Come on Baja Fresh, Ditch the Trans Fats!

I’m a big fan of Baja Fresh. They are like Taco Bell, but with good food– the lettuce doesn’t taste like rotten leftovers like Taco Bell’s usually does. For a company that is so uncompromising with the quality of their ingredients, I’m bemused why Baja Fresh is sticking with trans-fat oils for their corn chips. From their own website you can see that the items with the most transfat usually have corn chips with them.

Even Wendy’s–the company that used to own Baja Fresh–is ditching the transfats. Transfats are a chemical never before seen in the evolutionary history of man. They damage heart arteries like crazy and might as well be considered a slow poison. Let some other population evolve resistance to high transfat diets and leave me out of it.

Gym Goals & a New Book

I got a new book, Optimal Muscle Training. And just in time, I’ve been in maintenance mode at the gym–just working out enough not to decline much, but not working out intensively enough to progress. I’ve pretty much met and exceeded my goal of fixing my knees. My legs are noticably stronger and I am essentially pain free.

Without being motivated by the fear of pain, I need a new goal. My new goal is to try out this books theories on exercise. So far the gist of the idea is that past soft tissue damage puts upper limits on to my range of motion and maximum weights you can lift. By diagnosing the constraints in range of motion, etc, I now have something to focus on. And the book also has a pre-habilitative bent–it comes with a DVD so I can study the lifting techniques that will prevent future injuries.

I also need to start investing time into cardio. I went on a hike with my son and I got worn out. He still was awake and alert about later that day when I was crashing. Next morning he was up hours before I was. Mental acuity is wasted on the young.

Vegetarian Protein and Strength Training

I’ve written on this before, somewhere, so I probably will end up repeating myself.

Seitan is my favorite source of vegetarian protein. Invented by Chinese monks, the modern recipe is flour with all the carbohydrates rinsed out of it, leaving just protein. The Japanese recipe, hence the Japanese name, has some soy sauce added to it. It pretty much works as a substitute for chicken and shredded beef. It barbeques and bakes a lot like the real thing. It is low fat, almost entirely protein. It costs $6 a pound which is about the same price as the better cuts of chicken at Whole Foods. Considering that meat is up to 80% fat by calories and Seitan is almost all protein by calories, I think seitan is the cheaper source of protein gram for gram.
The next best way to get more protein in the diet is by comparing and picking the higher of the two. I’m calling these secondary protein sources. You are going to be eating a variety of foods including some foods that are not exactly high protein foods, like say soup. When you have the choice between split pea or tomato soup, check the grams of protein per 100 and pick the higher. Same for potato chips, bread, etc. This is an effortless way to pickup a dozen grams of protein without resorting to the beans.

I recently tried this and discovered that in the chips aisle, most chips are 2 grams of protein per 30, and the most was 3 per 30, in a corn and black bean chip. Salsa has zero protein, bean dip had 3 per 30. Cereals with wheat gluten powder or soy flour had the most protein, cereal with peanut butter themes came in second. Lentil and split pea soup had the most protein, the rest of soups had much less.
Just getting enough calories helps. If you don’t get a full 2000+ calories a day, the protein you eat will probably be burn as fuel.

Protein is most useful just before and just after going to a gym when doing strength training. If there isn’t any protein in your blood stream, the protein will be burned as fuel. The most practical way to get a measured amount of protein in your blood stream just before a workout is to use powders. In no particular order:

Rice. Taste good, also vegan.
Soy. Vegan, but probably causes gas.
Egg White. Can’t remember if I’ve tried it before, but some professional vegetarian body builders make egg white their primary source of protein. I make my scrambled eggs with egg whites in any case.
Spirulina. The brand I tried was ok, although many other spirulina containing products can be down right inedible. It may be a few years before the world learns how to cook with single cell seaweed.
Whey. The Whole Foods Brand 365 I’m choking down right now is pretty disgustipating, but it is vegetarian.

Dairy works great as long as you have European ancestry and aren’t lactose intollerant. Fat free milk and yogurt are cool because both can be eaten straight or mixed with protein powders. Fat free dairy, on a gram per gram basis is one of the cheapest sources of vegetarian protein, at least at Whole Foods in Clarendon.

Almonds are the best source of protein among the nuts. Peanuts are technically a bean, but I’ll lump ‘em with the nuts. Peanuts definately are a cheaper source of protein than tree nuts.

Pumpkin seeds are the highest protein seeds.

