Monday, May 31, 2010

RECORDING MY INTERVIEW WITH JIMMY MOORE

I can't believe that I am less than a pound away from taking my next "after" photo!  I take one each time I lose 5 pounds, and the last one, at 140 pounds, was taken on July 23, 2009!  That was ten months ago!

I had my interview with Jimmy Moore from The Livin La Vida Low-Carb Show this morning.  It will air on August 31, 2010 as part of a week of weight loss stories.  Of course, I woke up with a little bit of a sore throat, so my voice was froggy, and by the time we finished taping, my temperature was up to 99.7!  I think it went pretty well, but I thought of a few things that I wanted to mention that got left out.  I wanted to talk about how much the Atkins forum has meant to me, the importance of being your own health advocate, statin drugs, why I started this blog and what I hope to accomplish here, and a few other things.  Oh, well...  Next time!  Maybe if I get famous, he'll have me on again some day!

Okay, I overate today!  The ribs that Bill brought back home were just so tasty, and my weight was down, so I indulged myself.  Hopefully, it will not have too big of an impact on my weight or general progress.  I was still so sore that I broke down and took a couple of Ibuprofen before bed.  I hate to take drugs in general, but I particularly hate to take these pills, because they make me retain water.

DR. MICHAEL EADES ON INTERMITTENT FASTING

In my effort to understand IF, I came across this article by Dr. Michael Eades, who, along with his wife, Dr. Mary Dan Eades, authored the book Protein Power.  Read the full article and much more on his blog.  Here is what Dr. Eades has to say:

How would you like it if I told you there was a way to eat pretty much anything and everything you wanted to eat and still maintain your health? Or better yet, what if I told you that you could eat pretty much anything and everything you wanted and even improve your health? Would you be interested? I figured as much.

There is a way to reduce blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood pressure, increase HDL levels, get rid of diabetes, live a lot longer, and still be able to lose a little weight. All without giving up the foods you love. And without having to eat those foods in tiny amounts. Sounds like a late-night infomercial gimmick, but it isn’t.

Before I get to the real nitty gritty of how such a thing can be done, let’s look at a method that has been proven in countless research institutions to bring about all the above-mentioned good things. It’s called caloric restriction.


When researchers restrict the caloric intake of a group of lab animals to about 30 to 40 percent of that of their ad libitum (all they want to eat) fed counterparts, they find that the calorically restricted animals live 30 percent or so longer, don’t develop cancers, diabetes, heart disease, or obesity. These calorically restricted (CR) animals have low blood sugar levels, low insulin levels, good insulin sensitivity, low blood pressure and are, in general, much healthier than the ad lib fed animals.

Most of the work in caloric restriction has been done on rodents, but there is a long term study on Rhesus monkeys (17 years at this point) that appears to confirm the rodent data on longevity and health with CR in primates. There are no human longevity studies, but there are a number of human studies on CR and health that show that human subjects under CR conditions reduce blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood pressure, etc., so it stands to reason that if humans reduced their caloric intake by 30-40 percent for their entire lives, they would also live longer.

Caloric restriction is a terrific way to lose weight and get healthy; problem is, it’s not much fun. When rats live out their little ratty lives calorically restricted in their cages they seem to show signs of depression and irritability. Primates do for sure. If primates don’t get enough cholesterol, they can actually become violent. But, if you’re willing to put up with a little irritability, hostility and depression, it might be worth cutting your calories by 30 percent for the rest of your long, healthy miserable life.

Doesn’t sound so cheery? You’re not ready to sign up yet?

Well, there is a better way.

A number of different research teams have studied a method by which rodents can get all the health and longevity benefits of caloric restriction without calorically restricting. And the method has been studied in humans and seems to achieve the same health benefits and, if an old Spanish study can be believed, maybe even an increase in lifespan.

What is this magic method?

Intermittent fasting.

In regular fasting one goes entirely without food, which is caloric restriction carried to the extreme. Going entirely without food in the short term leads to improvement in health, but also leads to an extremely short life unless the fast is aborted.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is just as its name implies: a period of fasting alternated with a period of eating.
But isn’t that what we do anyway? We eat breakfast, then fast until lunch. Then, after lunch, we fast until supper. Then we fast all night. Uh, not exactly.

In research settings animals that are intermittently fasted are fed every other day, so they eat whatever they want for a day, then they are denied food for a day. Interestingly, on feeding days most of the animals eat a almost double the amount that their ad lib fed mates do. Thus the IF animals eat about the same number of calories overall that the ad lib fed animals eat, but, and this is a huge ‘but,’ the IF animals enjoy all the health advantages that the CR animals do, and, in fact, are even healthier than the CR animals.

Like caloric restriction, intermittent fasting reduces oxidative stress, makes the animals more resistant to acute stress in general, reduces blood pressure, reduces blood sugar, improves insulin sensitivity, reduces the incidence of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and improves cognitive ability. But IF does even more. Animals that are intermittently fasted greatly increase the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) relative to CR animals. CR animals don’t produce much more BDNF than do ad libitum fed animals.

What’s BDNF? (The Wikipedia definition is actually pretty good)

BDNF, as its name implies, is a substance that increases the growth of new nerve cells in the brain, but it does much more than that. BDNF is neuroprotective against stress and toxic insults to the brain and is somehow–no one yet knows how, exactly–involved in the insulin sensitivity/glucose regulating mechanism. Infusing BDNF into animals increases their insulin sensitivity and makes them lose weight. Humans with greater levels of BDNF have lower levels of depression. BDNF given to depressed humans reduces their depression. And Increased levels of BDNF improves cognitive ability. In short, you want as much BDNF as you can get., and with IF you can get a lot.

But, who wants to go all day every other day without food?

Well, you don’t have to. MD and I, using ourselves (selflessly, I might add) as subjects have worked it out.
Most rodents feed throughout the day and night, so restricting them for 24 hours does just that: it restricts them for 24 hours. In humans, however, the situation is different. We humans, for the most part, eat only during our waking hours. So if we fast for a day, we end up fasting for about 34 hours and eating for 14, which isn’t the same as 24 on, 24 off.

Let me show you what I mean.

Let’s say you pick a day to start. You eat all day, then go to bed, wake up in the morning and fast all day, then go to bed. You wake up the next morning and eat all day, then go to bed and start again. So, assuming you eat until 10 PM on your eat day, once you quit eating you don’t eat again until 8 AM 34 hours later. If you eat from 8 AM that day until 10 PM, you’ve eaten for 14 hours. so, you’re on (eating) for 14 hours and off (fasting) for 34. MD and I spent a couple of weeks doing it that way, and I’m here to tell you, it’s no fun. At least not on the fast days. The eating days were a different story; they were great, but we would spend the entire day dreading the fast day coming up.

We fooled around with a number of different eat-fast-eat regimens and came up with something that works pretty well. We set up our cutoff time as 6 PM. On the day we started, we ate until 6 PM, then fasted until 6 PM the next day. On the next day we ate supper right after 6 PM and ate breakfast and lunch (and a few snacks) the next day until 6 PM when we started fasting again.

The advantage of this regimen is that we were able to eat every day. One day we would get supper–the next day we would get breakfast and lunch. On no days would we go entirely without food. This schedule worked the best for us.

On the times during the day that we ate, we didn’t stick with our normal low-carb fare; we ate pretty much whatever we wanted, including a fare amount of higher carb stuff. We stuck with the regimen for a few weeks just to see if we could tolerated it, which we did just fine. We ultimately drifted back to our normal low-carb diet, however, just because it seemed to work better with our schedules. We could have been happy on the intermittent fasting regimen for the long term.

I would think that the optimal way to go would be to follow an intermittent fast using low-carb foods during the eating periods. One would get the best of all worlds healthwise this way.

Over the period that we followed the various IF regimens we lost a little weight because, unlike the rodents, we couldn’t eat twice as much during the eating days as we would have eaten were we not fasting. We didn’t check any lab work to see if any values had changed. We weren’t doing a hard core study; we were simply evaluating IF as a practical means for humans to use to improve their health.

