Thursday, August 30, 2012

Eades: "It's The AMPK Activity, Stupid"

When viewed from this perspective, it’s pretty easy to see why AMPK activated by a calorically-restricted diet and/or exercise brings about many healthful changes. It also might make one wonder why drugs haven’t been developed to increase the activity of AMPK to provide these same benefits to people who suffer from obesity, high blood sugar, diabetes and all the other disorders caused by overnutrition. A drug designed to activate AMPK would be diet and exercise in a pill. Who wouldn’t want that?
Well, there are several such drugs. Most have probably heard of one of them: metformin (trade name Glucophage.) Metformin, derived from an ancient herbal remedy, is used by doctors to treat diabetes and insulin resistance and works by activating AMPK. In 2010, physicians wrote some 100 million prescriptions for metformin to treat type 2 diabetes.(5) Some use it to treat obesity, and many folks who can get access to it, take metformin in hopes of increasing longevity.
Drugs that increase the activity of AMPK, when used over time, along with all the effects mentioned above tend also to increase the number of mitochondria, which increases the capacity to burn fat and turn it into ATP. More mitochondria leads to improved endurance, and, consequently, many of these drugs have been placed on the banned list of the World Anti-Doping Agency, the regulating body that deals with drug abuse in sports.(7)
Dr. Mike Eades digs in deep in this post, and explains, in a relatively simple way, a very complex topic, that being enzymatic function in metabolism.  You don't need to know this kind of stuff to avoid high density carbs, but it was interesting to see how he explains another piece of the low carb puzzle.  And if you were ever put on metformin, this post will explain why it should have helped with blood sugar issues - any why carb restriction and fasting would work even better.

The short explanation - AMPK signaling starts a chain of healthful benefits when cells go through a period of greater ATP consumption than creation.  When you restrict carbs/kcal, or increase the time between meals, AMPK signals for beneficial effects such as:

  • Increases glucose uptake: We want to get glucose out of the blood and into the cells to burn.
  • Increases glycolysis: We need to break down glycogen (stored sugar) to get the glucose to burn.
  • Increases fatty acid oxidation: An obvious one. We want to start burni ncreases glucose uptake: We want to get glucose out of the blood and into the cells to burn.
  • Increases glycolysis: We need to break down glycogen (stored sugar) to get the glucose to burn.
  • Increases fatty acid oxidation: An obvious one. We want to start burning fat to replenish the depleted energy stores.
  • Increases mitochondrial biogenesis: we want to make more mitochondria to burn fat and generate as much ATP as possible.
  • Inhibits gluconeogenesis: We don’t want to spend energy making more sugar – we want to burn it.
  • Inhibits glycogen synthesis: Same thing – we don’t want to store sugar, we want to burn it.
  • Inhibits fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis: We don’t want to spend energy making fat and cholesterol.
  • Inhibits insulin secretion: We want insulin to be low, so that we can move stored fat and sugar to where it needs to be fat to replenish the depleted energy stores.
  • Increases mitochondrial biogenesis: we want to make more mitochondria to burn fat and generate as much ATP as possible.
  • Inhibits gluconeogenesis: We don’t want to spend energy making more sugar – we want to burn it.
  • Inhibits glycogen synthesis: Same thing – we don’t want to store sugar, we want to burn it.
  • Inhibits fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis: We don’t want to spend energy making fat and cholesterol.
  • Inhibits insulin secretion: We want insulin to be low, so that we can move stored fat and sugar to where it needs to be burned.
A small point of clarity - none of this is anything other than interesting, except that it shows why carb restriction and fasting has a beneficial effect.  It's not a question of whether those techniques are useful to a large number of folks - that is already known.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reducing the Peak

For a baseline measurement of loading rate, the runners ran at their normal pace with their normal gait while wearing conventional motion-control shoes (a French model, the Kalenji Kiprun 2000). Then the researchers measured loading rate under four other scenarios: having the runners switch to a racing shoe that's 5 ounces lighter than the training shoe (the Kalenji Insipid Comp); having the runners increase their turnover by 10%; having the runners switch to a midfoot strike; and doing all three of the preceding changes at once (what the researchers called "combi").
When the runners switched to a midfoot strike, or when they ran in "combi" mode, they no longer produced an impact peak (a spike of impact concentrated in a fraction of a second), and they reduced their overall loading rate by about 50%. Only increasing turnover, or only switching to the racing shoes, didn't produce these changes. (It should be noted that the racing shoe used in this study has a heel-to-toe drop of 10 millimeters, which is 2 millimeters higher than that of the training shoe used. A larger heel-to-toe drop is often associated with a higher impact peak.)
The takeaway is that a midfoot strike by itself is as effective as midfoot striking with higher turnover in racing shoes in reducing impact loading rate; theoretically, this finding should be of most interest to runners who have a history of shin stress fractures.

