Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Muscle Inferno: How many Calories is your lean mass actually burning?

If your answer is 30-50 extra Calories per pound of added muscle, you are ... dead wrong! This muscle myth is a wide-spread and detrimental piece of misinformation; extra muscle mass will improve health, improve functional strength, and make you sizzle, but the amount of muscle gained through resistance training in the short term will not send the metabolism soaring.
A top notch article (1: Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2004 Dec;18(6):1009-29) reviewed the impact of various kinds of exercise on weight loss and metabolism, which was compiled for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). To write this kind of paper, the authors searched extensively for the relevant scientific research about a topic and then combine all the results statistically to draw a conclusion.

The article states that 1 kg of muscle mass burns an additional 25-50 calories; the high estimate would tranlate to an additional 11.4 Calories per pound of lean muscle mass added. Consequently, this value is very similar to a value of 13 Calories/pound that I determined by statistically analyzing the data from my lab at Baylor University. The most conservative estimate predicts that an extra pound of muscle burns only about 7 Calories/pound.

A value of 30-50 kcal/lb of lean muscle is unrealistic and untrue, though it is published a lot in popular media. Numbers this high do not make practical sense. For instance, suppose a typical male bobybuilder has 100 lbs of muscle mass (not including the bone, organs and other components of fat-free mass), the mythical numbers would suggest that his muscle alone is burning between 3000-5000 Calories a day. On top of that, organs burn far more Calories per pound than muscle, so based on popular dogma, the man above maybe about 6000 Calories/day. I've measure the metabolism of countless athetic men, and roughly 3000 total Calories per day would be high for an athletic man of this size.

When high values are provided in articles, they are not supported by scientific literature; however, articles that reference research always suggest lower number, which generally range between 5-15 Calories per pound of muscle. Another good article that addresses this topic is below:

Jean offers nutrition coaching for weight loss, muscle gain, or any of your personal goals at her office in the Alico building in downtown Waco, TX right in the heart of central Texas. She also offers personal training services at Ironhorse gym on the corner of Franklin and 17th, which is also very convenient to downtown Waco. Contact information can be found on her personal website.

Roasted Veggies- Apsaragus Like You've Never Seen it Before!

Roasted Asparagus and Fennel

Roasted Vegetables:
1 Fresh Fennel Bulb cored and thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 pound asparagus, stemmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
Cooking Spray

For Dressing:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp minced or pressed garlic
1/4 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp (sea) salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Top with:
¼ cup Feta cheese crumbles
12 Kalamata olives, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. With cooking spray, lightly oil a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.

2. Place the fennel, onions, and asparagus on the baking pan in a SINGLE LAYER, spray generously with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt.

3. Roast uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes or so. The vegetables should be still be a bit crisp and the asparagus should still be bright green.

4. While the vegetables roast, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together and set aside.

5. Combine in a bowl and toss roasted vegetables and dressing, add toppings. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

117calories, 6.5g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 3.5g protein, 13g carbs, 4g fiber, 1133 IU Vit A, 22mg Vit C, 1.5mg Vit E

Fennel is a large celery-like mildly licorice-tasting vegetable bulb. It's also good fresh in salads. In the store, it will probably be in its whole form, with the large bulb on the bottom, some stalks sticking out of it, and fronds on the top. The bulb is the most edible part-- you can chop it up up and eat all of it roasted or fresh. The stalks are pretty tough and most people throw those out (or add them to a stock pot). The fronds (the green herby part), if they are still in good shape, can be chopped up and sprinkled on the top of the roasted veggies after the dressing is added.

Asparagus should be stored upright and in water. If you see it in the grocery store any other way, do NOT buy it-- several of the bottom will be too dry and tough to eat! Stemming the asparagus means taking off the hard, more lightly colored bottom end.