In thinking about the process I came to the conclusion that IF was probably the way Paleolithic man ate. We modern humans have become acculturated to the three square meals per day regimen. Animals in the wild, particularly carnivorous animals, don’t eat thrice per day; they eat when they make a kill. I would imagine that Paleolithic man did the same. If I had to make an intelligent guess, I would say that Paleolithic man probably ate once per day or maybe even twice every three days. In data gathered from humans still living in non-Westernized cultures in the last century, it appears that they would gorge after a kill and sleep and lay around doing not much of anything for the next day or so. When these folks got hungry, they went out and hunted and started the cycle again.

If you buy into the idea that the Paleolithic diet is the optimal diet for us today because it is the diet we were molded by the forces of natural selection to perform best on, then you should probably also buy into the idea that a meal timing schedule more like that of Paleolithic mean would provide benefit as well.

One of the things MD and I took away from our IF experience is the idea that we don’t have to eat three meals per day. We now often skip lunch and don’t seem any the worse for it. Sometimes we get up and get going with all our projects and don’t eat breakfast. We try to skip a meal here and there because figure it’s probably good for us. When you get used to it, you don’t really even think about it. And it’s good for you. Don’t take my word for it–look at the medical literature.

There have been a few human studies on IF, and all have shown a marked improvement in virtually every parameter tested. None of the subjects in any of these studies has done the full 24 on-24 off that MD and I did. Most fasted until 5 or 6 PM on the fast days, then ate, then ate regularly on the eat days. Even with this wimpy IF schedule the subjects did better.

One of the recent papers published on the less rigid IF schedules caught my eye because one of the authors was Don Laub, who used to be the chairman of the plastic surgery department at Stanford. When I was in medical school I thought I wanted to be a plastic surgeon so I went to Stanford during a part of my senior year and worked with Dr. Laub as my mentor.

In this study, published in the journal Medical Hypothesis in March of this year, Dr. Laub along with two other physicians (neither of whom I know) underwent their version of and intermittent fast. The three of them have since May 2003 been on a version of the IF in which they consume about 20-50 percent of their estimated daily energy requirements on the fast day and eat whatever they want on the non-fast days.

Since starting their regimen they have
observed health benefits starting in as little as two weeks, in insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, infectious diseases of viral, bacterial and fungal origin (viral URI, recurrent bacterial tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis, periodontal disease), autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis, symptoms due to CNS inflammatory lesions (Tourette’s, Meniere’s) cardiac arrhythmias (PVCs, atrial fibrillation), menopause related hot flashes.
In their paper these researchers discuss a 1957 paper from the Spanish medical literature.

…the subjects were eating, on alternate days, either 900 calories or 2300 calories, averaging 1600, and that body weight was maintained. Thus they consumed either 56% or 144% of daily caloric requirement. The subjects were in a residence for old people, and all were in perfect health and over 65. Over three years, there were 6 deaths among 60 study subjects and 13 deaths among 60 ad lib-fed controls, non-significant difference. Study subjects were in hospital 123 days, controls 219, highly significant difference. We believe widespread use of this pattern of eating could impact influenza epidemics and other communicable diseases by improving resistance to infection. In addition to the health effects, this pattern of eating has proven to be a good method of weight control, and we are continuing to study the process in conjunction with the NIH.

MACHINES AT THE GYM - BAD! USE FREE WEIGHTS INSTEAD

I have been doing some reading about how you should use free weights instead of the machines at the gym, and I came across this article at World of Mysteries:


Exercise Machines You Should Avoid


1  The Seated Leg Extention

Myth:  It's the safest way to work your quadriceps, or thigh muscles.

The truth: Physiologists at the Mayo Clinic determined that leg extensions place significantly more stress on your knees than squats. Why? Because the resistance is placed near your ankles, which leads to high amounts of torque being applied to your knee joint every time you lower the weight. What’s more, Auburn University scientists found that people who squat long-term have tighter, stronger knee ligaments than those who don’t squat at all.

The alternatives: Free weight squats, split squats, and lunges—performed with perfect form—are all better choices for working your quads and protecting your knees.


2 The Behind-the-Neck Lat Pull-Down

The myth: The best way to perform the lat pulldown is to pull the bar behind your head, down to your upper back

The truth: Unless you have very flexible shoulders, this exercise is difficult to do correctly, and can increase your risk for shoulder impingement syndrome—a painful condition in which the muscles or tendons of your rotator cuff become entrapped in your shoulder joint.

The alternative: Simple—just pull the bar in front of your head, down to your collarbone. You’ll work your back just as hard, but with less risk for injury.


3 The Pec Deck

The myth: It’s a super safe and very effective way to work your chest muscles.

The truth: This apparatus, also called the chest fly machine, can overstretch the front of your shoulder and cause the muscles around the rear of your shoulder to stiffen. The result: Doing this movement frequently can lead to shoulder impingement syndrome.

The alternatives: Forget the machine, and stick with exercises such as the pushup, dumbbell bench press and dumbbell incline press; they’re easier on your shoulders and the best way to build your chest overall. In fact, Truman State University researchers found that pectoral muscles are activated for 23 percent less time during the chest fly, compared with the bench press.


4 The Seated Hip Abductor Machine

The myth: This machine is the best way to work your out thighs, including your glutes.

The truth: Because you’re seated, it trains a movement that has no functional use. And if done with excessive weight and jerky technique, it can put undue pressure on your spine.

The alternative: Work the same muscles, but while standing. Simply loop a resistance band around both legs, and position the band just below your knees. Now take small steps to your left for 20 feet. Then side-step back to your right for 20 feet. That’s one set. This is much harder than it sounds, but you can do it anywhere, and it’s also a great warmup for any sport.


5 The Seated Rotation Machine

The myth: Twisting on this machine helps melt your love handles.

The truth: It works the muscles under your love handles, but will do little to reduce the fat that covers them. What’s more, because your pelvis doesn't move as you rotate your upper body, this exercise can put excessive twisting forces on the spine.

The alternative: As long as you don’t expect to shrink your love handles, you can use rotational exercises to work your obliques. But here’s the secret to safety: Before you do any rotational exercises, brace your abs forcefully—as if you’re about to be punched in the gut—and hold them that way as you do the movement. This limits your range of motion and helps to keep you from rotating excessively at your lower spine.


6 The Smith Machine

The myth: This machine—which looks like a squat rack with a built-in bar that runs on guides—gives you all the benefits of squats, but none of the risk that comes from holding a heavy barbell across your back. That’s because the bar can easily be secured at any point during the movement.

The truth: Because the bar runs on guides, you can only move straight up and down as you squat—instead of down and back, as you would in a free-weight squat. The result: An unnatural movement that puts extra stress on your knees and lower back. Need another reason to skip the Smith? Canadian researchers found that traditional squats produced almost 50 percent more muscle activity in the quadriceps than squats done on a Smith machine.

The alternative: If you’re not comfortable with barbell squats, simply do the exercise while holding dumbbells at arm’s length next to your sides. You won’t need a spotter, and your body will be free to move through the natural motion of the squat.

MONTH END WEIGHT CHARTS

Since this is the last day of the month, I'm going to post all my charts.