This is not the most well written article ever, but still reinforces a point that Dr. Romanov and others have discovered and documented over the years; there's a natural shock absorbing system built into the body, and big, so called shock absorbing shoes, work against the way we were built to run.

Some of this is "too easy" (as my Army trainers used to say with a grin).

Landing on the ball of the foot allows many springy, well muscled parts of the leg to absorb impact and produce force; further, most running animals have legs that work in a similar way.  The idea of landing on the heels - and sending the impact through the solid bones of the heel, to the knee, to the hip - seems almost ridiculous in comparison.

Turnover is not the key to good running - it is a correlate.  Turnover is a function of keeping the legs close to the body's center line - one could move the feet too slowly or too quickly.  Thus, it also makes sense that the study didn't find it to be an independent variable for reduction of impact peak. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thank You, CrossFit!

Only thing to add to this one - I'm grateful to have been a minuscule part of this.

I hope someone will have as much success sorting out how to stop it from happening in the first place.  

Weil On The Obvious

The idea that adults should drink chocolate milk after a strenuous workout appears to stem from a single, small study published in the February 2006 issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. The study, which was partially funded by the dairy industry, included only nine participants, male cyclists who rode their bikes until their muscles were exhausted and then drank either low-fat chocolate milk, Gatorade or a sports drink that provides protein plus more carbohydrates than these beverages typically contain. The cyclists rested for four hours after their drinks and then rode again. The study found that those who drank the chocolate milk were able to ride about 50 percent longer than those who drank the sports drink and about as long as those who drank Gatorade.

I haven't seen any evidence suggesting that adults who work out regularly but who aren't endurance athletes would be better off drinking chocolate milk after exercise. If you did, you might end up taking in as many calories as you just burned.

I think this one's obvious - recovery drinks are for athletes doing intense training for competition, and therefore have trouble ensuring full recovery between workouts.  For those of us who train as often as possible but still not that often - it's most likely a self defeating waste of money.  Eat meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Giving the Gift of Slowness

Another good bit from Mike Boyle.  The BLUF:  The world is full of slow people.  If you want your child to optimize his/her athletic potential, do not let them "train" for slowness by running long distances.  By definition, if you are running more than a minute or two, you are running slowly.  

If you want your child to perform poorly this winter I have the answer. The answer is cross country. I have had countless parents 
over the years tell me that they can't figure out why little Janie 
or Johnny had such a bad winter sports season. They worked so hard 
in the fall, running all those miles.

Lets get some facts straight. There are no team sports where you 
run for miles at a time. 

Even if you actually "run" miles in a game, those miles are actually 
a series of sprints interspersed with a series of walks or jogs. In 
the case of a rare sport like ice hockey, you actually sprint and 
then sit down. Running long distances does not prepare you to run 
short distances. 

There is a concept in sport called sport specific training. The 
concept basically means that from a conditioning perspective the 
best way to condition for a sport is to mimic the energy systems 
of that sport. If the sport is sprint, jog , walk, than the training 
is sprint, jog , walk. Makes perfect sense

There is another very large concept to grasp here. 

It is simple. 

Train slow, get slow. 

The reality is it is very difficult to make someone fast and very 
easy to make someone slow. If you want to get an athlete slow, simply 
ask them to run slower, longer. Simple. They may be in shape, but it 
is the wrong shape.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Reader Questions: "Can't I Have It All?"

A very good friend and long time training partner (martial arts days) wrote about a clip she saw in a blog, and asked:
Wait, something in this blog caught my attention regarding fat loss and muscle building he says:

"The bottom line is if you're in a positive caloric balance you've created an environment that's conducive to building muscle, while if you're in a negative caloric balance you've created an environment that's conducive to fat loss."

So does that mean that I can only do one or the other? Burn fat or build muscle?

Yes.  And no.  Next question?

Kidding, of course, but the actual answer to the question is most likely "yes and no" depending upon the athlete's needs.

