Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chauve Cave

What did paleolithic man think of, aside from paleolithic woman?  Interesting answer to that question here:
The BLUF: they were not dreaming of fruits and vegetables.  Those folks wanted MEAT!  (and liver, and kidney, and heart, and brains, and eyeballs, and marrow ...)

It is always interesting to me to be confronted with someone else's assumptions, when those assumptions are just about the opposite of mine.
"Scientists examined a series of palm prints within the cave and determined that one of the artists was at least six feet tall, a somewhat rare size in an era where proper nutrition could be hard to come by."
Man, and I was thinking it is hard to come by "proper nutrition" in the current age, in which we all get enough protein to be tall but our teeth and jaws are a mess, our lives defined by fear of food driven disease, and our science of diet is still trying to decide if it would like to be a discipline within the field of biological science (and therefore based on evolution as the defining model) or just stumble around in the dark trying to measure discrete elements of health until they find the golden health BB in the form of enough medications to treat all the diet induced diseases we give ourselves. 

The other interesting assumption or artifice of the author is his/her use of the terms "scientist."  It's a catch all meaning "authoritative figure." 
"Chauvet Cave was unearthed over fifteen years ago, and in order to maintain it's integrity scientists have restricted the public's already limited access."
If you need to validate any action or opinion or practice, especially when performed by the government, just inform the "public" that "scientists" did it or wanted it done.  Apparently that's satisfactory for many a "public" reader. 
I prefer to think of scientists as what they are - folks like us.  They likely know more than you do about one thing, but they are no more likely to make good decisions than any other homo sapiens.  Keep in mind - the defining characteristic of the scientific method is the belief that one should never trust the opinion of a scientist.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Dr. Weil on Fat

I read one of Dr. Weils' book in the late 1990s and enjoyed it, and I've always enjoyed seeing his videos; he's a likeable guy.  I never thought I'd see him switch to the carbohydrate hypothesis, but apparently, he's as open to new evidence as most of us Paleo folk are.  It's always a nice surprise to see someone shift from the the accepted dogma to a demonstrably useful alternative hypothesis.
Highlights of this clip:
-Fat does not make you fat
-Fats help create satiety
-Some fats are essential
-Whole fat milk better than skim/low fat

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gout from Taubes

Ever had gout or known someone that did?  Ever heard the line about excess purines being the cause?  Consider this:
Because uric acid itself is a breakdown product of protein compounds known as purines – the building blocks of amino acids – and because purines are at their highest concentration in meat, it has been assumed for the past 130-odd years that the primary dietary means of elevating uric acid levels in the blood, and so causing first hyperuricemia and then gout, is an excess of meat consumption.
The actual evidence, however, has always been less-than-compelling: Just as low cholesterol diets have only a trivial effect on serum cholesterol levels, for instance, and low-salt diets have a clinically insignificant effect on blood pressure, low-purine diets have a negligible effect on uric acid levels.

That's right - eating foods with less purine content does not help with gout.  How can that be true, you may wonder.  The answer is that eating foods lower in purine content does not reduce the intake of purines enough to matter; even vegetarians can have relatively high rates of gout.  What matters is why your body stops clearing the purine fueled uric acid, which, at high blood concentrations, results in accumulation of destructive crystals in (most commonly) the joints.
About that, Taubes comments:
... there’s the repeated observation that eating more protein increases the excretion of uric acid from the kidney and, by doing so, decreases the level of uric acid in the blood.(7) This implies that the meat-gout hypothesis is at best debatable; the high protein content of meats should be beneficial, even if the purines are not.
The alternative hypothesis is suggested by the association between gout and the entire spectrum of diseases of civilization, and between hyperuricemia and the metabolic abnormalities of Syndrome X.
In other words, there's really no reason to think that gout is "caused" by anything other than what causes all of the clusters of diseases known as the diseases of civilization.  In fact, the treatment that works best for gout is carbohydrate restriction, generally, with particular attention paid to fructose consumption. 

Uric acid is cleared from the body via the kidney, but with the metabolic derrangement that results from high carbohydrate diets, the kidney becomes overloaded and uric acid clearance becomes secondary. 
... a series of studies in the 1960s, as clinical investigators first linked hyperuricemia to glucose intolerance and high triglycerides, and then later to high insulin levels and insulin resistance.(14) By the 1990s, Gerald Reaven, among others, was reporting that insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia raised uric acid levels, apparently by decreasing uric acid excretion by the kidney, just as they raised blood pressure by decreasing sodium excretion. “It appears that modulation of serum uric concentration by insulin resistance is exerted at the level of the kidney,” Reaven wrote, “the more insulin-resistant an individual, the higher the serum uric acid concentration.” (15)

Second, fructose directly raises uric acid levels. 

Third, fructose, which is broken down in the liver in a manner similar to that of alcohol, can over task the liver and contribute to accelerated insulin resistance, which exacerbates all of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. 

In other words, just like statins and blood pressure medications treat symptoms of metabolic syndrome, but don't cure it, gout medications treat the symptoms of gout but don't deal with the cause.

I recommend you read the article linked above, but for treatment, all you need do is eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, and no sugar or wheat as you pursue vigorous health vice relief of symptoms.

I'll include more on why fructose consumption should be moderate in following posts.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Classic Quote, Unknown

"1000 days a beginner, 10,000 days a master."

As told to me by Mr. Greg Johnson, a senior ranking kyokushin man, from whom I learned and to whom I have always been grateful.  Shihan J, those late 90s NKJU and NMAA training camps were brutal and fun, thank you!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Eades On Human Design

I can’t help but recall the great quote by Dr. Blake Donaldson, who changed the complexion of his practice in New York after spending some time with Vilhjalmur Stefansson.  Wrote Dr. Donaldson in Strong Medicine, his book about an almost all meat diet:
During the millions of years that our ancestors lived by hunting, every weakling who could not maintain perfect health on fresh meat and water was bred out.

