Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you the best in the new year to come. For this first blog of 2018, I would like to reflect on diet wars. People can get really passionate about what they eat! A survey has even shown that people would move country, stop smoking or drinking for love, but not change the way they eat. How strong is that!
Here is a debate which shows how strongly people can believe in something. On one side you have the vegans from the very popular documentary “What the Health” on the other side, you have the omnivore, low-carb or paleo folks. When you look at how strongly each side believes in what they are saying, you have to wonder. The more so because these people are nutrition experts and doctors. One side truly believes that vegan is the way to go while the other side believe that meat and eggs are part of a healthy diet and carbohydrate are the culprit to most modern disease. It is quite entertaining to watch. But who to believe? It can get really confusing. Is meat bad or is it not? Is a plant based diet bad for you or the miracle cure? Let’s look at some of the idea debated.
Today I’m feeling sore. I was fine yesterday, exercised and then I woke up this morning feeling old and grumpy. Dumb DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
So what is DOMS? There are many theories but nobody knows for sure how it happens. It’s biology so it is probably a mix of things. Among the popular explanations are : connective tissue damage, muscle damage, accumulation of calcium inside the muscle and in between fibers and inflammation. It mostly happens doing eccentric exercises. Basically anytime you lower a weight in a controlled fashion or when running downhill in a races.
What can be done?
In theory DOMS is a minor injury, so RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) should apply here. Rest: It will go away in a couple of days. However you can still exercise and the pain will disappear temporarily but come back shortly after. Ice: The idea is to reduce inflammation and it has definitely mixed results in the literature. It could also blunt the training adaptation, more on this below. I don’t know about you but ice is torture to me. Compression and Elevation: From what I’ve seen it has some potential, and I’ve tried it myself. I love the 2XU pants and I’ll wear them at work sometimes under everything. It removes some of the pain and makes my legs feel lighter.
Nothing works for me better than a hot bath with magnesium salts. And from the literature, it looks like two days before an event would also benefit recovery after. Last but not least: massage. Ouch! My husband always think that I’m having a leisurely relaxing one hour massage. Let me tell you the truth. It hurts like hell and is even more painful than the training. I usually do not like to get a massage when I have DOMS, same reason as ice bath, why create more pain? But after a couple of days, it is always a good idea to remove the remaining knots in your muscle.
What about nutrition?
A lot can be done there too. The key answer: proteins and carbohydrates together. That is how the Got Chocolate Milk campaign was born. It is a bit of a big FAT scam or I should say a big SUGAR scam since most of these studies supporting milk chocolate for recovery were founded by the milk industry…
They are not wrong but try this option with less sugar: blend together milk, whey or plant protein (half a scoop to 1 scoop), a banana and some cocoa powder (of good quality)! Tip: You can add whey or plant protein to your milk to make it higher in protein content, about half a scoop!)
Milk has the advantage of having the electrolytes compared to the whey. None of the sugar and same effect. Plus the chocolate powder might have some good recovery properties because it contains quercetin a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
But beware, more on this below.
After a hard session, papers report that in general 0.8g/kg of carbs + 0.4g/kg of whey protein works magic or 2:1 ratio carbs to protein to replenish your glycogen stores and keep protein synthesis up and running. That is between 20 and 35g of protein depending on your weight.
Above that amount there is probably no significant impact.
Ideally you’ll want to have this in a meal with real food within 2 hours of your session, but if you can’t, try a protein bar as a snack. (ProBar or Quest as examples) but there are many on the market.
Protein and carbs together work synergistically, as both will increase insulin and promote cellular uptake of nutrients for repair. Instead of whey you can use casein before bed time as it will release more slowly overnight.
Anti-oxidants of course: Vitamin C, E and NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) are among the most popular anti-oxidants out there. They scavenge free radical (ROS) and help you recover faster. However research is showing that ROS are actually needed for signaling training adaptation. You could totally blunt that response by using too much of them. So use if needed only when no training adaptation is required perhaps during a taper, recovery or the week after a race.
Anti-inflammatory compound are also very useful. Of course, there is the popular over the counter anti-inflammatory Ibuprofen, part of the NSAID category. If I can not sleep, I will go for it since sleep is one of the most proven way to recover.
But do not abuse.
It has a negative effect on muscle growth and therefore could undermine all your efforts a little bit like too much anti-oxidants. Plus it can give you gastrointestinal issues and other nasty side effects.
