Thursday, November 5, 2009

Interesting, Concise Post on Wheat

This is anecdotal, but consistent with a common theme if you read about the carbohydrate hypothesis for the diseases of civilization.  The kicker, for me, is that giving up bread is like giving up sugar, in that there's absolutely no significant nutrition in either. They exist in the human diet to provide calories and pleasure - we don't need calories any longer, and it seems like the short term pleasure comes at a high risk of real displeasure.

"A patient would come to the office, for example, with a blood sugar of 118 mg/dl (in the pre-diabetic range) and the other phenomena of pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high inflammation/c-reactive protein, low HDL, high triglycerides, small LDL), and the characteristic wheat belly. Eliminate wheat and, within three months, they lose 30 lbs, blood sugar drops to normal, blood pressure drops, triglycerides drop by several hundred milligrams, HDL goes up, small LDL plummets, c-reactive protein drops.
People also felt better, with flat tummies and more energy. But they also developed benefits I did not anticipate:"

The author didn't mention the issue of OCD/addicitive tendencies associated with gluten, but that's another factor to consider.

Eating for Health, Eating for Dental Health - What's the Difference?

Reminds me of Dr. Weston Price's work - essentially, he traveled the world and found that where people were super healthy, they also had great teeth and great mouth structure - IOW, one symptom of poor nutrition is seen as what we would think of as unfortunate genetics - crooked, gapped teeth.  His book provides a unique insight into what paleo nutrition really was, and is available from Amazon and on Kindle.  Search for Weston Price.  His foundation also has an informative blog.

Another Strike for Sugar
Not exactly a smoking gun, but interesting, and very consistent with my favorite reference on the topic of science and nutrition, Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories."  "If worms are any indication, all the sugar in your diet could spell much more than obesity and type 2 diabetes. Researchers reporting in the
November issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, say it might also be taking years off your life.
By adding just a small amount of glucose to C. elegans usual fare of straight bacteria, they found the worms lose about 20 percent of their usual life span. They trace the effect to insulin signals, which can block other life-extending molecular players.  Although the findings are in worms, Cynthia Kenyon of the University of
California, San Francisco, says there are known to be many similarities between worms and people in the insulin signaling pathways. (As an aside, Kenyon says she read up on low-carb diets and changed her eating
habits immediately - cutting out essentially all starches and desserts -- after making the initial discovery in worms. The discovery was made several years ago, but had not been reported in a peer-reviewed journal
until now.)"

Fructose and Sucrose Interactions with Leptin

This article ties together loose ends in the progression towards metabolic derangement.

"Sweetener consumption in the U.S. has increased from virtually nothing in 1850, to 84 pounds per year in 1909, to 119 pounds in 1970, to 142 pounds in 2005 (source)."
"This makes them an excellent model of complete leptin resistance. What happens to Zucker rats? They become obese, hypometabolic, hyperphagic, hypertensive, insulin resistant, and they develop blood lipid disturbances. It should sound familiar; it's the metabolic syndrome and it affects 24% of Americans (CDC NHANES III). Guess what's the first symptom of impending metabolic syndrome in humans, even before insulin resistance and obesity? Leptin resistance. This makes leptin an excellent contender for the keystone position in overweight and other metabolic disorders."
"Fructose increases triglycerides because it goes straight to the liver, which makes it into fat that's subsequently exported into the bloodstream. Elevated triglycerides impair leptin transport from the blood to the hypothalamus across the blood-brain barrier, which separates the central nervous system from the rest of the body. Fructose also impaired the response of the hypothalamus to the leptin that did reach it. Both effects may contribute to the leptin resistance Dr. Scarpace's group observed."