Are we meat eaters or vegetarians? Part III

Another cut:
(I am aware that Denise Minger put up a post not too long ago showing all the high-starch, high-sugar tropical fruits available in tropical areas, intimating that early man must have consumed these and, therefore, should have evolved to do okay on high-carb diets.  Problem with this reasoning is that archaic homo sapiens migrated out of tropical areas anywhere from 60,000 to 150,000 years ago and went through the crucible of natural selection in other less fruit-laden climes.  People of European descent certainly had ancestors who could not avail themselves of tropical fruits at any time.)

Another great post from Mike Eades.  As a practical matter, some folks can tolerate carbs better than others, and in general, those who have never been significantly sick (metabolic syndrome, or worse) can tolerate carbs in relatively large amounts.  Still, the human requirement for carb intake is so low it is difficult to eat and avoid "getting enough" carbs in the diet.  I am in the Eades camp on this one.

It is definitely worth going to the link for the whole article and the prior two versions.

Mark on Cholesterol

BLUF:  If your triglycerides are below 100, and your HDL is above 50, you are on the right track.

The bad news - taking drugs to manipulate the numbers isn't really going to help a ton.  In other words, manipulating numbers to avoid the consequence of eating the nastiness that most of us eat is no panacea.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Taubes in the CFJ

A condensed version of the full presentation Gary Taubes made at the CrossFit Trainer's summit - 18 minutes to be introduced to the "carbohydrate hypothesis of obesity."  Free.  Enjoy!

Taubes Mac
Taubes Windows Media

BLUF:  The majority of fat people got that way because eating the wrong amounts of the wrong foods (IOW too many carbohydrates) created a hormone imbalance that results in energy sequestration as fat.  Because so many calories are sequestered as fat, the normal feedback loops acting to defend the body against sugar toxicity result in hypoglycemia and hunger signals.  Because hungry people tend to eat more, the cycle of over-carbization leading to hypoglcemia and then to hunger results in increased food intake and decreased fat utilization and therefore obesity. 

Suppose your car had a storage tank for fuel, a back up tank.  Suppose that every time you filled the regular tank, some of the fuel spilled over into the back up tank.  Suppose the mechanism that allowed you to access the fuel in the back up tank was inoperative.  Over time, your vehicle would accumulate fuel in the back up tank.  That's a very rough analogy of what makes us fat.  To take it one step further, if you drive more, you will not solve the problem of accumulating "fuel."

To change the process, one must restrict carbohydrate intake, but do so intelligently.  Eating according to the paleolithic model is one way to address the problem of excess carbohydrate intake.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

BCAA Supplementation

BLUF:  Branched chain amino acid supplementation reduced post exercise muscle soreness.
Or, as they put it: "... muscle soreness increased after exercise and was 64% reduced in BCAA

They started out with this observation:
"Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) supplementation has been considered an interesting nutritional strategy to improve skeletal muscle protein turnover in several conditions. In this context, there is evidence that resistance exercise (RE)-derived biochemical markers of muscle soreness (creatine kinase (CK), aldolase, myoglobin), soreness, and functional strength may be modulated by BCAA supplementation in order to favor of muscle adaptation."

Subjects used "3.5 g of leucine, 2.1 g of isoleucine, and 1.7 g of valine; divided in 4 daily doses."

Dosing schedule was:  "In the exercise day (12 sets of 10 repetitions at 120% of concentric 1 repetition maximum), subjects consumed the supplement 30 minutes before, 1.5 hour after, between lunch and dinner, and before bed; on the following 2 days, 4 doses of supplementation given between meals."
This concept of dosing would be appropriate for any athlete subject to a significant degree of eccentric loading (for example, a CrossFitter!), and in particular for a beginner athlete, for which high rep resistance exercise (especially functional movements like pullups, squats and deadlifts) offers a significant penalty in the form of post exercise muscle soreness.

Lastly, BCAAs are relatively inexpensive, easy to take, and offer little to no potential for side effects.

supplemented group when compared to the placebo group. Thus, it appears that BCAA
supplementation can also modulate muscle soreness independently of biochemical markers."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kresser: Chronic Stress = Obesity

When stress becomes chronic and prolonged, the hypothalamus is activated and triggers the adrenal glands to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is normally released in a specific rhythm throughout the day. It should be high in the mornings when you wake up (this is what helps you get out of bed and start your day), and gradually taper off throughout the day (so you feel tired at bedtime and can fall asleep).
Recent research shows that chronic stress can not only increase absolute cortisol levels, but more importantly it disrupts the natural cortisol rhythm. And it’s this broken cortisol rhythm that wreaks so much havoc on your body. Among other effects, it:
Each one of these consequences alone could make you fat and diabetic, but when added together they’re almost a perfect recipe for diabesity.

In other words, you may need to change more than what you eat to obtain and sustain optimal health.  However, some of these things go together.  Smart exercise helps to regulate lipids, as well as cortisol levels, and improves insulin sensitivity - that's all good.  Good quality sleep, in adequate amounts, also helps to improve your ability to adapt to stressful circumstances - not least because it improves your ability to think clearly and identify what you can and cannot control, and have creativity in identifying options going forward.  Identifying an option to work your way around, through or with stressful demands is a huge stress reliever all on its own.

