8 Reasons your weight loss might be stalling, and what to do about it

So you’ve done everything right. You’ve dropped grains, industrial veggie oils and sugar, and started eating whole real foods. You’ve started lifting heavy things once in a while. You get healthy amounts of sunshine. You try to avoid stress. Everything seems to be going as planned.

But you’ve hit a stall in your fat loss goals. Your tummy just won’t budge, or you’re having trouble losing those last few pounds to really be lean and get that beach body in time for summer. How will you ever fit ito that bathing suit?

Are you actually doing everything you can? Here’s some questions to ask yourself before you throw in the towel.

Are you actually eating healthy?

You might think just sticking to the Paleo 80/20 rule is enough, but if you’ve reached a stall, it’s time to assess that other 20%. It’s possible you’re allowing a little sugar in your coffee here, and a little veggie oil there, all the while thinking that it’s “ok” because it’s within that 20%, but it really does add up, and chances are if you’re not paying attention, you could be consuming way more “crap” than you realize. Add that onto a few alcoholic drinks each weekend, and a cheat meal at a restaurant that includes grains, and we’ve slipped suddenly into 50/50 territory, or worse.

The solution is to go full 100% paleo. Don’t let that sugar into your coffee, get a bit more picky at restaurants, and keep alcohol to a minimum during the weekend. Kick that nagging sugar addiction to the curb by going cold turkey. Don’t go near any grains. Cook at home as often as possible. You’ll save money and feel better, and more often than not, start to see the fat go away. This is one of the most common problems for weight loss stalls. More often than not, once you really dial in your diet, you’ll see progress. Everything else is just (coconut oil) icing on the (gluten free) cake 😉

Are you still smoking or drinking?

It’s obvious that smoking and too much alcohol do have adverse health effects. I really shouldn’t have to go into detail here. But the bottom line is, even if diet is dialed in, drugs like these have an overwhelming effect on our ability to lose fat. Modern tobacco is coated in pesticides, for instance, which has been shown to cause chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. Not only is insulin resistance the gateway to lifelong fat-gain, it’s the gateway to diabetes.

The act of smoking also causes chronic inflammation from carcinogens. Not only is this the main determining factor in the hypothalamus’ health and ability to regulate fat mass, but chronic inflammation leads to a number of health issues in the long run, cancer being an obvious big one.

Alcohol also inhibits your body’s ability to burn fat. When alcohol is in your system, it becomes your body’s priority to metabolize the poison and get rid of it. The more you consume, the more lipolysis is inhibited. Since our goal with Paleo is to become fat-burning machines, it makes a lot of sense to keep alcohol to a minimum.

Are you eating too much?

Paleo isn’t dark magic. Your body is still able to absorb and store excess energy as fat. That’s the wonder of our hunter-gatherer genes that helped us to survive times of scarcity. We’re designed to be thrifty and store energy for emergencies. Obviously finding food nowadays isn’t an issue for most of us, actually the problem we face is too much food.

Are you consuming too many carbs? If you are mostly sedentary (chances are if you’re reading this, that’s you) your ability to handle lots of glucose diminishes. Taper your fruit and starch intake down if you are taking time off from activities. Even if you are active, the conventional wisdom for how many carbs we “need” is vastly overstated. Try to dial them down to no more than 100g per day, higher for very active people like athletes (200 plus, depends on the individual) then see how you feel. If you feel good, bring them down more. If your activity performance decreases, try going higher. Everyone is different. But if the goal is rapid fat loss, make sure you’re not polishing off an entire carton of berries every day.

Are you only eating when you are truly hungry? Like I said above, we have a problem these days of having too much food around. Everything around us is designed to override your natural satiety and pleasure signals to get you to consume more. Become conscious of this, and attune yourself to your own hunger signals. Eat only when truly hungry, and don’t let anyone tell you that you have to eat. Paleo makes this easier by removing food toxins that mess with your satiety signals, but external pressures still abound. Take note, and remember, Summer is coming! Reach that goal!

How active are you?

Most people today just are not active enough. We spend hours at our desks, then we go home and do it in front of the computer or TV. It’s a huge problem. We are designed as fat-burning animals, and our bodies need lots of low level activity like walking, hiking, or swimming. Lifting heavy things also creates more fat-burning muscle tissue, by making muscles larger and increasing the amount of fat-burning mitochondria (the powerhouses of our bodies that make ATP from fatty acids). Muscle also looks better, and makes it much easier to maintain a low body-fat percentage.

Some people are just too active. Doing too much cardio is common. When you stay above 75% of your MHR (max heart rate) for long periods of time you are burning glycogen, causing you to crave more sugar in order to replenish those stores. Clearly a problem if we’re trying to minimize excess carbs. The other issue with too much cardio is that it causes excessive release of cortisol, so over the long run you will gain weight, lose muscle, and cause chronic wear issues like joint pain. This is a common issue for other types of exercise too. Lifting weights too often will also release too much cortisol and can stall fat loss.

You have to find your happy medium, and make sure to allow proper recovery time between workouts. Muscles have to heal to grow, in order to burn more fat and create more mitochondria. I prefer to allow 5-7 days between muscle groups when I lift, and I usually lift 3 days a week, with one weekend session of interval training each week. Which leads me to the next section…

Have you tried sprinting yet?

I have a number of posts about sprinting, or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The benefits are numerous, and the time commitment is minimal. Basically, providing an occasional high-stressor for your body causes an array of adaptations to fat-burning and metabolism, while keeping cortisol to a minimum and allowing plenty of recovery time between sessions. It increases insulin sensitivity, causes HGH secretion, increases numbers of fat-burning mitochondria, and makes way for growth spurts in muscle that can have overarching benefits in your weight lifting. If you haven’t started doing this each week, why the hell not?!

Have you tried intermittent fasting?

I also have a few posts about this topic. IF is shown to increase longevity and a number of health markers, as well as induce autophagy, allowing your body to clean, detoxify and reboot itself. IF also allows you to eat a few large meals a day, and still provide a large window of time for your body to burn primarily fat for energy when you are not eating. Eating Paleo makes this 100 times easier, because you don’t actually get hungry during the fast. If you haven’t made this a regular part of your routine, now is the time to make it happen!

Are you managing stress properly?

Too much stress can hinder fat loss via excessive release of cortisol. It can also cause you to crave junk food, over eat, and lose muscle. The best ways to manage stress is to get outside and enjoy nature, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep, and make sure you have healthy ways to let it out. Working out, playing, laughter, being with friends. All good ways to make yourself happier and less stressed.

Have you been sick recently?

Things like antibiotics are overused by the medical establishment. Good thing Paleo makes us as healthy as possible, so that if we do get sick, we can overcome it very fast. Antibiotics are handed out for everything from a sore throat to an ear infection. They are very damaging to your gut flora, which has a large part to do with your ability to lose weight. Your gut flora determines largely how you digest foods, and having a healthy population can help keep you lean. There have been a plethora of recent studies done. For instance I recently read one where they transplanted gut bacteria from lean people to obese people, and the obese individuals all lost weight without any other intervention. This study did the same thing with mice.

Lean human guts contain more flora from the bacterial phylum of Bacteroidetes and less from the Firmicutes phylum, whereas obese human guts contain flora more heavily weighted toward Firmicutes. Furthermore, both mice and humans with “obese” gut flora (high in Firmicutes) derive more energy from food and have an increased ability to “harvest energy.”

Martin Blaser, an NYU microbiome researcher, speculates that not only does antibiotic usage permanently change our gut flora, it also promotes obesity. Blaser examined the effect of antibiotics on Helicobacter pylori, a common member of the human gut biome. While there’s evidence that H. pylori increases the risk for ulcers and gastric cancer, it’s also been living in human guts for at least 58,000 years.

Blaser used US veterans who were scheduled for upper GI endoscopies. Of the 92 vets, 38 had no H. pylori, 44 tested positive for H. pylori, and 10 were indeterminate. 23 of the H. pylori positive were given antibiotics, and all but two had total eradication of H. pylori. So, the 21 subjects who were initially replete in H. pylori but who eradicated them through antibiotics gained the most weight. Their BMIs increased by 5% + 2% (The other vets had no weight change). Leptin levels increased by 20%. Postprandial ghrelin increased sixfold. Ghrelin increases hunger, but high levels have the ability to increase abdominal fat.

