SANE Drinking and Living – Alcohol, Water, Green Tea, and Goals

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Jonathan: Hey everyone. Jonathan Bailor and Carrie Brown here, living the Smarter Science of Slim. And folks, I got to tell you. I just learned some shocking news about Carrie Brown. So here is a question. Carrie just told me she bought some xylitol and xylitol is a non-caloric sweetener which is quite SANE. She told me she bought some xylitol. And I said ‘OK, that’s cool, that’s cool’. How many pounds of xylitol – pounds mind you – of xylitol do you think our dear Carrie Brown purchased? 1 pound, 2 pounds, 10 pounds, 20 pounds? No dear listeners, Carrie purchased 55 pounds of xylitol! Apparently Mount Rainier is going to explode, as she has told me, and she will be able to make SANE, sweet dishes forever.

Carrie: Mount Rainier, accept it or not. Hey, no I just took last week’s podcast to heart. You told us to buy everything in bulk – I take everything you say very seriously, Jonathan.

Jonathan: I buy 25 pound bags of cocoa so there’s no… 55 pounds though is a new record.

Carrie: Don’t listen to him. Let me tell you what I am going to do with all that xylitol. I am going to make you SANE ice cream and SANE cookies and SANE cakes and you are going to love me forever, but I have to have a lot xylitol to do that. So don’t listen to him.

Jonathan: I love it. Well, speaking of xylitol… no, this segway is going to make no sense… ha ha… let’s talk about how you need to drink a lot of green tea and water while going SANE – it didn’t make any sense because I was thinking of something else in my brain. I was thinking of other sweetener solutions. I think we have covered this in another podcast but let’s cover it again here. Caloric sweeteners, totally inSANE. So sugar, corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, all that stuff, I don’t care. There is a list of like 55 different sweeteners on the website, check them out, they are bad. Non-caloric natural sweeteners, ‘natural’, ‘non-caloric’ is key.

Carrie: Xylitol is made from birch.

Jonathan: Xylitol, stevia or luo han guo are all great options, completely SANE. In the middle is artificial, non-caloric sweeteners so these are things like Splenda, Sweet’n’Low, Equal, if you have to choose between sugar and high-fructose corn syrup and honey and those things and Splenda, I would take the Splenda, but again try to go towards the natural, non-caloric ones whenever possible. But of course if you are drinking – like Carrie says, like I say, it’s about being better not being perfect – if you currently drink Coke, drinking Diet Coke is better. Don’t worry about ‘I can’t never drink soda again’. Just go with the non-caloric sweetened version. Here is a good segway to step four of the five steps of helping you go SANE.

Carrie: Carrie’s achilles’ heel.

Jonathan: Carrie’s achilles’ heel. We’re not talking about soda, we’re talking about what you actually should be drinking when you go SANE and this is equally quite important. Just to recap: Step 1 was to double up on your protein and non-starchy vegetables, potentially triple up. Step 2 was to remember your ancestors and to remember that anyone who tries to make being slim and healthy seem complicated is scamming you because we were able to stay slim and healthy for hundreds of thousands of years very, very simply and that’s not to make us feel bad because we haven’t been given this information, we’ve been lied to, but now we have the information so we can keep slim simple. Step 3 was to buy things in bulk because that saves us money and saves us time…

Carrie: Like 55 pounds of xylitol!

Jonathan: … like 55 pounds of xylitol…

Carrie: Free shipping. I didn’t even have to go to the store.

Jonathan: ‘If you buy 55 pounds we will ship it to you for free’ that is an wonderful marketing strategy…

Carrie: That’s awesome. And I didn’t even have to leave my office.

Jonathan: Step 4 is to drink lots of water and lots of green tea, white tea is also wonderful, and we will also talk a bit about alcohol. Let’s start off with alcohol because there’s not too much to cover here but one of the no. 1 questions we get asked at the Smarter Science of Slim is ‘what about alcohol?’ You can of course drink alcohol in moderation when you’re going SANE. Again this is all about a life that you can enjoy and that is healthy and alcohol in moderation is fine. However there are more SANE and less SANE options for alcohol. Clear alcohol, like a vodka, is going to be better than a dark, malt liquor in terms of SANEty. And you really want to stay away from mixers or just sugar-saturated alcoholic drinks. It’s not so much the alcohol, it’s the sugar I want us to stay away from. Things like beer… wine is better. You want to just minimise the inSANE calories that comes along with the alcohol. So wine is going to be a good option, vodka is going to be a better option. Anything with sugar in it: not so good. So hopefully that helps you to be SANE with your choices.

