Thursday, May 31, 2012

Amazing Disaster

NYC wants to ban sugary drinks.  While I agree that may make a dramatically positive impact on health, or it may make for a profitable black market for sugary drinks, and most likely some of both - if they can take away your sugary drinks, what can't they take away? 

Destructive government over-reach is at hand, but at least the poor SOBs in NYC can get away from it, for now.

Squat Don't Stretch

Pose Method (@posemethod)
5/30/12 10:11 AM
If you feel the need to stretch before a run - let's do a set of squats. It'll 'stretch' the body at all the right places and angles.

I agree 100%!  "Stretching" is dead, mobilizing joints through their normal range of motion is smart.  Squats do that, and warm the muscles and get the heart rate started on its way up - the smart athlete's warmup all the way around.

Questioning Carbohydrate Restriction in Diabetes Management

Sixty-one patients were included in the study of type 2, or adult-onset diabetes. They were randomized into two groups, where they followed either a low-carbohydrate (high fat) diet or a low-fat diet.
In both groups, the participants lost approximately 4 kg on average. In addition, a clear improvement in the glycemic control was seen in the low-carbohydrate group after six months. Their average blood sugar level dropped from 7.5 to 7.0A1c (58.5 to 53.7 mmol/mol). This means that the intensity of the treatment for diabetes could also be reduced, and the amounts of insulin were lowered by 30%.
Despite the increased fat intake with a larger portion of saturated fatty acids, their lipoproteins did not get worse. Quite the contrary -- the HDL, or 'good' cholesterol, content increased on the high fat diet.
No statistically certain improvements, either of the glycemic controls or the lipoproteins, were seen in the low-fat group, despite the weight loss.
Dr. Fredrik Nyström, who was part of the study, said, "You could ask yourself if it really is good to recommend a low-fat diet to patients with diabetes, if despite their weight loss they get neither better lipoproteins nor blood glucose levels."

Dr. Mary C. Vernon and Dr. Bernstein have been treating people with low carbohydrates for years, and subsequently removing or drastically reducing the amount of insulin they are required to use.  It is good to see academicians testing that protocol with such success.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rx For Cancer: Semi Annual Fever

Fascinating concept. 

It would be handy to have a way to periodically turn up the knob on one's immune system to get it to kill pre-cancerous cells. Genetic engineering might eventually help once we figure out what causes some people to have extremely powerful anti-cancer immune systems.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Murph

"Murph" was programmed as a "Hero WOD" in honor of LT Michael Murphy (LT Murphy's biographical information is widely available so I will not chronicle here, but I highly recommend reading his story as told by Murph's SEAL team mate Marcus Luttrell in "Lone Survivor").  Murph was published on in 2006.  Since that time many CrossFitters have been memorialized via a WOD in their honor.  The list of hero WODs may be found here, and it's worth a review this day.

Murph is:
For time:
Run 1 mile
100 pullups
200 pushups
300 squats
Run 1 mile
Wear a vest or body armor if you have it.

I have never performed this WOD with the vest.  My best time is ~41 minutes - it should be doable in 40 minutes for me:  7+30 run, 24 mins for the pullups/pushups/squats, and the last mile in 8+30.  I have not attempted Murph for a long time, might be a good time for it today.

I remember reading this workout on in 2006 or 2007 when I first found the site.  I thought, "no one would do that on purpose."  As I recall, the first attempt for me was on or around memorial day in 2007, after I had been CrossFitting for six months.  My advice to those who would test themselves against Murph; don't.

But if you do, and I hope you do in some form or fashion, start with a quarter or half Murph first.  One of the many glories of CrossFit is that it is universally scalable.  In fact, if your grandmother was in my gym, and wanted to, she could do Murph scaled to her ability and it would be just as much a test for her as it would be for any CFer.

Lest that sounds overly patronizing to grandmothers, I am well aware that there are quite a few CrossFit grandmothers who would smoke me doing Murph - many of them will appear in the Reebok CrossFit Games Masters Division for females 60 and over.  My advice - don't mess with them!

A good technique to make Murph more digestible - do the calisthenics as 20 sets of 5 pull-ups, 10 pushups, and 15 squats.  Doesn't make the run at the end any easier but it does deliver you to the end of this beast workout more rapidly.  More work, less time, that's the point.

If you want to get in touch with what memorial day should be all about, Murph will provide the setting - pain, courage, fear, resolve, loss of hope, perseverance, and the choice to press on or not will be with you during every rep.  This emotional battle will help any of us better appreciate what we were given by those who we should remember with a thankful heart today.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vitamin D Study: More Study Warranted

This is an example of the appropriate use of the associations in epidemiological studies:
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that regulates calcium and phosphate levels in the bloodstream and promotes healthy bone growth. Vitamin D deficiency is common throughout the world and results in abnormalities of calcium, phosphorus and bone metabolism which can lead to muscle weakness, osteomalacia, osteopenia and osteoporosis. While some observational studies have shown that benefits of vitamin D may extend beyond bone health, research findings remain inconsistent.
“The role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention and treatment of chronic non-skeletal diseases remains to be determined,” says Clifford Rosen, MD, of Tufts University School of Medicine and chair of the task force that authored the statement. “We need large randomized controlled trials and dose-response data to test the effects of vitamin D on chronic disease outcomes including autoimmunity, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.”

This is what you should see in the conclusions of other epidemiological based reviews.

