Is rapid fat loss possible with very low fat/very high carb diet?

The biology says YES.

As long as it’s a nutrient dense whole foods diet that you are consuming, it’ll make it that much easier. (keeps you from being hungry. There’s hormones at play here too. A lot more going on than meets the eye)

But, here’s the kicker. Dietary fat MUST be extremely low, or ZERO.

Pancreatic beta cells require fat to produce the insulin necessary to regulate blood glucose. Loading up on glucose, with no or very little fat, and the fat to produce the insulin necessary to deal with the glucose is forced out of your fat cells.

Now you can do this the conventional wisdom way, and basically feel like you’re starving all the time, or you can do it the Paleo way, and avoid those feelings all together.

Check out the very detailed post at Hyperlipid. Tough to understand, but I got the gyst of it. If you feel like getting into the nitty-gritty details, I suggest you read that post a few times. (That’s about how long it took me, hahaah)

So. Eat only potatoes and no fat for a while to get that 6-pack?

Potatoes have a very low glycemic load, meaning they slowly release a gentle stream of glucose throughout the day as they digest. They’re also loaded with just the right amino acid profile to spare muscle mass. There’s a ton of other good micronutrients in there too. I mean, you can basically live off of potatoes alone….

Maybe worth a try once spring comes around…. Meh, we’ll see if I can work my courage up to go all out on that one. HAH!

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No Magic Pills, Weight Loss Shakes, or Shortcuts

There are no shortcuts to losing weight and staying in shape.

You can’t take a synthetic-vitamin laden protein shake every day, eat whateverthehell you want afterward, and expect to lose weight permanently. That’s not a long term solution.

You can’t take a magic pill to speed up your metabolism and burn the fat off without exercise. It won’t work in the long run. Your body adjusts and builds tolerance.

The nutrients your body needs are in whole foods from animals, fruits and vegetables, not in some once-a-day protein shake that claims to magically burn off the excess fat you’ve accumulated over years of poor diet and laziness. If you’re eating whole, unprocessed foods, you won’t be hungry unnecessarily. You’ll be full for longer periods. There’s no need to put money in anyone’s pocket who claims that their snake-oil will cure your every ailment.

But of course you want the easy answer, the easy way out. No one wants to hear the hard-truth that YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE to get meaningful, long lasting, permanent changes to your health and weight.

There’s no shortcut to losing weight and being fit your entire life. It takes dedication and hard work. You have to lift weights and eat lots of *healthy* animals. For your entire life. That’s the hard truth.

Of course, you don’t have to listen to me. You can take the “easy” way out. Have fun with that forever fluctuating body weight.

Saturated fat: A necessary component for health.

Sally Fallon Morrell of the Weston A. Price Foundation shared the following in a speech in 2010: (source – http://www.westonaprice.org/mentalemotional-health/nutrition-and-mental-development)

Now, if we look at the fats in the brain, the two major fats are saturated fat and a fat called arachidonic acid.  But we’re not supposed to eat saturated fats, right?  Yet saturated fats like butter, meat fats, lard, and coconut oil are the kinds of fats your brain wants and needs.  And if you don’t eat those fats, your body says, “Well, give me that next best thing:  refined carbohydrates.”  Your body can make saturated fats out of refined carbohydrates.  And that’s how people get cravings for refined carbohydrates – especially pregnant women and growing children.  Unfortunately, eating refined carbohydrates robs the body of nutrients, while natural saturated animal fats provide some very important nutrients.

The other really interesting fat in the brain is arachidonic acid.  Arachidonic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that is only in animal fats, such as in butter, egg yolks, organ meats, and meat fats.  Like saturated fats, arachidonic acid has been the victim of demonization.”

And what happens when the brain is deprived of its preferred fuel?  Ms. Morrell tell us in the same speech:
“Today the horrible condition called autism – along with other manifestation of brain starvation such as learning disorders, mental problems, inability to concentrate, behavior problems, violence, addiction and mental retardation threaten the fabric of our culture.

I’m not going to mince words here.  These problems are the direct result of the dietary guidelines coming out of the Department of Agriculture since the early 1980’s,…

You need ’em, so EAT ‘EM!

ANIMALS YUM!!!!

Paleo diet wins races!

A low-carb, high-fat Paleo dieter just won the Western States 100, an ultramarathon through the Sierra Nevadas.

…somewhere in those final 15 miles, Tim Olson opened up an an additional 15 minute gap between himself and all the other runners.  That means, after running 85 miles, he was able to put on a burst of speed at the end of the race, and he finished 15 minutes ahead of his next closest competitor.

Tim Olson finished 15 minutes ahead?

STEVE PHINNEY:  Yes, but more importantly he knocked 21 minutes off the overall time course record.

He beat the course record by 21 minutes! 

STEVE PHINNEY:  That’s correct.  This is all on a low-carb high-fat diet with relatively little of what people call in-race calories.

 

The most obvious reason veganism is not good for long term health

Just a little note about a very crucial, yet often overlooked or downplayed nutrient. Vitamin B12…

Vegans often have to supplement B12, a dead giveaway that veganism is not really the “ideal” or “natural” diet, in terms of being the healthiest human you can be. It’s more like a religion. So here’s an excerpt from Raw Food SOS I thought was worth digging up…

“…I’d like to think this would be pretty obvious by now, but there are some lingering vegan authorities who seem to underplay the B-12 issue or even deny it altogether. Even “The China Study” makes B12 seem like small potatoes, when T. Colin Campbell writes: “If you do not eat any animal products for three years or more, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consider taking a small B12 supplement on occasion.” This is sort of scary, since virtually every study conducted on the subject shows that vegans experience much higher rates of B12 deficiency than omnivores or vegetarians and have elevated homocysteine as a result (which increases blood clotting and raises your risk of heart disease). In fact, low B12 and high homocysteine probably contributed to the early demise of prominent vegans like H. Jay Dinshah and T. C. Fry (PDF).

Especially if you’re avoiding processed vegan foods (which are often fortified with vitamin B12), you’ll need to find a supplement and take it consistently, since there are really no reliable dietary sources of B12 for vegans. (Algae like spirulina, often rumored to contain B12, only has B12 analogues that won’t actually improve your B12 status.)…”

Do high protein diets leach calcium from the bones?

Acidosis. Acid-base diets. Veg*an pseudo science. All garbage.

Pretty much all the evidence points to increased bone health with high protein diets.

Here’s where this mystery comes from.

First observed in 1920, HC Sherman found that people who eat high-protein diets tend to excrete more calcium in their urine. Since then, over 25 trials have been published showing that increasing dietary protein does increase urinary calcium. 

But, you ask, why do urinary levels of calcium increase on a high protein diet? Doesn’t that mean that the acid-producing diet from all that evil animal protein is leaching calcium from my boes? Shouldn’t I switch to a base-producing diet and ditch all the animal stuff? I’m soooo confusded!

Not so fast, buddy-boo. This doesn’t even begin to explain what’s going on.

So, if high protein diets increase bone loss, howcome all these hunter-gatherer societies with traditional high protein diets actually show no signs of bone loss, and often appear immune to tooth decay, even when they don’t clean their teeth?

Studies looking at the Inuit found nearly complete immunity to tooth decay so long as they were eating their native diet, but also a remarkable degree of muscular and skeletal perfection rarely seen among other peoples.  When they began eating modern refined foods, the Inuit suffered rapid development of tooth decay and general physical degeneration.

Are you even more confused now? Don’t worry, big Dan’s here to make it all nice ‘n’ easy for ya to comprehend!

There are a number of intervention studies that show that high protein diets result in the slowest bone loss and fracture rates over time. Very cool. Now we can start to understand the cause and effect relationships!

Intervention trials such as this one published by a group led by Bess Dawson-Hughes of Tufts University shows that protein intakes far beyond the minimal requirement actually improve bone health. After nine weeks, the group consuming extra protein had lower levels of bone turnover and higher bone mineral density.

This group of studies conducted by Jane Kerstetter’s group at the University of Connecticut showed that an even larger increase in dietary protein increased urinary calcium, but not by leaching it from bone.  Instead, they found that consuming more protein increased calcium absorption from the intestines.

