Weight Loss With Glucomannan Fiber

Consuming foods high in fiber is important for your digestion and to feed your gut bacteria. But, it can also be very effective for weight loss. Fiber can soak up water in the intestine, slowing the absorption of nutrients and increasing the feeling of fullness.

Dietary fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate found in foods. As such, it can be subtracted from total carbs since fiber simply passes through your body. Unlike other carbs, it does not get converted to sugar or get stored as fat.

There are 2 types of fiber based on water solubility:

  1. Soluble fiber: dissolves in water and can be metabolized by the “good” bacteria in the gut
  2. Insoluble fiber: does not dissolve in water

What is Glucomannan?

Glucomannan is a natural, water-soluble dietary fiber extracted from the roots of the elephant yam, also known as konjac. It is grown in East and Southeast Asia and is a very common food in Japan and Korea.

It’s the main ingredient in Shirataki noodles and comes in powder and pill form.

How does Glucomannan support weight loss?

Glucomannan is one of the most viscous dietary fibers known. It absorbs so much liquid that a small amount of glucomannan added to a glass of water turns the entire content into a gel. Chia seeds, which you may have heard of, are also high in fiber and also absorb water but it’s nothing compared to Glucomannan. Note that ground flaxseeds is another healthy fiber supplement but it doesn’t gel up nearly as much as Chia seeds.

In the picture below, you can see Glucomannan in powder form being added to water, and on the right, the Glucomannan after it absorbed all the water.

This thick gel lines the stomach and provides bulk and satiety / feeling of fullness which lowers your appetite so you eat less. In addition, Glucomannan

  • is very low in calories.
  • delays stomach emptying, contributing to increased satiety
  • like other soluble fibers, reduces the absorption of protein and fat

According to this article, reliable studies show that consuming Glucomannan as part of a weight-loss diet is very effective in supporting weight loss. Of all fiber sources you can consume, Glucomannan is the most effective in supporting weight loss.

Consuming Glucommanan

It is recommended to take 1 gram (1000 mg) of Glucomannan before a meal with two 8 oz glasses of water. The amount of time before a meal depends on how long it takes for the Glucomannan to gel up. When you get your Glucomannan, it’s a good idea to add water to it to see how long it takes to gel up. The powder form should gel up in a few minutes whereas the pill form should take about 30 minutes. In general, you can wait 15 minutes to an hour before eating.

WARNING: Glucomannan MUST be consumed with water so that it reaches the stomach before it turns into a thick gel. Consuming Glucomannan without water could cause it to gel up in the throat or esophagus causing blockage and choking. The government of Australia even banned Glucomannan because of this choking and blockage risk.

The amount of water to drink while consuming Glucomannan is important as it will affect the viscosity and effectiveness of the Glucomannan to support weight loss. For example, according to this video, the same amount of Glucomannan was added to a small and large glass. Then, different amounts of water was added to each glass. The result was the gel in the small glass was so thick that turning the glass over would not cause it to come out. The gel in the large glass, on the other hand, could spill out. The more water, the better.

Not all Glucomannan brands are the same

According to this video, the brand on the left did not coagulate as much a the one on the right. Therefore, test the Glucomannan you buy to ensure that it coagulates as expected.

Testing viscosity of Glucomannan by Nutricost

I bought a bottle of glucomannan pills by Nutricost on Amazon. To test the viscosity, I put water and glucomannan in 3 glasses as follows:

  • Left glass: Emptied powder from pill (600 mg) into 1/3 glass of water
  • Middle glass: Emptied powder from pill (600 mg) into 7/8 glass of water
  • Right glass: Put pill (600 mg) into 7/8 glass of water

I stirred the powder in the water but there was too little powder that the glucomannan hardly became coagulated.

I then added another pill (600 mg) and although the mix was more viscous, it wasn’t very thick. I then added another pill (600 mg) and blended the mix together.

Finally, the mix in the left glass became thick like a thick sauce. The middle glass was somewhat thick but due to there being more water, it was still very runny. The pill in the right glass still hadn’t melted after 6 hours.