In my experience, there's nothing I've tried as a supplement that was as palpable or as fast acting as vitamin D supplementation following a period of non-supplementation.  What I notice is associated to physical performance, specifically recovery, which is notably better.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fructose and Your Monkey, Part 1

In this post, Gary Taubes (GT) examines the carbohydrate hypothesis of obesity, and the role fructose plays within that hypothesis.  In short, the carbohydrate hypothesis of obesity is that the primary cause of obesity is overconsumption of carbohydrate and the resulting cascade of rising blood sugar, followed by the body’s defensive secretion of insulin, which signals for cells to take up fat and sugar from the blood, and signals the liver to convert sugar to fat.  Repetition of this cycle causes insulin resistance, loss of glycemic control, and eventually metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes.  This progression of disease increases the risk of all of the diseases of civilization.

Here’s GT’s description of the first paper (he covers three in the post linked above):
… describes an experiment in which rhesus monkeys were fed their usual monkey chow diet supplemented by a daily 300-calorie ration of fructose-sweetened water. After a year, every last one of the 29 monkeys had developed “insulin resistance and many features of metabolic syndrome, including central obesity, dyslipidemia and inflammation.” Four of the monkeys progressed to type 2 diabetes.

The monkeys drank all the fructose-sweetened drinks they were given but reduced consumption by a nearly equivalent amount of monkey chow.  This implies one of two things – either monkeys are well versed in caloric values and have a sharp eye for food quantity (and thus do not need to weigh and measure their food) OR monkeys have a god given feedback system which resulted in their consumption of calories based on their needs.  Because their pre-fructose drink intake and post-fructose drink intakes were so similar, it is reasonable to conclude that the negative outcomes that took place after the switch to fructose drinks – insulin resistance, central obesity, dyslipidemia, and inflammation - are a result of said drink.

There’s a great deal of animal research out there, and much of it is hard to apply to the human animal.  Monkeys certainly have a different GI tract and metabolic adaptations compared to humans.  However, it still seems reasonable to assume that since fructose sweetened beverages now account for 20% or more of the US population’s caloric intake, compared to 5% in 1970 (thanks to how cheaply industry delivers HFCS nowadays), part of the diabesity epidemic is excess fructose consumption.

How much is excess?  I think it depends.  In my humble opinion, it should be safe to ingest about 25g of sugar/HFCS per day for a person who is in good health, metabolically speaking.  That would be about 12-13g of fructose.  If you have metabolic derangement and want to get well, that might be too much – but no one knows for sure. 

My advice is to sell your shares of Coca Cola and Pepsi, trade in the soft drinks for sparkling water, and get well.  Once well, I’ll bet you could relish a weekly sugared drink in good conscience and good health.

NOTE:  The people responsible for putting part 2 of this post before part 1 of this post, have been sacked.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Lovers, "Look Under the Hood"

Do you love peanut butter?  Take a read from MDA and decide how much and how often you'll eat, based on his cautions.  I have switched to almond butter - not as delightful as PB, but not bad either.  I would grab a spoonfull of PB ahead of many other snack foods, but don't want it to be a staple, for reasons Mark explains nicely.

Man, you guys really love your peanut butter.
I get at least one email a week from a devoted reader of the blog who just can’t shake the desire (that feels like a need) to eat peanut butter on a regular basis. They’re on board with everything else. They’ve ditched grains and vegetable oils. They’re walking more and getting better sleep. They’re getting sun and eating more vegetables than ever before. They’ve switched to grass-fed beef (sometimes liver, too!) and wild-caught fish. They’ve even happily dumped all the other legumes, except for that persistent, palatable peanut. The more dedicated among them may be soaking, sprouting, roasting, and grinding their own peanuts into peanut butter, but they’re still eating peanut butter – a “forbidden” food on the Primal eating plan.

Read more:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lies, Damned Lies, and Health Science

This is one is the mother lode of the cholesterol myths.  First, the obsession with lipoprotein numbers based on the correlation between cholesterol and CVD, and the resulting misinterpretation of cholesterol as causative in the relationship.  Then there's the guess that eating in a certain way to change cholesterol numbers will be effective in undoing the causative relationship.  Then there's the supposition, still not proved (and in fact, disproved) after nearly forty years to trying, that eating less saturated fat will lower one's risk of CVD, and/or positively influence one's lipoprotein (LDL, HDL) numbers.  

These mistaken suppositions lead to advice that will help precisely no one, and from the perspective of the paleolithic model, they seem downright foolish:
-eat margarine instead of butter (manmade goop instead of a natural food)
-eat vegetable oils (invented about fifty years ago, mostly produced from industrial waste)
-use skim milk instead of full fat milk
-eat lean meat instead of full fat cuts

For a bucket full of reasons why these suppositions and supposed solutions are balderdash, check this list of posts:

Here's an example of what happened when one real world low fat/low cholesterol priest tried out her own prescription:  Mike Eades Summary of Brody's Story.  The scary part of this narrative is that low cholesterol correlates with higher mortality rates in older ladies - she is effortfully putting herself into a higher "risk" condition.

Here is a set of facts that turns the cholesterol myths totally on their heads:  
What Works Best - Statins or a Porterhouse?   The BLUF:  a porterhouse steak, fifty percent animal fat and fifty percent protein, will provide you with a better fasting lipids profile.

Here's a cut from the Harvard article linked above.  How long until the true believers at Harvard give up their faith and return to facts?
Harmful LDL creeps upward and protective HDL drifts downward largely because of diet and other lifestyle choices. Genes play a role, too — some people are genetically programmed to respond more readily to what they eat — but genes aren't something you can change. 

So far, so good, now get ready for the faith based proclamations:
Here are four things you can:
Saturated fats. The saturated fats found in red meat, milk and other dairy foods, and coconut and palm oils directly boost LDL. So one way to lower your LDL is to cut back on saturated fat. Try substituting extra-lean ground beef for regular; low-fat or skim milk for whole milk; olive oil or a vegetable-oil margarine for butter; baked fish or chicken for fried.