Roasted vegetables must be placed on a pan or cookie sheet in a single layer, with a little room to be spread apart from one another. If the veggies heaped in a pile, they will be steamed and have dull flavor. Roasting, which is a dry heat method, is an especially tasty way to generate flavor in vegetables without adding piles of fat and calories (this means YOU cheese sauce lovers)!

If you want to lighten the dish a little more, I would suggest scrapping olive oil, reducing the lemon juice by 1 Tbsp, and adding a Tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Additionally, reduced-fat feta may be used in place of the regular feta. Fat-free feta "cheese" is just nasty-- you'd be better off plain. Alternatively, the feta can be replaced with two tablespoons of romano or a few chunks of babybel light garlic herb cheese :-)

Roasted red bell peppers or mushrooms are a great addition to this recipes as well!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wheat Worries? Sick from Celiac and Giving up Gluten

Hi Jean,

I wanted to ask you if you had any experience with the “making” of food. I know that you are a nutritionist and are in a PhD program, but have you ever made specific food before?

I’m inquiring because I’m looking into “wheat and gluten free” products. My mother and sister cannot eat wheat, they have celiac disease, and are on a wheat free diet. They are doing fine, and there are a number of products available for them to eat.

I think that the whole “wheat free” diet could be a fast catching and healthy fad. It seems to me that it eliminates most carbs. Not sure where “wheat” stands on the healthy scale, or what the real health value of the food that they replace it with(rice based, gluten free products) is. But I wanted to ask if you knew anything about this.

I actually worked as a healthy cooking instructor for a little over a year while I lived in Buffalo, NY. Though I didn't have a lot of cooking experience when I started, the cooking school was required to have an RD (registered dietitian) to teach their general health and fitness cooking class. Since the manager already knew me, I got the job, though I floundered a lot in the beginning. Let me just say, it's hard to cook four-five courses for 30 people in two hours! In any case, I'm certainly not a chef, but I do develop recipes that fit clear nutritional considerations-- my recipes are generally low-processed, high-protein, low-fat, and rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals.

Celiac disease (CD) is a autoimmune condition (the mounts and inflammatory response against itself); the disease may be "triggered" by stressful or traumatic event, including surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, or severe infections. A person dealing with CD has a body responds very badly to the gluten protein found in wheat and some other grains, specifically: rye barley, and oats (to some extent). Gluten is created in foods when two proteins, glutenin and gliadin, are processed together to make the gluten product. For example, when kneading homemade bread-the gluten forms gives the dough elasticity and allows the bread to rise and hold a shape. Thus, it is very hard to produce gluten-free breads, because it is difficult to find a good substitute with the same shape-holding ability of gluten. Furthermore, CD is distinct from a gluten allergy.

A food allergy generally results when a whole food protein or peptide is absorbed and the body mounts a immune response to protein, which the body see as an "invader." The body's response to the food is a lot more damaging the the actual food protein, but that's how allergies work! Celiac disease, on the other hand, just completely screws up the small intestine and makes it nearly impossible for the person with CD to absorb nutrients, vitamins, or minerals. CD individuals also experience, bloating and other stomach problems, unexplained rashes, loss of energy, joint pain or may have no symptoms at all. If a CD patient continues to eat wheat, and other gluten containing foods, he or she will be at increased risk of malnutrition and other diseases over time.

For people who do not have a wheat allergy, gluten allergy, or Celiac disease, wheat is NOT unhealthy. I think the primary problem with wheat is that is such a dominant grain in our diet that dietary "variety" for many is defined as: wheat bagel for breakfast, wheat crackers for a snack, whole wheat bread at lunch, and whole wheat pasta at dinner-- catch my drift? It's all wheat and your body is continually exposed to the same irritant over and over if you have an intolerance!

