Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wolf's Paleolithic Solutions"
Robb Wolf's podcasts are a goldmine of both useful and theoretical applications of the paleolithic model of nutrition.  I expect his book will be equally useful.  In the youtube link above, Robb discusses his book.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


"Every regimen, every routine contains within its structure a blueprint for its deficiency. If you only work your weight training at low reps you won’t develop the localized muscular endurance that you might have otherwise. If you work high reps exclusively you won’t build the same strength or power that you would have at low rep. There are advantages and disadvantages to working out slowly, quickly, high weight, low weight, “cardio” before, cardio after, etc. For the fitness that we are pursuing, every parameter within your control needs to be modulated to broaden the stimulus as much as possible. Your body will only respond to an unaccustomed stressor; routine is the enemy of progress and broad adaptation. Don’t subscribe to high reps, or low reps, or long rests, or short rests, but strive for variance."
"So then, what are we to do? Work on becoming a better weightlifter, stronger-better gymnast, and faster rower, runner, swimmer, cyclist is the answer. There are an infinite number of regimens that will deliver the goods. Generally, we have found that three days on and one day off allows for a maximum sustainability at maximum intensities. One of our favorite workout patterns is to warm-up and then perform three to five sets of three to five reps of a fundamental lift at a moderately comfortable pace followed by a ten-minute circuit of gymnastics elements at a blistering pace and finally finish with two to ten minutes of high intensity metabolic conditioning. There is nothing sacred in this pattern. The magic is in the movements not the routine. Be creative."

Classic Quotes, Voltaire

Someone said to Voltaire, "Life is hard." Voltaire replied, "Compared to what?"
Courtesy of

Artificial Sweetners

The research shows that aspartame and other 'fake' sweetners can stimulate the 'anticipatory' insulin spike - a body used to big doses of sugar starts the insulin as self defense prior to ingestion, again when the food hits the mouth, and then again as blood sugar rises. It's a defense mechanism kind of like pavlov's dogs learned to salivate to the bell sound. So folks who too much sugars (average American - 150#/year) probably are not helping a ton by using aspartame etc.
I don't think one diet coke/day will kill you. That's what I shoot for as a max, it's a good day if drink none.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Statin/Rhabdo Connection

All medical interventions involve some risk/reward curve. After all, NSAIDS (like ibuprophen) cause more deaths each year than AIDS. However, there's reason to believe that the risk/reward curve for statins is different than what most physicians assume. I cannot and would not advise anyone on use of statins, except to be careful about high intensity workouts if you use them. But I hate to think of how many uninformed statin users (and prescribers) there are. How can they make realistic decisions? Most of them could use diet to eliminate the symptoms that make their doctors think they'd be a good candidate for statins. We met Dr. Graveline in an earlier post (Dr. Graveline on Statins), and here's a follow up from his very interesting web site:

"In August 2001 the statin drug, Baycol, was removed from the market after causing at least 60 deaths. As a result, the safety of all statin drugs has subsequently come into question. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that statins in common use cause considerably fewer adverse side effects than Baycol, the agency acknowledges that their use does pose some risk.
"All statins increase a patient's chances of developing myositis and rhabdomyolysis, potentially fatal conditions that cause muscle pain and muscle deterioration and may lead to kidney failure. According to the FDA, the chances of developing myositis or rhabdomyolysis from statins are low. As such, they remain on the market.
"It should be noted that with the exception of Baycol, most doctors believe that the benefits of statin therapy far outweigh the risks associated with this class of drugs. No small part of this belief is based on ignorance, for deaths and disability from rhabdomyolysis is often not effectively communicated to the busy practicing physician.
"Until recently my own access to this kind of information was derived primarily from my hundreds of reports from disgruntled statin users. Even some of my astronaut friends have been ravaged by statins with disabling aches and pains, persisting years after the offending statin was discontinued. Many of the letters I receive report this kind of problem, muscle pain appearing shortly after starting their statin that appears to be permanent in that it does not go away even after years.
"Reports of rhabdomyolysis have been sparse but I put that in the category of "dead men tell no tales" for deaths are rarely reported to me. The letters I have received have been mostly narrow escapes from rhabdomyolysis of the type publicized in Smart Money magazine of the unfortunate husband of Sharon Hope, who only now is becoming somewhat functional but not at all like he was in his former CEO capacity.
"A review of FDA records on statin use up to the year 2000 revealed that a surprising 81 rhabdomyolysis deaths and over 385 hospitalizations for rhabdomyolysis were caused by a statin other than Baycol (cerivastatin). Of these 81 deaths, 13 were due to Lipitor (atorvastatin), 27 were due to Mevacor (lovastatin) 10 were due to Pravachol (pravastatin) and 30 deaths were due to Zocor (simvastatin).
"These rather astonishing figures were those up to the year 2000. Since that time promotion and sales of all statins have sky-rocketed, higher and higher dosage levels are in vogue and the super-powerful statin, Crestor, has been added. When the FDA finally sees fit to release current figures for rhabdomyolysis deaths and hospitalizations, I should not be surprised to learn that the pre 2000 figures will be quadrupled.
"All this to lower one's cholesterol in a research environment that increasingly is telling us of cholesterol's irrelevancy in the atherosclerotic process. We now increasingly think that inflammation is the culprit. Why then this misguided focus on cholesterol? Yes, statin drugs are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. That appears to be their mechanism of action in cardiovascular risk reduction. It makes sense to me that dosing of these powerful drugs should be based on inflammatory markers not cholesterol levels. Duane Graveline MD MPH, Former USAF Flight Surgeon,
Former NASA Astronaut, Retired Family Doctor"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hannibal Lecter Special

Posted: 17 Sep 2010 11:05 AM PDT
"If you want to make foie gras, you feed ducks and geese copious quantities of grains, such as corn and wheat.
"The carbohydrate-rich diet causes fat deposition in the liver via processes such as de novo lipogenesis, the conversion of carbohydrates to triglycerides. Ducks and geese are particularly good at this, since they store plentiful fats in the liver to draw from during sustained periods of not eating during annual migration.
"Modern humans are trying awfully hard to create their own version of foie gras-yielding livers. While nobody is shoving a tube down our gullets, the modern lifestyle of grotesque carbohydrate overconsumption, like soft drinks, chips, pretzels, crackers, and--yes--"healthy whole grains" causes fat accumulation in the human liver.
"Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatosis, two forms of liver disease that result from excess fat deposition. The situation gets so bad in some people that it progresses to cirrhosis, i.e., a hard, poorly-functioning liver that paints a very ugly health picture. The end-result is identical to that experienced by longstanding alcoholics.
"While Hannibal Lecter might celebrate the proliferation of human fatty livers with a glass of claret, fatty liver disease is an entirely preventable condition. All it requires is not eating the foods that create it in the first place.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lustig QnA
"Q. Dr. Lustig, I heard you on KQED and was quite impressed by the information regarding sugar. I am wondering, are more "natural" or less processed forms of sugar such as maple syrup or honey a more healthy way to sweeten things? Or are they equivalent to white sugar?
"A. White sugar is sucrose, which is half glucose and half fructose (fruit sugar). Although glucose generates an insulin response (and therefore promotes deposition of energy into fat and weight gain right after a meal), fructose is the really bad actor. Fructose is like "alcohol without the buzz." It poisons your liver, and makes it insulin resistant; therefore, your pancreas makes even more insulin to make the liver work properly. This forces energy into fat all the time. Maple syrup and honey are just glucose. While caloric and insulin generating (therefore obesogenic), they don't have fructose to damage the liver and promote insulin resistance. So, although not perfect, they would be better than sucrose.
"Q. You've been quoted as saying that juice, even "100% natural" is no better than soda, because they contain the same carbohydrates. Would you recommend drinking diet soda, then, as an alternative to either juice or regular soda? What about coffee or tea, sweetened with sugar (I mean here brewed and then sweetened, as opposed to bottled teas and coffee drinks, which I assume are as bad as soda and juice)?
"A. Diet sodas don't have calories, although some sweeteners can still generate a small insulin response. So, on balance, diet sodas are better than sugared ones, if you like percolating chemicals through your bloodstream. Sweetened coffees or teas are no better than soda, as they still generate an insulin response, and they are sweetened with sucrose (which is half fructose, which is bad for your liver). My question to you is, why do you need sweet drinks at all? What's wrong with water? The human race had no sweet drinks until 1915, when Coca-Cola went national. Until then, we had water and milk, and we did just fine, thank you. Juice was invented in the 1950s. We didn't have obesity in the first half of the 20th century. But we have seen both soft drinks and juice sales rise astronomically, at the same time the obesity epidemic started to build. There is some suggestion that the earlier you expose an infant to "sweet", the more likely they will crave it later. We need to get America off its "sweet habit". Water has everything you need, and nothing you don't. And it's cheap."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's the Hips

