Thursday, December 27, 2012

Eades: Israeli Study Follow Up Lessons

Subjects were studied on one of three diets over a two-year period. One group went low-carb, another low-fat and a third group followed a Mediterranean diet. The original two-year study,, published in 2008, clearly showed the obvious advantage of a low-carb diet. But, at the time, the media kept misrepresenting what the study really showed, so I corrected the record here:
and here:

After completion of the study, the researchers kept in touch with 95 percent of the subjects and were able to gather data from them four years after the end of the original two-year study.

What the researchers found is what you would expect if carbs really are more fattening. The low-carb dieters gained more weight after going off their low-carb diets than did the low-fat dieters after going off theirs.

The study gets really interesting when you start looking at what happens to lipid levels when people go off of either low-fat or a low-carb diets.

What the study found was that folks who improved their lipids on low carb but then stopped "low carbing" re-tained the benefits in their lipid profile for longer than did those who were doing low fat, even though they regained more weight than those who did low-fat, given that both quit dieting after the study.

The picture this paints is that even if you complete some periods of low carb, and then go back to eating SAD, there's a long term benefit; that picture is represented in other studies as well.  IOW, better to have short term success and then go back to bad ways than never to have success in managing your weight/health markers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


"The word "coach" comes from the word stagecoach, which was the major mode of transportation used by people before the automobile. Whether it was drawn by a horse of steam engine, the stagecoach took people from one place to another. The coach in athletics does the same thing - he or she is able to take people from where they are to where they want to be. This is the essence of what a coach truly is."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wheat Free?

This is a very nicely done bit about why you want to ditch the wheat.  Short version - it's all bad, no good, pokes holes in your guy, spikes blood sugar, feeds harmful gut bacteria, breaks down into addictive opioid like compounds, and might be the cause of the end of the earth if the Mayans were right.  Or not.  But either way, try going wheat free for 3 weeks and see if you feel all the better for it in joint pain, overall inflammation, and perhaps even fat loss.

Friday, December 21, 2012


The new Cat!  15% weight loss, and dress size from 22 down to 12 - pretty damned awesome young lady!

To me Cat's story is about persistence.  I've known her for about five years, and she's always been working hard to be better, stronger, faster, fitter.  I answered a few specific questions for her about nutrition and diet and performance, but mostly, she just kept after it and asked help from many folks and now- WOW!  Well done.  There could not be a better example for success -
1.  Get started
2.  Never quit!
3.  Always learn and experiment to make make more progress.

Congrats to you and your team mates at CF Memphis and Wolf River CF!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Your Brain On Ketones

"And now let's really get down to the mitochondrial level. Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells, where all the energy is produced (as ATP). Now, when I was taught about biochemical fuel-burning, I was taught that glucose was "clean" and ketones were "smokey." That glucose was clearly the preferred fuel for our muscles for exercise and definitely the key fuel for the brain. Except here's the dirty little secret about glucose - when you look at the amount of garbage leftover in the mitochondria, it is actually less efficient to make ATP from glucose than it is to make ATP from ketone bodies! A more efficient energy supply makes it easier to restore membranes in the brain to their normal states after a depolarizing electrical energy spike occurs, and means that energy is produced with fewer destructive free radicals leftover."

What is the significance of the above to you, dear reader?  Mainly that it is another indicator that a high fat, minimal carb diet which supports ketone production is healthy for the noodle.  As the author says:

"What does it all mean? Well, in the brain, energy is everything. The brain needs a great deal of energy to keep all those membrane potentials maintained - to keep pushing sodium out of the cells and pulling potassium into the cells. In fact, the brain, which is only 2% of our body weight, uses 20% of our oxygen and 10% of our glucose stores just to keep running. (Some cells in our brain are actually too small (or have tendrils that are too small) to accommodate mitochondria (the power plants). In those places, we must use glucose itself (via glycolysis) to create ATP.)
When we change the main fuel of the brain from glucose to ketones, we change amino acid handling. And that means we change the ratios of glutamate and GABA. The best responders to a ketogenic diet for epilepsy end up with the highest amount of GABA in the central nervous system.  One of the things the brain has to keep a tight rein on is the amount of glutamate hanging out in the synapse. Lots of glutamate in the synapse means brain injury, or seizures, or low level ongoing damaging excito-toxicity as you might see in depression. The brain is humming along, using energy like a madman. Even a little bit more efficient use of the energy makes it easier for the brain to pull the glutamate back into the cells. And that, my friends, is a good thing."

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"The Best" Exercise

"Yet some of the best physical activities for your body don't require the gym or that you get fit enough to run a marathon. These "workouts" can do wonders for your health. They'll help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss.
"No matter your age or fitness level, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease:
"Swimming. You might call swimming the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. "Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it's less weight bearing," explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Research finds that swimming can improve your mental state and put you in a better mood. Water aerobics is another option. These classes help you burn calories and tone up.

This is a cut from an email from the Harvard School of Medicine.

I would not be the one to discourage anyone from doing what they like, what they believe in, or what they want to like or believe in.  But swimming does not meet the criteria laid out above by the authors of this article.

As practiced by those who smoothly and easily glide along in the water, swimming does not:
-Help with weight control
-Improve your balance
-Improve range of motion (possible exception of the shoulders)
-Strengthen your bones
-"Protect" your joints

Swimming is NOT the perfect workout, and one could easily determine that by using the criteria above.

For the elderly, swimming low speed for long time durations is particularly lacking in strength building, bone stress (and therefore does not help with bone density), and range of motion for the lower body.  It is not going to help you get up of of the floor, and it WILL NOT help build the strength we all need in the torso to help us carry loads safely.

Swimming is by far better than doing nothing.  Sprinting for short, intense intervals is even better.  And swimming for intervals one day, and for endurance another day, in combination with a smart strength and conditioning program with barbells might be considered very complete.

