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Grain Brain Challenge

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on the behalf of Brain Grain.

Disclaimer: As a FitFluential Ambassador, I was given the opportunity to participate in the four week challenge based on the book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter for compensation. After much consideration, I decided to participate. The Grain Brain Challenge is about lifestyle changes that you can make to keep your brain healthy and vibrant. The challenge includes eating gluten-free and taking certain supplements. Although I am doing this challenge for the health benefits, the possible weight loss is a nice perk. I do much better with programs when I am being held accountable to someone else (weight loss challenges, DietBet, etc.) which is why I decided to participate in the challenge.  I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. All opinions are 100% my own.

Grain Brain

Grain Brain is a book by Dr. David Perlmutter. Dr. Perlmutter is part of the American College of Nutrition, the president of Perlmutter Health Center, president of the Perlmutter Brain Foundation, and a medical advisor to Dr. Oz.

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The basis of his book is that the fate of your brain is in the food that you eat. Many brain conditions are caused by inflammation which can be triggered by carbs, especially those containing gluten and high sugar levels.

Good fats are important in our diets and our brain is 70% fat. Good fats such as DHA omega-3 help reduce inflammation and vitamins A, D, K, and E require fat in order to be absorbed in the body. According to Dr. Perlmutter, we need 200 to 300 milligrams of DHA daily and less than 25% of Americans consume this amount.

Dr. Perlmutter’s book describes the affect that gluten and carbs have on the brain, why our brains thrive on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age.

The Grain Brain Challenge

Dr. Perlmutter’s plan is broken down into four week.

  • Week 1 – Food: Shifting your body way from relying on carbs for fuel and adding brain health supplements. These supplements include resVida – enhances blood vessel dilation and supports healthy blood flow, Omega-3 Fish Oil – helps maintain heart, vascular health, and brain health, and DHA – a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid the body needs and important for brain health. 007
  • Week 2 – Incorporating a fitness routine
  • Week 3 – Getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week
  • Week 4 – Establishing a new rhythm to maintain these healthy habits

Of all these weeks, Week 1 will be the hardest one for me. I have no problem exercising and I usually get enough sleep. Week 4 is about tying all these components together.

Basically, the challenge will consist of eating gluten-free, low carb, and low sugar for four weeks. After reading Grain Brain and learning about the affects that gluten and carbs have on the brain and body, I am willing to try and follow this plan for 4 weeks. I’m not saying that I will be gluten-free or low-carb for life, I am simply saying that I would like to see what kind of changes I can notice.

A sensitivity to gluten is actually a problem that affects many people and even people that aren’t sensitive to gluten can benefit from a gluten-free diet. Symptoms include bloating, headaches, constipation, fatigue, etc.

In case, your not sure what gluten is, it’s a protein composite that acts like an adhesive material, holding together bread products and plays a role in letting bread products (crackers, baked goods, pizza dough, cereal, etc.) rise. I also helps cheese spreads and margarines keep their smooth texture, and prevents sauces and gravies from curdling. Pretty much gluten is everywhere and can cause many unwanted symptoms in people.

This four week plan isn’t just about eating gluten-free, it’s about eating healthy. Just because a product is gluten-free doesn’t mean that’s it’s healthy. It’s about eating whole and “real” foods, relying on fats instead of carbs and eating low sugar.

I will admit that I am a little nervous about starting this challenge but part of me is also excited. I seem to thrive when I am being held accountable to someone other than myself. I did a weight loss challenge about a year and half ago and came in first place. I did the Biggest Loser program at my gym and lost another 11 pounds. I participated in and won three DietBets. But on my own, I seem to just eat a lot of yummy food :)

I am excited to see how this challenge will benefit me and will try my hardest to stick with it for four weeks  – it starts Oct. 28th and is set to end right before Thanksgiving.

Foods Not Allowed:

  • Gluten including whole-grain and whole-wheat forms of bread, noodles, pasta, pastries, baked goods, and cereals
  • Processed carbs, sugars, and starch – corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chips, crackers, pastries, muffins, pizza dough, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream, jelly, processes cheese spreads, juices, honey, sugar, corn syrup
  • Packaged food labeled “fat free” or “low fat” except for things like water, mustard, balsamic vinegar
  • Margarine, vegetable shortening, cooking oil
  • Soy – soy burgers, soy nuggets, soy hot dogs, etc.

Maybe you’re thinking what the heck can you eat then?! I thought the same thing when I was going through the list. But there’s still tons of good and healthy foods to eat.

Foods Allowed:

  • Healthy Fats – extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, organic butter, almond milk, avocados, nuts and nut butters, cheese (except blue cheese) sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
  • Herbs, seasonings, and condiments
  • Low Sugar Fruits and Vegetables – avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, lemons, limes, leafy greens and lettuce, spinach, broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, green beans, celery, garlic, asparagus
  • Protein – whole eggs, wild fish, grass-fed meat, fowl, poultry, pork

I am not really a meat eater besides fish so the majority of my protein will come from eggs and salmon.

Foods Used in Moderation (once daily or a couple times a week):

  • carrots
  • cottage cheese and yogurt
  • cow’s milk and cream
  • beans, lentils, and peas (exception: hummus)
  • non-gluten grains – buckwheat, rice, mille, quinoa, oats
  • sweetners – natural stevia and dark chocolate
  • whole sweet fruits – berries, melons, pineapple, etc.
  • wine

I definitely think that this will be hard and take some getting used to but I think as long as I can come up with a meal plan it will make things a lot easier. I plan on going grocery shopping this weekend and would love any suggestions for gluten-free, low carb recipes.

Eggs play a big part in this challenge especially because you can buy DHA Omega-3 cage free eggs and there is a great egg recipe from the Grain Brain book that I can’t wait to try out!

Huevos Rancheros Recipe from Grain Brain

This classic Mexican dish has been modified so instead of eggs served on tortillas, they are prepared over a bed of fresh greens.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 4 Gold Circle Farms DHA Omega-3 Cage Free Eggs
  • 4 cups coarsely torn frisee
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 tablespoons salsa
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Add butter or olive oil to skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Crack eggs into skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, more for firmer yolks.
  3. Serve eggs over a bod of frisee and top with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

 

  •  Thoughts?
  • Are you gluten-free?
  • Any good gluten-free or low-carb recipes to share?

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