Here's why - most of us cannot or don't want to gain muscle mass.  That is to say, for females, and most males with training experience (and thus probably having already achieved the amount of hypertrophy that is "normal" for them when actively training), gains in muscle mass are not common unless a specific mass gain approach is used.  Muscle hypertrophy results from specific set/rep schemes, which maximize the fluid volume in a muscle.  This is termed "sarcoplasmic hypertrophy."  More information on that term is easily obtained via "google", but the short version is that once you hit a certain amount of SH that results from the type of training that you do, greater gains in mass are a matter of months and years.  

As Louie Simmons says, "big is not strong, strong is strong."  That is to say, bigger muscles are neither required or desired for strength gains.  As Mark Rippetoe observed in his excellent book "Practical Programming", body builders (obsessed on mass) have softer, puffier muscles, whereas power lifters and Olympic weightlifters have noticeably more density and hardness in their muscles.  This is not good or bad, but is part of the explanation for why body builders rarely have the same strength levels as powerlifters, or the same explosiveness and athleticism as Olympic lifters.  

What most people and many athletes need is stronger muscles, not bigger muscles.  Sprinters, climbers, CrossFitters, cyclists, endurance athletes - each needs strength, but not mass.  These athletes gain and maintain strength using heavy weights and low reps; for example, pulling heavy weights for 5-12 sets, with 5 or fewer reps per set.  5 reps per set is on the high side if you do not want to gain any extra weight.  

Any degree of specialization can result in sub-optimization of fitness.  Just like you should not run long and slow all the time if you want to have speed and explosive power, you should not train for muscle mass all the time if you want to optimize fitness.  

Competence in endurance is not hard to get - train six to 12 weeks and voila, you can exert low power for long durations.  Power and speed on the other hand are truly hard won, the gains are relatively small, and these can be easily compromised.  

The CrossFit model of fitness is a compromise position.  Train like a sprinter, a gymnast, and Olympic weightlifter, and fill in around the edges with a few long runs/rows/rides/swims, skill work, and incorporate these diverse modalities to maintain a degree of training novelty.  Routine is the enemy.  This sort of training allows an athlete to improve in many arenas, by choosing not to maximize any single attribute.

Back to the original question about mass gains, diet, and fat loss.  For each human and each training approach, there's a minimal amount of protein that is required to support muscle recovery and continued gains in performance.  This number is not precisely known, but even the USDA says we need 60g of protein per day, so you can bet that a healthy, active athlete will need more in order to thrive.  However, even 100g of protein per day will only provide 330-400 kcal.  Thus, you should be able to ingest all the protein you may need, and still restrict carbohydrate intake enough to maintain fat loss.

If on the other hand you are trying to gain the most possible muscle mass, and look HUGE, it becomes problematic to try and maintain a calorie deficit and ingest optimal protein levels.

If your goal is to use training to better your quality of life, sustain mobility as you age, and look and feel better, don't sweat these issues.  Eat good quality protein, shoot for 60-100g per day.  Eat high quality carbohydrate sources, and reduce carb intake to achieve fat loss.  Eat good quality fats to satiety.  Train hard, sleep well, and sleep long.  Measure your weight and abdominal circumference (weight alone tells you little) and adjust the diet, training and sleep according to your results.   This will not allow you to "have it all", but you can much or most of what you want.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mark's Daily Apple: Enjoy the Eggs

Exercise, practice stress reduction, and get your waist circumference checked.
Don’t smoke.
Don’t age.
Don’t pay too much attention to ridiculous observational studies (this is part of stress reduction).
Oh, yeah – eat egg yolks, and lots of them. Doubly so if you’re low-carb (remember the starch/grain-free high-egg diet referenced above). Make ‘em pastured, if possible, or at least from hens that ate something besides soy and corn. They’re more nutritious and probably “safer” than industrial eggs.
Read more:

I recommend a read of the whole article.  Mark does a nice job as usual of dissecting a bad study, while highlighting how difficult it would be to even try to answer the "egg question" authoritatively.  Until the money is available for a long term intervention study, however, all you have to go by is your experiment on yourself - eat meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch and no sugar/wheat.  Then, measure your results.  If your results are not as good as needed, refine from there - if you are worried about eggs, for example, or dairy, try a 30 elimination test and see how you look, feel and perform.

The ability we all have in this day and time to get easy access to information, and to measure results for ourselves, means we do not have to depend on witch doctors or epidemiological studies to sort out how to be healthy.  Instead, formulate your own plan, check the results, refine from there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

BBC News - Hunter Gatherer Clue To Obesity

The idea that exercise is more important than diet in the fight against obesity has been contradicted by new research.
A study of the Hadza tribe, who still exist as hunter gatherers, suggests the amount of calories we need is a fixed human characteristic.
This suggests Westerners are growing obese through over-eating rather than having inactive lifestyles, say scientists.

