Sunday, September 25, 2011

Green Smoothie Resources

What is a green smoothie?

A green smoothie is made in a blender. By volume, it’s about 40% green leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale, romaine, mixed spring greens, etc., and about 60% fruit. The main reason for the mixture is to make eating a large serving of vegetables palatable. You might say, well I’ll just eat a salad. That’s fine. I still eat salads, but there’s just no quicker and easier way to consuming this many servings of fruits and vegetables. Also, clean up is a breeze.

I’ve posted several videos here on how I make my smoothies. These videos are just the basics of a green smoothie. The variations are endless.

What type of blender do I use?

I use a very powerful blender made by Blendtec, which was made famous by the YouTube videos, “Will It Blend.” This is a $400 to $500 blender, depending on specials (just make sure you get the 96 oz container model). Most people will find this pricey, and it is, but the impact it will have on your daily life will make it worthwhile. This is the start to a change in lifestyle.

Amazon sells them. Costco sometimes runs a sale when they have demonstrations.

The major competitor to Blendtec is Vita-Mix blender. It is comparable in power, but it only has a 64 oz container, and the container is very high and narrow. Because of its height, it will not fit under my cabinets. This was the main reason I did not consider it. I feel both are of similar quality.

You can use less powerful blenders, but you may have more difficulty with frozen fruit, and you may need to blend longer to achieve the desired texture. You may also have issues with overheating with longer blends using some foods. Still, it’s not impossible.

How much do I eat per meal?

I eat (or drink) 4 cups of green smoothie for a meal replacement. On the blender markings, that’s about 32 ounces (or 1 quart). I purchased some large plastic glasses from Target for a $1.00 each that hold exactly 4 cups when filled to a half inch from the top of the glass.

How many calories are in a green smoothie?

It depends on the type of fruit you use, but it averages between 375 to 500 calories per 4-cup serving.

What about all the carbs in fruit?

I’ve lost weight on low-carb diets– a lot of weight. However, I’ve also lost a lot of weight on low-fat diets. During my life, I’ve lost 60 lbs at least three times. This is not the place to discuss why I’ve put the weight back on each time, except to say that it really does require a lifestyle change. In my experience, which is backed up by research, you can lose weight on any diet where you expend more energy than you consume.

I believe that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is healthier than one rich in fatty meats. I realize this topic is not without debate, but I have considered the studies, and I feel the rationale for more fruits and vegetables is stronger and will provide my body with better health in the long run. I will explore these topics on this blog. Please subscribe if you’re interested in such things.

Will the sugars in fruit cause my blood sugar to spike?

Probably not as much as you’ve been led to believe. In fact, fructose, one of the main sugars in fruit, cannot convert directly to glucose (blood sugar). Read my article on the myth of simple carbs here in this blog (under blood sugar).

Where can I get green smoothie recipes?

I suggest that you start simple using one type of green leafy vegetable and no more than three types of fruit. Frozen fruit makes a great smoothie (tip: Frozen strawberries are low calorie, high nutrition and flavor, and you can buy them cheap in bulk at Sams Club). If you’re going to add protein powders, keep in mind this increases the calories and, in my opinion, detracts from the lovely fruit flavors.

Here are some links:

You can also search YouTube for a lot of video recipes.

Diet update: I've lost 18 lbs

Sunday mornings are my weigh-in days. I’ll sometimes weigh in on other days, but this week I was dreading the scale, as I had over indulged on Friday night and had skipped exercising on Friday too. I was hoping for 197, or at least not more than last week’s 198. I stepped on the scale and waited for my magic number. When it blurted out 194.5 in all its LCD glory, I air pumped a “YES” with my fist. That means I’ve lost 18 lbs now.

In addition to my green smoothies, I think one reason I lost a lot of weight this week (relatively speaking), is that I was finally able to jog a considerable distance. It’s about 3.5 miles from my house, around Lake Nokomis, and back to my door. It’s a path I’ve walked and ran many, many times. As I’ve been getting back into cardio shape, initially I had to walk, run 100 yards, walk, run another short distance, and repeat. In doing this, I’ve gradually been able to increase my running distance.