Unfortunately, the "public health authorities" believe that we the consumer can only absorb simple messages with a simple premise and which does not require that we do much.  I can see why they think this way, but I recoil against pretending that not working very hard in the water is "the perfect exercise."  I hope my readers would strive for much more than that.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Eat Meat, Or Eat All Day

"At the core of this research is the understanding that the modern human  brain consumes 20 percent of the body's energy at rest, twice that of  other primates. Meat and cooked foods were needed to provide the  necessary calorie boost to feed a growing brain.    One study, published last month in the Proceedings of the National  Academy of Sciences, examined the brain size of several primates. For  the most part, larger bodies have larger brains across species. Yet  humans have exceptionally large, neuron-rich brains for our body size,  while gorillas - three times as massive as humans - have smaller brains with one-third the neurons. Why?"

This article is a great read, and I recommend it in its entirety.  It falls right in line with the excellent book Catching Fire, which details the process described in this article in much greater detail.  Another juicy cut:

"The answer, it seems, is the gorillas' raw, vegan diet (devoid of animal  protein), which requires hours upon hours of eating to provide enough  calories to support their mass.    Researchers from Brazil, led by Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a  neuroscientist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, calculated  that adding neurons to the primate brain comes at a fixed cost of  approximately six calories per billion neurons.    For gorillas to evolve a humanlike brain, they would need an additional  733 calories a day, which would require two more hours of feeding, the  authors wrote. A gorilla already spends as much as 80 percent of the  tropics' 12 hours of daylight eating.    Similarly, early humans eating only raw vegetation would have needed to  munch for more than nine hours a day to consume enough calories, the  researchers calculated. Thus, a raw, vegan diet would have been  unlikely, given the danger and other difficulties of gathering so much  food.    
"Cooking makes more foods edible year-round and releases more nutrients  and calories from both vegetables and meat, Herculano-Houzel said.    "The bottom line is, it is certainly possible to survive on an  exclusively raw diet in our modern day, but it was most likely  impossible to survive on an exclusively raw diet when our species  appeared.""

Indeed so - in fact, among those on a completely raw food diet, over one third become infertile.  However, for you men who would like to be rid of that pesky six drive, a raw vegan diet seems to do the trick nicely. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not Explainable

From an orphanage in India:
"The results have been tangible. We are a dominating force in statewide field hockey. Last week, our under-19 girls team placed second in a school-level national tournament.

"One young woman received a full college scholarship in hockey - the coaches marvel at her fitness. Vijay Raj placed 16th at the 2012 Asia Regional and is earning a living as a CrossFit trainer in Delhi.

"CrossFit has permeated our ashram and is an integral part of who we are. Where most Indians recount the glories of the national cricket team, our children seamlessly discuss Froning, Spealler, Khalipa and others . Through CrossFit, we are redefining the meaning of "orphan" from a place of pity, to strong, competent, confident young men and women."

CrossFit is:
- Touted by elite warriors and first responders, NFL and former NFL players, NBA players, Motocross, skiers, and ultra-marathoners
- Touted by grandmothers with transformation in their physical capacity
- Touted by the addicted as a potent element of their recovery
- Giving pull-ups, rope climbs and significant strength gains to women in droves
- Provides a training ground for facing and overcoming internal obstacles - reading the stories of many, they say "I learned how to face my demons in CrossFit and it changed how I function at work and at home."
- Giving kids, and high schoolers, a type of fitness they value - even and possible especially those not previously inclined to athletic activity
- Giving all varieties of mid-aged athletes cause to say "I'm more fit than I ever have been"
- Proving effective for kids with severe disease states
- Giving a new persona to the children in an orphanage

How can this be possible?  So many different kinds of people, and all able to use CrossFit to address and transform in their lives.

I have been seeing and hearing this happen since 2007, and still marvel at the impact. CrossFit is a potent tool and continues to give utility from seemingly every angle.

I recommend you enjoy the full article above, it is fitting inspiration for this season.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Strong Is The New Skinny"

"Jones says she's not surprised that more women are taking heavy weights seriously. "I made a t-shirt last summer that said, 'Strong is The New Skinny' and it resonated with so many women," she says. "Even women I didn't know on the streets or in airports stopped me to take a picture of the shirt. Women get the sentiment. Women are finally seeing that skinny does not mean strong. Actually, it's just the opposite in many cases."

"She may have a point. A few studies published this year show it's possible to be lean and metabolically unhealthy without exercise.  Similarly, overweight people can be metabolically fit on the inside, but still carry too much outer weight. Building inner muscle and aerobic capacity is key to truly improving health, regardless of what the scale says."

Read more:

The author continues:
"I'm not totally sold on heavy weights just yet, but I will say that focusing on getting fit and being obsessed with burning calories makes working out much more fun."

In my experience, between women and men, gaining strength through the use of barbells or body weight movements does more for women than for men, due to the fact that women fear barbells and feel exuberant when they defeat their fears, and their mis-perceptions of the limits of their strength.  Men would much rather stand around and talk about the days when they were young and strong, on the  average, and are much less likely to grab a barbell and get the heck to work to be stronger tomorrow than they are today.

Women who test themselves against CrossFit find transformation, just as many men do, but the reach is farther - the anecdotes about how their CrossFit changed their relationships at work, for example, abound.  Why?  I'm just guessing but I think it teaches anyone how to face fear and do what needs to be done.

The term used in the quote above - heavy weights - is a pretty good example of a lady's mis-perception - what is heavy today is light tomorrow for the lady who gives herself to a real strength and conditioning program.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fever Saves Lives

"Take fever as an example. For 150 years, doctors have routinely prescribed antipyretics like ibuprofen to help reduce fever. But in 2005, researchers at the University of Miami, Florida, ran a study of 82 intensive care patients. The patients were randomly assigned to receive antipyretics either if their temperature rose beyond 101.3°F ("standard treatment") or only if their temperature reached 104°F. As the trial progressed, seven people getting the standard treatment died, while there was only one death in the group of patients allowed to have a higher fever. At this point, the trial was stopped because the team felt it would be unethical to allow any more patients to get the standard treatment.

