Friday, February 27, 2009

From Lab to Lunch: Chemicals They Call Food

I just had to dig this one up out of my files.
Beware it’s disturbing!
- Monty Moran

By: Brie Cadman (View Profile)

Updated August 2, 2008

The other day I was snacking on some bright orange “nacho” flavored tortilla chips when I decided to do something very stupid. I flipped the bag over and read the ingredient list. Given the color, I wasn’t expecting to find nature, distilled, but the double-digit list of ingredients, many of which I hadn’t seen since working in a lab, was still disconcerting. In fact, some of the chemicals were the same ones that drove me out of the lab. (You can only read “extreme neurotoxin” and “mutagenic” so many times before pondering a career change.) What were they doing in my chips?

A tortilla chip seems so simple (corn, oil, salt) but the intersection of synthetic chemistry and food manufacturing has taken us far away from simple and much closer to complex. Instead of nacho cheese, we eat synthesized substances meant to approximate the flavor or texture of cheese, no milk products involved. Preservation, emulsification, hydrogenation, distillation, and esterification has resulted in some good things (like reduced spoilage and food borne diseases), but has also resulted in some questionable food additives like the compounds below.

I Can’t Believe It’s Not—Diacetyl!
Diacetyl is the chemical that gives microwave popcorn that delicious buttery flavor without the use of any butter. Unfortunately, extensive exposure to diacetyl can lead to a serious, irreversible, and rare condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans. First seen in workers at a microwave popcorn packaging plant, the condition is commonly known as “popcorn lung.” One consumer (who, somewhat freakishly, ate around four bags of microwaved popcorn a day) has developed the disease, and researchers recently discovered that small amounts of diacetyl can cause lung and airway damage in mice.

  • The Alternative? OSHA didn’t do crap to protect workers, but lawsuits and negative publicity scared some manufacturers into removing the compound from their packaged kernels. However, diacetyl abounds in packaged foods with fake butter flavor, often under the guise of “natural and artificial flavoring.” As for popcorn, pop your own and use the real golden stuff. Butter=good; popcorn lung=bad.

Would You Like Diet or Regular Benzene?
Benzene is an industrial solvent and a known carcinogen, so food companies generally try to keep it out of their products. However, two chemicals found in soda, sodium benzoate (a preservative) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), can react to form benzene, especially in the presence of heat or light. In 2007, Coca-Cola and Pepsi agreed to settle lawsuits brought against them after benzene was detected in their products. The suit alleged that Pepsi’s Diet Wild Cherry drink had benzene levels nearly four times the maximum level set by the Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water. Oopsy. Both companies agreed to reformulate; however, thousands of soft drinks containing benzoate and citric acids are still on the market.

  • The Alternative? Probably most Coke and Pepsi products are “safe” (who knows what’ll turn up next!), but it’s a good idea to check the label.

Gone Fishin’—For Silly Puddy
The sticky texture of Silly Puddy is due, in part, to a widely used silicone-based polymer called polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). In addition to Silly Puddy, it is also found in caulks, adhesives, cosmetics, silicone grease, knuckle replacements, silicone breast implants, and … in McDonald’s Fish Filet Patties. They add it as an “antifoaming agent.” I had to look this one up (why is the fish foaming?) and as it turns out, foam, produced when vats of liquids are mixed or agitated, is a big problem for large scale food manufacturers. Lots of foam means frying vats can’t be filled to capacity, meaning fast food restaurants can’t fry as many fish (potatoes, apple crisps, whatever) as mechanically possible. Hence the need for silicone oils like PDMS.

  • The Alternative? The FDA allows up to ten parts per million of anti-foaming agents to be used in food products; they’re found in many processed foods. Though not harmful at these levels, their use does increase the amount of acrylamide (a naturally occurring but nasty chemical) that is formed during frying.

Ahhh, Olestra
Only in America would an indigestible molecule that inhibits the absorption of vitamins and minerals, causes abdominal cramping, loose stools, and gas take in over $400 million in its first year. Only in America would a chemical most closely associated with two words—anal leakage—still have a chance in the food market. (Saw it yesterday in a can of Pringles Light, giving new meaning to the “once you pop, you can’t stop” slogan.) Interestingly, Olestra was first filed with the FDA as a drug, not a food product. What a tangled web we weave…

  • The Alternative? Lick some raw chicken to get your anal leakage fix.

Too Sweet to Be True
Artificial sweeteners are generally considered safe (save for saccharin, which has that pesky “has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats” warning). However, two studies indicate they may not exactly be as guilt-free as once imagined.

