It’s way more complicated than just “burning calories”…

…especially if you’re not working out the right way.

It’s frustrating to see people using those heart rate monitors and digital calorie counters in the gym. Are those things even accurate?? I think all they do is measure heart rate and make an estimate, which doesn’t even take into account what type of exercise you were doing, whether it was sprinting, cardio, or weight lifting, whether it was heavy and intense, etc. Lets get real. Stop trying to burn as many calories as possible in the gym. It’s a hopeless endeavor, even if calories burned even mattered…

It does not matter how many calories you burn while working out. That’s not how it works. If it were, once you ate a meal after your workout, you would have effectively undone all those grueling hours of useless boring cardio. Not only that, but hours of cardio has been shown to actually hinder long-term fat loss results, because it becomes a chronic stressor of the bad kind, increasing cortisol and inflammatory markers perpetually. Eventually you end up with that beer-gut or cortisol-gut as the inflammation catches up with you.

If we work out effectively, we will cause an adaptation. The correct type of exercise actually changes the way your body works. It normalizes your body fat regulating hormones, and makes better use of the nutrients you eat. You become more efficient, and along with the proper diet, become adapted to burning primarily fat for energy, instead of glucose. The best type of exercise actually raises your energy expenditure for days afterwards, increasing fat oxidation as well.

What type of exercise causes these beneficial changes? It’s the type of exercise that hits all the muscle fibers, not just the slow twitch type 1 muscles we use during endurance exercise.

mark post 2 pic 1 Copy

In order to cause the adaptation we are looking for, to increase post-workout energy expenditure and fat oxidation, we must exhaust all the muscle fibers, type one and type two.

First, high-intensity exercise training induces secretion of lipolytic [fat-burning] hormones including growth hormone and epinephrine, which may facilitate greater post-exercise energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Second, it has been reported that under equivalent levels of energy expenditure high-intensity exercise training favors a greater negative energy balance compared to low-intensity exercise training.”

B.A. Irving, University of Virginia

That’s right. High-intensity training, NOT cardio. Doing high intensity training enacts the same cardiovascular benefits as hours of cardio, in less time, and with better long-term results for health and weight management.

The development of type 2b muscle fibers leads to a reduction in accumulated white adipose tissue and improvements in metabolic parameters independent of physical activity or changes in the level of food intake. These effects occur independently of muscle oxidative capacity and are associated with increases in fatty acid metabolism in liver…The results from the current study indicate that modest increases in type 2b skeletal muscle mass can have a profound systemic effect on whole-body metabolism and adipose mass.

The metabolic improvement in this model cannot be entirely explained by a reduction in fat-pad mass, indicating that type II muscle counteracts the actions of excess adipose tissue on whole-body metabolism. These findings indicate that type II muscle has a previously unappreciated role in regulating whole-body metabolism through its ability to alter the metabolic properties of remote tissues.

They also noted that these muscle fibers improved insulin sensitivity and caused reductions in blood glucose, insulin, and leptin levels, and that, these effects occurred despite a reduction in total physical activity. Sounds to me like we should get the heck off the treadmill (unless you’re sprinting on it).

When we do high-force and short-duration exercise we don’t exclusively work our type 2b fibers, we work all of our less forceful fibers and our type 2b fibers. We try to lift something heavy, and our muscles try to generate enough force with our weakest type 1 fibers first. Those do not generate enough force, so our muscles also activate our more forceful type 2a fibers to help. If that’s still not enough, we keep the type 1 and type 2a fibers going, and add the stronger type 2x fibers. Keep going and don’t stop working the other three, and bring in our most powerful type 2b fibers, until finally we reach what’s referred to as positive failure.in which we have absolutely exhausted all muscle fiber types to the point of being unable to lift another repetition. Thanks to this cumulative activation of all of our muscle fibers (known as orderly recruitment), we have caused an acute stressor which will cause our body to adapt. Here is where the magic happens! In the 6 days (at least) of recovery, your energy expenditure goes up, as well as fat oxidation, your muscles heal, you start to get leaner, and you grow stronger!

This is why olympic sprinters are lean and muscular, and long distance runners are frail, sick, and emaciated. This is why those lean ripped dudes at the gym never have to step foot on an elliptical machine. This is why Michael Phelps can eat 20K calories a day and stay ripped. This is why you only see tortured tired looking people on the treadmill who never seem to lose weight. This is why people who do CrossFit and olympic weightlifting are lean, mean, Paleo-eating machines.