In other words - another conjecture down the toilet.

The author's conclusion:
Being active is really important to your health but it won't keep you thin - we need to eat less to do that.

This is a swat in the face to many, those who have long since bought off on the idea that working out is both essential and proven to be helpful for fat loss.  However, the science that has been done is contradictory on the topic.  You can read the two sides of the "exercise for fat all" issue from this post and the two that followed it - the short version is that if you eat foods that send your body into a fat making hormonal bias, exercise is likely to make you hungry, and thus result in an increased food intake.  There are caveats to that statement - if you exercise multiple hours per day, it may be impossible or at least difficult to eat enough to replace what the exercise burns.  However, this is not a great trade for either health or quality of life.  

If exercise didn't make one more hungry, all lumberjacks would have starved to death.  

That said, exercise is very important to living a good life - if you want to live a mobile, vigorous, potent life, you must exercise for the work capacities that you desire.  You should be working for strength, endurance, stamina, speed, power, agility, coordination, accuracy, flexibility and balance.  These attributes can all be enhanced through training, and they will all play a role in living a better life.

In short, eat for health, train for desirable physical capacities, and live well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Taubes: Ketogenic Metabolism Is Good

When I interviewed ketosis experts, however, they universally sided with Atkins, and suggested that maybe the medical community and the media confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis, a variant of ketosis that occurs in untreated diabetics and can be fatal. ''Doctors are scared of ketosis,'' says Richard Veech, an N.I.H. researcher who studied medicine at Harvard and then got his doctorate at Oxford University with the Nobel Laureate Hans Krebs. ''They're always worried about diabetic ketoacidosis. But ketosis is a normal physiologic state. I would argue it is the normal state of man. It's not normal to have McDonald's and a delicatessen around every corner. It's normal to starve.''
Simply put, ketosis is evolution's answer to the thrifty gene. We may have evolved to efficiently store fat for times of famine, says Veech, but we also evolved ketosis to efficiently live off that fat when necessary. Rather than being poison, which is how the press often refers to ketones, they make the body run more efficiently and provide a backup fuel source for the brain. Veech calls ketones ''magic'' and has shown that both the heart and brain run 25 percent more efficiently on ketones than on blood sugar.
Back in the dark ages, they used to say eating too much protein is bad for the kidneys.   However, like the sasquach, there's no evidence this is true.  There never was.  And recent testing shows the opposite - those in kidney failure do well on a ketogenic diet.  What absolutely WILL wreck the kidney's however is a high carb diet leading to metabolic syndrome and progressing to type II diabetes; which is why you see the kidney dialysis centers so many places these days.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Poliquin On Strength/Power Relationships

In applying this to work with clients and athletes, you need to identify ratios of strength between the muscles, and consider how previous training or lack of it will influence power. For example, say you have a client who has been doing lots of endurance running but wants to become more powerful to be able to jump higher to play recreational basketball.
You will need to account for the fact that their running is training them to be slow and have compromised power. Perhaps more applicable to the readership, if you have a lifter who can power clean nearly as much as they can back squat, they need to increase squat strength in their training because they are weak for their speed.

One of the things that differentiates training for appearance from training for performance is the concept of "adaptive demand."  In short, and this is obvious to anyone who's given it any thought at all, the body adapts to training in response to the ways that the training stresses the body.  If you demand that you body deliver oxygen and fuel to the leg muscles via long, slow training, to some degree you compromise the body's ability to generate speed and power.  This is especially true of young teens - some experts say no 12-15 year old should be allowed run/swim/bike over 8s continuously, to ensure that the speed and power genes are not being turned off.  The only good thing about long, slow training is that it is better than nothing.

If you can sprint, sprint!  Jump onto a box, and down if you are healthy enough to take the beating.  Olympic lifts are in vogue as a methodology to create more powerful athletes, and of course, they are little more than jumping with a barbell (they are also a heck of a lot of fun).

However, reality is that most of us will not dramatically increase our speed and power - there are limits, largely neurological, and some say the room for improvement in speed is no more than 5%.  Strength, however, can be improved for a long time.  This is why the slow lifts are the kings of the strength and conditioning world.  Squats, deadlifts, presses - these should be the heart of S&C, along with body weight training, metabolic conditioning intervals and run/swim/row/bike efforts of mostly 800m or less.

The good news is that a well trained strength and power athlete can easily gain competence in endurance, whereas the opposite is usually not true.

