Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do you want to know the secret to starving without being hungry?


Actually, pickles and cucumbers . They're mostly water, and what isn't water is mostly vegetable fiber.

They're crisp, light, refreshing, and they wake up the palette.

Now, I love pickles anyway, but 4 days in to a diet that has me eating less than a third of my required daily calories (and having lost about 1.5lbs over and above the water weight thing), they are a godsend.

See, pickled cucumbers (so long as they're the no sugar added type) only have about 5 calories an ounce (raw cucumbers are more like 4 calories an ounce).

Others recommend celery, and certainly it has it's points (4 calories per ounce, lots of fiber); but I just don't like the stuff.

No... I'm on the pickles, protein, and tea diet.

Rather, I'm not on any particular diet at all, excepting "restricted calorie" and "high protein"; it just works out that way.

I'm not atkinsing, or deliberately going for a low carb diet. I just need so much protein, that to get it within the calorie limits I'm under, I need to make the vast majority of my calories protein.

Pure proteins run something like 91 calories per ounce (3.2 calories per gram, 28.34 grams per ounce), vs carbs at l14 calories per (4 calories per gram), and pure fats at 255 calories per ounce.

Of course, since nothing in this world is laboratory pure, actual calorie counts run a little different.

Lean meat (trimmed to 0 visible surface fat) runs from about 30 calories to about 60 calories per ounce raw weight. By lean meat, I mean the lean component of the separable lean and fat, deboned, with all fat trimmed off. All animal protein has some intramusucular fat that can't easily be separated out.

Ground meat can have a large proportion of fat mixed in with it; as much as 30% in some commercial grinds, as little as 10% in others. Most hamburger is mixed 80/20 (resulting in about 72 calories per ounce), most sausage is mixed 70/30 (resulting in about 85 calories per ounce).

Shrimp and lobster are at the bottom of lean meat calories, with around 30 calories per ounce. Tuna and other similar fish are just above that at about 31-33 calories per ounce. Chicken and turkey breast just above that at 35 or so. Pork tenderloin is just above that at 39 or so. Choice Beef tenderloin is above that at 45 or so (beef sirloin strip is right around 49. Prime beef is about 10% more calories).

All the fattier cuts of common proteins, like shoulders, thighs etc... are up over 45 calories per ounce, because they have more intramuscular fat; but most are under 55. About the highest calorie lean meat, would be a full fat pork butt, at about 58 calories per raw ounce trimmed to 0 separable fat.

I can't think of any lean meat that's over 60 calories per ounce raw, except wagyu beef, which has so much intramuscular fat (Wagyu run about 20-25% fat, which is about twice as much as prime beef) it runs between 80 and 90 calories per ounce depending on cut.

Eating the separable fat of course makes a huge difference. If you eat prime a ribeye with the full fat on it, you're eating about 100 calories per ounce.

Also of course, the way you cook things makes a difference. Grilling and pan searing fully trimmed lean meat, with a very small amount of fat either in the pan or brushed on the meat, and any surface fat patted or drained after cooking; and you often end up losing a fair bit of their fat without getting dry (if done properly anyway), such that the cooked piece of meat can actually end up with less calories than the raw.

Hamburger, and wagyu beef are both prime examples of this (no pun intended). When cooked over a high heat grill to medium rare or medium (respectively... never cook wagyu past medium rare), they both lose a lot of their fat; perhaps as much as 10% of the total weight of the cut (another 10% of the weight might be lost in evaporated moisture).

A 4oz 80/20 hamburger would have about .8oz of fat (200 calories per), and 3.2oz of pure lean, raw (about 40 calories per), making for something like 290 calories. If you grill that burger to medium, you're probably going to lose .4 ounces of fat, and the patty is going to end up at 210 calories (and around .4 ounces of water for a cooked weight of 3.2 ounces, or about 65 calories per ounce, about 7 calories per ounce less than raw).

On the other hand, if you cook meat with the fat on it, but trim it off afterward, or if you cook the meat in fatty liquids (stewed or braised with fat left in for example);  the meat will have some of that fat permeating it, and may actually be more caloric than raw.

Various long braised meats used in mexican cooking for example, where the lean meat might only have 45 calories per ounce; but once braised for a few hours in a fatty broth, the end product might be 55 calories an ounce.

Either way, you're not going to find any cooked meat (even the fattiest wagyu, hamburger, sausage, or meat stewed in fatty liquid) that runs more than about 90 calories per ounce, no matter how it's prepared; and the vast majority of lean meat is going to end up at under 60 calories per ounce cooked (again, presuming you eat only lean, and intramuscular or melted fat, and not the separable fat).

Carbs are MUCH higher calorie per ounce in the real world. By contrast to beef, white flour runs about 105 calories per ounce. Pasta and rice also both run about 105 calories per ounce (uncooked). Typical white bread, because there's a fair bit of water in it, has about 80 calories per ounce (100-120 calories in a typical slice). Granulated sugar runs about 110 calories per ounce.

Yes, 1 ounce of flour, has almost as many calories as 1 ounce of sugar. Every piece of bread you eat might as well be a tablespoon of sugar.

To put it another way, two pieces of dry white toast, have almost as many calories as a 6oz filet mignon.

And of course, dietary fats are by far the most calorie dense; with butter running right around 200 calories per ounce (give or take a couple calories depending on the exact butter), and most oils around 240-250 calories per ounce.

Using the same comparison, two and a half tablespoons of butter (about 1/3 a "stick") has about the same calories as that 6oz filet; and a full stick of butter, about the same as a 16 ounce ribeye.

So obviously, in terms of bulk, you get a lot more "full" for your calorie with proteins, as compared to straight up grains, or fats.

Of course, you get even more full per calorie with green vegetables (which are mostly water and fiber and run almost universally between 4 and 15 calories per ounce), potatoes (mostly water and starch, about 20 calories per ounce raw, mashies with whole milk and butter about 32 calories per ounce. Even steak fries deep fried in peanut oil are only 40 calories an ounce), and leguminous beans cooked in water (most run 80-125 calories raw, but usually about 1/4 to 1/3 that cooked. they absorb a LOT of water).

So as I said, while I'm not deliberately Atkinsing, I end up with a very high protein, low carb diet; just by optimizing for protein and fullness.

So far, my meals have consisted of a fair sized hunk of lean protein (4-6 ounces per meal), a few bites of carbs (mostly roast potatoes), maybe a little broth, maybe some beans, some cucumbers or pickles, some fruit etc... Also I've had a couple of eggs, and a little bit of cheese.

I haven't had any bread, rice, or pasta this week at all; and I've made up for some of the bulk with pickles and cucmbers, apples, and oranges (which do have a fair bit of sugar, but also a lot of fiber, water, and raw bulk).

Also I've only had a little bit (well... in comparison to my usual intake) of coffee or tea, with a little milk, and splenda; some diet soda, some drink mixes with splenda, and some water.

When I'm feeling a little empty, I'll have a cup of broth (typically around 1.2 to 2 calories per ounce), or a couple of pickles, or some tea or coffee; and then I'm fine for a couple hours.

And really, I haven't been all that hungry.

When I'll get REALLY hungry, is after about a week and a half, when my body earnestly kicks into famine mode. It'll be sending me "starving to death" signals pretty constantly for about six weeks, until it readjusts to the lower intake level.

Those weeks are going to suck.