All recipes at a glance by taste/texture

Featured

The matrix here shows the meals and snacks that met my own taste and texture cravings. Of course, most meals have a mixture of tastes and textures but I’ve just listed them under the taste/texture they had that was most dominant for me. You’ll likely come up with your own matrix but I hope these get you going. All of these foods

  • are fairly quick and easy to cook (I was a virtual novice to cooking a few months ago, having existed mainly on convenience food, so they had to be!)
  • have a lower proportion/total amount of carb (bulky green vegetables fill you up but have a low carb density so visually they will take up much more room on your plate than your protein source) than traditional meals – except for a handful (like those with pitta bread) which you can occasionally eat as part of a ‘normal’ diet when you’ve reached your weight goal.
  Sweet Spicy/peppery Savoury (salty) Acidic (sour) Bitter
Creamy Cocoa milk shakeYogurt and raspberry pudding Yogurt and cocoa
Soft Yogurt and pear pudding Avocado half
Boiled organic free-range egg
Cheesy Ryvita with cottage cheese and cucumber
Meaty Thai fish and vegetable curryThai chicken and vegetable curry AnchoviesBolognese with cauliflower

Bolognese with Ryvita

Beef/salmon with cauliflower and broccoli

Beef with sweet potato and cauliflower

Roast chicken with salad/cauliflower and broccoli

Tuna and tomato/cucumber yogurt pitta

Spaghetti bolognese

Chewy Yogurt, pear, walnut and prune pudding
Porridge and fruit
Spinach and oil/seasoning Mussels in garlic sauce
Penne with tuna, cucumber and tomatoBean salad and chicken slices
Scrambled egg and salmon on brown toast
Grapefruit half Cocoa powder spoon
Nutty All-Bran and skimmed milk Ryvita and peanut butter
Walnut half
Crunchy Apple Broccoli/sprouts and oil/seasoning Cauliflower and broccoli saladCottage cheese

Celery/cucumber/sugar snap peas

Salad
Pickled onion/cucumber
Refreshing Skimmed milk Lime and soda Green tea

In most cases I haven’t detailed the ingredients/quantities and instructions however the internet is overflowing with recipes and you’ll in any case have to develop a rough understanding of the nutritional value (amount of carb, protein, calories, etc.) of the ingredients and foods you commonly eat and a feel for how large given quantities look (like 100g – for which a food scale is very useful when starting out)  to make a permanent change to your lifestyle. Generally, I made my protein source (typically cooked in a way that kept bad and saturated fats low – e.g. supermarket-rotisseried in the case of roast chicken) half the size of the plate and low carb density vegetables (typically steamed in a microwave steamer) the other half. Make up your own recipes that adhere to the general biochemical principles you’ve learnt (that apply to everybody) and are tailored to your own experiences/findings from monitoring your weight loss against the foods you eat – just keep the grams of carb below the threshold that you can tolerate without spiking your blood sugar (signified by feeling hungry again a short time later) at one sitting (typically 20 to 30g and ideally less than the grams of protein/fat) and make sure you get your daily allowance of nutrients (vitamins/minerals are OK to come from a tablet during your period of fat loss). Personally, I found my hunger following a meal was kept lowest when I kept carbs very low (under 20g/meal) but the level of carb you can tolerate without spiking your blood sugar will depend on

  1. how quickly it’s absorbed into the blood – which itself depends on (a) how the carb is exposed to the stomach e.g. diluting the carb with protein/fat/fibre/water will reduce absorption and (b) how much work the body needs to do to turn the carb into glucose i.e. the GI and
  2. how quickly it’s being taken out of the blood by your muscles – which depends on how exhausted i.e. depleted of glycogen they are.

Of course, you’ll probably break the principles from time-to-time e.g. when socializing (even then your body probably won’t want to gorge anyway if you’ve kept it well nourished) or when pressure of work means you don’t have time to cook but if you follow the principles you’ve discovered the large majority of the time and continue to monitor your weight don’t worry about it!