This makes sense now! More calcium is being absorbed into circulation. It’s not coming out of your bones. They are still researching the mechanism that causes this, but the story remains the same. More calcium absorbed = more in circulation = more calcium that may, or may not be used by the body = more calcium in the urine.

But, a caveat to this. You need to also have an adequate intake of vitamins from animal sources to actually utilize that calcium. Enter, vitamin K. It’s the activator vitamin that makes sure calcium gets to your bones, teeth, and other good places. It also makes sure calcium stays out of the bad places, like your arteries.

A lack of vitamin K due to animal deficient diets has been shown to result in poor bone and teeth health, and cardiovascular problems with calcification of the arteries. Yikes.

Where do you get lots of bioavailable vitamin K? Grass fed butter and liver are like the best sources ever. Also cod liver or cod liver oil. The news gets better, wait wait hold on. It’s really getting good now. These foods also have tons of A and D and B and stuff! Woah like crazy man! Liver is a super food!

See, vitamin K is vitally important. Weston Price found that giving people with tooth decay cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil from grass fed cows, actually reversed their tooth decay! Whaaaaat?!? Yah for realz! Google that shit!

One more thing! Don’t go yet! The increased utilization of calcium with high protein diets is also one more reason you don’t need to drink all that milk. Blech! As long as you get lots of vitamin and protein rich animal foods in ya, and plenty of calcium rich green veggies, you’ll be golden!

Frakking cool dude! Eat more meat. And butter. And yah, tons of it. Your bones, and your muscles, will thank you!

~ Dan

Self Experimentation. Beating dead horses.

I just can’t help myself. I love to beat a dead horse.

Well, apart from the obvious reasons [1, 2, 3, and 4] to avoid grains, here’s just one more nail in the coffin, just to demonstrate the far superior nature of whole foods and animal foods. (I kind of did this in a previous post about calories, but I honestly don’t give a crepe. hehe.)

(You can click the images for a better look)

Here’s the so called glorious benefits from a bunch of bread slices. The whole grain “good stuff”. Notice where the 100% bar is, where the arrow is pointing.

Now compare that to just some beef liver. A little tiny bit.

Or, we can look at some eggs, just for fun.

Or, how bout some spinach to round out the meal.

You see? No wonder the bread doesn’t  keep you from gettin’ hungry! But only a tiny tiny amount, a few ounces of beef liver, has tons more stuff in it! The best part? You can mix it in with ground beef if you don’t prefer the taste, and never even know it’s there!

Now, time for some self experimentation…

I want you non-believers. You bread-eaters. Who love it so damn much you just can’t bare to give it up. You keep making your excuses, I’ll keep staying healthy and strong. I want you to eat nothing but grains for a couple weeks.

I dare you.

Then tell me how healthy and strong you feel…

Right, and I’ll sit back and eat nothing but grass fed beef liver…

Who do you think will make it out alive? I’ll give you a guess!

Another thing I almost forgot to add…

That’s why it’s so damn difficult to be truly healthy on a vegetarian diet. You have to eat huge volumes of food just to keep up with us meat eaters! It’s hugely inconvenient, and most people don’t even know this. I mean, look at the nutrient profile for most plants, they still pale in comparison to most animal prducts! The average SAD-dieter-turned-veggie-eater will simply eat the same amounts they always have, but will slowly but surely start to become weaker, and more tired, and just less healthy. It’s true, lots of vegetarians have nutrient deficiencies, especially vitamin B!

Not only do you have to eat a ton, especially children, but it’s nearly impossible to do intermittent fasting successfully! That means little or no autophagy! You know, that little neat process our cells use to clean and detoxify the body? Autophagy is really necessary for total health to an extent, but it does not happen if you’re eating all the time!

~ Dan

How does fat make you fat?

For most foods to make you gain excess body fat, you have to over eat them.

Saturated fat is your body’s natural storage form for excess energy. You were designed that way, over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. Excess food, from sugar, carbs, fat, and even some protein, gets stored as saturated fat, because it’s what your body likes to burn.

So, what causes us to over eat fats, or anything for that matter?

One proposed cause has to do with nutrient density. Eating nutrient void foods may fill you up temporarily in the tummy, but due to their lack of useable vitamins, minerals, proteins, or whatever, you tend to become more hungry more often. This makes you eat more. And let’s face it, it’s probably more of the same stuff you ate before.

What types of fats are void of nutrients, and would tend to make us over eat them?

Unsatrated and hydrogenated fats from vegetable oils (the industrially processed kind, the kind we cook and deep fry with, and use as an additive in most packaged foods) are guilty of this. They contain little or no vital nutrients for your body. These are the unhealthy fattening fats you want to avoid. Not to mention, they oxidize very easily, causing systemmic inflammation, and therefore many modern degenerative diseases.

Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated (yes even trans) fats, from naturally raised animal and plant sources that are unprocessed and unadulterated, contain many vital nutrients that your body needs, including fat soluble vitamins and minerals that you can’t get in a pill or supplement. There are in fact hundreds of different types of vitamins A, D, B, E, and K, all found in natural animal sources, and all that do something a little bit different in your body! None of these types can be supplemented, because most of them have barely even been discovered yet, let alone synthesized. And usually, the synthetic forms of vitamins don’t even do what they’re supposed to! (see: Folic Acid)

Due to this healthful nature of natural fats, it is much harder to over eat them, because you are kept sated for longer. These types of fats are also near impossible to oxidize. Even the more easily oxidized polyunsaturated fats come pre-packaged in natural form with antioxidants! Brilliant!

Conveniently, one of the most filling factors in natural fat rich foods is protein. Protein also keeps you from getting hungry. And complete proteins are necessary for building and maintaining everything in your body. What a two-for-one deal we get here! How can you go wrong? Eggsandbacon eggsandbacon!

How convenient, that mother nature put all this good stuff in nice natural healthy little units called animals. And we can eat ’em too!?!! omfg!!

You may also want to read here about food reward and how that tricks our bodies to over eat!

Now what about this inflammation nonsense?

Chronic and systemmic inflammation has also been shown to cause excessive fat gain. How does this happen?

Inflammation confuses your normal systems, and causes a disregulation of your healthy body fat regulating devices. One system of note is the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls metabolism, nutrient uptake and expenditure, and hormones. Chronic inflammation throws it all outta whack, so your key hunger and body fat regulating hormones also get outta whack. We’re talkin’ about leptin, insulin, ghrelin, and a whole bunch of others you may not have even heard of!

Now we’re gettin’ into what causes insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and stuff. Too much sugar in the diet, and other inflammatory foods like easily oxidized processed fats and grains, causes a whole lotta systemmic inflammation. An unhappy hypothalamus indeed!

See? Where would you be without me, making all this stuff so easy to understand?

So, we’ve talked about nutrient density, and we talked about inflammation. Is there anything else I’m missing?

Ah yes. A lack of dietary fats, the healthy, natural, unprocessed kind, can make it more difficult for your body to burn off excess body fat. So again, it seems it’s in your best interest to ditch the margarine and canola oil, and pick up them ribs baby!

We in America have a chronic unnatural avoidance of dietary fats, which leaves our natural fat burning mechanisms out of practice! If you want to burn of excess body fat, you need to train your mitochondria how to burn it primarily for energy. It is what they want, after all! So you need to eat a range of healthy natural unprocessed fats, while avoiding the industrial ones, and avoiding nutrient void crap foods like Oreos ‘n’ stuff. Once you stop burning mostly sugar for energy, your mitochondria will by happy to burn mostly fat, and you’ll be happy too, because fat metabolism creates less free radicals! Cool Beans!

Oh yah, walking around a lot and lifting heavy things also trains your body to burn fat primarily for energy, instead of sugar. Bonus!

Still not convinced? Still think there’s too many calories in fat? You really should read this post here: You wanna talk calories? Lets talk calories.

Cutting out all the excess garbage, and eating only whole real natural foods will get your inflammation down, your fat burning mechanisms practiced and in place, and will make sure you aren’t hungry or tempted to over eat! See how easy this is? It’s super stoneage common sense!