"All strength improvement emanates from the center of the body—hips, glutes, upper leg—then radiates upward and downward." 
Bill Star

Reinterpreting the First Law of Thermodynamics
"Childhood obesity has become epidemic over the past 30 years. The First Law of Thermodynamics is routinely interpreted to imply that weight gain is secondary to increased caloric intake and/or decreased energy expenditure, two behaviors that have been documented during this interval; nonetheless, lifestyle interventions are notoriously ineffective at promoting weight loss. Obesity is characterized by hyperinsulinemia. Although hyperinsulinemia is usually thought to be secondary to obesity, it can instead be primary, due to autonomic dysfunction. Obesity is also a state of leptin resistance, in which defective leptin signal transduction promotes excess energy intake, to maintain normal energy expenditure. Insulin and leptin share a common central signaling pathway, and it seems that insulin functions as an endogenous leptin antagonist. Suppressing insulin ameliorates leptin resistance, with ensuing reduction of caloric intake, increased spontaneous activity, and improved quality of life. Hyperinsulinemia also interferes with dopamine clearance in the ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens, promoting increased food reward. "
"Accordingly, the First Law of Thermodynamics can be reinterpreted, such that the behaviors of increased caloric intake and decreased energy expenditure are secondary to obligate weight gain. This weight gain is driven by the hyperinsulinemic state, through three mechanisms: energy partitioning into adipose tissue; interference with leptin signal transduction; and interference with extinction of the hedonic response to food."

In other words, eating low quality food results in partitioning of that food into fat.  As a result, you will be hungry and feel lethargic.  This lesson was most completely articulated by Gary Taubes in "Good Calories, Bad Calories."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Stretching for the Squat

Less effort for the same work is better than more effort.

Lustig Article
"The obesity epidemic is caused by a "poisoned" food supply that is altering people's biochemistry and driving them to eat more and move less, according to a hypothesis proposed by a UCSF doctor who culled results from thousands of studies on obesity.
"It is unfair and unhelpful to blame personal behaviors, especially a lack of self-control, for the country's rising obesity rates, says Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatrician and nationally renowned obesity expert.
"The processed food that is most readily available to Americans -- from potato chips and cookies to yogurt and white bread -- is loaded with sugars that cause the body to believe that it is hungry, which makes people feel compelled to consume more calories and conserve energy, he said. Sugar makes the body produce more insulin, which blocks hormones that would normally tell the brain to stop eating, he said.
"Breaking the pattern of sugar consumption -- a pattern that Lustig compares to nicotine addiction -- is more than just a matter of willpower. It will take a grassroots effort of doctors, community leaders and consumers to force the government and the food industry to get those sugary foods out of mainstream American diets, he said."
Read more:

Does any of this sound familiar, dear readers?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"By following an effective diet, many of these abnormalities (genetically driven conditions of excessive cholesterol or triglicerides, aka "hyperlipidemias"-Editor's Note) can be dramatically corrected, sometimes completely. Familial hypertriglyceridemia, for instance, an inherited disorder of lipoprotein lipase in which triglyceride levels can exceed 1000 mg/dl, high enough to cause pancreatic damage, responds incredibly well to carbohydrate restriction and over-the-counter fish oil. I have a number of these people who enjoy triglyceride levels below 100 mg/dl--unheard of in conventionally treated people with this disorder." (Note: Many folks on a 'low fat' diet have a hard time getting their Tg levels below 100 even without genetic abnormality).
"Then why is it that, time after time, I see these people in consult, often as second or third opinions from lipidologists (presumed lipid specialists) or cardiologists, when the only solutions offered are 1) Lipitor or other statin drug, and 2) a low-fat diet? Occasionally, an aggressive lipidologist might offer niacin, a fibrate drug (Tricor or fenofibrate), or Lovaza (prescription fish oil).
"Sadly, the world of lipid disorders has been reduced to prescribing a statin drug and little else, 9 times out of 10.
"I continue to be shocked at the incredible influence the drug industry has over not just prescribing patterns, but thinking patterns. Perhaps I should say non-thinking patterns. The drugs make it too easy to feel like the doctor is doing something when, in truth, they are doing the minimum (at best) and missing an opportunity to provide true health-empowering advice that is far more likely to yield maximum control over these patterns with little to no medication.
"All in all, I am grateful that there is a growing discipline of "lipidology," a specialty devoted to diagnosing and treating hyperlipidemias. Unfortunately, much of the education of the lipidologist is too heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. Not surprisingly, the drug people favor "education" that highlights their high-revenue products.
"Seeing a lipidologist is still better than seeing most primary care physicians or cardiologists. Just beware that you might be walking into the hands of someone who is simply the unwitting puppet of the pharmaceutical industry."

All in all, this makes sense.  If you abandon your health to the 'experts', you get 'expert' help and all the goods/bads that go with that.  The truth about doctors is that there are very good docs, very bad docs, and the majority that are somewhere in between.  It is very difficult to gauge in an objective way, and that's even for those few who get to choose.  We live in a long standing medical cartel, in which the power of the state has long been used to give AMA doctors legal protection from competition.  There are issues that result from that, most are not good for consumers. 
That said, warts and all, we still at this point in time have the most innovative health care, and the highest quality health care that one could get short of being wealthy enough to travel the globe.
Lastly, as Dr. Davis points out, low carb diets provide the best results for health for most if not all folks, even those with very challenging genetic starting points.  Folks who take the time to measure this prove the rule.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WOD Tues, 21 Sep

10 Clean and Jerks, 200m Run, 3 RFT

Nic, 75#, 8.13
JK, 75#, 8.36
Star, 55#, 10.46

Statin Issues

Muscle problems includes rhabdomyolosis, and by the calculations of Dr. Graveline (, more folks have been killed by this condition that will be saved .... by a wide margin.

