Friday, November 22, 2013

Banish your Grain Brain (Part 2: Results)

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Grain Brain. As always, the opinions expressed are all my own!

So last month I told you I was starting the Grain Brain Challenge based on Dr. David Perlmutter's book: Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers.

Check out the initial post to learn all about the surprising effects carbohydrates may have on your brain health, and what the challenge entails.  It also contains some photos of foods that helped get me through!

Now, after four weeks have come and gone, the challenge is over and it's time to recap the experiences and outcomes regarding food, fitness, sleep, and general health:

Food:  As I discussed last time, the food didn't have drastic changes in selection; I just was more careful about my non-paleo, grainy/glutenous treats (namely, not choosing them), as well as carb-dense foods. About twice I went ahead and had a snack I wouldn't have usually chosen, but even Dr. Perlmutter advises in the book to just carry on after going off-plan.  In some ways, it was more flexible than I was used to, even; I was glad to bring back more cheese than I was used to, and was thrilled to purchase hummus for the first time in a long time.  (The hummus was nice to have, but I still think it messes with my stomach's acidity and I get reflux.  But what a treat!)

The "huevos rancheros" egg dish became a daily staple, likely seen on my plate at any meal of the day.

 Keep reading for the full recipe :)

Other meals frequently consisted of a protein and some non-starchy vegetables.  For example:  either salmon or chicken paired with, say, brussels sprouts, peppers, artichoke... Often this might be just tossed in a salad with some avocado, too.  (Bring on the healthy fats!!)

What I did find the most difficult, as predicted, was keeping the carbohydrate count as very low as recommended in Grain Brain.  40 grams of carbs / day is not a lot, even though I was already only eating regularly around 90-100 grams.  This challenge taught me which are my "big carb" items, and really, I think they're okay in the big picture.  My biggest carb sources were things like bananas, where just one large banana brought me up to 30 grams, already!  That's almost the full day's allowance on the Grain Brain Challenge.

Now, I don't want to become a crazy person who "watches" my bananas... (ridiculous thought!), but it was enlightening to realize how carb-dense bananas and other fruits are.

Fitness:  I don't think low-carb helped my fitness energy.  My workouts were so-so, until the weekend after the challenge, when I dove head-first into carbtastic gluten-free pasta.  That Sunday, I had one of the best workouts I've had in a long time. I even rocked the burpees, and that's saying something!! So I think for fitness, carbs may be my friend.

Sleep: I'd been having trouble sleeping before beginning the challenge, and I definitely found my sleep improving over the course of the four weeks.  Big plus!

General Health Outcomes:
Here, I have one BIG thing to say:  NO HEADACHES. No migraines. No headaches at all!

This was amazing.  I get headaches often.  Migraines come and go.  I'm usually carrying around some type of pain reliever or migraine medication with me.  Throughout the four weeks of the Grain Brain Challenge, I did not get one. single. little. headache.  Hallelujah!! 

Now, I'm not saying I know what the exact cause was.  This was not a perfectly controlled experiment, I didn't track all confounding variables. Maybe it was the lower carbohydrates, maybe it was the supplements, or maybe it was the fact that I didn't eat nuts as much this month... Whatever it is, I'm happy, and I'm going to work to figure out which it is.

My foggy-brainedness also eased up, although didn't completely disappear.  I think that it was correlated with when I was taking the supplements, although this very well may have been placebo effect... Whatever works!  Again, I'll keep experimenting.

Lastly, my pants began to feel a little loose!  Not surprising, since I stopped inhaling my favorite grainy and carb-sense snacks (which were often just boredom snacks that didn't really quench any hunger).

Do you have any of the following symptoms of gluten sensitivity?

Consider a Grain Brain Challenge to see if your symptoms improve!

What next? Going forward, I'll keep Grain Brain on my shelf and on my mind.  The supplements may have contributed to the disappearance of my headaches and foggy brain, so perhaps those will stay on my shelves, as well.  I'll be checking the book regularly, referring back to the science cited by Dr. Perlmutter and showing it to those who are confused about how grains, gluten, or carbohydrates could possibly negatively affect your health.


Huevos Rancheros from Grain Brain
This classic Mexican dish has been modified so that instead of eggs served on tortillas, they are prepared over a fresh bed of greens.
Serves 2  (...Whoops. Or 1!)


  • 1 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups coarsely torn frisee (I often used a different green--whatever I had on hand)
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 Tablespoons salsa
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Add the butter or olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, crack the eggs into the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, more for firmer yolks.  Serve the eggs over a bed of frisee and top with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

SO easy!  I actually often put the cheese and salsa right in the pan so it gets a chance to get melty and mix together.  Mmmm!!

Want more quick and easy, grain-free recipes?  Want to learn the steps to taking control of your brain health?  Find Dr. Perlmutter's book on Amazon, or visit his website at

DisclaimerThis post was sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Grain Brain. This post contains affiliate links, but this does not affect the content (see Disclaimer page for details). As always, the reflections and opinions expressed above are all my own.


  1. it is so hard as people have SLAMMMED THIS BOOK and yet living this way has changed my life for close to 2 decades.
    If you need it.
    If your bod needs it.

  2. I loved the challenge and what it's done for me!

  3. I've been wanting to try this! Thanks for the review!

  4. I would definitely be interested in trying this method, it may not be for me, but I am willing to give it a shot.

  5. I loved this post, Mer! So interesting. I know what you mean about bananas - carb dense but I could never ever cut them out. Curious - while cutting out so many carbs what did you snack on during the day?


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