A more natural compound would be curcumin or turmeric. It has a similar mechanism of action than NSAID but does not cause thinning of the stomach lining. A recent study has shown that ingesting 2.5g of curmumin twice a day a couple of days before and after the exercise bout could be beneficial. But could it impair training adaptation? I don’t think this has been studied yet but since it acts similarly as NSAID I would not be surprised if it did.
Finally, tart cherry juice has also been studied a lot and here is a good paper. Like many fruit and vegetables, tart cherries contains a lot of anti-oxidants and flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory properties. Using around a marathon would not be a bad idea but during training could potentially inhibits training adaptation. We don’t know yet. Be careful with this one though. Tart cherry juice consumed in the quantities that are suggested contains a lot of xylitol a sugar alcohol that can ferment and give you the runs so definitely test beforehand.
Have you heard of HMB? It is a derivative of leucine, one of the most potent amino acid in terms of muscle growth. It has been reported that HMB (Beta-Hydroxy-MethylButyrate free salt) can help alleviate symptoms of DOMS but results are still mitigated. HMB is however safe and worth trying if you know that you will have multiple hard work-outs during the week. It works at reducing protein degradation. A dose of 3 g before exercising would be recommended in that instance.
Then in the same line of thought, amino acids and BCAA, which stands for branched chained amino acid (leucine is one of them) have also shown to reduce DOMS in some instance. Doses vary from 5 to 12g, once or twice per day, 7-10 days before. But since most proteins (in particular whey and casein) contains those, you probably have your grounds covered already.
And then you have Citrulline-malate which at 8g could alleviate DOMS and also L-carnitine, which has to be loaded with 3g/day for 3 weeks for an effect on reducing muscle damage. The good thing about that one is that it also can increase fat metabolism and make you a better fat burner at the same time. Who does not like that?
Beware though, a lot of these studies use muscle damage as a marker which is most likely correlated with muscle soreness but not always and is individual. So see if it works for you.
No Pain No Gain?
Unfortunately, it might be a little bit true.. So my advice go slow and build up, and try some of the strategies listed here. Be aware that some of them could impair training adaptations, so time them carefully.
This post first appeared on the Run Experience in a slighter shorter, modified version. Have fun trying new things!
If you are like me, one of the first thing I do before a race is check out where the porta potties are along the course. Just in case. Or if you are like my friend, you are packing on the Imodium before also just in case. Most often I do not have to deal with such issues but the idea of eating food as your stomach shuts down. Here are some ideas on how to tweak your diet before, during and after races so to minimize GI issues and be healthier.
Before the Race
Instead of a big bowl of pasta the night before a race try a couple of sweet potatoes.
Carbohydrate loading before races as long been the practice of endurance athlete. For 2-3 days before the race we were told to eat boat loads of pasta, bread and the likes. This practice can bring its own problems such as bloating, water retention and even GI issues during the race. It has been shown that this practice is not necessary. Especially if the week before an event you are taking it easier and eat a healthy diet. The day before an event you can increase your carbohydrate ingestion a tad bit. Some suggestions would be to include the day before a bowl of rice, sweet potatoes or just plain potatoes. If these don’t fancy you try something sweeter like a bowl of ice cream but don’t overdo it.
Instead of a big bowl of oatmeal 3 hours before a race sip on a smoothie 90 minutes before.
Why would you want to lose precious sleep and get up 3-4 hours before the start of a race to ingest an enormous amount of oatmeal? I remember doing that before my first marathon, If you have done things correctly, you glycogen tank should be full from the day before. If you are getting up early anyway because you need to travel, have a light snack, such as a banana or a sport bar. Now to tank up your system before the start, sip on your own smoothie made with the following ingredient, mix and match as you like. The smoothie will keep you hydrated and empty from your stomach pretty rapidly. Start sipping on it 90 to 75 minutes before your race.
Mix and match smoothie:
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup frozen fruit you like (blueberries, mangoes, banana)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or a third of a scoop protein powder
1/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats or you can also substitute with a slow release carbohydrate powder such as UCAN or Carbopro
1 tablespoon chia seeds or even a nut butter of your choice.With 30-40g carbohydrate and 10g protein, you are good to go.
During the Race:
Instead of Gatorade try a drink with electrolytes only.
Gatorade is very popular among athlete and the reason is clear, it has the right amount of electrolytes and carbohydrates to keep you going. Nowadays the recommendation is to drink to thirst during racing or training so that you don’t overdrink as hyponatremia could ensue. The problem with using Gatorade is that anytime you drink you also ingest carbohydrates which could lead to GI issue. A better practice is to separate your electrolyte fluids from your cabohydrate consumption (see next paragraph for recommendations. Use an electrolyte powder in your water such as Nuun or Base Salt or bring electrolyte pills with you if you plan to drink water instead at aid station. (Salt Stick). Salt intake is very individual and for shorter races we probably do not need to take any, however it is not a bad practice to prevent hyponatremia.