The first study showed that, compared with those who drank no soda, people who consumed one or more sodas a day—diet or regular—had a 50 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors characterized by excessive abdominal fat, high blood pressure, and high glucose. Soda companies balked—how can diet beverages cause these things when they contain no calories? Logic would side with them, except for study number two, done in rats. It showed that rats fed with foods containing artificial sweeteners were more likely to overeat compared with those rats fed food containing real sugar. Reason? Sugar triggers our innate system to recognize sweet calories and restrict further food consumption; fake chemicals don’t trigger the “eat less” mechanism.

  • The Alternative? Calorie free sodas don’t add on weight, excess food does. However, if you’re drinking lots of diet soda and still loosening up the belt, you may want to rethink the diet approach. (Also, see benzene above.)

Hydrogenation Station
Oils are liquid at room temperature, while fats, like butter and lard, are solid. One way to make vegetable oil into a semi-solid compound, perfect for use in long-lifed packaged foods, is to hydrogenate it. Partial hydrogenation gets rid of some of the good unsaturated fats and also creates trans fats, the black sheep of the fat world, thought to be more deleterious to the old ticker than lard.

  • The Alternative? Bad press and labeling requirements have caused many food companies to remove trans fats from their products; check labels. (Kraft Fat Free Singles, for instance, contain no saturated fat, but do contain partially hydrogenated oils.) Regular, unsaturated vegetable oil is the perfect alternative for frying, yet restaurants can still use the partially hydrogenated stuff, unless the FDA, which still labels the oil as “generally recognized as safe,” steps up and bans it.

Butylated Hydroxyanisol (BHA)
BHA is an antioxidant that prevents fats and oils from spoiling. BHA is added to packaged foods, baked goods, some cereals, and meats as a preservative. It has been found to cause cancer in laboratory rodents; however, it causes cancer in an organ that humans don’t have, so it’s hard to translate the research into human populations. The National Toxicology Program states that BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.” Funny, it’s still in our food chain.

  • The Alternative? Check labels and (if this hasn’t already become clear) avoid packaged foods that have a shelf life lasting longer than the average tenure of a Supreme Court Justice.

As with most chemicals, dose makes the poison; small amounts of the above chemicals ain’t going to kill you (at least according to the FDA). But neither would eating a piece of real cheese.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Carb Rotation Thing

I’m not going to try to paraphrase my friend Jayson Hunter’s theory on rotating carbohydrate intake. It wouldn’t do any justice. I do this myself, but I have my own twist on it that works with my lifestyle.

Here’s his e-mail to me:
Rotate "Carbs" for Rapid Fat Loss

By Registered Dietitian Jayson Hunter

Millions of people have tried both "low-carb" and "no-carb" approaches in an attempt to lose weight quickly. But few have tried a much safer and healthier approach known as Carb Rotation. It is a much more effective and realistic method of rapid fat loss.

There are two general approaches to Carb Rotating. The first approach is to follow a "no, no, no, high carb" program. This means you would eat no carbohydrates at all for the first three days and then eat a "high" amount of carbohydrates on for the fourth day. The fifth day you are back to eating "no carbs" again.

This plan can be effective, but you have to be very strict. It is an aggressive approach that may trigger your starvation response. Yes, the very same starvation response which causes elevation of a hormone called lipoprotein lipase. When this hormone becomes elevated your metabolism begins to slow down. And since that is the last thing anyone who is trying to get rid of unwanted pounds wants, it is not the approach I recommend.

Additionally, when people deprive themselves completely of "carbs" for three days they have a tendency to:
1) Go completely overboard with carbohydrate consumption on the fourth day of the rotation.
2) Not be able to go back to the three days of carbohydrate deprivation resulting in failure of the program.

The much more common sense approach is to follow a "high, low, no carb" program. There is much more room for error with this type of plan. It is much easier to follow and leads to much greater success.

Rotating your "carbs" in this manner allows you to shed fat and keep your metabolism elevated, which is the key to long term weight loss. There is a consistent transition with a "high, low, no" approach because every fourth day you repeat the cycle and you aren't depriving yourself of "carbs" for three days straight. And again: potentially triggering the elevation of lipoprotein lipase.