Bottom on my list are the beans. There is lots of protein to be had, but eat enough beans and you’ll get gas. Chickpeas are one of the best non-soy beans, although the difference is more pronounced when looking at chickpea flour than comparing two cans of cooked beans. I’ve never seen Lupine or Chana Dal in a store, but both are top of the bean category for protein.

Soy is controversial. They science isn’t good enough to convince me to stop eating soybeans all together, after all, I suspect that house paint, house hold cleaning agents and other chemicals are probably doing me more harm than phytoestrogens. When there is a measurable epidemic among tofu eaters, I’ll start to worry. When I do buy soy products, like soy milk or tempeh (compressed soy cakes), I try to get the multigrain version when it exists. Likewise, fake meats, like fake

Still further down the list are mycoproteins (controversial and seems like they are only sold by one brand and whole foods)

Note on chart reading: You can arrive at very different opinions by how you read a chart. Peanuts are high in protein, but are also so rich, you’re unlikely to eat more than a serving, so the grams of protein in a serving can be more important than the grams of protein per 100, per cup, or per some other arbitrary measure. Eggs whites are another good example, liquid egg whites are much lower in protein than dried, but once the water is added back and the egg whites are used in a recipe, the statistics are the same again. Compare like to like and you can’t go too far wrong in picking the higher protein food.

I think an even better statistic would be calories of protein per 100. If you ate only one food, you’d get more protein by eating foods of a high protein percentage because we can only eat so many calories. In otherwords, if a hypothetical food was 20 grams of protein and 80 grams of water, and another was 20 grams of protein and 80 grams of fat and carbohydrates, you’d be able to eat more of the former before hitting your budgeted number of calories for the day.

More talk about vegetarian protein.

How to Prepare to go to the Gym: a List


Gym Bag

Weight lifting gloves–the ones without fingers

Lock with numeric key

Not necessarily clean cloths to wear in–it’s going to be soaked in sweat in a few minutes anyhow

Clean set of cloths to wear out

Flip flops–for showers

Sound canceling headphones, Media Player, suitable media. If the gym play music, then suitable media would be audio books. If the gym is quiet, then music or audio books. I think more exercise regimens fail for being boring that for other reasons.

Reading material–if it is cardio-day

Accounting materials–If you are trying to keep track of what you did

Towel(s)–one for wiping off gym equipment, one for the shower. This is just like in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

House keys

Gym card, money or a ruber mask in the image of a dues paying member–what ever it takes to get past the front deskperson.

Went to gym

And today, the strategy was to work on strengthening my legs. Afterwards, I had some rice protein, which is much better than soy protein. Enough soy protein and you’ll start farting a lot. Not a pleasant situation.

[Update, fixed a humorous typo, in a potty mouthed way]

Notes: Retinal Detachment

1. If you are really, really near sighted (6+ diopters), you have a 5% chance of retinal detachment. This kind is common ages 25-40. Retinal detachment in both eyes not very common. If one retina detaches there is a 15% chance of the other detaching. (If you are working the odds, you probably want to weigh in the odds that the 1st retinal detachment can be repaired, which is 90%, so the odds of complete blindness when the patient is able to get immediate treatment is … 6 in 10000 if my math is correct. If one is not so clever and can’t recognize when it is time to get to an ophthalmologist and get it repaired, then the odds are 7 in 1000, if my math is correct.) 2. Symptoms: Photic flashes (flashes of light) and more seriously, floaters, those little floating specs. (follow link to get official descriptions of the phenomenon) 3. Prevention: Don’t let anything whack you in the eyes. The most important thing is to realize it is happening if and when it happens. It is an emergency that requires immediate treatment. 4. Treatment: 90% of retinal detachments can be fixed. From the common statement that retinal detachment is a time sensitive emergency, it must mean that success is higher for earlier treatment. 5. Action: Pick out an ophthalmologist (not an optometrist) near where you live and where you work, where you can go on a moments notice if you see a sudden increase of floaters.

I joined Gold’s Gym Today!

And if you want, you can get some ‘refer a friend’ freebies from me.

I also bought me a computer, which I will be blogging about on my tech blog. Here, let’s just say that it took a lot more shopping that I wanted to do and it still cost two grand.


What a great idea! It is like a blog, but entirely focused on exercising and health regimes. It seems to have about 2/3 of the interest aimed at dieting and weightloss, though.


‘Tis the gift to be simple,
’tis the gift to be free,
’tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.


When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come round right


This is a dancing song. It seems like it would be a simple thing to make a step mania dance for it.