Don’t want to get huge, bulky muscles? Don’t worry about it. It won’t happen unless you do steroids. Here’s why.

Myostatin (GDF-8), a member of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) superfamily of secreted growth and differentiation factors, is a negative regulator of skeletal muscle growth. Loss of myostatin function is associated with an increase in muscle mass in mice, cows, and humans.

– M.N. Elkasrawy, Medical College of Georgia

That means that as you get more muscles, you naturally down-regulate your ability to gain more muscle, so that over time you get diminishing returns, until you eventually reach the physiological limit of your muscle-building capacity. For women, that’s pretty low. Same is true for a lot of guys too. Most of us just are not naturally able to build and maintain tons of muscle.

The base levels of myostatin and muscle in most women and most men make it impossible for them to naturally build bulky muscles. It does not matter how much resistance we use. The majority of us, especially women, do not have the genes to build bulky muscles via any form of exercise.

Those few people who are able to get big, they’re athletes, they naturally gravitate to sports, because their physiology allows them to build supernatural-ish capacity. If this was you, you’d know it. If you’re reading this, it’s pretty safe to say that you’re one of us normal folks.

What types of workouts do I do to stimulate all my muscle fibers?

Here’s an example of my most recent setup, scroll down the page in [this post].

Heavy weights, that cause positive failure. I use about 6-8 reps-to-failure on compound lifts, and about 8-12 reps-to-failure on isolation lifts. I work out 3 times a week, and I do the same exercises each monday, for example, to allow a full week of recovery for those muscle groups. I.e. Monday is squats, Wednesday is shoulders, Friday is back. Something like that. 

I do high intensity interval training about once a week. Windsprints on a bike or running. Doesn’t matter. This stuff is brilliantly better than any type of conventional cardio, and usually only takes about 15 or 20 minutes.

Lots of active recovery: walking, hiking, biking, etc. (Super low-level stuff has a lot of benefit too).

~ Dan

Related Posts:

It’s way more complicated than “counting calories”…

My Progress. Growing Triceps.

How does fat make you fat?

Hunter-Gatherer origins of hook-up culture vs. modern westernized social standards

One of the oldest hunter-gatherer societies still in existence, the !Kung, provides enlightening views on ancestral human sexual selection.

Mankind has spent 99% of his existence living the life of a hunter gatherer, therefore, by getting a glimpse into the thought processes of Nisa [main subject of this book] we simultaneously shed light on who we were at the beginning of time and how little we’ve changed despite this brief appearance of the modern conveniences of civilization.

The often repeated theorem by evolutionary biologists that we could not have possibly populated this planet by starting off as faithful monagamous pair bonds is brought into clear view by Nisa’s revelations. The sexual strategies employed by our highly social ancestors were the result of hundreds of thousands of years of refinement via sexual selection. The prevalence of bawdy sexual behavior and a prevailing hookup culture on many college campuses attests to the fact that despite our western conveniences, our westernized religions, and our PC indocrination, we have changed vey little if any since our emergence 100,000 years ago.

We see these two relationship phases arise within the hunter-gatherer society:

In psychoanalytic literature, a Madonna–whore complex is the inability to maintain sexual arousal within a committed, loving relationship.[1] First identified by Sigmund Freud, this psychological complex is said to develop in men who see women as either saintly Madonnas or debased prostitutes. Men with this complex desire a sexual partner who has been degraded (the whore) while they cannot desire the respected partner (the Madonna).[2] Freud wrote: “Where such men love they have no desire and where they desire they cannot love.”[3] Clinical psychologist Uwe Hartmann, writing in 2009, stated that the complex “is still highly prevalent in today’s patients”.[2]

The view of women as either Madonnas or whores limits women’s sexual expression, offering two mutually exclusive ways to construct a sexual identity.[4] The duality implies that women must assume subservient roles, either as madonnas to be protected or as whores to be punished by men.[5]

The original experiments with rats applied the following protocol:[6] A male rat was placed into an enclosed large box with four or five female rats in heat. He immediately began to mate with all the female rats again and again until eventually, he became exhausted. The females continued nudging and licking him, yet he did not respond. When a novel female was introduced into the box, he became alert and began to mate once again with the new female. This phenomenon is not limited to common rats.[7] The Coolidge effect is attributed to an increase in dopamine levels and the subsequent effect upon an animal’s limbic system.[8]

Human males experience a post-ejaculatory refractory period after sex. They are temporarily incapable of engaging in sex with the same female after ejaculation and require time to recover full sexual function. In popular reference, the Coolidge effect is the well-documented phenomenon that the post-ejaculatory refractory period is reduced or eliminated if a novel female becomes available.[9] This effect is cited by evolutionary biologists as one reason why males are more likely to desire sex with a greater number and variety of partners than females,[9] though of course sometimes human females are known to copulate with multiple and novel partners as well.