Demands from the life we choose are inevitable - and not bad, per se.  There are many sad rich, bored, unstressed people as there are sad, poor, stressed people (percentage wise).  How we respond to the demands determines how those demands will impact us.  The more abundant your health, the more capacity you have to adapt to any demand.  This is the point of striving for health in my view - not to live forever, not just to have an optimal appearance, but to have options and resources from within yourself that you may bring to bear when life makes the unexpected demand. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Intermittent, Low-Carbohydrate Diets - Better

This was a very interesting intervention study - the good kind - which compared the results for 150 women who were assigned to one of three dietary approaches - calorie restricted "mediterranean", calorie restricted low carb 2 times per week, or "eat all you want" low carb 2 times per week.
The result?
Data revealed that both intermittent, low-carbohydrate diets were superior to the standard, daily Mediterranean diet in reducing weight, body fat and insulin resistance. Mean reduction in weight and body fat was roughly 4 kilograms (about 9 pounds) with the intermittent approaches compared with 2.4 kilograms (about 5 pounds) with the standard dietary approach. Insulin resistance reduced by 22 percent with the restricted low-carbohydrate diet and by 14 percent with the “ad lib” low-carbohydrate diet compared with 4 percent with the standard Mediterranean diet.
Insulin has long been identified as a player in cancer growth, because many cancers run only on glucose (which they ferment for fuel), are more insulin sensitive than normal tissues, and are also more sensitive to insulin like growth factor one (aka IGF1).  In short, a high glucose, and therefore high insulin human provides an ideal environment for a cancer to outgrow surrounding tissues.
These factors are of  course another indicator of the validity of the paleolithic model as a guide for human health.

How It Was Done

John Durant (@johndurant)
12/20/11 1:42 AM
Long-time diabetic Kim Jong Il successfully assassinated by Western foods

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nutrition Seminar At CrossFit Memphis

Faction Strength and Conditioning

Faction S&C team and I will be presenting a nutrition seminar at their fabulous gym on 7 January - at which you will learn why food choice has more impact than portion control, how to develop your body's ability to burn fat as grade A fuel, and how eating in a paleo style is likely best approach to reduce your risk for the diseases of the West - and to look, feel and perform your best!

Tips on how to start?  Of course.

Testimonials from those with experience in this approach?  Heck yes.

Information for both beginners and veterans?  Of course!!  Click the link, sign up today.  Get your 2012 started off with a transformational, root cause performance enhancement!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Article in the CrossFit Journal

The CrossFit Journal published an article I wrote about the POSE Method of running; take a look!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fat Is Fuel, Fat Is Good

There are two ways to sustain adequate blood sugar levels.  Because the brain shuts down when deprived of glucose, producing and sustaining blood glucose levels is a primary driver of metabolic processes.  Given the significance of maintaining blood glucose, it would be no surprise that the body has more than one way to get the job done.

That said, how many times have you experienced, or known folks who experienced, hypoglycemia?  This is characterized by feeling droopy, irritable, and hungry - for anything but often especially for carb foods.  Most folks experience this as "reactive hypoglycemia", in which the "victim" eats a large amount of carbs, resulting in a blood sugar spike, to which the body reacts with an insulin surge, after which, blood sugar levels fall too far.

Normally, as blood sugar levels fall, the body compensates by making blood sugar in the liver, and by producing ketones, which allow the brain to use less sugar.  Also, most non-brain cells run well on fatty acids, which is why we store energy as fat.  In short, it should be very hard to achieve "hypoglycemia" in a healthy person.  Strangely, it's so common that folks speak of it often and even plan for a mid morning or mid afternoon snack to avoid the "sugar low light."

The reason for that is that the body has a finite and relatively small capacity for glucose storage, and folks who eat a big dose of carbs are giving themselves a glucose management problem.  The body is equipped for glucose management, but it appears to be the case that when the body has to deal with glucose management problems routinely, it does not sustain the process well.  One reason is that cells will burn sugar inside the cells preferentially, so if the body is always stuffing cells full of sugar, the cells so rarely burn fat for fuel that they begin to maintain very low levels of fax oxidizing enzymes.  In short, repeated high carb intake makes you both sick from the excess sugar, fat, and at the same time, dependent on exogenous sugars as your body's fat burning systems atrophy from lack of use.

Based on the above described cycle, it's no wonder that folks who eat a lot of carbs all the time often get fat - except for the ectomorphs (tall and lean) who seem less capable of using fat for fuel in general.

The question then, is "what do I do about it?"  That's a question we can answer next time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cholesterol Disinformation

So, you think people are to ignorant to know and process the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth.  You decide you need to tell them something simple enough to follow, and so what if it is unproved - YOU MUST ACT!!  So you tell everyone to stop eating cholesterol in your foods (no more eggs), and to stop eating foods with saturated fat.  Easy, simple, a prescription anyone can both understand and act on.  

Just one problem - it doesn't help anyone to be healthier!  This Rx does not result in much "improvement" in your cholesterol numbers, and an even smaller improvement in mortality reduction. 

Why, then, would I still see such a poster on the wall of a medical professional's office?!

It's simple enough, in that once enough people said "saturated fat and cholesterol is bad", folks believed it, science be damned.  The old model, which seems so banal now that it is hard to believe anyone truly believed it, was that cholesterol was floating around in the blood in excess, and stuck to the arteries like grease clogs a drain.  In hindsight, this seems almost impossibly simplistic.  

The best understanding at present is that, unlike the poster above's clear message, LDL isn't "bad" per se.  Further, reducing cholesterol via statins, oatmeal, or any other "number manipulation" does not improve mortality (as has been addressed in this blog often).

What you can do to measure your health, the best measure known now, is to reduce triglycerides while raising HDL.  While you do this, control your glucose levels.  To do this, eat meat, vegetable, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, and no sugar or wheat.  Adjust your intake after measuring glucose levels and re-evaluating TG/HDL levels.  With TG under 100, and HDL over 50, and with fasting glucose under 100 and falling, you can be confident you are eating well.