Oh yah, I almost forgot! (how could you let me forget?) Atherosclerosis and heart disease is now widely recognized as an inflammatory disease, which means cholesterol is off the hook! woohoo! Read about it here.

Get Stoneage!

~ Dan

Time to jump off the conventional diet bandwagon. Then burn the wagon!

I talk to a lot of people about food and working out. It comes up all the time, no matter where you are.

And I’m not afraid to give people crap for feeding themselves poison.

I’m also not afraid to tell people what I think about conventional dieting or traditional “womens workouts” versus “mens workouts”. I don’t bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE food. I love eating (see? link, link). I love the food I cook. It’s delicious. It makes me feel really good. And I don’t have to eat all the time to enjoy myself. So I save money too!

Now to the meat of the issue (mmmm. meat!)

Conventional dieting doesn’t produce the right results. It doesn’t optimize health quite like a nutrient dense Paleo diet does. Conventional dieting also, for the most part especially where women are concerned (and I think they are the biggest victims of this) doesn’t advocate heavy weight lifting or the importance of lean muscle mass for long term health. Just. Look. Around.

To demonstrate what I mean I need pictures. So here’s some before/afters.

Well, they lost weight. That’s all well and good if your aim is to be nothing but skinny

For comparison, here’s a couple of examples of the proper way to do things. 

Ah, much better. Not only do these gals have great body composition and shape through attaining more muscle, but they set themselves up to maintan the good looks and optimal health for the long haul, as I’ve written about before, [here] and [here].

Note: I’m not advocating that a six pack for women is necessary. On the contrary, once women go below a certain BF% it can have deleterious health consequences, like no period or thyroid problems. 

It’s the overall picture we’re looking at, including the ability to lift heavy shit over your head! That’s phat! (and functional). Not just for the mechanical advantage it provides, but for the massive health advantage it provides.

In the first photo of the conventional calorie-cutters you’ll notice a few things right off the bat. There’s no definition. No real “figure”. Just kind of “stick figure”. Their skin kind of hangs there with no supporting background. No sense of that person being a strong, capable human being for a long long time. They have successfully attained a lower level of obesity.

If losing weight per se is your goal, you performed perfectly in this scenario. It’s a shame that this is the mainstream goal for women stuck following the conventional weight loss guidelines.

Why do women get treated so much differently in this regard? It puts them at such a disadvantage right from the get-go. The magazine bodies they oh-so hope to attain are unattainable via the conventional methods!

You see, we need to get away from the weight loss convention, and change the way we think. We need to think in terms of muscle first, in order to get rid of the excess fat, and keep it off.

Let’s do a Google image search for Weight Watchers results. Go ahead, click on it. Yes, there are a lot of good looking folks who made a lot of difference. But they just aren’t completely there yet. And chances are, since cutting calories per se, and starving yourself isn’t sustainable, ever, most of these folks will bounce back after they stop dieting. A compounding factor to that bounce-back is their lack of lean muscle, which, as I’ve written about before, [here] and [here] is vitally important to maintaining healthy weight, and providing the foundation for long term health and human ability.

How did the gals in the bottom photo do it?

A combination of eating only nutrient dense real food (i.e. Paleo diet) and lifting heavy weights (Crossfit for example). A quick Google image search reveals many many good looking people who crossfit. Everyone improves composition from the intense heavy lifting, but you see a combination effect as soon as Paleo diet is followed concurrently.

And a site I like to frequent, Mark’s Daily Apple. Here’s a plethora of success stories of Paleo dieters who lift heavy things. Even those people who chose not to lift heavy things have a better body composition than those conventional calorie-cutters above. Know why? 80% of body composition is determined by diet! Want more icing on the cake? Look how many of them are over the age of 50! Then look how many of them also cured their chronic health problems! I don’t know about you, but I fail to see an equivalent track record from Weight Watchers or anything similar.

A few seconds of looking at those photos, and you quickly realize that almost everyone else has been doing it all wrong.

For the love of Paleo! we gotta stop treating men’s and women’s health as different entities. We should all train equally hard and eat real nutrient dense food! It’s the only way.

If you care about your long term health, and want to optimize your life, don’t sell yourself short by looking for a quick-fix. Paleo is for life, because it’s sustainable for life. Same goes for lifting heavy weights. Muscle mass does not decline as a function of aging, it declines as a function of dis-use! THINK ABOUT IT!

~ Dan

How many “carbs” do you need?

Hot topic alert! Everyone talks about messin’ around with macronutrient ratios. Although I consider myself a perfectionist, I don’t really bother counting macros. I let my body tell me what it wants.

Paleo kinda fixes your body’s natural craving/reward mechanisms. You only get hungry when you actually need food, and you crave what you need. A big fat steak for protein and fat right after your workout? Get those fat soluble vitamins too! Maybe just some fat? I’ll take some coconut! Craving some fruit or veggies grilled in butter? Yes please. Low on energy? Nuts, coconut milk, eggs, or some other rich fat source hooks me up.

Carbs are a more difficult question. It depends on a lot. Are you new to Paleo? Are your energy levels chronically low? Do they fluctuate wildly? Or do you just crash at the end of the day? How do you feel when you eat more carbs compared to when you eat none? Do you want to lose fat or train for a marathon? How do your clothes fit? Does weight fluctuate with carb intake? What’s your daily activity level look like? There’s a lot to the picture.

Your body doesn’t actually need any carbs at all. The small amount of glucose required for brain function can be produced in other ways, like gluconeogenesis through the liver. The rest of the time it would rather run on ketones. Your heart runs exclusively on fatty acids (Which makes it odd, how the argument to avoid fats for heart health all together is still even uttered). I mean, natural unprocessed fat’s good for you, and cholesterol is good for you! They’re absolutely necessary for long term health and fitness!

If you’re new to Paleo, it’s best to get your body sorted out by keeping carbs low, around 60g for a few weeks. This will quickly get you fat-adapted, (instead of relying on cheap, empty carb snacks all day long, which make you crash, make energy levels fluctuate wildly, and don’t give you anything your body needs). At the same time you’re going to jack up the healthy fat intake, which provides a much longer lasting, cleaner burning energy source. Becoming fat adaped also allows your body to release more of its own fat stores. Mobilizing adipose tisse for energy is awesome! Protein should always stay relatively high in priority, especially if you are active. You better be active!

Once you’ve got that sorted, you can gradually add back Paleo friendly carb sources. Starchy tubers, fruit, etc. See how you feel.

Another thing is to tie carbs to activity level. If you are training for a marathon, you’re going to be consuming somewhere around the hundreds. Probably not over 150 grams max on your highest days. I also suggest looking into How To Fuel A Marathon, “Train Low, Race High”, as well as this series on High Fat Diets For Cyclists. If you just go to the gym a few times per week, you can still keep carbs in the 60’s. You can also bring them up into the 100’s on or before a HIIT day.

Again, check how you feel. If things are moving along nice ‘n’ smooth, and you feel steady energy all day long, I see no reason to adjust anything.

If you’re goal is fat loss, keep carbs to 60-ish grams a day or less, until you reach a lower body fat level, hen you can start adding some back if you want. If you already feel great, why change at all? Some people can handle more carbs and still lose weight. Some can’t handle any at all. You really need to just track your progress to figure out what works for you.

The reason we’re cutting out grains and sugars as carb sources is because they just contain a lot of empty glucose-calories, without any of the vital nutrients our bodies need. So even though you ate some calories, you’re just gonna get hungry again in a couple hours when your body goes “hey, I still need my complete proteins and fats with all those fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K!” That premature hunger signal just causes you to overeat and get fat, even more so if you live a sedentary lifestyle. Plus grains and sugar cause chronic inflmmation, which really does not bode well for our long term health!

Get stoneage!

~Dan

High levels of vitamin A similar results to taking testosterone

Written by Chris Masterjohn   
December 13 2004
The dense forest of bodybuilding nutrition contains a paradox: the quantity of information available is abundant, but the wisdom of traditional diets to satisfy the primary concerns of bodybuilders is sparse and hard to find. Typical recommendations include very low-fat diets rich in protein foods like salmon and chicken.