Below is a chart that shows my daily scale weight, my 7-day average weight and my total weight loss from February 25, 2009 to May 31, 2010:



Below is a chart that shows my 28-day moving average from February 25, 2009 to May 31, 2010:



One of the things I track is the average weight for each calendar month.  It is not a moving average - I just take my scale weight each day of the month, add them together and divide by the number of days in the month.  It gives me an idea of the overall trend.  Here are my monthly average weights since I started tracking in February 2009:

155.0 - February 2009
150.9 - March 2009 - lost 4.1 pounds
148.3 - April 2009 - lost 2.6 pounds
145.8 - May 2009 - lost 2.5 pounds
142.6 - June 2009 - lost 3.2 pounds
141.5 - July 2009 - lost 1.1 pounds
141.6 - August 2009 - gained 0.1 pound (the start of my plateau)
141.9 - September 2009 - gained 0.3 pounds
141.7 - October 2009 - lost 0.2 pounds
140.5 - November 2009 - lost 1.2 pounds
141.2 - December 2009 - gained 0.7 pounds
141.4 - January 2010 - gained 0.2 pounds
143.9 - February 2010 - gained 2.5 pounds (I was on vacation for 2.5 weeks)
143.8 - March 2010 - lost 0.1 pound
143.6 - April 2010 - lost 0.2 pounds (my illness and surgery month)
140.1 - May 2010 - lost 3.5 pounds (started Primal Blueprint)

Here is a chart showing these numbers:

MARK SISSON ON THE ADVANTAGES OF INTERMITTENT FASTING

Here is the latest bit of wisdom from Mark Sisson, author of the book The Primal Blueprint and Mark's Daily Apple website.  I have been doing Intermittent Fasting (IF) for over two week now, and I am seeing benefits.  What I usually do is eat a hearty, fat rich breakfast and then fast until evening dinner.  I get just a little hungry in midday, but it's nothing I can't live with, and the benefits outweigh that little pang, in my opinion.  Read why Mark thinks this is a good and scientifically valid idea:


Drop that fork (or pair of chopsticks, or piece of meat, or handful of nuts) and pay attention. Today, you're going to skip your next meal. Skip your next two, if you want, but make sure you at least miss the next meal. Consider this a Primal Directive, the nudge in the right direction toward Intermittent Fasting that you've probably been mulling over but have yet to fully embrace. I talk about it enough in the blog, but actually fasting can be a difficult thing to try. For one, food is awesome. Food tastes good, especially good Primal food. It's natural to want to eat it, but it's also natural to avoid it for relatively long stretches of time in order to capitalize on the metabolic benefits
In an evolutionary context, the idea that there are benefits to fasting makes perfect sense. Grok experienced times of plenty and times of scarcity. Sometimes the hunt didn't go well. Sometimes he might only get one big meal in a two-day span of time. Now, conventional nutrition "experts" would suggest that a fasting Grok would experience a slowed metabolism, cannibalized lean body mass, and increased body fat. But would that make evolutionary sense? Why would our bodies develop a response to scarcity that promoted physical infirmity, weakness, and decreased mobility? If we were without food, wouldn't it make sense for our bodies to conserve strength and burn fat for energy, rather than reduce it and burn muscle? In a tight spot like possible starvation, we needed that strength more than ever. And so, on a purely theoretical, logical level, the Conventional Dietary Wisdom regarding skipping meals doesn't add up.

The actual research tells a different story, too. In past MDA posts like this one, this one, and this one, I touched on some of the science behind Intermittent Fasting. There have been some pretty comprehensive reports on fasting, including this one which looked at a variety of animal and human studies and found it improved insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake (important for fat loss), increased resistance to lipid oxidation damage, and ! it incre ased fat loss, while providing protection for certain diseases. Another study noticed that fasting significantly increased longevity in rats. We aren't rats, but we are mammals, and several other studies suggest similar benefits in fasting mammals, including this one that looked at the effects of Intermittent Fasting on elderly, otherwise healthy hominids; Dr. Eades discussed the same study some time ago, noting that the fasting scientists experienced "health benefits... in insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, infectious diseases of viral, bacterial and fungal origin (viral URI, recurrent bacterial tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis, periodontal disease), autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis, symptoms due to CNS inflammatory lesions (Tourette's, Meniere's) cardiac arrhythmias (PVCs, atrial fibrillation), menopause related hot flashes." Quite a laundry list, and it's largely anecdotal, but interesting nonetheless.

Of course, just skipping a single meal won't result in all the benefits of fasting, but it will get you on the right track. Consider this an order, rather than a tip. Skip your next meal, no questions asked. If you feel okay, skip two. Hopefully, you can use this as motivation to more fully explore the world of IF. Once you're on board, I'd check out LifeSpotlight for a fantastic primer on fasting, or you could browse my "How-To IF" post. Both will help you integrate fasting into your lifestyle.

To sum up, if you're interested in the following...

  • Mobilization of adipose tissue for energy (burning body fat as fuel)
  • Improved insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake (again, good for burning body fat)
  • Increased resistance to oxidation damage to lipids
  • Increased human growth hormone secretion (utilizes body fat for energy while preventing protein/muscle catabolism)
...SKIP THAT NEXT MEAL!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

MY CURRENT OPINION ON THE ROLE OF CALORIES IN THE HUMAN BODY

Basically, I don't know that calories have a role in the human body.  I've been doing a lot of reading on the subject, going from website to website and blog to blog in an attempt to see any explanation of how burning a food in a lab and raising the temperature of water has any correlation to what happens to food in the human body.

There is plenty of evidence, and I don't think this is news to anyone, that the macronutrient called carbohydrate is dealt with in the body by the release of insulin, the "fat-storing" hormone.  We know that each person's body has a certain amount of carbs that can be eaten without excess insulin being released that will want to store the excess carbs as fat in the fat cells.  Added to that is the fact that some carbs cause a rapid rise in blood sugar (blood glucose).  These "high glycemic index" carbs should be limited or avoided all together in favor of "low glycemic index" carbs, which do not cause that spike, but keep blood sugar more stable and balanced.  Through trial and error, possibly starting at a low level of low glycemic index carbs, a person must discover the quantity of carb grams that can be tolerated in his or her own body, in order to lose or maintain body fat.

So knowing how much carbohydrate to eat is a good thing to know.  Carbohydrates are measured in grams, and a gram of carbohydrate contains 4 "calories" in a lab, but so what?  Why take the extra step of converting the carbs you know you can eat into another number that has no bearing in your body?

Protein is the next macronutrient that the body utilizes.  Protein, in a general sense, is used to rebuild muscle and other tissues in the body.  Although it is not used primarily as "fuel" to move us around or run our bodily systems, it is possible to overeat protein, just as it is possible to overeat carbs.  When more protein is consumed than is needed by the body, the excess is converted to glucose and then stored as fat.

Although it's a a guessing game how many grams of carbs you can eat and lose or maintain body fat, and there is no "chart" that you can look at, punch in your age and height and know for sure how much of this macronutrient you can eat, protein may be a little easier to figure out.  There are charts and computations you can use to get you in the right neighborhood of how many grams of protein to eat.  Here are some of the computations I have seen:

1. If you have had your body composition tested by any of a few different methods (right click here to see what your choices are), you can multiply your pounds of lean body mass (your total weight minus your pounds of body fat) and multiply that number by 0.5 to 1.0, depending on your level of activity.  This is the method Mark Sisson uses in his book The Primal Blueprint.  Example:  A sedentary person weighing 150 pounds with 75% lean body mass (LBM) would have 112.5 pounds of LBM, and multiplied by 0.5, they should, at a minimum, be eating around 56 grams of protein per day.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, if they are extremely active, they would multiply their LBM by 1.0 to equal around 113 grams per day.

2. Another method I have seen on the Atkins website is to take your total goal body weight and multiply it by 0.7 to 0.9, again, depending on your level of activity.  Using this math, the 150 pound sedentary person, assuming they wanted to lose another 20 pounds, would multiply their goal weight of 130 by 0.7 and aim for 91 grams of protein per day, or if they are extremely active, by 0.9 and aim for 117 grams per day.

It is your choice which method you decide to try.  Or you may decide to split the difference and see how you do.  In either case, settling on a optimum quantity of grams of protein will be your goal.

So knowing how much protein to eat is also a good thing to know.  Protein is measured in grams, and a gram of protein contains 4 calories in a lab, but, again, so what?  Why take the extra step of converting the protein you know you can eat into another number that has no bearing in your body?