Cholesterol isn't the villain, and never was.  This has been known for a long time.  It's a shame that an otherwise proud profession cannot catch on.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Romanov On Running

the key to overcoming your limitations isknowledge. Knowledge of your circumstances gives you thewisdom to successfully integrate your running into your familyand home life. Knowledge of proper running gear, hydration andrest permits you to run in any conditions. Knowledge of your neighborhood and your hometown allows you to nd suitabletraining routes.Most importantly, knowing
to run gives you the possibility torun freely. When you know your body and you know how to run,you will have no fear of overtraining, no fear of injuries. You can betruly free to run long distances, to run hard intervals. You can befree to run faster than you ever have before.To reach your peak performance, you must have the psy

...the key to overcoming your limitations is knowledge. Knowledge of your circumstances gives you the wisdom to successfully integrate your running into your family and home life. Knowledge of proper running gear, hydration and rest permits you to run in any conditions. Knowledge of your neighborhood and your hometown allows you to find suitable training routes.
Most importantly, knowing how to run gives you the possibility to run freely. When you know your body and you know how to run, you will have no fear of overtraining, no fear of injuries.  You can be truly free to run long distances, to run hard intervals. You can be free to run faster than you ever have before.  Belief in your technique then gives you the confidence to move past your limitations and explore your true potential.

There's no question in my mind, a weekend training with Dr. Romanov resulted in running "enlightenment."  If you like to run, or if you would like to like to run, you have to re-learn how to run with gravity, vice running against gravity.  Dr. R can show you how.  

Bottom line - it feels delightful to run this way!

Friday, December 2, 2011

CrossFit Mainstream
This was a really interesting video of folks who don't do CrossFit style stuff, being asked to.  They are fitness professionals, but weirdly uncomfortable doing a short, intense workout with complex movements.  That said, it was a gutsy move that they accepted the challenge to do this on a public stage.

My compliments to Jillian - she didn't "crush"this workout by any means, but she at least got the concept of force production using the hips; they other guy was almost comic in his inability to grasp how to do sumo deadlift high pulls.  Jillian, though, was not as impressive with the push presses - that is a weight that my beginner client could smoke.

That folks can be fitness professionals, but totally unable to understand effective force generation, and also be unable to work at high intensity for short intervals, that CrossFit has made the impact in the fitness world that it has.  They look good, they are lean, presumably they are healthy - but if they had to use their bodies to get work done, would you want them on your team?  Likewise, as you choose how to invest your fitness hours, do you want to look good but be relatively low in work capacity, or would it better to chase work capacity headlong - and as a bonus, look like CrossFitters do?

As the saying goes, "you pays your money, you takes your chances."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And He Could Play the Guitar Just Like Swinging a Bell ...

I always wondered what that song was about, now I know ...

How to Swing A Bigger Kettlebell, Faster and Easier, by Squatting Less…
Check out my good friend, who is also one of the maestros leading CrossFit Memphis, Doug Larson, and his supreme instruction on how to get to the most bang from your butt while swinging a kettle bell.

It may not look it, but blasting that bell overhead with precision and power is just plain fun!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Understanding How You Were Made To Run

The BLUF:  gravity is the most important factor in skilled running, so to run with skill, do not oppose gravity.  To work with gravity and not against her, use the hamstring to pull the weighted foot towards the hip, let gravity and your nervous system do the rest.
NOTE:  if you stick your foot out by extending the knee in front of you with dorsiflexion of the foot, which is the way to make your heel strike first, your sins will be punished by slow running and more injury.
NOTE 2: if you forget about the foot that is not in contact with the ground and focus on pulling your weighted foot, your body will do a better job of putting your foot in the right place than you can with conscious effort.  Your mind does not know where the foot should go, but your highly evolved nervous system does.

Watch BMack's video clips and see if you agree.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Yawn - Another Epidemiological Study

A new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers finds a strong association between the consumption of red meat—particularly when the meat is processed—and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The study also shows that replacing red meat with healthier proteins, such as low-fat dairy, nuts, or whole grains, can significantly lower the risk.

Another junk observational study, another foolish conclusion, yawn.

I joined a chorus of others who have written ad nauseum about this process of having to get funding to do research to be relevant in the field, and about how the only types of studies that are cheap enough to fund are these observational studies, and how observational studies are a tool to find statistical relationships worthy of further study - but cannot be used to determine causation.  Given the incentives in place, these studies and these kinds of results will not cease. 

My advice to the study publishers is - go for it.  Eliminate the processed meat and the red meat and eat all the whole grains and low fat milk you can find.  Many people like to eat that way.  You may even thrive that way, and I hope you do. 

Let me know how that goes for you, in the mean time, I'm betting on red meat and less than 100g of carbs per day, and there's no available measure of health that indicates this is a problem.  I'll take that over another cheap observational study any day.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hero WOD: Santora

Fair winds and following seas on your journey warrior!

Three rounds for reps of:
155 pound Squat cleans, 1 minute
20' Shuttle sprints (20' forward + 20' backwards = 1 rep), 1 minute
245 pound Deadlifts, 1 minute
Burpees, 1 minute
155 pound Jerks, 1 minute
Rest 1 minute

U.S. Army Sergeant Jason A. Santora, of Farmingville, New York, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, based out of Fort Benning, Georgia, died in Logar province, Afghanistan on April 23, 2010, from wounds sustained during a firefight with insurgents. He is survived by his parents Gary and Theresa, and sister Gina.

Thanksgiving - Give Thanks and Enjoy What You Like

Aside from the unquestionable health benefits (in my humble as ever opinion) of being able to experience gratitude, my advice to you today dear reader is to enjoy any food you like.  Give yourself a day of no restrictions at all on food quantity or quality. 