What Graham Crackers Can Teach Us About Whole Foods | Religion & Politics

Excellent read about some elements of the history of the "health food" business.

A couple of points:
-Food purism is not healthy
-One must always be on guard lest one become a food purist
-Thankfully, we can measure results now better than ever before, and thus not be reliant upon "experts" like Graham

Friday, August 17, 2012

Leap Of Faith

It was Ancel Keys, paradoxically, who introduced the low-fat-is-good-health dogma in the 50's with his theory that dietary fat raises cholesterol levels and gives you heart disease. Over the next two decades, however, the scientific evidence supporting this theory remained stubbornly ambiguous. The case was eventually settled not by new science but by politics. It began in January 1977, when a Senate committee led by George McGovern published its ''Dietary Goals for the United States,'' advising that Americans significantly curb their fat intake to abate an epidemic of ''killer diseases'' supposedly sweeping the country. It peaked in late 1984, when the National Institutes of Health officially recommended that all Americans over the age of 2 eat less fat. By that time, fat had become ''this greasy killer'' in the memorable words of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the model American breakfast of eggs and bacon was well on its way to becoming a bowl of Special K with low-fat milk, a glass of orange juice and toast, hold the butter -- a dubious feast of refined carbohydrates.

In the intervening years, the N.I.H. spent several hundred million dollars trying to demonstrate a connection between eating fat and getting heart disease and, despite what we might think, it failed. Five major studies revealed no such link. A sixth, however, costing well over $100 million alone, concluded that reducing cholesterol by drug therapy could prevent heart disease. The N.I.H. administrators then made a leap of faith. Basil Rifkind, who oversaw the relevant trials for the N.I.H., described their logic this way: they had failed to demonstrate at great expense that eating less fat had any health benefits. But if a cholesterol-lowering drug could prevent heart attacks, then a low-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet should do the same. ''It's an imperfect world,'' Rifkind told me. ''The data that would be definitive is ungettable, so you do your best with what is available.''

It would be hard to believe if not true - THIS is how public health authorities came to believe - and to tell us as if it were truth - that the cholesterol/saturated fat conjecture was "proved" true.

It would have been far better for all if these "authorities" had all just admitted that they had a theory, but nothing was yet proved true.  "Leaps of faith" are not part of scientific  proof!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie? - New York Times

If the members of the American medical establishment were to have a collective find-yourself-standing-naked-in-Times-Square-type nightmare, this might be it. They spend 30 years ridiculing Robert Atkins, author of the phenomenally-best-selling ''Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution'' and ''Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution,'' accusing the Manhattan doctor of quackery and fraud, only to discover that the unrepentant Atkins was right all along. Or maybe it's this: they find that their very own dietary recommendations -- eat less fat and more carbohydrates -- are the cause of the rampaging epidemic of obesity in America. Or, just possibly this: they find out both of the above are true.

Gary Taubes didn't do himself any favors by leading off the article in this way, essentially calling all the then leaders of the diet and nutrition research and practice "ignorant and to blame."  Then again, he probably wouldn't have made the fat paycheck he did if the article were not pointed.   It's been ten years since GT fired this shot across the bow of the powers that were - and his take is standing up quite nicely to the science that's been done the last ten years.

His effort back then - aside from stirring the hornet's next - was to stimulate research that would conclusively answer the question - what causes humans to become fat?  Taubes found the science of diet was so poor that it could not even justify the widely held belief that it was a simple matter of moral failings - humans were too gluttonous and lazy, and therefore ate more than they expended, resulting in a positive energy balance and the accumulation of excess body fat.

After Taubes' truly exhaustive review of the field, unique since as a reporter his research was not segmented into this field or that field, he provided a restatement of an old hypothesis.  His hypothesis was counter intuitive.  In short it was/is:  we eat too much and move too little because we store energy as fat.  Energy partitioned into fat, and unavailable as fuel, results in starvation at a cellular level, and therefore hunger and lethargy.  There are multiple mechanisms but the largest is this process - excess carb intake results in excessive blood sugar levels.  In self defense (high blood sugars are toxic above 160 mg/dl) the body secretes insulin, which commands the body to convert sugar to fat (and suppresses hormones that normally allow fat to be liberated from fat cells).  This hypothesis is referred to as the "alternate hypothesis" or "the carbohydrate hypothesis."

