Well, tomorrow is the official end to my four week Grain Brain Challenge. I feel like I learned a lot in reading David Perlmutter, MD’s book, Grain Brain, although I’m not sure I followed the guidelines as closely as I should have.
As I wrote in my original post when I started the Grain Brain Challenge, the main focus of his revolutionary 4-week plan to keep your brain healthy, vibrant and sharp
- Shifting your body away from relying on carbs for fuel and adding brain
- Incorporating a fitness routine
- Getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week
- Establishing a new rhythm to maintain these healthy habits
I did some things really well (like focus on sleep and taking my supplements), but other things like truly limiting carbs and sugar, which really is his main focus in the book, I didn’t do so well. I did try my best to stay gluten free throughout the four weeks, although there were some days (particularly race days) that I didn’t follow a gluten or sugar free diet.
So let’s see.
Before I really wrap everything up, I better show you one of the recipes I really liked that I came up with that does go with his guidelines (listed in my initial post).
It’s not the prettiest thing, but it was something I threw together that actually came out pretty well (unlike my experiment this afternoon).
No Grain Pumpkin Zucchini Pancakes
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg whites)
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 cup shredded zucchini (patted dry to absorb most of the moisture)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
pumpkin pie spice
dash of salt
splash of vanilla or almond extract
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 tablespoon chia
optional- sweetener of choice (If you are following the challenge you can use stevia drops, if not you can add maple syrup or honey.)
coconut oil to coat the pan
Mix everything together in a bowl. (Mixture might be a little runny.)
Pour in heated pan coated with coconut oil to form pancakes. Let cook enough to set. Flip carefully. (I did not do this well.)
Pile up and top with coconut butter and nut butter of choice (I went with almond butter).
Naturally I got photo bombed.
Last night I sat down a bit with my dinner and my book.
Complete with it’s share of Post-Its marking important pages to try to get all my closing thoughts together.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who does that. Ha.
So, here are my thoughts.
In all honesty, I kind of feel like I failed the challenge in a way. I never really went as low carb as he recommends in the book. He recommends only having 30-40 carbs a day during the challenge and then upping it to 60 carbohydrates a day afterwards. With the amount of physical activity that I have, I just couldn’t do that. I have more than that just for breakfast. Maybe if I let myself really do it for a week or so (if I wasn’t training for a race or anything), my body would have switched over into using fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates, but I don’t think I quite gave it the chance. I just can’t imagine only getting that few carbs. Maybe that’s just me though.
I do think it’s a great challenge to take with anyone who is suffering from or has a family history of degenerative conditions (like arthritis) and brain disorders.
I really like that all of his research comes from a doctor stand point. I agree with a lot of what he talks about and how our brain health is not solely based on genetics, but on the food we eat and how we take care of our bodies and mind.
His research on gluten and high sugar carbs and how they cause inflammation in the body was really interesting also. He talked about how depression and anxiety are often severe in patients with gluten sensitivity and how a diet that eliminates dairy and gluten can usually help such mood disorders.
This may not be true for everyone, but it made me more aware of my mood and energy level. I have to say that when I do have an overabundance of foods high in sugar and gluten, I’m not a very pleasant person to be around after the fact or the entire next day. Not sure if that means I have a sensitivity or not, but definitely something for me to be aware of.
One thing in particular I found really interesting was his studies and writing on children that he treated and the behavior transformations that came from diet changes rather than medication. Some of the subjects and stories are pretty astounding.
So, yeah, I did not do some things well, but I did do a mighty fine job of taking the supplements that he recommends.
DHA is the major one he talks about as being a star in the supplement kingdom. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that represents more than 90 percent of the omega-3 fats in the brain. He specifically recommends Brain Strong. I think I will continue to take it after this challenge is over along with fish oil and GNC resVida (resveratrol) as they all are good supplements to include in your diet.
I also did a good job of eating a lot more healthy fats in the form of avocados and coconut oil. He recommends at least a teaspoon of coconut oil a day either straight or in coffee or in cooking. I did them all. Ha ha.
Also, since his whole challenge is a lifestyle change, he focuses on sleep and recommends getting at least 7 hours a night to have normal, healthy levels of hormones in the body. I can gladly say that I did (and am still doing) a good job at that. I’ve been going to bed earlier and making sleep a priority. It really helps getting into a routine. I’m finding that I’m becoming a morning person and loving it.
So, changes and how I feel now.
I feel good. I think the whole sleep is helping a lot. I do feel like the days I have my healthy fats earlier in the day, I don’t suffer from that afternoon energy slump as much. The days that I’ve let gluten and a little too much sugar sneak in, I’ve definitely felt the effects later in the day and the next day and they aren’t good. I’m just a moody mess.
Things I’m going to try to keep with are to stay gluten free for the most part (he has a great gluten free foods list on his website here) and definitely limit artificial sugar and overconsumption of regular sugar (which I’ve been working on since the whole STUFT Detox thing anyway).
But, I’m glad that this experimenting that I’ve been doing since the whole hip dysplasia thing has taught me a few things about how my body wants to be fueled. It’s a learning process to figure out what works for your individual needs and everyone is different. Also, specific body needs change depending on the amount of training and stress going on too.
And with that, I’m off.
This book, Grain Brain, is definitely worth a read. Even if you don’t really want to take the challenge, there is some really great research, supplement information and findings from his studies.
Have a wonderful night friends!
Be on the lookout for a couple super cool giveaways in the next couple of days.
Gotta love giveaways!