Notice which foods you enjoy, and if that selection has changed as you have trained yourself to eat food, vice a bunch of high carb crap.  For me, over the last few years, eating is different.  The cakes, pies, cookies, doughnuts, and sugary "ice cream like junk" I used to pound down like there was no tomorrow no longer thrills me and rarely tempts me.  When I eat it, I don't get a fraction of the satisfaction that I used to get - oh, the high price of losing one's addiction.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taubes on Food Reward/Palatability, IIc

One point I’ve been making in my posts and in my books is that it’s possible to find evidence in favor of virtually any idea – including the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the ruling force in the universe. More important to the validation of an idea or a hypothesis is the strength of the evidence that seems to refute it. Can the hypothesis survive more or less intact our best attempts to refute it?
This is one of the points I was trying to get across at the Ancestral Health Symposium: that the foods we eat today during our current obesity epidemic might have a high reward value, and that diets consumed by lean populations in faraway locales might not, isn’t particularly interesting. Yes, it supports the hypothesis, but how do we explain epidemics of obesity in populations that  eat diets that don’t appear to have a high reward value? Do we need an entirely different hypothesis for them? That would be unfortunate.

Catching up on lost time – the Ancestral Health Symposium, food reward, palatability, insulin signaling and carbohydrates… Part II(c)

I think this is Taubes' most compelling post yet, but taken together, the series is enough to convince me that "food reward" is a compelling but incomplete explanation for population obesity.

Another element of the carb hypothesis that is compelling is the studies which show that low fat, low calorie diets (~1200 kcal/day) lead rather rapidly to the symptoms of starvation (folks feel cold, lethargic, irritable, think about food all the time, and are inactive), whereas folks on a high protein/fat diet at the same number of kcal/day will continue to lose weight and feel relatively good.  Presumably, those on a low protein/fat, low cal diet would naturally eat more food so that they can stop feeling bad - they would also not lose weight, and if they did, they would not feel better and so might wonder "what's the point of losing weight if I still feel like dirt?"  In short, based on physiological reality, one could predict that low fat/protein and low calorie would be a losing proposition - which it usually is.  Even worse, it does not improve the measurable markers of health very speedily, or as dramatically, as does carb restriction.

I await the next series when Taubes discusses the evidence in opposition to the "carbohydrate hypothesis" of obesity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Part IIb In Taubes' Rebuttal of the Palatability Conjecture

What can we take away from these studies? Well, these three papers certainly support the contention that the sugars consumed in western diets have very specific deleterious metabolic effects, and that maybe these sugars are the, or at least a proximate cause of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, and so, we can assume, obesity and type 2 diabetes and perhaps all the other chronic diseases that associate with these two conditions (cancer anyone?). This was the thesis of my April New York Times Magazine cover article “Is Sugar Toxic.”

Look, I know we're all going to have some sugar in our lives, I'm not deluded that a purist diet of no sugar is either easy or necessary.  I would suggest, though that increasing your intake of fructose from 5% to 20% of your total caloric intake is problematic for your health.  Further, if you are the average American knocking back close to 150 pounds of sugar per year, you shouldn't be surprised if you are as weak, fat and sick as the average American is - and just as subject to the diseases of the West (gout, cancer, heart disease and stroke, obesity, diabetes, etc). 

Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch and no sugar/wheat. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Last Mile ...

Two dead as they finish the Philly marathon, and in doing so are just like the original marathoner, who died upon arrival and delivery of the warnings of war.  Marathoners are not likely to die in the marathon, but when they do it is almost always during the last mile.

Tragedy for their families, and it makes it makes one ponder what internal drivers make humans wish to test themselves in ways such as this.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Low Salt Is Low Science and Low Smart

Or as Fat Head The Movie creator Tom Naughton put it, So if your blood pressure is 130/90, cutting back on salt might reduce that to 128/89 or so. Whoopie.

I know I've posted several references to the low salt hocus pocus, and one can start to believe, once they've waded through same, that everyone else is on to the idea also, but incredibly, virtually no one is.

A bit more from Tom's post:
Since so many experts are pushing low-salt diets in spite their negligible effect on blood pressure, I’ll bet those other effects are fabulous.
People on lower-sodium diets had an average 2.5% increase in cholesterol and a 7% increase in bad blood fats called triglycerides compared to people who were eating more than 3,450 milligrams of sodium — an amount that’s close to what the CDC says the average American eats every day.

Dude, pass the salt!  And by the way - make some of that salt iodized salt because our non-paleo diets don't include enough fish eyes to keep us up to snuff on that iodine stuff.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Know the Desired Outcome

The BLUF from an interesting post from "That Paleo Guy": 
Not much point in blunting a training session by tipping large amounts of antioxidants down the throat is there?

People have beat the antioxidant supplementation concept to death because it is an attractive idea and sells a bunch of stuff, not because it has been proven to work.  Yes, that's right, all that hoohaa you've read about eating a pound of brightly colored vegetables every 15 minutes is probably just another great sounding idea which is funded by the brightly colored vegetable industry group du jour. 

To be sure, for all I know if a human eats more vegetables per day than a rhino does, it might actually help someone somewhere - just like drinking your own urine every morning may help someone somewhere.

Before I went off the deep end trying to eat like an herbivore, though, I think I might do what I could to stop eating food which results in chronically high inflammation levels, such as those "heart healthy" vegetable oils to include corn, canola aka rapeseed, safflower, etc (doesn't that term strike you as a bit odd, "vegetable oils"?  Ever notice that no matter how hard you squeeze corn, it does not produce oil?). 

Instead, try meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit and starch and no sugar/wheat.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fat and Sick or Just Fat?

