The health benefits of green tea

My sister was suggesting I drink more tea to help get over a minor weight loss stall. Actually she suggested replacing all my water with tea, which sounded a bit extreme to me.

My weight loss isn’t stalling anymore. All I did was cut back on the amount of flaxseeds I was adding to my salads. As usual, these things happen when you are miscalculating calories.

But I was curious about what Dr. Michael Greger, author of “How Not to Die,” thought of green tea. Basically did he think it is safe or something to be cautious of?

It turns out he highly recommends it!

Here are some interesting articles from his site, where he writes:

Tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and premature death in general, with each additional cup of green tea a day associated with a 4-percent lower mortality risk. So, perhaps “drinking several cups of tea daily can keep the doctor away,” as well as the mortician—but what about cancer?

You can read the full article here: https://nutritionfacts.org/2020/05/07/using-green-tea-to-help-prevent-cancer-and-treat-cancer/

Now I’m not going to replace all my water with green tea. I like water too. I don’t think it’s all or nothing. But since I do like green tea, and since this is the home of green tea, and there are some brands that I especially like, I’m going to start drinking more of it each day.

What about decaf tea? I don’t like the idea of it. After all, the caffeine can also help keep me awake after dealing with Pao since early in the morning every day. So what does Dr. Greger think about it? It turns out that caffeine in green tea (not so much in coffee) has arterial and heart benefits! Take a look at this article: https://nutritionfacts.org/2016/08/23/role-caffeine-artery-function/

So I’m going to be drinking more green tea going forward, but not giving up water, and the tea I drink will be normal, plain, unflavored, unsweetened, fully caffeinated green tea. Just the way people like it here in Japan.

Milestone – 45% of my initial weight lost!

I love milestones, and will take almost any excuse to post one.

As of this morning, I’m down 58 kg = about 128 lb. My current weight is exactly 71 kg = 156.5 lb. That’s exactly 45% of my initial weight – gone!

My BMI is 23.5.

As I posted recently, I was stalled for a few months. But then I did an honest calorie count reassessment, adjusted for the large salads I’ve been eating (I had been way underestimating the calories, and basically that’s it. The weight is coming off again.

Instead of my salads with all the toppings as snacks, I have them 3 times a day now and snack on carrots or plain cherry tomatoes and cucumbers instead. It keeps my mouth busy when I have mindless snacking moods, is tasty, and very low calorie.

Calories count, whether you count them or not.

A salacious (well actually, a salad) problem

As many of you know I have been very successful since returning to WFPB eating. I’ve lost about 125 lb, am at a normal BMI for the first time in my life, my HbA1c blood sugar dropped slowly over time from a dangerously high 12 to a completely normal 5.5, my doctor took me off of blood sugar medication over a year ago now, my cholesterol is amazingly good, my blood pressure is great, etc. All is good. And I don’t feel deprived at all on this diet.

And while my doctor (and my friends) all say I don’t need to lose any more weight, and to be honest I’m at a weight I never thought I would ever get to, I’m still not quite satisfied. My weight the last 3 months has hovered between 72 and 73 kg (about 159-160 lb). I think I would like to get at least into the 60s. My stomach still sticks out some, and while I may fit in M or L American size shirts, by Japan standards I’m still an LL, or depending on the brand an LLL. It would be nice to be slim someday, if that’s in the cards for me.

It’s been bothering me that my weight loss has stalled. In addition to WFPB (whole food plant based) eating I log my calories rigorously (or so I thought) in MyFitnessPal. Today is my “streak day” 3,123.

Usually when somebody gets stuck with weight loss the main reason is over optimistically underestimating calories. As I like to say, “Calories count, whether you count them or not.” I flat out don’t believe you can avoid taking into account calories. Or I should say at least I can’t. Maybe some people can.

Anyway, I decided to review my calories and, to my shock, I found I’ve been way underestimating the calories in my salads for a couple of years now.

Usually I have 4 or 5 large bowls of salad a day: with each meal, after my dog walk as a snack, and maybe an extra one. It’s at least 4 bowls a day. I have them before each meal (for lunch sometimes as my full lunch) and it’s become a comfort food snack to me.

I’ve been listing them as 89 calories each in my log. But I recently started adding a small 40 g package of salad corn to them (41 calories right there) and decided to add it all up today:

  • Bag of mixed salad greens, 30 calories
  • Small cucumber, 10 calories
  • Tomatoes, 24 calories
  • Salad corn, 41 calories
  • One T flax seeds, 40 calories
  • A few mushrooms: 15 calories
  • My homemade salad dressing: 50 ml soy milk (30 calories), some grated ginger (negligible), 1 T nutritional yeast (20 calories), 1 T balsamic vinegar (12 calories)

The actual total is … 222 calories! But it’s so delicious!

Anyway, if I have just 4 salads a day that means I’ve been eating over 1,000 calories a day just with my salads and I’ve been off by (222 – 89) * 4 = 532 calories a day. More when I have 5 salads a day.

That would be 3,724 calories a week. Or representative about 1 lb a week that I could have been losing.

Basically I’ve been on maintenance somehow, naturally. Some people might say, “What’s wrong with that, really?”

Anyway, I need to rethink what I’m doing, or just accept that this is my permanent weight.

I’m not sure what to do. I really hate to give up the salads. In addition to them I have potatoes with breakfast and dinner, and some mixed cooked vegetables with my lunch. And some days I’ll have one bag of frozen blueberries for a dessert.