You will search in vain through mainstream men’s health magazines to find so much as a mention of the importance of vitamin A to bodybuilding. Yet this nutrient is essential to muscle-building and may be the bodybuilder’s most potent weapon. Vitamin A is necessary for the utilization of protein and the production of testosterone and other growth factors. In fact, one human study, discussed below, found the administration of vitamin A and iron to have results equivalent to the administration of testosterone itself. Rather than advocating the consumption of vitamin-A rich foods such as liver and natural food-based supplements such as cod liver oil, mainstream men’s health writers are advocating diets very high in protein, which deplete vitamin A reserves, leaving one to wonder whether the athletes who resort to over-the-counter steroid supplements might be able to achieve similar results by consuming a traditional diet, rich in vitamin A.

Vitamin A and Testosterone

Abundant animal research indicates the importance of vitamin A to the production of testosterone. Vitamin A crosses the blood-testis barrier in its alcohol form as retinol, where it is stored in the Sertoli cells and converted as needed to its more biologically active form, retinoic acid. Experiments with rats show that greater concentrations of vitamin A in the testes increase basal testosterone secretion, as well as transferrin, which is responsible for the transport of iron; and a variety of growth factors including IGF-binding protein 4 (which transports IGF), androgen-binding protein (which transports androgens), transforming growth factor-beta (which causes cell growth but suppresses cancer) and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (which is responsible for the transport of cholesterol into the mitochondria for its conversion to steroids). Vitamin A also decreases estrogen production in the male testes. Rats that are deficient in vitamin A experience decreased testosterone until the accessory sex organs atrophy, indicating that vitamin A not only aids in, but is essential to, testosterone production.1

One experiment using guinea pigs, which corroborates the many experiments done with rats, found a decrease in plasma testosterone associated with a deficiency in vitamin A.2 A human study comparing the dietary intakes of 155 pairs of male twins found a correlation between testosterone levels and vitamin A intake.3

The most compelling study is one that assigned 102 teenage boys with short stature and delayed puberty into four groups: a control, a testosterone-supplemented group, a vitamin A- and iron-supplemented group, and a group that received both testosterone and the nutritional supplementation. All treatments were effective in inducing growth and puberty, whereas the control group did not gain weight or begin puberty in the same period of time. What is most amazing is that the degree of growth acceleration was similar in the testosterone-treated group and the vitamin A-treated group. Pubertal onset occurred in 9-12 months in the testosterone group, and by 12 months in the vitamin-A group.4

This study suggests two things. The first is that the growth problems these boys experienced could have been avoided if their parents only had known the importance of serving a meal with liver on a weekly basis, as liver is very rich in both vitamin A and iron. The second is that, with equivalent hard work and dedication, athletes and body builders may be able to achieve similar results from their training by taking high-vitamin cod liver oil and eating foods rich in vitamin A on a regular basis as others receive from the common practice of supplementing with testosterone precursors.

Vitamin A and Prostate Cancer

Although some researchers have expressed concern that androgens such as testosterone may be involved in the etiology of prostate cancer, from vitamin A we can expect only more good news. Scientists in one controlled study administered doses of cyproterone acetate, an anti-androgen, and testosterone proprionate, to rats, followed by N-methyl-N-nitrosourea, a carcinogen, with one group treated with large doses of vitamin A. The incidence of prostate cancer in the group not treated with vitamin A was 65 percent, while only 18 percent and 20 percent of vitamin A-treated rats experienced dorsolateral and anterior prostate cancer, respectively.5

Vitamin A and Protein Utilization

The utilization of protein requires vitamin A. Several animal studies have shown that liver reserves of vitamin A are depleted by a high dietary intake of protein, while vitamin A increases in non-liver tissues. One explanation for this is that adequate protein is necessary for vitamin A transport. In one study researchers fed radioactively-labeled vitamin A to rats on low-protein and high-protein diets, using the amount of radioactivity present in exhaled gases, urine and feces as a measure of the metabolism of vitamin A, and found that vitamin A is indeed used at a higher rate on a high-protein diet.6

Vitamin A is not only depleted by a high intake of protein, but it is also necessary for the synthesis of new protein, which is the goal of the bodybuilder. Rats fed diets deficient in vitamin A synthesize protein at a lower rate than rats fed adequate vitamin A.7 Cultured skeletal muscle cells increase the amount of protein per cell when exposed to vitamin A and D, but not when exposed to vitamin D alone.8

Eat Your Liver

Bodybuilders and other athletes interested in gaining muscle have an interest in boosting their levels of testosterone and other growth factors and maximizing their utilization of protein and its incorporation into muscle cells. Typical recommendations usually include very high amounts of protein, but exclude foods like liver that are high in vitamin A, and low-fat recommendations all but banish vitamin A entirely from the diet by excluding foods such as full-fat milk. The combination of a high-protein diet that depletes vitamin A and a low-fat diet that fails to provide vitamin A is a clear recipe for deficiency of this vital nutrient. Exercises that elicit a high demand for testosterone, such as squats and deadlifts, are often recommended for muscle growth, but without vitamin A the body cannot meet that demand for testosterone. It’s high time for athletes to forget the modern mantras and remember the dietary wisdom of the past, achieving a lean, muscular physique through traditional foods such as liver, egg yolks, full-fat milk, butter from grass-fed cows and cod liver oil.

Editor’s Note: Many health conscious individuals avoid cod liver oil and other foods rich in vitamin A because of concerns about vitamin A toxicity. Yet, according to the Merck Manual, vitamin A poisoning is rare. In adults, vitamin A toxicity has been reported in Arctic explorers who developed drowsiness, irritability, headaches and vomiting, with subsequent peeling of the skin, within a few hours of ingesting several million units of vitamin A from polar bear or seal liver. These symptoms cleared up with discontinuation of the vitamin A rich food. Other than this unusual example, however, only vitamin A from “megavitamin tablets containing vitamin A. . . when taken for a long time” has induced acute toxicity, that is, 100,000 IU synthetic vitamin A per day taken for many months. Unless you are an Arctic explorer, it is very difficult to develop vitamin A toxicity from food. The putative toxic dose of 100,000 IU per day would be contained in 3 tablespoons of high vitamin cod liver oil, 6 tablespoons of regular cod liver oil, two-and-one-half 100-gram servings of duck liver, 150 grams of beef liver, seven pounds of butter or 309 egg yolks. Bodybuilders undergoing strenuous exercise can consume even higher amounts without adverse effects. For further information see “Vitamin A Saga.”

REFERENCES

  1. Livera, et al., “Regulation and Perturbation of Testicular Functions by Vitamin A” (Review), Reproduction(2002) 124, 173-180
  2. Nayyar, et. al., “Alterations in binding characteristics of peripheral benzodiazepine receptors in testes by vitamin A deficiency in guinea pigs,” Mol Cell Biochem. 2000 Aug;211(1-2):47-50
  3. Bishop, et. al., “The effect of nutritional factors on sex hormone levels in male twins,” Genet Epidemiol. 1988;5(1):43-59.
  4. Zadik, et. al., “Vitamin A and iron supplementation is as efficient as hormonal therapy in constitutionally delayed children,” Clin Endocrinol(Oxf). 2004 Jun; 60(6):682-7.
  5. McCormick, et. al., “Chemoprevention of rat prostate carcinogenesis by 9-cis-retinoic acid,” Cancer Res. 1999 Feb 1;59(3):521-4.
  6. Furusho, et. al., “Tissue specific-distribution and metabolism of vitamin A are affected by dietary protein levels in rats,” Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1998;68(5):287-92
  7. Narbonne, et. al., “Protein metabolism in vitamin A deficient rats. II. Protein synthesis in striated muscle,” Ann Nutr Aliment. 1978;32(1):59-75.
  8. Stio, et. al., “Synergistic effect of vitamin D derivatives and retinoids on C2C12 skeletal muscle cells,” IUBMB Life. 2002 Mar;53(3):175-81

This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2004.

How I eat and move on a typical day

I received this special e-mail request from a reader.