Carrie: However, let’s just make clear that we are not proposing that you drink alcohol to be SANE.

Jonathan: Correct. Yes, to be clear alcohol *is* inSANE, it is not SANE, but we are not preaching perfection so it’s about damage minimisation and like, for example people say red wine has resveratrol in it and it’s good. There are other ways you can get that substance. You don’t need to go out of your way to drink alcohol. Carrie is exactly right. So yes, alcohol is not in any way, shape or form needed to be SANE and there are ways to make it more SANE. Anyway, that’s alcohol. But here is what you should be drinking and drinking en masse when you go SANE: water, green tea and also white tea. White tea is much more expensive than green tea so I like to focus on green tea but if you like white tea it is also great.

Carrie: I don’t like to focus on either!

Jonathan: Well, that’s fine Carrie, we’ll talk about that but I want to talk about water first. Because we often hear things like ‘drink water, it’s good for you’ but we don’t actually know what people are talking about. And what I want to drill home here is a couple of things: Water is truly beneficial for at least 2 key reasons. The first is a lot of times we feel hungry, we are actually thirsty. So making sure that we are fully hydrated and any time we feel hungry and it’s an unusual time of day for us to feel hungry and we sort of get inSANE cravings, drink a giant glass of water and you’ll be surprised how frequently that makes your craving go away. Another thing is that water does allow your body to burn fat more effectively. The more water we drink actually decreases the concentration of various substances in our blood which increases our body’s ability to burn fat. This is called hypoosmolality and it literally does us help burn fat. And in addition when we drink cold water our body need to heat that water up, you know we don’t have 70 degrees [21 degrees celsius] water floating around in our body, it gets warmed up to 98.6 degrees [37 degrees celsius] and we burn about two calories for every ounce of cold water we drink. Not that we necessarily need to count the calories but it certainly can’t hurt so it’s an interesting note and Dr Stookey over at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute tells us that: “…increases in drinking water were associated with significant loss of body weight and fat over time…” and like we said it helps you to avoid inSANE foods, it helps your body to burn more fat effectively and it’s really just great for your health. Think of water as the single most essential nutrient for you to be consuming. Carrie, you look like you have something to say.

Carrie: The reason this is my achilles’ heel is that I don’t know if this is just about being British but in Britain when I was growing up we didn’t drink water. We just didn’t. I mean in America everyone drinks water. It’s just what you do. You have water with every meal. It’s always there. You all just consume water. We don’t do that in England. I think they do it more now but I have been gone for 12 years. When I grew up, I think in the 20 years I lived at home with my parents I hand-on-heart never drank a glass of water. We had a product called squash which is concentrated fruit juice, sugar fruit juice, where you pour an inch in a glass and then you dilute it with water. So I was drinking water but it was really a diluted sugar syrup and that was what I grew up on… that was what English children grew up on. Squash and then pop, but not to the same extent that pop is drunk here. So I don’t like water. I never grew up with it. I don’t like the taste of it and I have never been able to get over that. I just don’t like drinking water.

Jonathan: I’m glad that you brought that up because of the choices between drinking no water or drinking water sweetened with non-caloric products, my recommendation is the water. One, we have to keep ourselves hydrated and two, we have to avoid drinking calories. If we are not drinking water, we are going to drink something else. If it’s not water, if it’s not green tea, we’re drinking something that is inSANE. You are not going to get vegetables in what you are drinking. You are not going to get protein in what you are drinking – milk isn’t a good source of protein, we’ve already talked about that in a podcast – if you’re not drinking water or green tea, coffee would also be OK, you’re going to be getting inSANE sugar and we want to avoid that.