At least The H and I can agree on this topic:
Trans fats. Trans fats are a byproduct of the chemical reaction that turns liquid vegetable oil into solid margarine or shortening and that prevents liquid vegetable oils from turning rancid. Trans fats boost LDL as much as saturated fats do. They also lower protective HDL, rev up inflammation, and increase the tendency for blood clots to form inside blood vessels. The Institute of Medicine recommends getting no more than two grams of trans fats a day; less is even better. Although trans fats were once ubiquitous in prepared foods, many companies now use trans-free alternatives. Some restaurants and fast-food chains have yet to make the switch.

Many of what would be considered the most authoritative voices will pass along mis-information that will damage your health.  Don't trust any of us.  Learn a little bit more every day.  Use your own intellect, conduct your own experiments, find the solution that works for you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Off color, but on point.  It's difficult not to be "pissed" when you can see the cost of what the "authorities" have been telling us to eat.

Please Help Me Support St Jude Children's Research Hospital!!

This link will take you to my CrossFit for Hope donation link.  I would be very grateful for the support of any of this blog's readers.  I couldn't be any prouder than to support the work of Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is providing free, life saving care to cancer stricken children. 

Please help me reach my fundraising goal by clicking on the link above.  I'm pledging $180, which represents one dollar for every repetition I plan to make in the CrossFit For Hope workout on 9 June. 

180 repetitions will require that I average 12 repetitions per minute for three, five minute work cycles with a one minute rest in between.  The movements of this workout include:  burpees, 75# power snatches, 24 inch box jumps, 75# thrusters, and chest to bar pullups.  I have tested myself against shortened versions of this workout a couple of times so far, and sustaining 12 reps per minutes would be a significant accomplishment.

Thank you!!

Lowers Cholesterol. So What.

There's a new diet in town, it's referred to as "The Portfolio Diet."  Here's the introduction:
Low-fat diets, move over. When it comes to lowering cholesterol, a “portfolio” diet that includes cholesterol-lowering foods such as oatmeal, nuts, and soy products is better.

What are the specific foods to lower cholesterol?
Margarine enriched with plant sterols; oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber; soy protein; and whole almonds.

Here's why it is such “good news”:
In a head-to-head test against the low-fat diet traditionally recommended by the American Heart Association, the portfolio approach was the clear winner. (You can see the makeup of the test diet here.) After 24 weeks, it lowered harmful LDL cholesterol by 13%, while the low-fat diet lowered LDL by only 3%. As an added benefit, the portfolio approach also lowered triglycerides and blood pressure, and did not depress the level of beneficial HDL cholesterol. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Well, that's the good news for the author.  What he points out next may actually make it good news for some of the un-knowing; now a doctor could do something instead of recommending a low fat diet, which was always a poor choice for a person with a "cholesterol problem", after which no result would likely be obtained and for which the patient would then be prescribed a statin.  IOW, this beats the heck out of the low-fat-high-carb-statin crazy train. 

Here’s what they say about the virtue of this diet and its mechanisms:
None of these foods is a magic bullet against high LDL. In fact, the combination is probably important, since they lower cholesterol in different ways.
Here are some suggestions for adding these foods to your diet:
Plant sterols. The best sources of these are margarines enriched with plant sterols and stanols, such as Benecol and Take Control, and other foods to which they have been added, including orange juice, granola bars, and cooking oil. You don’t need more than 2 grams a day.

Of course, one of these articles would be complete unless it mentioned the darling of the non-meat crowd, fiber.  I'm still waiting for any evidence that fiber is good for you, but since everyone in these circles is convinced that it is good for you, no one ever is embarrassed not provide proof of fiber's virtue.  Hey, I'll grant it may be good for silly things like lowering cholesterol.
Soluble fiber. Two servings per day should be sufficient. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats and oat bran, barley, almost any kind of bean, eggplant, and okra. Aim for 10 grams of soluble fiber per day.

I will not comment on soy too much, but if you want to know why you don’t want to eat soy, I recommend Lierre Keith's “The vegetarian Myth.”
Not long ago, the only ways to get soy protein was by eating soybeans or tofu (also called bean curd). Today you can buy soy milk, soy bars, soy burgers, dried soy protein, and more. Soy protein and fish are two of the healthiest ways to get your daily protein. Twenty-five grams of soy protein a day is a good target.

Nor would any one of these articles be complete unless they cited the mythical “heart healthy” diet “rich” in some random feel good food item like beans, fiber, whole grains, or perhaps statins dissolved in the drinking water.
All participants in the study followed a heart-healthy diet that was low in saturated fat (minimal butter and other dairy fats, beef fat) and rich in fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains.

So, why is this article a complete joke?

Mainly because the entire premise – lower cholesterol is good – is junk science.  There is, quite simply, no proof that lower cholesterol predicts a better mortality rate.  The government spent big piles of money over several years trying to prove the “cholesterol conjecture” and failed.  Totally.

Above and beyond that, efforts to manipulate cholesterol numbers do not have a great track record.  Vytorin was a statin with another agent which also lowered LDL cholesterol, and it worked like a champ for lowering cholesterol – however, the product test was halted when it became clear that those with the Vytorin lowered cholesterol numbers were dying off faster than the control group.  The same thing happened when they paired a statin with a powerful form of niacin (to raise the HDL cholesterol) – lower LDL, higher HDL and a higher mortality rate.  I’m thinking all that might be quantified as “not good” for the idea of treating cholesterol numbers.  How about just eating good food instead? 
Note:  I’m in year five of “eating good food” and will have my fifth round of blood work results soon, and I’ll post.  Generally, my numbers show triglycerides under 75, LDL over 115, HDL over 60, glucose around 85, and something like a 200 total cholesterol.  The doctor says things like “I don’t know what you are doing but keep doing it.”