So before you think you’ve done all you can, check yourself and your habits to see if you are letting a few too many things slip by. It could also be a certain food holding you back. Some people can handle dairy for instance, but some people might find it hinders their fat loss. With Summer approaching it’s time to get your rear in gear to get that beach body! Take a real good look at this list. Try to reach that 100%, or as close to it as you can. Your body will thank you!

You might also like to read:

Is high-rep weight training a waste of time?

Thoughts on High Intensity Interval Training

How bad is saturated fat and cholesterol?

Why women should deadlift

Get muscles, burn fat faster

Do your own epidemiological studies

Take a look around where you are.

Next time you’re at they gym on a busy day, take a look at the cardio area. You know, the zone cordoned off that is full of silly machines where people slave away for hours, sweating and generally looking miserable. Trudging through their workout, trying desperately to lose that belly. Do they look happy? Do they look relaxed? Do they look lean and in shape? Or are most of them muscle-less, weak, tired, zombies?

Then, take a look at the free-weight area of the gym. There are a couple types of people you should notice:

The first type will be running around, vigorously high-repping out a few sets of this, then running to the next machine or set of weights to do another high-repping set of that. They’re trying to keep their HR elevated in the futile persuit of fat-burning. What’s their body composition look like? Do they look relaxed? Are they in great shape? Or do they look a lot like the people in the cardio area?

The second type of person I want to you look for are the ones who are hanging out talking to each other. Casually conversing as they rest in between sets. When they feel ready, they get a heavy weight, and do a handfull of reps. These people look like they are working really hard to push that weight to failure. They usually have the best body composition. They are relatively lean. These are men AND women. They spend less time running around sweating, and a little more time relaxing and having a good time, trying to beat one another’s best lift, or beat a personal record. These are the people I respect, because they got it right, whether they know it or not.

I don’t know about you, but I know where I want to be.

When it comes right down to it

Most people have no idea what they are doing in terms of eating right or working out right. They just blindly follow the conventional wisdom in the hopes that “Eat less. Move more” is actually all it takes. They avoid fat and salt, snack all day on grains, and don’t get enough complete proteins. Then they slave away on the treadmill for hours a day…

I don’t see this working for anyone in my little corner of the world. How long does it take ’til you realize, “this isn’t working”?

Then there are the few that understand. That’s us.

[Strethcing is for dummies], [cardio is for dummies], [high-rep weight training a waste of time], [heavy strength training is a required aspect of long term health for everybody!]

 

Fix your shin splints

Most of this has to do with running, but it’ll help with your walking shin splints also.

 
I think the first thing you’d want to try, and the easiest, is to go with minimal shoes, like I wear, so they don’t interfere with natural movement.
 
1. Learn to not be a heel striker when running. land midfoot to forefoot.
 
2. Therefore, wearing minimalist shoes or barefoot is best, as “running shoes” and anything with a heel or too much cushion enables an artificially wider gait, enabling you to heel strike = BAD.
 
Minimalist shoes makes natural movement possible and strengthens your arch, and the other foot muscles. (Think about it. An arch support is like a cast. What happens to your arm muscle after it’s been in a cast for a whole month? It atrophies. When your arch isn’t asked to do it’s job by supporting your body, it will atrophy. What a great gig DR Scholls has set up, he sells products that perpetuate the symptoms they claim to fix!)
 
3. Don’t over-stride. Land with your feet closer to underneath your hips, not with your feet landing ahead of your hips.
 
4. Don’t push off with the toes. Learn to move at the hips.
 
Look into pose running technique. (far right image)
HMGS: Strike a Pose
 
 
 

Recovery from injury could be dependent on your diet

I came across an impressive list of things that proper diet has cured in many people. It looks very impressive, and to those who are unfamiliar with Paleo/Primal type diets, may seem far-fetched.

But to us in the know, those of us who have tried and applied and seen actual positive long term changes in health, body composition and so on, those of us who have an intimate understanding with the link between diet and our immediate and long term health, those of us who have a basic even limited understanding of our biological mechanisms, we understand how possible and real these results are.

Among the list of ills that Paleo has cured:

Joint pain, regular bouts of gout, Depression, chronic fatigue, mental fog, Lyme, arthritis, Diabetes, Obesity, Inflammation, Sugar addiction, Stress, Better Sleep, Mental clarity, Migraines, mild obesity, kidney stones, No “fire-in-the-hole” scorcher bathroom visits, lower back issues, and acne, Nails and teeth are stronger and my senses seem to be like they were when I was in my teens. It’s like somebody turned the lights on in the world.

It seems that everyone’s body (at least those that reported these changes) is now able to heal itself naturally. That’s the common theme. In my personal case, I no longer wake up fatigued, sore, or groggy. I don’t have those mysterious sore muscles during the day. My old football knee injury (which used to show itself after long walks) has disappeared. Chronic eczema and GERD have been cured. Bad acne. Headaches. Cold, flu, fever, ear infections. You name it, I’ve been free of it for a full year plus. I also train hard in the gym often, have seen very radical results in terms of muscle tone and recovery.

Now, let me move on to something a little more scientific I found regarding healing, relating more directly to sports injuries:

Ligamentous tissue, because it is poorly vascularized, takes much longer than soft tissue to heal. However, there are a number of elements of the Paleo Diet that may promote rapid tissue healing:
It has been demonstrated that protein deficient patients recover more slowly than a control group. This makes the Paleo Diet, because it is a high protein diet, a perfect intervention in this MCL injury and similar injuries. In such cases, it is desirable to have a diet in which protein reaches 1.2 grams/kg/day.
Increased branch-chain amino acids (valine, leucine and isoleucine) from the high animal protein diet will also speed up healing time.
More rapid resolution of the acute inflammatory stage of tissue injury will occur because of increased consumption of long-chain fatty acids (DHA, EPA, and AA).
Increased trace nutrient density (such as zinc, iron and phytochemicals) further promotes healing and tissue regeneration.
In addition to the diet, there are also supplements that could help in wound healing.
Vitamin C is an important cofactor in synthesis of collagen and proteoglycans, and other components of bone, skin, capillary walls, and other connective tissues. It is important for hydroxylation of proline and lysine residues in procollagen. Vitamin C is also an important supplement in immunomodulation and antioxidation.
Oxidative stress delays wound healing so wounds increase the necessity of vitamin C due to the increased reactive oxygen species generated. Vitamin C is also able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E.
It is recommended that you not exceed 2 grams a day since some adverse health effects have been demonstrated, such as hemolysis (red blood cell destruction), especially in glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficient patients. The recommended dosage is 1-2 grams per day.
Glucosamine increases hyaluronic acid synthesis, which is an important substance in extra cellular matrix composition. Glucosamine may increase insulin resistance and glucose levels so it should not be taken by diabetic patients. Otherwise, it is safe at a dose of 500 mg 3 times per day.
Omega-3 fats will reduce inflammation and help promote the healing process.
Glutamine has been demonstrated to decrease the number of days in the hospital for wound patients. It supports the immune system in the initial phase of inflammation, and serves as an energy source for fibroblasts and protein synthesis. The recommended dosage is 0.2 grams/kg/day.
Arginine is another important amino acid in tissue regeneration. Some of its actions include stimulation of cell migration (for wound recovery), and it is a precursor for proline during collagen synthesis.
Zinc is essential in DNA synthesis, protein synthesis and cell division. All of these are important factors in wound healing. Zinc content is high in the Paleo Diet. A recommended dosage to promote healing is 15-30 mg per day.
Other nutrients that could be beneficial for wound healing are garlic (with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), pineapple (because bromelain accelerates wound healing and decreases inflammation), and grape-derived phytochemicals (such as proanthocyanidin) that exert anti-inflammatory effects and support healing of elastin and collagen.
We expect both athletes and surgery patients to recover more quickly on the Paleo Diet than they otherwise would eating a conventional modern diet.

So again we see a common theme, that proper nutrients and avoiding anti-nutrients in grains and sugar etc, promotes proper healing. Don’t take this to mean that we can simply supplement to make up for nutrient deficiencies. That’s not the case. You have to take into consideration that all the nutrients in whole food work in harmony together, so one will not necessarily function without the other.