Date:   January 29, 2009
First Comprehensive Paper on Statins’ Adverse Effects Released
A paper co-authored by Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of UC San Diego’s Statin Study group cites nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), a class of drugs widely used to treat high cholesterol.
The result is a review paper, currently published in the on-line edition of American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs, that provides the most complete picture to date of reported side effects of statins, showing the state of evidence for each.  The paper also helps explain why some people have a higher risk than others for such adverse effects.
“Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs’ adverse side effects,” said Golomb.  “But cognitive problems and peripheral neuropathy, or pain or numbness in the extremities like fingers and toes, are also widely reported.” A spectrum of other problems, ranging from blood glucose elevations to tendon problems, can also occur as side effects from statins.
The paper cites clear evidence that higher statin doses or more powerful statins – those with a stronger ability to lower cholesterol – as well as certain genetic conditions, are linked to greater risk of developing side effects.
“Physician awareness of such side effects is reportedly low,” Golomb said.  “Being vigilant for adverse effects in their patients is necessary in order for doctors to provide informed treatment decisions and improved patient care.”
The paper also summarizes powerful evidence that statin-induced injury to the function of the body’s energy-producing cells, called mitochondria, underlies many of the adverse effects that occur to patients taking statin drugs.
Mitochondria produce most of the oxygen free radicals in the body, harmful compounds that “antioxidants” seek to protect against.  When mitochondrial function is impaired, the body produces less energy and more “free radicals” are produced.  Coenzyme Q10 (“CoQ10”) is a compound central to the process of making energy within mitochondria and quenching free radicals.  However, statins lower Q10 levels because they work by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production – the same pathway by which Q10 is produced.  Statins also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports Q10 and other fat-soluble antioxidants.
“The loss of Q10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage mitochondrial DNA,” said Golomb, who explained that loss of Q10 may lead to a greater likelihood of symptoms arising from statins in patients with existing mitochondrial damage – since these people especially rely on ample Q10 to help bypass this damage.  Because statins may cause more mitochondrial problems over time – and as these energy powerhouses tend to weaken with age—new adverse effects can also develop the longer a patient takes statin drugs.
“The risk of adverse effects goes up as age goes up, and this helps explain why,” said Golomb.  “This also helps explain why statins’ benefits have not been found to exceed their risks in those over 70 or 75 years old, even those with heart disease.”  High blood pressure and diabetes are linked to higher rates of mitochondrial problems, so these conditions are also clearly linked to a higher risk of statin complications, according to Golomb and co-author Marcella A. Evans, of UC San Diego and UC Irvine Schools of Medicine.
The connection between statins’ antioxidant properties and mitochondrial risk helps explain a complicated finding that statins can protect against the very same problems, in some people, to which they may predispose others – problems such as muscle and kidney function or heart arrhythmia.
This paper was funded in part by a Robert Wood Johnson Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar award to Dr Golomb.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shi No Ubi's Picture Of Success

My friend has hit the 30 pound milestone!  Along the way, he's started to heal his damaged metabolism.  His system, no longer bombarded by wheat and other 'sugar bomb' foods, is regaining the capacity to regulate the levels of glucose he sustains.  Going from a waking glucose of 110, to a waking glucose of 99, is a significant shift in health in and of itself.  Why?  High glucose levels are associated with everything you don't want; high weight, a future of medications, accelerated aging, CVD, and a long, drawn out, decline in physical, and mental, fitness.  
The best measure of the health of your metabolism is called an A1c - it measures how much your hemoglobin has been 'glycated.'  Glycation is the process by which proteins are damaged by binding to sugars in a way that makes the proteins non-functional junk.  Glycation to some degree is inevitable, but above a certain level, it is associated with all the diseases of the West.  In other words, high glucose levels will generate too much glycation, and that will be reflected in the A1c number.  
Every day, my friend works to unload his metabolic systems (by eating meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar or wheat), allowing healing, which is reflected in his decreasing AM glucose readings.  He'll see the daily successes reflected in the A1c from his next visit to a doctor.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Lustig on Fructose
"Doctors have long assumed that there is a connection between increasing sugar consumption and the country's out-of-control obesity epidemic. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition earlier this week suggested that a single can of soda a day can add 15 pounds a year.
"And increasingly, physicians are becoming frustrated with patients who are obese or in danger of becoming obese and seem incapable of making the lifestyle changes that are necessary to lose weight.
"If Lustig's hypothesis is correct, then it's no wonder physicians are frustrated: Their patients are driven to eat more and exercise less, in much the same way they're driven to drink when they're thirsty.
"Your body is telling you to eat more. Our bodies don't do well fighting biochemical drive," Lustig said. "Try to not drink something after you've eaten a pizza, when you're thirsty."
Read more:

Dr. L is articulating a primary element of dietary success - if you eat in a way that results in hunger, you will eat more and you will be drawn to particularly poor quality foods.  If you eat very nourishing food, foods that provide adequate protein and fat, you get stable blood sugar, health, and a normal appetite.

You won't win a long term battle against your appetite.  You win by keeping quality foods handy, and enjoying how much better quality food tastes when you are not eating low quality, high sugar/starch foods.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's a Shame

"Then they matched those needs with exercises. Some of those are already in use by the Army, but others are new and still others are drawn from century-old routines. There are drills that mimic climbing, that teach soldiers how to roll and that require swift lateral movements. Some are done in body armor.
The program was largely the brainchild of two former gym teachers who now run the Army Physical Fitness School based here. They are a military version of Click and Clack, finishing each other's sentences and wisecracking with the alternating beat of gas-fired pistons.
One, Stephen Van Camp, is a former professional kick-boxer who unwittingly ran a marathon with a fractured ankle. "That's not tough. That's stupid," he now says. The other, Frank Palkoska, is a former Army officer and West Point fitness instructor who adorns his office here with black-and-white photographs of 19th-century exercise classes and an assortment of retrograde equipment like medicine balls and wooden dumbbells.

Under General Hertling, the new regimen will also include a makeover of the mess halls at its training bases. At Fort Jackson, there are more green leafy vegetables, less fried food, and milk instead of soda. The food line includes color-coded messages to encourage privates to eat low-fat entrees ... evidence suggests many soldiers are becoming overweight, particularly during or soon after deployments."

It's very discouraging that the Army has to ignore the best science to try and solve their obesity issues.  The troops need quality fat, no more gatorade or Hooahh Bars, and a science based diet vice the USDA's abomination pyramid.  My forecast is the low fat approach won't help a bit, and may hurt.  Low fat makes you fat or hungry, impairs virtually every aspect of health, reduces mental acuity, makes you susceptible to hypo-glycemia when you don't re-feed every 2-3 hours, and in results in high blood sugars, accelerated aging and nearly always to metabolic derangement.  And it's a damned dirty shame because our troops deserve better!!
One day, when this is long since proved a failure, we'll see a test - let competing teams offer the diet and fitness regimen that creates the best Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.  That's the only approach that will truly serve our fighting forces, their health, their performance, and their mission accomplishment.

Here's where the low fat rubber meets the murderous road - it's a stretch to say the man's low fat diet resulted in this outcome, but it's not impossible, as Lierre Kieth documents in her masterwork, "The Vegetarian Myth."  Low fat is low health and mental impairment.
"FORT McPHERSON, Ga. (AP) - Sgt. Rashad Valmont of the Army Reserve was fasting to meet strict military weight guidelines and nearly catatonic when he shot and killed a supervisor, the soldier's lawyer said.
Details of the shooting were revealed for the first time Monday at a military hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to go to trial.
The lawyer, William Cassara, said that Sergeant Valmont, who faces a premeditated murder charge, was dehydrated, exhausted and delirious when he burst into Master Sgt. Pedro Mercado's office in Fort Gillem in June. Mr. Cassara said Sergeant Valmont had spent weeks trying body wraps and sauna treatments and starving himself."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Great story

Dr. Davis brings one back from the brink ...

"It's now been six years with her "widow maker" and Gwen has been fine: no recurrence of her symptoms, all stress tests performed have been normal, reflecting normal blood flow in her coronary arteries.
Should ALL people with symptomatic widow makers undergo such an effort and avoid procedures? No, not yet. Prevention and reversal efforts are indeed powerful, but slow. Some people just may not have sufficient time to accomplish what Gwen did. The fact that Gwen showed evidence for reduced flow in the LAD worried me in particular. There is no question that mortality benefits for stenting or bypass of this location are not as large as previously thought (see here, for instance), but each case needs to be viewed individually, factoring in flow characteristics in the artery, appearance of "stability" or "instability" of the plaque itself, not to mention commitment of the person. But it can be done."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Meaning For Fire Of The Gods
This is a magnificent, and short, bit of conjecture about what made us human - which was, in a word, fire.

While it is fascinating to consider from any number of angles, it has a special relevance for a blog and business inspired by the myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to humans.

Raw foodists, view at the risk of being converted.  Infertile raw foodists who desire to be fertile, view immediately!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fructose Feeds ...

