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sensfan15

Body Recomposition

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sensfan15

I would like to try a body recomposition, but I don't really want to 'diet'. I just want a sustainable way of eating that I can apply for the rest of my life. There is so much info out there I don't know what is correct or not. I have read that you pick a target body weight and body fat % and then eat according to that. I have also read that maybe some days you will eat below maintenace and other days you will eat above maintenance.

 

What is the best way to go about body recomposition?

 

Thanks.

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Joshua Slocum

The most sustainable way to change your body composition is to collect good habits. Going on a diet can result in short-term improvements, but ultimately such changes can't be sustained without an exceptional amount of dedication and effort.

 

Allow yourself a lot of time to gradually build up good habits. Just try to make one simple change each month. Here are some good habits to try to pick up:

 

- eliminate or minimize your consumption of sugary drinks, like soda and fruit juice. (The only exception here is your workout drink, which may have sugars in it for fuel).

- learn to like the taste of plain vegetables (if you cover them with cheese/dip/etc, that doesn't count)

- read the nutrition facts labels on *everything you buy*. 

- stop eating condiments like mayonnaise, butter, and sour cream. They have lots of fat, and most foods taste just fine without them (or even better, if you've learned to like the taste of real food).

- Split your meals: instead of 3 big meals, try to eat more regularly throughout the day. [For example, instead of eating lunch at ~1pm, I get lunch at  11, eat half, and then eat the rest around 2pm, and work out at 5pm.]

- plan out your meals (or even better, prepare them) at the beginning of each weak, so you don't have to stress about finding something healthy to eat.

- Eat. Breakfast. Make sure it has a lot of protein, a good amount of carbs, and some fat. 

- Look into the nutrition data on any prepared foods you eat on a regular basis, especially if it's advertised as healthy in some way (e.g. "low-carb" or "high protein!"). Chances are, it's still pretty unhealthy. 

- Reduce or eliminate your alcohol consumption. Consumption in moderation (e.g. a small glass of wine with dinner) can be good for you, but it's still a bunch of empty calories from all the sugar and alcohol. Consuming much more than that is also detrimental to recovery. 

 

 

Don't worry about trying to do everything at once. Just try to build one habit at a time. Eventually it'll become automatic (you'll stop having to think about it), and then you can work on adding another. 

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Joshua Naterman

Hari made a great list.

 

In terms of habits, I have my personal preferences for order, but you should do these in whatever order you feel will work best:

 

1) Eat at least 1 cup of cooked veggies with each meal. Use a measuring cup to dole these out, until you know what it looks like on a plate.

 

2) Cut out all added sugars and sweeteners. If you want sweets, eat fruits or sweet potatoes.

 

3) Cut out all processed carbohydrates, aside from an occasional ( like once a week or less) treat. Mine is chocolate chip cookie dough :) I go months without any sometimes, and then sometimes I'll have two cookies' worth of dough. Other than this VERY occasional treat, if it has been altered in ways beyond what you'd have to do in nature (like shelling seeds, or taking the husk off of rice: you'd have to do both yourself), don't eat it.

 

4) Make sure you are getting protein, carbs, and fats with every feeding. Don't just have an apple for a snack: have an apple (or half of one, whatever you need), a handful of nuts, and perhaps a small piece of meat.

 

5) Eat more often, with smaller feedings per meal (compared to a 3 meal day... the total food should be the same, just spread out a bit more)

 

6) Only buy oils that come in darkened glass containers. Plastics leach into the oil, and metal cans are lined with plastic.

 

 

If you make those 6 changes, you will be like 90% of the way towards perfection. Seriously.

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sensfan15

thanks for the advice.

 

Should I worry about the breakdown of protein, carbs, and fats? I have read get anywhere between 1 and 2.5g/protein per lb. of bodyweight, but that is a large range. How does anyone know what the optimum number is?

 

Is it a good strategy to choose a target bodyweight and fat % and eat at that level of maintenance?

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Joshua Naterman

I'm going to be honest with you: Worry about that after you make the above changes.

 

If you follow the guidelines above, and follow what feels good to you within them, you will end up in the right place.

 

Just go for 20-30g of protein per feeding and you should be fine.

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Joshua Slocum

thanks for the advice.

 

Should I worry about the breakdown of protein, carbs, and fats? I have read get anywhere between 1 and 2.5g/protein per lb. of bodyweight, but that is a large range. How does anyone know what the optimum number is?

 

Is it a good strategy to choose a target bodyweight and fat % and eat at that level of maintenance?