While the Coolidge effect is usually seen demonstrated by males—that is, males displaying renewed excitement with a novel female—Lester and Gorzalka developed a model to determine whether or not the Coolidge effect also occurs in females. Their experiment, which used hamsters instead of rats, found that it does occur to a lesser degrees in females.[3][4]

The fact these hunter-gatherer humans so effectivly articulate these relationship phases indicates this may just be an almost inescapable side effect of long-term relationships, no matter what social norms dictate.

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.

Wheat, the drug. Are you an addict?

This is mostly theory, but I found it very interesting. Research is still young on the subject. Reblogged from Marks Daily Apple:

You’re addicted to wheat.

Wheat contains opioid peptides that may be able to activate opioid receptors in our bodies. You know what else activates opioid receptors? Opium, morphine, and heroin. (I’ve never tried any of them, but I hear they can inspire some real devotion from their users. See: Trainspotters, Requiem for a Dream.) I know that may sound glib, and I’ll be the first to admit that research into this is still very preliminary. You won’t find any ironclad evidence on PubMed that wheat is addictive. But the thinking goes that rather than hitting you like a ton of bricks and rendering you speechless from the sublime triggering of your opioid receptors, wheat addiction manifests as a stubborn lingering thing.

Evidence does exist, however limited. One older paper (PDF) that identifies multiple opioid peptides in wheat gluten, suggests that they are capable of binding to brain opioid receptors via a “plausible biomechanical mechanism,” and deems them of “physiological significance.” Dr. Emily Deans, of Evolutionary Psychiatry, has actually used naltrexone – a drug that blocks opiate receptors – to curb wheat cravings in celiac patients who are trying to kick the “habit.”

Wheat plays a huge role in the diets of industrialized nations. If you’re reading this, you probably grew up eating it. You may still be eating it from time to time – and that may be at least partly responsible for your urge to eat that slice of bread.

 

Easy Steps to Control Your Genes. Don’t be a victim of your genes!

It seems that most average Americans have a lot of bad inflammation, hormones and genes floating around right now, causing all kinds of various problems that we are programmed to just accept as “facts fo life”.

Really, we are in control of most of these problems, once you realize how interconnected each bodily system is, it gets pretty simple to fix!

We can influence gene expression to a far greater degree than previously thought possible.

I’m going to utilize a few quotes from one of my favorite bloggers, Mark Sisson, to introduce this concept:

“The take home message here is that you can literally reprogram your genes to live a long, healthy, productive, happy and energetic life. You can either sit idly by and end up a victim of poor gene expression, or you can take control of the signals you send your body (through diet, movement, stress management and many other lifestyle behaviors) and become the best version of you possible. “

“while your genes are “fixed”, the expression of those genes – the amount of proteins they cause to be made, whether or not they are even switched on or off at all – depends on the “environment,” the circumstances surrounding those genes. Diet, exercise, exposure to toxic chemicals (or fresh air), medicines, even the thoughts you think (which generate actual chemical signals) all influence gene expression – positively and/or negatively, depending on the choice.”

 
Basically it comes down to hormones and hormone expression. Hormones are fairly easy to manipulate, and hormones control the “on-off” switching of genes For example, when you eat sugar, the hormone insulin is secreted, and over time gene expression moves in a direction that produces more insulin. A diet high in sugar tends to cause your system to secrete more insulin, leading to down regulation of insulin receptors, which down regulates lipase and other fat-burning enzymes, which in turn increases the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
 
When you change to a diet low in sugars and rich in healthy fats, those or other genes are directed to reduce inflammatory expression, down-regulate insulin-producing metabolic machinery, up-regulate insulin receptors and rebuild cell membranes to reflect the presence of better building materials. Research in gene expression is exploding right now and is examining both the impact of environmental factors and the promise of epigenetic therapies. The connection between insulin resistance and genetic expression (particularly in relation to exercise) was raised in last week’s comments. Diet and toxin exposure have been shown to influence gene expression in laboratory studies. Here are a few study abstracts to pique your interest: PubMed 1, 2, 3.
 