Based on these results, I think

  • it’s better to consume glucomannan as a powder rather than a pill so the satiety effects will be quicker
  • it’s better to consume glucomannan blended with water (or in a smoothie or in food so that the glucomannan can expand before you consume it)

Buddy: Easy, Fast CI/CD

Whenever you make a change to a website, you need to deploy your changes to a production server. This can be as simple as uploading some files and as complex as having a multi-step process involving version control, building code, running custom scripts, checking links, image optimization, and then rsync-ing files to multiple production servers. To manage the build and deployment process, developers often use continuous integration (CI) and either continuous delivery or continuous deployment (CD). CI/CD bridges the gaps between development and operation activities and teams by enforcing automation in building, testing and deployment of applications. 

I’ve used Travis CI and attempted to use CircleCI but both seemed more complicated than I would like them to be. I then came across Buddy which got a lot of good reviews and looked super simple to set up. For me personally, I just wanted a simple way to commit changes to this blog’s custom WordPress theme in GitHub and have the changes SFTP’d to the production server. Though you can do that using GitHub Actions, it looked like more work and didn’t come with useful reporting and notifications like what you get with Buddy. Below is how I set up Buddy to detect whenever I commit or push to GitHub and then SFTP the changes to a server.

1. Sign up for Buddy

Buddy requires that you sign up using a work email address or to log in using your GitHub account. I wasn’t using this for work so I just logged in using my existing GitHub account.

2. Create a project

Click the “Create a new project” button. Since I logged in using my GitHub account, Buddy instantly showed me my GitHub repos. Click on a repo for this project you are working on. In my case, I chose “my-blog”.

3. Add a new pipeline

Click to add a new pipeline. You will be asked for a number of things including:

  • Name – I just called the pipeline “Commit / Push to GitHub Then SFTP to abdullahyahya.com”
  • Trigger Mode – I chose “On push” because I want to trigger the pipeline whenever I commit or push to GitHub.
  • Branch or Tag That Triggers the Pipeline – I chose “Single branch” and “main” since, well, I only have one branch (main) and no tags.
  • Target Website URL – I entered my blog’s website URL
  • Trigger Condition – there are a few options here but I chose to have the pipeline be triggered only if there were changes in the repository since last execution which is probably what most people want.
  • Set currently deployed revision on the remotes – Since I already had commits in GitHub that were in sync what production, I chose the most recently commit revision to avoid unnecessarily deploying everything from scratch.
  • Other – there are other options but I just left them at their defaults

4. Add an action

On the next step, you need to choose an action that will take place in the pipeline (when there is a change committed / pushed to GitHub). Since I just want to SFTP the changes, I chose the SFTP action. Browse all Buddy actions.

5. Set up action

Now, you need to set up your chosen action. In this case, I need to set up my source and destination file paths and SFTP login credentials.

If you click the Action tab / button, you can name your action and temporarily disable the action, among other things.

Test your action by clicking the “Test action” link. In my case, Buddy connecting to the production server of SFTP, created a test directory, deleted the test directory, testing uploading a file, and deleted the test file.

6. List all pipelines

When you are done, you will see your new pipeline listed along with any other pipelines you have. You can manually run the pipeline also.

7. Do a real test

To do a real test of my pipeline, I added a comment to a file directly in GitHub and committed it. Seconds later, I saw the commit message show up in Buddy. I then verified that the comment was actually added to the file on the production server.

8. Add more actions to the pipeline

If you click the Actions button / tab, you’ll see all actions in the pipeline. You can add more actions that run in certain situations. In this example, I added an action to send myself an email if the pipeline fails. You can also add actions that rsync files to a server, optimize images, perform link checking, run a custom shell script, and much more.

9. Done

So that’s it. Super easy. Intuitive. Fast. I like it!

Keto Weight Loss Food Menu

Alright, lately I’ve been obsessed with finding recipes and food for weight loss that I personally enjoy eating, especially Keto-friendly ones. To keep track of all my discoveries, I decided to just make this menu.