Carrie: So my trick, that I have found, that makes it OK for me – it’s still not my favourite thing to drink by a mile, but at least it’s got me drinking water – is that I have half a glass of regular still water and then I top it up with this lemon-lime, zero calorie, zero sugar, fizzy water and I find that gives it just enough of a not really a flavour but just enough of a something and with a fizz that makes it seem like not water to me. That is how I’ve now started to get my water in me.

Jonathan: And it’s a great idea. Some other ideas, things that I have done during the Summer which I really like, is cucumber water. You can do this just by putting cucumber in the water or you could blend it. What I have done is take a piece of cucumber and some ice cubes and some water and just blend that for a minute and it is so refreshing. You can do the same kind of thing with berries like strawberries, or oranges. You don’t make strawberry juice or orange juice but you take one strawberry and you blend it with two cups of water and you have strawberry-flavoured water. Same thing with an orange slice.

Carrie: It’s interesting you know, some of the spa saloons you go to, they will have big old coolers of water in which there will be floating orange slices all day and it has that flavour to it, that essence that for me particularly just makes it even possible for me to get the stuff past my mouth.

Jonathan: Absolutely. Actually that’s a good technique because what I wanted to talk about next was ways we can ensure that we are drinking an optimal amount of water. We always say doing better than what you are doing is good and that is always a step in the right direction but I do want to give people a goal to shoot for. The goal to shoot for would be a gallon [3.8 litres] of water every day and that is for if you want to make tea, if you want to mix it in with other stuff. It doesn’t mean you have to drink a gallon of water it just means you should get a gallon of water into your body everyday – ideally. And one way to do that would be take a gallon jug. Put some of these fruits in it. Fill it up with water and just try to have it be empty two hours before you go to bed. Two hours before you go to bed is important. Otherwise you are not going to sleep very long and sleep is incredibly important. Sleep is like the only thing that is more important than water so never drink water such as it compromises your sleep, because your sleep is more important – if you have to choose. A couple of other rules to keep in mind: If your urine is not clear – your urine should not be yellow, it should be clear or it should be a very light yellow. If you’re ever thirsty that means you are already dehydrated so you want to try to avoid being thirsty and frankly, if you ever have room to drink things other than water or green tea or coffee, if you like coffee that’s fine too, you could be slimmer and healthier by drinking more water. Again you don’t have to be perfect but just keep in mind as a general rule of thumb, the more water, green tea which we’ll talk about in a second, the healthier you are going to be. And the slimmer you are going to be which is nice.

Carrie: That is nice. I have graduated from Dr Full-Fat I call it – of course there is not fat in it – but from full Dr Pepper to Cherry Coke Zero so you know, the goal is… when I was gone, when I abandoned you, last week I actually was soda free for a whole week. That was very exciting. Of course now I am back at work but moving in the right direction. But the switch from full pop to Zero pop was a great step.

Jonathan: I love it. I love it. Well, let’s talk about another option in addition to water and that is tea. Tea generally speaking is good. Any kind of tea. Herbal tea is fine, good. Herbal tea doesn’t have the same benefits of the kind of tea we are going to talk about now, which is green tea. Green tea, I mean, everything you have heard about vitamin C being good for you, green tea is up there, man. Green tea has had a *ridiculous* amount of research done and I’m going to quickly run through the benefits that have been associated with green tea consumption.

Carrie: I don’t want to listen to this, because I hate green tea. I don’t want to drink it. And you’re going to make me drink it.

Jonathan: We’ll talk about ways to make green tea more… there is billions of people who drink green tea in Asia. Green tea helps you avoid: weight gain, cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, dental issues, insulin resistance, virus infections, bone issues, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney stones, eye issues, atherosclerosis, low HDL cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, liver disease and bacterial issues. All of those things have been clinically studied and shown to be decreased if you consume green tea in sufficient quantities.

Carrie: Darn!

Jonathan: Ha ha. Before we address Carrie’s green tea issues, which we will, let me give you a bit background on the glory that is green tea. Green tea actually comes from the same plant as black tea which Carrie should be quite familiar with because black tea is what is very popular in Britain.

Carrie: That’s what I grew up on.

