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BCAAs, Sausage, Kale, Vitamin Adventures, and Beans

Carrie: Hi, everyone. This is Carrie Brown. I am in the studio with the awesomeness that is Jonathan Bailor.

Jonathan: I’m Jonathan Bailor and I am wearing the Smarter Science of Slim T-shirt and shorts because it is hot in the studio and I came prepared this time with T-shirt and shorts and I’m in my socks only, so I’m feeling good.

Carrie: I’m saying nothing.

Jonathan: No, it’s hot in the studio. Carrie, how are you doing?

Carrie: Good.

Jonathan: Today, Carrie, we’re going to start with something I’m not sure you’re going to be too interested in, but then we’ll move on to things you may be interested in.

Carrie: Okay. Is it exercise?

Jonathan: No, but it’s a topic that comes up often in the context of exercise. It’s eating branched-chain amino acids.

Carrie: Can you see my eyes glaze over, people? I’m going to try and get excited. Ooh, Jonathan! Yes, let’s talk about that!

Jonathan: Let’s talk about BCAAs.

Carrie: Oh, let’s! What is that?

Jonathan: When we eat protein, it breaks down into amino acids. Supplement manufacturers produce just straight branched-chain amino acids, which is the subset of amino acids. The idea is that these branched-chain amino acids…. there are different amino acids that do different things in the body. For example, the amino acid leucine, is critical in triggering muscle protein synthesis, which is the actual process by which our body regenerates itself and rebuilds muscle. People will take BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, to aid in the process of muscle protein synthesis and just for feeding our muscles and things like that, so it’s generally used….

Carrie: So, they pick and choose?

Jonathan: They pick and choose. The question is always, “Should I take BCAAs? Should I take branched-chain amino acids?” Well, keep in mind that branched-chain amino acids are to protein – beef – what coconut oil is to coconut. It is a subset of the whole food.

Carrie: So it works better when you eat the whole thing.

Jonathan: Again, it kind of depends on your goals, but I don’t know if anyone is going to sit down and eat a bowl of branched-chain amino acid powder and be like, “That was delicious!” Then you have to ask yourself, “Yes, it’s going to absorb faster. Blah, blah, blah.” If you are a highly, highly, highly specialized athlete – one, you’re probably not listening to this podcast, but, two, should you then experiment with these? Probably, because there are things like how fast they get into your bloodstream and blah, blah, blah, where taking branched-chain amino acids instead of eating chicken breast would have some benefit for you. If you are not an elite athlete, non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, whole food fats, low-fructose fruits, exercise less but smarter, drink water, sleep a lot, smile a lot. That’s it.

Carrie: Keep it simple.

Jonathan: Keep it simple. KISS, keep it simple.

Carrie: Stupid.

Jonathan: Now, onto a topic that you’ll be more interested in.

Carrie: Good! That’s one thing I do not have to put on my list of things to do because I’m going to keep it simple.

Jonathan: Cross that off your list of things to think through. Sausage and kale.

Carrie: Oh! Love the former! Not so crazy about the latter.

Jonathan: The reason I bring this up is because a lot of people are not super fans of kale, but it is a nutrient powerhouse. It is like the epitome of SANEity.

Carrie: Look, I did a smoothie with kale in it, okay? That was my gift.

Jonathan: That’s also part of the problem. Kale, raw and in smoothie form, is extremely bitter. When you blend romaine or you blend spinach, it takes on the flavors of the other stuff. Kale is like, “Yo, I’m Kale! You need to understand I’m kale.”

Carrie: No, no, no. I don’t remember, but I think it was the mint chocolate one. You cannot taste the kale there.

Jonathan: Okay, understand my point. Kale has a much stronger flavor.

Carrie: Yes, nasty.

Jonathan: Listeners, ignore Carrie. If you want to be healthy, then…. The reason I said sausage and kale is, if you’re not a huge kale fan, then I would recommend not trying to eat it raw. I would recommend – and this is a general principle for people who want to do something just extremely quick – if you have something that is fattier – still like a SANE fat, so a nice SANE sausage or maybe a fattier cut of grass-fed beef or even eggs – and you combine the kale with it in a scrambled mixture type of thing, getting the kale to cook down in some nice healthy fats and then eating it in conjunction with the other stuff as a bit of a hash action, Carrie, I’ve got to tell you, you know I’ve always haven’t been a vegetable fan, but you give me some delicious whole food fats and nutrient-dense proteins and some kale together, I love it!