Microwave-Cooked Eggs

  • 2 eggs
  • Salt

Air-Fried Chicken Drumsticks

  • Chicken drumsticks (skin removed)
  • Spices

Healthy Keto Protein Smoothie

  • 1 pack Acai
  • 2 frozen strawberries
  • 1 Ratio keto yoghurt
  • 1 scoop pure protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Matcha green tea powder
  • Almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon Chia seeds

Keto Chicken Rice Soup

  • 2 x 8 oz packs of Shirataki Konjac rice
  • Chicken broth
  • Chicken breast (pregrilled from Costco)
  • Salt to taste

Riced Cauliflower or Konjac Rice With Scrambled Eggs & Minced Beef

  • Riced cauliflower or Konjac rice
  • Eggs
  • Minced beef

Keto Spaghetti

  • 1 pack Healthy Noodle (from Costco)
  • Bolognese pasta sauce (Trader Joes) or Raos sauce (Costco)
  • Minced beef
  • Parmesan cheese

Air Fried Tofu

  • 1 pack tofu sliced into 1 inch cubes
  • Canola oil spray
  • Sea salt

Grilled Asparagus

  • Asparagus
  • Canola oil spray
  • Salt and pepper

Celery & Hummus

  • Celery
  • Hummus

Iced Green Tea

  • Green tea with Matcha
  • Erythritol

Vegetable Stir Fry With Chicken

  • Vegetable medley (Costco)
  • Lee Kum Kee Supreme soy sauce (0 carbs)
  • Pre-grilled chicken breast (Costco)

Broccoli, Chicken & Egg Scramble

Spicy Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower

  • Spicy Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower (Trader Joes)
  • Pre-grilled chicken breast – optional (Costco)

Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry With Chicken Breast

  • Riced Cauliflower stir fry (Trader Joes)
  • Pre-grilled chicken breast (Costco)

Peanuts

Whisps Crisps

Keto yoghurt

No Sugar Keto Cups

Beef Jerky

Coffee

  • Nespresso coffee
  • Frothed milk
  • 1/4 tsp Erythritol (or Stevia or Monk fruit)
  • Cinnamon

Pickles

Pickles are very low calorie and low carb.

Cheese Sticks

Cheese sticks are very low carb, but high in protein and calories.

Angle Grinder Uses

An angle grinder is actually a very useful home improvement too. Below are some things you can do with an angle grinder.

Cleaning

  • Use a wire cup brush to remove rust and caked-on cement and dirt from tools.
  • Use a wire wheel to remove paint

Cut bars, rods and bolts

  • Use a metal cutoff wheel to cut bars, rods and bolts
  • Use a metal cutoff wheel to cut off frozen bolts or screws

Cut tile, stone and concrete

  • Use a diamond wheel to cut through tile

Restore cutting edges

  • Use a grinding wheel to sharpen dull blades

Cutting out old mortar

  • Use a diamond tuckpointing wheel to grind out old, loose mortar

Lowest Calorie, Lowest Carb, Filling Food

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to find the lowest calorie, lowest carb food that could be considered a dish/meal. The goal is to be able to lose weight while feeling full after eating something that is relatively tasty with a flavor that everyone is familiar with. When it comes to filling foods, most people would think of rice or bread. Apparently, there’s something very similar to rice called Konjac.

It has a neutral taste and its shape is very similar to rice. But, it does have a slightly different texture than rice. Nevertheless, one pack (150g) contains only 5 calories and 0 net carbs.

Of course, eating plain rice alone, especially Konjac rice, doesn’t taste good. After considering various ingredients to add to Konjac rice, I decided that chicken broth is one of the best flavorings to add. Everyone knows what chicken tastes like and since it doesn’t contain meat, even vegetarians can eat (drink) it. It’s also not a forbidden food by any of the major religions.

This particular brand of chicken broth is organic, doesn’t contain salt, provides a mere 5 calories for 1 cup, and has 0 carbs.

If we cook one pack of Konjac rice with 1 cup of this chicken broth, we’d only be consuming 10 calories and 0 net carbs! Since 1 pack seems too little to make me feel sufficiently full, I’ll go with 2 packs and 1 cup of chicken broth (15 calories total). That’s nothing! (calorie-wise)

2 packs of Konjac rice + 1 cup of chicken broth.

The broth says “no salt added”. That may be good for people with high blood pressure but for me, the rice just didn’t taste good without salt so I added some. Here’s the finished dish.