"Dr. Richard Johnson has written one of the best books on the market on the health dangers of fructose, called The Sugar Fix, which explains how fructose causes high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and kidney disease. As I've mentioned previously, he does promote the use of artificial sweeteners in this book, which I cannot recommend.  His research on fructose, however, is unsurpassed in my opinion.
Now it's safe to say that cancer, at least pancreatic cancer, is also definitely on the list of diseases that are directly linked to excessive fructose consumption."
And why wouldn't it?  We know cancer feeds preferentially on sugar, and is more sensitive to the action of insulin and IGF1 than normal cells (see the summary in "Good Calories Bad Calories").  We we most likely only had access to fructose in small amounts during a short season of the year - now we are able to drink unlimited amounts whenever we want to, all seasons, any hour, with less effort than it would take to find a piece of fruit in the wild.  Now sure how long it will take to replace the current industrial food supply, but it can't come a moment too soon for our well being.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck - or Crunch

The definition of core strength is the ability the athlete has to resist deflection when the spine is under a load.  So how many crunches do you have to do in order to be able to hold your spine erect under a heavy barbell?  If you did 1000 crunches a day, would you have a strong core?

Obviously, the answer is no.  To have a strong core, you have to lift weight and support it with your spine, using the deadlift, squat, press, clean, snatch, overhead squat, or the kettlebell/dumb bell/sandbag/Atlas stone variants of the same movements.  This is why everyone - grandmothers, grandchildren, moms, dads, schoool teachers, cops, elite warriors or plain old folks - benefits from training in the basic lifts more than they will benefit from cardio, crunches, machine training and pec deck work.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Sugar the Bitter Truth" Links

Here's a link to Jimmy's book, "21 Lessons from Living La Vida Low Carb".

Here's a link to one of Jimmy's post about Dr. Lustig. Embedded is Dr. Lustig's "Sugar, the Bitter Truth" lecture, and a 10 minute summary of his lecture from Underground Wellness Blogger Sean Croxton; even Dr. L liked Sean's summary. Thanks Sean!

Lustig With Moore

Dr. Lustig gained weblebrity status with his YouTube video about fructose, entitled "Sugar, The Bitter Truth" -

Here - - Jimmy interviews Dr. L.

Jimmy does a fantastic job getting the Doctor's perspective in this interview.  Lustig's experience provides a fascinating back drop.  His team was working with pediatric cancer patients.  These patients become morbidly obese and inactive after treatment.  His team discovered that their treatments resulted in these kids becoming leptin resistant.  The leptin resistance resulted in hyper-insulinemia.  Consequently, a significant portion of the food the kids ate was immediately partitioned into fat, resulting in rapid weight gain and an instantly reduced activity level in these kids; their bodies trapped energy as fat, resulting in a defacto caloric restriction, and behaved much like those on a long term calorie restricted diet.  When a medicine interrupted the insulin cycle, the kids instantly returned to 'normal' - active, energetic, themselves.  In other words, they demonstrated the concept Taubes articulated so well in "Good Calories Bad Calories":  obesity doesn't result from inactivity, obesity is the cause of inactivity - what causes obesity is hormonal disregulation.

Lustig's primary hypothesis is that fructose is a dose dependent liver toxin, which, at levels above 50 grams per day, results in leptin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and the resulting cascade of obesity and metabolic syndrome.  He believes fructose consumption explains the difference between the healthy fat and the diabetic fat.  He articulates his case with overmuch pretense, and the sort of self-important voice one would expect from the crowd he runs with (my perception, perhaps you'll hear him differently), but he is also very precise, and very clear.  He lands on the right side of the saturated fat equation, and acknowledges that either high fructose or high carbohydrate intake results in the same outcome - hyperinsulinemia and metabolic derangement.  His avowed devotion to science over personality is always good to hear from any doctor.  In his conclusion, he asserts that he's likely to be proven wrong as the science evolves, and I agree with him.  That's what I'll discuss next.
1.  The Dr. seems to live in that gestalt that sees good government as the solution to 'our' problems.  He's in love with the idea of the political solution - his lament, "if only we could get better politicians".  That's a regrettable perspective.  Politicians being political animals is a constant.  We're as likely to see the speed of light change as to see a better class of politicians.  If we could confine them to a limited, focused role - the defense of our individual rights - we'd be making progress.  As long as we continue to empower them to 'solve our problems', we'll get the same political non-solutions and we'll pay dearly for the privilege.  Look at the USDA - first, how could the part of the government that is responsible for food production also be in charge of describing what food is or is not healthy?  This is a built in conflict of interest!  Second, no government agency of any kind should be able to make recommendations about what food is or is not good for you without supporting scientific proof.  The USDA has operated outside of the bounds of science for over 30 years.
2.  Dr. L seems to look askance at capitalism - but doesn't understand it.  He decries the fact that the food industry seeks profits by selling the unhealthy products of the industrial food chain, but seems not to realize that system exists as a result not of capitalism, but because of perverted government distortions of the food production system.  Even with the resulting system, why does the market demand low fat high sugar "energy drinks" and "sports drinks"?  Because the government spent the last 30 years telling them that FAT is the bogeyman, not sugar!!  This isn't capitalism's fault, this is the predictable result of the USDA's incompetence and irresponsible advocacy of the non-scientific "food pyramid."  Capitalism will save us - when consumers demand truly free range, grass fed farm animals, and a non-grain, non-sugar diet, we'll need the capitalists to mass produce it and bring it to market, and they will.
3.  Dr. L speaks with the arrogance of the pro-government, elitist crowd.  The sub-plot to his dialogue is heavy on the narrative describing folks who cannot run their own lives, folks who need smart folks like him to solve their problems for them via government coercion.  Yep, we sheep should just sit back and let the Dr. Ls of the world solve all our problems with their good intentions and superior knowledge.  Why not - it's worked so well so many times in the past!
4.  The doctor cites some research which concluded that ancient humans ate 300 grams of fiber per day, and he concludes that you and I should too.  This is by no means science.  It's entirely possible that pre-fire, pre-cooking man spent that much time chewing that much raw vegetation - but we've evolved well past that now and our guts are the proof.  We've as much a carnivore's gut as an herbivore's gut; and absolutely cannot get the nutrition we need any longer from eating like an herbivore.  Further, he cannot produce a single study which shows a better health outcome from a 300 grams of fiber per day intake.  He's fallen in love with fiber, which is fine with me because he can spend all day getting his fiber and leave the meat to me.  The bottom line - if you don't eat starchy, sugary laden vegetables and fruit, you don't need the fiber to slow the digestion!  It's an absurdity on its face.  Man has survived and thrived all over the planet on virtually no fiber intake.  This video pretty well spikes that narrative to my satisfaction:  If the doctor would indulge me, I'd be happy to have a contest between the two of us - he can eat his ideal diet, I'll eat mine, we'll compare notes at the end to see which if either of us makes improvement in those measures of health that matter most.  I don't think there's any risk that standing around chewing on fiber all day will create a measurable benefit in health, and while he's eating all that fiber, I'll be having a grand time doing something else - anything else!  I consider it highly undesirable to be chewing a cud like a cow all day!
Lastly, while I feel more contempt than I would like to for his political orientation and devotion to the notion - totally unsupported by science - that we need fiber to be healthy, Dr. Lustig's passionate advocacy highlighting the special perils of fructose will do much good for many people. 
While we wait for the main stream to discover the kind of work Dr. Lustig is doing, check it out for yourself - how many grams of fructose are you putting down the hatch in fruits, juices, sports drinks, sugar-sodas and "protein" bars?  Cut that back to less than 50 grams per day of fructose, and see what happens.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wolf Eats Grains, Part 2