"So when something as basic as fever reduction is a hallmark of the "practice of medicine" and hasn't been challenged for 100+ years, we have to ask: What else might be practiced due to tradition rather than science?"

Other issues that science will eventually shed light on include:
The effect of fat on health, the impact on health of wheat and other dense carbs, the positive impact of sunlight and vitamin D even relative to the damage from sunlight, and what type of vitamin supplementation strategies are effective optimize health, vice just eliminating critical deficiencies.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

True, But Irrelevant

"Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, for sheer weight loss, it [macronutrient composition of the diet] probably doesn't. It is the total amount of energy consumed (calories) that matters. And this is not an arguable point. There is this pesky little physical law of the universe that forms the basis of all weight loss and weight gain. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed but is always conserved. In other words, energy that enters a system will necessarily equal the energy that remains in the system or leaves the system. Food, as far as the body is concerned, is merely a form of energy, and the amount of calories you take in (eat and drink) must equal the amount of calories stored in the body or expended through metabolism. Nowhere in this inalterable equation is the quality of the diet or composition of the diet a consideration, only the math of caloric deficit or surplus. It's old, but the phrase "calories count" is still as viable today as it was when the first diet hucksters tried to cash in on the vain American obsession with skinniness. So, according to the law of energy conservation, if you eat according to the food pyramid and keep the numbers of calories you eat to less than you expend, you can lose weight. If you go low-fat and low-calorie, you can eat and drink nothing but Choco Cap'n Crunch and Coke in appropriate quantities and you can lose weight. If you go low-carbohydrate, you can eat and drink nothing but bacon and diet Coke in appropriate quantities and you can lose weight. If you go low-protein, you probably can't think clearly enough to comprehend this, but, believe me, the same energetic relationships apply."

However, all of what was just written, as regards fat loss from dieting by "humans in the wild", is true, but irrelevant.  Thus, though his intro sound like a condemnation of low carb diets (better described as diets free of excessive carbohydrate), read on:

"The low-fat diet presumes, quite correctly, that since fat is a very  energy-dense macronutrient at nine calories (kilocalories, to be  precise, but we'll just call them calories, per popular use) per gram,  reducing how much fat you eat will reduce your caloric intake  significantly. The average American gets somewhere around 34 percent of  total dietary calories from fats in food. Reducing this intake to 20  percent would be enough of a caloric reduction for someone to lose about  a pound a week-if the calories were not replaced with carbohydrate or  protein. (Though, even replacing them on a gram-for-gram basis would  likely net a weight loss of about a pound every ten days or so, since  both carbohydrate and protein contain 4 calories per gram.) If you can  hang with the food choices of the low-fat diet, you can effectively lose  weight.    For a chance at success with a low-fat diet, not only do you need to  change the foods you eat, you also need to change how you eat. Instead  of three squares a day, it is much more effective to eat four or five  smaller meals with little snacks between. Spreading the food relatively  uniformly across the waking day helps minimize the time between insulin  concentration troughs, thereby helping limit between-meal hunger pangs.  
"It is interesting to note that, in the last decade, the  government-sponsored campaign against dietary fat has resulted in a  decrease in the percent of fat in the American diet (it peaked out at  over 42 percent a few years ago). But, over the same time, the average  bodyweight and body fat of the average citizen has increased despite the  decrease in dietary fat. Oops.    
"How is this true for carb restricted diets?  The highly touted low-carbohydrate diet has some quite clever elements  that are biologically effective and promotionally effective. "Eat as  much protein and fat as you like" is one element that almost every one  of its practitioners loves. "Wait, I'm on a diet and I can eat as much  as I want? Sign me up!" Despite its outward appearance, though, a  low-carbohydrate diet is not a high-calorie diet. Two interesting things  will initially prevent over-consumption of calories. First, fat is a  very satisfying macronutrient. A protein- and fat-rich meal will satisfy  hunger more effectively than a high-carbohydrate meal. Second, severely  limiting carbohydrate consumption limits insulin secretion, and the  dieter will not experience the swings in blood glucose seen in the  low-fat diet. With a more consistent level of blood sugar throughout the  day, the low-carbohydrate dieter will experience fewer hunger pangs (and  mood and energy swings). Less perceived hunger results in a  self-selected reduction in calories consumed. So eating "as much as you  want" actually turns out to be less than you normally would eat with a  typical American pattern of eating lots of carbohydrates along with your  fats and proteins. There is a misconception out there that  low-carbohydrate diets drop your body fat faster and to a greater  magnitude than low-fat diets. You do lose "weight" very quickly in the  early stages of the low-carbohydrate diet. This is because the body  mobilizes and uses its existing carbohydrate stores (i.e., glycogen and  glucose) when you stop consuming them in your meals. That elimination of  stored carbohydrate carries with it an elimination of water weight as  well. Any time carbohydrate is stored in a cell, it is stored in  conjunction with water. Get rid of the carbohydrate and you will also  get rid of the water. The end result is a rapid loss of bodyweight that  is composed mostly of stored sugars and water and minimally of fat. But  that loss of carbohydrate and water is fast enough and large enough for  most dieters to perceive a difference in the mirror and on the scales.  Success makes you feel good and contributes to staying on the diet  longer. Once the initial carbohydrate losses have petered out, the body will then begin to tap into stored fat and the rate of fat loss will  increase and be similar in rate and magnitude to that seen in a successful long-term low-fat diet."

I just want to say - I violently agree with Dr. Kilgore, and would add that, as regards health, the water weight loss is as important as the fat loss.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Training Fasted?