 

 

I don't really pay attention to total protein consumption or calorie breakdown. I just make sure every meal has lots of protein, and drink a protein shake after working out and when it feels like I haven't had enough protein that day. 

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sensfan15

What about carb sources such as rice and oatmeal? Or is having a cup of vegetables with every meal (6-8 times/day) enough for carbs? Maybe a piece of fruit immediately after a workout with whey and rice, with vegetables and meat about an hour after that...

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Joshua Slocum

What about carb sources such as rice and oatmeal? Or is having a cup of vegetables with every meal (6-8 times/day) enough for carbs? Maybe a piece of fruit immediately after a workout with whey and rice, with vegetables and meat about an hour after that...

 

You'll want some carbs, and also fats in your diet. Don't overthink it, just make sure you're getting a decent amount of both. 

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Daniel Burnham

Since we are making lists ill make one too :).

1. Eliminate sugary foods especially those high in fructose

2. Eat vegetables with every meal. Especially leafy vegetables. Mix all colors throughout the week

3. Eliminate processed carbs eat carbs from rice and vegetable sources.

4. Eliminate vegetable oils including canola and soy. Also eliminate sunflower.

5. Prefer grassed beef butter and milk.

6. Try to eat a fatty wild fish once a week.

7. Eat seasonal foods.

Some notes:

You don't need to eat vegetables plain. There is no reason your food has to taste bad. Our palate has developed as a way to trigger us to eat healthily. Processed hyper palatable foods take advantage of this but if you are eating whole foods and have stopped the cravings use your tongue as a guideline. Cook vegetables in oil and butter. Use dressings consisting of vinegar and lemon juice.

You don't have to be fat phobic. This is especially true when you are eating healthy fats. I eat a good bit of butter each day. Just match your intake with your caloric needs.

If you are doing things right food will taste good and you will feel good. Currently I am eating tequila lime chicken on a bed of greens with a light balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing, bacon and feta cheese. This tastes good!

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sensfan15

Right. Trying not to overthink it, but enough info out there to make anyone's head spin!

 

So I have put together this...the only thing I will count is the protein amount (2g/kg of BW). Ignoring the exact amount of carbs, fat, and total calorie count:

 

meal 1 - whey protein, plain oatmeal, 3 eggs

meal 2 - nuts, veggies

meal 3 - meat, veggies

meal 4 - meat, veggies

meal 5 - whey protein, fruit(PWO)

meal 6 - meat, rice, veggies

meal 7 - nuts, veggies

 

Meat will be a variation of the following: chicken, beef, fish, tofu, pork, tuna. Also drinking between 1.5-2L of water/day.

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Joshua Slocum

Yeah that's pretty reasonable. Remember that the portions should be about 1/2 to 1/3 the size of a normal meal, since you're eating 7 times a day. 

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Daniel Burnham

Personally I'm not a fan of a lot of nut consumption.

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Marcos Mocine-McQueen

Since you're asking for lifestyle changes, I'm going to make some recommendations that precede the terrific lists that were given above. I have come to believe that the old saying "Garbage in; garbage out." applies to the kitchen. Empty your kitchen of the foods you want to avoid, fill it with the good stuff. That may sound easy, but it takes a little understanding. The path to healthier eating begins not with a formula, but with understanding what real food is and where to get it.

 

1) Find your local farmers market, shop there at every chance. Farmers markets are filled with exactly the kind of food you want to eat... fresh, ripe veggies and locally raised meats, eggs and dairy. The markets contain tables piled high with so much good food that you don't need to worry about the numbers. Just buy lots of good stuff. As a bonus you're supporting your local community, economy and hard working folks who are putting out a quality product. (I've deleted a bunch of my leftist ramblings about corporate food systems here:)

 

2) Don't just shop at the market, make friends there. Most of the vendors know their food well and are happy when someone asks questions. As the vendors what they ate this week and how they ate it. You'll get some great recipes and they'll quickly remember you. They will steer you towards the stuff that is at it's peak. You'll discover a whole level of deliciousness that you've been missing at the grocery store. When you learn how good veggies taste you'll find it a lot easier to eat them. You'll also start to learn and gravitate towards the stuff that's in-season which is good for the planet.

 

3) Find your local grocers. In Denver we have two great ones, Marczycks and Tony's, that are full of the same kind of knowledgable and helpful people as the farmers market. Unlike the market, they have a longer season.

 

4) As mentioned above, shop the perimeter of your grocery store and stay away from stuff that comes in a box, can or heat sealed bag (there are exceptions, of course... quinoa, for example, is often sold in boxes). Also avoid foods that brag about how healthy they are (lower fat!).