We know that genes are controlled by hormones. We also know that poor hormone expression tends to perpetrate poor gene expression. And we know that positive hormone expression leads to good gene expression. It simply comes down to those parts of our environment we have the most control over: what we put into our bodies, how we deal with stress, and how we move around. Once we get that part right, most everything falls into place!
 
 
To spark your interest, Here’s some of the latest research into gene expression:
 
  • Researchers recently compared intestinal gene expression in breastfed and formula fed infants. The intestinal tract acts as a primary site for immune response, particularly in infants whose bodies must quickly learn to adapt to foreign foods outside the sterile womb environment. Glitches in intestinal (and related immune) development can cause food allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Of particular note, gene expression that regulated cellular response to oxygen deprivation was more pronounced in breastfed babies, suggesting a possible cause for why breastfed infants have a lower SIDS risk.
  • Prenatal exposure to common environmental toxins can induce epigenetic changes that put a child at more risk for later cancer than post-birth exposure does. The study focused particularly on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are associated with oil and coal burning.

The take home message here is that you can literally reprogram your genes to live a long, healthy, productive, happy and energetic life. You can either sit idly by and end up a victim of poor gene expression, or you can take control of the signals you send your body (through diet, movement, stress management and many other lifestyle behaviors) and become the best version of you possible. [I put this quote in twice on purpose]

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.

 

 

 

Meal timing for stubborn fat loss. Intermittent Fasting.

Intermittent fasting seems to offer many of the same benefits as calorie restriction, including increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, autophagy, resistance to stress, and some great effects on hormone secretion and mental clarity. Not to mention IF has some benefits that exceed those of simple calorie restriction!

(I can tell you from personal experience the mental clarity and hormone thing works!)

Unfortunately, not all of us want to worry about counting calories. It tends to be tedious and really counterproductive in the world of muscle gains. It’s also pretty stressful and can drive you bonkers, leading to cheating and bingeing, and just plain failure.

Intermittent fasting is the best of both worlds. It allows you to reap all the same benefits of calorie restriction practices, while still allowing an 8 hour window for good eating.

The easiest way to do it is by following the Paleo framework, and eating only animals, vegetables, and some fruit. By following the Paleo diet, our hormones will be more able to keep us from getting hungry during the fast, and our body will be trained to burn fat for energy when we are not eating! That’s exactly what we want!

By eating a Paleo diet rich in animal fats, our hunger signals are greatly sated, and we just don’t get hungry, unless we are truly hungry! And we are only hungry when nutrients are needed by our bodies (not just because of a sugar craving or because our blood sugar is low). It is pretty easy, see? Our caloric intake pretty much self-regulates once neolithic food toxins are no longer being ingested.

Fasted training also results in improved protein synthesis, better metabolic adaptations, and a higher anabolic response to post-workout meals!

Fasted training also blunts glycogen depletion during workout, meaning more fat is used instead!

So, once you’ve reprogrammed your genes and hormones using the Paleo framework, IF becomes effortless! And that stubborn fat loss plateau should be easy to break.

How do I do it?

  • Eat 2 or 3 large meals inside an 8 hour window. Usually between noon and 8pm.
  • Make sure adequate protein takes priority to preserve muscle mass.
  • Within the 8 hour window, only eat when truly hungry, don’t snack unless you are hungry, and don’t eat any calories outside the 8 hour window. Coffee in the morning is an ok exception (very little cream. NO SUGAR).
  • Train fasted. That means if you hit the gym at 6pm, make sure your most recent meal was at least 3 hours prior at 3pm. This should ensure you are fasted enough to reap the benefits.
  • Eat a large post-workout meal. This will be your last meal until noon the next day, so make it count!
  • On rest days, eat less than you normally would. I usually consume only 2 large meals. (It’s easier if you sleep in 😉 )

Here is a good guide to get you started, basically a nice explanation and a few protocols for different meal timing strategies.

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.

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.

How to lower your body fat setpoint

Leptin is the chief body fat setpoint regulating hormone. It acts on the hypothalamus region of the brain to control our metabolism, nutrient uptake from food, hunger and satiety signals.