The author makes a reasoned argument in support of his advocacy that one
should never train fasted:

But others, notably Martin Berkhan and Art Devanny, have pointed to studies that show a benefit for fasted training.    What gives?    
Probably, what gives is that science on humans is notoriously hard to do well - perhaps impossible to do well, given the variables.    So - how could you decide for yourself what's best?    
Try it. 
If you are eating a protein adequate diet, and a carb adequate  diet, there's no reason you could not perform a CrossFit WOD, or even a  moderate endurance training event, while fasted.  I do this almost every day. 
If you are an elite competitor in CrossFit or any sport, that may not be  your best choice - but I'll bet there are some that do it.  The far larger issue is how to hydrate in the AM before an AM workout (or how to know if you are hydrating adequately all day long). You lose a considerable amount of water in your sleep through urine and water vapor from the lungs. You can absorb in the range of a quart of  water per hour. Water has to warm to body temperature before it will  pass into the blood stream through the gut. So, for AM training, drink warm water (the closer to body temp the better) with a pinch of salt,  potassium and magnesium, as close to a quart as you can, and as soon  after waking as you can, to allow time for absorption pre-workout. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Working Out and Eating - Keep It Simple

The link that follows will take you to a slightly obtuse, but useful article about pre and post workout nutrition strategies.  My truth is - there's no truth right now.

You can find folks who will cite study after study about the critical and essential practice of "X, Y, and Z", and you can also find folks who don't do "X, Y or Z" and they rock the house.

Case in point - Rich Fronning, the fittest human on the planet, supposedly eat PB&J all day.  There's not a scientific study on the planet that would back that approach.

We just don't know the best approach, which is why results seen amongst athletes are highly individualized.

What I tell folks who want fat loss and fitness gain is - forget the post workout shake.  Eat real food, do not eat any food that zaps your blood sugars into the stratosphere, and train hard.  Competitive athletes, training to levels that are likely not healthy, will have to eat differently in most cases than blue collar athletes like you and me, who train to live (vice living to train).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Taubes in Mother Jones

Gary Taubes' article, Sweet Little Lies, was published in Mother Jones this month. The tag line is "The 40-year campaign to cover up evidence that sugar kills."

It starts:
"On a brisk spring Tuesday in 1976, a pair of executives from the Sugar Association stepped up to the podium of a Chicago ballroom to accept the Oscar of the public relations world, the Silver Anvil award for excellence in "the forging of public opinion." The trade group had recently pulled off one of the greatest turnarounds in PR history. For nearly a decade, the sugar industry had been buffeted by crisis after crisis as the media and the public soured on sugar and scientists began to view it as a likely cause of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Industry ads claiming that eating sugar helped you lose weight had been called out by the Federal Trade Commission, and the Food and Drug Administration had launched a review of whether sugar was even safe to eat. Consumption had declined 12 percent in just two years, and producers could see where that trend might lead. As John "JW" Tatem Jr. and Jack O'Connell Jr., the Sugar Association's president and director of public relations, posed that day with their trophies, their smiles only hinted at the coup they'd just pulled off."

The cover benefits from an image of a pitcher of what looks like "Kool Aid" (aka colored, flavored sugar water), modified to resemble a mélange of a skull and an apologetic smile. You can see this photo here:

The article essentially says that there has been evidence of the health risks caused by excess sugar intake (type 2 diabetes leading to cancer, neurological disorders, and cardiovascular disease), but the industry, fearful of government regulation, used information suppression and distortion to prevent widespread discussion of these topics, preventing both regulation of the industry and execution of more definitive research.

A favorite tactic was to place folks "in the industry's pocket" as members of government panels looking into the subject. As a result, these government panels were pretty consistent in saying, essentially, "sugar's no problem." Folks, even a politician could figure out that 142 pounds of sugar (average annual consumption in the US) is not a good thing for health.

What does an industry mis-information campaign look like?

When questioned about the similarities of this case to the tobacco case, Taubes responds:
"There's a fundamental difference here that I will think change the way this plays out. With tobacco, the evidence was damning and, as I understand it, the tobacco industry tried to cover it up and make it go away. With sugar, the evidence was suggestive and the sugar industry just tried to make sure that the research to either exonerate sugar or convict it would never be done. They also worked and still work to assure that no consensus will ever be achieved. So ethically it's a different issue and it is legally as well. But now I'm stepping outside what little expertise I arguably have."

One thing that puzzles me is why the sugar industry so outperformed the beef industry in this public opinion battle. Was the beef industry so confident in its product that it felt it did not have to muzzle the government's mis-information about animal fats/saturated fats? Or, was the beef industry more dispersed and less amenable to effective representation by an industry lobby group? Perhaps they did everything they could but I just don't know about it. The irony is that the beef industry had science on its side all along, and the government sided with sugar instead. "Go figure."

How did the industry's distortions play out in real life? Here's an illustrative anecdote:
"But after flipping through The Stop & Go Fast Food Nutrition Guide, the book that healthy-living guru Steven G. Aldana had handed out at the conclusion of his talk, my fight or flight response kicked in. Aldana was on his way to the airport, and I had a question for him.

"I caught him halfway up the stairs leading to the street. "How can you say sweet tea is good for you?" I blurted out, less eloquently than I had intended. Aldana's book had given Lipton Brisk-which contains 11 teaspoons of sugars per 16-ounce can-his "You're eating healthy!" seal of approval. Earlier in my career, working as a dental director for low-income clinics in Denver, I had seen firsthand the damage these kinds of sugary drinks incur on people's teeth-never mind the causative role they may play in chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

"Perched three steps above me, Aldana looked down calmly. "There is no research to support that sugar causes chronic disease," he said. Then, before I could string another sentence together, he was out the door."

NOTE: Here begins the libertarian editorial, feel free to skip this is you are emotionally invested in the competence and goodness of an expansive federal government.

The USDA's credibility is right up there with the rest of our "incredible" government, from fraud laden and astonishingly unsustainable Medicare, to bankrupt (and also fraudulent) social security, to the sham debate about the "fiscal cliff".   Finding out the USDA was used as a tool of industry isn't really a surprise, but it is nonetheless tragic since so many have suffered as a result (next big expose will be of all the ways the pharmaceutical industry leverages government stooges to peddle drugs which have been significantly misrepresented with regards to efficacy).