Carrie: Oh, you make me laugh.

Jonathan: You’re not down with my sausage and kale scrambled?

Carrie: You’re not convincing me, but I will try it. Then I’ve got to come up with something kale. Ugh!

Jonathan: The only thing I like about cooking with kale is that it’s more substantive. Well, if you were to try to cook with romaine lettuce, it just wouldn’t work. It would turn into nothing. When you’re cooking with spinach, it kind of wilts down into this mush; whereas kale – it’s like, “I’m kale. I’m here and I’m substantive and you can’t completely destroy me.” It fights back. Anyway, that’s my…So, combining kale with other stuff, cooking kale – if you haven’t tried it – it’s good stuff. You can also make kale chips, which are quite spectacular. A lot of people – a lot of kids – love kale chips. I’m trying to give a shout out for kale, but Carrie’s not buying it.

Carrie: I will. I will make something yummy with kale.

Jonathan: You heard it here first.

Carrie: Ugh! Why did I just say that? That was one of those moments when my mouth was going, “Yes, I’ll do that” and my brain was going, “Shut up!”

Jonathan: Anyway, I don’t usually give plugs for stuff, but I’m going to give plugs for stuff now because this guy is an awesome guy. He came on the guest podcast. His name is Dr. Drew. Anyway, his book is Fifty Shades of Kale and I’ve been playing around with that. It’s got a bunch of cool kale recipes in it. If you’re interested in learning more about kale, you can check out that book. Some of the recipes are not particularly SANE – Drew, it’s okay, it’s okay, I know you didn’t mean to do this to me – but it has some great inspiration in it, if nothing else. So, Fifty Shades of Kale.

Carrie: Okay, I’ll try it, but just because it’s you. There’s nobody else on this earth who can get me to eat kale.

Jonathan: Vitamix adventures is our next subject. Carrie, tell me about some of your Vitamix adventures because I have a list of some that I wanted to share with our listeners that I’ve been doing recently.

Carrie: Misadventures?

Jonathan: Sure. That works.

Carrie: My number one tip is, if you put nuts in a Vitamix, be really careful because if you want ground nuts, you’re very, very likely to end up with nut butter if you’re not careful, because the Vitamix will make nut butter faster than you say ‘Jack Robinson’.

Jonathan: And also, getting it out of the Vitamix. I mean, I love the Vitamix but getting it out once you do that is not the easiest thing in the world.

Carrie: Yeah, so just be careful. I think I mentioned this before. I actually have a regular blender and a Vitamix. I don’t always choose to use the Vitamix. Sometimes the Vitamix – as much as I love it – removes all texture. Sometimes you want a bit of texture.

Jonathan: Absolutely, absolutely!

Carrie: Always remember to put the lid on, people, especially with the Vitamix – well, with any blender – but especially with the Vitamix, because you turn that sucker on and it is all over the kitchen!

Jonathan: Oh, absolutely! Speaking of the Vitamix having an impact on texture – Carrie was kind enough to treat me and my family to some amazing SANE ice cream and it was just absolutely spectacular and I can’t hope to ever approximate the deliciousness of that SANE ice cream, but in my assembly world – my world of assembly – I have been using my Vitamix to make an ice cream derivative that is just unbelievable. I’ve really enjoyed it. I usually take, like, a handful of frozen strawberries and I take some guar gum, per Carrie Brown, I might take a little bit of stevia, and I take a little bit of xylitol, and blend that all up in the Vitamix for a while to make sure that’s nice and pulverized. Then I put some powdered egg whites in there – pasteurized powder.

Carrie: I think ‘puree’ is the word you want to say.

Jonathan: But it’s really pureed!

Carrie: I’m just being facetious. ‘Pulverized’. Pureed.

Jonathan: Then I put some powdered egg whites in there because that gives it a wonderful body kind of creaminess. Then I throw my ice in there – and I’m using the little masher the Vitamix has – and you keep just jamming the mixture down into the blade.

Carrie: So, do not try this in a regular blender.