The plus side of the article is how it lays waste to the concept that low fat intake helps to improve cholesterol.  It does not, and the fact that so many believed that it did was a pure shame.  If you want health, start by avoiding foods that skyrocket your blood sugars - for most of us, that means skipping the heart healthy grains and taking it easy on the fruit.

As Dr. Mary C. Vernon is reported to ask at medical conferences:  "I'll give you this $100 bill if you produce an intervention study that shows a better outcome from a low fat diet than from a carb restriction diet."

If someone can lose weight and feel good eating beans and whole grains and soy products, great.  It probably works for some, but hopefully, only if they like that kind of food.  For me, low fat was misery and poor sleep and many allergies and a big belly and moderate physical performance and worst of all – it necessitated that I keep food handy all the time to stave of the reactive hypoglycemia (which is not to say that I did low fat “right” – I could have done better with less sugar; but why?  I like meat!).   The list of meds and maladies I’ve eliminated from my life by eating good food is long. 

Eating low meat or low fat based on one’s belief in the junk science that is propagated by articles like this one from this Harvard-disaster-factory-of-nutritional-hoohah is another pure shame.

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

Friday, May 18, 2012

CrossFit For Non-Athletes?

"I am a 41-year-old mother of two. I have always been fairly 'small', never overweight but certainly not fit. I was never an athlete in school and never liked to run at all. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to start working out as an example to my kids and for myself. I began by working out in my garage. I still remember crying in the beginning because I would get so sore and felt like I would never get there ... A friend had told me about CrossFit. I will be honest, I was absolutely intimidated by it ... In my mind you had to be an athlete your whole life to even think about doing CrossFit, And then there was the age factor .. the only people I knew who did it were in their late teens and early twenties. I am in my 40's and did not want to walk in looking like a joke.
Finally, I convinced myself to 'just try' it ... I never heard anything negative and was encouraged every day. Here I am, 7 months later feeling the best I have ever felt. I am in the best shape of my life and I want to tell people everyday how great CrossFit is for your mind and body. I especially want to share my story to inspire anyone my age who is intimidated like I was. If I can do it, they can do it. I am continuing to set goals for myself and strive for the next level. My goal is to inspire, not impress ... I also want to show that CrossFit does not make a woman look less feminine or too 'bulky.'" -- Candy Rice

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Spanish Had This Part Right

Take your nap, it's good for mental performance.  Turns out, either a 2 hour nap or a 45 minute nap worked for the group when it was part of a napping practice.

Lenin’s Death

This was an interesting read, showing among other things that cardiovascular disease obviously predates electricity and omega-6 fatty acid proliferation via industrially produced "vegetable oils."

I suspect it's never good to have arteries that are essentially as solid as porcelain.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

HFCS, Worse than Sucrose?


It is unclear whether high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which contains a higher amount of fructose and provides an immediate source of free fructose, induces greater systemic concentrations of fructose as compared with sucrose. It is also unclear whether exposure to higher levels of fructose leads to increased fructose-induced adverse effects. The objective was to prospectively compare the effects of HFCS- vs sucrose-sweetened soft drinks on acute metabolic and hemodynamic effects. Forty men and women consumed 24 oz of HFCS- or sucrose-sweetened beverages in a randomized crossover design study. Blood and urine samples were collected over 6 hours. Blood pressure, heart rate, fructose, and a variety of other metabolic biomarkers were measured. Fructose area under the curve and maximum concentration, dose-normalized glucose area under the curve and maximum concentration, relative bioavailability of glucose, changes in postprandial concentrations of serum uric acid, and systolic blood pressure maximum levels were higher when HFCS-sweetened beverages were consumed as compared with sucrose-sweetened beverages. Compared with sucrose, HFCS leads to greater fructose systemic exposure and significantly different acute metabolic effects.


I would like to see the details of this but the short version is - HFCS's minimally higher levels of fructose apparently has a higher metabolic impact than that of "regular" sugar in a 24 ounce/day dose.  Just another reason to be careful of this stuff.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fructose and Your Monkey, 2

Taubes continues with his analysis of the "fructose papers".

The second and third papers under consideration were intervention studies on humans - this is relatively rare due the expense and complications of working with the world's most complex psyche.

If you were overweight and/or obese, 40-70 years old, and got put on a new diet, and were told you were now expending less energy through activity and metabolic action, you were burning less fat, and the only change was that fructose was substituted for glucose - would that concern you?  Calories were the same, and percent of kcal from sugars was the same - but the metabolic impact shifted for the worse after fructose was introduced.  This is a predictable outcome if you believe fructose has the ability to worsen insulin resistance.

The third study shifted focus to humans 18-40 years of age, and not all obese or overweight.  Each of three groups was presented with a sugar sweetened beverage to drink every day, equating to about 25% of their caloric intake.  One group got fructose, one glucose, and one got high fructose corn syrup.  Taubes' summary:
Still, after only 12 days—less than two weeks—subjects in both the HFCS and fructose groups, but not the glucose group, saw a significant increase in heart disease risk. Triglycerides went up; LDL cholesterol went up, and ApoB concentrations, a measure of the number of LDL particles, increased.

Taubes' conclusion:
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?).

I highly recommend that you read the article.  The takeaways are many, from the pragmatic;
- if you are not as skinny as you'd like or as healthy as you'd like, get the fructose out of your diet
to the theoretical;
- sure there may be something to palatability, but it doesn't explain why fructose knocks your metabolism on its butt.