They wanted to see my typical menu (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and if I ever fast, or when. Of course, I’m happy to oblige.

Keep in mind, this routine is what I’ve customized for my own goals, which is to lose a few body-fat percentage points, and put on some lean mass.

Every day I wake up and eat nothing until noon roughly. I typically make my way to work early in the morning, grabbing coffee on the way. I’ll have plenty of water too. Not sure why, but it helps me wake up when I have plenty of ice cold water.

Usually around noon I start to get a bit hungry.

Most often if the weather allows, I’ll use my lunch hour to take a leisurely stroll around my beautiful downtown area, and more than likely grab another coffee (I really like coffee). My walk also allows me to get some much needed sunshine.

After my walk I make sure I have enough time to heat up my first meal, which I usually prepared the night before. (Leftovers are my best friend).

Today I ate 2 half racks (not entirely half racks, they weren’t that big really) of grass-fed spare ribs that I cooked up last night. They were dry rubbed with cajun seasoning, wrapped in foil, and cooked in the oven for 2 hours roughly. I paired this with some microwaved summer squash and butter, and finished with some grass-fed full-fat yogurt. Oh yah, and a baby spinach salad with dried cranberries and walnuts, too. I also had a small piece of 85% dark chocolate today.

Fish is always an option if I cooked it for dinner the previous night. I’m also partial to sardines and other canned fishes.

So far today (as of 4pm) I haven’t eaten anything else.

If this were a rest day, I would fast until dinner, which is uaually around 7pm.

But since I’m working out today, I’m actually going to go eat something in a few minutes. I have a grass-fed burger patty waiting for me, and another cup of grass-fed yogurt. That should do just fine.

I’m going to hit the gym at about 6pm

I will lift heavy and hard for about 30 – 45 minutes. I’m lifting to failure, and I’m doing a lower rep routine right now for fat loss and muscle gains. Check out the “tools” section of the site (under “references”) for the workout-logs I’m using.

After the gym I have a protein shake. Once I get home, I have 2 veal rib chops I want to grill up. They have been marinating in olive oil and spices for 2 days. I’ll probably also bake up some spicy spiced french fries in olive oil. Those are one of my favorite post-workout dinner side dishes. I’ll make some steamed broccoli too. Boy this is making me hungry!

I always make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. It’s the best way to manage stress and let your body heal itself after a brutal lifting session.

On rest weekdays, I usually only eat twice.

Since I don’t go to the gym on these days, I don’t get as hungry. So I eat my first meal at noon or 1pm, then again around 7pm. These are good size meals that keep me from getting hungry most of the day.

Last week I had a bunch of grass-fed liver cooked up. I’ll tell you what, that is one of the most sating meals you will ever eat. I was not hungry and didn’t even think about food all day, and almost forgot to eat dinner! That’s after eating 6 ounces of liver roughly.

On weekends I usually sleep in

I’ll wake up around 1 or 2, and eat a bunch of pastured eggs and bacon, and sometimes include macadamia nuts. If I have oranges or apples, I’ll have one of those, too. We get this really awesome thick cut local patured bacon. It’s literally at least 1/4″ thick, and cooks up real nice! Later in the day I’ll have whatever leftovers are kicking around, and make sure I get plenty of veggies.

Most Sundays I wake up, drink some water and coffee, then go to the gym and do some high intensity interval training. This really gets you worn out. So I come home and nap. Once I wake up I eat. Usually leftovers, or eggs and bacon if nothing else is around. I’ll usually include a protien shake with some berries blended in. It’s super tasty!

I don’t supplement for vitamins. The only thing I regularly use for that purpose is Green Pasture butter oil capsules, and that’s only because i don’t always have liver cooked up. The best part about eating Paleo is you should never need to supplement for health reasons. As long as you are eating lots of healthy animals, and veggies too, you should be getting all the nutrients you need.

So there you go, my typical daily diet and fasting routine.

Right now my schedule has me lifting weights every monday-wednesday-friday, and doing HIIT on Sundays. All other days are rest days. I make sure to walk and stay active on all days, because being sedentary is just bad news. I keep myself busy with projects, like woking on my car, playing in a band, or just enjoying the outdoors.

As you can see, my fasts usually last from dinner (8pm) to my first meal (noon). That’s at least a 16 hour fast every day. Keeping a range between 14 and 16 hours is good. IF has a lot of health benefits, so it’s good to do it every once in a while.

Fasting is not for everyone. If you are really overweight or you have metabolic issues, it may be best to just keep the carbs low for a while, and wait until your body resets itself. For healthy individuals, fasting is a very powerful tool for losing stubborn fat, increasing health and longevity, and basically feeling great!

Keep it caveman!

~Dan

Grains. There’s more to it than just gluten.

Just browsing for articles and research today, I’ve accumulated a few studies you may find interesting.

I especially like this topic because it gets beyond the “gluten free” crowd, who think they can be healthy by simply avoiding dairy and gluten. The problem is, “they” (food makers) can still make the same junk gluten free. So you might be avoiding gluten, but you’re still eating crap.

So here I’ll get into the nitty gritty stuff. Beyond gluten.

Wheat Germ Agglutinin

Link to the study

Summary:

  • WGA – a lectin (protein) found within wheat products likely survives the high temperatures of food production and cooking, at least enough to be ingested, where it can survive digestive processes.
  • Surviving digestion allows it to interact with the lining of the gut.
  • There is significant interaction and cross-talk between the gut barrier, the host immune system, and gut bacteria, all combining to help regulate normal physiological function.
  • WGA, in minute concentrations, can interfere with and impair this regulatory process.
  • The interference of WGA can trigger an inflammatory process, which, once initiated, may establish a positive feedback system which further disrupts the integrity and function of the gut.
  • WGA can be taken from the gut and pulled through into systemic circulation where it can interact directly with the blood-borne immune system.

Concanavalin-A

Link to the study

Summary:

These plant lectins appear to have the ability to instruct your liver and fat cells to undertake certain functions in the same way that insulin otherwise would, but without the presence of glucose to drive this (as might otherwise be expected with insulin).  Importantly, these lectins are as effective as shutting down the breakdown of fat within fat cells.  Not ideal.

Phytic Acid

Link to the study

Summary:

Phytic acid might also cause some direct damage to the absorptive capacity of the intestine. The reduced active ion transport by [phytic acid] implies that the latter reduces the capacity of the small intestine to absorb nutrients.

L-Canavanine

Link to study [1]

Summary:

“L-canavanine is a common non-protein amino acid found naturally in alfalfa sprouts, broad beans [also known as “fava beans”], jack beans, and a number of other legume foods [including sword beans] and animal feed ingredients at up to 2.4% of food dry matter. This analog of arginine (Figure 1.) can also block NO synthesis, interfere with normal ammonia disposal, charge tRNAarg, cause the synthesis of canavanyl proteins, as well as prevent normal reproduction in arthropods and rodents.

Canavanine has also been reported to induce a condition that mimics systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in primates, to increase antibodies to nuclear components and promote SLE-like lesions in auto immune-susceptible (e.g., (NZB X NZW)F1) mice.”

Link to study [2]

Summary:

“Alfalfa sprouts can induce systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in monkeys. This property of alfalfa sprouts has been attributed to their non-protein amino acid constituent, L-canavanine. Occurrence of autoimmune hemolytic anemia and exacerbation of SLE have been linked to ingestion of alfalfa tablets containing L-canavanine. In this report we show that L-canavanine has dose-related effects in vitro on human immunoregulatory cells, which could explain its lupus-inducing potential”

Link to study [3]

Summary:

“In this article, we detail our experience with a human subject who developed autoimmune hemolytic anemia while participating in a research study that required the ingestion of alfalfa seeds. Subsequent experimental studies in primates ingesting alfalfa sprout seeds and L-canavanine (a prominent amino acid constituent of alfalfa) is presented. The results of these studies indicate a potential toxic and immunoregulatory role of L-canavanine in the induction of a systemic lupus-like disease in primates.”