I know it looks super boring and tasteless but since I added chicken broth, it actually tasted like chicken soup. On a scale of 1 (yuck) to 10 (yum), I’d give it a 7 (not bad). Of course, the only reason for eating this is to lose weight until you reach your target weight after which time you can adjust your diet so as to just maintain your weight.

Now, don’t go eating this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

  • The Konjac rice has 0 fat, 0 net carbs, and 0 protein = 0 essential nutrients
  • The chicken broth has 0 fat, 0 carbs, and 1g of protein = hardly any nutrients from protein

So, if you eat this and nothing else, your body won’t be getting any of the essential nutrients it needs from fat and protein.

This ridiculously simple dish is good in combination with other food so that your total daily caloric intake is less than your calorie expenditure so that you can actually burn fat and lose weight, especially for people who don’t want to exercise in conjunction with dieting.

According to one calculator, my basal metabolic rate (BMR) or, calories I would burn each day by being sedentary / not active, is 1788. You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of body weight. So, if I was sedentary and could consume a max of 1288 calories per day (which is not easy to do considering how so many foods contain so many calories), then I could have a deficit of 500 calories per day and lose 1 pound of body weight per week or 10 pounds in 2.5 months.

Konjac rice with eggs

If you’d like to eat Konjac rice with something else that is full of nutrients and is healthy, then you may want to try mixing the rice with scrambled eggs. One scrambled egg has 100 calories, 8g of fat, 7g protein, and 1g of net carbs.

Konjac rice with chicken

Since we’re adding chicken broth to the Konjac rice, it would make sense to add real chicken as well. Pictured below I added pregrilled chicken breast from Costco. It tasted good and was super easy to make since everything was precooked.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of chicken breast provides 0 carbs, 165 calories, 31 grams of protein and 3.6 grams of fat.

Easily Draw Curves in Photoshop

Here’s an easy way to draw a custom curve in Photoshop.

1. Click the Curvature Pen Tool

2. Click where you want inflection points

3. Drag an inflection point if you need to adjust the shape of the curve

4. Right-click on the curve click “Stroke Path”

5. Choose a tool, e.g. Brush

6. Click OK and see your curve drawn using the existing brush settings

Ninja Foodi: Easy, Indoor Grilled Asparagus

If you like grilled asparagus, here’s an easy way to make it without firing up the outside grill.

Ingredients

  • Asparagus, Refrigerated (I get mine at Costco)
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Canola oil spray

Instructions

  1. With the grill plate inserted, turn on your Ninja Foodi, hit the Grill button until its set to MAX, set the time to 7 minutes, and hit the START button
  2. Snap off the ends (white part) of the asparagus
  3. When the grill is preheated, spray the grill with Canola oil, lay the asparagus flat on the grill, spray Canola oil on the asparagus, and sprinkle on some salt and pepper
  4. Half way through grilling flip the asparagus
  5. When it’s done, just remove it (I use tongs) and eat!

Air Fried Tofu

So, I’m currently trying this Keto diet which calls for low carbs. Since french fries are not low carb, I needed a substitute. Tofu seems to fit the bill thought it’s a lot more expensive that potatoes. Anyway, the one I’m eating is from Costco. It’s rated “Firm” with a rating of 4 out of 6 on the firmness scale. One pack contains 5 servings and each serving contains 70 calories and only 1g of net carbs (fiber doesn’t count). So, one pack contains 350 calories.

Here’s a recipe to make air fried tofu cubes.

Ingredients

  • tofu
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes and sprinkle on some salt
  2. In Ninja Foodi, hit air fryer button and set time to 20 minutes
  3. After preheating, spray canola oil on air fryer basket and put tofu in
  4. Halfway through cooking, flip or stir tofu, spray canola oil on tofu and sprinkle on more salt
  5. When done, remove and eat

Should Real Estate Investors Leave Equity in Their Properties?

If you are a real estate investor and have one or more rentals you’ve accumulated over time, there’s a good chance you have a good amount of equity in at least one of your properties – maybe even your primary residence. You might feel happy that you have a lot of equity but from an investment point of view, you could be making more money — potentially A LOT more — if you pull out some of that equity to re-invest it rather than leave it in the form of equity for an existing property. Compare the following two scenarios.