If as these papers, and other research, strongly implies, a population that consumes a low fat, high sugar/fructose diet will get high rates of insulin resistance, and the subsequent cascade of the diseases of the west:  first the symptoms that accompany metabolic syndrome (gout, high blood pressure, low HDL, high triglycerides, high fasting glucose, high insulin levels, GERD, abdominal obesity), then diabetes, and along the way the probability of serious illness (cardio vascular disease, cancer, alzheimer's, others) goes higher.

For more on the relationship between cancer and sugar, check this article.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lustig Via Mercola on Fructose
In general, one would do well to be sceptical about the idea that any one substance causes anything.  However, the data and the models that support the premise that fructose has a unique and potent role in human illness are significant and worth consideration.  Further, fructose restriction is easy and deprives the human of nothing it needs.  From the link above:

The obesity epidemic threatens not only the health and longevity of a clear majority of people, it also adds a tremendous burden to our health care system. The eight primary diseases related to metabolic dysfunction account for a staggering 75 percent of the healthcare costs in the US.

What are these diseases? Diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hypertension, polycystic ovarian syndrome (aka PCOS), dislipidemia, cancer, cardio vascular diseases, and dementia. I think you could easily attribute the autoimmune spectrum to the same causes, though that is conjecture.

I've been looking for these stats for a long time:
The four diseases listed … are conventionally associated with metabolic syndrome. However, as stated by Dr. Lustig, … other diseases fall within this scope as well. He also explains that while obesity is associated with metabolic syndrome and all of these diseases, obesity is not the CAUSE of them; it is simply a marker. Rather, the underlying cause is metabolic dysfunction, and excessive sugar/fructose consumption is a primary driver of that.

According to Dr. Lustig, 20 percent of obese people have perfectly normal metabolic functioning, and the excess weight will not affect their overall lifespan. Ditto for 60 percent of normal-weight people. However, the MAJORITY of obese people—about 80 percent of them—do not have normal metabolic function, and 40 percent of normal-weight people also suffer from metabolic dysfunction, and are therefore prone to these obesity-related diseases.
In other words, some non-obese people have the same metabolic diseases as the obese, and some obese people don't have the metabolic derrangement, and therefore are not sick, just heavy.
This stat is just plain frightening:
The average American consumes 1/3 of a pound of sugar a day. That's five ounces or 150 grams, half of which is fructose, which is 300 percent more than the amount that will trigger biochemical havoc.
But the stat is also a reason for hope, because the implication is that sugar restriction alone may help a significant number of people to stop or reverse their metabolic injury.

As I’ve blogged about several times, and as more and more folks know, fructose is metabolized differently from glucose. The metabolism of fructose by the liver provides several problems, and accelerates all of the cycles that contribute to metabolic syndrome. And as the article reports, it is suspected that fructose short circuits what we understand as the big drivers in appetite control. Fructose does not drive blood glucose levels higher, and therefore does not stimulate insulin. Insulin’s effect on ghrelin is thought to supress hunger. Fructose also contributes to leptin resistance, meaning it biases the metabolic system towards fat accumulation. Because the majority of fructose is metabolized into fat, in a body that is already in metabolic derrangement, often the fructose derived fat contributes to fatty liver, accelerating the metabolic derrangement. Symptoms include abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL, and often high blood pressure (and other symptoms like gout, more about which will follow).

As Dr. M reports, this process Over time leads to insulin resistance, which is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also many cancers.

Thus he recommends two simple but potent tools to reverse the course of a population wide disease:
Severely restricting carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains), and increasing healthy fat consumption.

How pervasive is fructose consumption?
Fructose is the NUMBER ONE source of calories in the US ... even most infant formulas contain the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola, which helps explain how six-month old babies can be obese.

So the witch’s brew for obesity would require that one eat many carbohydrates per day (via processed foods including breads, cereals, bagels, waffles, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc), combined with sugar, of which ~50% is fructose. The fructose pummels the liver and leptin signaling, while the glucose overloads the body with blood sugars, resulting in the insulin cascade of fat accumulation, inflammation, and eventually, insulin resistance (also accelerated by fructose’s impact on the liver) progressing to metabolic syndrome progressing to diabetes.

Dr. M recommends total fructose consumption of 25g/day or less for the healthy who wish to remain that way. He presents other detailed recommendations for how to think about fruit consumption and fructose, and what you might be able to tolerate if you already suffer from some metabolic injury.

Are you sick of seeing all the adds for gout medication (the guy toting around the jar full of green gunk)? This is why that product is in such demand:
High uric acid, in particular, is a potent marker for fructose toxicity, so if your levels are above 4 mg/dl for men, 3.5 mg/dl for women ... then you would be wise to avoid all forms of fructose until your levels have normalized—just as you would with high insulin levels.

See Dr. M’s article for a detailed list of how much fructose common fruits contain. 

But this isn't all of the bad news for fructose ingestion - other problems include the fact that fructose is a powerful glycating agent and thus produces a disproportionate quantity of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are associated with rapid aging in animals and diabetics.  Fructose has also been shown to strongly support the growth of some cancers, either as a powerful fuel in itself, or by accelerating metabolic derrangment, resulting in higher levels of blood sugar, insulin, and insulin like growth factor 1, all of which help cancers thrive (many cancers derive energy from fermentation, which requires large quantities of sugar). 