 Our government prescribes a dietary approach that makes people sick when they are old, and then spends "a mint" to keep them alive, meaning social security won't have enough funding to keep paying them. If it wasn't real, you would not believe it could be true.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Taubes: Thought Experiment

“If this effect is tiny, say, five calories worth of fat get trapped in A's fat cells every day, he'll still put on ten pounds of fat over the 20 years of the experiment and weigh 10 pounds more than his genetically-identical brother eating his almost identical diet. If this fat-trapping amounts to 20 calories a day - still less than one percent of the calories A is consuming - that would amount to forty pounds of excess fat over the course of the experiment. It would still be too subtle of an effect to be observable in the relatively short-term experiments done to date on sucrose consumption.”

In other words, if you miss the calorie estimate by any amount, you'll be obese.  What's the solution?  Don't pretend the human conscious mind was built to control the human animal's intake.  No animal needs conscious intervention to avoid obesity WHEN IT EATS THE FOOD IT EVOLVED TO EAT, the human animal included.  

Why some eggs heads decided we should eat wheat and industrial seed oils, while avoiding the most natural human food on the planet - saturated animal fats - is beyond description.

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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Exercise, Good. Obsession (and High Carbs), Bad

"What the new research suggests is that the benefits of running may come to a hard stop later in life. In a study involving 52,600 people followed for three decades, the runners in the group had a 19% lower
death rate than nonrunners, according to the Heart editorial. But among the running cohort, those who ran a lot-more than 20 to 25 miles a week-lost that mortality advantage. "

"Not everyone is lining up behind the new data. "The guys advancing the hypothesis that you can get too much exercise are manipulating the data," said Paul Thompson, a former elite marathoner and nationally renowned sports cardiologist at Hartford Hospital. "They have an agenda."
"Sports cardiologist James O'Keefe, an author of the Heart paper, counters that Dr. Thompson is an exercise addict. "He, like many chronic exercise addicts, is the one with an agenda," said Dr. O'Keefe, a sports cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City. "My 'agenda' is my patients."
Critics of the newer research say that the idea that running can harm the heart is based on research showing only an association—meaning that exercise may not be the cause of the problem. The note that in any large group of runners, high-mileage and high-speed athletes may be too few in number to be statistically significant.""

There is a huge confounder in the aforementioned associative risk - that being that elite marathoners almost all eat massive quantities of carbohydrate.  I think it's completely plausible that the risk of death reflects the diet of these people as much as their excessive, top end aerobic work.  Folks like Mark Sisson ( will also point to the high levels of oxidative stress associated with super high endurance mileage as a likely culprit for these folks' health compromises. 
What is oxidative stress?  It's the stuff that you are supposed to be preventing by ingesting massive quantities of "anti-oxidants" every day, under the assumption that if you eat an anti-oxidant it will magically make its way into your cells and do the magic anti-oxidants purportedly do.  As to that, I'll believe it when I see the intervention study that shows a benefit.
As to the topic of this article, though, it shouldn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that many competitive endeavors rapidly degenerate into too much of a good thing, too much running/biking/swimming is a good example.

PS - the future of endurance running is going to look like this:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Biggest Loser of All Time

"As the most successful "Biggest Loser" contestant in the show's history after shedding 185 pounds in his nine-month experience winning the $100,000 at-home prize in the reality weight loss program seen by millions weekly, Pete has spent most of the seven years that have elapsed promoting what it takes not just to lose the weight quickly but also keep it off for the rest of your life. He's written a brand new book about this subject in 2012 called Lose It Fast, Lose It Forever: A 4-Step Permanent Weight Loss Plan from the Most Successful "Biggest Loser" of All Time with a special foreword written by his trainer on the show Jillian Michaels."

I have listened to this podcast three times while driving or digging out a patio - it's a great show!  Pete has developed a fantastic and comprehensive approach to fat loss, and sustaining fat loss, including an exercise system.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing his story, and recommend this podcast.  

Not Eating What the People We Eat With Eat

As we transition from young guys into full-fledged men, a few
things tend to happen.

We move a little less...and we eat a little more.

Our metabolisms slow down and we gain fat. Maybe a little of it;
maybe a lot of it.

If you're like most guys, you chalk it up to aging, like losing
your hair or suffering from a low sex drive.

Well, I have two words for you.

Screw. That.

The PN crew have one of the only online, large scale implementations of weight loss coaching I know of, and have many clients and some good before/after shots to show for it.  

In my book, though, they could state things a bit more clearly.  My bet is that we don't move less and eat more, we move less because we become less carb tolerant, and some of the energy we eat becomes trapped as fat (and inaccessible due to high insulin levels).  We are low on available energy, and act like it.  We are also high in inflammation, and low in sleep quality (a little sore, and somewhat tired).  

But either way, we need a change, many of us, and it can't be hours of daily running or other "cardio" - at least, not if we want loving relationships and a career that will let us support our loved ones.

"Eat meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, and no sugar/wheat" is simple, perhaps too simple, because folks don't believe it.  The formula works, but the implementation is tough.  What do I eat for breakfast?  What about lunch at work or on the road?  What about dinner with no bread or pasta or rice?  "You can't get anything without wheat in it."  What about birthdays and holidays?  "I can't walk past all these sweets."  "I have to have my oatmeal."  Or, they try the Rx for a while, but eventually, revert to the norm.  

They do what humans do - eat what the people we eat with eat.  

The key is - what helps people change habits permanently?  Fear of looking fat doesn't do it.  Fear of disease does it - for the short term.  Even success only helps reinforce the right behavior in the short term.  What makes long term success, lifetime success, possible?