Scenario 1

Let’s say you have 3 properties. One is your primary residence which you live in and are not renting out. The other two are rentals.

Current ValueEquityRental Income
(monthly)
Primary Residence$1,000,000$600,000$0
Rental 1 (townhouse)$750,000$650,000$2,500
Rental 2 (triplex)$590,000$100,000$4,820

Appreciation

Now, let’s estimate the value + appreciation on each property per year over 10 years. The average annual appreciation rate in California is 6.77%. We can easily calculate the appreciation using the calculator at

https://www.ddginc-usa.com/cgi-bin/apprec.php

In the last row, we see the total appreciation over 10 years.

YearPrimary ResidenceRental 1Rental 2
1$1,067,700$800,775$629,943
2$1,139,983$854,987$672,590
3$1,217,160$912,870$718,124
4$1,299,562$974,671$766,742
5$1,387,542$1,040,657$818,650
6$1,481,479$1,111,109$874,073
7$1,581,775$1,186,331$933,247
8$1,688,861$1,266,646$996,428
9$1,803,197$1,352,398$1,063,886
10$1,925,273$1,443,955$1,135,911
Diff$925,273$693,955$545,911

Rental Income

Now, let’s estimate the annual gross rental income and per year over 10 years. For simplicity, and to be conservative, we’ll keep the monthly rent fixed (we’ll never increase the rent), although in reality, in California you can legally increase the rent by at least 5% per year. In the last row, we see the total gross rental income over 10 years. Of course, you’ll have expenses like debt service (paying your mortgage), taxes, operational costs, etc which will reduce this total rental income.

YearPrimary ResidenceRental 1Rental 2
100$0
20$30,000$57,840
30$30,000$57,840
40$30,000$57,840
50$30,000$57,840
60$30,000$57,840
70$30,000$57,840
80$30,000$57,840
90$30,000$57,840
100$30,000$57,840
Total0$270,000 $520,560

Total Return on Investment

Now, if we add the appreciation and rental income minus expenses over 10 years, we’d get our total return on investment (ROI). But, since expenses vary from one property to another, to be conservative and keep things simple, we’ll just look at the total appreciation.

Over 10 years, our investments will have appreciated by $2,165,140.

Now, let’s compare this to another scenario where we do cash-out refinance and reinvest the money in more rental properties.

Scenario 2

In this scenario, we decide whether to do cash-out refinance for each existing property.

Primary residence

For the primary residence, we won’t refinance it and take cash out because doing so would increase the mortgage and since it’s not a rental, you’d have to pay for that increase yourself. Of course, if you can afford it, you could also do a cash-out refinance on that property as well, but it’s not a good idea to spread yourself too thin.

Rental #1

For rental #1, we do a cash-out refinance to pull out 75% of the equity. In doing so, our monthly mortgage pay for that property will go up but if you plan it correctly, your income will cover your new expenses, especially if your previous loan would be paid off in, say, 10 years, and you refinance to 30 years which would lower your monthly payments despite having borrowed more money.

Rental #2

For rental #2, there isn’t enough equity in the property so we can’t refinance it.

Current ValueCurrent EquityCash-out refi
75% of value
New Equity
Primary Residence$1,000,000$600,000No refi$600,000
Rental 1$750,000$650,000$562,500$100,000
Rental 2$590,000$100,000No refi$100,000
Total$562,500

According to the table above, we’re able to pull out $562,500 from Rental #1 which we’ll use as a down payment to purchase more rental properties. Let’s say we buy 4 duplexes at $500,000 each and we put down 25% (standard for investment properties) which is $125,000 for each. That leaves us with $62,500 for closing costs and some home improvement. We’ll estimate the rental income for each duplex is $3500 per month.

Current ValueEquityRental Income
(monthly)
Rental 3 (duplex)$500,000$125,000$3,500
Rental 4 (duplex)$500,000$125,000$3,500
Rental 5 (duplex)$500,000$125,000$3,500
Rental 6 (duplex)$500,000$125,000$3,500

Appreciation

Now, like in scenario 1, let’s estimate the appreciation over 10 years.