Excerpts from Robb's post follow, link below:
"Grains are mostly starchy carbohydrate, and starchy carbohydrate, when consumed in any amount, causes the release of a significant dose of insulin. The starch in grains can be subdivided into two basic forms, amylose and amylopectin.
Amylose is a long chain of glucose molecules and amylopectin is a highly branched, interwoven structure also comprised of glucose molecules. Think of amylose as a rope and amylopectin as a dust bunny. Grains are made up of differing amounts of amylose and amylopectin, and this variation accounts for differences in the glycemic index of various grains. Starches are digested by the enzymes salivary amylase and pancreatic amylase. Amylase acts on the last glucose molecule in the polymer, whether it is amylose (rope) or amylopectin (dust bunny). I think it's pretty clear that the rope has far fewer locations for the amylase to attack in the digestion process than the dust bunny does. The more locations for the enzyme to attack, the faster the digestion, the quicker the rise in blood glucose levels, and typically the larger the insulin release. Any type of processing (cooking, milling) breaks up both the varieties of starch molecules, thus facilitating digestion. Easier digestion means a greater insulin response. The making of pizza crust fractures the starch grains in such a way that the body produces more insulin in response to pizza crust than raw glucose! No one knows why, but the processing inherent in most grain products can increase the insulin response far above what would otherwise be expected."
"One of the fallacies that is still spewed forth by the likes of the ADA is that slow-releasing carbs (beans, whole grains) causes a flat insulin response and consequently do notpose a problem. This is true only if one is consuming grains as condiments, as in a tablespoon here and there. Eat them a cup at a time, and not only does blood glucose level rise dramatically, but it stays elevated for a long time. Research is pretty conclusive that the insulin spike is more detrimental than the lower level chronically elevated insulin, but the end results are the same: Syndrome X, AKA the Metabolic Syndrome.
"You always need multiple names for things in science and medicine to ensure that as few people as possible have an idea of what is going on."
Grains, both processed and unprocessed, are a major player in metabolic derangement in that they are almost entirely carbohydrate and they are typically consumed in large quantities."
"The signs and symptoms of Syndrome X include high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, high risk of stroke and heart attack… and a bunch of other stuff. Professor Loren Cordain wrote a paper that sheds some light on some of that "other stuff" Called "Syndrome X: Just the Tip of the Hyperinsulinemia Iceberg". That other stuff runs the gamut from cancer to myopia, but many diseases that have been associated with Syndrome X and hyperinsulinemia are slowly being put under the umbrella of Chronic Inflammation."
"Inflammation has many factors, including antioxidant and essential fatty acid status, but one of the key contributors to the condition we call inflammation is insulin level. Here is a detailed look at what happens with elevated insulin levels (Scroll down to insulin dysregulation). The insulin and inflammation topic is absolutely huge and far beyond the scope of this article or publication for that matter. The main point is grains pack a potent impact with regards to insulin response and that can lead to a variety of problems."
"Grains are essentially a reproductive structure and contain not only a dense energy source for the developing embryo, but also a number of control mechanisms that prevent both predation and abnormal germination. Sequestering away key nutrients like calcium, zinc and magnesium prevents abnormal germination. One of the main antinutrients is a chemical called Phytic acid of which there are several varieties, all going by the general term "phytates". Now the phytates are powerful chelators; that is they bind to metal ions very tightly. This is postulated to be the main reason why cultures that consume large portions of their diets as grains and/or legumes tend to be shorter than their westernized transplants. The Okinawan vs. Japanese story is clearly illustrative of this. Okinawans have historically been significantly taller than their Japanese counterparts. The diets of the two groups differed in that the Okinawans consumed more protein and most of their carbohydrates in the form of highly nutritious tubers and only a modicum of rice. Japanese Americans show a markedly different phenotypic expression than their rice and tofu-eating ancestors."
"It is interesting to note that phytates are used in some alternative medicine circles as an anti-cancer agent. Apparently phytates exert some influence on the growth of tissues by removing metal ions such as calcium, magnesium and zinc that are important for growth. This seems like a nice closed system: feed people grains, let them get cancer from the elevated insulin levels then use grain extracts (phytates) to try to treat their condition."
"This antinutrient concept is found in all eggs including those of birds and reptiles. Avidin binds to biotin, which is an important growth factor for bacteria. Hide away the biotin and it's hard for the egg to spoil. These antinutrients are so powerful that avidin has even been genetically engineered into some grains… to extend their storage. Avidin is destroyed with cooking but phytates are not. Bon appetite!
Another sub category of irritants/toxicants includes items such as gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains. It is also categorized under a huge family of molecules called lectins. Many of these lectins actually damage or destroy the gastrointestinal tract.
In the small intestine we have structures called microvilli that interact with the food in our intestines.  Microvilli are covered with enzymes that help to digest and transport food particles into the blood stream or lymph. Certain proteins such as gluten found in wheat, rye and barley cause a severe autoimmune reaction in some individuals, which is called Celiac Sprue. Celiac is a full-blown autoimmune reaction in which the microvilli of the intestines are destroyed. This condition makes it nearly impossible to absorb fats, minerals and many vitamins.
Not everyone shows a full blown celiac response; however, irritation is present with virtually all grain consumption. This lower level irritation has been broadly labeled as "leaky gut syndrome" and is emerging as a primary player in all autoimmune disorders. The theory is that once the gut lining is damaged, large food particles are able to make their way into the blood stream. Once there, the immune system mounts an attack against the foreign, undigested food particles. These particles may have elements that are similar in structure to body proteins and thus antibodies are produced that have affinity for one's own tissues. The seed of autoimmunity has then been sown (nice grain cliché, no?). This is something that has been kicked around for many, many years, but some other very interesting disease processes have been uncovered, like schizophrenia and congestive heart failure, which appear to owe their existence, at least in part, to leaky gut.

"Nay Sayers (read also: The Ignorant) frequently make the point that not everyone gets celiac. That is true, but across all species tested, grains cause gut irritation. Check PubMed."

"It is worth mentioning that dairy is a potent cross reactor for celiacs. It is fairly easy to assay dairy and get high concentrations of grain lectins. It has also been noted that grass-fed dairy shows little or no cross reactivity in celiacs. I'm going to look at some of the other deleterious effects of grain consumption for animals later, but this is obviously a source of grains that most people would not have considered.
"Just to completely beat this into the ground, let's look at quinoa. Quinoa is similar to a grain in its carbohydrate content and layout as a reproductive structure, but quinoa is botanically a fruit, and if you remember your botany, is a dicotyledon, whereas wheat, obviously a grain, is a monocotyledon. Relevance? They differ phylogenetically at the class level. To put that in perspective, mammals are a class, as are fish, as are reptiles. This is a huge difference and denotes ages since a common ancestor. Despite that fact, quinoa still has a protein fraction that can cause problems with celiacs. What I take from this is nature found a similar answer to reproductive strategies with quinoa and grains, and not surprisingly, quinoa presents similar potential problems.
"Grains also have a highly addictive nature beyond the carbohydrate content. They contain opiate-like substances that can be very problematic. Not surprisingly, these opioid constituents can be concentrated in dairy. Makes one look at pizza in a new and frightening way.
"Grains are not just bad for humans; they give livestock some serious problems as well, ranging from creating heat and acid resistant forms of E. Coli to completely altering the fatty acid and nutrient content of meat. Grass-fed meat should contain significant amounts of n-3 fatty acids, alpha lipoic acid, CLA, Vitamin E and loads of carotenoids. Grain fed meat is the protein version of cardboard.
"Grains obviously play a major dietary role for many people, but I hope this exploration helps to clarify why they may not be a wise choice for optimized health."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wolf Eats Grains