Tabata: How To Get 5 Hours Worth of Results in 40 Minutes a Week

Excerpts of Clarence Bass' comments (web site linked below) follow.
BLUF: The Tabata Protocal utilized 38 minutes of training per week, vice the control group which worked 5 hours per week.
The Control group improved their aerobic performance (measured by increase in V02max) by about 10%, but had no effect on anaerobic capacity. The high-intensity intermittent protocol improved V02max by about 14%; anaerobic capacity increased by a whopping 28%.
Maximal oxygen uptake, or V02max, is generally regarded as the best single measure of aerobic fitness. As the rate of exercise increases, your body eventually reaches a limit for oxygen consumption. This limit is the peak of your aerobic capacity, or your V02max. As intensity increases beyond V02max, your body must shift to anaerobic (without oxygen) energy production. An oxygen debt begins to build at this point and blood lactate levels climb. In general terms, one's ability to continue exercising in the face of rising oxygen deficit and lactate levels is called anaerobic capacity.
This is important because many high-intensity sports (including basketball, football, soccer and speed skating) require a high level of both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Clearly, total fitness involves both high V02max and high anaerobic capacity. A training protocol that develops both would be a godsend.
Izumi Tabata and his colleagues at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan, compared the effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on V02max and anaerobic capacity. (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (1996) 28, 1327-1330). Interestingly, the high-intensity protocol had been used by major members of the Japanese Speed Skating team for several years; it's a real-world training plan. As you will see, however, the protocol is unique among aerobic training programs for its intensity and brevity.
Many studies have been done on the effect of training on V02max, but little information has been available about the effect on anaerobic capacity. That's because until recently methods for measuring anaerobic capacity have been inadequate. This study used accumulated oxygen deficit to measure anaerobic energy release, and is one of the first to measure the effect of training on both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
Notice that the duration of the moderate-intensity and the high-intensity protocols are drastically different: (excluding warm-ups) one hour compared to only about 4 minutes per training schedule
Tabata's moderate-intensity protocol will sound familiar; it's the same steady-state aerobic training done by many (perhaps most) fitness enthusiasts.
Here are the details (stay with me on this): In the moderate-intensity group, seven active young male physical education majors exercised on stationary bicycles 5 days per week for 6 weeks at 70% of V02max, 60 minutes each session. V02max was measured before and after the training and every week during the 6 week period. As each subject's V02max improved, exercise intensity was increased to keep them pedaling at 70% of their actual V02max. Maximal accumulated oxygen deficit was also measured, before, at 4 weeks and after the training.
A second group followed a high-intensity interval program. Seven students, also young and physically active, exercised five days per week using a training program similar to the Japanese speed skaters. After a 10-minute warm-up, the subjects did seven to eight sets of 20 seconds at 170% of V02max, with a 10 second rest between each bout. Pedaling speed was 90-rpm and sets were terminated when rpms dropped below 85. When subjects could complete more than 9 sets, exercise intensity was increased by 11 watts. The training protocol was altered one day per week. On that day, the students exercised for 30 minutes at 70% of V02max before doing 4 sets of 20 second intervals at 170% of V02max. This latter session was not continued to exhaustion. Again, V02max and anaerobic capacity was determined before, during and after the training.
In some respects the results were no surprise, but in others they may be ground breaking. The moderate-intensity endurance training program produced a significant increase in V02max (about 10%), but had no effect on anaerobic capacity. The high-intensity intermittent protocol improved V02max by about 14%; anaerobic capacity increased by a whopping 28%.
Dr. Tabata and his colleagues believe this is the first study to demonstrate an increase in both aerobic and anaerobic power. What's more, in an e-mail response to Dick Winett, Dr. Tabata said, "The fact is that the rate of increase in V02max [14% for the high-intensity protocol - in only 6 weeks] is one of the highest ever reported in exercise science." (Note, the students participating in this study were members of varsity table tennis, baseball, basketball, soccer and swimming teams and already had relatively high aerobic capacities.)
The results, of course, confirm the well-known fact that the results of training are specific. The intensity in the first protocol (70% of V02max) did not stress anaerobic components (lactate production and oxygen debt) and, therefore, it was predictable that anaerobic capacity would be unchanged. On the other hand, the subjects in the high-intensity group exercised to exhaustion, and peak blood lactate levels indicated that anaerobic metabolism was being taxed to the max. So, it was probably also no big surprise that anaerobic capacity increased quite significantly.
What probably was a surprise, however, is that a 4 minute training program of very-hard 20 second repeats, in the words of the researchers, "may be optimal with respect to improving both the aerobic and the anaerobic energy release systems." That's something to write home about!