That’s why nutritionists just add confusion to everything. They take the focus off the whole food, and focus on single nutrients, as if we even know the whole story. We don’t. You can’t weigh and measure shit food and get the same results as you can with Paleo, and adding supplements to a shit diet won’t do you any good either. Along those lines, I want you to take a good read at this post by J. Stanton: “what is nutritionism?” It takes a look at some of the more important anti-nutrients, and asks some really hard questions. Things you need to think about. Read it, then come back. I’ll still be here…

What’s my point?

My point is that there are a lot of people out there training, including the most elite athletes, who take every aspect of training into account, analyzing everything they can and taking advantage of the newest-in-new hip-technology supplements or training protocols, but they just haven’t considered their diet may be one of the most contributing factors to their ability to heal after they beat the shit out of their bodies day-in-and-out just to compete in the Ironman. They aren’t asking themselves the tough questions. You need to question everything, to come out on top with the best answer.

I’ve questioned everything, and it seems blatantly obvious to me now that grains screw up every system in your body, along with sugar and too many veggie oils. There’s tons of info out there, so don’t just rely on me to spoon feed it to you. Sometimes you just have to ask your own questions and be able to filter out the bull-shit. Honestly, give me one GOOD reason why I should even bother eating grains. Is there anything in there that I can’t get from veggies, meat or tubers or fruit?? Thought not…

My point is that if you know about inflammation, and you KNOW that you are overtraining and about cortisol, and you KNOW that you need to limit systemic inflammation in order to recover propery, why don’t you pay attention to the biggest item contributing to your inflammation: YOUR DIET. Get it under control and only eat what you could pick, dig, or spear (mostly spear) in the words of J. Stanton.

If you couldn’t tell, this post was inspired by a good friend of mine who is training for Ironman, and has found out very quickly what systemmic inflammation can do to your ability to compete.

 

So what’s a good diet for marathoners and Ironman-ers? Here’s a great post from Mark Sisson about marathon fuel, the cleanest way possible. 

End rant…

Like this post? Want to find out more about how to get in shape fast? Check out these articles!

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

Smoking does make you fat and insulin resistant. Pesticides in America.

[Reblog from Animal Pharm]

Modern Big Tobacco-Agra/Monsatan Crops

Crops are generally coated with pesticides for the last 30-50 years. Are they toxic? Pesticides are upregulated into the food chain via consumption (corn, soy) by feedlot livestock and poultry. Let’s not forget tobacco (cigarettes, snuff, cigars, etc). ‘Tobacco is a pesticide-intensive crop. With nearly 27 million pounds of pesticides (including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and suckercides) applied to the U.S.-grown crop from 1994 to 1998, it ranks SIXTH in terms of the amount of pesticides applied per acre. The tobacco industry regards pesticides as essential to tobacco production, stating that “the crop could not be produced economically without them”.’

Additionally pesticides are employed in municipalities (public schools, parks, government land) and personal home use (termites, ant control, weeds control, lawns, etc). Although pesticides do not taste, smell or look toxic, they are not benign and without metabolic dysregulation consequences.

New studies in PubMed are cropping (pun intended) up in number pointing directly to insulin resistance, obesogenic, neurologic and inflammatory damage secondary to this broad group of pervasive chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). They are difficult to avoid as once in the soil, air or bodies of water, fish, birds and animals, they typically fail to degrade and significantly impact the environment.

The researcher Alavanja states ‘Over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the United State (US) each year and approximately 5.6 billion pounds are used worldwide (1). In many developing countries programs to control exposures are limited or non-existent. As a consequence; it has been estimated that as many as 25 million agricultural workers worldwide experience unintentional pesticide poisonings each year (4). In a large prospective study of pesticide users in the United States, the Agricultural Health Study, it was estimated that 16% of the cohort had at least one pesticide poisoning or an unusually high pesticide exposure episode in their lifetime (5).

Although attempts to reduce pesticide use through organic agricultural practices and the use of other technologies to control pests continue, exposure to pesticides occupationally, through home and garden use, through termite control or indirectly through spray drifts and through residues in household dust, and in food and water are common (6). The US Department of Agriculture has estimated that 50 million people in the United States obtain their drinking water from groundwater that is potentially contaminated by pesticides and other agricultural chemicals (7, 8). Children from 3-6 years old received most of their dermal and non-dietary oral doses from playing with toys and while playing on carpets which contributed the largest portion of their exposure (9-12).’

U.S.A. Obesity Trends With Pesticide Use

Guess what?

Pesticide use on crops grown in the South (tobacco) and Mid-West (corn, wheat, soy) trends well with U.S.A. obesity patterns [hat tip: LePine MD]. Above is the trend of obesity that starts mid-1980s then grows exponentially each few years. Maps are from Lim et al and BFRSS data.

Smart people in Korea (Lim et al) report that ‘There is an apparent overlap between areas in the USA where the herbicide, atrazine (ATZ), is heavily used and obesity-prevalence maps of people with a BMI over 30. Given that herbicides act on photosystem II of the thylakoid membrane of chloroplasts, which have a functional structure similar to mitochondria, we investigated whether chronic exposure to low concentrations of ATZ might cause obesity or insulin resistance by damaging mitochondrial function.’

Pesticides Kill Pests, Including Our Bug-like Mitochondria

It’s therefore not surprising to read about the toxic effects of pesticides on pests whose networked pathways overlap almost precisely with our own cells. Atrazine is a mitochondrial toxin, and our mitochondria are the sole energy generators and powerhouses whether the substrate is glycogen, glucose or fatty acids.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction Causes Fatness and Insulin Resistance (IR)

‘A close association between mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance is well established [1]–[3]. In in vitro studies, we found that artificial induction of mitochondrial dysfunction induced insulin resistance [4], [5].’ This is discussed by Lim et al. He and his colleagues performed an experiment on rodents. They fed low levels of atrazine to rats then examined lab parameters for insulin resistance (IR). What happened? The higher the dose of atrazine, the higher the obesity and insulin resistance. Atrazine was associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, higher visceral (organ) fat deposition, higher blood glucoses and decreased energy metabolism.

Another group of researchers, Ruzzin et al, tested a similar hypothesis. They fed crude Atlantic salmon oil to rodents and examined IR parameters. They state ‘POPs accumulate in the lipid fraction of fish, and fish consumption represents a source of POP exposure to humans (Dougherty et al. 2000; Hites et al. 2004; Schafer and Kegley 2002). Therefore, certain European countries have dietary recommendations to limit the consumption of fatty fish per week (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition 2004).’ They discovered similar insulin resistant results when they exposed fat cells in vitro to a POP mixture that mimicked the relative abundance of contaminants found in crude salmon oil. Insulin signalling was broken and impaired.

References

BRFSS, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System www.cdc.gov/brfss

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCNW-NgYZ2s [Obesity trend map and cdc slides]

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/obesity_trends_2006.pdf [BRFSS raw data by state and year]

Pesticides Use and Exposure Extensive Worldwide. Michael C.R. AlavanjaRev Environ Health. 2009 Oct–Dec; 24(4): 303–309.

The Tobacco Industry and Pesticide Regulations: Case Studies from Tobacco Industry Archives. Patricia A. McDaniel, Gina Solomon, Ruth E. Malone. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 December; 113(12): 1659–1665.

Chronic Exposure to the Herbicide, Atrazine, Causes Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Insulin Resistance. Soo Lim, Sun Young Ahn, In Chan Song, Myung Hee Chung, Hak Chul Jang, Kyong Soo Park, Ki-Up Lee, Youngmi Kim Pak, Hong Kyu LeePLoS ONE. 2009; 4(4): e5186.

Persistent Organic Pollutant Exposure Leads to Insulin Resistance Syndrome. Jérôme Ruzzin, Rasmus Petersen, Emmanuelle Meugnier, Lise Madsen, Erik-Jan Lock, Haldis Lillefosse, Tao Ma, Sandra Pesenti, Si Brask Sonne, Troels Torben Marstrand, Marian Kjellevold Malde, Zhen-Yu Du, Carine Chavey, Lluis Fajas, Anne-Katrine Lundebye, Christian Lehn Brand, Hubert Vidal, Karsten Kristiansen, Livar FrøylandEnviron Health Perspect. 2010 April; 118(4): 465–471.