Aside from the petty drama about who's right and who isn't, the good news is that more and more folks are able to pursue carbohydrate restriction without being  cautioned by their health care providers that "high fat diets are bad for your heart."  In fact, the science is now crystal clear - low carb diets are better  than the rest for fat loss, restoration of metabolic health, and normalization of blood lipids and blood pressure.  For up to one year, these effects are clearly documented.  Beyond a year, tests have not been completed - for either low carb or low fat.  That I think Taubes is right, and that the villains were those who recommended the untested and STILL unproved low fat fad diet, is not nearly as significant as all the sick, obese folks, who have saved their health by avoiding excess carbohydrate consumption.  Many more will do so as the science becomes more clear and the choice to restrict carbs more and more widely accepted.

Would you believe after all the hoopla that there has never been a study which showed dietary restriction of cholesterol or fat (or both) is effective for "lowering" cholesterol?  And the reason I've put "lowering" in quotation marks is - there has also never been a study which proved (intervention study) that lowering cholesterol through diet is effective in reducing either mortality from heart disease or all cause mortality.

Dr. Mary Vernon, who has used low carb in the treatment of diabetes for several years, has commonly responded to the dietary-cholesterol-saturated fat conjecture by holding up a $100 bill and offering same to anyone who can show a conclusive study on the topic.  She's never lost and I predict she never will.

All of which leaves one shaking one's head and wondering - how did so many intelligent, educated professionals get so far off track so fast - and stay that way for so long, WITHOUT THE SUPPORTING SCIENCE THESE PROFESSIONS HANG THEIR COLLECTIVE HATS ON?

And the question folks don't ask out loud, yet, is "How many Americans died from these non-scientific, government directed and blessed dietary recommendations?"  The next one is something like "when will someone in the government be held accountable to stop saying fat is bad for you and grains are good for you?"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Red Pill

Lot's of folks don't want to take the red pill.  They want to do what their doctor says, and leave it at that - never mind whether that's working.  And for that matter, would they even know if it was working?

"I'm on statins, but otherwise I'm healthy.  My doctor says everyone should be taking a statin."  This person, a lovable and good person, who carries a gun everyday, everywhere because he won't take the blue pill that implies the State will protect you, is still all up into the health blue pill.  

There are several implications of the Matrix's "red pill/blue pill" analogy - health wise, will you take a red pill?

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

POSE: It's All There

Between the video above, and this article, you could gain all the knowledge needed to understand and practice the POSE Method of running.  But to actually improve your running, you will have to use drills, get feedback (camera or coach), and steady practice over time.  Why?  You have likely spent thousands of moments developing the running patterns you have, and these are all unconscious patterns.  Changing those is effortful.

The elements to look for in the video are:
-soft knees (never a strait leg)
-body vertical
-falling forward by letting the hips move ahead of the balance point on the foot
-run by pulling the foot to the hip
-think only of the foot on the ground, let the body (unconscious motor patterns) place the other foot on the ground

As I've gained skill, I can feel when the stride is right; it feels like I'm rolling along.  It feels very good!

Monday, August 13, 2012

CrossFit Kids - An Introduction


CFK Windows

Ever wondered what CrossFit would be like applied to kids?  The answer is - incredible!  Look at these kids!

But it is also not just CrossFit done by younger people, it's an entirely different approach, for the obvious reasons, some of which my friends Jeff and Mikki Martin touch on in this video.

When they talk about changing children's lives - I've seen what they can do.  The kids they reach have a different life trajectory.  It is as transformational or more so than what is often seen for adults with CrossFit.

When I grow up and my CrossFit gym grows up I relish the idea of creating a gym like Jeff and Mikki's gym where kids can come and find safety, friends, adventure, challenge, and a culture of striving to reach that next milestone - through work and practice.

Friday, August 10, 2012

No Post Today

Today, I retire from the US Navy after 23 years. Taking the day off from blogging!

See you in my next career.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Low Carb For ... Endurance?

Ever wonder how you could use a low carb strategy for endurance running?  Jimmy talks to a running legend who got fat and sick, and then fixed himself using low carb.  Genius!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Squat: Why, and "How To"

This is a very detailed description of how to barbell squat, and well done.  The key elements:
-Torso tight!  No spinal deflection.  Unfortunately, this can take as much time to learn as any other part of the squat.  Fortunately, learning to sustain a rigid torso is fundamental to almost every human movement, so if you learn this in the squat, it will apply to many other athletic endeavors

-Knees out and hips back; that's how you start the movement.  Initiate the squat with the knees moving forward and that will create problems.  Unfortunately, most humans think of squats as a "leg" or "knee" movement.  It's all about the hips!