Interesting blog post, with a typical BLUF:  study tests a typicaly "low fat" dieteary intervention, and the results are lukewarm at best, and the study authors conclude that the only solution these sick and non-sick but obese people have to hope for is a yet to be invented pharmaceutical intervention.

The most interesting part of the post is this:
In the last few years it has been shown that metabolically healthy obese (MHO) individuals comprise roughly 30% of obese people and 10% of the adult general population [1– 5]. In addition to having insulin sensitivity that is similar to non-obese individuals, MHO individuals have lower liver fat content and lower intima media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid artery than obese insulin-resistant (OIR) individuals [6].
In other words, about 30% of those people who can be labelled "obese" still retain normal metabolic function, which is to say their body is still able to regulate glucose via the action of insulin. 

The study cited is just another example of the mediocrity of low fat diets, and what would have made interesting is if, like some similar studies, a low carb group had been included for comparison (100g/day of carbs, or approximately 20% of total energy intake in a 2000 kcal diet).  My prediction, not particularly bold since this has already been determined, is:  for most of the participants, the low carb approach would result in more weight loss, better lipid results, and improved insulin sensitivity/metabolic health. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lustig: Insulin and Satiety

A shorter explanation from a gent with some nifty insights in the relationships between obesity, insulin, leptin and what causes what.

There's a key point here with relevance to the Taubes/Guyanet highlighted debate between the palatability theory of weight loss and the carb theory of weight loss.  Guyanet and others in that camp point to the fact that insulin injected directly into the brain results in satiety, therefore, the carb theory, which hinges on the action of insulin in causing overeating and under activity, must be false.

Whenever I've read a report on that study - that insulin injected exogenously reduces hunger - I wonder why anyone would take that to mean anything significant.  The idea that we can deduce the effect of insulting in the system, in the organism, from the effect of it being exogenously injected, is fraught with peril - as is any rational analysis of diet without massive long term well controlled intervention studies.

Lustig does a nice job of pointing out the difference between short term impacts of hormones, and the longer term impacts or chronic impacts.

It does make sense, of course, that if the body is secreting insulin to control a carb bolus, that it should also reduce hunger - at that moment.  After all, there's a glucose crisis to deal with, which eating would exacerbate.  Two hours later, when insulin is overdoing the job of saving the body from too much glucose, and blood sugar levels of dropping, it would also make sense that appetite would increase, which is what many people experience in their pattern of high carb eating.  To say that the short term effect of exogenously injected insulin disproves the carb theory shows, to my mind, some defect of thinking - due to either a desire for the carb hypothesis to be wrong, or due to the tendency of many to mistake a measurable, discreet fact for the whole picture, which it is only a factor (and perhaps a minuscule one) in the whole picture.  It appears that this kind of defective thinking often results from the specialist's confidence that they know more, perhaps their desperate need to believe that they know more, than those who don't share their credentials.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Are you strong?"

As my friend David "Chef" Wallach put it:  "I'm stronger today than I was yesterday, and I'll be stronger tomorrow than I am today."

From HBR:
Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

In other words, who cares how good you are today - celebrate your progress, anticipate your next milestone, enjoy the process of creating new strength, new capacity, exceeding prior limitations, and don't be limited by your notions of who or what is or isn't strong!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coach's fitness

This is a portion of an email I received from Mike Boyle.  Boyle is no friend of CrossFit, but he's a knowledgeable coach all the same.  I like his approach to remaining fit while dealing with a full schedule.  He's both growing a business and taking care of friends, family and clients.  This is an admirably effective approach from a person who's decided fitness and performance must be sacrificed to meet other goals. 
Do brief workouts. Again, if you are busy you don't have time to lift for two hours.

I try to do 4-5 High Intensity Cardiovascular Workouts a week. These are either 12-14 minute threshold rides (usually a five mile AirDyne for time) or a series of distances for
time. My favorites are timed miles or half miles with a heartrate recovery. These workouts take a maximum of 20 minutes. In addition, I've modified Craig Ballantynes Bodyweight 100. Most days I just try to get 100 reps in broken up into push, pull, legs, and core. It currently takes me less than 4 minutes to get a full body lift. I try to lift twice a week
but, probably average one workout every five days.

As I always say, the secret is there is no secret.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Depth Jumps"

The BLUF:  Before you do heavy back squats, do some depth jumps (in this case, 2-6 from 33cm/1 foot), wait four minutes, and your 1RM is likely to be higher than if you tried it without doing the depth jumps.
Research has demonstrated that high-load low-velocity (HLLV) exercises (≥85% 1 repetition maximum [1RM]) increase performance in subsequent low-load high-velocity (LLHV) exercises, when separated by a rest period ≥4 minutes. To date, few studies have investigated LLHV exercises on subsequent HLLV exercises. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of 2, 4, or 6 depth jumps (DJs) on subsequent 1RM back squat performance. Fourteen subjects (age 22 ± 4 years, height 177 ± 10 cm, body mass 80.3 ± 14.4 kg) completed five 1RM back squat testing sessions, either control, retest, or 1 of 3 interventions (2, 4, or 6 DJs from a height of 33 cm, 4 minutes before the first 1RM attempt), in a counterbalanced order. Intraclass correlation coefficients demonstrated a high test-retest reliability for the 1RMs (r = 0.989, p < 0.001). Repeated-measures analysis of variance with Bonferroni post hoc analysis revealed significantly greater 1RM performance (140.71 ± 35.68 kg: p = 0.004, 140.50 ± 33.77 kg: p < 0.001, 141.43 ± 34.39 kg: p = 0.002, respectively) for each intervention (2, 4, or 6 repetitions, respectively) compared to the control condition (132.43 ± 34.56 kg). No significant differences were found between interventions (p > 0.05). The findings of this investigation demonstrate that the inclusion of 2, 4, or 6 DJs, 4 minutes before a maximal squat, enhances subsequent strength performance.
HT:  Martin Berkhan

