6 Causes Of High Food Prices

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In recent news, the global hotspots for hunger is only getting larger and more diverse. In just a few short months, I’ve heard conspiracy theories from disgrunted ex-employees of large companies who believe they understand the causes of high food prices. In fact, they do not.

To fully comprehend the food prices, it’s necessary to step out of the thinking locally mentality and see it from a global perspective.

High food prices are not caused by greedy supplement companies or the increased demand for pestisides on local farm crops. While that can change the local economy to some extend, it’s but a rain drop in a massive tsumani.

The 6 REAL Causes Of High Food Prices:

  1. A sluggish U.S. economy. If the President and company doesn’t want to admit it, that’s fine. But facts speak for themselves. People are buying less.
  2. Record setting crude oil prices and peak U.S. gas prices.
  3. A larger than normal demand for biofuels and a decline in corn inventories.
  4. Drought reduced harvests.
  5. Commodities speculators.
  6. Rising demand for food supplies in massive countries like China and India.

Out of all the expert theories, reason #6 will continue to make the biggest long-term impact. As China and India start to demand more foods (eggs, chicken, dairy, fuel) than ever before, the supplies we bid on are now being bid on and consumed by other nations.

This increased demand globally will affect the food prices locally.

Suggested Reading:

Food Price Crisis Triggers Questions about Global Food Security

Prepare for a food crunch

Dani Rodrik’s weblog

World Wide Food Price Crisis

Biomass Energy To Drive Up Food Prices In Next 10 Years

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When To Eat That Frozen Chicken Breasts

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This group from the Univ. of Arkansas looked at the impact of freezing on the tenderness, water-holding capacity, and color of broiler breast fillets for up to 8 months.

Their conclusion: The results suggest that for optimal tenderness, frozen broiler breast fillets are best consumed within 2 months of freezing.

Because I am a big fan of frozen chicken fillets, this is valuable to know.  Personally my experience has been that frozen chicken fillets beyond 2 months are still okay but the taste is not that great and the tenderness makes it almost unbearable.

Photo of a the cute chicken by Wen Rou. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Stax System

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Eating 5-7 times a day is tough. Organizing those meals is a job itself. The Stax System makes taking your bodybuilding meals around for the day a total breeze. STAX holds your daily meals, portions your food perfectly, and tailors the best food combinations for your specific goals.Eating was never so simple.

Chris Powell Stax System

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with, paid by, or employed by Stax. I just like it.

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Antioxidants Can Kill You?

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Antioxidants

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (I’ve meet these dudes, they rock) are challenging a recent study that questions the health benefits of antioxidants.

Maybe you’ve heard of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark that examined previous studies and the effects of vitamins and antioxidants on healthy people and those who had various diseases?  They published this huge study under the sponsorship of the Cochrane Collaboration.

The authors concluded: “We found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention. Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin E may increase mortality. Future randomized trials could evaluate the potential effects of vitamin C and selenium for primary and secondary prevention.”

“Such trials should be closely monitored for potential harmful effects. Antioxidant supplements need to be considered medicinal products and should undergo sufficient evaluation before marketing.”

That prompted the CRN to respond.

“Antioxidant supplements are certainly not meant to be magic bullets and should not realistically be expected to undo a lifetime of unhealthy habits,” said Andrew Shao, Ph.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement industry. “However, when used properly, in combination with eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, not smoking, etc., antioxidant supplements can play an important role in maintaining and promoting overall health.”

Good job Andrew Shao.  I’ve actually worked out with this guy, he’s a beast but I don’t think he can keep up with me on the front squats.  He’s also very educated and knowledgeable.  He tends to have an open mind and is fact based.  Something this industry desperately needs to make sure the information flowing from both sides (health organizations and dietary supplement companies is within reason).

“With nearly 750 studies to choose from, it’s interesting that they chose to include only 67 studies—less than nine percent of the total clinical trials on antioxidants that are available. Moreover, the possible 750 clinical trials do not even account for other sources of evidence, such as observational studies, which were not considered by the authors at all.   It is their exclusions, not the inclusions, where the fault lies.” said John Hathcock, Ph.D., senior vice president, scientific and international affairs, CRN.

Hummm… so you have 750 studies to pick and you only pick the 67 or 9% that support the conclusion you want to make?  Sounds biased already.

Furthermore, they excluded all studies—405 of them—that reported no deaths.