As I'm learning, being paid to help people regain health and lose weight in the process, there are three factors.  
1.  Do it with other people.  Find a group that eats like you want to eat and share food adventures.
2.  Keep learning and refining.  You get the lightening bolt of inspiration to do things differently, but it fades over time, and all the reasons you used to eat the shit that you used to eat will still be there.  If you learn every day, a little more about why it sucks to eat the shit you used to eat, you have a better chance over time of seeing that shit as shit, instead of the fun stuff to eat.
3.  Persistence.  I started carb restriction via the Zone in 1996.  I went into and out of weight loss from then through 2007.  In 2007 at 225 pounds and a belly of 39", I went back to the Zone and it worked.  But I found I could do as well or better without the weighed meals and five meals per day, in other words just focus on eating quality food, and that's where I've been ever since.  Turns out, the science shows that even intermittent carb restriction shows long term health benefits, so I was doing better with my start/fail carb restriction that if I hadn't been doing anything.

1.  Everyone quits when they try to change their behavior.  But don't quit trying to change.  Read a new book about diet and health every year.  Read a health and fitness blog you trust five days a week.  Keep thinking of things you can do to shift toward desired behaviors.  Find the easy changes and make them. Give yourself the question for the larger, harder changes - "how can I change this?"  As Tony Robbins says, and I believe him, if you want a better answer you have to ask better questions.
2.  Even if all you do is jettison some elements of the stuff that's killing you - bread for example - that's a win.  I sometimes look at the stuff I used to crave and wonder what the attraction ever was.  The attraction didn't die because I changed how I thought.  The attraction died because after a period of not eating that food, the taste that I had grown for the food just went away.  Short term deprivation became long term liberation.  And bread for example - how many people eat bread with no butter or other such topping to make it taste better than cardboard?   Ditto rice or pasta or oatmeal.
3.  It is about looking better, but the same changes that make you leaner make you healthier - so it's not JUST about looking better.  It's about living better, living well for longer.  The same processes that make you store fat and feel hungry are the ones that make you inflamed and sick.  You may be fighting for appearance, and eager to feel younger longer, but you are also fighting for your life, which is why it is critical to regulate blood sugar via, for most, carbohydrate restriction.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Inflammation, Autoimmune, What's The Difference

Crohn's disease and colitis, collectively referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), both involve inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Colitis only affects the colon, while Crohn's disease can affect any gastrointestinal area from the mouth to the anus.

Over the past decade, many genes related to Crohn's and colitis have been discovered. Evidence for a genetic basis of the diseases was first uncovered in 2000. But in 2005, only two genes linked to the diseases had been determined. Now, 163 IBD loci, or genetic regions, are known--71 of which were identified in this study.

As you read the press about disease models, virtually all cite "inflammation" or "chronic inflammation". Rarely do they state what that condition is, or what it is characterized by, which is, a heightened inflammatory response when one is not needed.
When you have a cut or an invasive microbe, you need an inflammatory response.  Other times, you need a normal inflammatory response.
In other words, if you buy the "inflammation" argument, the "diseases of civilization" are caused by the body attacking itself through a perverted inflammatory response.  Your genetic predisposition determines whether a diet which drives high, chronic inflammation levels results in, for example, ALS or CVD or pancreatic cancer.
Autoimmune diseases are all of this flavor, so a way to think of "inflammatory" diseases is as a spectrum from the least severe (CVD, cancer) to the most severe (autoimmune).
In either instance, dietary interventions reduce the out of control inflammatory response for many.  Best interventions include wheat elimination, sugar reduction or elimination, and reduction of omega 6 fatty acid intake (combined with omega 3 supplementation).  Other important interventions include vitamin D optimization, optimizing micro-nutrient levels in the body (different from just dumping more of them into your body), and reducing the body's stress response while increasing sleep quality.
Unlike "medical" interventions, these have no side effects.
Which isn't to say I think medicine has no place in disease intervention!  If I get cancer, I'm getting best treatment out there.  Waiting for dietary and lifestyle interventions until after cancer's got you by the liver - aka the late great Steve Jobs - is not my bag.
Eat meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Good Sleep, Good Performance, Good Health

The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers spent the summer tearing through sleep studies-some of them commissioned by the U.S. military-looking for ways they might help their players improve their performance by sleeping more like teenagers. "We've looked at quite a few of them," said San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh.

And after sleep specialists visited the Jets earlier this year, linebacker Bryan Thomas said the team has made an extreme effort to make sure everyone is sleeping properly. This includes pre-setting all temperatures in the team hotel rooms to the sleep-therapy recommended 68 degrees and recommending players sleep in pitch-black rooms.

Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh, Jim's brother, has begun to take measures to combat jetlag on long trips: Before the Ravens fly west to play San Diego on Nov. 25, their plan is to stay at home but simply start practices and meetings later until they are operating on West Coast-time while in Baltimore.  

Of the four Pacific-time teams, three of them lost more than 75% of the time over the past decade when playing 1 p.m. games on the East Coast.

Physical performance is mental performance is emotional performance.  They are all powered by the same fuels and the same physiology and each affects the other.  What you eat affects how you sleep, and how you sleep affects what hormones your body makes, and what hormones your body makes has an effect on what your body does with what you eat.

This is a sad reality for a fitness coach, because if theres one thing that's harder for folks to fix than their eating habits, it's their sleeping habits.

Monday, November 26, 2012

In Which I Waste Time On A Hater ...

I wasted an hour today to respond to this critique.  I wonder if the author will post my response.