Effect of Endocrine Disruptor Pesticides: A ReviewWissem Mnif, Aziza Ibn Hadj Hassine, Aicha Bouaziz, Aghleb Bartegi, Olivier Thomas, Benoit RoigInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 June; 8(6): 2265–2303.

Stretching is for dummies

Stretching won’t prevent injury or sore muscles before or after exercise. Stretching won’t even help you “warm up”. So what is stretching good for?

People like to stretch. It feels good. It makes you feel like you are doing something good for your body. If you look around the gym and pay attention – where most people have no idea what the heck they are doing – you see people stretch as if it’s expected of them. It has been programmed into us from a young age throughout school gymnasiums.

Everyone assumes that stretching is the right thing to do. But how useful is it really? Well, it just so turns out….

 

Stretching won’t prevent muscle soreness:

Researchers looked at 10 relevant randomised trials looking at the effect of stretching before or after physical activity on muscle soreness. The studies produced very consistent findings – there was minimal or no effect on the muscle soreness experienced between half a day and three days after the physical activity.

The best available evidence indicates stretching does not reduce muscle soreness. However there are other justifications for stretching,” they wrote. “Some evidence suggests that once muscle soreness has developed stretching may provide a transient relief of soreness: some people stretch to reduce risk of injury, others stretch to enhance athletic or sporting performance, and yet others stretch because it gives them a sense of well-being. The current review does not provide any evidence of an effect or otherwise of stretching on risk of injury, performance, or well-being.

Authors’ conclusions:
The evidence derived from mainly laboratory-based studies of stretching indicate that muscle stretching does not reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness in young healthy adults.

[Here’s more about stretching and reducing muscle soreness]

[Even more: Link, ]

Stretching won’t prevent injury. Stretching actually promotes injury:

Most of the studies that show increased flexibility and range of motion with stretching fail to address one thing: The problem with stretching is that muscles become too loose, and weaker, allowing the associated joint to move in a wider range of motion.

That’s extremely bad, since heavy lifting usually employs your full range of motion, you need your muscles to be able to stabilize the joint in place, not give it more range. I can see now how easy it would be for many lifters who stretch to get rotator cuff damage from heavy bench presses. Increased range of motion puts more stress on the joint, increasing the risk of injury.

Damaging the muscle through stretching can also have an adverse affect on an athlete’s gait. The loss of smooth efficient movement puts stress on virtually all structures – ligaments, tendons, joints and bones. They body tries to compensate for this irregular movement, and in doing so uses up more energy, reducing ones performance.

A recent study showed how stretching can result in poor running economy. increasing energy consumption during an endurance event, and decreasing performance.

Stretching will reduce muscular power:

In this study, acute bouts of static stretching have been shown to impair performance. Most published studies have incorporated static stretching that stressed the muscle(s) to the point of discomfort (POD). There are very few studies that have examined the effects of submaximal intensity (less than POD) static stretching on subsequent performance.

Ten participants were pre-tested by performing two repetitions of three different stretches to assess range of motion (ROM) and two repetitions each of five different types of jumps. Following pre-testing, participants were stretched four times for 30 s each with 30 s recovery for the quadriceps, hamstrings and plantar flexors at 100% (POD), 75% and 50% of POD or a control condition. Five minutes following the stretch or control conditions, they were tested post-stretch with the same stretches and jumps as the pre-test. All three stretching intensities adversely affected jump heights.

With data collapsed over stretching intensities, there were significant decreases in jump height of 4.6% (P = 0.01), 5.7% (P < 0.0001), 5.4% (P = 0.002), 3.8% (P = 0.009) and 3.6% (P = 0.008) for the drop jump, squat jump, countermovement jump (CMJ) to a knee flexion of 70 degrees , CMJ using a preferred jump strategy and short amplitude CMJ respectively. An acute bout of maximal or submaximal intensity stretching can impair a variety of jumping styles and based on previous research, it is hypothesized that changes in muscle compliance may play a role.

[Here’s more about stretching and how it reduces muscular performance Link, Link, Link, Link, Link]

[More reasons not to stretch before exercise]

So, when is stretching beneficial, if at all?

One thing some studies do show, is that stretching with no other exercise following is able to significantly improve performance.

Note: Statistical significance – means the likelihood that a finding or a result is caused by something other than just chance. (i.e. not a large amount, but just enough to matter) Just sayin’…

This study showed that, in the ascence of any other exercise, stretching has some benefit. Simply stretching the muscles had a training effect. The trainees got faster, stronger, and more flexible. The article suggests that stretching may be a good introduction for those who are out of shape or just beginning an exercise routine, or for those not yet fit enough to do other types of training.

[Article: Static stretching improves exerxcise performance]

Conclusion: “This study suggests that chronic static stretching exercises by themselves can improve specific exercise performances”

My opinion is that stretching should be done only by those in rehab or those who are unable to do regular training. If you are able to train, however, you probably should train, since results will likely be much greater than just static stretching. Plus, stretching just sucks!

Just sayin’….

Like this post? 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!

Lower bodyfat setpoint.

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

Cardio is for dummies

Endless cardio is a waste of time, is useless for causing metabolic change. Cardio is bullshit.

Did you know that any aerobic activity is “cardio”? How about that lifting weights is also “cardio”? Hiking, walking, generally moving around…it’s all “cardio”. If we do this much cardio already, why do we need to do more?

For all it’s cracked up to be, endless “cardio” at the gym, as in running on a treadmill, spinning, or whatever for hours on end, every day, is utterly useless and a waste of time.

  • Cardio only burns fat while you are working out.
  • Cardio does not cause a shift in your body’s metabolic activity.
  • Cardio actually causes your body to produce more fat.
  • Cardio does not change the way your body uses energy.
  • Cardio does not increase glycogen stores or mitochondrial activity to burning fat.

The body uses fat in the aerobic (ST and lower IT) zone. So, linear thinking (i.e. conventional wisdom) suggests that to burn fat you should operate in that zone. It would not surprise someone trained to understand the adaptive capabilities of the human body that if you burn more fat, the body will find a way to produce more. And this is just what happens when your energy flows over the aerobic pathway—your body releases hormone messengers that signal higher fat production.

This is exactly the reason that spending hours on a bike or treadmill every day is totally counter productive. You are over-using the aerobic pathway, and really hurting your fat-loss goals.

We did not evolve to rely heavily on a carbodydrate-fueled energy system, and yet, carbohydrate metabolism seems to rule our lives today. Yes, carbohydrate (in the form of glucose) can play a major role in the production of energy in skeletal muscle, but it turns out that the heart and skeletal muscle prefer fatty acids (fat) as fuel over glucose.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t regularly ramp their heart rates up for over an hour a day like so many of us do now. Even when the concept of organized hunting came along, it would appear that our hunter-gatherer ancestors relied more on superior tracking ability (using our highly evolved and exceptionally large brains) and walking (using our superior fat-burning systems), rather than on actually “chasing down” their prey. In fact, squandering valuable energy reserves (and increasing carbohydrate [glucose] metabolism by a factor of ten) by running hard for long periods of time was so counterproductive it would have likely hastened your demise (imagine chasing some game animal for a few hours and – oops – not succeeding in killing it. You’ve spent an incredible amount of energy, yet now you have no food to replace that energy. You have suddenly become some other animals prey because you are physically exhausted).

So, what does all that mean for us in the 21st century seeking to maximize our health and fitness?

Well, we know that this current popular high intensity aerobic pursuit is a dead-end. It requires huge amounts carbohydrate (sugar) to sustain, it promotes hyperinsulinemia (overproduction of insulin), increases oxidative damage (the production of free radicals) by a factor of 10 or 20 times normal, and generates high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in many people, leaving them susceptible to infection, injury, loss of bone density and depletion of lean muscle tissue – while encouraging their bodies to deposit fat. Far from that healthy pursuit we all assumed it was! What, then, is the answer?

Knowing what we know about our hunter-gatherer ancestors and the DNA blueprint, we would ideally devise an aerobics plan that would have us walking or hiking several hours a day to maximize our true fat-burning systems and then doing intermittent “life or death” sprints every few days to generate those growth spurts that create stronger, leaner muscle.