While paleo man would not have been likely to have access to the incredible variety of fruits that you and I do by virtue of selective hybridization and world wide exchange of what used to be seasonally available fruits, it seems likely to me that fruit played a potent role in the seasonal cycle of human fertility. Thumbnail version (lengthy discussions of this topic available at spring and summer fruits helped paleo man fatten up for the winter, while hormonal shifts associated with longer days stimulated higher outputs of reproductive hormones.  That made it common for paleo man to get busy with paleo woman in the late summer, after which paleo progeny would find their way into the world in the spring – when paleo mom would be able to get enough calories, and dietary diversity, to nourish said progeny in style, and without overmuch worry about the cold.

The power of fructose to help humans fatten has been turned on its head by the invention of what we call “corn”, and our ability to use “corn” to make very inexpensive sweeteners. In 1970, fructose was estimated to provide 5% of calories, and is now estimated at 30% of the population’s calories. It seems likely that change was not an improvement for health and wellbeing, and the dollar costs in the provision of health care have been staggering.  Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar no wheat.  That the government set its sights on fat instead of sugar and carbohydrates as the culprits for the obesity epidemic was a monumental mis-interpretation of the available evidence.  I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about the consequences.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Navy's Official Guidance

Grains: "Come Back to Earth" . Carbohydrate = FUEL for the brain & muscles
. Main sources are: Breads, cereals, grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
. What to look for in a grain: The least processed forms of grain you can find.
. Think brown and found close to the ground!
. The best choices will have more than 3g of FIBER per serving.

This is part of the Navy's NOFFs fueling series.

Overall, this is not as bad, and is very much like what is recommended by Precision Nutrition, and that is an organization I respect for the results they generate in clients. But this approach is not going to help many busy Sailors lean out. The Navy has lost something like 5000 Sailors in recent years to physical readiness failures, primarily due to excess body fat. It's painful for the individuals and not great for the USN to bleed trained folks due to preventable causes.  Frankly, if they held an audited PFA right now, the numbers would be astronomical.  The number of folks walking around both out of body fat standards, and who could not comply with the situp, pushup and run standards - if they were actually enforced - would be a stunner to the organization.   Whereas much of the Navy is characterized by integrity, the PFA program is unfortunately anything but that.

Why won't NOFFs help?
-multiple small meals throughout the day is proven to help under some conditions, but does NOT improve metabolic rates. Multiple small meals does not "rev up your metabolism."  It is also a logistical challenge for those overwhelmed with a remarkably demanding schedule while underway sailing ships to eat quality small meals on 2-3 hour intervals. I think the "many small meals plan" is good for those who are motivated to change, who have a coach, and who have the time to deal with the logistical requirements. That's not going to apply for too many Sailors.
-For the life of me, I can't see the logic of recommending dense carb sources like grains for folks that need to lose weight. Yes, some can lose weight while eating high carb foods but the real question is - why
include them? Delete grains and you lose NO essential nutrients. On a per calorie basis, grains are a poor choice for micronutrients, even for folks that can tolerate the gluten, phytates, the opioids and the obnoxious, gut attacking fiber.
-What function do grains and oatmeal and rice and such serve in the human diet? Only one - to allow adequate caloric intake for humans who are not hunter/gatherers. Grains are storable, tradable, can be used to feed livestock, and large scale farming allowed some folks to farm so others could work as blacksmiths, politicians, religious leaders, and or develop full time trade.  Grains enable "civilization" and allowed "civilized" peoples to murder and displace their physical superior hunter/gather neighbors, by enabling a higher sustainable birth rate. 

Nutritionally, grains are a second rate source of micronutrients and a potentially injurious source of calories (injurious due to the fact that it is so easy to eat more than is needed). In other words, grains are a "staple" when you cannot get actual human food.  The advent of modern grain species (this isn't your biblical wheat you are eating folks) made it all worse, as did cessation of traditional preparation practices (soaking, fermenting).

In short - those with excess body fat need to reduce carb intake. It's simple, it's executable aboard ship (I've done it), and it works for most if not all people.

The other part of NOFFs that is questionable is post exercise guidance.  Supposedly, after you work out, your body is depleted of glycogen, so you have to pack in a bunch of carbohydrate so you can "recover" and train again quickly.

Ok - so you exercise to burn calories, then eat more food so you can exercise again?

You would almost think this would be a self defeating cycle for a individual who's biggest concern is weight loss and restoration of health, except for all those studies showing fat loss for populations that exercise. And that's the rub, since for every study that shows an exercise benefit for fat loss, there are others that do not. And even beyond that - I see folks working out every day, and their waistlines prove exercise is not the key to the fat loss kingdom.  As the saying goes, "You cannot out train a bad diet."  So skip that "recovery" eating, eat when you are hungry, train for the desired physical attributes you desire, vice training to burn calories.  Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar no wheat.

Obviously, I'm a proponent of exercise is awesome to enhance life. Exercise is essential to ageing well. The right exercise improves mood and sustains your capacity to do what you like. Dieticians and the rest of the professional fitness industry have been saying "eat small meals many times per day to keep your metabolism in high gear" and "eat a lot of fiber to feel full and reduce glycemic impact" and "eat less fat because fat has 9 kcal/gram" for so long that it's just what has to be said, regardless of the lack of proof. To admit that grains are poor food choices is to admit that fat is a good food choice for those seeking to lose weight.
It's the math - if you eat 100-150g/day of carbs, that's about 400-600 kcal. Most folks would be hard pressed to eat 100g/day of protein, and even that would only add another 300-400 kcal (depending on the latest guesses about the actual caloric impact of protein in the human body).  1000 kcal/day is only half of what most folks need. That means the extra 50% of kcal has to come from good quality fat, which is still, to most of the exercise and fitness world, the rough equivalent of rat poison.  Except it isn't, it is the primary human fuel, which is why we adapted to store it for present and future needs.
What is likely to happen with NOFFs is that busy Sailors will keep right on working hard and will eat too many easy to find carbs, ignore the satisfying high fat snacks that would help, and won't make the one fundamental shift that will improve their physical and mental performance, their health, their appearance and their appetite: They won't practice carb restriction.