One mistake that I’ve made is to forget that I’m prone to plantar fasciitis. I do stretch nearly every day, but I need to give special attention to this. The tendons from my calf to my heel seem to be shorter in my left leg than my right. After a particularly great run this week, I awoke to discover I tore a tendon that connects to my heel. I could hardly walk for a couple of days. I’ve been icing it, stretching it, resting it, and I’m wearing a medical boot to bed that keeps my calf tendons from contracting at night. I’ve signed up to run a Halloween 5K race, and I really want to be ready for it. I’ve battled this injury for the last 10 years.

Regarding green smoothies, I was worried that I might grow tired of them, but I have not. I continue to experiment with different green leafy vegetables and different fruits. Eventually, I’ll experiment with spices, such as cinnamon, but for now, I’m just enjoying the natural sweet fruit flavors. I’ve been very consistent in using the green smoothie for a meal replacement. I always have one for lunch. I sometimes have one for breakfast, but sometimes I enjoy just slicing up tomatoes and fruit on a plate for breakfast.

In fact, my favorite snack is sliced tomatoes that are salted and peppered with balsamic vinegar drizzled over them. You know you’re on the right track when you think of sliced tomatoes and your mouth waters. Seriously, this freaked me out the first time it happened.

Another challenge to my diet is that we go out to eat a lot. To address this, I’ve decided that I will always order a salad when I go out to eat, and I’ll try to avoid salads that have a lot of the white carbs in them. This is meeting with success in my diet plan for weight management and in my health plan for more nutritious eating.

With my heel injury and substantial weight loss this week, I’m not expecting next week to be as good, but I’m going to stay the course the best I can.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Green Smoothie with Broccoli

Broccoli has been described as one of natures most perfect foods. It also contains the anti-cancer compound Sulforaphane, which is in numerous clinical trials[13] including a phase II trial for prostate cancer.[14], which is under study in a variety of clinical trials. Wikipedia reports, "Sulforaphane is in numerous clinical trials[13] including a phase II trial for prostate cancer.[14]. To see those reports, see the the notes under "Sulforaphane."

I liked the broccoli green smoothie, but you have to be in the right mindset for it. It has an earthy flavor. I was able to drink 4 cups of it without getting tired of it, which has not been true of a few of my experiments.

Getting Stuck at a Weight When You're Trying to Lose?

If you've started a weight-management plan and had some initial results, but now you're stuck at a particular weight, or even worse, gaining ever so slightly. You may have plateaued or staled for some reason. You step on the scale chanting for a lower number and it eludes you time after time. How can we break through this plateau?

I had this happen to me recently. I felt like I was doing everything right--Lowered caloric intake, exercising every day and eating healthy foods, but my weight would not drop even a half pound.

There are several reasons weight loss stops, but the main three are as follows:

  1. You're eating more calories than you realize.

  2. Your "metabolism" has slowed due to its awareness of your caloric restrictions.

  3. You're not moving enough or with enough exertion.

The best way to address the first one is to keep a journal and measure your portions until you have an intimate understanding of how many calories you're consuming on a regular basis and how many calories you need to lose weight. Remember to count how much sauce you're adding to your stir-fry, how much olive oil is in your salad dressing, those handfuls of nuts you're snacking on, that power bar at the gym, etc.

If you don't have a food scale, order one today off of Amazon. You can get a decent one for under $10-- mailed right to your door.

Keep track of your food for at least a week. There are several free calorie/exercise websites for tracking your progress. Make sure you understand exactly how many calories you need to eat per day in order to lose weight. Then, understand how many calories you're actually consuming.

I recently mentioned a free site I found, Cron-O-Meter; however, there are a number of these free sites available. Do a Google search for "Calorie Counting" and they will pop up. These sites will take your stats and give you a rough idea of the number of calories you need to being eating to lose weight. Then, they provide you with the tools to journal exactly how many calories you're actually eating in a day. In this way, you can see if you're really consuming too many calories or if you're body really is just slowing down its metabolism.

Which takes us to the second reason--a slowed metabolism. What exactly is a "slowed metabolism?" In dieting terms, it's really a misnomer. Metabolism describes the way our bodies convert food to fuel, but what is really probably happening is that our bodies are experiencing the “starvation response.” Millions of years of caveman evolution kick in, and our bodies think we might be starving, so our bodies release less of the hormone leptin and less of the enzyme lipase. This slows the release of fat cells for fuel. In fact, if you eat too few calories, you will have initial weight loss, but it will slow due to this. In starvation syndrome, our bodies will favor burning lean muscle instead of fat. Less muscle will slow your ability to lose weight even further, as your body will need fewer calories. The trick is to maintain a caloric deficit that is just under your target maintain weight, and eat the right kind of foods.