-At any point in the squat, you should be able to wiggle your toes; otherwise, you've leaned forward, vice staying rooted in the heels

-Knees out, knees out, knees out; top to bottom and back up; KNEES OUT!  That is a game changer for move folks learning to squat

Coaching yourself through a squat, with a barbell or without, repeat these things:

Head up chest up, hips back, knees out.  When you've squatted correctly 10,000 times, you won't have to say those things any longer.

If you really want to get this right, you will need feedback; iPhone video works fine, or better yet - find a good coach!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Boyle Rant, And A Good One

Choice quotes from Mike Boyle:
No one has ever gotten better lifting light weights. 

Light weight is an oxymoron. A weight should be appropriate to the goal but, rarely, if ever, intentionally light.

The reality is if you are lifting a weight ten times, numbers nine and ten should be difficult. If you can lift a weight 20 times but choose to do only ten, you are wasting your time. Period.

I go crazy when someone tells me about the routine they've been doing with their eight-lb hand weights.

Strive for perfect technique in all exercises AND progressively increase the resistance.  SportBlocks, from PowerBlock, are perfect for this as are the Bowflex Dumbbells. 
 SportBlocks are a small version of the popular PowerBlock dumbbells 
that increase in three-pound increments. If you don't want to buy 
SportBlocks, get a good selection of dumbbells.

Work on basic strength in basic exercises. If your trainer has you practicing your golf swing with a dumbbell in your hands, get a new trainer.

Learn to bodyweight squat, learn to do a push-up.

The secret is, there is no secret. If you want to hit a golf ball further, you need to get stronger. You will not get strong lifting a five-pound dumbbell.

If I had not found CrossFit, I hope I at least would have found Mike Boyle, he's head and shoulders over most of the fitness industry. 

However, he's getting too cute here.  Anything is better than nothing.  If you do the same 3 sets of 10 with 10 pound dumb bells from now until you croak, you'll be stronger than many of the purists or perfectionists or the disorganized or the too bored or the plain old apathetic folks who did nothing.  First rule in my book is - do something.  Build from there.  Refine from there.  Doing something Mike Boyle thinks is silly beats the snot out of being too busy to do the perfect workout.

My vote for world's best very simple workout?  Burpee pull-ups.  Lie on your belly.  Get up as fast as you can.  Jump up and grab a bar for a kind of jumping pull-up.  Repeat until you are as distressed as you want to be for that day.  Some days do short sessions of ten reps with 30s rest before doing another ten, as fast as you can move.  Other days, do max reps in ten minutes.  Find another couple of ways to do this, or just add a day of squats and pushups.  Then do a day of sit-ups and hill sprints, or box jumps, or tire drags, or car pushes, or kid carries, or ... whatever.  The sky's the limit and the bag of tricks is cheap, varied and full when it comes to using functional human movement for strength and metabolic conditioning.  

If nothing else, do ten squats that look like this every day:

PS - neck brace and cast are optional.

A Good Use For Soy/Veggie Oils

But don't eat it!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Low-carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet in Type 2 Diabetes - "GOOD"

OBJECTIVE: Effective diabetic management requires reasonable weight control. Previous studies from our laboratory have shown the beneficial effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (LCKD) in patients with type 2 diabetes after its long term administration. Furthermore, it favorably alters the cardiac risk factors even in hyperlipidemic obese subjects. These studies have indicated that, in addition to decreasing body weight and improving glycemia, LCKD can be effective in decreasing antidiabetic medication dosage. Similar to the LCKD, the conventional low-calorie, high nutritional value diet is also used for weight loss. The purpose of this study was to understand the beneficial effects of LCKD compared with the low-calorie diet (LCD) in improving glycemia.

METHODS: Three hundred and sixty-three overweight and obese participants were recruited from the Al-Shaab Clinic for a 24-wk diet intervention trial; 102 of them had type 2 diabetes. The participants were advised to choose LCD or LDKD, depending on their preference. Body weight, body mass index, changes in waist circumference, blood glucose level, changes in hemoglobin and glycosylated hemoglobin, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, uric acid, urea and creatinine were determined before and at 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24 wk after the administration of the LCD or LCKD. The initial dose of some antidiabetic medications was decreased to half and some were discontinued at the beginning of the dietary program in the LCKD group. Dietary counseling and further medication adjustment were done on a biweekly basis.