Jonathan: Black tea. They’re both from the same plant but they are processed differently. Actually white tea is also from the same plant but it is processed differently as well. The unique processing that green tea undergoes leaves it full with a substance called polyphenols and especially ECGC (epigallocatechin gallate) and from a health perspective these polyphenols are the key to the health benefits we’ve described. They are literally this almost magical substance when studied. And let’s also be clear when we talk about helping us to avoid weight gain. The body fat burned by green tea well outweighs the body fat burning effect of the small amount of caffeine in it. It does have caffeine, it’s about one fifth of the caffeine you will find in a standard cup of coffee. Researchers actually suspect that green teas unique fat burning effect, if you look at many of these fat burning pills or supplements you can buy one of the main ingredients is green tea extract, is the interaction with green tea’s polyphenols, caffeine and the hormone noradrenaline in our body. It’s a real thing, it’s one of the few substances on earth that actually has been shown to be an effective ‘fat loss supplement’. But the key thing to keep in mind is that just like eating half of a strawberry isn’t going to give you the vitamin C necessary for vitamin C to do what vitamin C does for your body, to maximise all of the benefits green tea has to offer we need to drink about 10 bags or more per day. And now you are going ‘Oh my god, you want me to drink a gallon of water, you want me to drink 10 bags of green tea, I’m going to be peeing all day and I’m not going to have any money left over’…

Carrie: And I’m going to be miserable. My life is over…

Jonathan: OK, so a couple of things. All of the green tea we drink counts as water so earlier when I said a gallon jug, that’s a gallon for all purposes. You can use that gallon jug go make three cups of green tea, it’s not three cups of green tea in addition to that gallon jug. The other thing to keep in mind is there is no rule – I promise you there is no green tea police there is going to come knock down your door if you brew six packs of green tea in six ounces of water and just drink really strong green tea or even shoot it, that you think of it more as a vitamin than a beverage. That’s fine. You can brew a lot of green tea in a little bit of water. If you really don’t like green tea and you think of it more like a supplement or like a medicine that is going to heal you. You can take four ounces of water, put a bunch of green tea in it, boil it and then squeeze the green tea bags out, add some ice and then drink it really quick and you don’t have to think about green tea for the rest of the day.

Carrie: The thing you can do is, that if you are a green smoothie drinker, you can add that concentrated green tea water to your smoothie instead of adding regular water or maybe instead of coconut milk. Add the small amount of highly concentrated green tea, that way you don’t get the flavour.

Jonathan: Absolutely and the same things you would do to flavour water, you can do to flavour green tea. For example you could add, Carrie uses this lemon-lime water, she could mix that with green tea. You could crystallite in your green tea. You could make strawberry green tea, you could add lemon juice to your green tea. There is all kind of things you could do also just to manipulate the flavour of your green tea itself.

Carrie: The other thing I found – and I don’t remember where I read this but I did try it – if you cold brew instead of hot brew the flavour is milder. You get all the benefits but it’s milder. So what I’ve started to do now is put in my 10 bags in 6 ounces of water, leaving it overnight then taking the bags out in the morning instead of making it with hot water and the flavour is milder, it’s not as bitter but you still get the same benefits. And then if you put that in your smoothie it’s almost like not drinking it but you will get the benefits.

Jonathan: Absolutely. So that’s kind of hydration, that’s helping with the taste. Caffeine is also something to think about. Green tea does have caffeine in it. One bag of green tea has about 30 milligrams of caffeine in it. To put that in perspective: A standard coffee has about 100-150 milligrams of caffeine in it so you would have to drink 5 bags of green tea to equal one cup of coffee. However, if you are trying to steer away from caffeine completely, decaf green tea is just as good for you as caffeinated green tea so you can get decaf green tea if you like. Just something to think about. Generally speaking up to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day is fine for you so you could technically drink 10 bags of regular green tea and be well within the healthy caffeine limit. But there is decaf green tea so if caffeine is an issue, you can drink decaf green tea.

Carrie: Did I just talk myself into drinking green tea?

Jonathan: You made it sound like you are ‘green tea, ready to go’.

Carrie: How did that happen?