What About Fat Loss?
Angelo Tremblay, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the Physical Activities Sciences Laboratory, Laval University, Quebec, Canada, challenged the common belief among health professionals that low-intensity, long-duration exercise is the best program for fat loss. They compared the impact of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and high-intensity aerobics on fat loss. (Metabolism (1994) Volume 43, pp.814-818)
The Canadian scientists divided 27 inactive, healthy, non-obese adults (13 men, 14 women, 18 to 32 years old) into two groups. They subjected one group to a 20-week endurance training (ET) program of uninterrupted cycling 4 or 5 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes; the intensity level began at 60% of heart rate reserve and progressed to 85%. (For a 30-year-old, this would mean starting at a heart rate of about 136 and progressing to roughly 170 bpm, which is more intense than usually prescribed for weight or fat loss.)
The other group did a 15-week program including mainly high-intensity-interval training (HIIT). Much like the ET group, they began with 30-minute sessions of continuous exercise at 70% of maximum heart rate reserve (remember, they were not accustomed to exercise), but soon progressed to 10 to 15 bouts of short (15 seconds progressing to 30 seconds) or 4 to 5 long (60 seconds progressing to 90 seconds) intervals separated by recovery periods allowing heart rate to return to 120-130 beats per minute. The intensity of the short intervals was initially fixed at 60% of the maximal work output in 10 seconds, and that of the long bouts corresponded to 70% of the individual maximum work output in 90 seconds. Intensity on both was increased 5% every three weeks.
As you might expect, the total energy cost of the ET program was substantially greater than the HIIT program. The researchers calculated that the ET group burned more than twice as many calories while exercising than the HIIT program. But (surprise, surprise) skinfold measurements showed that the HIIT group lost more subcutaneous fat. "Moreover," reported the researchers, "when the difference in the total energy cost of the program was taken into account..., the subcutaneous fat loss was ninefold greater in the HIIT program than in the ET program." In short, the HIIT group got 9 times more fat-loss benefit for every calorie burned exercising.
How can that be?
Dr. Tremblay's group took muscle biopsies and measured muscle enzyme activity to determine why high-intensity exercise produced so much more fat loss. I'll spare you the details (they are technical and hard to decipher), but this is their bottom line: "[Metabolic adaptations resulting from HIIT] may lead to a better lipid utilization in the postexercise state and thus contribute to a greater energy and lipid deficit." In other words, compared to moderate-intensity endurance exercise, high- intensity intermittent exercise causes more calories and fat to be burned following the workout. Citing animal studies, they also said it may be that appetite is suppressed more following intense intervals. (Neither group was placed on a diet.)

The next time someone pipes up about the fat-burn zone, ask them if they are familiar with the Tabata and Tremblay research reports.

Interesting on Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a controversial disease that afflicts people with extreme and debilitating tiredness that lasts for many years and isn't relieved by rest. Its very existence is questioned by many,
but some estimates suggest that it affects up to 1% of the world's population. We don't know what causes it. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and kills around 221,000 people every
year. Its causes too are largely unknown. What do these two diseases have in common? They have both been recently linked to a virus called XMRV (or xenotropic murine leukaemia virus in full).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What I believe
Thanks to Elizabeth for starting this.
1 - I believe I've increased what I know about fitness and how to work hard by many orders of magnitude. I believe I started out knowing more than most. I believe I'm still learning every day and that excites me.
2 - I believe that CrossFit can have a larger positive impact on the life of a family member, friend, co-worker, or soon-to-be friend than any other pursuit.
3 - I believe most of the 'diseases of civilization' result from the over-consumption of non-animal foods in general and sugar and high density carbs in particular, and that 20 years from now this will be acknowledged in the main stream. Eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar is a prescription for a long, full life characterized by the freedom to move however the spirit inspires, being able to give, and being able to enjoy.
4 - I believe that people will work harder to avoid pain than to get pleasure, and I believe everything we do, every day, is the result of our complex and often incorrect beliefs and unconscious associations about how to get pleasure and avoid pain. I believe that CrossFit helps people to re-associate short term pain to long term pleasure. I believe that's powerful spiritual medicine.
5 - I believe in a daily courage check through the WOD and find the random nature of the WOD to be unique in providing an arena for this courage check.
6 - There's an often commented pattern of New Year's resolutions to get fit every January, and marked by attendance at a typical globo gym, these resolutions largely fail by mid February. I believe that is not so much related to the lack of discipline of those involved as it is to the lack off effectiveness of the programming that is chosen. Choosing not to pursue minimally effective fitness programming is not a failure, it is a logical choice about cost benefit analysis (often unconsciously executed). CrossFit changes the equation such that the benefits outweigh the time spent; for example, the time away from family is returned many fold in what CFers have to give their families.
7 - I think the path Coach and Lauren created, the path of functional movements and highly coached, highly skilled athletes who move as their bodies were intended to move, will change the common understanding of 'What Is Fitness?' in a generation. The improved quality of life will be un-measurable and magnificent.
8 - I believe each CF practitioner should aspire to learn everything they can from Greg and Lauren and remain open to the inevitable day when someone takes those lessons and advances the state of the art even further (as measured by the standards that Greg and Lauren have made available for that purpose). We should be as loyal to improved work capacity and Greg and Lauren are.

Good to know about the China Study

These are all very useful and discuss the China Study, how it is flawed, and hits on other significant issues relevant to carb restricted diets and health.

Fishoil is vitamin D

Fascinating analysis, but tells us what we all should know anyway - sunlight makes us feel better and if we can't get enough sunlight, there's a possible and well tested substitute: fish oil. Worth reading just to know how Eskimos used to get enough vitamin even with no citrus and no sunlight!

Fascinating Model on Fat, Evolution, and Critical Review of a Study

You're a hunter/gatherer, eating what you kill.  How has your system evolved over the last 1-2 million years to help you thrive in conditions of unpredicable food supply?