RESULTS: The LCD and LCKD had beneficial effects on all the parameters examined. Interestingly, these changes were more significant in subjects who were on the LCKD as compared with those on the LCD. Changes in the level of creatinine were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSION: This study shows the beneficial effects of a ketogenic diet over the conventional LCD in obese diabetic subjects. The ketogenic diet appears to improve glycemic control. Therefore, diabetic patients on a ketogenic diet should be under strict medical supervision because the LCKD can significantly lower blood glucose levels.      HT: @dreades

Emphasis above is mine.  The BLUF:  it was an intervention study (the best kind), it had a relatively large number of subjects, it lasted 24 weeks (not long but not too short), and the test variable was carb intake.  To be ketogenic, carb intake must remain below 50g/day, for most folks.

The underlying defect in obesity and illness is glycemic control, and the LCKD did best in restoring same.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Grass Based Health: Ignore the Evidence

If you saw this story in the paper would it surprise you?

A young German pediatrician, moved to America and settled in New York City. She was “startled” by the number of fat children she saw – “really fat ones, not only in clinics, but on the streets and subways, and in schools.”1 Indeed, fat children in New York “were so conspicuous that other European immigrants asked Bruch about it, assuming she would have an answer. What is the matter with American children? they would ask. Why are they so bloated and blown up? Many would say they’d never seen so many children in such a state.”

Would it surprise you to find that the pediatrician, Ms. Hilda Bruch, came to the US in 1934?

Gary Taubes (author of Good Calories Bad Calories and "Why We Get Fat") has pointed out in both of his books that any theory of obesity has to account for the phenomenon outside of the paradigm we see in our time; no McDonalds, no HFCS, limited industrial seed oils, and perhaps without low prices on sugar.  Further, these kids were not spending time on electronic devices, and many presumably walked anywhere they went.

The author's conclusion:

The observation that obesity and under-nourishment occur simultaneously in very poor populations is not limited to Bruch’s experience. This phenomenon has been repeatedly documented throughout the world. Obesity is a form of malnutrition. So how do the experts reconcile these observations with their opinions? They ignore the evidence. They have to. The evidence disproves their hypotheses. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Peer Review

Dr. Yoshitaka Fujii seems well on his way to becoming the patron saint of scientific fraudsters, setting a record for the most extensive output of fake data. As near as anyone can work out, Fujii started making up data with abandon some time in the 1990s. By 2000, his fellow researchers were already on to him, publishing a comment in which they noted, "We became skeptical when we realized that side effects were almost always identical in all groups."

But you can't let such skepticism from your peers slow you down-and Fujii certainly didn't. Even after the comment was published, two different medical schools hired him as a faculty member. He continued to publish, generally using faked data, racking up an eventual record of 200+ bogus papers.

Nobody took any responsibility for investigating the prospect of fraud, despite requests made by other researchers who suspected something was amiss. It took until 2011 for the editors of several journals that were victimized by Fujii to band together and hire an outside investigator, who found extensive evidence that the data reported by Fujii was unlikely to have resulted from actual experiments.

The peer review process purported to be the basis of much of science's validation process is not what it should be - in the end, we all have to sort through the messy human-ness of science on our own.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Deep Nutrition: The Good Old Days

"According the John "Fire Lane" Deer, the eating of guts had evolved into  contest.  "In the old days we used to eat the guts of the buffalo, making a contest of it, two fellows getting hold of a long piece of intestines from opposite ends, starting chewing toward the middle, seeing who can get there first; that's eating.  Those buffalo guts, full of half-fermented, half digested grass and herbs, you didn't need any pills and vitamins when you swallowed those."

From Catherine Shanahan's "Deep Nutrition", available in my aStore.  I'm just starting this book, and so far it is informative and enjoyable.  I have yet to find THE book to recommend without hesitation for anyone who wants to know more about the idea of the paleo diet; perhaps this one will be it.  Of the many I've read, each has their flaw.

The above highlights a problem we have in replicating a paleo diet, and why I think of it as a "model".   No sense pretending I can eat like they ate.  In the sense of doing the one thing that gets 80% of the benefit - don't over consume carbohydrate.  Once that is under control, refinements can be made over time to improve upon that basic guidance.

Another quick anecdote:
"When asked how the indians know how to prevent scurvy, the old Indian described how when he kills a moose he opens it up and at the back of the moose just above the kidney there are what he described as two small balls in the fat [adrenal glands].  These he said the Indian would cut up into as many pieces as there were little and big Indians in the family and each one would eat his piece."

I'll admit - I'd rather just squeeze some lemon into my Norcal Margarita.  None the less, I find these stories fascinating and it makes me curious to see if I can find these kinds of organs on the next deer I kill.