Instead of gels try nibbling on real food.
Gels are a quick fix to maintain your blood sugar level during a race. But it can also bring you on the sugar roller coaster. You feel good for 15 minutes than sugar levels go down and you reach for the next gel resulting in gel overdose. You know that feeling in your stomach that too much stickiness is in there. Another alternative would be to nibble on real food every 15 to 30 minutes instead whether it is a sport bar, your own nibble or a food pouch such as these from clif bar or munkpack. Make sure that you don’t ingest more than 10g of carbohydrate at a time to get your blood sugar in control. Look at the label to give you an idea of how much you should eat at a time. If that seems to complicated, you can also use a slow release starch as mentioned above and sip on a dose every 60 to 90 minutes. Again for races shorter than 75 minutes you won’t need to take anything in really.
After the Race:
Instead of chocolate milk try your own recovery drink.
Chocolate milk has a good reputation these days thanks to marketing wizards and studies that the milk industry sponsored that shows that milk is excellent for recovery. And it is, it has a good amount of proteins, carbohydrates, electrolytes and antioxidants from the chocolate. However most of the carbohydrate comes from the sugar added. Try your own recovery drink instead, similar to the pre-race smoothie just add some extra protein by using milk instead of almond milk or add up to 1 cup of greek yogurt or up to one scoop of your favorite protein powder. Drink within 2 hours of completing your event earlier if you are doing back to back hard effort (crazy you).
Instead of a beer try a non-alcoholic beer:
There has been a lot of press about beer as a recovery food. It is definitely not bad at all because it contains carbohydrate, electrolytes and vitamins. However, it is the alcohol that hurts and can blunt adaptation signals in your muscles. Also too much alcohol could act as a diuretic and impairs re-hydration. Try a non-alcoholic beer instead and add a bratwurst with it for some protein. I know it is not the same thing but now you know…
Instead of fast-food burgers try fast-food burgers.
No this is not a typo. Recently there was a study that looked at the effect of fast food on recovery. The reality is that if you analyze a fast food burger on a macronutrient level (fat, carbs, protein) it is not bad at all. However at the micronutrient (vitamins, mineerals, antioxidants) level it might not be the best and it would not be advised to do this everyday but if you are traveling and that is what is available, go for it!
One last note, it is never recommended to try something new during a race so practice before during training and see how your stomach feels with those recommendations.
In part 1, I discussed on how a low-carbohydrate diet seems to be healthier. But remember that there are no real definition of what is a low carbohydrate diet. For me, based on the research paper that I’ve read, RDA levels and our paleo ancestors, I would put the threshold below 35% or for a 2000 kcal diet, that is about 175g of carbs per day. To be honest I’m not even there and my diet usually fluctuates between 80g and 160g. The majority of my carbohydrate intake comes from fruits (2 servings per day) and dairy, while potatoes and rice and whole grains, I eat more rarely, mostly when my training is either high intensity or longer. Oh, and I forgot to mention wine and dark chocolate…Am I suppose to tell you that?
But what about performance? We all know that carbs are necessary to perform well, especially at high intensity. Carbohydrates in the form of glycogen is our reserve for when the lion attacks and we need to run fast! So when we are out of glycogen and our blood sugar drops, we fatigue. Carbohydrate are so wonderful that when we swish a carbohydrate solution in our mouth, it has been shown to improve performance, even for 1 hour events when carbohydrates are not really needed. On the other end, other studies have also shown that training with low glycogen or carbohydrates on board activates mitochondrial gene expression, which in turns will improve training adaptation.