Jonathan: Yes, do not! Do Not because I’m adding very little water. The thing that’s awesome – what comes out the other end – is, first of all, it’s absolutely healthy enough to be a meal. You’re eating egg whites and berries and it’s glorious! Then, it’s delicious, it’s refreshing. So I will just encourage folks to do is, that which you would normally make into a smoothie, just try it with a little bit less water, try throwing a little bit of egg whites in there – I do powdered because they’re already pasteurized – and it’s pretty awesome!

Carrie: Assembly at its finest.

Jonathan: Assembly at its finest, for those of us who are not trained pastry chefs.

Carrie: I have a question. This is nothing to do with strawberries or Vitamixes. Did you work out today before you came in?

Jonathan: No.

Carrie: Oh. Just wondering.

Jonathan: Speaking of working out, I have other adventures, Carrie. Do you want to hear them?

Carrie: Yes, absolutely, I do!

Jonathan: These are less appetizing, maybe, with the ones I just shared.

Carrie: I’ll try and behave.

Jonathan: Garlic is extremely good for us – hugely anti-inflammatory; orders of magnitude more anti-inflammatory than other foods. Also, it has an incredible taste to it. It’s also incredibly satiating. If you eat garlic in mass, it really satisfies. It’s good, it’s good eating. But it’s always like, “What do you do with garlic? It’s kind of a pain to cut up. Blah, blah, blah.” I took garlic – the cloves, you an get them at Costco, because they’re already like peeled and such – put it in the Vitamix, I put some onions in the Vitamix, I put some eggs in the Vitamix…

Carrie: Whole eggs.

Jonathan: Whole eggs, yeah. Then I put a little bit of seasoning – like some Mrs. Dash or something like that – some salts and pepper, Vitamix that up, let it sit overnight because it’s ‘poof’.

Carrie: Is that a technical term?

Jonathan: It would probably be like eating a cloud at that point. I made that as eggs the next morning. Whoo! That was good. It was so good. I even had a salmon patty.

Carrie: So, garlic-marinated scrambled eggs.

Jonathan: Yes, but it’s glorious because the garlic, like you said, it turns into almost nothing. I mean, you don’t want to talk to me afterwards – because I just ate a bunch of garlic – but it’s amazingly healthy! It’s almost like that’s therapeutically SANE right there and it’s so flavorful!

Carrie: Fresh garlic or did you…?

Jonathan: Fresh garlic. Solid fresh garlic.

Carrie: Marinated into eggs.

Jonathan: Then you cook the eggs, obviously, so that then breaks down a little bit, but I’m telling you – if you are….

Carrie: Hey, I’m single. I can do that!

Jonathan: ….lazy like me, and it worked out really well.

Carrie: Daisy doesn’t do kissing.

Jonathan: Daisy is one of your cats?

Carrie: Daisy is one of my cats.

Jonathan: Okay, just to clarify for the listeners. Beans.

Carrie: Beans!

Jonathan: Carrie, you had a question about beans?

Carrie: Well, people tend to get a little bit protective of their beans when they find out that we don’t focus on beans as part of the SANE eating, so I thought it would be worth sharing your thoughts on beans.

Jonathan: We talked in a previous podcast about oatmeal. Oatmeal is just starch straight up and it’s going to be lower on the SANEity spectrum than beans are. Beans are right in the middle. Actually, even in the first Smarter Science of Slim book, I say 0-2 servings of beans per day, which puts it in the category of ‘if you don’t need to eat beans because they’re just like whatever for you, that’s fine’; but if beans bring you just huge joy, they have a fair amount of nutrition in them, they have starch that’s in them – there’s a type of starch called ‘resistance starch’ which is not as easily causing metabolic chaos in the body. There’s also some thought that they may help to cultivate the bacteria in our gut that is uniquely helpful.

When it comes to SANEity, there’s really three big buckets. One is stuff where, as much as possible, you want to eat so much good stuff that you’re too full from it – starches and sweets. Then on the other end of the spectrum, we have the stuff you want to go out of your way to eat a lot of vegetables and nutrient-dense protein and then topping that with whole food fats and low-fructose fruits. Those are things you want to go out of your way to purchase more of. When you’re at home, when you can choose, you choose that. Then there’s things in the middle where, if you’re at a party and the SANEst thing there is beans, don’t feel bad about eating them. Those are in the middle. A lot of dairy falls in the middle. Say, I really, really like skimmed milk – then drink it.