A lot of fitness sites are picking up on this but as with anything, you must look at how the data is prepared, any biased the study may want to prove and why they would exclude valid research?  I kept thinking of this as I read the study… “It is their exclusions, not the inclusions, where the fault lies.”

“It really comes down to whether or not this meta-analysis should mean anything to consumers or scientists,” says Dr. Shao.   “And from a practical standpoint, it doesn’t mean much.   We maintain that healthy consumers who are using antioxidant supplements in the manner that they were meant to be used—as complements to, not in place of—other healthy lifestyle habits, can continue to feel confident in the benefits these supplements provide.   For those consumers who are seriously ill with cancer, heart disease, etc., they should talk with their doctor about everything they put into their bodies. I know that I will continue to take my antioxidant supplements and will continue to encourage my family, friends and colleagues to do so as well.   This study won’t change that.”

If I have 10 married people and I want to prove marriage works.  Then if I exclude the 5 people who are divorced, then I can now prove with my remaining participants that marriage indeed, works.  That to me is not valid.  You can’t exclude data that fits the criteria but doesn’t fit your pre-determined outcome.

I do take a regular multi-vitamin in addition to a healthy diet.  I think of it more of an insurance policy and to me, as a consumer, this study doesn’t mean much except to scare people into believing something when the research may not actually prove that to be the case.

Your comments are more than welcome!

1 Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud LL, et al. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD007176. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007176.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973 and based in Washington, D.C., is the leading trade association representing dietary supplement industry ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. CRN members adhere to a strong code of ethics and manufacture dietary supplements to high quality standards under good manufacturing practices.

Photo of a the vitamins by Selva. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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Social Bookmarking For Bodybuilders

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StumbleUpon (opens in a new window to my profile page) can be a major source of new and interesting sites for you to discover based upon your interests! This video introduces you to StumbleUpon, how it works, and how to use it.

In this video you’ll quickly see how one particular “social bookmarking” tool can help you discover useful fitness, health and even bodybuilding sites you might never have know about. About 2% of my all time favorite sites I found using this social bookmarking site called StumbleUpon.

Tip: Be sure to fine turn your preferences so the sites you may Stumble across target your interests.

Here’s how to start social bookmarking and finding sites you might like but never knew existed.

Some sites I found by using this tool:

MuscleHack

Nino Savona

Real Muscle Online

Ivan Nikolov

Tom Venuto

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FitDay: Custom Food Entry Trick

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I’m a huge fan of FitDay.com, a free online food journal for counting calories. However, many times I’ve not been able to find a particular food I’ve eaten. FitDay allows for custom food entries but sometimes you just don’t have the package nutritionals handy.

Or maybe you aren’t sure and don’t feel like launching an Internet hunt to find out exactly what you just ate.

That’s where this little FitDay custom food entry trick comes in handy. Using the database of another site (a site I also like) you can quickly enter custom foods into FitDay and expand on their food database ten-fold.

Here’s how it’s done:

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Crossfit Kills Stupid People?

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Stephanie Cooperman has done what I was too lazy to do.Crossfit Workouts

She wrote an article about the Crossfit Culture and the mentality that some people are willing to get fit even if it kills you . And she did a damn fine job of it.

So I am going to make his post required reading for all those wondering if Crossfit is just another routine workout program.

As my friend said when he sent me this article…

“Crossfit is just another Darwinian way of weeding out stupid people.” – Wishes to Remain Anonymous

Disclaimer:

I don’t know the first thing about Crossfit except,  I’ve heard of it, I’ve heard a lot of people who speak highly of it and I would urge anybody who’s interested in it, to really read the site, to take it easy and follow the directions.  I’ve got no experience with this particular program as being a bodybuilder of the 80′s, I’m more interested in how I look not how heavy a kettleball I can toss around or if I can pull some weight some distance on a metal sled.

The real issue is the many forms of self-destructive tendencies.  It’s just disguised at ‘fitness’ in this case.

Getting Fit, Even if It Kills You

Photo of a the deadlift by Aaron Schmidt. Used under a Creative Commons license.

How to Read Nutrition Labels

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After a recent quick trip to the grocery store, I stopped in and grabbed some bread.  Not just any bread butwhole wheat break 100% Whole Wheat Whole Grain Bread! Nice big label and I’ve had this brand before and it tastes great.  Being a bodybuilder myself, I’m health conscious and concerned with the food ingredients I ingest.