Finally, we have the macronutrient fat.  I have really been on a quest these past several weeks to find out what happens if we eat excess fat, more than our bodies need for "fuel".  There are many opinions on the subject, and I'm going to try to write about that soon.  For right now, it will have to suffice to say that I do believe, based on what I have been learning, that it is possible to overeat fat as well as protein and carbs.  So part of what you will be learning about how your body runs best is how many grams of fat you can eat and either lose or maintain your body fat.

So knowing how much fat to eat is a crucial thing to know.  Fat is measured in grams, and a gram of fat contains 9 calories in a lab, but, at the risk of stating the obvious and repeating myself, so what?  Why take the extra step of converting the fat you know you can eat into another number that has no bearing in your body? 

As I see it, it is important to experiment with your food intake so that you can discern how many grams of carbs, protein and fat is best for your weight loss goals.  And keep in mind that this will not be a static set of numbers, but can and will change in time as your body composition changes, as your hormone levels change, as you level of activity changes and a host of other reasons.

CALORIES IN CALORIES OUT?

Here is the problem with calories, as I see it:  There are no end of charts and graphs that will tell you how many "calories" to eat to lose or maintain your weight.  These charts do not take into account the breakdown of the macronutrients you are consuming - the carbs, protein and fat.  They maintain that "a calorie is a calorie" and that if you eat a certain amount of calories, regardless of the macronutrient makeup, you will maintain your weight, and if you cut out 500 calories per day, in a week you will lose one pound, because 3,500 calories equals one pound.  Right?  Hmmm...  So, it makes no difference if you eat all fat, or all protein or all carbs, because a calorie is a calorie.  This view does not take into account that eating all carbs would cause massive spikes in blood sugar, and fat would be stored, where if you were eating all protein or all fat, this mechanism would not be triggered.  This view does not even consider the "metabolic advantage" of eating low carb and high fat.  So a calorie is not a calorie, and that belief is bunk, if you ask me.  Not to mention that if a person has imbalanced hormones, such as thyroid, which regulates metabolism, all bets are off, and a person may be unable to lose any weight at all eating the "proper" amount of calories, or may even gain weight eating what they "should".

The other side of the "calorie coin" is that there is no way to know how many "calories" are being burned by doing certain activities.  You can also find charts in abundance that will tell you that if you weigh 150 pounds and run at 4 miles per hour for 60 minutes, you will "burn off" 562 calories.  These numbers are apparently based on eating a low fat, high carb diet.  But what about the metabolic advantage?  And even if that could be factored in, is it valid?  Do not different people have different metabolisms?  We all know slim people who seem to be able to eat whatever they want and do not exercise, and yet, they never gain weight.  How does "Calories In Calories Out" apply to them?  And on the other extreme, what about the people who are overweight, and no amount of restricting calories or excessive exercise will cause them to lose weight?  And more to the point, is a calorie even a valid unit of measurement when talking about how the body uses the food we consume to help us jump around or lift heavy things?

I've said it before and I'll say it again - If a calorie is a calorie, then you should be able to put two people in a room, and feed them the same thing and have them do the same exercise, and they should lose the identical amount of weight.  But they wouldn't, would they?

To tell people to eat a certain amount of calories and do a certain amount of exercise to lose weight is a recipe for disaster at the most and failure at the least.  We should be showing people how to figure out how many grams of each macronutrient to eat, not telling them to count calories and do chronic cardio (to quote Mark Sisson) to lose weight.

Should we eat the right amount of food in the right proportions, and should we exercise in some way?  Absolutely!  But until people understand the reasons we are overweight to begin with, counting calories and exercising are not going to keep people from getting fat.

On a person note, although I have used the term "calories" to chart how much I eat, because it is a term everyone thinks they understand, I'm going to stop, starting today.  From now on, I will report my food using the number of grams of fat, protein and carbs.  I never have tried to estimate how many "calories" I am burning when I exercise, so no change there!

THE NEW RULES OF LIFTING FOR WOMEN: LIFT LIKE A MAN, LOOK LIKE A GODDESS

I just ordered this book.  I have been convinced for years that excessive cardio is counter-productive, and this book says the same thing.  "Step away from the treadmill!"

Also, I have been reading a lot lately about how using isolation exercises are not good, but rather, resistance exercised that use the whole body, or whole muscle groups, make more sense.  In the past, the only weight training I have done is on the machines at the gym, which are, by nature, isolation exercises.  Here is an excerpt from one of the reviews on Amazon.com:

"This book argues that to build muscle, gain strength and lose fat, you need to concentrate on multi-joint type exercises (i.e. squats, deadlifts, pushups, step-ups etc.) and not waste time with a multitude of individual isolation type exercises (i.e. bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and pushdowns, etc.), Alwyn Cosgrove's exercises are designed for practicality in real life utility. Having the strength to lift heavy things is a reality....hence the value of squats. On the other hand, laying back at an angle on a leg press machine and pressing weights outwards and upwards is not something we would do in real life. He stresses fewer reps with increasingly heavier weights. Strength over endurance. The reasoning behind each exercise is explained, and you need to be willing to do the background reading in this book so you can absorb the logic of the workouts and their design and sequencing. Coming into this book with my previous weightlifting experience, faulty though it was, this program immediately made a whole lot of sense as a truly different approach. I knew all my previous efforts hadn't paid off to my satisfaction, so I was finally ready to try this new approach: Stick mostly to big muscle exercises, no isolation exercises at all, fewer reps, lifting progressively heavier (no "Barbie weights!!"), and LIMITED exercises per workout (usually just 5 exercises), and short but high intensity interval cardio if any at all. (Cardio is not emphasized here). Each workout takes about 30 minutes, ideally done 3 days a week (although two workouts can suffice, but 3 is ideal) requiring at least a day between weight workouts (I generally did Mon-Wed-Fri). I have resisted my previous tendency to "do more", so I've done the workouts strictly as written and haven't added anything additional. I wanted to see what results I would get with the program "as written." And surprise....I've got better, more defined biceps doing pushups, squats and deadlifts (but not a single bicep curl), my quads, glutes and hamstrings are rock hard and strong without any of the hamstring curls, leg extensions, etc. The squats, deadlifts, step-ups, pushups and a few other things have worked wonders in just 4 weeks. In this short time I'm stronger and more defined than I've ever been. I'm really quite amazed."

I'm pretty sure, based on a few tidbits I got from the reviews and interviews with the authors, that they do not teach a traditional low carb eating approach.  Oatmeal and bananas are mentioned, for example.  But I already know how to eat, so I will just ignore the nutritional section.  On the other hand, I need to learn all I can about sensible weight lifting for women.

I can't wait to get the book!  I'll let you know how it goes as I try it out...

WES BERTRAND AND KEVIN KOSKELLA OFFER YOU A ‘HEALTHY MIND, FIT BODY’

Jimmy Moore is sharing a great interview with the team behind the book, blog and podcast called “Healthy Mind, Fit Body” on this edition of The Livin La Vida Low-Carb Show. They are Kevin Koskella and Wes Bertrand! Listen in to hear this mustn’t miss episode full of fantastic discussions about all things low-carb living, including a look at the so-called China Study about vegetarianism.

This is a great interview, and I was particularly interested in their comments about Conventional Wisdom concerning topics like saturated fats, whole grains, the USDA food pyramid and calories.

An important topic that was brought up was the necessity of becoming our own health advocates, and not just blindly accepting what we hear about health and nutrition on the evening news.

Diabetes was discussed, as was the attitude of the American Diabetes Association that tells people to continue to eat high carb and low fat, which studies have shown to be the cause of Type 2 Diabetes, and to just take enough insulin to compensate for their "mysterious" blood sugar spikes.  Is the ADA seriously looking for a cure, or are they just advocating the use of drugs to manage symptoms?