However, since allocating a few hours a day to this pursuit is impractical for most people, we can still create a plan that has a fair amount of low level aerobic movement, such as walking briskly, hiking, cycling at a moderate pace, etc a few times a week and keep it at under an hour. Then, we can add a few intense “interval” sessions, where we literally sprint (or cycle or do anything intensely) for 20, 30 or 40 seconds at a time all out, and do this once or twice a week.

What should you do instead of cardio?

HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING. SPRINTS. ANAEROBIC ACTIVITY.

Once or twice a week to give your body time to adapt.

You burn more calories and more fat in total when you train at high intensity. And you do not open the metabolic pathways that cause your body to make more fat. Energy that flows over the anaerobic pathway signals your body to make more muscle and to burn fat.

You incur an oxygen depth that raises metabolism for days after a high intensity session. Above all, you bring adaptations that burn fat. As the body remodels in response to the adaptive challenge presented by a brief, high-intensity session, it preferentially burns fat. In addition, you put on lean muscle mass that burns energy continuously. From 60 to 70 per cent of the energy you burn is at your basal metabolic rate. If you gain lean muscle mass you raise your basal metabolic rate and, thus, burn more energy 24 hours a day.

How does this happen?

Brief high intensity exercise creates an adaptation, because your body sees it as a stressor for change. You have pushed yourself to the limit, now growth is needed. It’s a survival trait that is a result of your ancient hunter-gatherer genes.

Brief high intensity training uses both the anaerobic and aerobic pathways. It rapidly depletes your muscle glycogen stores. This signals your body to make those stores larger, effectively growing your endurance threshold. It also enables you to handle more carbs efficiently without them going to fat storage.

Brief high intensity training causes a shift in metabolic activity that makes your body burn more fat for energy all day long, every day. It forces your body to make more mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our bodies. They create energy for the cells. They also prefer to burn fat for energy, as it is a more efficient and clean process than burning glucose. Eating a paleo diet high in fat, coupled with occasional high intensity interval training, will ensure your mitochondria are trained to burn primarily fat, will increase the number of mitochindria in your muscles, which in turn burns even more fat.

I’ll include a quote from Richard Nikoley of Free The Animal:

I’ve seen amazing things in the gym. I see these same people, toiling away on the treadmill, day after day, week after week, month after month and they look like zombies to me. Far from the picture of health, they look highly stressed, swollen from body-wide inflammation, pale — awful. And they make no noticeable gains. On the other hand, a number of people have come up to me and complimented me on the gains I’ve made and they’ve noticed. I work out, high intensity, for a total of one hour per week — some do that every day on the treadmill or elliptical.

 

In Conclusion

 The benefits of low level aerobic work (walking, hiking, cycling, swimming):
– increases capillary network (blood vessels that supply the muscle cells with fuel and oxygen)
– increases muscle mitochondria
– increases production of fat-burning and fat-transporting enzymes
– more fun, because you can talk with a partner while doing it

The benefits of interval training (sprinting in short intense bursts)
– increases muscle fiber strength
– increases aerobic capacity (work ability)
– increases muscle mitochondria (the main energy production center in muscle)
– increases insulin sensitivity
– increases natural growth hormone production

The pitfalls of chronic mid- and high-level aerobic work (i.e. endless cardio)
– requires large amounts of dietary carbohydrates (SUGAR)
– decreases efficient fat metabolism
– increases stress hormone cortisol
– increases systemic inflammation
– increases oxidative damage (free radical production)
– boring!

Like this post? 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!

Lower bodyfat setpoint.

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.

Paleo for one year: My results thus far & Understanding the Paleo concept.

It’s been exactly one full year since I stumbled across my first learnings of Paleo ideas and lifestyle. Many things have changed since then, all of them for the better.

First off, understand that paleo is not a “diet” or a “fad”, it’s more of a way of integrating our knowledge of human evolution and biology into a modern context, so that we can improve our quality of life. This integrates knowledge of biochemistry, human biology, fitness, evolutionary psychology and general health, in order to make us healthier, stronger, better looking, and longer-living.

My personal experience has given me the following benefits as I’ve progressed through the past year:

  • Decreased body fat
  • Increased mental clarity and focus
  • Increased muscle mass and recovery **(this is a huge one!)
  • cured chronic heartburn
  • cured ambiguous gastric issues
  • Less illness
  • cured eczema
  • cured bad acne
  • Better sleep
  • Boundless energy

And the list goes on. Needless to say, I feel as though I’ve found the fountain of youth. And I will continue to do this as long as I live, Paleo that is, because of what it has allowed me to accomplish over the course of just one year, especially the ability to put on muscle pretty much effortlessly!

Edit 2/9/12: One more thing I’d like to mention: my teeth and gum health have drastically improved. My dentist made a comment last visit that my gums look “much better than they did 6 months ago“. I used to have pretty inflamed painful, bleedy gums at the dentist, and sometimes when I brushed my teeth. Now my dentist will tell you my gums got better because “I started to brush and floss more”, but the truth is, I lied. I actually brush once a day, if I brush at all. And hardly floss. I don’t have bad breath anymore so it’s really not necessary. See? Emulating a hunter-gatherer diet lets your body take care of itself!

Now there’s a new buzzword floating around recently. It’s an idea that encompasses everything we do relating to Paleo, and combines it with modern ideas to improve ourselves beyond just “Paleolithic” nutrition and fitness, and surpass everything from the Neolithic environment that holds us back: Hyperlithic. Sounds cool right?

Here’s the post from Evolify:

Think Like a Geek.

Intelligence is sexy. It confers both survival and reproductive advantage, and was certainly selected for in our paleolithic ancestors. It’s woven throughout so many levels of our evolutionary past that it’s hard to reduce it to one thing. In this context, it carries the implication of the very word paleolithic itself — the reference to tools. Thinking like a geek helps us choose tools and develop tools.

Eat Like a Hunter.

The fuel we provide to our biological systems has effects that ripple through every aspect of our individual life. From mental acuity to mood to structure to disease, our choice of fuels is crucial. Thinking about food from the angle of a paleolithic hunter quickly provides answers to questions science is unable to efficiently adjudicate. This is not about pure carnivory, but a nod to optimal foraging theory. Once we understand something about the strategies of a paleolithic hunter we can begin to merge our ancient food system with our modern food system. If we lose either perspective, we will quickly go astray.

Train Like a Fighter.

This gets into a mess of words and concepts. Ignoring the “hunter-gatherers don’t train” bit for a moment… This is about training as a fighter fights, and not training to be a fighter per se. It is also about adopting modern tools with the intent of unlocking parts of our DNA that lay dormant within sedentary humans anesthetized by economically abstracted violence. Humans fought their own battles prior to the rise of agriculture. Being able to pay for violence to be conducted on our behalf appears to be a moral and physical benefit, but the signals and interaction between our genes and our environment are not easily faked and not easily replaced. Our physical and mental potential as individuals is not always aligned with those of industrial agricultural civilization.

Look Like a Model.

Because “look” embodies multiple tenses in the English language, this one is open to much ambiguity. My meaning is primarily in a passive sense. If you think like a geek, eat like a hunter, and train like a fighter, then you will [more or less] automatically “look like a model” in terms of phenotypic expression. It is also important to note that “model” means many things. There are many inputs for advertisers deciding on models, but I’m specifically not talking about three types of models. 1) Men as advertised in men’s magazines. 2) Women as advertised in women’s magazines. 3) Fashion models of either sex. Without going into too much detail today, it has been shown that men pictured in men’s magazines tend to be more muscular than the ideal women find attractive, and women in women’s magazines tend to be thinner than men find attractive. Advertisers manipulate us according to evolved heuristic biases.

I use “model” to imply something closer to an ideal attractiveness influenced by Darwinian sexual selection (inter-sexual). The intent is to get at things that are relatively generally attractive to the opposite sex. This is contrasted to the use by advertisers of intra-sexual selection… or… competition with others of the same sex. Our brains do not analyze these questions in a rational way, but in a way that tracks markers of health in the context of evolutionary time. “Look good naked” is a great goal. Unfortunately, our intuitive self-assessments of looking good are likely biased to the point of being counterproductive.

Common Threads

All of the above are related to the ecological context of us as individuals. The interaction between our genes and our environment is implied in each level. The association with gyms and training with the active physical components of health is similar to synthetic and isolated components being packaged and sold to us as “food”. Real food is not enough. We need real life as well.