YearRental 3Rental 4Rental 5Rental 6
1$533,850$533,850$533,850$533,850
2$569,992$569,992$569,992$569,992
3$608,580$608,580$608,580$608,580
4$649,781$649,781$649,781$649,781
5$693,771$693,771$693,771$693,771
6$740,739$740,739$740,739$740,739
7$790,887$790,887$790,887$790,887
8$844,431$844,431$844,431$844,431
9$901,599$901,599$901,599$901,599
10$962,637$962,637$962,637$962,637
Diff$428,787$428,787$428,787$428,787

Rental Income

Now, like in scenario 1, let’s estimate the annual gross rental income and per year over 10 years.

YearRental 3Rental 4Rental 5Rental 6
1$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
2$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
3$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
4$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
5$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
6$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
7$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
8$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
9$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
10$42,000$42,000$42,000$42,000
Total $420,000 $420,000 $420,000 $420,000

Total Return on Investment

Now, let’s calculate the total ROI. Again, to be conservative and for simplicity, we’ll just consider total appreciation even though we know the total ROI will be much more than that since every month for 10 years we’ll be paying down the mortgage using the rental income which increases our equity in each property.

The total appreciation over 10 years in scenarios 1 and 2 are

  • Scenario 1: $2,165,140.
  • Scenario 2: $2,165,140. + $1,715,147 = $3,880,287.

Therefore, using a very conservative estimate, we could make an additional $1,715,147 over 10 years if we refinanced and reinvested the equity in our existing properties.

What to do after 10 years

Let’s say you hold on to the properties for 10 years. You’ll most likely have a mortgage on all or some of properties. At that point, you could choose to sell some of the properties to pay off all of your mortgages and live mortgage free! You’ll still be getting rental income from the remaining rental properties which may even amount to as much or more as your work income from a day job in which case you could choose to just retire and travel the world.

The Best Sweetener for Weight Loss

Everyone by now should now that regular white cane sugar is bad for you and contributes to weight gain, diabetes and other health problems. Following are some alternatives and an explanation as to why they are good or bad.

Honey

Many people think that there’s something special about honey that even though it’s high in calories like sugar, it’s better. While it’s true that there are some health benefits to consuming honey, from a weight loss point of view, it’s only slightly better. In order to understand why, we need to realize the fact that digestible non-fiber carbs simply get converted to sugar in the body so the following formula holds true.

CARBS = SUGAR*

* except for carbs from fiber and Erythritol (a sugar alcohol)

If we compare sugar to honey with the same portion size (100 g), we find that honey still has a ton of carbs (82 g) compared to sugar (100 g). Therefore, honey is not a good sweetener for weight loss.

Note: the sweetness of honey is higher than that of white sugar so you don’t need to use as much of it.

Erythritol

Pure Erythritol is a sugar alcohol. It is 70% as sweet as regular sugar. Unlike other sugar alcohols where half gets digested in the body, Erythritol does not get digested. Instead, it gets excreted through urine and feces like carbs from dietary fiber. For that reason, grams of Erythritol can be subtracted from total carbs. This makes Erythritol one of the best sweeteners. The texture is like fine sugar. I personally found the taste to be not bad but of course not as good as real sugar but that’s probably because I’m used to the taste of sugar.

Monk Fruit Extract

Pure Monk fruit extract contains zero sugars, carbs and calories. This makes Monk fruit extract one of the best sweeteners. However, it’s 150-250 times sweeter than table sugar so you have to be careful when adding it to avoid over-sweetening. Monk fruit extract is often mixed with other sweeteners so read the nutrition label to make sure that if it’s mixed, it’s mixed with an acceptable sweetener like Erythritol. The texture is like a very fine powder so it dissolves easily. I personally found the taste to be a bit fruity and not bad. I still prefer the taste of real sugar but that’s probably because I’m used to the taste of sugar.

Stevia

Pure Stevia, like Monk fruit extract, is a zero sugar, carb and calorie sweetener which makes it a good sugar substitute. It is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar so you need to be extra careful when adding it to food and drinks. And, like Monk fruit extract, it often is found mixed with other sweeteners so make sure to check the ingredient list.