The guys also talked about The China Study, and the fallacies that are being promoted by its across-the-board acceptance by vegetarians and vegans.  One interesting point:  New vegans will say that they feel so good eating a vegan diet, that it must be good for them.  However, it was pointed out, if a person goes from eating the Standard American Diet (highly processed food, high fat and high carb), switching to a vegan way of eating will certainly bring health benefits.  It's the long term health benefits or detriments that must be seriously considered and investigated before embracing such a radical way of eating, one that goes against the way that human beings have eaten since the beginning of the human race, and, indeed were designed to eat.

To listen to the interview, right click here.

MAY 30 - WEEK 63 REPORT

This week I lost 2.8 pounds.
Beginning weight – 139.4 pounds
Ending weight – 136.6 pounds

Here is the average of my daily food intake for this past week, which I tracked on Fitday:

1458 Calories
115g Fat (71%)
74g Protein (20%) (LBM 89.2 pounds x 0.83)
32g Carbs
9g Fiber
23g net carbs, of which 9g came from veggies

Today is my weekly measuring day. I lost a total of 1.25" this past week.

In the past 7 days:

I lost 1/4" from by midriff
I lost 1/2" from my waist
I lost 1/2” around my navel

I am now the smallest I have been since starting Atkins. My total loss of inches is 25.75. I set new records for smallness in my midriff, waist and navel.

Here are my measurements today:

12.5" - neck
12" - bicep
9" - forearm
35.5" - bust
29.5" - midriff
28.75" - waist
32" - navel
38.5" - hips
22" - thighs
13.5" - calves

Here is what I have lost so far, since starting to lose weight in February 2009:

Neck - 13.75" to 12.5" - down 1.25"
Bicep - 11.75" to 12" - up 0.25"
Forearm - 9" - no change
Bust - 38.25" to 35.5" - down 2.75"
Midriff - 32.25" to 29.5" - down 2.5"
Waist - 31.5" to 28.75" - down 2.25"
Navel - 38.25" to 32" - down 5.75"
Hips - 42" to 38.5" - down 3.5"
Thigh - 24.5" to 22" - down 2.5"
Calf - 14.5" to 13.5" - down 1"

My goal is to weigh 130 pounds with 25% body fat.  In order to meet that goal, I need to lose another 17.4 pounds of fat and gain another 10.3 pounds of muscle.  I'm beginning to think this could happen...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

DR. KEVIN BOEHM EXPLAINS WHY YOUR GUM HEALTH IMPACTS YOUR HEART

Jimmy Moore shares his conversation with dentist Kevin Boehm, DDS.

Dr. Boehm specializes in holistic dentistry, or how the mouth and the rest of the body influence the health of each other. Listen in for facts such as arterial plaque has been found to largely consist of fossilized cells of mouth bacteria, the influence that nutrition-based dentist Weston A. Price had on this subject, the importance of Co-Q-10, and much more!

I just listened to the latest podcast from The Livin La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore.  This one had particular interest to me, because I have recently been diagnosed with gum disease.  I have been following my dentist's recommendations, and have made great progress so far - gums have stopped bleeding, pain is decreased, pockets have gotten smaller, etc.

Part of my treatment is using a sonic toothbrush.  When I first got it a few months ago, I used it every day, but recently, after learning that I was healing, I got lazy and now only use it occasionally, maybe a few times per week.  I was also flossing every day at first, and have gotten lazy about that, too.

Listening to this interview has really helped me decide to get serious again about dental health.  As Dr. Boehm explains, the health of our mouth impacts so many other aspects of health.  This is not the first time that I have heard information about dental health impacting other areas of health.  I'm not sure where I read it, but I recently read about gum disease being a cause of inflammation in the body, which is now being studied as a major cause of all types of diseases.

To listen to the interview, right click here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

MY "BOD POD" BODY COMPOSITION TEST

As you might remember, I was so discouraged after getting the results back from my body composition test at my doctor's the other day.  According to that test, I had 40.1% body fat, and it had gone up substantially since August 2009, when it was 35.2%.  That means, according to this test, that since then, I had gained 5.9 pounds of fat and had lost 8.5 pounds of muscle.

I was so confused by this, because my weight is basically the same, and my measurements are basically the same.  How could I lose that much muscle and gain that much fat?

Well, I was so depressed, that this morning I arranged to have a Bod Pod body composition test done at The East Bank Club in Chicago.  I just couldn't help but feel that maybe the machine at my doctor's office was wrong.

Steve, the trainer who did the test, said that their machine is calibrated regularly, and the results are the same as a water dunking test.  I paid my $65 (if you are a member there, it is only $40), slipped off my shorts and shirt to reveal my bikini underneath, tucked my hair into a swim cap, and stepped inside.

The whole test took about 5 minutes or less, and I got a nice print out of my results.  I was really nervous.  What if it said that my doctor was right and I am 40.1% body fat?  As it turns out, my body fat is only 36.5%, which is a lot closer to what I believe it is.  So this means (and I choose to believe it is true) that my fat weighs 51.2 pounds.  I want to get down to 130 pounds with 25% body fat, so I need to lose 18.7 more pounds of fat to reach my goal.  Since my lean mass weighs 89.3 pounds, I will need to put on another 8.2 pounds of muscle to reach my goal.

It also says that my RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) is 1139.

Supposedly, if you believe that we can depend on calories burning the way they do in a petri dish, that means that, in order to maintain my weight if I was laying in bed all day and not moving, I would need to consume 1139 calories per day.  This number is based on my lean mass and age.  If I am sedentary, which I pretty much am right now, I would need to consume 1412 calories per day to maintain my weight, which is 1139 multiplied by 1.24.  And the more active I am, the more calories I need to maintain my weight.

Okay, there are a few things that spring to mind about this scenario:

First, a calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie.  If you are eating low carb and high fat, you can consume hundreds of calories more of food than if you are eating high carb and low fat.  So who's to say what my real RMR is?  It might be 1339 or higher...

Second, this number supposes that all calories are burned for fuel.  From the reading I've done in books and on the internet, if you are eating the right amount of protein, that protein is going toward rebuilding muscle and other things and is not "burned" as fuel.  So should a certain portion of protein even be counted toward the calories you "need" each day?

Third, everyone's metabolisms are different.  If my metabolism is slow because of any number of reasons, including illness, hormonal imbalances, the type of food I eat, then how can anyone tell me that my Resting Metabolic Rate is 1139?  My personal metabolism may be much slower than that.  And the opposite would be true, too.  A person might just naturally have a very high metabolism, in which case their RMR might be a lot higher than 1139.  To arbitrarily say that, because I am 54 years old and have 89.3 pounds of lean mass, my RMR is 1139 is just silly.

Fourth, we really have no way to know how "calories" are untilized by our bodies.  Just because a piece of food burns and heats up water to a certain degree in a lab, does not mean that's what it does in our bodies.

And lastly, you could lock two people in a room and give them the exact same food, and make them do the exact same exercise, and one of them would lose weight and the other would not.  The RMR charts do not account for this.  They just say, "Eat 250 calories less and exercise 250 calories more each day for seven days and you will lose a pound!"  Yeah, right.

So what do I do with this information?  I think that using these calculations might be a starting point if you are trying to think about how much to eat.  But you should be prepared to increase or decrease what you are eating based on how you do, knowing that your RMR might be higher or lower than what the charts tell you.

You also need to be aware that the breakdown of the macronutrients you are consuming may significantly alter your RMR.  If you reduce carbs, and increase fat, for instance, that could raise your RMR, and mean you can eat more.  If you increase carbs and reduce fat, you could lower your RMR.

My opinion, which is subject to change, especially on this subject, is that it matters how much we eat, and the ratios of fat, protein and carbs matter, too.  But do I believe that in order to lose a pound, you need to have a 3,500 calorie deficit?  Most decidedly, no.