The impact on our psychology is entwined in each of these concepts as well. We know that points of attractiveness shift depending on the ecological context of the beholder. Some use this as a refutation of attractiveness as an evolved psychological component. However, this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of human ethology. I am not interested in mimicking the optimal attractiveness ratings of people influenced by sub-optimal (resource depleted, etc.) environments. A better question is this: What is optimal for humans in an optimal environment? We need to answer other questions to say what environments are optimal, and they are not easy questions. They are also not so difficult that we should be flummoxed by those who descend into relativist or quasi-relativist arguments representative of myopia.

 

 

 

Like this post? 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!

 

Lower bodyfat setpoint.

 

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.

 

 

 

My Progress 2/08/2012 and breaking the plateau.

I’ve done it again! Week-on-week gains have been a walk in the park for me these past 2 cycles.

I’ll post my updated logs below, but first I want to go off on a tangent about…

The Dreaded PLATEAU

I have friends that complain about hitting “plateaus” in their workouts. They just can’t lift any more weight, or get past a certain point in body composition. I wonder what the cause is? My gut tells me they’ve hit the plateaus because of poor diet, and their body just can’t support any more muscle mass with their mediocre nutrient intakes. Or they have some systemic inflammation going on, and recovery from the gym is just secondary to their body’s need to fight that inflammation.

One of my close friends follows a low carb plan (weakly though). He’s got decent definitiion, but seems to get bored easily. I think the boredom has to do with his lack of gains recently, and that exacerbates the problem. He complained to me once that he just couldn’t get past “this one lift”.

Another of my gym-going friends says he pays attention to what he eats, but it really is a shit-poor diet of grains and lean meats. So in reality, he’s eating what everyone else in the weight-lifting world eats. He also started with the “bulking then cutting” bodybuilding mentality, and has paid for it with piss-poor body composition for years. Granted, he CAN leg press 1000 lbs, but that’s just genetic luck on his part. He also seems to have some boredom issues with regards to getting into the gym and lifting. He’s also plagued by constant joint pain and various lifting related injuries that have held him back and caused regressions here and there. The injuries were obviously preventable, but it’s taken him a long time and he still has not fully recovered. This has definitely played a role.

Both friend A and friend B don’t have the same pumped up mentality they used to when we all started out “back in the day”. They do train to failure, and friend A even uses the same Musclehack routines that I do. Again, boredom comes to mind with regards to lack of gains or results in the gym, but I think it all comes down to one thing: they’ve lost their capacity to make further changes in body composition, and lost their capacity to recover.

So what’s holding them back?

Both friend A and friend B continue to eat grains and sugars and all that crap. And the lack of gains is making them lose interest and get bored.

Friend B has a “personal trainer” that no doubt whispers sweet nothings in his ear about “arterycloggingsaturatedfat” and “healthywholegrains”. He trains hard and does the classes and the spinning and all that, but it’s been about a year, and he’s still got that gut. Every time I talk to him about Paleo all he says is “I need my carbs”. Ok buddy, how’s that workin’ for ya? His injuries have also been slow to heal. My experience with this tells me that his “high-carb” attitude has him guzzling grains like a factory-farmed-cow. The immune response from all those lectins and inflammation is undoubtedly keeping his recovery slow, not to mention nutrient deficiency which is absolutely critical to recovery from injury and illness!

Friend A has a wife who loves to cook. Need I say more? Paleo seems like a pretty big life changer for their situation. It would take me a lot of convincing to get both of them to switch. Damn, marriage really does take a toll on your health!

So how do I help my friends? They’ve been stuck in a rut and brainwashed by “professionals”! Meanwhile I’m surpassing them. Huh funny how that works….

Speaking of surpassing

Here’s my latest log update. Keep in mind, most numbers in the spreadsheet are PER SIDE, and don’t include the bar.

Workout Log 1-20-12 to 2-7-12

My biggest lift pundage totals so far

Overhead Press 120 x 8

Smith Shrugs 250 x 10

Leg Press 690 x 8

Bench 175 x 7

Deadlift 245 x 9

Cable Curls 80 x 8

Tricep Pushdowns 145 x 7 (not sure if this is actual weight or what, its one of those cable machines so it could just be a “resistance” measurement)

So there you go! That’s why I never get bored. My body doesn’t plateau because it’s not busy fighting inflammation. [Eat good]. [Train hard]. [Do it right.]

Heavy strength training IS a required aspect of long term health. For EVERYBODY.

Lifting heavy things every once in a while IS absolutely necessary to longevity, health, and “taking care of your body”. No matter your age or your gender.

Only lifting heavy things creates structural adaptations in muscle and bones to keep us strong and resistant to injury for our entire lives. You may not be thinking the same thing when I say “intense strength training”, but my routine is far from intense. I spend between 30-45 minutes, M-F lifting weights. I see progression each week. Consistently. But the only intense part is that it’s hard work, and I train to failure. There are many ways to train, but you need to realize that taking care of your body the right way is not ever going to be easy. If you want to be lazy and not work hard, your goals will be severely hampered.

If you’re a woman, and you are concerned about “getting bulky” or looking “too intense”, take a gander at these videos of natural women lifters. It’s their livelyhood to lift weights, yet in the absence of steroids, they just look like they are in great shape. You wouldn’t even look twice if you saw them on the street ( I would, but for reasons I won’t say 😉 ).

2007 American Open.

108 lb woman clean-and-jerks twice her bodyweight

Woman Lifter

Notice how all these lifts are functional, meaning that they assist your every day life and ability.

For comparison, here’s a couple videos of “jacked up” women bodybuilders. The movements they are doing are not as functional, and are focused on “getting big”.

Lisa Moordigian

Brenda Smith

Notice how there is no agile athleticism involved in these movements. These two are focusing on individual muscles for size, and not utilizing skill techniques that would actually be useful in real life.

Now why is lean muscle mass so important?

Our ultimate goal in eating a functional Paleo diet and moving around a lot is to achieve positive gene expression, functional strength, optimal health, and extended life expectancy.

Lean body mass is healthier than adipose tissue. Generally, the more lean mass a person has, the longer and better they live. But to simply increase lean mass to get “bulky” at the expense of agility and function is counterproductive. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We are talking about functional, sexy, lean mass.

Have you ever heard the phrase “died of old age” or “died of natural causes”? Basically that means the person died as a result of the end of the logical aging process, the diminishment of organ reserve and muscle mass that once supported their functional life.

Muscle provides a metabolic reserve!

Muscle produces proteins and metabolites in response to physical trauma. This response is essential to the body’s efforts to achieve recovery and resume homeostasis. With the loss of muscle mass, we lose this metabolic reservoir. Lifting heavy things also causes a poitive adaptation in bone tissue. Heavy loading causes your body to react, depositing more calcium where you need it most. If you want to prevent osteoperosis and bone fractures, especially if you are a woman, heavy lifting early in life will help you reach that goal of stronger bones and a life resistant to injury.

Organ reseve refers to the functional capacity of our organs to support life. Interestingly, lean muscle mass and organ reserve have a correlation: skeletal muscle mass and organ reserve tend to correspond throughout life.

The diminishment of organ reserve and lean muscle mass is somewhat genetically influenced, but the expression of your genes depends on the interaction between your genetic blueprint and your personal environment and lifestyle. This means that our efforts throughout life to build and maintain muscle mass tend to improve or retain not just muscle mass but the function of other tissue as well, including the function of vital organs like the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. And vice-versa. It’s a widely accepted assertion that 75 percent of our health and life expectancy after age 40 is determined by environmental factors, including the impact of our daily lifestyle choices. Now there’s a reason to get off the couch.

 

What are the best ways to maintain lean body mass throughout life?

Men and women should work out the same way,

as long as you have the same goals: functional strength, promoting lean body mass over fat mass, and improving overall health. Hormonal differences between men and women, as well as diet, will change how your body reacts to heavy lifting, but the end result is the same: increased strength to body weight ratio that is crucial to long term health and fitness, muscle that makes sense, fat burning muscle that fits you. Muscle that will preserve your good looks and shape for your entire life!

Check out these older-age CrossFitters. They are all over 50! And they will continue to feel and look great for a long time following Paleo diet and lifting heavy things!