We tend to eat too many "carbs", we eat improper "carbs" and we don't eat enough protein in our diet. But by following the guidelines laid out in a "high, low, no carb" program we are manipulating the blood sugars and insulin response in our body to achieve rapid of fat loss. Rotating Carbs allows you to control and manipulate your blood sugars and insulin response so you are allowing your body to burn more calories for energy instead of storing "carbs" as fat. This means you are shedding fat and increasing your metabolism. Two very good things!

To view more on Jayson visit his website at:

**The contents of this daily email are not to be considered as medical advice. Always consult a physician before beginning or changing any fitness program.**

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monty's Boot Camp

Starting Saturday, March 21, 2009 and every Saturday through May - I will be offering a one hour Boot Camp. This is an intense session that will be located at various park locations around town. If you are looking to get into shape this spring or want to try something new - this is a workout session for you!

$50.00 (4 consecutive week sessions)
$35.00 (Current Clients - 4 consecutive week sessions)
$15.00 (Per Session)

Call or Text Monty Moran for more details
(701) 261-9636

This is also a great opportunity for those of you who workout at other gym locations or are not interested in a gym membership at this time!! As these will be outdoor exercise activities. Note: Due to weather Boot Camp will be moved indoors at the Sports Center.


Friday, February 13, 2009

No Spotting = More Clients per Session

Do you feel like you could do more if you weren’t committed to spotting each client for safety reasons? Thankfully, due to the patented safety cylinder on the Cormax equipment I do more for my clients because I don’t have to spot them on lifts. Now more clients can benefit from my services by having me instruct and observe from multiple angles.

Typically, I will have 6-8 people training in one session. Everyone is performing at maximal effort whether it’s by doing heavy weights, explosively throwing of the weights or doing my version of “cardio days.”
By simply standing in the middle of the room I can observe each client’s performance. When my attention is needed for whatever reason, I can bounce between clients and consult them on form, technique, adjusting the next weight to use, aid in logging workouts and preparing future workouts, speeds to achieve for the lift, motivation and at times answer the phone or a text. And let me tell you, for a sole proprietor, the phone seems to always ring when you’re in the middle of spotting somebody when doing free weights. With safety being first, the caller is directed to leave a voice mail.

I've went from being a professional spotter and gym buddy to a performance specialist.
By not having to spot anybody I can have two youth athletes, a high school fitness enthusiast, a college athlete, a mom and two retired baby boomers all training at one time with one trainer. Everybody is working out as if they were getting ready for the Olympic tryouts. And they’re all doing it safely. I have no fear of the youth athletes getting stuck under a weight. The teenager is getting a great “sprint style” cardio workout doing weighted jumps. The college athlete is pushing herself beyond what she ever thought was possible. The mom is confident in working out with weights. And the two old guys appear to be putting on muscle and looking younger with each month of training.

This training may not work for everyone, but i have found it both efficient and safe. My clients like the fact that I am never hovering over them and they can discover their full potential with my guidance.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Your 3 Weeks Are Up

Why would anybody need a trainer after the first two or three weeks?

Oh, oh I know pick me, pick me. There I was… training a new client. We were getting results quickly and my alternative style was being adapted to quite well…

Then it HAPPENED! This individual stopped scheduling times and disappeared. Not thinking anything of it; I mean people get sick, have to go out of town suddenly or who knows what, I didn’t bother contacting for a week.

I soon found out that I wasn’t needed, shouldn’t be bothered anymore and greatly appreciated for all my help.

That’s fine. People come & go. Some need more guidance than others. Although many stay on to see what else I come up with (nothing like a little foreshadowing in a blog.)

3 months later, the entire spring season has passed, It UNHAPPENED! This individual called me up looking for another month of training. So I obliged. And like clockwork, 2 weeks into the training this individual figured they had a new workout routine memorized and hinted at going solo once again.

But wait… I was overheard talking to another much more loyal client. Her 3 weeks were up and it was time to change up the workouts. Whoa! Workouts are changed every 3 weeks? Yeah stick around long enough and serious results will happen.

Here’s why:
1) I get bored watching people do the same stuff for a month.
2) The body adapts quickly, so to stimulate it to stay in shape - WE NEED TO CHANGE THINGS UP.
3) When performing variations between heavy and light training, the body can only handle 3-4 weeks of heavy lifting before it breaks down from not being able to recuperate. Louie Simmons from WestSide Barbell will back me on that.
4) Job security. Change elicits results. Results are associated to the reason people train with me.
5) Entertainment. Many loyal clients simply stick around for not only the above four reasons, but also because they’re curious. What else am I going to come up with?

When a guy thinks “What-If?” all the time, who knows?


Related Posts with Thumbnails