The significance of carb restriction is foremost that it helps to reduce hunger, and secondarily, that all of the symptoms of ill health that accompany obesity are reduced more rapidly via carb restriction than by any other approach.
It is, of course, simple to say "carb restriction" but hard to practice it. In the long run, cultural change is extremely difficult for an institution like the US Navy, but without the right information, it's impossible.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Derby City CrossFit - WOW!
This is a great CrossFit blog, I can only imagine how awesome it must be the for the clients.  If you like poking around a knowledge dense, content dense CF site, this one get's my nod, go have a look!

I had many link in from their site to my post "What Is Seen" and am glad I took a "look see".

Advice Goddess Blog

Since this was essentially the diet I was placed on by a licensed nutritionist when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and since I don't want a repeat diagnosis, I thought, what the heck.  I like meat.  Might as well start changing my diet habits now.
I started restricting myself to a certain number of carbs per day.  2 weeks later, reaching this goal proved to be so effortless that I lowered my limit.  2 weeks later I lowered it again.  I'm not going to lie; when I first started eating this way I was hungry and tired.  But that quickly went away.  I don't even get that hungry anymore.  I also have a history of blood sugar problems.  I already had to make sure I ate some protein at breakfast, or my blood sugar would plummet just before lunch, causing me to respond by stuffing myself with whatever was handy (usually chips or cookies).  I never have problems with my blood sugar anymore.  It's so liberating.

I've heard this kind of narrative uncounted times.  The hard part is learning successful patterns of eating that support long term change.  There's no secret to change.  You have to fail to succeed.  Get back on the horse, try again, make it easier, make it taste better, but eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.

Friday, May 4, 2012

There Is A Secret - Gratitude

The time came, and we all strolled over to Book Passages, where Jacobs proceeded to talk up his books and his experiences enduring their challenges. The stories were enchanting, but it was during the Q&A that one particular question stood out: Which of his books/experiments had the most profound and lasting effect on his life? Which one stuck with him the most? A particular health craze? The Paleo Diet? Chewing your food 100 times? Loving thy neighbor? Knowing the capital of Bolivia?

The answer, he said, was none of those. It was actually a lesson from the Bible, a basic and seemingly obvious rule that was also irrefutable, timeless and unquestionable across all time and space and dimension. And it wasn't even about gay sex.

The rule was about giving thanks. Which is to say, saying thank you (often literally), offering gratitude, endlessly and always, for all that surrounds you. Tremendously simple idea, he said, but it changes everything.

Read more:
Tony Robbins attributes this insight to an interview he did with Sir John Templeton - and since I heard Tony's comment on it, I have been practicing my gratitude "muscles" in the hope that they would work with greater efficiency and effect.  I highly recommend the practice.  Most of the ways I feel deprived are contrived deprivations, vice real ones.  Or as Tony puts it, "We believe ourselves to be short of resources when we are short on resourcefulness."  Imagine the odds of problem solving depending upon which mind set you are in - it would be the difference between life and death.

Attia: Insulin Is Powerful

Insulin is the most important hormone in our body when it comes to fat mobilization (breakdown) and fat storage.  This is a fact.  There is not one person who studies the endocrine system who will not acknowledge the following quote from Lehninger’s Principles of Biochemistry (the “bible” of biochemistry).
“High blood glucose elicits the release of insulin, which speeds the uptake of glucose by tissues and favors the storage of fuels as glycogen and triglycerides, while inhibiting fatty acid mobilization in adipose tissue.”
The above quote is from Peter Attia's excellent blog.  The entire post is a great read, showing how the universal laws (gravity, the action of insulin) apply differently to different humans, and why that may explain some of the exceptions noted to how people gain, or lose, body fat.
The BLUF:  better now than later.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Harper: "Thank God for Greg Glassman"

The link that follows is a video of a CF Journal interview with Bob Harper, of Biggest Loser fame. I've been enjoying this show for a couple of seasons, and for the same reason that I enjoy coaching people in nutrition and fitness - you can see them transform the defining reality of their lives. They are re-born, almost literally. The compelling element of the Biggest Loser is to see and experience what it's like to have life from death. This interview with Bob Harper is only 10 minutes but it's a remarkable manifestation of Greg Glassman's vision of elite fitness, and even of having CrossFit be the means to transform the state of what is called the "fitness industry" in our country. Here's the full CFJ link:

Here's a shorter, free version:

If you can put a person that is 200 pounds overweight on a prescription of CrossFit and do better than other traditional training options for the obese - what other endorsement could CrossFit get? CrossFit for seasoned citizens? Yes, it's being done. CrossFit for Wounded Warriors? Absolutely. CrossFit for type 1 diabetics? Yes! CrossFit for kids? Uh huh!!

Why? Why do all these disparate populations train and love the same prescription (constantly varied functional movements at high intensity)? IT WORKS. IT'S THE RESULTS PEOPLE. What has been called fitness training for years is certainly better than nothing, but it pales in comparison to what happens to people who CrossFit. CrossFit makes them look better, sure, but more importantly it gives a practice field for participants to test limits, exceed perceived inability, and maybe more significant – CrossFit workouts seem to a trigger a hormonal cascade that makes us humans feel good. Were we born needing to feel the hormones we generate doing intense exercise? I think it’s at least possible. Jogging gives some of those hormones, as does any activity, but once you’ve tried a few CF workouts – it’s different.