So, canavanine mimicks arginine, and is incorporated into our tissues like arginine, but the resulting proteins don’t function properly. Also, since it’s an amino acid, it’s not deactivated by heat or cooking. When people say  “Beans are fine if you soak or sprout them”, we must realize, this isn’t even true according to the tiny fraction of legume biochemistry we understand.

More L-Canavanine reading regarding it’s autoimmune effects, biological activity and toxicity: [4] [5] [6]

Notable mention: Vicene.

Vicine (and its analogs covicin and isouramil) is a poison in fava beans that causes hemolytic anemia in susceptible people—a sometimes-fatal condition known as favism. Favism is caused by G6PDH deficiencies, common X-linked mutations which affect over 400 million people worldwide, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, and southern Asia.

So what?

Combine a diet high in cereal grains, low in total fat, low in saturated fats, and possibly low in high quality animal proteins, and it’s obvious why an individual might start to run a deficiency in iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, B-vitamins, etc.  Some people will argue that grains can be a good source of many nutrients… in the lab.  These same people need to understand the difference between ingestion and digestion.  Just because a food has a particular nutrient profile analysed in a lab setting, it does not mean it can be digested and absorbed by the body.  Grains in particular are spectacularly good and binding nutrients, minerals especially, and preventing them from being absorbed (grain intake might even see a higher turnover in the likes of vitamin D). 

So you’re not doing yourself any favors by trying to carb load on grains. Especially athletes. Where the goal is to minimize inflammation, grains have an incredibly pro-inflammatory tendency. You need to start using clean carb sources like sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash, and other starchy vegetables. You’ll be able to avoid the inflammation, gut stress and emegency sideline bathroom breaks, along with the bloating and discomfort. At the same time you’ll be getting many times more vitamins and minerals in your diet, a key for proper recovery and immune function.

Burger King goes cage free. Step in the right direction, or gimmick?

So BK has vowed to now only use cage free eggs and pork.

I think “cage-free” is now going to explode into the next big buzz-word. Much like “Certified Organic”, “All Natural”, “RBST free”, “No Antibiotics”, and the list goes on.

Originally these words meant something. They served a purpose, to inform the consumer that this product was better in some way, but as all things go, the politics win out in the end. For example, in order for a product to obtain an “all natural” certification, it must only contain carbon. Lots of things contain carbon, but that does not make them healthy or beneficial ,does it?

Cage Free doesn’t really mean much in terms of food quality or living conditions for the animal. Cage free literally just means that it wasn’t confined to a small cage. It has no bearing on the animal’s diet, treatment, health, or wellbeing in any other aspect.

You can bet the pork and chicken will still be grain fed, which means the meat and eggs will be sub-par, poor products as they have always been. The animals will still be sick and unhappy. Because as we all know, to have a happy healthy animal you need to feed it what it would normally eat in the wild.

For chickens, that means not grains, but allowing them to forage for grubs, bugs, worms, snails, small rodents, and even each other. Pigs also do better on a free range fed diet, not grains. The meat will have a better nutition profile on a non-grain diet.

Anyway you look at it, this is pretty much just a PR stunt. As always, BK is looking to improve its image and bottom line. Hoping to gain better ground with public opinion. Watch for the other fast food peddlers to follow suit.

The food is still shit.

Cholesterol meds are for dummies

Cholesterol 101

Cholesterol is the mother of all hormones. It is produced and regulated by your body, and is responsible for a host of bodily functions. It is a necessary component of every day life.

Cholesterol is a critical component of cell membranes, the precursor to all steroid hormones, a precursor to vitamin D, and the limiting factor that brain cells need to make connections with one another called synapses, making it essential to learning and memory.

Here’s a few examples.

Brain function

[1] In the late 1990s and early 2000s, research was pointing to an unknown compound made by glial cells that was responsible for the ability of neurons to form synapses, or connections between each other.

Thoughts, memories, learning, and all mental function is dependent on the formation of synapses, so the ability to form them will directly impact mental functioning and health.

In the absence of this– as yet unknown– “glial factor,” neurons formed few synapses, and the synapses they formed were inefficient and poorly functioning. In the presence of glial cells, which secrete the unknown factor, neurons formed many, highly efficient synapses.

So what is this “glial factor”?

Research in 2001, by Mauch, et al., published in volume 294 of Science magazine, determined that the unknown glial factor is cholesterol, which is released by the glial cells in a carrier called “apolipoprotein E.”5

Steroid Hormones

Cholesterol is the precursor to all steroid hormones, including:

  • Glucocorticoids (blood sugar regulation)
  • Mineralcorticoids (mineral balance and blood pressure regulation)
  • Sex Hormones (many functions)

Cholesterol is the precursor to a hormone called pregnenolone, which has important functions itself, but is also the precursor to all other steroid hormones.

Pregnenolone is converted to progesterone, a sex hormone, which in turn is converted into cortisol, which regulates inflammation and blood sugar, aldosterone, which regulates mineral balance and blood pressure, or testosterone, a type of sex hormone referred to as an androgen, which regulates libido, muscle mass, and plays other roles.

In females, and to a lesser degree in males, testosterone is further modified, undergoing conversion to estradiol, a different type of sex hormone called an estrogen.

Harvey et al., Biochemistry: 3rd Edition, Baltimore: Lippincott, 2005, pp. 235-238.

Vitamin D

Since cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol will also inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D. Since sunlight is required to turn cholesterol into vitamin D, avoiding the sun will likewise undermine our ability to synthesize vitamin D. And since vitamin D-rich foods are also rich in cholesterol, low-cholesterol diets are inherently deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin D is best known for its role in calcium metabolism and bone health, but new roles are continually being discovered for it, including roles in mental health, blood sugar regulation, the immune system, and cancer prevention. Yet standard modern advice — take cholesterol-lowering drugs, avoid the sun, eat a low-cholesterol diet — combined with a recommended daily intake of vitamin D that is only a tenth of what many researchers believe to be sufficient all seems to pave the way for widespread vitamin D deficiency.

Perhaps that’s why, according to Dr. John Cannel, President of the Vitamin D Council,most whites and nearly all blacks in modern society are deficient in vitamin D.

 

Cellular Helth

[2] Surrounding each of our cells is a membrane called the plasma membrane. The plasma membrane is a continuous double-layer of phospholipids, interweaved with cholesterol and proteins. Phospholipids are composed of two fatty acids attached to a phosphate compound as a head.

The phosphate head is water-soluble, also called “hydrophilic” (water-loving), and the fatty-acids are water-insoluble, or “hydrophobic” (water-fearing). Since outside the cell is a water-containing, or aqueous, environment, and inside the cell is also aqueous, the phosphate heads of the phospholipids face both the cell’s inside and the environment outside the cell, while the fatty acids face the inside of the membrane.

Without cholesterol, cell membranes would be too fluid, not firm enough, and too permeable to some molecules. In other words, it keeps the membrane from turning to mush.

 

Cholesterol does not play a role in Heart attack, stroke, or atherosclorotic plaque formation

Read the clear and detailed explanation [here] Near the bottom of that page. It outlines exactly how plaques form. I’ll give you a hint…it’s not related to cholesterol at all.

Side Effects of Cholesterol Lowering Drugs

The list of statin side effects is a long one. Known side-effects of statins include muscle weakness and/or pain (myopathy), liver damage , kidney failure and cataracts. It gets worse. Statins inhibit CoQ10 synthesis. Statins also cause memory loss, transient global amnesia, and lowered sex drive. Low cholesterol has even been strongly linked with diabetes and cancer

And it’s not surprising, given that cholesteol is responsible for so many critical bodily functions (see above). And side effects are likely much more common than is actually reported, yet cholesterol itself appears to play no functional role in heart disease.The FDA also issued a new warning against statins because of the occurrence of side effects.

But What About the Studies?

Most of the studies are produced and funded by the same corporations that make statins, and it’s a multi billion dollar industry. They are rife with conflicts of interest. They are heavily biased towards “positive results”. They even continue to lower the “standard for healthy cholesterol levels” so they can justify prescrbing it to children. What an industry!

Many of the studies done only look at the fact that the drugs were able to lower cholesterol. But a closer look at any of them will show you that heath either declined or did not improve. Now we can see this deception, because we understand that cholesterol has noting to do with it!