"As the food is digested, Nanook's insulin rises to allow amino acids from the protein to be absorbed into his tissues from his bloodstream. But wait, insulin also tells tissues to absorb glucose, and the meal contained virtually no carbohydrate. Nanook is in danger of hypoglycemia. Fortunately, his brain detects the palmitic acid from the meal and signals his tissues to become resistant to the glucose-transporting effect of insulin. This may also cause his liver to produce some glucose to make up for the modest amount that gets removed
from his bloodstream during the insulin spike. His blood glucose remains stable.

The next week, the herd of caribou has moved on and there's no prey in Nanook's territory. He has to live on his own body fat for two days while he hunts. Fortunately, human body fat is about 20% palmitic acid.
As fat is released into his bloodstream, the brain detects the palmitic acid and reduces peripheral insulin sensitivity. This helps Nanook's body conserve glucose and use his own body fat as fuel instead.
Over a wide range of fat, carbohydrate and calorie intakes, this system works to maintain stable blood glucose. These three scenarios all illustrate why palmitic acid would be helpful by causing temporary
insulin resistance in situations where blood glucose needs to be conserved."

Interesting On Biggest Loser Weight Loss - Do Not Emulate

Makes some interesting points about the compromises made to 'win' the show - many of which you would me smart not to emulate.

David "Chef" Wallack, He Knows What
"I believe" leaves a doubt, herein lies what I know.

1. I know that being an expert means 'knowing more and more about less and less' and that in that simplicity lies the joy of being part of such a complex community. The deep reaching and ever evolving knowledge of the experts in our CrossFit family builds a foundation impervious to fad or the fickle finger of fate.
2. I know that without Coach I would never know the joy of using the word 'milieu' on a regular basis. ;-);
3. I know that we long to fill our flesh with soul and to fill our soul with flesh, that we will one day, within us, reconcile the two eternal antagonists. Until that time we travel both paths, pleasure and pain, success and failure, with our eyes on the future not on the past. We plant trees in form of seeds.
4. I know that, as Voltaire said, "A small effort every day and the seemingly impossible completes itself." In more direct terms? To paraphrase Coach Jeff Tincher, 'You have to work your bitches.' CrossFit is like eating an Elephant: you go one bite at a time.
5. I know that I can give my athletes no more than a cue, a watchful eye and the promise that if it will get them to a higher place, a more solid base, a place where no goal is out of reach, I will move mountains with my bare hands. No one gets left behind. Ever.
6. I now know that 'Elite' is a personal benchmark and that it's the path not the peak. 'Hey Mister,
how much can you deadlift?', "A little more than yesterday, a little less than tomorrow."
7. I know that when one of my athletes goes from "I can't" to "I can," from "I can" to "I will," and finally from "I can" to "I must", I often have to turn my head to hide the tears.
8. I know that the willingness to walk, arm in arm, often bloodied and bruised, into new levels of challenge, into harms way, from complacency to extreme discomfort, to carry our weakest to the finish line is what makes our community a model for my life, my relationships and for the path I want for my children.
9. I know that after all these years, I don't give a shit what goes on inside the box. I have become a fitness whore. Thanks, Coach.
10. Finally, I know that one must be moderate in all things, even in one's moderation: you have to binge to be truly moderate. CrossFit is my reward.

Fats - Guilty of Little, Wrongly Convicted

"*Of course, they didn't mention the sucrose in the methods section. I had to go digging around for the diet's composition. This is typical of papers on "high-fat diets". They load them up with sugar, and blame everything on the fat. This kind of shenanigans wouldn't fly in a self-respecting field, but it's typical of nutrition-health papers."

Sugars and the Diseases of Civilization

In "Good Calories Bad Calories", Gary Taubes coined the term "Frankenstein of Sugars" for fructose. Think of all the fructose powered coke/soda pop/yogurt/cereal you've eaten in your life ...

Here's a concise explanation of Frankenstein:
"Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Fructose vs. Glucose Showdown
As you've probably noticed, I believe sugar is one of the primary players in the diseases of civilization. It's one of the "big three" that I focus on: sugar, industrial vegetable oil and white flour. It's becoming increasingly clear that fructose, which constitutes half of table sugar and typically 55% of high-fructose corn syrup, is the problem. A reader pointed me to a brand new study (free full text!), published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, comparing the effect of ingesting glucose vs. fructose."

Carb Control, Success

"130 obese men and women were placed on iso-caloric diets (1,700 calories for females and 1,900 calories for males). Half were following the Zone Diet guidelines (30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates, and 30 percent fat), and other half were following the USDA Food Pyramid dietary guidelines (15 percent protein, 55 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat). At the end of one year, those on the Zone Diet had lost 38 percent more fat mass than those on the USDA Food Pyramid diet. The LDL levels were the same in both groups, but the triglyceride levels were much lower and the HDL higher for those following the Zone Diet"