To keep your body from eating its own muscles, you have to make sure it has a constant supple of what it uses for fuel–-glucose. Your body makes glucose from carbohydrates. You know that you can overdo carbohydrates by eating the wrong kinds, such as the white starches, but if you give your body good sources of carbohydrates (from fruits and vegetables), you can avoid starvation syndrome.

In addition, studies have shown that too much fat in the diet can inhibit the metabolism of glucose. Years ago, a study was done by Dr. I.M. Rabinowitch that included 1000 case studies. The study was presented to the Diabetic Association in Boston. He proved that too much fat in the blood interfered with insulin (See

So, eat right (a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat). The next thing you should be doing to combat starvation syndrome is weight lifting or some sort of resistance training that stresses your larges muscles, like your legs (quadriceps), chest, and back.

The third item to address is whether or not you’re moving with enough effort. Here’s a simple way to know if you are working with enough intensity. If you can have a conversation and get out several sentences while you’re working out, you are not working with enough intensity. You should only be able to muster short sentences or a few words at a time. If you are walking for exercise, that’s wonderful, but if you’ve been at the same pace forever, and you can tell your life story while walking, you need to pick up the pace.

As Jim Morrison sang in the Doors debut album, “Break on through to the other side.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Useful website for tracking calories -

Someone introduced me to this website:

It's free (ad supported). It allows you to enter what you've eaten and it shows you how many calories you have left for the day in order to meet your weight loss goal. It's database of foods is impressive. It also maps out your nutrition.

There's an upgrade to go ad-free which includes support and a PDA application.

I was actually in the midst of writing my own software to calculate my green smoothie calories when I found this. This not only gives me the calories, but it will track my nutritional progress and record my exercise.

It's a nice find.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Diet update

On Aug. 21, 2011, I decided to change the ratio of fruits and vegetables I eat on a daily basis. At the same time, I planned to cutting out some food choices that I know are causing weight gain. I also planned to increase the amount of cardio workouts I did per week to everyday, or as close to that as possible.

My hope was that I would lose weight, improve my health, and feel better about myself. I weigh in every Monday morning. Actually, I weigh in more regularly, but for sure every Monday. So far, I've lost 11 lbs in 23 days. The first 7 lbs came fast, and then things slowed down.

Initially, I made such good progress that I thought I might be able to keep some of my comfort calories, like a nightly nightcap of alcohol. I discovered that this had to cease. My progress almost completely stopped until I gave up the nightcap.

I'm using green smoothies as meal replacements for breakfast and lunch. Often, my breakfast will be the leftover smoothie from the day before (when I make too much).

You can view videos located in this blog on how I make the green smoothies. I use a Blendtech blender, made famous by the YouTube video phenomenon "Will it Blend."

For supper, I've been having a low fat meat, such as fish or chicken with a vegetable.

Specifically, I'm avoiding the white carbs that raise my blood sugar, such as breads, pasta and potatoes. I'm not eating sweets, but I've never really had a sweet tooth.

The weight seems to be coming off at a healthy pace. My goal is 30 lbs by Halloween, which is about 6 weeks away. With 11 lbs down, if I can lose 3 or 4 lbs a week, I'll make my goal. I feel confident that my current choices will get me there if I stick with it.

As a side note, I hope to make green smoothies and raw food a permanent part of my life--not just a diet. I currently do not plan on becoming a strict vegetarian or strict raw-food convert, but I do plan to substantially increasing the ratio of raw foods in my diet.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Green Smoothies

Green smoothies are popular right now. It's a simple, fast and delicious way to eat servings of fruits and vegetables. If we eat a smoothie of spinach leaves and frozen strawberries versus hamburgers and fries, most would agree we've made the more-healthy meal choice.

I plan to use green smoothies as part of my plan to lose a lot of weight-- like 50 lbs. I'm using a BlendTec blender

Here's a video I made to show how to make a green smoothie.

Green smoothies and blood sugar problems?