Carrie: Cheese!

That’s in the middle. If you need it to be happy, even those things in the middle are good, just try to stay away from the things in the ‘bad’ bucket and try to focus as much as you can on the things in the ‘good’ bucket; but again, things in the middle are okay.

Carrie: It’s a continuum.

Jonathan: It’s all a continuum. Anyway, the one thing I will say about beans, though – beans are not a good source of protein. Beans are like 70+% carbohydrate by weight, probably even more than that. A good source of protein, just to be rational, is a food that contains most of its calories in protein. Otherwise, it contains most of its calories in fat, which makes it a good source of fat, or it contains most of its calories in carbohydrate. If a food has 75% of its calories in carbohydrate – if that’s a good source of protein, then what is it? A very, very, very, very, good source of carbohydrate. So when we say good source of protein, let’s make sure we root that in a bit of common sense rather than just talk about ‘nuts are a good source of protein’.

Nuts are not at all a good source of protein. They’re 10-15% protein by weight; same thing with beans. So, beans can be good, but they are a carbohydrate. They are a non-optimal carbohydrate. I guess, they are a good source of protein if all you’re eating is rice and beans – then beans will be the best source of protein in your diet. Again, because beans have more protein in them than rice doesn’t mean they’re a good source of protein; it means they have more protein in them than rice.

Carrie: I also want to say, don’t forget to read the labels because there are a lot of canned beans out there that are transporters for all sorts of inSANEity – your barbecue beans, your pork’n’beans, your whatever sugar-rich sources…. Just make sure you’re not eating a whole stack of trouble along with the beans.

Jonathan: Absolutely. The other thing to keep in mind about beans is that…I completely lost my bean chain of thought. Beans. Damn you beans! Beans strike again! Alright, folks, when I remember what I was going to say about beans, I will definitely let you know. Isn’t guar gum a bean derivative?

Carrie: Guar gum is a bean. It is a bean, yes. Crushed bean. Before you people get all excited and say, “Well, you just told us not to eat beans!” The amount of guar gum you use in any one dish is minuscule! And it’s still better on the continuum than using cornstarch or wheat flour for your thickening needs.

Jonathan: Absolutely. Again, always keep in mind, if you’re eating beans and you’re not eating something else – if you’re eating beans for the protein, there are better places to get protein; if you’re eating beans for the vitamins and minerals, there are better places to get the vitamins and minerals. For the former, you’re going to be getting better protein sources from animal products – SANE animal products; and for the latter, you’re going to be getting better vitamins and minerals from things like non-starchy vegetables and low-fructose fruits. So, it’s always about what’s the best. Beans are not the best; they’re also not the worst. It’s not about perfection; it’s just about having complete information and making your choices accordingly.

Carrie: If you’re craving beans, it’s better than craving Pringles. So, eat some beans and be happy.

Jonathan: In fact, if you want, using beans as a topping or like a thing that you would use generally – the hummus. If a way to get yourself to eat more of vegetables is to put hummus on top of them, do that. Getting the vegetables in your body along with some hummus is better than not getting the vegetables in your body. Again, every time – and Carrie does a better job at this than I do – people ask us questions, we are obligated to say, “Here’s what’s best.” You’re not asking me, “Give me the C answer. Tell me what’s average.” I’m going to tell you what’s best. Again, if your goal is not to be a fitness model, then you probably don’t need to do everything perfectly. So, just keep that in mind. So with beans, we’re pretty clear – not the best, but unless you’re goal is to be 100/100, don’t beat yourself up about beans.

Carrie: If you enjoy them, eat them every once in a while.

Jonathan: If you don’t enjoy them, don’t think about them. You don’t need them.

Carrie: Just don’t eat them with sugar.

Jonathan: Sugar beans. I hate those sugar beans. Carrie, we talked about branched-chain amino acids, we talked about sausage and kale, and kale in general and your lack of enthusiasm. We talked about some Vitamix adventures, and we talked about beans. I think that’s pretty good.

Carrie: Awesome!

Jonathan: I love it! Listeners, remember, this week and every week after – eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. We’ll chat with you soon.

Carrie: See ya!

This week Carrie and chat about BCAA, Sausage, Kale, Vitamin Adventures, Beans, and More!