Enjoy 🙂

Advertisements

The Secret of How to Lose Fat!

Featured

By far the biggest change was WHAT and WHEN I ate but here’s the full story:

1) I changed WHAT I ate to stomach-filling meals with a much lower amount of carbohydrate (90 grams total per day is fine if you have a fairly sedentary lifestyle but go as low as you can comfortably manage while ensuring you get enough fibre in your diet – read the grams of carb on the nutrition label on your foods or google their ingredients e.g. here) combined in the meal in a low-GI way (see the videos here if you don’t know what GI means) while at the same time ensuring I got essential nutrients (proteins, vitamins, minerals, essential fats, fibre) so my body was not denied what it NEEDED and my blood sugar was kept at an even level (rapid rises in blood sugar are always followed by rapid drops – which make you feel incredibly hungry!). I gradually learnt about the calories in various foods and limited my food intake so I ate 1000 fewer calories than my body was using per day (to lose around 1kg a week). I came up with a list of meals I liked  that both satisfied my cravings for specific tastes, textures and smells like spicy, savoury, sweet, chocolaty, acidic, tart, crunchy, nutty, meaty, cheesy, chewy, creamy, aromatic but ALSO met my lower carb/high nutrient criteria and then shopped for those meal ingredients only, preparing batches of the cooked meals in advance (that I stored in my freezer) – I’ve posted pictures of the staple meals/snack ‘faithfuls’ I settled on (including a Slim-Fast style meal replacement milk shake) in the Recipes section. A strategy I found useful was to eat the majority of ‘feel-good’ carbohydrates in a pudding (like this) after the main meal – that way I finished the meal on a carb high feeling completely satisfied but without having consumed too many in total. I took a cheap supermarket-branded multivitamin and mineral tablet daily to ensure I got the nutrients I needed on my calorie-limited diet and made sure my diet included foods containing Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. What you give your body is as important as what you deny it but I reduced saturated fats, eliminated products with artificial sweeteners (which stimulate appetite) and caffeine (which causes water and minerals to be lost from the body), drinking water or green/herbal tea (without sugar) when thirsty – note that you will feel more thirsty and need to drink more as you start to burn your fat reserves. Remember, you will eat a smaller quantity of food but once you get over your sugar cravings (which can last for a few days) your body will quickly adapt to burning fat when it needs energy and re-educate your body’s cravings for the healthier foods you have introduced into your diet – if you only source of XYZ vitamin or mineral is French fries then you will crave French fries; when your body has healthier food sources of the nutrients it needs it will actually crave those healthy sources and you will come to love several foods you didn’t before!

2) I changed WHEN I ate to (a) include a breakfast and (b) rarely eat anything substantial later than 8pm so I didn’t go to sleep on a full stomach and had a restful night’s sleep. I also only ate at a meal time or when I was really feeling hungry in my stomach – rather than when I wanted a food ‘high’/’hit’ to cheer me up because I felt stressed or down or tired or bored or wanted a pleasurable distraction giving life a purpose/goal. Distinguishing real hunger from thirst (dehydration) or just feeling low in mood/energy is a skill that can be developed fairly quickly by allowing yourself to drink water/unsweetened tea or eat a limited repertoire (like apples, low-carb-density vegetables and canned tuna) of nutritious but not highly pleasurable foods when feeling the urge to eat. I never starved myself and always allowed myself to eat one of my repertoire of nutritious but not highly pleasurable foods if feeling truly hungry between meals. By BALANCING your energy intake (how much you eat and when) against your energy expenditure (how active you are) before and after that intake you can ‘coast’ along at a comfortable medium-to-low (but not so low that you feel hungry and end up over-eating) blood sugar level and get your body to burn fat by doing nothing – even when you sleep! In fact, the easiest time to deal with low blood sugar is at night while you’re sleeping since your body ordinarily burns fat then anyway and you don’t feel hungry at all. Modern work life can be stressful but if you allow yourself the time to savour tastes on your palate and take at least 30 minutes over your main meal of the day from the first bite to the last your stomach will have time to register how full you are and you’ll naturally know when you’ve had enough to eat. Listen to your body (but not false hunger cravings) and eat until you are satisfied. Remember that whatever you do during your weight loss phase has to also be manageable comfortably long term – there is no point exerting lots of willpower to deny your body’s real hunger cravings since you will just end up compensating (and more) down the line.