 

5) Buy good stuff. My own personal priorities are, in order: 1) buy local, 2) buy in season 3) buy well raised veggies and meat 4) buy organic.

Note that for myself, organic is the last priority. I'd rather but a well-raised tomato from a local farmer who might not be able to afford organic labeling than an organic one from a factory farm in Mexico (damned liberal ranting still slip in!). This is just MY list. Make your own.

 

Now, some that move into the kitchen...

 

5) Have a sharp knife, know how to use it. A good 8" chef's knife will get you through 90% of what you want to do. If you can, invest in a good one which will last you decades. Have it sharpened by a pro once in a while. You can find tons of youtube videos demonstrating knife skills. If you learn to wield your knife decently you'll cut down on the time spent preparing good food.

 

6) Learn basic kitchen techniques. Learn the fundamentals of sautéing, steaming, braising and roasting. There are a bunch of good books out there. My personal favorite is Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio. Ruhlman's Twenty is another great book and it's cheap if you have a kind, ipad or other eReader (something like $5). Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is also a great resource for basic recipes that's available as a book or extremely thorough app. My final recommendation may seem odd, but the lastest edition of The Joy of Cooking has a fantastic and thorough section on food basics (it's the grey pages at the back). You don't need all of these and in fact just one will serve you for quite some time.

 

7) Understand that eating well is just like training well: it takes time. Don't believe the books that tell you that you can eat well without putting in the time to learn and develop your skill. It doesn't take hours every day, it's not a huge amount of time, but eating well does take a bit more time that eating crap. The results, however are fantastic and just like training it's fun when you get better.

 

8) Educate yourself. I recommend In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and Food Matter by Mark Bittman. 

 

Hope this is at least a little helpful. These are not, in any way, meant to substitute for the very knowledgable posts above. I learn from reading those guys posts every single day. My post may not be exactly what you asked for, but I believe that these are the preparatory steps to sustainable change. This is, if you will, Foundations 1 of healthy eating.

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Larry Roseman

Right. Trying not to overthink it, but enough info out there to make anyone's head spin!

 

So I have put together this...the only thing I will count is the protein amount (2g/kg of BW). Ignoring the exact amount of carbs, fat, and total calorie count:

 

meal 1 - whey protein, plain oatmeal, 3 eggs

meal 2 - nuts, veggies

meal 3 - meat, veggies

meal 4 - meat, veggies

meal 5 - whey protein, fruit(PWO)

meal 6 - meat, rice, veggies

meal 7 - nuts, veggies

 

Meat will be a variation of the following: chicken, beef, fish, tofu, pork, tuna. Also drinking between 1.5-2L of water/day.

If you are recomping are basically maintaining the same weight but reduce fat and gain muscle. It's possible but takes time to see results. Also keep in mind that fat loss occurs faster than muscle gain. In any event, workout nutrition is key there. I think you want to run a small deficit during the day but then catch up and run a small surplus around the workout (and for at least 6 hours afterwards). You can manage that with timing the meals and portion control, using hunger as a guide I feel. Expensive software isn't required. Read Josh's workout nutrition posts.

It's much better than cutting and bulking if you are GB or other sports training.

 

That said, on to your menu.

 

It seems you are avoiding most grains and dairy.

Cutting out entire classes of food makes it easier to avoid overeating, as there is less of a selection.

However it does increase the chance of a deficiency of one thing or the other.

 

I'm not a big wheat eater however in the form of whole breads and pasta occasionally

they are a good source of often needed carbs. Just not in huge or quantities or highly sugared refined products.

Generally whole grains are ok and heart healthy. But if you wish to avoid, by all means.

 

Dairy is great to me - yogurt/kefir, cottage cheese, milk, eggs - good source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, good fats. For example, can toss a cup of veggies into a pan and add a few eggs and egg whites for an omlett sometimes. It could replace a meat meal once per day.

 

Don't be afraid of a fruit as a snack or with breakfast  (berries in the oatmeal for example).

 

Nuts are ok. A few small handfuls a day have been shown to reduce appetite. I go through phases with these.

 

Hope it works out !

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sensfan15

Lots of great information here. Thank you all.

 

Future is now, can you explain a little more about running a deficit during the day but then running a surplus around the workout and afterwards? Do you mean I should calculate my maintenance calories and run the deficit/surplus around that? So basically eat smaller size portions during the day and eat much larger portions around my workout and after? No need to count calories?

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Joshua Naterman

You should always, always, always have a rough idea of how much energy you are taking in with each meal.

 

You don't need to know decimals, but you should be able to figure out whether you're eating 300 kcal or 450 kcal, you know what I mean?