I think Greg Glassman's vision of transforming the fitness industry is well on its way. Next up: the health care industry. Ambitious? Insanely ambitious. How could it be done? First, our health care system does a remarkable job of keeping sick people alive. But it is wretched at keeping people healthy, and at making sick people well. CrossFit can change that. The model of using drugs to treat symptoms of poor health - high blood pressure, dislipidemia, gout, pain/inflammation, blood sugar disregulation (IOW, metabolic derangement) - is a model that assumes the genome was build to fail. It's a model that makes sense if you think this much sickness is "normal." It would be easy to believe that if you were a physician applying the low fat, low salt, fad diet of the last 30 years, and noticing that your patients were not getting better as a result. From that experience, you could think "We have to use drugs, no one will do what it takes to take care of their health." Everyday, CrossFitters buck that set of obstacles and restore health, instead of treating the symptoms of their disease. Our health care system is collapsing under the weight of excessive government intervention, which has led to the low fat fad diet and worse - to the defacto subsidization of a food industry that is making us sick and at the same time the subsidization of the drug industry which helps us to survive (but hardly to thrive) our illness. If you think it's insane and absurd to suggest that CrossFit could save the nation's health care system and our national budget at the same time - well, I do too, but I'm not betting against it either. And I WILL do the microscopic amount that I can to support the potential for change.

I've been thinking "thank god for Greg Glassman" for years. Bob Harper, thank you, godspeed on your mission.

Kresser: Salt 3

Low salt diets contribute to an increase in hormones and lipids in the blood. A 2012 study in the American Journal of Hypertension found that people on low-salt diets developed higher plasma levels of renin, cholesterol, and triglycerides. (5) The authors concluded that the slight reduction in blood pressure was overshadowed by these antagonistic effects, and that sodium restriction may have net negative effects at a population level.
In addition, low sodium intake is associated with poor outcomes in Type 2 diabetes. A 2011 study study showed people with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to die prematurely on a low-salt diet, due to higher all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. (6) Additionally, a 2010 Harvard study linked low-salt diets to an immediate onset of insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. (7) These studies call into question the appropriateness of guidelines advocating salt restriction for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

So tell me again why the "experts" keep saying that excess salt consumption is a huge public health issue?  

Between the cholesterol myths, saturated fat phobia, and high carb/high grain recommendations, the governments experts are zero for three and the public health is showing the results of this weird science.  Sometimes, it's difficult to believe it really happened this way.

For further reading, go here:
The (Political) Science of Salt

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Get Outside, Doctor's Orders
There’s a term in Japanese — shirin-yoku — that translates as “bathing in the forest air”. Spending time in natural surroundings, such as a forest, influences a wide range of stress markers and physiology. Stress hormones and heart rate go down, immune systems and mood improve. Researchers from one study concluded that “shirin-yoku can effectively relax both people’s body and spirit.”
Dr. Logan concurs. “No matter what the stress, nature can undo it.”
Not surprisingly for a region whose traditional architecture seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor spaces, scientists in Japan are leading the research charge. But North Americans are picking it up. The science is accumulating like fat fluffy snowflakes.
For instance, researchers at Carlton University in Ottawa, a city gripped in winter’s clutches for six months out of a year, compared walking outdoors through green spaces with walking through weatherproof underground tunnels. While walkers underground were spared the season’s whims, walkers outside felt — and performed — better in terms of their mood and thinking.
“People do say they feel better in nature,” says Dr. Logan. “These studies just confirm what we already knew.”

But in contrast, he says, “green exercise” — i.e. exercise outdoors, in natural spaces,creates and maintains motivation. ”It elevates your mood and you’re effectively ‘out of your head’.”
Not only that, exercise in natural surroundings can improve performance. One early study compared novice runners on a wooded running path versus a plain open track. Runners were simply asked to run at any pace they chose. Runners in the woods ran faster.
“In the wooded environment, the runners felt better. They felt they were ‘outside of themselves’. They didn’t have the perceptions of fatigue and pain. They weren’t thinking about their side stitch. Sure enough, the runners in the woods ran better. Their finish times were much faster than the runners on the open track.”
When re-tested for runners on a treadmill, the results were the same. “People just run faster outdoors.”

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    When You're Hungry

    How many of you have noticed that a bar like this with peanuts and sugar and chocolate and so forth is somewhat less of an appetite stimulant than candy bars that include fewer ingredients?  I've always assumed that was due to the peanuts - they seemed to have some quality of slowing the digestion of the rest of the bar's components.  

    However, that's mostly a moot point if you eat well and keep good snack foods handy.  For me of late, if I find myself in the mood for a bite between meals or before my breakfast, my favorite is a spoon full of coconut oil with a few nuts or sunflower seeds.  This combo with 3-4 macadamia nuts is absolutely heavenly, and very satisfying.  By snacking sugar free, you can maintain excellent glycemic control (actually, the 1.5 million years of refinement of the genome does that for you).  

    The fats in coconut oil - saturated medium chain triglycerides - have many interesting qualities including being easy to digest (unlike most fats), having antimicrobial properties, and others (books have been written about this food, this is likely the best one).  I'm not going for miracles though, I just like the taste and the satisfaction and the way it enhances the flavor of other foods.

    The ad is correct - when you are experiencing reactive hypoglycemia, you are "not you."  This used to happen to a very important person in my life (and long before that, to me also).  Nothing good came from the black cloud of unanticipated sugar crash.  Now that person is thriving on a paleo style diet free of most sugars and wheat - and it's better for all.

    My recommendation - don't get to the point of needing the emergency Snickers bar. Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.