Recommendations for performance
Currently the recommendations for optimal performance stands at 8-10g/kg daily of carbohydrates. If you do the math, taking me as an example, that would be 560g or 2240 kcal of carbs. Basically on a day where I exercise for 1.5 hour at moderate intensity that is my whole calorie intake for the day! Ten bagels, here you go. OK, I’m being a little bit facetious but if you look deeper into the litterature, these recommendations are for athletes who actually spend a lot more energy per day such as Tour de France cyclist or someone who exercises 5+ hours per day. I would probably fall in the 6 g/kg/day or 350g carbohydrate per day with my 1.5 hour of exercise. That is still a lot and I consume less as mentioned earlier. These recommendations stems from research that is not wrong in essence but we need to look at how it is done. First of all these studies are done with athletes that use carbs as their main fuel, they are not adapted to a lower carb, higher fat diet and if they are, it is not for a long time. Even if you adapt for 5-6 days you don’t get the full benefits of athletes who have been going at it for a long time, as you will see below. So basically what the researchers do is that they take an athlete, have them exercise for however long and then measure glycogen after the exercise bout. Then they look at how much carbohydrates are needed to reestablished normal levels. The thing is if you don’t use as much glycogen because your metabolism oxidizes a lot of fat instead of carbs then you’ll need less to reestablish current levels. Does that make sense? In essence they are not wrong, you will need that amount of carbs if you are a high carb burner, but if you burn more fat probably not.
Actually the research is starting to take off in the low carb high fat department. Let’s look at the preliminary results of the FASTER study. They looked at two different elite athlete cohorts participating in ultra-marathons. One was on a high carb diet (60%) and the other one was at 10-12% in carbohydrate. If you look at the difference in fat oxidation between the two cohorts, it is huge! The HFD oxidized 50% more fat than the high carb. How long did it take them to get there? You have to have mitochondrial adaptation, higher intramuscular triglyceride (fat) storage, changes that do not happen overnight even if your fat oxidation per se can increase very quickly because of a change in your diet.
Now let’s look at what are the requirements during races. It is on average 1g/min of carbohydrate or 40-60g/hour. It is not reported per kg because the limiting factor is our gut, above that level carbs do not get absorbed very well. However, you can train your gut to absorb more carbohydrates to a certain extent. This is definitely too high for me and on average during triathlon and other events I’ll have about 20g/hour of carbohydrate with some proteins and fats for longer events.
And then for recovery the suggestion is 0.8 to 1.2 g/kg with some proteins, the sooner the better, within 30 min. to 2 hours. Again this seems a lot to me for a 90 minute session of exercise. But as sessions get longer and harder this is not a bad place to be if you can add at least the same amount of protein in there.
And how am I doing?
And now that I’ve shared with you how I use carbohydrates compared to the requirements, how is my performance in all of this?
Since using this strategy, my times have been improving. Last year I had a 20 minute PR at the half-Ironman race and another PR at an Olympic triathlon. I just felt great the whole time in both races, very even energy. I also don’t bonk during long training rides anymore and do not feel nauseated on the run. And I don’t need to eat as much! It is not that I perform necessarily better, I don’t think I would score better on a TT on the bike or a 10K, but for longer events I can perform to my optimum the whole time, that is what makes the difference. Here is a breakdown of my calorie intake.
For the Half-Ironman:
On the bike every 30 minutes: 1/4 of Bonk Breaker protein
at 1.5 hours on bike: 2 scoops of UCAN*, sipped for 20 minutes
at 2 hours on bike: 1 shot of espresso, 80 mg caffeine
at the beginning of run: 2 scoops of UCAN
1 hour into run: 1 shot of espresso with caffeine (See my blog on caffeine!)
*If you are not familiar with UCAN, it is this slow release corn starch that enables to maintain steady blood sugar.
Total calories: 630=114 kcal/hr
Total carbs: 121g carbs=22g/hour
For my last Olympic, I just had a packet of UCAN for the whole time, and that is it simple: 132 kcal, and 13g/carb per hour. Of course in all those strategies I make sure that my reserves of glycogen are full by having appropriate meals the day before and a breakfast or snack before the race. Again I’ll use UCAN in a shake with 5g protein and some fats an hour before the race starts. In comparison I used to have 30g/hour of maltodextrin and other sugars and would totally bonk on the run. Maybe if I could have ingested more carbs I would have done better but I just could not stomach it.
So what is the difference between now and then is that I am now more metabolically efficient! Of course I did not go at it by myself and got the help of Dina at eNRG Performance. In my next blog, I will talk about testings you can do to know how metabolically efficient you are.
Two years ago, I went to the doctor to get the results from a blood test called the HbA1c. It is a test that measures the amount of sugar on your hemoglobin (on your red blood cells) and apparently correlates very well to your average blood sugar over the past 3 months. Then, just out of the blue the doctor tells me: you are pre-diabetic. It seemed surreal. Me? I exercise a lot, healthy eating, no weight to lose (maybe a couple of pounds, but there will always be a couple of pounds). My HbA1C, was at 5.9, pre-diabetes starts at 5.7 and diabetics at 6.4.