What's a depth jump?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taubes on Food Reward/Palatability, IIa

The conventional wisdom is that we get fat because we take in more calories than we expend. Simple enough. We get fat because we overeat, not the other way around. Changes in energy balance—calories-in minus calories-out—drive changes in adiposity, in how much fat we carry around in our fat cells.
Ultimately, as I discuss in Why We Get Fat, this is a brain-rules paradigm. After all, both the components of overeating — eating too much, aka gluttony, or moving too little, aka sloth — are both behaviors and in this paradigm behaviors are psychological phenomena not physiological.
Researchers who live in this paradigm are invariably trying to discover what’s wrong with our brains or the signaling to our brains that cause this particularly cherished organ (what Woody Allen memorably described as his “second favorite organ”) to screw up. Why can’t the brains of people who become obese or overweight get the energy balance thing right? Or why do these brains effectively desire more fat on the body than is healthy? Why do they set the “set point” of adiposity too high? The problem with people who get obese is in their brains, not their bodies (even though the excess fat is in the body).
While I think Stephan Guyanet's advice to "eat bland food" might be helpful, and carb restriction is no panacea with so much social custom fixed on carb/sugar/wheat consumption, "eat bland food" will never approach carb restriction as a long term approach to both living well, being healthy and lean, and enjoying food as the human animal was meant to do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tate: "I Hate The Deadlift"

His answer, while classic Louie, just made me hate the deadlift more, “You were never strong enough to have a grip problem before.”

Great read from Dave Tate.  And if you are into learning how to deadlift, or to do it better, the videos at the end of the article are excellent.
There was ONE day where I almost liked the deadlift, but as usual with the deadlift, that got shot down. I have no idea why, but at a local Ohio meet back in 2002, I pulled my 650-pound opener and it was easy (it always was). I then jumped to 720 pounds for a PR total. Normally I would call it a day and pass the third, but the 720 was really easy. This isn’t “powerlifer talk” it was seriously really easy. I called for 770 pounds on my third attempt for  a 30 pound PR. The bar flew up and right before lockout without even slowing down, my right hand popped open and the bar hit the floor.
At this point, I did the infamous “hand stare.” You’ve seen it. You may have actually done it. This is when you drop a pull and look at your hands like WTF just happened.
I was totally confused and did the hand stare for what seemed to be 20 minutes until Louie finally walked over and said, “Your pulls looked really good.” I asked him what the hell happened to my grip. His answer, while classic Louie, just made me hate the deadlift more, “You were never strong enough to have a grip problem before.”

In other words, weakness is relative - and yes, I just called a guy who couldn't hold onto a 770 pound bar "weak". 

NYT Shows You How To Run Wrong
Nope - check out the advice to extend the leg behind, and to have "drive" from the hips.

From the perspective I advocate, a leg extended behind is a guarantee of inefficiency, and there is no "drive" - there is only falling.  Either way, you will find little succes in improving your movement via only learning a new concept of running, although that is a good place to start.  What must follow, for success, is a process of learning accurate perception of where your body actually is in space.  My presecription:  Drills, video, coaching.

Monday, November 7, 2011


We were once the greatest endurance runners on earth. We didn’t have fangs, claws, strength or speed, but the springiness of our legs and our unrivaled ability to cool our bodies by sweating rather than panting enabled humans to chase prey until it dropped from heat exhaustion. Some speculate that collaboration on such hunts led to language, then shared technology. Running arguably made us the masters of the world.

“The data suggests up to 79 percent of all runners are injured every year,” says Stephen Messier, the director of the J. B. Snow Biomechanics Laboratory at Wake Forest University. “What’s more, those figures have been consistent since the 1970s.” Messier is currently 11 months into a study for the U.S. Army and estimates that 40 percent of his 200 subjects will be hurt within a year. “It’s become a serious public health crisis.”
Nothing seems able to check it: not cross-training, not stretching, not $400 custom-molded orthotics, not even softer surfaces. And those special running shoes everyone thinks he needs? In 40 years, no study has ever shown that they do anything to reduce injuries. On the contrary, the U.S. Army’s Public Health Command concluded in a report in 2010, drawing on three large-scale studies of thousands of military personnel, that using shoes tailored to individual foot shapes had “little influence on injuries.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

How To Get Depressed

OK, perhaps the title is a bit excessive, but there's an interesting point in this write up:

Across all the studies, results showed that those who rated their own performance as much higher than it actually was were significantly more likely to feel dejected. “Distress following excessive self-praise is likely to occur when a person’s inadequacy is exposed, and because inaccurate self-assessments can prevent self-improvement,” said co-author Chi-Yue Chiu, of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Obviously there's a causality question here - are people who are less secure more likely to be depressed, and avoid it by puffing themselves up?  Or, is the causality as stated - puffing oneself up is a set up for a fall? 

Interestingly, there are other variables - some people who are competent seem to thrive when they repeat negative messages to themselves.  No matter what they do, they still focus on what that fail at, or what they miss the mark at.  No self help guru, though, would advise that course of action.  They typically advise people to celebrate their accomplishments, to "anchor" in the feelings of success.  No one, however, would advocate self deception as the means to a fuller enjoyment of life, so perhaps this study only confirms what we all know anyway.

