Month: October 2016

US Immigration: Even Hillary and Trump don’t get it

 

A message for the Presidential candidates: the problems of immigration go well beyond the issue of illegal immigration. With no caps on certain kinds of visas, and excessive and redundant vetting processes for the same group of people, Homeland Security budget and resources are being wasted, workload is overwhelming, and frankly, unnecessary; hard working people remain stuck in limbo for decades while problems at the borders continue to remain. Two approaches, both extreme and flawed in their own way, yet neither truly comprehensive or groundbreaking… And the reason? Because people don’t understand the full scope of the issue. People like me don’t speak up because we have too much to lose. But I lost it all once already and I survived. So I am talking, and hoping that one day my message will be heard by America.

 

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Weeks 2 and 3: Here comes the plateau!!

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Why do I have photo of food here? Because it is time to finally fine tune the diet as I have hit the dreaded PLATEAU!

Already? You say. Well, yes and allow me to explain why. Maintaining a near 7000-calorie deficit for 3 weeks is not easy. Like I said in an earlier post, with this style of weight loss, at first the body will simply react to the change and shed pounds quickly, but slowly it will start getting adjusted to the new conditions and the resulting weight-loss will be less drastic. In order to do this, the body starts to slow down its metabolism in an effort to align its energy requirement with the nourishment it is receiving. Ultimately, the evolutionary instinct kicks in and the body goes into what is called the starvation mode.

Our hunting-gathering, nomadic ancestors did not have a steady supply of food. Possibly, they went through periods when they did not catch any game, or were crossing through a desert and didn’t have access to plant-based foods. In order to cope with these situations, the body developed the starvation mode wherein it slows down its metabolic rate to the point where it is only sustaining the vital functions in order to stay alive. We may have come a long way from that lifestyle but the body hasn’t forgotten how and when to turn on the starvation mode. Once the body registers such a crisis we hit what we call the weight-loss plateau- when we cannot lose even an ounce of weight despite our most Herculean efforts. Depending on how much energy reserves, aka fat, your body has, this process can take anywhere from two to several weeks. I did not have that much to lose to begin with, so I plateaued in 3 weeks. This is the reason I did not post any updates last week because I did not have anything to report.

So a drastic calorie deficit isn’t going to work for me any longer. In order to start seeing results again, I must up my food intake. It may sound counter-intuitive but as I explained above, starving can only take you so far on your road to fitness. But I don’t want this increase in diet to be mindless. Typically, the recommended ratio of fat to protein to carb is something like 20%, 20-30% and 50-60% respectively. This is more or less what I was consuming during my initial 3 weeks. When I am focusing on building muscle and cutting carbs, I strive for 30/40/30. Since this is where I want to end up in few weeks, I am going to increase my calories in such a way that my carbs come down a little and protein goes up.

Based on my MyPlate data from yesterday, I had consumed little over 1,000 calories 30% of which came from fat, 30% from protein and 40% from carbs. I am going to continue this for sometime and see if anything changes. Ultimately, I am going to reduce carbs further to 30% and up protein to 40%- but I will let you know when that time comes.

A lot of people are unsure about how to reduce carbs and increase protein, especially without compromising on taste. I am a big foodie and I definitely cannot eat plain grilled chicken breast for every single meal. I am not a serious body builder, maybe for those who are that is the only way. But I have managed to come up with some recipes that are packed with protein and are still super yummy. Below is one such recipe (pictured above) and it is really quite simple- chicken tortilla soup.

Ingredients:

1 can diced tomatoes

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped peppers

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

16 oz chicken breast

Taco seasoning and salt to taste

Sharp cheddar cheese, cilantro and whole wheat tortilla for topping

Steps:

  1. Sautee onions and peppers in 1 tbsp oil. Set aside
  2. Rub chicken breasts with salt and hint of paprika. Braise and set aside
  3. In a slow cooker, add sauteed vegetables and beans. Place the chicken breasts next and pour a can of diced tomatoes on top. Add some water or chicken stock to make sure the chicken is completely submerged. Add taco seasoning, some salt, cover and let it cook on high for 2-3 hours 

NOTE: taste the taco seasoning to check how much salt is already in there before adding any extra

Once the stew cools down to room temperature, use a fork to shred the chicken. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary. I added half a teaspoon of sugar to bring out all the flavors.

When ready to eat, sprinkle some cilantro and cheddar cheese on top (I add about 2 tbsp) and set under the broiler until the cheese melts. Chop half of the whole wheat tortilla into pieces and toast in a frying pan with very little olive oil. And there you have it, some flavorful and healthy tortilla soup!

Since I am not cutting carbs right now, I allow myself to have the whole wheat tortilla with the soup. But when I do, I will simply increase the amount of chicken in the recipe, reduce the amount of beans and take away the tortilla- as simple as that!

Below is the nutritional info for the soup (sans cheese and tortilla) based on the above list of ingredients. I portioned the soup into 6 servings. If you do it differently, simple take below values, multiply them by 6 and divide by the number of portions you make.

Total calories………225

Fat (in gm)…………….3

Carbs (in gm)………..19

Protein (in gm)……..23

As you can see, this soup is already full of protein and most of the carbs come from beans which isn’t all sugar but a whole lot of fiber! So this one is a definite winner on all counts. Additionally, soups make an excellent meal during colder weather, and this one is just perfect with the slight heat from the taco seasoning. Hope you will give it a try and enjoy this yummy goodness 🙂

I will report back on my success in the coming weeks.

Until then, stay fit!

P