First of all diabetes means that your blood sugar levels are higher than average. There are two types. Type 1 is when your pancreas does not produce enough insulin due to genetic defect or other causes. Insulin is a hormone which acts on cells to absorb glucose, in particular muscle cells and liver cells where glucose is synthesized into glycogen (a long sugar chain, similar to starch) or fat cells where it is converted to you guessed it: fat. Insulin has also multiple other roles, which I won’t cover in here. Is insulin really bad for you? Not really, it is not the insulin the problem, it is the overload of sugar. High sugar, the body secretes insulin, cells absorb, absorb and sometimes a bit too much which results in hypoglycemia. Now you are feeling weird, hungry, dizzy and well, reach for another snack which increases your blood sugar again. Welcome to the sugar roller coaster. If you are pre-diabetic or Type II diabetic, this roller coaster is like the Matterhorn. Your insulin does not control very well the process, just like a poorly tuned thermostat which never reaches a set-point but goes way up in temperature and way down before it kicks in again. Some people might be better at regulating this whole process depending on your genes and lifestyle.
Here is a graph that I found at Suppversity. It helps explain where we, humans are coming from compared to where we are at now. It shows the average percentage of carbohydrates in the diet (minimum and maximum) compared to the latitude our paleolithic ancestors were living at.
As you can see some of our ancestors living in the North did not have any carbohydrates during the cold months of the year. While people living in warmer climate had up to 34% of carbohydrates in good times. What is the RDA recommendation these days: 45-65%! And some of us eat up to up to 70% of their diet in carbs. That is a lot compared to what we were technically supposed to handle. No wonder our thermostat is out of whack. Of course if you are very active, you can probably handle more without significant effect, but when I say very active, I mean it. Our ancestors where already pretty active so if you think that you move more than a hunter gatherer, well go ahead.
So what should we do? Low-carb, Ketosis diet, Paleo diet or a mix of these? These are the new cool diets out there. You don’t know what these are? To tell you the truth, I would ask different specialists, I would get different answers but bottom line, the idea behind these is to get closer to what our body is able to handle without negative effect on our health. I would define low-carb diet as having less than 35% of your calories from carbohydrates. From a 2000 calorie diet that is less than 175 g or the equivalent of 5 apples. The ketosis diet is when you go below 50g, at that point your body starts making ketone bodies for your brain because of the lack of sugar, but don’t worry it is not dangerous and can be actually beneficial. The paleo diet uses only ingredients that could be found from hunting and gathering. This diet can be higher in carbs but because of the restrictive carb choices, it tends to be around 35% too. There is a super interesting article in the National Geographic on paleolithic diets. It turns out that eating paleo is not just about eating more meat. In fact our ancestors did not have access to meat half of the time. I think this is important to point out as some people take the paleolithic diet to extreme and eat too much meat. Although as you will see below, meat and saturated fat in meats are not as evil as we thought. However, other sources of protein should be considered such as in fish, seafood and plant protein and present a much sustainable way of living for the future generation. So what else did our paleo ancestors eat? They had to rely on plants, tubers and nuts found in nature. And yes, these are carbs, but they are non-processed and it turns out that carbs’ density (g of carb/g of total food) is actually low. So on some days they might have eaten a lot of carbs, other days mostly meat and the rest of the time mostly fat depending on availability, but when you run the number you get what you see in the graph above.
Are these new diets here to stay. I would say YES! More and more studies are pointing towards the benefit of a low-carb diet. Even the New York Time lately had an article on low carb diets. The article starts like this: People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades. This study actually confirms the result of other studies. This meta-analysis, meaning that it summarized and analyzed the results of multiple studies on low-carb diets, concludes that diets that are lower than <35% carbohydrate, keeping the caloric content the same to higher carb group, had participant lose more weight and increased lean body mass (that also throws away the theory of one calorie is a calorie but that is the subject of another blog).
Mind you these all point out to the health benefit of a low-carb diet but what about performance? That is a different ball game…My next blog will definitely address this conundrum. I will share with you more about my experience with going low-carb. Am I still pre-diabetics??? How does that affect training and racing? You’ll see…
I like to grow microbes in food. Gross? No, delicious actually. I used to work in biotech and my job was to grow cells in vessels to make drugs used in clinical trials. Now I ferment stuff in my kitchen, different bugs, same concept. This blog is about fermented foods, probiotics and how to make one of my favorites: yogurt.