My really delicious soy milk based salad dressing alone is 62 calories. That adds up to 1,736 calories/week (equivalent to almost ½ lb that I could be losing. It’s so tasty though. 🙂

Any thoughts? (Other than intermittent fasting. I’m not going there.)

November 19, 2020 – quarterly test results (going forward, biannual tests)

My quarterly blood test results are in, and they continue to be great. 

My blood sugar remains normal, without medication. It even dropped some more. My cholesterol is fantastic, blood pressure is great, and I continue to (very very very slowly) lose weight.

The doctor said I shouldn’t worry about losing any more weight. Also, from now on instead of quarterly blood tests he said I only need biannual blood tests. 

The rest of this post are details, if people are interested in numbers and more!

What I eat and don’t eat

I follow WFPB (whole food plant based) eating: mostly vegan, no oil, very limited nuts, and limited sugar and salt. No intermittent fasting, no keto, lots of carbs including potatoes and fruits. I stick to low calorie density foods to help with weight loss. For example potatoes are surprisingly low calorie and bread is very high calorie. 

For lots more details on the things I eat and the people in the field I follow take a look at my post from last November: November 28, 2019 – quarterly test results | Doug Reports

Basically I eat lots of veggies, including starches, and have fruit every day. In other words, I eat lots of carbs. Carbs do not impact negatively on blood sugar or weight. 

Logging with MyFitnessPal

I log my food and exercise calories in MyFitnessPal, and keep within 1500 net calories per day (food calories minus exercise calories). 

Today is my MyFitnessPal Streak Day 3,105. Daily logging in MFP has been a great sanity check and prevented me from having a complete rebound when I fell off the wagon in the past. 

My weight has fluctuated the past month between 72 kg and 73 kg. At 72 kg = 158.7 lb my total weight loss is 57 kg = 125.7 lb. This means I have lost 44% of my original weight, and am at a normal BMI of 23.8. I’m at the lowest weight I’ve been in my entire adult life. My weight loss has slowed to a crawl, but losing slowly is better than a rebound. I’d sort of like to get into the 60s just for the fun of it. But at this rate it could take 6 months or more.

As I mentioned last time, my stomach still sticks out a bit (less than last time), and in Japan my shirt size is LL (maybe M or L in the U.S.). So I will continue healthy eating and doing as much exercise as I can.  I’ll continue eating this way for life. It’s healthy, and I enjoy what I eat. There is no feeling of deprivation at all.

More on the “E” Word

Exercise… 

I have also been taking my puppy, Pao, who will be one year old in a week, for walks along the river, so that helps. He’s gotten quite large. Last December his weight was 1.3 kg = 2.8 lb and I could weigh him on my food scale. Now he’s 23.65 kg = 52 lb! So the Doug/Pao ratio is currently 3.04. His weight is steady. More on that next week when I announce the winner of the “Pao One Year Weight Contest.”

Except for sit-ups I haven’t added any exercise to the walks.  I really do want to start more upper body exercises, but keep putting it off.  Or maybe do swimming. There is a public sports center near here. I even walk over there with Pao on dog walks. I’m not sure what they are doing during the pandemic though.

Blood test results

Here are the latest and previous results. Normal ranges are in parentheses. 

Total cholesterol (120-219)

2020: Nov 19 – 123; Aug 20 – 108; May 21 – 124; Feb 20 – 120

2019: Nov 28 – 118; Aug 29 – 116; Jun 8 – 136; Mar 19 – 133

Holding steady in the low-but-normal range. Low is supposed to be heart healthy. 

HDL good cholesterol (35-80)

2020: Nov 19 – 53; Aug 20 – 39; May 21 – 43; Feb 20 – 40

2019: Nov 28 – 46; Aug 29 – 40; Jun 8 – 34; Mar 19 – 38

Normal range. 

LDL bad cholesterol (70-139)

2020: Nov 19 – 47; Aug 20 – 46; May 21 – 56; Feb 20 – 54

2019: Nov 28 – 55; Aug 29 – 56; Jun 8 – 73; Mar 19 – 72

This remains very low.  Almost the lowest for me ever. And lower than normal range.  But, again, that’s supposed to be great for your heart. 

Triglycerides (30-150)  

2020: Nov 19 – 56; Aug 20 – 69; May 21 – 93; Feb 20 – 107

2019: Nov 28 – 62; Aug 29 – 79; Jun 8 – 129; Mar 19 – 114

This went down even more – my lowest ever – but well within normal range. 

Blood Sugar HbA1c (4.7-6.2)

2020: Nov 19 – 5.5; Aug 20 – 5.6; May 21 – 5.8; Feb 20 – 6.1

2019: Nov 28 – 5.9; Aug 29 – 6.1; Jun 8 – 5.5; Mar 19 – 5.9

2018: Dec 20 – 6.5; Sep – 8.2; June – 10.8

This dropped some more again. The doctor said I have my blood sugar under control and there was nothing more to do about it. Remember, he finally decided to drop all blood sugar medication last November.

This value does not fluctuate much over the short term. It’s a 2-3 month average. It’s a great improvement over time (it had been dangerously high), and has been in the normal range since March, 2019. 

In fact he said all my blood values were fine and I just should concentrate on being active and moving about. 

My blood pressure was a great 108/60. 

The nutritionist was also very pleased, as long as I promised her I was eating tofu and using soy milk to get enough protein. Honestly though, there is protein in everything I eat. I don’t know why people worry about vegans not getting enough protein. Anyway, I mention soy and she’s happy. She will check in on my exercise next time.

And onward…