You can imagine how bad it would be if a wolf ate grains, and it was almost that bad for Robb Wolf.
Excerpts from Robb's post (link below).  BLUF:  grains are killing you whether you have full blown Celiac's Disease or not.  My post script - you have nothing to lose by skipping grains, everything to gain by skipping grains. 
"Concurrent to and actually preceding my downward spiral into vegetarianism, my mother had been battling a slew of health problems. Fatigue, lethargy, diffuse but intense bouts of pain. My mom had not been doing well for a very long time. Eventually a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus were issued from a specialist. Immune suppressing drugs were prescribed in an attempt to cool the over active immune response that seemed bent on dispatching my mom. Along with the Lupus and RA diagnoses, an afterthought of a condition was also discovered: Celiac Sprue. In technical parlance, Anti-glidan enteropathy. My mom was experiencing a profound reaction to wheat, dairy and a long list of other problematic substances.
The autoimmune diseases I had heard of, but this Celiac Sprue was news to me. When I started researching the topic I got the feeling that the CS was THE problem and likely the causative factor in the other interrelated autoimmune conditions. What became clear was that humans were not designed to eat cereal grains. That obviously was a position that not many people were talking about and it seemed to be outright heresy at the time. I think that was late 1998 or early 1999. Suffice to say I was stumped.
"I knew the Standard American Diet had some serious problems but now it appeared all the rice, beans and whole wheat bread I'd been eating might actually be killing me."
 If vegetarianism was not going to work, what would? I thought about science, evolution… evolutionary biology… hunter-gatherers…I remembered hearing someone mention of the term "Paleolithic Diet" once. I put that term in a search engine (before Google… crappy returns) and found From there I found Art Devany's website and things really started to make some sense."
Anatomy of the Grain
"You have likely heard terms like Bran, Kernel and Germ as they relate to grains, but I want to take a moment to cover what exactly these structures are and what they contain. This general diagram from the Linus Pauling Institute illustrates the normal grain constituents. Here is what we find in the grain:
Bran: The tough outer coating that contains proteins, vitamins and minerals. That's the standard ADA position. So the bran appears to be a bountiful harvest of nutrition. We will take that fallacy apart in greater detail later. For now just know that bran is also home to most of the antinutrients and gut-irritating protein constituents.
Kernel: This is where most of the nutritional action is, at least with regard to caloric content. This is where we find most of the carbohydrate in grains. If you have seen white rice you have seen the kernel.
Germ: This is actually the plant embryo and it contains a fairly dense source of fatty acids, mostly n-6, some protein and assorted vitamins and minerals. This is your average grain, and it is representative of grains ranging from wheat to rice to popcorn. A detailed understanding of grain taxonomy and structure is not my intent here, but it is important that you understand the components grains, as we will be talking about processing methods that may remove certain problematic fractions but inevitably leave others.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Notes to Shi No Ubi, Scored 100

My friend Shi No Ubi texted me a photo of his glucose monitor - and his fasting glucose that morning was 100, a goal he set in consultation with his doctor.  This means he's retrained his metabolism to run on fat, by providing less sugar in the form of food.  Over time, he built the necessary stores of enzymes to run on a fat based metabolism, while allowing his liver to provide needed glucose via gluconeogensis.  The beauty of this system is that the liver will produce only the glucose that is needed.  Most of us down so much sugar (either as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, or high density carbohydrates like wheat) that our bodies become pre-occupied with preventing glucose catastrophe.  We run on glucose continually (almost as a defense mechanism), and lose the ability to oxidize significant quantities of fat. 
Fructose adds to the problem by taxing the liver in a way that increases insulin resistance, and by decreasing leptin sensitivity, which further disrupts appetite and insulin function.  This shows up as metabolic risk and/or injury in many ways - high triglycerides, low HDL, high fasting glucose readings, and a high A1C (a measure of how glycated one's hemoglobin is).  The A1c is becoming the go-to number for evaluating metabolic disorder. 
I hope when my friend returns to the doctor for a fasting lipid profile, his A1c will reflect that his blood sugars are under control, not just in the morning but all day, every day.  In the mean time, his martial arts friends are kidding him about how much weight he's lost!

Rosedale With Moore

Jimmie interviewed Dr. Rosedale, and this was a surprise - I've been poking around the low carb world for years and had never stumbled across this man or his work.  Dr. Rosedale was on the mark over and over again and I look forward to reading his book as I'm always looking for a better book, one that tells the most complete and useful truth, that I can refer to a friend or client.  As usual, Jimmie does a fabulous job letting Dr. R tell a good story, and there's a great deal of usable information in this segment.

High Insulin Levels Vice Intermittent Spikes

I've heard and read from different sources that more damage accrues from insulin spikes than from a consistently high insulin level.  If any of you, dear readers, have a source with details, perhaps a link to a study or two, I'd be grateful if you would post that to comments.  Thanks!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vytorin Again

"The really tough thing for the statinators and other worshipers at the alter of the lipid hypothesis to come to grips with is that the Enhance study showed that those subjects taking Vytorin reduced their LDL-cholesterol by 40 percent more than those taking the statin alone ( 58% drop on Vytorin - 41% drop on Zocor), yet plaque increased in the subjects on Vytorin. But do you hear any head scratching over this? Anyone saying, "whoa there, a lower cholesterol equals more plaque'? Any body at all (other than yours truly, of course) seizing on the obvious? Nope. Not a one. The cry of the herd is 'back to statins alone.'
Maybe it's just me, but I would like to think that if I believed with all my heart that LDL-cholesterol caused plaque formation, and then a study came along showing a huge decrease in LDL-cholesterol accompanied by an increase in plaque formation, that my faith might be a little bit shaken. But not so with the statinators."

Low Carb CF Part 2

Excerpts of Matt Lalond's low car CrossFit experiment:
"After having read all this research, I was now determined more than ever to try CrossFit on a low-carb Paleo diet. Most people would tell you this is a bad idea. After all, it is well known that free fatty acids and glucose (from liver and muscle glycogen) feed your working muscles while you train. As it turns out, glucose is especially needed during high intensity exercise because it requires less oxygen to burn than free fatty acids. The increase in glucose as fuel makes sense because, let's face it, we need all the oxygen we can get during "Fran". So was I worried about CrossFitting on a low-carb paleo diet? Not really. Most CF WODs are short, and not all of them are heavily dependant on glycogen. Gluconeogenesis and carbohydrate from veggies should be sufficient to hold up my glycogen stores to a reasonable level once my body adapted to my new diet. Additionally, a potential increase in intramuscular triglycerides could help me through intense bouts of exercise in the event that my glycogen stores get too low.
The decision was made. I was going to follow the CrossFit main site WODs without any pre- or post-workout meal while on a diet that provided just a little over 50 grams of useable carbohydrate per day (mainly from vegetables). The research on fat adaptation mentioned in one of Robb's posts told me this wasn't going to be easy. I figured it would take at least two months to get used to my new diet since enzymes involved in gluconeogenesis and fat burning would have to be upregulated while enzymes for burning sugar would be downregulated. I wasn't sure this was going to work but I knew the worst thing that would happen was that I wouldn't set any new PRs for a while. I was pretty sure nothing bad would happen given that the explorers V. Stefansson and K. Andersen survived on a diet of meat and animal fat for one year and came out healthier for it.
Most of the protein I consumed during this experiment came from my Chestnut Farms CSA, which provides 20 pounds of meat from grass-fed or pastured animals every month. The shares include a variety of cuts of pork, lamb, beef, and chicken. I also buy the occasional goat meat and make sure to get the super nutritious organ meats (beef liver and heart) that Chestnut Farms sells on site. Given that the protein side of things was taken care of, I hit stores in my area to purchase a variety of high fat foods. I ended up with the following list:

François Pralus 100% dark chocolate from Formaggio Kitchen
Navitas Naturals raw cacao nibs from the Vitamin Shoppe
Chopped chicken liver pâté, and lamb sausage from Savenor's
Shredded unsweetened coconut from Whole Foods
Light coconut milk from Trader Joe's
Coconut oil (for cooking), from Whole Foods
Nuts, with the exception of cashews (they are pretty starchy). Trader Joe's sells packages of Fancy Raw Mixed Nuts that contain some cashews. I made an exception there because that mix is darn yummy and not too carby.
Mayonnaise (homemade because commercial stuff is crap)
Guacamole (from TJ's)
I started the experiment on August 1st. I ate when I was hungry and drank when I was thirsty. I did not pay attention to portion sizes and I probably ate more then a diet such as 'The Zone' would have prescribed. The only supplements I consumed during the experiment are vitamin D3 (1000 IU/day) and Nordic Naturals omega-3 purified fish oil (3 tablespoons/day).
You can see what a week's worth of eating looks like below. I occasionally eat some homemade sauerkraut for the probiotic boost but I didn't have a batch ready during the week I'm using as an example. I do cook regularly, but I don't plan meals. I end up with some rather interesting combinations of foods as a result.
Weekends are the only days where I have a little bit of down time. I try to maximize the amount of free time by eating one less meal. I eat a large breakfast that will last me for the entire day. I don't weigh and measure (WAM) my food because I spend my days weighing chemicals and measuring their properties. WAMing food would turn something I enjoy, eating, into a chore. I realize that WAMing could have made this experiment a lot more legit but I wasn't aiming for peer-reviewed research here folks.