3) I kept a weekly record of my weight and fat % (using a set of electronic scales) and took weekly photos of my body to monitor my PROGRESS. Seeing the results gave me feedback on how various foods impacted my weight loss and looking more conventionally attractive and feeling healthier motivated me to continue losing weight. Muscle in fact weighs more than fat and your weight can change by 3kg from one day to the next depending on your intestine contents and level of hydration so recording fat % and pictures of your muscle tone is vital to know how amazingly well you’re doing!

4) I did 1 minute (yes, that’s not a typo!) of INTENSE (heart rate up to 120bpm) exercise a day on 3 alternate days a WEEK – as 3 bursts of 20 seconds of intense running on the spot (or cycling or swimming) every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The effects of this small amount of exercise on your blood biochemistry are profound and extend well into the next day.

Prior to my new lifestyle (it’s now a way of life I enjoy rather than a temporary regime of denial) I had in the main eaten foods I mistakenly thought were healthy and good for weight loss (like brown bread, wild rice, baked potatoes, cereals) together with convenient supermarket ready-meals (lasagne, fish pie, curry, M&S ‘fuller for longer’ meals) and in fact spent more time exercising (though at a lower pace). I had also dieted from time to time in the past when I felt the waistline had gone too far but always ended up putting the lost weight back on.

This is a lot of information to take in presented in a condensed way but my hope is that this site will provide you with a sufficient understanding of nutrition and your body’s biochemistry to enable you to implement the lifestyle changes that will let you take charge of your weight and stay healthy throughout your life – as well as pass on the understanding you develop and good habits you learn to those you care about. If you have questions not answered here then do please ask/comment.

Some people find it easier to be given a more prescriptive approach to what to do when starting out – a kind of one-size-fits-all template – and I have provided such a ‘prescription’ here, however, it’s important that as you see positive results you understand why the regime works so you can continue to lead a healthy lifestyle and keep your weight at a healthy level forever.

Shure SRH840 v Shure SRH440 headphones

Shure SRH840 (left) and Shure SRH440

If you’re wondering how these compare read on. Right now the 840 is available for £110 and the 440 for £60 in the UK. Is the former worth almost twice the price of the latter?

The 440 is brighter sounding than the 840 so picks out and abnormally highlights guitar strings and cymbals. As a consequence of this vocals can sound slightly less present and realistic/natural than they should. The 440 also has less extended bass so bass drum and double bass sound less natural however what bass it does have is more punchy i.e. has a faster attack and decay making it toe-tapping. It has a creaky plastic physical design against the 840’s more solid but also heavier (372g v 311g) design.

The difference in sound is not night and day and on first comparing them the 440 comes across as more lively and appealing because of its brighter frequency response. Overall however, over more extended listening, the 840 is the more emotionally involving and better headphone with more natural vocals (almost Sennheiser HD600 quality) and a more even frequency response. That said, the 840 is noticeably heavier and more uncomfortable on the top of one’s head. The 840 is like a more sensitive (requires a lower volume level setting to achieve the same loudness) but less comfortable HD600 with punchier and deeper bass but slightly less realistic vocals. Overall across genres the 840 sounds better than the HD600 but is much less comfortable (in fact it’s painful). These observations were made with the headphones ‘burnt in’ having had over 50 hours playing time.