A Civil Critique on Crossfit

Summary of the author's argument:
1. Unless I specialize in running and body weight stuff, I don't get the results I value most.
2. I prefer a definition of fitness I found in a dictionary more than the one that CrossFit used to frame the methodology of CrossFit programming.
I suppose not everyone reads all the old CF stuff, but I did, way back when.  The point of defining fitness for Coach was that it wasn't defined in any useful way.  Somebody could claim fitness and mean anything.  Of course, folks did and do just that, and never bothered to define the term in any way that was subject to evaluation.  Coach's blinding flash of the obvious was "what if we defined it in a way such that training could be designed to achieve the end, fitness, in a way that is quantifiable."  So he defined it, published it, and strove to build a fitness system that achieved it.  The intellectual integrity of that approach is remarkable in a world of myth based marketing.
The desired outcome - fit for anything, fit for the knowable, fit for the unknowable.  Someone said above that CrossFit is about "excelling at being average."  That statement was intended as a critique, but it is just as much a compliment since the statement implies having no weakness.  CrossFit's founder wrote many years ago that CrossFit is about compromise - or as the old saying goes, "any strength to excess is weakness."
The author of this blog has made this completely uncontroversial claim: "if I don't specialize in running and body weight movements, I'm not as good at running and body weight movements as I used to be when I specialized at running and body weight movements (aka the Marine PFT)."
OK.  CrossFit says that too.
As for whether or not the CrossFit Games should be crowning the fittest on the planet, everyone has a right to their opinion, and each counts as much as the author's, which is zero except hopefully to yours and my friends and loved ones.
As for worthless anecdotes, I have several, but my PFA test scores for the highly unimpressive Navy PFA test were their best, as a forty + year old, after I found CrossFit (I only did better as a 25 year old officer candidate).  I did nothing but CrossFit, except I would practice the PFA 3-4 times prior to the test.
In summary, because the author didn't take time to fully understand the context of CrossFit's claim to fitness, he/she made a tedious, pointless critique, when all that needed to be said was "I tried CrossFit and the results of the CrossFit implementation I tried didn't match my goals."


In the aftermath of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to be associated with a community that finds a way to do things like this:

"Instead of seeing our son grow in independence, we were helplessly watching him back track," Kim says.

"Kim often neglected her own health to care for Nathan. She was miserable until a neighbor told her about CrossFit VO2Max in 2011. She started the V02Max boot camp in the summer, and by August, she joined the regular classes.

"When Nathan broke his left femur again that fall, Kim started to talk about her experience with her new VO2Max family. "We started talking about Nathan and if it would be possible to adapt a program for him."

"In December 2011, Coach Ron Turner approached Kim with a plan to train Nathan three days a week for 30 minutes, at no cost.

"Kim didn't want to push Nathan into an uncomfortable experience, so she brought him to a birthday party at the gym and let him explore. He decided he wanted to give it a try.

"It was the first time he felt like he might be capable of something 'cool,'" Kim says.

"Having an athlete with OI presents significant challenges. Turner "started him with simple things-- like learning to deadlift and squat-- and slowly did small CrossFit met-cons for conditioning," Kim explains.

"Nearly a year later, Nathan gave up the wheelchair. He can walk outside and he increased his grip strength."

There are a lot of CF "haters" out there, and many would say "any good S&C program would do just as well."  And that may be true, but it is irrelevant.  CF gets a chance to do so many things like this because CF has become prevalent in the marketplace with a fitness model that the S&C geniuses said couldn't work "for the masses."  Instead of taking their knowledge to the market place, they defaulted to machines, fad fitness magazines, "cardio and crunches", and supplement sales.  In the mean time, this crazy man named Glassman figured out how to apply real S&C methods in a novel implementation suitable for pro athletes and grandmothers.  Millions of lives have been changed as a result.

I'm thankful for moms like Kim.  I'm thankful for the health of my children.  I'm thankful for these moments of achievement for Nathan.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I presented my training session on the Paleolithic Model of Nutrition recently (it was recorded - will have an online product available soon in conjunction with Faction Strength and Conditioning).  Getting ready to present, reviewing  my presentation, and refining it based on audience feedback is always fun; the most recent cycle of preparation was particularly fertile with ideas for how to tell the story with more impact, more clarity and more repetition.  It is, for example, really hard for people to believe you mean "eat more fat" or "eat a lot of fat".  If you say that once, or twice, it does not sink in.  Further, even if the whole point of the presentation is "if your diet produces wild excess in blood sugar, you are frocked" - I get questions about whole eggs v. whites only, or others that amount to a complete oblivion to the PRIMACY OF GLYCEMIC CONTROL. 
I should probably put "it's the blood sugar, stupid" on every slide.
You see articles all the time about one group or another's fears of "toxins" in the food supply.  Welcome to the industrial food chain, peeps, strap in and hold on. 
But that's not what is killing those who eat the Western diet.  What is killing you is the number one toxin, the undisputed killer toxin - blood sugar dis-regulated by diet (with compounding of the issue loop by lack of sleep and chronic stress). 
The good thing is that one does not have to take anyone else's word about which foods or meals will wreck your blood sugar - you can do that for yourself now, courtesy of a $100 (at most) investment in a glucose meter and test strips (go to Amazon or other web source for the strips!).  If you eat a meal with whole grain bagels or bread/pasta/orange juice, oatmeal - or whatever - when it spikes your blood sugar (on a whim I ate two doughnuts to test my glucose response, and it delivered an eye popping 212; I was back to 85 an hour later), it's not about dogma any longer.  It's about not killing yourself with high blood sugar.
This is, to me, a great development for the sake of less bickering, for one, and for the sake of less dependence on "experts" and their opinions.  More importantly, blood sugar meters, and blood tests being available on demand for a fee but without an MD's consent, means far more independence for those who wish to choose a safe, healthy path based on their own needs and values.
All of the arenas in which we find conflict are defined by the lack of definitive science.  The lack of certainty makes ego and opinion influential, and sometimes profitable.  Unfortunately, ego by its nature is unconcerned with the full picture of consequences - the greater the needs of the ego, the less likely the ego's owner will be able to see the victims of the contested ideology.
It dawned on me this weekend that many science of health and nutrition "experts" have for at least 40 years been saying the equivalent of:  "I think there's a (saturated fat) lion in the bushes over there", while ignoring the (excess blood sugar) alligator sitting in the boat.  It's taking them a long, long time to re-calibrate to the known killer vice the suspected.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Bet

"Believe nothing you hear and half of what you read." Coach John Inman

I've always been fascinated by that quote, and this is a good example of the conundrum. How can you know what to believe?

I believe the info in this blog post because I can articulate a model for how it is correct, and identify corroborating research.