There are many other good sources of carbohydrates in the Americans diet that are wheat-free for instance: rice, corn, all fruits, starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes), and legumes (including lentils and beans). Carbohydrates are a NEEDED part of the diet and should not be considered unhealthy, especially by athletes. My own carbohydrate intake ranges typically from 40-50% of my total calorie intake and my body fat has not been above 17.5% on the DXA in the last three years, this is despite an "off-season" where I do limited cardio and eat a lot more overall calories. Carbs are not bad. The wrong carbs (added sugars, corn/rice syrups, white flour, including rice flour!), over-representation of wheat in the general diet, and high intake of highly processed foods are unhealthy.

There are many gluten-free processed products out there. Except for the case of CD, I would not consider gluten-free processed products inherently healthier than regular highly-processed wheat products. On the other hand, an individual can make a healthy and varied gluten-free diet by focusing on whole foods. In fact, eating too many processed products that claim to be gluten-free may place individuals who have the problem at greater risk, since many factories may manufacture both kind of products, which presents a risk of cross-contamination!

If someone wanted to make a fad out of wheat/gluten-free, I think it's possible; however, it already been a fad for years in the bodybuilding world and in some health circles. It would also be unethical to manipulative advertising to convince the general population that they should be on a gluten-free diet. About 1% of the American population has CD; however, the number of people currently diagnosed with CD about 0.25%; so, for every person found to have CD, there are 3 to 10 more who are ignorantly living with the disease, symptoms, and chronic health risks. Personally, I would love to see population-wide Celiac testing-- a number of serious genetic condition are tested for at birth in the US, which have much lower prevalence (though more immediate detrimental effects). Though CD cannot be tested for until the age of two, the implications are serious and the incidence, 1 in 100, is high enough that early screening could improve the health of Americans and reduce long-term health care costs resulting from CD-associated chronic diseases.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Protein-Packed Peanut Flour Please!

Hi Jean,

Where can you get defatted peanut flour in 10 to 20lb bags? I found in commericial 50lb bags but not in reasonable quantities.


I love defatted peanut flour and have searched for it extensively online. Typically, it is sold for commericial purposes, and it is used in most of your favorite peanut-flavored protein bars. Typically, it is sold as a 12% or 28% fat content and light, medium, or dark roasts. The darker the roast, the more peanutastic.

The nutrition for the 28% fat version per 1/4 cup (22g) is: 120 kcal, 6g fat, 9g protein, and 6g carbs. Per 1/4 cup, the 12% defatted peanut flour has: 100 kcal, 12g protein, 3g fat, and 9g carbs. About half of the carbs from both versions are fiber. Though the nutritional profile of the 12% flour is better, the pruduct has substantially less peanut flavor than the higher fat version. Generally speaking, defatted peanut flour is a great addition to or substitution in shakes, pancakes, baked goods. It can also be processed with cottage cheese and Splenda to make a very high protein "PB Pudding!"

Though I've never found it in 10-20 lb bags, you can get it in a 1 lb or 5lb (little over 2 kg) portion from:

This site has peanut flour in a variety of roasts and fat%. The site offers a light roast, which is very mildly flavored--the 12% fat light roast doesn't have much peanut flavor at all, but can be used to boost the prtoein content of recipes. Byrdmill also sells a medium roast, which is a little more robustly peanuty. Though the site claims it's dark roast, it's not nearly as dark as the Spices, Etc. version below.
Alternatively, Spices, Etc. sells a 1 gallon portion, which is about 3.75 lb (1.7 kg):

The Spices, Etc. flour is a 28% fat very dark roast. The super dark roast is highly flavored, but also seems a little like burned nut flavor, which can turn a lot of people off. I like the extra dark roast when the flour is going to be combined with other ingredients and diluted a lot (like in shakes and Asian-inspired sauces). For a low-fat peanut sauce, try combining 2 Tbsp of Newman's own Sesame Ginger Dressing with 1 Tbsp of dark roast peanut flour-- the flour adds a little more than a gram of fat and loads of peanut flavor. The dark roast is also very good for making low-fat, high-protein African-inspired tomato/groundnut soups.