Not considering myself 100% organic either or needing to shop at “Whole Paycheck” I still like to get a good deal but without all the nasty nitrates and additives they put into most baked goods.  Still a whole wheat tuna sandwich just hits the stop and is a great muscle building meal.  Toss in a salad and your golden.

Imagine my surprise when I grabbed my favorite bread and was told to READ the NUTRITION LABEL carefully.

I did a double take when I inspected the nutrition label more closely.

While it’s not the best picture, thanks to my crappy 1.2 mega-pixel cell phone camera, I can assure you the #3 ingredient isn’t one you’d want in your bread.

high fructose corn syrup in bread

YUCK?!  High fructose corn syrup in my bread.  After looking at several other selections, there were many other whole wheat breads that did not contain this ingredient.

Just goes to show that even if the big words make it sound healthy, it just might not be.

Refined sweeteners like white sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup are high in caloric value (“high calorie density” – Tom Venuto

Must Reads:

Understanding Labels and Health Claims

“Many scientists say that there is little data to back up the demonization of high-fructose corn syrup, and that links between the crystalline goop and obesity are based upon misperceptions and unproved theories, or are simply coincidental.”

Maybe it’s not as bad as they say but given I’m trying to make better choices it makes sense to check the nutrition labels every so often just to be sure.

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Creatine Dosage: A Simple Formula For Creatine Cycles

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Creatine Dosage Calculator

Creatine Monohydrate

Do you ever wonder what your creatine daily dose should be?  The magical 5g every site seems to list?

In order to calculate your creatine dosage according to the original research,you’ll first need to convert your body weight into kilograms. This won’t require a math degree. If it did, I wouldn’t be able to post this or even explain it!

Simple divide your current body weight in pounds by 2.2 to obtain your weight in kilograms. For example, if you weight 190 lbs then your kilogram weight is ~86 kilograms (190 / 2.2 = 86).

Next, multiple your weight in kilograms for the appropriate dose. The recommended loading dosage is 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight. The maintenance phase is even less at only 0.03 grams of creatine per kilogram of body weight.

Example: 86kg person starting a loading phase would require 25.8 grams of creatine per day for 5 days divided up into 4 equal parts during the day. The maintenance phase of an 86kg person would be 2.58g of creatine per day.

Creatine Dosage Worksheet:

Step 1: Your body weight in pounds

Step 2: Body weight in kilograms
body weight in pounds divided by 2.2

Step 3: Find your Loading dose
body weight in kilograms multiplied by 0.3
divide into 4 equal parts; take 1 part every 4 hours

Step 4: Find your Maintenance dose
body weight in kilograms multiplied by 0.03

It appears that the creatine loading dose phase will saturate your muscle stores with creatine quicker but there’s little difference in a person who does or does not do the loading phase. Except it might take longer to reach full muscle saturation. Many references today (2008) report the loading phase as unnecessary. Others make comments that a loading phase is only there to go thru the products quicker so you’ll need to purchase more creatine.

The loading phase can be done or not, it doesn’t appear there will be any final outcome differences.

General maintenance phases of Creatine Monohydrate are between 3-5 grams. The references above will get you a more personalized approach to your creatine dosage vs. just the recommendations based on the average person.

If you’d like to learn more about Creatine, take a look at Creatine: A Practical Guide.

Marc David – CPT
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
Author of NoBull Bodybuilding

Don’t Make This Stupid Nutrition Mistake

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After doing my routine calorie calculation formula, which I’ve not used in a long time, I figured I needed 2952 calories to maintain my daily activity. Since summer is fast approaching, I decided to start cutting. That means at a comfortable but conservative 20% calorie deficit, I would need around 2361 calories per day.

Imagine my surprise when I input what I HAD been eating vs. what I thought I was eating and got the number around ~2000 calories a day! Not cool. All this time I figured I’d be eating what I had been since my last bulking period and it turns out I’m below a 35% calorie deficit and have been slowing down my metabolism. That does explain a lot.

Needless to say, I’m eating more now to burn fat and turn back on the furnace. Don’t make the same mistake. Do some basic measurements and determine your calorie situation at least monthly to keep on track.

“Nothing will undermine the “re-building” of your metabolism like inconsistency. If you stop and start, or skip meals and workouts often, you will not even get off the ground.” - Tom Venuto

Reminds me of a good article on How to Repair Metabolic Damage

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