 

In my opinion, too many people have made lists and you don't know what to do first. Tell me if I've got this wrong, please.

 

In the event that this is the case, go with the list that is the easiest for YOU to implement, and go do that for two months.

 

You are trying to learn how to fix everything at once, and I don't think that's a good idea... it is too easy to feel overwhelmed. You need to start with some basics.

 

My list and Daniels list are my two favorites, because they both lead you to a whole food diet in a reasonable number of fairly easy steps. It is much, much harder to overeat when eating whole foods. They are just so bulky that it is hard to eat too much. SO, it is definitely MY preference to start this way.

 

I realize you have a lot of questions, but I think you will have a better chance of success if you treat this like a college course. Learn one thing every week or two. By the end of the semester or year, you'll have learned a whole lot AND implemented it in a useful way. Learning to really make meaningful lifestyle changes is a reasonable bit of work at first, and taking on too much at one time tends to lead to burn-out.

 

That is why I am suggesting that you learn the basics. Once you have mastered one of the basic lists, THEN you will have established lots of good habits that will be hard to un-learn, because they are the basics that you will later learn to fine-tune. You may even find that these habits alone are enough to get you everything that you want, and in that case there is no NEED to get more detailed!

 

Either way, My advice is to take this slow. Nutrition is no different than education or the Foundation series: Start with the basics, and master the basics. Then move to the next level, one by one, mastering each one along the way.

 

Once you make your decision about which list you will start on, whether it is one of my preferred lists or not, stop listening to any other advice until you have mastered that list. If you have questions about implementing any particular goal, ask, but remember that you're working on one goal at a time. Don't ask questions about things you're not doing yet. Everything should come in its own time.

 

The side benefit of this is that you are learning the art of mastery, which can be applied to every single thing you will ever try to learn.

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Larry Roseman

Lots of great information here. Thank you all.

 

Future is now, can you explain a little more about running a deficit during the day but then running a surplus around the workout and afterwards? Do you mean I should calculate my maintenance calories and run the deficit/surplus around that? So basically eat smaller size portions during the day and eat much larger portions around my workout and after? No need to count calories?

First read Josh's post prior to this. Whole foods are best, with whey if you need a little more protein.

Milk, eggs, cheese and grains are staples - some not whole strictly by definition but minimally

processed and wholesome in reasonable amounts IMO.  Likewise legumes - beans/peas.

They represent main food groups so excluding them should be considered carefully.  Don't mean to confuse you with this. It's a basic and key point most dietitians and sports nutritionists support.

 

Also, if you are recomping you are not necessarily trying to lose weight. Do you have a need to lose weight as well? 

 

What's funny is that sometimes when people start to eat healthfully and cut out junk, they have a harder time meeting their caloric requirements. Then you will start dropping some weight too. Ignore the first week of weight loss though which is a lot of water usually. As Josh says it's good know approximately how much your taking in and expending. After a while your intuition and hunger become good guides too. 

 

But yes, if you eat at least something moderate like 60 minutes before and have larger meals after training that should help recomping. If you won't eat a meal after for a few hours, it would make sense to have a shake shortly after post-workout.  If that's too much to worry about for now, don't sweat it. It's mostly a theoretic benefit. Also interesting with timing is that frequently the deficit occurs during sleep, so you don't even feel it!

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sensfan15

I hear what your saying josh. I will just start with your list for a while. A few of the things I do and a few I dont. Do people seriously eat vegetables in the morning? Can I just eat some fruit in the morning and wait for lunch to have a big salad? or do you literally mean EVERY single meal should have veggies? Also, is it necessary to use any oil at all? I can get fats from nuts, eggs, and milk.

 

Also, can I just eat vegetables raw? I read something a while back saying its better to cook, but I dont remember the details.

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Joshua Naterman

I personally eat vegetables every single meal, a minimum of one cup of cooked vegetables even at breakfast, and half of that is green leaves. Sometimes I'll cook this into four eggs, sometimes I just dump it onto rice, sometimes I have it as a side dish, but I always have it nowadays... it is seriously just such a good feeling to eat this way that I have no desire to avoid vegetables at all. I prefer them.

 

You can exclusively eat jolly ranchers for every meal if you want to, no one's twisting your arm.

 

The more veggies you eat, the better. You should eat fruits too, but the vegetables have a lot of cofactors and coenzymes (vitamins and minerals) that you won't find in fruit, and all of that works to help you make the best possible use of your food.

 

If you're eating six to eight meals a day, and one or two of them doesn't have veggies, that's not a big deal. You want fruit instead for those meals? Go for it. This is the point at which arguing about those last two meals is just silly.