Jonathan: Well, Carrie, it’s goodness. And I think it’s like a lot of things, it’s an acquired taste, I mean most of us when we drink beer or wine for the first time we are like ‘this is terrible’ but those are widely consumed beverages. I think we can acquire a taste pretty easily. The other thing is overspending. So when you are consuming 10 bags of green tea every day… think of green tea a bit like wine. There is wine that cost 1,000 dollars a bottle, there is also wine that costs 2 dollars a bottle. There’s green tea that costs a couple of dollars a bag, there is also green tea that costs a couple of cents a bag. So for our purposes, for thinking of green tea almost like a medicine we don’t need to spend a lot on green tea. My technique for getting a lot of green tea very inexpensively is that I go to, they have a cool feature where you can subscribe and save, and just do a search for ‘Bigelow decaffeinated green tea’ and look for the 40 count boxes. They sell them in packs of 6 and you can do the sign up and save program where they will ship you 6 boxes of 40 count tea bags once a month, once every two months and it’s discounted and it’s delivered free and it’s awesome. It amounts to being like 8 cents a tea bag. So you can do these 10 bags of green tea for less than a dollar a day which is pretty cool.

Carrie: That is pretty cool.

Jonathan: So that’s pretty easy and like we said the other thing, we talked about ways you can make it taste better. Green tea like coffee will stain your teeth. Any kind of tea will stain your tea so an easy way to avoid that is to drink it through a straw. It will not stain your teeth if it doesn’t touch your teeth and the straw make it not touch your teeth. I always try to drink my green tea through a straw, another option for people. Again green tea and water is such a key thing for us to be consuming because a lot of people would say really if we just stopped drinking calories we would, that would go a long way to solving the problems we have in this country. If we stopped drinking fruit juice and colas and all the sweetened garbage like if we just didn’t drink calories.

Carrie: But to be clear, it’s not really the calories, it’s the sugar. It’s the fact it’s calories and sugar. We don’t want people to focus on the calories. We want people to focus on the type of calories, the sugar, as the problem.

Jonathan: Yes, that is true. It is also a good idea not to drink 400 calories of nonsense. Yes, that is true. The nonsense is the bad thing. Thank you for clarifying that.

Carrie: See, I’m a good study. I pay attention to what you tell me.

Jonathan: And the reason I bring this up, Carrie, is that I think the statistics that I am looking at here: In 2002, the average American was getting about 400 calories per day from inSANE beverages. The inSANEty causing the clog plus 400 calories. Again: We don’t want to count calories but to be clear when you drink calories they don’t satisfy you so if it takes you 2,000 calories to be full and you drink 400 calories. You are going to overeat 400 calories. Because it’s not going to fill you up. So any calories you are drinking are going to fatten you. That’s another way to think about it. I mean they are going to. Robert Paarlberg over at Harvard University tells us that the average American today gets more than 450 calories per day from beverages. Beverages today provide more than twice as many calories as they did in 1965. And another really interesting pivot on this data, Carrie. If we look at 100 years ago, we would consume the amount of sugar in 1 can of cola once every 5 days. Today we consume the amount of sugar in 1 can of cola once every 5 or 7 hours on average. So it’s just a startling increase. That’s step 4. The last step, step 5, we have already kind of touched on but we just really want to formalise and call step 5: Do what works for you! It’s perfectly reasonable to reach this point and just be like ‘I can’t do all of that, I don’t want to do all of that’. No problem at all. What we want to outline here is the guideline, the gold standard. It’s a spectrum. SANEty is on one end and inSANEty is on the other. If your goal is more ambitious you go further toward the SANEty side. If your gold is to do it more quickly, you go further towards the SANEty side. But if you got more modest goals or if you have a longer timetable in mind, you can do what works for you when it works for you.

Carrie: And the other thing that I find a lot of people struggle with – or they’ve told me anyway – is when they mess up. When they have a moment where that chocolate bar just reaches out and grabs them, it’s not the end. Just, you know, you ate it, you did it – don’t feel bad, just know what it did to you and then the next hour, the next day you just get back on the SANE stuff and off you go. You can’t allow yourself to trip up because you had a weak moment because you are still that much further ahead than if you hadn’t gone SANE at all. So a slip-up is not the end of the world.