The studies that attempt to link high cholesterol with heart disease are only epidemiological, which means they are nothing more than surveys that attempt to make correlations between two variables. And as any good scientist will tell you, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION!!! Not to mention, the correlations are often weak with little supporting evidence.

Epidemiological studies are incapable of drawing conclusions and proving causation. You can not discover a factual mechanism of action by utilizing an epidemiological survey. All these people are doing is linking ice cream sales with murders. Ice cream sales correlate very strongly with murders, but this does not mean that we should ban ice cream, it means that more murders happen in the summer time. A very simple but effective example of the drawbacks of “survey studies”.

Stop Popping Pills!

New studies continue to punch holes in the cholesterol/heeart health hypothesis. It’s becoming abundantly clear that we are going about it the wrong way. But the system (health insurance, doctor salaries, pharmaceutical industry) has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. It’s true that it’s difficult to get a man to see the truth when his salary depends on ignoring it.

Taking statins may reduce your cholesterol, but the effects on health are negative. You will be weak, fat, and stupid, if the low cholesterol levels don’t kill you first. (Or if you don’t kill yourself first because your dick doesn’t work anymore…)

Dublin S, et al. Statin use and risk of community acquired pneumonia in older people: population based case-control study. BMJ 2009;338:b2137

Benati D, et al. Opposite effects of simvastatin on the bactericidal and inflammatory response of macrophages to opsonized S. aureus. J Leukoc Biol. 2010;87(3):433-42

Hippisley-Cox J, et al. Unintended effects of statins in men and women in England and Wales: population based cohort study using the QResearch database BMJ 2010;340:c2197

Bacon is a health-food

Bacon is mostly fat. Healthy fat.

47% of it is monounsaturated oleic acid. The same that is in olive oil.

3% is monounsaturated palmitoleic acid. This has valuable antimicrobial properties.

40% is saturated, the reason that bacon fat is so relatively stable and unlikely to go rancid under normal storage or cooking conditions.

The high saturated content is important, because it helps protect the rest, which is the remaining 10% in the form of unstable polyunsaturated fats.

Pork fat also contans a large amount of choline, an antioxidant that is superior to vitamin E. Likely the reason that lard and bacon fat are very stable and not prone to rancidity from free radicals.

If the bacon comes from pastured pigs (which all animals should be), it’s full of vitamin D, as long as the pigs were allowed to play outside in the sun.

Edit 5/15/12: Like humans, pigs can get sunburned and, like humans, they make vitamin D through the action of sunlight on their skin and store the nutrient in their fat. Pigs raised in confinement will die if not exposed to UV-B light, the wave length needed for vitamin-D production.

What about the CHOLESTEROL???

As we would expect, the good fat in bacon comes with cholesterol, a “no no” according to the Food Police, and yet another reason for bacon’s dangerous reputation.   The evidence against cholesterol causing or contributing to heart disease, of course, is inconsistent, contradictory, misinterpreted and sparse.  It’s oxidized cholesterol  — as found in the powdered milk and powdered egg ingredients used for processed, packaged and fast foods, including low-fat and non-fat milks  — and oxidized lipids (unstable polyunsaturated fats) that contribute to heart disease, NOT CHOLESTEROL.

Also, as biochemical textbooks make clear, cholesterol is the mother of all hormones, including our reproductive and mood hormones. Thus bacon’s cholesterol content may be part of the reason it enjoys such a reputation as a “feel good” food!!

What about the SALT???

Animals seek out salt licks, paleo people eat and drink salty blood and other animal parts, and biochemists point out we need sodium and chloride for blood, sweat, tears, mucus and semen.  Textbooks make all of this abundantly clear, yet U.S. government guidelines recommend drastic reductions in salt intake.   Sadly, low-salt diets increase the likelihood of heart disease, hypertension, cognitive decline, osteoporosis,insulin resistance and erectile dysfunction. no-salt-limp-dick-syndrome sounds like no fun for either party involved!!

What about the nitrites and nitrates???

We get more nitrates from our own saliva. This notion of ‘nitrite-free’ or ‘organically cured’ meats is a public deception. Traditionally bacon was cured by adding sodium nitrite salts directly to the meat.  Today’s manufacturers of  “nitrite free” brands add celery salt, which is about 50 percent nitrate, plus a starter culture of bacteria.   This transforms the nitrate found naturally in the celery salt into nitrite, which cures the meat.    Although manufacturers label this bacon “nitrite free,” this method actually generates more nitrite from the celery salt than would ever be added as a salt.   Indeed, “nitrite free” bacon can have twice the nitrite content of bacons cured directly with nitrite salts.

There still seems to be some debate over what happens when you cook with nitrates, but cooking food creates all kinds of things, like minute amounts of carcinogens and such. In the whole scheme of things I’d wager that whatever nitrosamines get created from heating nitrates is marginal and insignificant.

Researchers have consistently found carcinogenic nitrosamines in fried bacon, but the bacon studied almost certainly comes from factory farms. Fatty acid composition has a big effect on nitrosamine formation, and factory-farmed pigs routinely eat feeds that include inferior oils.

Nitric Oxide!!

Cured bacon with nitrite increases circulating NO levels in our blood. This is a good thing. It’s vital for a long healthy life. Traditionally cured meats are the best source. Beets too.

NO is a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system. When produced by our blood vessels from nitrite, it signals the surrounding arterial tissues to relax. This lowers blood pressure, expands narrow blood vessels, eliminates dangeous clots (you’ll have none if you are eating Paleo), and reduces plaque formations on arterial walls. NO also reduces triglyceride levels.

NO optimizes circulation and affects every bodily system. More blood flow. More oxygen transfer. Better energy. Better brain function and attention. And more blood flow means better sex life. (NO is also a key ingredient in many erectile dysfunction meds, and workout supplements). NO also helps the immune system fight off infections, and helps brain cells communicate more effectively. Want more? Just do a quick PubMed search! There are myriad benefits to NO!

So Nitrates and Nitrites aren’t dangerous???

Nitrates are natural products of the nitrogen cycle and found in water, plants and animals.   Nitrites are naturally present in saliva, in the gut and indeed in all mammalian tissue.  In short, nitrites are not a problem, provided our diets are rich enough in antioxidants to facilitate the conversion of nitrites to NO and to prevent nitrosation reactions that convert nitrites into carcinogenic nitrosamines.    It’s also obviously important to avoid eating readymade sources of nitrosamines, such as occur in soy protein isolates , non-fat dry milk and other products that have undergone acid washes, flame drying or high temperature spray-drying processes. 

Why does everyone think bacon aint “all that”?

Why do fats and cholesterol get the shit-end of the stick?   Bad studies and worse publicity, with the latest “study” out of Harvard a prime example (Just Google “red meat increases death”).  These “studies” show only a weak association with evidence that is inconclusive.

Science is catching up. The media is always going to be far behind, and is always going to mis-interpret the results. Of course our hunter-gatherer ancestors got it right from the beginning!

Stick to pastured animals, free ranging, not grain fed. Traditionally cured, not injected, machined, processed, or whatever.

What you eat affects your immune system.

We all hear talk about our immune system. You know it’s important to get the proper nutrients, like zinc, to support it, so we can fight back those bad infections and seasonal colds, and avoid the flu that seems to be floating around the office.

You even hear some people complain, exclaiming “I have no immune system”, or “My immune system has taken a hit since last weekend”. People also think that aging and a weaker immune system go hand-in-hand. Not true.

But what if I told you that you are completely in control of your immune system? Would you believe me if I said that diet is one of the largest contributing factors in how well your immune system functions, or doesn’t function?

Here are the 3 tiers of the human immune system, as described by Mark Sisson:

  1. Anatomical barriers – Skin is the basic line of defense, along with mucus membranes and other physical responses like sweat, tears, and salivation, against the intrusion of foreign bodies and antigens.
  2. Innate/non-specific immune system – The innate immune system is the broad, generic response to bacteria and viruses that have made it past the anatomical barriers. Imagine bacteria entering through an open wound and the resultant inflammation, which is pretty much the body’s attempt at a catch-all response. Technically, the physical barriers are included in the innate system.
  3. Adaptive/specific immune system – The immune system can learn and improve its response to specific microbes over time and with repeated exposure; this is the adaptive immune system, and it’s only present in jawed vertebrates.