Then there's the practical side. Perhaps eating low carb does not help with the diseases of civilization, but while you are still alive you are lean, active, feel good, sleep better, and more fully "alive". That's enough for me.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Big Belly = High Risk

"Recent research suggests that even if your weight is in the normal range, if you have a high waist-to-hip ratio, you have a higher risk of death than those considered obese based on BMI
The risk of cardiovascular death was 2.75 times higher, and the risk of death from all causes was 2.08 times higher in people of normal weight with central obesity, compared with those with a normal BMI and normal waist-to-hip ratio
"Research indicates your waist size may also be a more effective measure for assessing obesity-related hypertension risk
"One of the simplest and most effective ways to determine whether or not you may be overweight is by measuring your waist circumference. I compiled a new waist circumference table that will allow you to easily look up your height and see what your ideal waist size and current classification is
"Your waist size is a powerful indicator of insulin sensitivity, as studies clearly show that measuring your waist size is one of the most powerful ways to predict your risk for diabetes."

Interesting for two reasons - one is, it is a possible indicator of why "skinny fat" folks have death risk equivalent to more typically fat folks - a model would be: skinny fat folks have a "lipo-phobic" body type, which does not handle fat storage well. They typically have little subcutaneous fat, little fat on their face, and you'll never see a person with this type of frame (long and lean, aka and ectomorph) on The Biggest Loser. They just can't get that large. But when they eat too much of the stuff that will kill you, they have to sequester all that excess blood sugar somewhere, so eventually it becomes fat stored in the abdominal cavity, making a big belly on an otherwise lean, not obviously fat person. BMI stays low, but health is compromised.

The other reason is that this study was done was to help "public health authorities" identify those at risk at very low cost. BMI can be a health indicator for populations, but even for populations, it's a poor correlate - those with well trained, dense muscles and bones will have a high BMI but low health risk, and the "skinny fat" will have normal BMI but high health risk. IOW - BMI is a crude tool, not applicable to individuals.

There is also the interesting element of the language - clearly stated, this is an observational study, and the language associated with those types of studies reflects that:
"risk of cardiovascular death was 2.75 times higher"
"risk of death from all causes was 2.08 times higher"
And the assignment of causality, or speculation about causality:
"The increased mortality risk accompanying higher ratios of visceral fat ... is likely due to increased insulin resistance."

In short, you can be on the lookout for this language and know this study proves nothing about causality. You can remind yourself that "risk" in this context doesn't have predictive value - it's just epidemiological language about correlation. Knowing this, you can reduce some of the confusing clutter in reporting on science.

What's the takaway? Nothing you don't know. Big bellies are neither attractive nor healthy, but that's already fairly widely accepted. ACSM has been saying for years that abdomenal circumference is an excellent predictor of mortality.  Even if a big belly wasn't a health issue - "nobody wants that."
Eat meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat. 

The real takeaway for me is that folks who are starting a diet/health program need a measure for their belly as much as, or more than, a scale.  Weight loss without belly loss isn't good, and belly loss without weight loss is good.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Glutamine - What Is It, Why You Want It

"Take glutamine to prevent food cravings and maintain optimal body composition over the holidays. Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body and in addition to helping you avoid unhealthy food cravings, it can regulate blood sugar and nutrient metabolism. Taking a large dose of glutamine has also been found to help trainees break through muscle building plateaus and improve body composition.

"The cool think about glutamine is that it is involved in so many functions in the body that, by giving your body a larger pool to play with, you can improve health, brain function, physical performance, and metabolism. Here's how it works: First, glutamine is used along with the amino acids cysteine and glycine to make glutathione, which is a powerhouse antioxidant that needs to be made internally by the body rather than supplemented to be most effective. Glutathione regulates the immune system and helps you avoid everything from a cold to cancer."

Read more at the link - very interesting!  This supplement is also recommended by Dr. Ron Rosedale (The Rosedale Diet) to help folks make the low carb transition.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jimmy Combat Secrets

The cheat sheet for high fat, low carb paleo eaters (like I am)!

Low Cholesterol Will Kill You

"Heart attack survivors live longer if they have high cholesterol"

"Low cholesterol levels increase the risk of death from stroke, cancer
and all causes"

"Low cholesterol levels predict death in patients with bacteria in the

"Colon cancer deaths increase in men with low cholesterol"

Are these joke headlines? Yes - and no. These headlines come from a
book entitled: Low Cholesterol Leads to an Early Death - Evidence From
101 Scientific Papers.

The death of the cholesterol myths is long overdue but still not close -
we're a nation of statinators. So it's nice when someone takes the time
to read scientific studies and report those findings which DON'T make
the abstract.

Thanks, Tom Naughton, for the review - and if you have not seen Tom's
work, Fat Head The Movie, in which he eats high fat fast food for 30
days and loses weight while improving his fasting lipid profile - do it!
The movie is funny and informative.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hero WOD: Clovis

For time:
Run 10 miles
150 Burpee pull-ups
Partition the run and burpee pull-ups as needed.
Post time to comments.

U.S. Army Second Lieutenant Clovis T. Ray, 34, of San Antonio, Texas, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, was killed on March 15, 2012, in Kunar province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He is survived by his wife Shannon, son Dean, parents Bob Ben Sr. and Cecilia, brothers Eddie and Bob Ben Jr., and sister Jennifer.

Note:  Use this as an example of what CrossFit usually is not - long and low powered.  But part of why CF does not do a lot of long low powered WODs is that by focusing on short, high powered WODs, you can still do long, low powered WODs if desired. In this case, I desire, will try to find the 2.5 hours I'll need sometime this week.

I'm Just Sayin'

One of these things is not like the others ... and I don't think I'll be buying one of the previously opened but left on the shelf versions ...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hero WOD: Ralph

Four rounds for time of:
250 pound Deadlift, 8 reps
16 Burpees
15 foot Rope climb, 3 ascents
Run 600 meters
Post time to comments.

British Army Second Lieutenant Ralph Johnson, 24, of South Africa, assigned to the Household Cavalry Regiment, based in Windsor, England, was killed on August 1, 2006, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.