9:00 am breakfast: Sliced deli turkey from Formaggio Kitchen, handful of cacao nibs, fish oil, and vitamin D3.

12:00pm lunch: lamb shoulder chop over a bed of mixed greens, red bell pepper, and guacamole.

3:00 pm WOD

7:00 pm dinner: Salmon Patties (TJ's), broccoli and cauliflower, mixed nuts.

9:00 am breakfast: sliced deli turkey, chopped chicken liver pâté, fish oil, and vitamin D3.

12:00 am lunch: Wild boar loin with cacao and chili powder rub, celery with homemade mayonnaise.

3:00 pm WOD

7:00 pm dinner: Chicken leg and wing, handful of goji berries, light coconut milk.

9:00 am breakfast: sliced deli turkey, piece of François Pralus chocolate, fish oil, and vitamin D3.

12:00 pm lunch: beef brisket over mixed greens, cucumber, and walnuts

3:00 pm WOD

6:00 pm dinner: shrimp with coconut milk, and a yellow bell pepper

9:00 am breakfast: sliced deli turkey, unsweetened shredded coconut, fish oil, and vitamin D3

12:00 am lunch: chicken breast with cauliflower and broccoli, guacamole

3:00 pm Rest: foam rolling, stretching, PNF, trigger point (I'd rather do triple 'Fran' but this stuff helps)

6:30 pm dinner: catfish with a hint of dill and lemon juice, celery, and macadamia nuts

9:00 am breakfast: sliced deli turkey, chopped chicken liver pâté, fish oil, and vitamin D3

12:00 am lunch: beef patties topped with guacamole and a slice of bacon, mixed greens

3:00 pm WOD

6:30 pm dinner: langostinos, baked okra, almonds

8:00 am breakfast: 3 eggs with about 1 pound of lamb sausage, fish oil, and vitamin D3

8:00 pm dinner: one fish patty with a yellow bell pepper and a cucumber.

8:00 am breakfast: 3 eggs, 1 pound of varied sausages from Formaggio Kitchen (they have a bunch on display and I just ask for one of each), fish oil, and vitamin D3.

8:00 pm dinner: Cinghiale (wild boar salami from Formaggio Kitchen) and celery dipped in chopped chicken liver pâté.

The Results
I felt a little sluggish for the first two weeks and CrossFit metcons really kicked my butt. It seemed like I had to work twice as hard only to come up a few seconds, sometimes a few minutes, short of a PR. However, my energy levels returned between the second and third week of low-car paleo eating. At this point I felt no energy slump in the afternoon (a problem I had previously) and I was having much less of a problem matching my PRs on CF metcons. Most important were the noticeable increases in strength and loss of body fat around the abdomen. Aside from the low-carb dealio and the exercise, it is very likely that the fish oil supplementation and the medium chain triglycerides from the coconut products were responsible for improving insulin sensitivity, which led to a loss of body fat and an increase in muscle mass. Six weeks into the experiment, I started setting new PRs on weighted metcons that had bested me many times before. My strength gains were phenomenal. At the time if the Eastern Canadian Qualifiers on May 2nd and 3rd of 2009, I weighed 168.5 pounds and had a 405 lbs back squat, a 430 lbs deadlift, a 185 lbs press, and a 300 lbs front squat. After 8 weeks of eating a low-carb paleo diet and following the main site WODs, I weighed 175 pounds and looked leaner (I could see all my abs). Most important was the fact that I now had a back squat of 415 lbs, a deadlift of 465 lbs, a shoulder press of 200 lbs, and a front squat of 330 lbs. (Note From Robb here: Mat suffered a moderate-severe flexion injury of the lumbar spine which he rehabbed during this time. There was a period of months in which 135lbs on the BS was quite uncomfortable for him, so these improvements need to be viewed not only through the lens of absolute improvements, but also the fact he recovered from an injury) My strength was increasing by doing only CrossFit WODs on what was essentially a borderline ketogenic diet! I should note that I did not suffer from Steatorrhea at any point during the experiment.
So where to go from here? I'm going to keep this up because I know I'll be healthier in the long run by consuming fewer carbohydrates. Does this mean that post workout carbohydrates are bad? Absolutely not! In a situation like the CrossFit games, with multiple workouts throughout the day, PWO carbs are essential. Replenishing glycogen stores takes approximately a day on a low carb diet whereas wolfing down some mashed sweet potatoes will get the job done in a few hours. In addition, the fact that fat slows down gastric emptying probably means you don't want to be eating a whole lot of it during competition. Easily digestible protein and carbohydrates are still the way to go in a games setting. However, I think my experiment highlights the fact that PWO carbs are a powerful tool that should be used sparingly under the right conditions. Avoiding a carb load after a workout will allow you to hold on to the insulin sensitivity you gained from exercising. This is a huge boon, especially for clients who are trying to improve their body composition. Whether you are a CrossFit, weightlifting, endurance, or any other type of athlete, I don't see why a high carb diet should be considered "necessary" to fuel your endeavors.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Low Carb Equals Monster Fuel
This is a fascinating N=1 test of low carb impact on performance with a CrossFitter.

The intro will be showcased in this post, the low carb experiment will follow.
"Every now and then, an excellent piece of scientific research comes along and forces many of us to reevaluate our positions or question what we thought we knew. This happened to me last May when a paper entitled "Antioxidants Prevent Health-Promoting Effects of Physical Exercise in Humans" was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The following conclusion can be found in the abstract of the paper:
"Consistent with the concept of mitohormesis, exercise-induced oxidative stress ameliorates insulin resistance and causes an adaptive response promoting endogenous antioxidant defense capacity. Supplementation with antioxidants may preclude these health-promoting effects of exercise in humans".
Essentially, the antioxidants are quenching the reactive oxygen species (ROS), which prevents oxidative damage and blunts the expression of ROS-sensitive transcriptional regulators of insulin sensitivity. This means that ingesting large quantities of antioxidants prevents you from improving your insulin sensitivity, which is a major benefit of exercise (another study on ROS and insulin sensitivity was published during the writing of this blog post).
I was somewhat taken aback to find out that a daily intake of 1.0 gram of vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E could negate the insulin sensitivity gained through exercise. I wasn't taking any vitamin supplements at the time because of research indicating that multivitamins are essentially useless, maybe even harmful. Nevertheless, this whole thing really got me thinking about insulin sensitivity and brought back memories of this interesting post I had read on Arthur De Vany's blog. The research discussed in the post demonstrates that insulin sensitivity is not improved when a PWO meal of carbohydrate is employed to replenish glycogen stores. Hmmm…that sounds a lot like the vitamin C/E paper doesn't it? Some more research on the subject of post-workout carbs led me to this excellent post by Mark Sisson, which was followed by this equally interesting post. At this point, a lot research seemed to indicate that PWO carbohydrates were not necessary, maybe even detrimental, and that a PWO meal of protein, although desirable, was also not absolutely required. Within 24 hours, Glycogen stores should be sufficiently replenished for another workout thanks to gluconeogenesis (new creation of glucose) from dietary protein and lactate as long as the levels of dietary protein (for muscle repair and glucose synthesis) and fat (for fuel) are adequate. However, gluconeogenesis takes place in the liver and only a fraction of the glucose makes its way to the muscles. This means it would probably be wise to consume some carbohydrate from vegetables to help replenish muscle glycogen. Vegetables are preferable given that they don't contain the toxin fructose and they come packed with vitamins, antioxidants and a variety of phytochemicals."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Myths

I hear these myths embedded in smart folks' beliefs all the time -
"I can't eat eggs every day because that will increase my cholesterol levels."
"I've been trying to eat healthy and staying away from red meat."
"I've changed my diet, I'm getting protein every morning using protein powders and lots of fresh fruit. But still no weight loss."
"I eat greek yogurt and orange juice and a banana for breakfast, why am I sleepy mid-morning?"
"But I have all this fat on my belly, I have to do more cardio."