It’s generally accepted that gut flora affects and informs our immune systems, and how it does so, though a complicated, multi-faceted process, is beginning to be teased out by researchers.

 

…the human gastro-intestinal tract houses the bulk of the human immune system, about 70% of it. And foreign gut flora actually aids and abets our innate immune response system by improving the function of our mucosal immune system and providing a physical barrier to invading microbiota

…Healthy gut flora populations protect against invading microbes by simply taking up space and generally being more proficient at obtaining nutrients than the intruders. They’re playing defense, and informed, experienced defenders who know their way around always have the advantage…

Good bacteria talks to the lymph nodes and provides a safe word, and the lymph nodes’ stromal cells produce “normal cell” antigens that tell the immune system not to attack the good bacteria. This conserves resources and improves the immune response by making it more efficient

 

Gut flora plays an integral part in our immune system function. So it stands to reason that we should do our best to promote a good spectrum of gut flora, and avoid things that damage it.

Much of your gut flora for the rest of your life is determined at birth. You inherit the majority of your gut flora from your mother and the surrounding environment during birth and for the first year or so.

Proper gut flora also promotes the formation of healthy immune system organs. For example, the thymus is responsible for creating T-cells. In formula-fed infants, the thymus is smaller and less productive, compared to the healthy and fully-functioning thymuses of breast-fed infants! Breast milk is full of beneficial bacteria that is essential for the formation of proper gut flora in infants.

Of course, if you’re reading this, you have been born already, for many years. You are now stuck with the gut bacteria you were born with…Just kidding!

The best way to promote a heatlhy gut, and healthy gut bacteria, is to avoid things like sugar, grains, and vegetable oils and legumes, and include a diet rich in animal fat, protein, leafy veggies, starchy tubers, and fermented foods that provide a rich source of probiotics!

What damages gut flora, and hurts our immune system?

Lets start with sugar. Sugar causes insulin resistance, promotes systemmic inflammation, leads to weight gain, contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and acts like a fertilizer for cancer cells. High gructose diets also decrease HDL levels while making LDL more dense and dangerous, contributing to heart disease. Glucose and fructose also bond to (glycate) proteins and lipids without proper enzymatic control. I think it’s safe to say that with all this crap going on, your body is going to have a much harder time focusing on an invader; your immune system won’t be up to full steam.

How about grains? Grains share many of the same problems as sugar, since they are a cheap source of sugar calories in the form of glucose. They also cause lots of gut irritation form their excessively high lectin and fiber content, not to mention all the other substances in grains that are difficult to digest, gluten is only one of them! 

Grains also promote mineral deficiencies and systemmic inflammation. Phytic acid makes much of the nutrients you eat unavailable to human digestion. That’s right, those vital minerals and nutrients that are absolutely necessary for tip-top immune system function are being swept away by phytic acid and end up in the toilet, literally! Legumes share many of the immunosuppressive properties of grains, with their high insoluble fiber and lectin content.

Not getting enough sleep, causing systemmic inflammation from the wrong veggie oils, using hand sanitizer, and too much cardio also suppress the immune system.

The Standard American Diet and following “conventional wisdom” takes the largest toll on your immune system. Of course it’s no surprise that following the SAD just perpetuates the problem, making you buy up all those supplements to make up for your lack of nutrients like Cold-EEZE, Halls, and Vicks, and overuse things like hand sanitizer and antibiotics (which actually weaken your immune system).

What’s the best way to support our immune system?

Healthy animal fats from healthily raised animals provides clean burning natural energy, as well as valuable fat soluble nutrients that support your immune system.

Protein provides the basic needs of our lean structure, for repairing bones, muscles, and organs. Eat plenty of animals at every meal!

Fruit and veggies also provide valuable nutrients, as well as antioxidants and flavanoids that all aide the immune system.

Do your best to follow this Paleo diet framework and lifestyle, and you’ll be sick less often! Not to mention much healthier and better looking for the long-haul!

Like this post? Leave a comment!

Want to find out more about how to get in shape fast? Check out these articles about getting in shape, feeling great, and controlling your genes!

Lose stubborn body fat. (Intermittent fasting)

Control your gene expression.

Heavy strength training is a required aspect of long term health. For everybody.

How to train your body to burn fat all day long. High intensity interval training (HIIT).

Why you should avoid too many polyunsaturated fats.

What is chronic inflammation. What to eat to avoid it.

The final word on grains and legumes: AVOID them.

The final word on Saturated fat and Cholesterol: EAT them

What it takes: Survival of the fittest.

Written by Paleo blogger, Jamie Scott. Here is an excerpt.

From the Christshurch experience (and seen similarly in subsequent events such as the Japanese tsunami and UK riots,) many  people required the stamina to walk 3–4 hours, often over hills and dodging rock falls, to get home. If they were required to run, they were required to run fast, as was seen in 9/11 as people ran from the World Trade Centre. If you need to get out of a building under threat of collapse or need to escape an angry mob, you are not going to jog your way out of the situation. You require strength that is functional – not the ability to simply lift a nicely balanced bar that is set at just the right height – but often awkward objects with little grip.

You might require the ability to pull yourself up over a high fence and scale the side of a building to escape an impending wall of water, as was witnessed by a film crew escaping the Japanese tsunami. You may be required to belay large people down the side of a building as was seen in Christchurch. You might need to push a car, barge a door in or drag a body. You will require enough hip mobility to get into a low squat position, to move in that position, to crawl through small and narrow spaces that have been formed, either for you to get into or out of a building.

You may also require the ability to exert yourself for many hours without the opportunity to stop and refuel. My following of a high-fat, hunter-gatherer-type diet has given me that capacity. My energy levels do not rise and fall with a wildly fluctuating blood sugar level, nor do I have to stuff my pockets with energy bars to get me through. During the Christchurch earthquake, whilst everyone was stocking up on bread, cereal, and milk, my survival kit contained eggs, bananas, coconut cream, and dark chocolate. how long one might have to

With no idea how long one might have to stand in the face of disaster, you may also require a degree of mental stamina – a mentality that allows you to manage your thoughts, and asserts that you can rather than you can’t. Knowing you have the skills and capacity in your body allows you to have a similar capacity in your mind. At the point at which I decided to dig through large amounts of silt with a plank of wood to rescue my car and get out before the road collapsed, there was no requirement for me to question whether my body could dig for three hours. I didn’t need to convince my mind. I knew I had the physical capacity and the mind followed.

As you prepare for disaster, you wouldn’t prepare an emergency kit with supplies that were old, broken and not up to the task that you would expect them to be able to perform. So why would one expect a slow, tired and weak body to get them through when put to the test? Strength and conditioning will take you so far, but without skills you really only have capacity and health without useful ability.

In Interesting Times, the most important thing in your emergency response kit is you – your physical capacity and your ability to turn that capacity to the useful skills those times will inevitably require.

Read the whole article by downloading the magazine [here] Article is on pages 44 – 47

The most important guest post of all: Why it’s inherently ethical for humans to be able to eat meat.

At what point can it be said that behavior wholly subsumed in the nature of a species of animal can be wrong, unethical to practice? To even ask the question requires an introspective, intelligent conscience—the qualitative aspect of our being that differentiates us from other animals. Because otherwise, the question we’re asking demands first that we identify and explain how ethics could arise external to our own natural experience, from some super-existent realm sporting an external authority that trumps our own individual authority over our own behavior. In simpler terms: we are ethical beings. Ethics, a sense of right and wrong, is as much a part of what makes us human as the consumption of other animals along the way made us human. It’s all baked into the cake: meat gave us the nutritional density to evolve big brains, big brains gave us the intelligence to introspect, and conscious introspection gave us ethics. Eating meat made us ethical beings. As such, eating the flesh of non-ethical beings can’t logically be unethical.

Read the whole essay [here]