I listen to music across a range of genres and my preference is for

  • a deep and punchy (a HD600 and HiFiMAN RE0 problem) but not boomy/flabby/loose/resonant (Creative Aurvana Live CAL problem) or exaggerated (Sony MH1C problem) or bleeding-into-mids (Koss Porta Pro problem) bass
  • energetic detailed not rolled-off (Porta Pro, MH1C and CAL problem) and not too bright (Superlux 668b problem) or sibilant treble
  • clear transparent natural sounding midrange vocals that are not recessed (Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro problem) or abnormally coloured in timbre (a problem with the metallic-sounding Fiio EX1 / Dunu Titan 1 when fitted with incorrect tips).

All this in a comfortable design (Shure SRH840 and Jays v-JAYS problem) that is loud enough straight out of a phone (HD600 problem) and one can go to sleep wearing (SRH840 and HD600 problem).

Left-to-right my headphones in audio quality order from Sony MDR V150 to Sennheiser HD600

In a nutshell I look for sufficient tight punchy bass, uncoloured natural-sounding vocals, and sufficient unsibilant highs i.e. an extended flat frequency response with impact and low level detail without colouration or resonance.

In summary, I find both to be some of the most accurate and enjoyable headphones I’ve listened to. Ignoring the comfort issue the SRH840 is overall better sounding than the 440 across musical genres (especially for genres with deep bass such as electronic) however the 440 is say 90% there for almost half the price. Indeed for some tracks where the strings are subdued in the mix (perhaps the mixing itself was done on upper mid-forward monitors / headphones like the 440 itself) or where you simply prefer to hear more of those string sounds the 440 sounds better. Also at a very low listening volume vocals on the 440 can sound clearer since there is less bass. The 840 is highly rated by Z Reviews and Head-Fi also has mainly very favourable reviews.

Taking comfort into the equation if I had to choose between these two headphones the 440 wins because I couldn’t wear the 840 for more than half an hour. Additionally, since the cups on the 440 are a little slimmer it’s possible to wear them while going to sleep.

Though very good headphones I continue to listen mainly to my

  • £30 KZ ZS5 (version 1 with one BA driver in the nozzle) earphones which are overall some of the best sounding ear/headphones I’ve ever heard (though as with any in-ear they can become bothersome over time and need removal/repositioning, especially with their standard tips which sound the best)
  • £8 KZ ATE Sport earphones when going to sleep, whose plastic body makes them more comfortable to sleep in than my more accurate but tip-sensitive and sometimes ear-canal irritating Fiio EX1
  • £4 Samsung EHS64 earphones with inline microphone and volume control out and about
  • £30 Superlux HD562 (Sennheiser HD25 clones) with velour pads when I want to rock out with deep punchy bass without losing too much detail from the rest of the spectrum
  • £120 (used) Sennheiser HD600 headphones or £50 Fiio EX1 earphones when I’m after a very revealing ‘audiophile’ experience.

Hope this helps! and if you want some free advice on how to lose weight healthily check out gichow.com