But now that I know that I have more muscle than I thought I did, I am going to increase my protein by another 20 grams.  I have been gaining a little lately, and it may be that I am not eating enough.  That will give me another 80 "calories" each day.  Sorry, but I have to call it something!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ROBB WOLF BRINGS PALEO DIETS INTO THE 21ST CENTURY


I just listened to the most recent interview on The Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Show.  Excellent guest, who I have to admit I was previously unfamiliar with.  Some of the topics covered were saturated fats and dairy and the place of those in the Paleolithic Diet.  Also discussed was the concept of IF (Intermittent Fasting), which I have a particular interest in.  For the past few weeks, I have been eating only breakfast and dinner with 1 ounce of nuts around lunch time.  And I have been losing weight again.  

Jimmy Moore speaks with Robb Wolf, Paleo diet expert and host of the new and highly-popular Paleolithic Solution podcast! Listen in for a scientific approach to Paleo nutrition and physical conditioning. 


Right click here to listen to the interview.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR BODY FAT PERCENTAGE? YOU SHOULD!

After my body composition test yesterday, I decided to do some research to see how accurate my results were.  My doctor uses  DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry), which is evidently very accurate compared to other testing methods.  Right click the title below to read more about the subject: 

BODY FAT ANALYZING - COMPARING METHODS FOR MEASURING BODY FAT

Most people now understand that to have a healthier body means to have a leaner body. These people are ready for Body Composition Analysis (BCA.) This article will attempt to acquaint you with the most popular methods of BCA used in gyms, homes, and professional practices.

Hydrodensitometry Weighing (Underwater Weighing)
- This method measures whole body density by determining body volume. There is a variety of equipment available to do underwater weighing ranging in sophistication from the standard stainless steel tank with a chair or cot mounted on underwater scales, to a chair and scale The Dunk 
Tank - Underwater Weighing Modelsuspended from a diving board over a pool or hot tub.

This technique first requires weighing a person outside the tank, then immersing them totally in water and weighing them again. The densities of bone and muscles are higher than water, and fat is less dense than water. So a person with more bone and muscle will weight more in water than a person with less bone and muscle, meaning they have a higher body density and lower percentage of body fat. The volume of the body is calculated and the individual's body density is determined by using standard formulas. Then body fat percentage is calculated from body density using standard equations (either Siri or Brozek).

The underlying assumption with this method is that densities of fat mass and fat-free mass are constant. However, underwater weighing may not be the appropriate gold standard for everyone. For example, athletes tend to have denser bones and muscles than non-athletes, which may lead to an underestimation of body fat percentage. While the body fat of elderly patients suffering from osteoporosis may be overestimated. To date, specific equations have not been developed to accommodate these different population groups.

An important consideration in this method is the amount of air left in a person's lungs after breathing out. This residual lung volume can be estimated or measured, but it is established that a direct measure is desirable and it should be taken in the tank whenever possible. Another consideration is that the water in the tank must be completely still; there can be no wind or movement.

Although this method has long been considered the laboratory "gold standard", many people find it difficult, cumbersome, and uncomfortable, and others are afraid of total submersion or cannot expel all the air in their lungs. Clinical studies often require subjects to be measured three to five times and an average taken of the results.

Calipers - Skinfold Measurment ModelCalipers (Anthropometry- Skinfold Measurements) - Using hand-held calipers that exert a standard pressure, the skinfold thickness is measured at various body locations (3-7 test sites are common). Then a calculation is used to derive a body fat percentage based on the sum of the measurements. Different prediction equations are needed for children and specific ethnic groups (over 3,500 equations have been validated). This approach usually uses underwater weighing as a reference method. The caliper method is based upon the assumption that the thickness of the subcutaneous fat (found just under the skin) reflects a constant proportion of the total body fat (contained in the body cavities), and that the sites selected for measurement represent the average thickness of the subcutaneous fat.

Skinfold measurements are made by grasping the skin and underlying tissue, shaking it to exclude any muscle and pinching it between the jaws of the caliper. Duplicate readings are often made at each site to improve the accuracy and reproducibility of the measurements. Often to save time in large population studies, a single skinfold site measurement is made to reduce the time involved. Such a test should be used only for a rough estimate of obesity.

Generally speaking, skinfold measurements are easy to do, inexpensive and the method is portable. Overall, results, can be very subjective as precision ultimately depends on the skill of the technician and the site measured. The quality of the calipers is also a factor; they should be accurately calibrated and have a constant specified pressure. Inexpensive models sold for home use are usually less accurate than those used by an accredited caliper technician. The more obese the subject, the more difficult to "pinch" the skinfold correctly, requiring even more skill to obtain an accurate measurement.

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry - DEXA ModelDEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) - A relatively new technology that is very accurate and precise, DEXA is based on a three-compartment model that divides the body into total body mineral, fat-free soft (lean) mass, and fat tissue mass. This technique is based on the assumption that bone mineral content is directly proportional to the amount of photon energy absorbed by the bone being studied.

DEXA uses a whole body scanner that has two low dose x-rays at different sources that read bone and soft tissue mass simultaneously. The sources are mounted beneath a table with a detector overhead. The scanner passes across a person's reclining body with data collected at 0.5 cm intervals. A scan takes between 10-20 minutes. It is safe and noninvasive with little burden to the individual, although a person must lie still throughout the procedure.

DEXA is fast becoming the new "gold standard" because it provides a higher degree of precision in only one measurement and has the ability to show exactly where fat is distributed throughout the body. It is very reliable and its results extremely repeatable; in addition, the method is safe and presents little burden to the subject. Although this method is not as accurate in measuring the extremely obese and the cost of equipment is high, DEXA is quickly moving from the laboratory setting into clinical studies.

NIR (Near Infrared Interactance) - A fiber optic probe is connected to a digital analyzer that indirectly measures the tissue composition (fat and water) at various sites on the body. This method is based on studies that show optical densities are linearly related to subcutaneous and total body fat. The biceps is the most often used single site for estimating body fat using the NIR method. The NIR light penetrates the tissues and is reflected off the bone back to the detector. The NIR data is entered into a prediction equation with the person's height, weight, frame size, and level of activity to estimate the percent body fat.

This method has become popular outside of the laboratory because it is simple, fast, noninvasive, and the equipment is relatively inexpensive. However, the amount of pressure applied to the fiber optic probe during measurement may affect the values of optical densities, and skin color and hydration level may be potential sources of error. To date, studies conducted with this method have produced mixed results; a high degree of error has occurred with very lean and very obese people; and the validity of a single-site measurement at the biceps is questionable. Numerous sources report that more research is needed to substantiate the validity, accuracy and applicability of this method.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - An x-ray based method in which a magnetic field "excites" water and fat molecules in the body, producing a measurable signal. A person lies within the magnet as a computer scans the body. High-quality images show the amount of fat and where it is distributed. MRI takes about 30 minutes and is very safe as it uses no ionizing radiation, but use is limited due to the high cost of equipment and analysis.

Total Body Electrical Conductivity (TOBEC) - This method is based on lean tissue being a better conductor of electricity than fat. A person lies in a cylinder that generates a very weak electromagnetic field. The strength of the field depends on the electrolytes found in the person's body water. In about 10 seconds, TOBEC makes 10 conductivity readings that estimate lean body mass. Although very accurate, its use is limited due to the high cost of the equipment.

Computed Tomography (CT) -
CT produces cross-sectional scans of the body. An x-ray tube sends a beam of photons toward a detector. As the beam rotates around a person, data is collected, stored, and applied to complex algorithms to build images that determine body composition. CT is particularly useful in giving a ratio of intra-abdominal fat to extra-abdominal fat. It is noninvasive, but potential is limited by exposure to radiation and high equipment cost.

BOD POD (Air Displacement) -
Based on the same principle as underwater weighing, the BOD POD used computerized sensors to measure how much air is displaced while a person sits for 20 seconds in a capsule. It uses a calculation to determine body density, then estimated body fat. The equipment is very expensive and limited in availability.

BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance)
- The only method that is based on measuring something, not estimating anything, is Bio-Impedance measurement. Bio-Impedance is a means of measuring electrical signals as they pass through the fat, lean mass, and water in the body. Through laboratory research we know the actual impedance or conductivity of various tissues in the body, and we know that by measuring current between two electrodes and applying this information to complex proven scientific formulas accurate body composition can be determined. The fact that the measurement is based on a reading of lean mass and not an estimate of fat mass, lends to a much more comprehensive testing method and results.

Losing Weight Can Make You Fatter
"A" and "B" were the same height, weight and had the same percentage of body fat. Each lost 10 pounds over the same period of time. Although their weights are identical, "A" is now fatter. She simply cut calories, resulting in the loss of muscle tissue, meaning her percentage of body fat increased. By combining a low-carb diet with a program of exercises, "B" lost 10 lb. and her body fat dropped to 21%.

It's Important To Know Your Body Fat
It's not the amount of weight you have but the amount of body fat that's potentially dangerous to your health. Carrying too much body fat can increase your risk of developing serious health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Maintaining a healthy body fat percentage can reduce your risk and help prevent the onset of these conditions.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

CALORIES IN CALORIES OUT DEBUNKED - DAVID GILLESPIE

I came across this article on Calories In Calories Out, which is a particular interest of mine.  With thanks to David Gillespie.  Right click on the title below to visit David's blog.

The first law of thermodynamics says that energy can’t be created or destroyed. Many people (wrongly) think Sir Isaac Newton worked this one out, but it seems it was more likely a Welsh lawyer (score one for the lawyers!).

It’s a law about physical forces that unifies a lot of previous theories that related to heat and mechanical energy. In the nutrition and diet industry, it usually looks more like “energy in must equal energy out” or just “the energy balance equation”. They will even sometimes do an actual equation (I guess to make it look more scientific).

Weight Gain (Energy Balance) = Energy In (Food) – Energy Out (Exercise).

The First Law has been hijacked by the nutritionista because it kinda sounds like it should apply to dieting. As a result it is used more today in human nutrition than in any other domain of human endeavour. The First Law is quoted every time you watch or read any information on diet products, exercise or weight loss programs. And the government throws it your face even more regularly than that.

We are told the only way we can lose weight is to either consume less energy (calories) or burn more energy (by exercising). Fat has almost twice the calories per gram as protein or carbohydrate. This is why fat is often the target of calorie restriction hysteria. Gram for gram you can eat almost twice as much of a carbohydrate and not unbalance your equation. 

Sounds logical, right? And I guess that’s why this simple message has so much traction with advertisers

The only problem is that it is utter nonsense.

The First Law certainly says that when we gain weight there will be an accompanying increase in the number of calories consumed (or decrease in the number burned). It is an equation and in equations each side must equal the other, but that does not necessarily mean that increased calorie consumption causes the weight gain.
It is equally logical to say that gaining weight is the driving force in the equation. In other words, weight gain causes us to consume more calories. 

When a child grows they increase their body size and weight. These growth-hormone driven changes cause the child to consume more calories, not the other way around. Not even the most rabid nutritionist would suggest that feeding a 10 year old like an 18 year old would help you get past those awkward teenage years more quickly. 

Growth happens because our hormone clock says it should. Calorie consumption just keeps up (so that the energy balance stays, well, ... balanced). We are perfectly happy to explain the equation that way when we talk about people who grow vertically. We’re even happy to accept that pregnant women gain weight (other than the baby of course) because hormones tell their bodies to fill the baby-pantry.

Eating is the way we put on weight, it isn’t the reason we put on weight. When a car accelerates, it does so because it has access to more petrol. The petrol doesn’t cause the acceleration, but it does enable it.

But for some reason when Norm grows horizontally, causation is magically reversed. Nutritionists lurch from physics into psychiatry and the cause suddenly becomes laziness or sloth (or both).

Just like height gain, weight gain is caused by hormones, but this time it is hormonal dys-function. The fructose half of sugar causes us to become resistant to our main appetite suppression hormones (insulin and leptin). When this happens our appetite is not shut-down when it should be and we just keep eating. And just like a Toyota with a stuck accelerator, our weight accelerates out of control.

Once we understand that weight gain is caused by hormonal dysfunction (a stuck accelerator) many (previously) mysterious things become clear
.
A diet that asks you to consume less calories by exercising willpower is doomed to failure. Imagine how successful you’d be if you asked a child to exercise some willpower and stop growing. Fighting hormones with willpower is about as effective as paddling upstream with a barbed-wire paddle. Perhaps this is why the best indicator that you will be heavier in five years is being on a diet now.

Lap band surgery restricts the fuel supply without the need for willpower. It’s like clamping a fuel line in the car analogy. Less fuel gets through for a given squeeze of the accelerator. But our bodies are nothing if not adaptive, so they just ramp up the demand for calories (they push harder and longer on the accelerator). Perhaps this is why a lap-band driven ‘remission’ lasts only 10 years (at best).

Exercise burns so few calories that very few people can commit the time (or willpower) required for it to seriously affect energy balance. But even if they could, using more energy just increases the demand for energy (any gym junkie could tell you that). Lumberjacks eat more than office workers because they exercise more.

Diets, surgery and exercise do not affect the cause of weight gain (which is the hormonal dysfunction created by fructose) and so, they don’t work. Yet they remain the only targets of the billions spent ‘combating’ obesity in this country. All because the nutritionista hold true to a law of physics which has been misapplied to nutrition for the past 60 years.

When nutritionists first started guessing what made us fat, only one of the four major appetite hormones had been discovered. Then, it was (almost) acceptable to squeeze the square peg of a physics law into the round hole of human biochemistry. But those days are long gone and so too should be our tolerance for that kind of guesswork.

Many careers have been built on propagating this nonsense and there are many who will fight hard to protect it. But that should not be an excuse for inaction in the face of a human health disaster of truly epic proportions (pun intended).

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURMERIC

Mark's Daily apple has a great article on turmeric today:

It may not share cinnamon’s universal applicability to consumables, but turmeric is another spice with some powerful culinary and medicinal qualities that deserves our attention. Turmeric, known officially as Curcuma longa and historically as Indian saffron, is a rhizome of the ginger family. Its horizontal root system is dug up, baked, and ground into a fine orange powder, which then goes into any number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Southeast Asian dishes. Pretty much every curry you come across anywhere, for example, includes a generous portion of turmeric. Common yellow mustard also includes turmeric, mostly as a food colorant.


Turmeric imparts a unique flavor: slightly bitter and a bit spicy, with a mustard-like scent. Upon tasting a dab of turmeric powder by itself for the first time, one is reminded of curries and other Asian stews. It’s a bit of an “Aha!” moment, in fact; you’re finally direct witness to the identity of that secretive flavor lurking within the explosiveness of the common Asian curry after all those years of take out and home cooking with anonymous curry powder mixes. Turmeric itself is actually fairly mild and unassuming, so using it as a solitary spice won’t turn every dish into a curry bonanza – in case you were worried.

If you want to learn more about this wonderful spice and how to use it in your cooking, right click here.

36 YEARS AGO TODAY

It was on May 25, 1974 that I proposed to Bill and he said yes!  Five months later, we were married.  He was 30 and I was 18.  We are still married today, with no breaks.

And they said it would never last.  Well, at least that's what my father said...

VISIT TO THE HORMONE DOCTOR - I'M NOT HAPPY!

I went to see my anti-aging doctor today.  His name is Paul Savage, M.D., and his office, Vidabem, is in Chicago.  He is one of the doctors that was interviewed for the book Ageless by Suzanne Somers, the book that got me going in my quest to get my hormones balanced and lose weight.

One of the things that I do each visit is have my body composition checked.  Here are all my results for each time I have had it done:

February 25, 2009
Weight - 158 pounds
Body Fat - 46% - 72.7 pounds
Lean Mass - 54% - 85.3 pounds

April 1, 2009
Weight - 148.6 pounds
Body Fat - 42.9% - 63.7 pounds
Lean Mass - 57.1% - 84.9 pounds

This means that between February 25, 2009 and April 1, 2009, I lost 9 pounds of fat and I also lost 0.4 pounds of lean mass, which would include, muscle, bones, water and anything else that is not fat.