Fermented foods are good for you. Humans have been fermenting food for a long time. It was discovered that cheese making was happening in Northern Europe in 7000 BC! From the well known yogurt to kimchi, a fermented cabbage, and sauerkraut, its european counterpart, to the lesser known natto, a fermented soybean from Japan, you can basically ferment anything and everything. Most fermentations use bacteria but yeast can also be involved in the process such as in kefir, kombucha, and beer and wine of course. Fermented food does preserve longer and some of the fiber that could be an irritant to the gut becomes pre-digested thanks to all the little bugs feeding on them. These bacteria, which we also call probiotics, when in the form of a little pill, can colonize your gut and help with IBS and other intestinal issues. If you think about it, we have more bacteria in our body than our own cells and they control much more than we think, talk about alien abduction! Ingesting probiotics has been shown to relieve symptoms of colds and flu, they are being developed to cure C. Difficile, this hard to get rid bacterial infection, and guess what, the type of bacteria that lives in your body can actually predict if you are going to be obese…Check out this company from San Francisco: Ubiome. For a decent price you can analyze your microbiome and see how it compares with other people. This is on my to do list BTW. Some compare our gut microbiome to a second brain and these bacteria can actually help with depression and anxiety. They can modulate the expression of GABA receptors which helps to decrease anxiety, a little bit like a Valium aka mother’s little helper (but different mechanism)! And that is why I eat loooots of yogurt.
Probiotic quality can be variable, the content is not exactly what is shown on the label or it is not very active, so you need to look at the quality control behind it. The strain that you choose is also very important if you want help with a particular issue whether gut, skin or brain related, so be careful and look at the science or ask a good health practitioner. However, for health in general why not make your own probiotic-like food: yogurt.
Yogurt is really simple to make. First you need some really good quality milk. Full fat from grass-fed cows is the best in my view. Here is one study, although done in mice, to show how superior grass-fed milk is. The fact that the composition is higher in plant Omega-3s (alpha linoleic acid) is a good thing…Here is a review on how full fat milk reduces diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
What about homogenization? Some say that reducing the fat droplet size by homogenization can result in an increase in fat bound to casein and whey proteins resulting in increased allergies and risk of cardiovascular disease. It is not proven yet. But me, I’m always a fan of the less processed the better so if I have a choice between the two then I’ll go with the non-homogenized.
Here is my choice:
Where I live I get this milk from the Strauss Family creamery. (Top Secret: This milk can also be found at TJs in my neighborhood under Cream on top milk. Much cheaper) Let’s get back to our yogurt. First you want to heat up your milk to 160-180 F to kill any unwanted bacteria that could “contaminate” your culture. If your milk is fresh from the farm, you can bypass this. Even if it has been pasteurized to remove a lot of the bacteria, as soon as milk is processed and bottled the bacterial count starts going up again while still being very safe to consume. You need to let your yogurt cool down to 110F before putting your culture in.
To culture my yogurt, I like this yogurt maker. It is basically a heated container that keeps the temperature of your yogurt at around 110F. Before I put the milk in, I add my little packet of culture. I like this one which is very mild and soft. You need to reuse a new packet every time. Might not be the most economical way but it is still cheaper than most yogurt and the best quality you can have. That is your best option, if you are not making yogurt very often. If you are ready for the once a week regimen, you can try this Greek yogurt starter which is reusable. By that, I mean that you use 4Tbsp of your week old yogurt to reinoculate your next batch.
Don’t forget to stir and then let it sit for 4-8 hours. Yes it can be variable because this is not an exact science, we don’t know exactly how many bugs we started with, the temperature might be a little off, etc. You know it is ready when you swirl the container gently and the yogurt swirls with it, it is loosely set. You have to refrigerate it before eating. Here you see the yellowish cream on top.
It is always good to drain your greek yogurt so it gets thicker. I drain it in this container for 2-3 hours in the fridge and what you see at the bottom is whey. Whey consists of the water soluble milk proteins and goes down with the liquid with some of the lactose, while the casein the other major milk proteins coagulates during fermentation and stays with the fat. Are you concerned about the environmental impact of all that whey that gets dumped in the environment? Well there are a lot of things you can do with it. You can add it in soil to grow your tomatoes, you can substitute it in a recipe instead of buttermilk, you can use it to cook rice, soak nuts and grains, ferment vegetables, you get the idea.
Here it is. So basically your Greek yogurt is more concentrated in protein (mostly casein) and fat with less of the lactose. What is not to love. Note that casein is an excellent recovery protein for evening workouts as it digests more slowly and supplies some of the good amino acids for a long time while you sleep…
Good night! Here is to your health, gut health and what comes with it, performance.