What are the best cheap earphones? Samsung EHS64 – an audiophile’s bargain

image

Samsung EHS64 with 3M earplug tips

Samsung’s EHS64 earphones are amazing value at well under £4 on Amazon. Though their clarity is not at Sony MH1C let alone Dunu Titan 1 (FiiO EX1) levels (other well recognised sonic bargains I regularly listen to at home that also punch well above their weight) they’re a very enjoyable mildly U-shaped listen and have sufficient detail, frequency balance, transient response and open airy sound to not feel like one is missing out on too much regardless of music genre (not something that can be said of even the once much lauded HiFiMan RE-0 whose limited bass extension means one can completely miss out on bass rhythms). Sound-wise they’re not dissimilar to the venerable Koss Porta Pro (modified with the ‘quarter mod’ that helps lift that headphone’s treble veil) with an energetic but never distracting or aggressively sibilant treble (something the Titan 1 can fall foul of with certain tracks), clear articulate vocals and a tight extended open sounding bass that’s not boomy or resonant – there’s a tiny hole near the driver that probably contributes to the open sound (more natural than the PortaPro’s which exhibits some mid bass ‘bloom’). I often find myself listening to them in preference to my Sennheiser HD600 full size headphones since much less of a faff to use (straight out of my phone, no amplifier needed, can lie down/sleep with them) and keep with you (they’re always in my jacket pocket). I use them with homemade Comply style tips that are just a single 3M yellow foam earplug (about 10p a pair on Amazon in bulk) cut in half lengthways with a small hole drilled through them for the best and most comfortable ear canal seal. Tips can make a big difference to how a particular earphone sounds (seal, ear insertion depth and bore diameter affect frequency response) though the standard silicon tips the earphones come with are pretty compliant and comfortable to begin with and you may be happy sticking with them if they happen to fit your ears well. They even happen to have a phone microphone and volume control! I also use Genelec near field active monitors and their dedicated subwoofer and know how close to natural lifelike sound hifi can get but really think nowadays with careful choice one doesn’t have to spend anything like the fortune one once did to get very close to top class faithful sound and music reproduction – once at a certain minimum level of fidelity (like the Samsung’s) there’s really not that much difference in the emotional experience from the music that more exotic and expensive equipment brings. You can find a fuller review of them against other standard earphones supplied with mobile phones here. They sound good straight out of the packet but like many ear and headphones improve with some ‘burn in’ – just leave them playing music at moderate volume from say a home radio for a day or two.

Hope this helps! and if you want some free advice on how to lose weight healthily check out gichow.com

How do you save documents in Word Online?

If you’re using the completely browser-based version of Microsoft Word and are used to pressing Ctrl-S frequently in the Desktop version to save your work as you go you may be wondering how to achieve the same.

Well, the online help says “There’s no Save button because we’re automatically saving your document”

Try the following experiment
1) Type anything in your document and then immediately afterwards quit your browser
2) Go back to your document

My experience has been that nearly all of the newly typed content from (1) is showing up in (2) so I guess saving is happening almost immediately anything is typed however it’s not easy to find any guarantee of this and even Microsoft’s own documentation gives you contradictory information:

Differences between using a document in the browser and in Word says: “You save a document manually in Word Online; there is no auto-save feature.” so I guess the answer is you don’t save documents and just hope that they are automatically being saved!

Hope this helps! and if you want some free advice on how to lose weight healthily check out gichow.com

How to collaborate on documents for free without your collaborators needing anything other than internet access?

Here are a couple of ways of collaborating on documents that don’t require that the people you’re collaborating with have or register any accounts or install any software – they just need internet access and a web browser:

  1. Google documents – create yourself a free Google account (if you don’t already have one) and use Google Drive to create a document (such as a spreadsheet). From the file’s share settings click ‘Get shareable link’ and then select ‘Anyone with the link can edit’. Email the link address of your document to just those people you want to collaborate with and ask them not to forward the link to anybody else. Here’s an example.
  2. Microsoft OneDrive documents – create yourself a free Microsoft account (if you don’t already have one) and use OneDrive to create a document (such as a spreadsheet). From the file’s share settings click ‘Get a link’ and then select ‘Edit’. Email the link address of your document to just those people you want to collaborate with and ask them not to forward the link to anybody else. Here’s an example.

Curiously the Microsoft way seems a bit more tolerant of collaborators using old browser versions however when they click on the link to open your document it’s not obvious that they can edit it as well as view it (they need to click the green ‘Edit in Browser’ button near the top right). With the Google way only relatively recent browser versions are supported however when they click on the link to open your document they can start editing it straight away.

Google browser compatibility “Google Drive won’t work with Chrome 23, Firefox 23, IE9, Safari 6, or older versions. You’ll need to update your browser to use Drive.”

Microsoft browser compatibility “For the best experience on the OneDrive website, we recommend using the latest version of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.”

Hope this helps! and if you want some free advice on how to lose weight healthily check out gichow.com