Personally, I like the highly dark roast for recipes because the overoasting doesn't bother me; however, if you're the kind of person who prefers mildly flavored coffee, you probably won't like the dark roast flavor. Alternatively, the medium roast 28% fat is also good in a variety of application and doesn't have a hint of burned taste.

The following website also offers defatted peanut flours, though I have never ordered from this site personally:


Also to add some intensity to peanut-flavored dishes, without the extra calories, you may want to add artificial peanut flavoring, which can be found:


Jean offers nutrition coaching for weight loss, muscle gain, or any of your personal goals at her office in the Alico building in downtown Waco, TX right in the heart of central Texas. She also offers personal training services at Ironhorse gym on the corner of Franklin and 17th, which is also very convenient to downtown Waco. Contact information can be found on her personal website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

High Protein Taco Dip

Since this dip is made with light ingredients, it is a healthy alternative to nacho cheese dip!

4 oz (1/2 package) of 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 8 oz package of fat-free cream cheese
1 14 oz can refried beans
1 24 oz jar salsa (any brand, heat level)
4 oz (about 1 cup) shredded 2% cheddar or Mexican cheese blend

Pre-heat oven to 350o

1. Blend together with a wooden or hard plastic spoon in a bowl the cream cheese and spread evenly on the bottom of a 9” by 13" pan

2. Smooth the refried beans in the bowl used for the cream cheese and spread evenly over the cream cheese

3. Pour the salsa evenly over the refried beans

4. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top of the salsa

5. Bake 20-30 minutes at 350 F until the top is slightly browned and bubbly

6. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving

For added zip, try stirring red pepper flakes or jalapeƱos in with the cream cheese.

Healthy alternatives to tortilla chips include sliced fresh zucchini, cucumbers, celery, or toasted whole wheat tortillas.

Serves 12


120 Calories, 8 g protein, 4.5 g fat, 12g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 700 mg sodium 115mg calcium

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cutting Cardio: Shaving Off the Last Few Pounds of Fat

hey jean,
you know more about this than anyone i know, so maybe you can help me...
my bodyfat has been lingering around 9-11% for over a year now and i can't seem to drop it!

i've recently dropped my calories down to around 2600-2800 a day (about 15 kcals per pound of lean body mass). after a month i dont seem to losing much....do i need to diet even more aggressively? i lift 4 times a week but only do cardio now and then.

do you know any good nutritional formulas that may help me?


Though a body fat of 9-11% is perfectly fine and healthy, I understand the drive to get it lower! In any case, the last thing I would do at this point is drop the Calorie level of the diet more. Over-restriction of energy results in metabolic decrease of about 10-15%, in my experience. If your aim is to reduce body fat, and your cardio is non-existent, the next step is to implement just a little interval cadrio work.

Maintaining a body fat of 10% without cardio is difficult. With sustained attention to diet, adding three to four intense 25-minute interval cardio sessions per week will result in a significant fat drop. Both the hill and regular interval workouts on the elliptical, treadmill or stairmill are good choices.

I am not suggesting long, slow "fat-burn" cardio session because 1) They are boring and time-consuming; and more importantly 2) they promote the development of Type 1 muscle fibers. When type 1 fibers are stimulated, the fibers become smaller and more efficient at using energy, meaning that more of the familiar repetitive motion can be done with less energy/food intake. Over time, you will promote a physique of smaller muscle that burn fewer calories to complete a long, slow cardio session. This adaptation is beneficial if you are an ultra-endurance runner, but completely counter-productive if you are hoping to be large and lean!

The interval portion should be between 30 seconds and two minutes (vary it) and the intensity should be very high (85-100%) during the interval portion and total recovery when you are sprinting. This approach promotes the development of explosive type 2X muscle fibers (promote the lean muscular look of sprinters) and results in an "after-burn" effect once the cardio session has finished. This effect causes an increase in metabolism that takes place when someone is not actively crankin' away in the gym.

This painstaking, but effective, method should allow a cardio-a-phobe to drop a few more BF% points within two to three months.