 

My preference is to eat a lot more than three meals per day, but if you are only eating three real meals then they should all have veggies.

Salad is not sufficient for vegetable matter. You need to have lots of different colors. Green beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, orange or red peppers, white and purple onions, purple potatoes, etc. You can get a lot of blues, purples and reds from berries as well. Greens are pretty exclusively a vegetable, because many of the chemicals are unique to leaves.

 

It is my preference that you don't overthink this too much, but instead just focus on getting that plant matter into all of your meals. It can, and often will, be a mix of some fruits, berries, and veggies.

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking vs raw:

 

1) Cleanliness: Cooking ensures that you don't get e. coli and a few other nasty problems.

2) Ability to get the goodies out: Cooking breaks open most, if not all, of the cell walls, which we cannot digest our way through. Cooking allows us to extract the most nutrients.

 

 

Some veggies are more enjoyable raw, but most are better cooked. Make sure you wash anything you eat raw extremely thoroughly, and use dish soap. Preferaby natural dish soap.

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FREDERIC DUPONT

Before 0830am, bacon counts as a green leaf veggie... :P

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sensfan15

Right. By salad I meant spinach,broccoli,peppers,cucumber,tomato,etc. Obviously just iceberg lettuce won't cut it =)

Also, I am just in the process of moving and will be without a fridge for a while so will have to make trips to the market everyday (glad there is one right across the street!). Obviously I need to buy just enough produce to last for the day only. How long can I leave veggies on the counter without them spoiling? Tomatoes,peppers,and cucumbers should be fine but what about broccoli and spinach? They will be left out for 12 hours or so at the longest. Should I just store them in a dry, dark place? Hopefully it will be fine!!They are not refrigerated at the market so this should make them last longer...

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Vincent Stoyas

I now eat vegetables with EVERY meal and this is a milestone for me. I never ate vegetables as a kid; I ate a salad for this time when I was 20 years old.

I'm finally starting to like them, but still, I never look forward to eating them. Two things that help me get veggies in are: stir fry and soup. Stir fry veggies are delicious by themselves while soup helps masks the flavour.

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Joshua Slocum

I think broccoli should be fine in a cool, dark place for 12 hours. You may want to consider getting a small cooler (or just finding a good sized styrofoam container) and icing your vegetables each day. 

 

You could also buy frozen vegetables, so that they'd be just starting to defrost by the time you got back, and if you packed them in with the fresh veggies, they'd keep the fresh ones cool. 

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Larry Roseman

I now eat vegetables with EVERY meal and this is a milestone for me. I never ate vegetables as a kid; I ate a salad for this time when I was 20 years old.

I'm finally starting to like them, but still, I never look forward to eating them. Two things that help me get veggies in are: stir fry and soup. Stir fry veggies are delicious by themselves while soup helps masks the flavour

 

Haha.  Spices also help, as mentioned recently. Try a poached or runny fried egg over them occassionally.  Adds a creamy and rich taste that is to die for.

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Marcos Mocine-McQueen

How long can I leave veggies on the counter without them spoiling? Tomatoes,peppers,and cucumbers should be fine but what about broccoli and spinach? They will be left out for 12 hours or so at the longest. Should I just store them in a dry, dark place? Hopefully it will be fine!!They are not refrigerated at the market so this should make them last longer...

Veggies will last a lot longer than we give them credit for. If you keep them in a cool place (i.e. out of the sun) they will often last for days or longer.

 

I'm living in Japan right now and almost no veggies are refrigerated in grocery stores nor at home. There are, of course exceptions and the hotter the day, the shorter the lifespan.

 

Firm veggies like brocoli, cauliflower, carrots and peas/bean last for at least a couple of days. Veggies with a strong skin like cucumber, eggplant and squashes also last for days. The leafy vegetables last a little less time, more like a day or so without a refrigerator.

 

I consider foul smells, mold or weeping to be an automatic ditch. Don't worry about a few small spots of brown, that's usually fine.

 

If your green leafies have wilted but don't show signs of spoiling try peeling off the outside leaves to see how the inside ones are doing. Also, try submerging them in ice water for a few minutes as this will often bring them back to crisp, tip-top shape.

 

I know these ideas may make some people cringe, as it did me when I first started. Japan, however, is an highly germ-phobic society and doesn't mess around with food safety/public health issues. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.

 

Also, having a miniature fridge, as is common here, has actually helped me. I see my veggies every time I walk into the kitchen and so I remember their presence much easier. I am eating way more veggies because I am seeing way more veggies.

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