If you are sugar sensitive (insulin resistant) or you've been on a carbohydrate-restricted diet, you are probably aware of the glycemic index (GI). This is a ranking of carbohydrates by their affect on blood glucose levels. The index is divided into three broad ranges:

High: 70 and above
Medium: 56 to 69
Low: 55 and below

Most fruits fall into the medium to low GI (glycemic index), except watermelon, dates and raisins; however, watermelon actually has a low glycemic load. Pineapples, bananas, apricots and mangoes are ranked medium. Grapefruit, apples, pears, plums, peaches, grapes, oranges, and kiwi are all ranked low on the GI.

The difference between a fruit's ranking on the glycemic index and it's glycemic load is the relative quantity you have to eat to raise your blood glucose levels. For example, watermelon has a high GI, but watermelon is mostly water; therefor, you have to eat more of it to to consume enough fructose to elevate blood sugar.

I've read several accounts of people who went on a regular green smoothie diet who reported no spikes in their blood sugar after eating green smoothies. I will link to their stories below. However, my suggestion would be to monitor how your body responds to green smoothies and see for yourself. I assume that insulin resistance varies from person to person.

It is also true that fiber, which is an indigestible carbohydrate, slows the conversion of the plant's sugars to the glucose our bodies convert to fuel (and fat).

Below is an account from blogger Steve Pavlina, who tracked his blood sugar for 19 days while eating green smoothies.

Below is the story of a diabetic who claims that he was able to reduce his insulin after starting a diet of green smoothies. He said that his blood sugar did rise initially, but it returned to normal within an hour.

Here's a type 2 diabetic named Dennis who also claims blood sugar improvements after starting a diet of green smoothies.

Another similar video from a type 2 diabetic:

Here's a type 1 diabetic who claims an 80% reduction is insulin need after starting a diet of green smoothies:

Preventing cancer

The use of nutrition to treat and prevent cancer has been well documented in case studies going back a decade. The University of California, Berkey 1992 series of studies is often referenced in health books. Here's the gist of the report:

Nutr Cancer. 1992;18(1):1-29.

Fruit, vegetables, and cancer prevention: a review of the
epidemiological evidence.

Block G, Patterson B, Subar A.

Dept. of Social and Administrative Health Sciences, School of Public Health,
University of California, Berkeley 94720.

Approximately 200 studies that examined the relationship between fruit and
vegetable intake and cancers of the lung, colon, breast, cervix, esophagus, oral
cavity, stomach, bladder, pancreas, and ovary are reviewed. A statistically
significant protective effect of fruit and vegetable consumption was found in 128
of 156 dietary studies in which results were expressed in terms of relative risk.
For most cancer sites, persons with low fruit and vegetable intake (at least the
lower one-fourth of the population) experience about twice the risk of cancer
compared with those with high intake, even after control for potentially
confounding factors. For lung cancer, significant protection was found in 24 of 25
studies after control for smoking in most instances. Fruits, in particular, were
significantly protective in cancers of the esophagus, oral cavity, and larynx, for
which 28 of 29 studies were significant. Strong evidence of a protective effect of
fruit and vegetable consumption was seen in cancers of the pancreas and stomach
(26 of 30 studies), as well as in colorectal and bladder cancers (23 of 38 studies).
For cancers of the cervix, ovary, and endometrium, a significant protective effect
was shown in 11 of 13 studies, and for breast cancer a protective effect was found
to be strong and consistent in a meta analysis. It would appear that major public
health benefits could be achieved by substantially increasing consumption of
these foods.


I have never found a better way to increase my consumption of fruits and vegetables than the green smoothie. Sure, I eat salads and would often make a meal of sliced tomatoes, but the range of fruits and vegetables that I used to eat was fairly limited. With green smoothies, I have an easy way to experiment with an assortment of green leafy vegetables and many different fruits.

Leading causes of death in 2010

According to the Center for Disease control, the following were the leading causes of death in America last year. While I'm surprised that movies by Nicolas Cage were not listed, it does point out that we're dying from things that we might be able to prevent with proper nutrition and exercise.

Number of deaths for leading causes of death

  • Heart disease: 616,067
  • Cancer: 562,875
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 135,952
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 127,924
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 123,706
  • Alzheimer's disease: 74,632
  • Diabetes: 71,382
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 52,717
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 46,448
  • Septicemia: 34,828