In my experience, for people to desire improvement, people need to perceive inadequacy, to a degree - or as Peter Senge termed it in The Fifth Discipline, awareness of a gap between the physical condition they would like to be in and the physical condition they perceive they are in.  They need to believe they can close the gap between where they are and where they "should" be.  They have to have a degree of hunger for improvement which exceeds their perception of how difficult it will be to improve.  Those are necessary preconditions, but they are not sufficient to cause changes in behavior.  There could be any number of other barriers which might inhibit a person's motive to become more fit.  If you are that person, trying to get started on getting fit, you must identify the barriers and find ways to remove them or diminish their impact. 

Consider, however, the person that is not in shape, but thinks that they are.  What happens when that person is confronted with the reality of their condition?  In other words, this article highlights the expression "the truth hurts." 

If you've been struck by an upleasant truth lately as regards your health or fitness, the obvious question is "what do I do about it?"

First, use objective measures of truth - for weight, that means a scale and a tape, either one alone tells you much less than when they are used together.  If you can only use one objective measure, use a tape of your waist. 

Two - establish a motivating goal, and identify what portion of that goal you are willing to attempt to accomplish.  For those in the throes of the full catastrophe of life, I do not recommend an attempt on Mount Everest.

Three - take action now towards accomplishing your goal

Four - mark and celebrate every accomplishment on the road to your goal

Five - continuously learn how to get yourself to work towards the outcomes you want.  Read on the subject of interest, at least weekly. Find others with the same interest and work together. 

Six - learn to identify and remove your unconscious inhibitions to change (like believing you cannot succeed based on prior attempts to change which were unsucessful). 

Seven - seek out help.  There is a burgeoning industry of what is termed a "life coach", and these are people who specialize in training the rest of us how to "manipulate ourselves."  Can't quit eating pizza?  Can't stop watching TV?  Can't get yourself to workout for any consistent length of time?  These folks help you deal with that sort of thing and more. 

A an example I've heard of that captures the idea behind this approach to change describes the conscious mind as the elephant rider and the unconscious mind as they elephant.  One has massive power but a dim perception of external reality.  The other has a clearer perception of reality, but virtually no power to force the other to do anything.  Learning how to guide the elephant with greater skill is worth learning for anyone that desires to be more than a passenger in life!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Classic Quote, Paterno

"What counts in sports is not the victory, but the magnificence of the struggle."

- Joe Paterno


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You Are What You Eat?

Interesting statistics!

Just remember, it's all that saturated fat that's making you fat and sick ...

Vitamin D, Asthema, Correlation

Children with severe therapy-resistant asthma (STRA) may have poorer lung function and worse symptoms compared to children with moderate asthma, due to lower levels of vitamin D in their blood, according to researchers in London. Lower levels of vitamin D may cause structural changes in the airway muscles of children with STRA, making breathing more difficult. The study provides important new evidence for possible treatments for the condition.
The findings were published online ahead of the print edition of the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
“This study clearly demonstrates that low levels of vitamin D are associated with poorer lung function, increased use of medication, worse symptoms and an increase in the mass of airway smooth muscle in children with STRA,” said Atul Gupta, MRCPCH, M.D., a researcher from Royal Brompton Hospital and the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) at Imperial College and King’s College London. “It is therefore plausible that the link between airway smooth muscle mass and lung function in severe asthma may be partly explained by low levels of vitamin D.”
While most children with asthma can be successfully treated with low doses of corticosteroids, about 5 to 10 percent of asthmatic children do not respond to standard treatment. These children have severe therapy-resistant asthma, or STRA, experience more asthma episodes and asthma-related illnesses, and require more healthcare services, than their treatment-receptive peers.

The article concludes:
“The determination of the exact mechanism between low vitamin D and airway changes that occur in STRA will require intervention studies,” Dr. Gupta said. “Hopefully, the results of this and future studies will help determine a new course of therapy that will be effective in treating these children.”
Link to original article:

This seems like another piece in the paleolithic perspective of human wellness.  Take an organism that adapted over a long, long time to the various climates of the planet, and drastically change that organism's living conditions in a relatively short period of time, and there will be consequences.  Since we generally don't get enough sun, it is estimated that 90% of us are vitamin D deficient. 

I did a summer experiment to see what my non-augmented D level will be after a summer's worth of exposure way down here in Tennessee.  Now that the sun's retreating and the days are short and my body will even more fully covered by clothese, it's time to supplement.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kresser: Thyroid Matters

What’s most important to understand about this condition is that, although it does involve low levels of T3 (the most active form of thyroid hormone), it is not caused by a problem with the thyroid gland. This is a crucial distinction and it’s what distinguishes Low T3 Syndrome from “garden-variety” hypothyroidism.
In this series we’re going to discuss 1) what causes Low T3 Syndrome, 2) it’s clinical significance, and 3) if it should be treated, and if so, how.

Regulation of thyroid metabolism can be broken down into the following five steps:
  1. The hypothalamus (a pea-sized gland in the brain) monitors the levels of thyroid hormone in the body and produces thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH).
  2. TRH acts on the anterior pituitary (directly below the hypothalamus, but outside of the blood-brain barrier) to produce thyrotropin, a.k.a. thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
  3. TSH acts on the thyroid gland, which produces thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), the primary circulating thyroid hormones. The thyroid produces T4 in significantly greater quantities (in a ratio of 17:1) than T3, which is approximately 5x more biologically active than T4.
  4. T4 is converted into the more active T3 by the deiodinase system (D1, D2, D3) in multiple tissues and organs, but especially in the liver, gut, skeletal muscle, brain and the thyroid gland itself. D3 converts T3 into an inactive form of thyroid hormone in the liver.
  5. Transport proteins produced by the liver – thyroid binding globulin (TBG), transthretin and albumin – carry T4 and T3 to the tissues, where they are cleaved from their protein-carriers to become free T4 and free T3 and bind to thyroid hormone receptors (THRs) and exert their metabolic effect.
A long series which answer "everything you ever wanted to know about your thyroid."