you’re set!

You can get a pack of frozen spinach from Safeway for about $1.25, and a can of tuna typically cost a dollar.  Complete nutrition for a fraction of what you’re paying now!

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