May 15, 2009
Weight - 145 pounds
Body Fat - 41.3% - 59.9 pounds
Lean Mass - 58.7% - 85.1 pounds

This means that between  April 1, 2009 and May 15, 2009, I lost 3.8 pounds of fat and I gained 0.2 pounds of lean mass.

August 21, 2009
Weight - 141.6 pounds
Body Fat - 35.2% - 49.8 pounds
Lean Mass - 64.8% - 91.8 pounds

This means that between  May 15, 2009 and August 21, 2009, I lost 10.1 pounds of fat and I gained 6.7 pounds of lean mass.  This was due to the fact that I had a testosterone implant, and I was working out at the gym, lifting weights.  During this time, I was also doing interval training on the treadmill, and going to Hatha Yoga twice per week.

January 20, 2010
Weight - 142.4 pounds
Body Fat - 38.3% - 54.5 pounds
Lean Mass - 61.7% - 87.9 pounds

This means that between August 21, 2009 and January 20, 2010, I gained 4.7 pounds of fat and I lost 3.9 pounds of lean mass.  This was due to the fact that I had stopped the testosterone implant and had started cream instead, and it did not work for me.  And due to the fact that I was getting no testosterone, I could no longer lift weights at the gym.  My strength was waning so much that I finally gave up all exercise altogether in October 2009.

What many people do not know is that in the absence of testosterone, muscle cannot be increased, and will decrease over time.  And the less muscle you have to burn energy, the more fat you will store.  So having low testosterone makes you lose muscle and gain fat, even if your weight is staying the same.  I can remember many times in the past when I have joined gyms and worked out like crazy, and tried to lift weights, and never got any results.  Now I know why that happened.  The lower my testosterone got, the more muscle I lost and the more fat I gained.

Here are my results for today, which is why I am so unhappy:

May 25, 2010

Weight - 139 pounds
Body Fat - 40.1% - 55.7 pounds
Lean Mass - 59.9% - 83.3 pounds

This means that between January 20, 2010 and May 25, 2010, I gained 1.2 pounds of fat and I lost 4.6 pounds of lean mass.

In this time span, I have only gone to the gym six times, and that was in the first two weeks of March.  I had gotten my testosterone implant again in January, but I went on vacation soon after that, and as soon as I got back, I started going to the gym again.  But in the third week of March, I became very ill and ended up having surgery on April 13, 2010, and I have been recovering since then.  I am just now at the point in my recovery where I can go back and start lifting weights again, which I plan to do next week, when my incision is healed.

I asked the doctor why I lost so much muscle recently, and he said it was because of the surgery and having done no activity for four months.  He said that even with the surgery itself, the trauma of it and the narcotics will eat up muscle.  Basically, the body starts canabalizing itself, conserving fat and burning muscle for fuel.

So between the time I started on February 25, 2009 and today, I have lost 17 pounds of fat and 2 pounds of lean mass.  So although I have lost fat, and that's good, all the muscle that I gained last summer is gone, and I have to start all over again.

My doctor wants me to weight 123.7 pounds and have 23% body fat.  My personal goals are not that low - if I can get down to 130 pounds with 25% body fat, I will be happy.  But in order to accomplish that goal, I will have to:

Lose 23.2 more pounds of fat and gain 14.2 pounds of muscle.

This seems like a pretty big undertaking for me.  I am very discouraged.  Even if I could lose the fat, putting on 14.2 pounds of muscle will take 10 months at the shortest, at 1.5 pounds of muscle per month, and could take 14 months or longer, putting on 1 pound or less per month.

I guess I have to just commit myself to getting the exercise I need, and take it a week at a time.  Starting this Friday, when I am healed from my implant, I will go back to the gym three times per week.  I go back to the doctor on October 5th, so we will see how much progress I have made.

On the bright side, all of my hormone tests came back good.  My testosterone level is good, and so are my symptoms, so no change in dosage there. The progesterone is a little high if anything, and my symptoms are good, so the doctor wants to keep that dosage the same, and may even reduce it a little bit next time, based on new test results and my symptoms.  I am still hypothyroid, with a low body temperature and slow weight loss, so he has increased my thyroid dosage.  I will be curious to see if that changes anything, as far as weight loss goes.

On a personal note, Dr. Savage wants to display something in his office that says I am one of the success stories in the new Atkins book, and he also wants to put my morphing weight loss Youtube video on his new website.  That will be cool!  I told him I would mention him on Jimmy Moore's show next week.

All in all, not a great visit.  After I left there, I went shopping, and the store had samples of mini chocolate cupcakes.  I was so mad, I ate one!  Of course, I regretted it after the first bite, but I finished it anyway.

Monday, May 24, 2010

SLIPPED AND ATE OFF PLAN? DON'T PANIC! WORDS OF WISDOM FROM MARK SISSON

Look, I make no bones about the fact that the Primal Blueprint plan is technically a restrictive one. Since we're restricting only harmful or unnecessary foods and exercises, though, I'm also not apologizing for it. And since you've obviously gone out of your way to receive this PB Insider, you're at least interested in what these restrictions can mean for your life and health.

The thing about restrictions is that people don't always pay attention to them, even when they know they'd be better off doing so - and especially when the things being restricted are cultural or dietary staples that we encounter on a daily basis. I liken it to a reformed heroin user vacationing in Amsterdam's Red Light District: temptation abounds. Processed "food" is just as prevalent everywhere we go and it's even easier to give in. Your body may reject grains, sugar, and vegetable oils (oftentimes manifested in a physical revulsion), whereas the junkie still physically craves the needle, but social convention and our intense fear of awkward moments between friends or coworkers (or bosses!) can overpower our intellectual and corporeal rejection of such foods. Imagine your temperamental supervisor goes out of the way to buy you an ice cream cake for your birthday... are you really going to turn down a slice?

Restrictive regimens invariably create issues for certain people. Issues like guilt, food obsession, and mania can rear their heads when someone slips up and eats the wrong thing. Even though physical or metabolic health isn't really impacted much from that single, isolated event, a person's psychological health can really suffer.

And yes, even with the PB, people have these issues. I know, because I get emails and I notice this sentiment throughout the forum and on other blogs. You eat a piece of bread at dinner and freak out to the point of being unable to enjoy your grass-fed ribeye. You eat that proffered slice of cake (because, who knows, a promotion might hang in the balance) and feel like you undid weeks of solid Primal eating.

Just realize that the Primal Laws aren't enforced by pain of death or injury. They are guidelines - solid guidelines that you should follow for optimum health - but they aren't uncompromising. You aren't living in the Edenic grasslands of Eastern Africa. It's not a Primal paradise out there. You aren't actually Grok. If you mess up and eat a piece of bread or accidentally run a marathon, it's totally fine and even expected! We all make momentary compromises in life. Hell, part of being human is "messing up" and rolling with the punches. To deny that basic inherency in pursuit of absolute 100% unrealistic perfection can actually be worse than giving in occasionally.

Don't panic! Relax, and remember that an unofficial Primal precept is the 80/20 principle. 100% is great and all, but not everyone can, or even wants to, achieve it. Going 80% of the way is pretty damn good, and anything is better than 100% SAD. You might even say that compromise is part of the Primal Blueprint.

In those pre-dinner times of yeasty, bready weakness, just make sure you maintain a 1:1 bread:butter ratio. And keep them few and far between. But above all, don't panic! We've had people undo decades of metabolically destructive eating and exercising in mere months on the Primal path. There's no way a single meal of restricted foods throws you off. Just stay calm and get back on the horse. This isn't a crash diet designed to "shock" your body. There will be plateaus along with the descents, and for some, results come more slowly or gradually.

But results will come - mark my words - and slipping up once or twice won't really influence when or how they arrive.

Don't panic!