Jonathan: Absolutely and thanks to wonderful people like Carrie, I’m trying to do a little bit of this myself, there are other resources on the internet, there is very little that we can crave that we cannot enjoy SANEly. And I think some of the reasons we slip up potentially is, that if we try to go cold turkey it’ll just be like, if I try to give up chocolate, the flavour of chocolate, I would go bananas, so I don’t, I just find ways to SANEly enjoy it and I enjoy it daily. And because of that I don’t go bananas because it’s not, you know, you are not abstinent… Enjoy it, for example if you like chocolate there is a lot of recipes on the Smarter Science of Slim website, but for example 85% dark chocolate is way better than milk chocolate so maybe just switch to that and when you become used to that you can try something which is something more like a homemade almost pure non dutched cocoa mixed with some almond butter and you are just in heaven. That’s basically what I do.

Carrie: It’s a scale. As Jonathan says if milk is your thing, switch to a low cocoa solid dark and then move up. So start with a 40% then move up to a 50-55, 60 until you get up to 85. There is ways to do it. And I’m working on a bunch of recipes, including chocolate ice cream that use chocolate without the sugar in it. So I’m going to be baking with 100% cocoa solid chocolate. I’m going to make it work.

Jonathan: For me personally, it’s the chocolate. I get sweet cravings all the time. Pure non dutched cocoa and cinnamon make it go away. I wouldn’t just mix that with water and drink it. The base is some nutbutter or a Greek yoghurt and I would mix in some whey powder but it’s ironic because it’s not the sugar, it’s the chocolate. You can experience this for yourself. If you crave sweets. Eating a tablespoon of sugar will not make the craving go away. I think it’s the other stuff. And we can enjoy that other stuff, we just got to be SANE about it. There’s a lot of diabetics in this country and because of that there is a lot of diabetic products out there. They’re not the best thing for us, they have a bunch of artificial things in them, but there are chocolate bars for diabetics and those are other options we could consider.

Carrie: That are not SANE, but they are SANEr. So if you need a route that doesn’t go from all to nothing, there’s baby steps you can take to get you closer to your goal. You don’t have to do it overnight.

Jonathan: You do not have to do it overnight and there is a bunch of support for you. If you haven’t already checked out the Smarter Science of Slim support group on there are hundreds, maybe thousands at this point, of people sharing awesome stories and just general ideas. So you are not in this alone. Come on in there, share your story and actually it’s helpful too, because a lot of studies show that the more public we make this effort the easier it is for us to stick with because the more accountable we will be. That was a good show, Carrie! How are you feeling?

Carrie: I feel great. I can’t believe I’m feeling great about drinking water and green tea. How did that happen. I blame you, Bailor.

Jonathan: Readers need to brace themselves because next week we are going to start about how to exercise less, but smarter. We are going to talk… I mean we’re equipped with SANEty now. We’ve got the whole other piece of the puzzle which a lot of people find just to be the most weird. People kind of get ‘yeah, OK, eat nutritious foods, I get that, cool’. But we will actually show the incredibly clear science – it is so clear and it is so proven that it *will be* common knowledge in 20 years. It will be. It’s just cutting edge and no one in the mainstream really knows about it yet, but people in research circles do. About how you can exercise less and get better results and we’ll prove it biologically, we’ll prove it physiologically and it will transform your body and it will transform your mind.

Carrie: This is like the best thing in the whole world! Because as anyone who has listened to this podcast from day one will know, exercise is *not my thing*.

Jonathan: For people who don’t like exercising you can do this, regardless of your fitness level. The other thing is for people like me, who used to like exercising but then got burned out on it. The ability to get the same results or even better results than we used to get in like a fifth of the time is incredibly liberating and you can use that time to make SANE recipes or spend time with your friends and family or do a better job at work, or I don’t know, read a book.

Carrie: Whatever else fun stuff you want to do.

Jonathan: Certainly funner than sitting on a freaking treadmill and boring yourself to death. Anyway, Jonathan Bailor, Carrie Brown, we are living the Smarter Science of Slim. We’re excited for next week and we will see you then.