My blog is full of the reasons why these beliefs are not real - so for this post, I'll simply speak my best truth about what to do.

1. Eating foods that are high in cholesterol won't raise your cholesterol levels. Even if they did, what really matters is the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol, which will improve if you eat quality cuts of meat. Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar.
2. The Mormons and Argentines eat as much or more red meat than anyone on the planet, and their health equals or exceeds the health of the Swedes. In other words, the conjecture about red meat being bad for you is not proved nor likely. Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar.
3. Protein in powders is a product of the industrial food chain which can only be considered a food by a loose interpretation of the term. People who need to lose weight, who have in other words been eating the wrong foods, do better when they eat real food - protein that once had a face and a soul. At best, powders serve to augment the protein consumption of an otherwise healthy person. Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar.
4. Fruit has enough sugar - fructose and glucose - that it makes weight loss a challenge for most. Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar.
5. Carbohydrate sources produce the same result, nearly regardless of the form - that banana/yogurt/orange juice breakfast is bombing you with 40+ grams of sugar (about 8 times more than is needed to saturate the body with sugar). Your blood sugar will spike, then crash ... and your brain will crash with the sugars since your body converted all of that sugar into fat. Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar.
6. The evidence indicates that exercise is of minimal effectiveness in helping reduce body fat, but of all the types of exercise, 'cardio' is the least effective. Train in short, intense bursts of whatever flavor of exercise you like best, to develop as many physical capacities as you can - the ability to lift, to run, to climb, to jump, to hit/punch/kick. Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar.

Exercise to create a fit, useful, capable body. Eat for wellness, leanness, and to support high mental and physical performance. Be fit for sport, combat, life.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sugars Attack!
Killer carbs -- Monash scientist finds the key to overeating as we age
A Monash University scientist has discovered key appetite control cells in the human brain degenerate over time, causing increased hunger and potentially weight-gain as we grow older.
The research by Dr Zane Andrews, a neuroendocrinologist with Monash University's Department of Physiology, has been published in Nature.
Dr Andrews found that appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals after eating and said the degeneration is more significant following meals rich in carbohydrates and sugars.
"The more carbs and sugars you eat, the more your appetite-control cells are damaged, and potentially you consume more," Dr Andrews said.
Dr Andrews said the attack on appetite suppressing cells creates a cellular imbalance between our need to eat and the message to the brain to stop eating.
"People in the age group of 25 to 50 are most at risk. The neurons that tell people in the crucial age range not to over-eat are being killed-off.
"When the stomach is empty, it triggers the ghrelin hormone that notifies the brain that we are hungry. When we are full, a set of neurons known as POMC's kick in.
"However, free radicals created naturally in the body attack the POMC neurons. This process causes the neurons to degenerate overtime, affecting our judgement as to when our hunger is satisfied," Dr Andrews said.
The free radicals also try to attack the hunger neurons, but these are protected by the uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2).
Dr Andrews said the reduction in the appetite-suppressing cells could be one explanation for the complex condition of adult-onset obesity.
"A diet rich in carbohydrate and sugar that has become more and more prevalent in modern societies over the last 20-30 years has placed so much strain on our bodies that it's leading to premature cell deterioration," Dr Andrews said.

Dr Andrews' next research project will focus on finding if a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugars has other impacts on the brain, such as the increased incidences of neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Masterjohn w Moore
Chris Masterjohn weighs in on Jimmy's great podcast, and provides a model for oxidation that is "scientifically valid and accessible to the common man."  His model - oxidation breaks molecules, so a human with oxidative damage has an excess of broken molecules infused in the cells/bloodstream.  The oxidized, broken cells are like broken glass on a kitchen floor, and cause damage to surrounding tissues, and require cleanup.  The result is a hyperactive immune system, which is so busy cleaning up damaged cells, it cannot take care of regular business as it should, AND may be causing unintended damage to normal tissues through chronic inflammatory response.  So, imagine that you are consuming a lot of easily oxidized poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs - seed oils and worse, hydrogenated oils), and your system becomes saturated with all that oxidized junk - it just can't be good, and the evidence indicates it is not, which is why efforts to move people to PUFAs vice saturated fats have not proved to be an effected measure to reduce CVD.
Chris also does a good job of clarifying the difference between the diet/heart hypothesis and the lipid hypothesis.  The diet/heart hypothesis is that eating saturated fats and cholesterol results in higher serum levels of cholesterol and therefore contribute to CVD.   The lipid hypothesis proposes a connection between plasma cholesterol level and the development of coronary heart disease
In summary, this is another good session with Jimmy Moore.  More of Chris' writing can be found on the Weston A. Price Foundation web site - - this dude's got a big brain.

For a great survey of aging, oxidation and low carb diets, see this very detailed post by Dr. Mike Eades -  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Metabolism of Low Carb

Dr. Eades might be too smart for his own good, but I've learned a ton from his blog.  This is a really simple way to better understand why low carb consumption is good for you - plain and simple, it is because of blood sugar control.
"Finally, I can't understand why the instructions to the low-carb group were to increase carbs to 120 grams per day after the initial two month induction. We don't know how many carbs the subjects in this study were actually consuming because the data shows carbohydrate intake only as the percent of total energy intake, but without showing what total energy intake is. If we assume that the subjects were eating about 120 grams per day, we know that they were right on the cusp of having any advantage from the low-carbohydrate diet other than the spontaneous caloric restriction it brings about. Our bodies need about 200 grams of glucose per day for all the tissues requiring sugar for proper function. Under conditions of zero carb intake, the body replaces about 70 grams of this glucose with ketone bodies, leaving about 130 grams that the liver must produce, which it does via the process called gluconeogenesis. Consuming zero carbs puts the body into the metabolic status that drives gluconeogenesis. If we are consuming 120 grams per day of carb, as the subjects in this study apparently were, then we are riding on the edge in terms of driving gluconeogenesis. We probably are making a little sugar to bridge the gap, but probably aren't in the metabolic status most of the day that gives the low-carb diet its real advantage. It's interesting to note that the data from this study show that only about 8 percent of those in the low-carb diet arm were spilling ketones in their urine, which leads me to believe that most were probably not gaining the full metabolic advantage that a low-carb diet offers.
Despite the instruction to increase carbs to 120 grams per day, I believe these subjects had a long-term benefit from the two months of rigid low-carb dieting (20 grams per day) with which they started the study. Why do I believe that? There is a terrific study in Nutrition & Metabolism showing that subjects with diabetes who underwent a strictly supervised low-carb diet for six months, and who lost weight, improved blood sugar control and lipid parameters, were still showing the positive effects of this intervention 44 months later. These impressive findings seem to indicate that there is some sort of rejuvenation that takes place in people after they have spent a period of time on an honest-to-God low-carb diet that carries over for several years. Maybe this is the phenomenon we're seeing in the subjects in this NEJM study. The two months of rigid low-carb carries over for the rest of the study despite the subjects cranking their carbs up to non-low-carb levels.
It's really too bad that the researchers didn't check all the lab parameters and measure weight loss after the two month induction period. And it's too bad they made the silly recommendation to go vegetarian low-carb. And it's too bad they encouraged the subjects in the low-carb arm to increase their carbs to 120 grams per day. But despite all these missteps, the low-carb dieters were still triumphant over the other diets. It just goes to show what a powerful metabolic strategy restricting carbs is."