Carrie Gym

You can also check out these really amazing success stories at Marks Daily Apple. There are a ton of men and women of all ages (many over 50) who have made drastic changes in health and body composition. I can tell you one thing…they look a lot better than those “Weight Watchers success stories”.

They do basic strength exercises that focus on function and aesthetics. Those women do not look “bulky”. And those guys look like they are in pretty damn good shape. I think they are setting themselves up for long term health and resistance to injury, don’t you?

Got more questions? Something I missed? Let me know below!

Progress 1/20/2012

Here’s my latest progress report. My logs below are from 12/5/11 to 1/19/12. I decided out of boredom to change it up a little early, rather than waiting the entire 10 week cycle. So I am beginning today on a lower rep range-higher weight cycle (6-8 reps for most lifts). I also started to hit a little plateau with my gains, either due to boredom or the fact that I just switched gyms. So I’m hoping the change will help me blast through.

Things happen in the process of moving. I missed a couple workouts. Although I have to say my new place is a huge improvement. 10 car garage, nice lake views, and plenty of room in the basement to lift heavy things (really for Thursdays, since Planet Fitness *cough gay cough* doesn’t allow big weights hitting the floor). So I’m doing deadlifts at home. It’s better this way. I get really noisy doing deads, and I wouldn’t want to scare off all the little girls on the eliptical machines… 😉

So here we go.

Workout Log 12-5-11 to 1-19-12

Yep, lots of numbers. But I do weigh 171lbs now. I think that’s a great improvement in muscle mass for me. Last time I checked I was 165. I also didn’t put on any fat. Good job brah!

I’ve also been taking an herbal testosterone booster called Endotest by San. It’s primary ingredient is Trubulus terrestris, and Vitus Agnus. On top of that I have been supplementing with D-Aspartic Acid, another natural test booster. It’s an amino acid that acts as a precurser. 1.5g daily. It’s been 2 weeks, which is the point you are supposed to start noticing changes. I already feel more drive, if you know what I mean 😉

Also, for the past 2 weeks all of my workouts have been fasted. And I have been intermittent fasting successfully. I’m really trying to get down to single digit bodyfat numbers for summer. My fasts have been from 8PM to 12 noon. I have also been eating less frequently, with about 2 large meals per day, protein directly after workout, and an occasional small meal of eggs with almonds or maybe some whole yogurt mid day. My largest meal is after my workout in the evening. So far so good!

To keep energy up at the gym I have been supplementing with caffeine, arginine, BCAA powder, beet powder, carnitine, beta alanine, and creatine before each workout. I know some of this stuff isn’t “Paleo”, but it’s also not harmful, either, and really helps me get the most out of my fasted training sessions.

Last Sunday I started interval training again. I’m using the Tabata Method, which is really hard core, but you feel like a million bucks after, and it only takes 4 minutes! Damn son! I’ll begin doing this once every weekend.

I’ll post up pics of my hotness as soon as I’m done triceps today

Drop the Pink Weights! Women Should Deadlift!

Here is what proper heavy lifting, and deadlifts, can do for your butt.

Please, stop with the fluffy pink weights! Do something USEFUL!

This woman doesn’t look “bulky”, she looks HOT.

It’s time everyone started getting it right!

Picture Credit

Like this post? Want to find out more about how to get in shape fast? Check out these articles!

Deadlift technique

Lower bodyfat setpoint.

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.

The final word on Saturated fat and Cholesterol.

How To Burn Fat All Day. High Intensity Interval Training.

High Intensity Interval Training is hands down, the fastest, most scientifically proven method to burn fat and get ripped.

Doing these High intensity exercises takes between 5 and 45 minutes, depending on your fitness level, and are way more effective than hours of cardio.

Intervals stress your body to its limit, which causes positive adaptations in mitochondrial development and fat burning.

How To Build More Muscle After Training

Sleep is one of the most overlooked aspects of health and training.

Its key to managing stress, inflammation, and recovery. Not getting enough can literally sap your strength and mental focus, and really hurt your gains in the long run.

Testosterone is prized for its anabolic effects. Testosterone secretion occurs primarily during sleep, and coincides with REM sleep cycles. Most of your testosterone is released at night, with levels gradually dropping as the day goes on. Also, the largest secretions of GH (most of your total day’s worth) occur during the first 1-2 hours of sleep. Later in the night, GH is also correlated with REM sleep. Both GH and testosterone are potent promoters of protein synthesis. Hinder their secretion, and you’re just asking for trouble.

Chronic sleep loss also causes excessive cortisol secretion, and decreases insulin sensitivity. It also decreases leptin, and increases ghrelin. Leptin tells our brains we are not hungry, ghrelin stimulates hunger.

So, one of the best things we can do after the gym? Get your protein. Then, TAKE A NAP! I usually work out after work in the evening. After a session I chug a protein shake, pass out for a couple hours, then wake up STARVING. This is when I cook a couple pounds of meat and a bunch of veggies. I can eat my dinner, and have some meals ready for the rest of the week.

Learn to turn out all the lights an hour or so before bed, turn off the devices, light some candles, and go to sleep in the quiet dark. Having a nice relaxing pre-bed routine will ensure you get the most restful, recovery-promoting sleep possible.

Get jacked in your sleep, fool! Yeah!

Biceps 12/23/2011

Bicep day was yesterday. I am continuing to make great progress in increasing the weight each week. I am now up to 75×11 on the cable curls, which means it’s time to add 5-10 lbs next week (I’m actually beyond the recommended rep range by one rep). Last week, I was at 65×11, so to jump 10 lbs in one week makes me really happy.

Keep in mind that I also do back exercises first on this day, so after the barbell rows and pull-ups, my biceps are already worked. If I was not doing back, I think my curls would be in the 80’s.

Bis and tris are pretty much the only isolation exercises I do, and they seem to be contributing to arm size fairly well, when coupled with the compund moves I do the rest of the week.

Check. Me. Out!

There you go! Always lift to failure, then do it again! Merry Christmas, ladies! haha.

Triceps 12/16/11

Tris, after Tri-day Fri-day. I’m up to 55×10 on the decline bench french curls (EZ bar, including bar. I think the bar is 15, but it could be closer to 30)

I like this move. I decline to about 35 degrees, and allow the bar to come a bit behind my head. I keep my arms from going totally vertical on the contraction so that my muscle is constantly under tension. Going behind the head also works the lats a little and gives the tris a larger stretch at the bottom, allowing more “full” range of motion.

Lifting in a Fasted State, and Pre Workout Protein

From Health Correlator

The idea that protein powders should be consumed prior to weight training has been around for a while, and is very popular among bodybuilders. Something like 10 grams or so of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) is frequently recommended. More recently, with the increase in popularity of intermittent fasting, it has been strongly recommended prior to “fasted weight training”. The quotation marks here are because, obviously, if you are consuming anything that contains calories prior to weight training, the weight training is NOT being done in a fasted state….

Read the rest here

This is something I have been practicing for a long time. Fasted training has numerous benefits, including more fat burning.

How (not) To FAIL At The Gym. (Get Muscles, Burn Fat Faster) III

 

This is part III. Make sure you read part I and part II.

Muscle growth is a defense mechanism. To speed growth you must force change.

Given the proper diet, your body will make more muscle as a result of certain environmental “threats” or stressors. To create the fastest muscle growth, you need to work your mucles to failure (I mean motherfucking cruel, unforgiving, uncomfortale, 100% absolute FAILURE) within a certain timeframe, or “time under tension”. Usually this is no longer than 60 seconds, and between 6-12 reps. That is why heavy weights are required! This ensures that all your muscle fibers are recruited before lactic acid buildup causes premature muscle failure.

Performing sets for too long with high reps does not allow you to reach the actual limit of your strength. With high reps, we are forced to stop, as lactic acid becomes too much for the muscle to handle, and ATP production becomes limited. Your muscles simply run out of energy before the limit of their strength is reached. There will be growth, but it is slower, and recovery takes longer. Therefore, high reps are a WASTE OF TIME, mang!

So, we lift heavy, and lay the foundation for muscle growth through adaptation.

We also eat right, to speed recovery and promote positive gene expression, while maximizing cognitive ability and testosterone production. We get sun (Vitamin D baby!), and we get plenty of rest.

Recovery is just as important as lifting heavy things

Rest between each set allows ATP to recover, and lactic acid to leave the muscle. If you aren’t resting for a few minutes between sets, you may as well be doing one of those stupid high-rep workouts like everybody else!

Rest days are just as important, because once you kick your own ass in the gym, you gotta heal up, baby! During a lifting session, you are actually in a catabolic state, but you are triggering something that comes after: the anabolic state! Adaptation can only happen if you give your body time to build new tissues and recover.

If you keep picking a scab, does it ever heal?

Don’t get confused by magazine programs and other useless crap.

Strength, power, size, mass, toning. Whatever you call it, IT IS ALL THE SAME. Building muscle and burning fat happen SIMULTANEOUSLY given a proper diet. I seriously hate anyone who says “I don’t want big muscles, I just want to tone”. Give.me.a.fucking.break! It is all the same, the only thing that matters is how fast you get there. Anyone with an elementary education should say “I want to change my body as fast as possible, and not waste hours in the gym every day”. If that’s not you, why are you reading this? 

I wrote this in “How To FAIL At The Gym pt II”.

Now ladies, don’t get all worried about “blowing up” or “looking like a dude”. Women naturally have less testosterone than men, so it’s naturally more difficult for them to build muscle and burn fat. That means women (for the most part) who train just as hard as men, given a similar amount of work, will see less results than men. Why would you want to fuck around wasting time at the gym, when you can do it faster and better with HARD WORK? Once you reach your desired body composition, you can maintain! Trust me, you won’t just wake up one morning looking like the Hulk. Progress takes time, but it takes less time when you follow the right method!

Over time, our goal is to overload the muscle by increasing the weight a little bit each week. Basically, once you reach about 12 reps for a certain exercise, add a little weight the next week. This keeps you within the anabolic threshold, while making sure you get measurably stronger. And if you’re getting stronger, you’re making PROGRESS. (fun fact, muscle strength is directly proportional to muscle size. Stronger IS bigger).

Strong is the new skinny.

How does this all relate to burning fat?

With a clean Paleo/Primal diet and lifting heavy, our muscles grow, and our metabolism gets better at burning fat. More muscle = more mitochondria, and more mitochondrial adaptation to fat burning. A common misconception is that we go to the gym to get big or burn fat. What actually happens at the gym? We are causing an adaptation, so that our muscles grow later on (recovery), and we burn fat all day long instead of glucose (#Winning).

Cardio has limited potential for changing body composition and burning fat, because it does not push your body to it’s limit and force adaptation. What we do in the gym should cause positive adaptations and changes LATER ON. Doing intense lifting workouts, along with high intensity interval training, or Tabata Sprints every once in a while, is going to give us more fat burning. Sprints rapidly deplpete your glycogen stores. The rapid glycogen depletion makes your body realize that your need for energy (ATP) has become much greater, and forces your body to create more mitochondria. This also forces the mitochondria to learn to burn fat for energy rather than glycogen. THIS is the outcome we are looking for: fat burning ALL DAY LONG, not just in the gym.

The side effect of this is greater stamina. A marathon runner who trains their body to burn fat will find it more difficult to “hit the wall”, or “bonk”. This is a good thing.

A good method for intervals or sprints is a quick warm up sprint, at about 80% effort. Once you feel ready, you will have to go ALL OUT with 100% effort. Pretend you are running for your life away from a hungry lion, or whatever.

You will sprint with all your soul and effort for about 20 seconds, then rest for 3-4 minutes. Do it like this a handfull of times, between 4 and 6 reps. You can do this on machines too set on high resistance, just don’t try it on the treadmill!

Ask me how I’m so awersome! yup!

I follow the free MuscleHack Gym Routines. Scientifically proven to work, dammit! (I’ll never promote name brands or anything that costs money. I don’t have anything to gain from promoting things. If it friggin works, I’m gonna friggin tell you about it! Because I’m that cool).

Tell me what you thunk about my post! And then? Go lift heavy shit brah!

How To FAIL At The Gym (There Are No Shortcuts) II

This is Part II. Make sure you read Part I and Part III.

The sooner you understand this one simple concept, the sooner you can thank me.

I see this every time I go to the gym. The people that HALF-ASSEDLY do any “workout”, incomplete, poor form, partial range of movement. They don’t track their progress. They don’t follow a consistent routine. They don’t fucking lift anything heavy. Explain to me how that can POSSIBLY do you any good? How can you PROGRESS without pushing your limits? You have no idea where you are going or what you are tryng to do, picking up random weights and swinging things around as if you’re actually working your muscles properly.

It goes the other way too. Huge guys come in, who got huge by eating everything in sight. They may have made progress, but their body composition is in the shitter. Yah, sure you can bench 220 for few reps, but your fat ass still hangs out of your shorts. Then there’s another guy, with a 55 pund dumbbell in each hand, swinging his body back and forth violently, as he completes half-assed reps, barely working his full range of motion, and definitely NOT really lifting that 55 lbs. These guys might be big (looking), but its mostly fat on top of muscle, and I don’t see them losing it any time soon.

It might be easy to blame the rag-mags, or the media for the mis-information. The conventional wisdom promoted by the “professional”. You want the real culprit? YOU are at fault for your laziness. Yah, the truth hurts. Now do something about it! Educate yourself, get some biology in ya! I consider it my duty to my body to understand how it works, reacts, grows, heals, and thrives. Besides that, it should be COMMON SENSE that the only shortcut to better body composition is HARD WORK.

Hard work creates progress that you can see and feel. Hard work is the only shortcut.

Hard work means pushing your limits to make your body adapt. Hard work means following a consistent routine that causes measurable growth and fat loss (including diet). Hard work means good form, heavy weights, and pushing yourself to 100% failure.

Hard work does NOT mean doing endless reps with little weights. Your body is a reactionary mechanism. It adapts and heals as a reaction of the stressors you place on it. (Your immune system is a perfect example). Lifting light weight does not create functional strength, because you are not forcing an adaptation. Doing 100 bicep curls with a 5lb weight will do nothing more than reinforce your ability to lift……can you guess?………FIVE POUNDS! Holyfuckamoly Batman! What use is that in your everyday life? What use is that in an emergency situation? (It is really useful for wasting a lot of time at the gym, though).

Hard work does NOT mean lousy form. If you have to use swinging momentum to curl that 50 pounder, you aren’t doing work, YOU ARE CHEATING. Don’t be a wuss! Stop trying to show off. You’re not impressing anyone. (I’ll get into gym etiquette with another post). Find a weight that allows you to use proper form, and you’ll find out how strong you actually are. Push yourself to failure within the anabolic rep range. Eventually you WILL grow and be able to curl that 50 punder the right way!

Hard work allows you to minimize your time at the gym, so you have more time for the fun stuff; sex, playing music, fixing your car, or writing a blog….

Women AND men should focus on functional strength. Strength is sexy.

It’s attractive. Muscle ALWAYS looks better than fat. (Muscle forms the foundation of your outward appearance, and you can control which aspects you change. Muscle enhances your metabolic flexibility, immune system, endurance, and resistance to injury). Now, I’m not saying that I’m attracted to women who are jacked like bodybuilders. I’m talking about natural shape, aesthetically pleasing form, that can deadlift AT LEAST their own bodyweight, or perform a handfull of decent pull-ups. That’s not asking too much, is it?

Now ladies, don’t get all worried about “blowing up” or “looking like a dude”. Women naturally have less testosterone than men, so it’s naturally more difficult for them to build muscle and burn fat. That means women (for the most part) who train just as hard as men, given a similar amount of work, will see less results than men. Why would you want to fuck around wasting time at the gym, when you can do it faster and better with HARD WORK? Once you reach your desired body composition, you can maintain! Trust me, you won’t just wake up one morning looking like the Hulk. Progress takes time, but it takes less time when you follow the right method!

Ah, the perfect example. Stacie Tovar, CrossFit champ. She lifts heavy and pushes her limits. This shows her change after going CrossFit.

Take a look at Lauren Plumey. She’s a good lookin’ CrossFitter too.

Now leave some love! In the form of comments. I also accept other forms of love. heh.

This is Part II. Make sure you read Part I and Part III.

Like this post? 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!

Lower bodyfat setpoint.

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.