Here is how your normal body regulates fat mass and caloric intake

In normal functioning humans, leptin increases as you begin to overeat, and as fat begins to accumulate. The rise in leptin signals the hypothalamus that enough nutrients have been taken in. The increase in leptin tells your body to slow down the hunger signals, speed up the metabolism, and reduce the absorbtion of nutrients.

Likewise, as you fast or fat mass decreases, leptin also decreases. The hypothalamus notices a lack of leptin, and signals the body to slow down metabolism, increase nutrient uptake, and increase hunger.

Here is how a malfunctioning body regulates fat mass and caloric intake

In poorly functioning humans, such as the obese, the leptin signal is muted, and the hypothalamus has difficulty “hearing” the signal. This causes the body to continue to uptake nutrients, slow metabolism, and increase hunger, until the leptin signal is amplified by a greater fat mass, to the point that the hypothalamus is finally able to “hear” the signal. This is how the malfunctioning body defends an incorrect higher-fat mass.

This is called leptin resistance, or a lack of leptin sensitivity.

What causes leptin resistance at the hypothalamus? Inflammation!

Lowering systemic inflammation in the body, by eating a functional Paleo diet and removing neolithic food toxins, as well as staying away from hyper-palatable high hedonic reward foods, is the best way to “deflame” your body, and bring leptin sensitivity back within a healthy range.

Once you have eliminated inflammation and your hypothalamus is able to accurately read leptin signals, your body will self-regulate to a lower body fat setpoint, making fat loss and body recomposition easier.

Get More Jacked! Eat This Stuff on Workout Days.

Check out these little tricks to boost HGH production after workout, or reduce body fat percentage, a.k.a. adipose tissue.

  • Mango

A little bit of freeze dried mango mixed into the diet helped to reduce body fat and glucose concentration in mice. The reasoning behind this is because mangos boost the production of adiponectin which raises the glucose uptake of muscle cells. Look at the HF + 1 bar in each graph, which had the best response overall. These mice were fed a 1% composition of freeze dried mango. All mice were fed a “high-fat” diet that was designed to fatten them up. I’m wondering what type of fat was in the diet…..

  • Fruit and Veggies

Lots of other fruits have been shown to reduce body fat and increase results at the gym. Cherries can increase muscle mass and let you put on less fat. Blueberries can also help you put on more muscle without gaining fat. And getting more vitamin K-2 from the right foods increases testosterone.

  • Caffeine and Carnitine

Caffeine and Carnitine Increase your endurance, so you can do more HARD WORK!

  • Milk

A type of choline contained in milk, Alpha-glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline (Alpha-GPC), helps boost HGH production post workout. The researchers in this study gave 600mg Alpha GPC to subjects about an hour and 30 minutes pre-workout, and had them do one-leg-presses. The below graph shows HGH production post-workout. The lower line shows baseline HGH (what occurred with placebo).

That’s a pretty significant HGH boost! Another great study found that consuming milk post-workout reduced muscle soreness, reduced decrements in isokinetic muscle performance, and limited increases in creatine kinase.

  • Creatine and Tarragon

This nice study looked at the insulinogenic and creatine-uptake effect of combining creatine and tarragon supplements. This abstract describes a study in which creatine disappears faster from the bloodstream and into muscle tissue after ingestion, when human subjects took 1000 mg Artemisia dracunculus (tarragon) extract along with the creatine. The dark black line is the one we are looking at. It shows the creatine leaving the blood and entering the muscle faster.

This study shows that the extract caused the muscle cells to produce more of pretty much all the proteins that make the insulin receptor work. Possibly because the extract boosts activity of Phosphatase enzymes, which separate phosphate groups from molecules, which in turn may stimulate the insulin receptor. This makes the muscles more insulin-sensitive, allowing more stuff like nutrients and creatine to enter and do their job. Bigger muscles dude! Check the protein response in the graph below.

The researchers also found that “Skeletal muscle from animals randomized to PMI 5011 was demonstrated to have decreased 20S proteasome activity and reduced gene expression of specific proteins as part of the ubiquitin–proteasome system in skeletal muscle”. In laymen terms, this means that proteolysis (the breakdown of muscle tissue into glucose) was slowed down. That’s pretty nice!

  • Water

Drinking water before meals has a slimming effect

There’s some good info, now go put it to use! Let me know how it works!

Another Example of Your Body’s Natural Ability to Regulate Caloric Intake

When eating real food, and avoiding grains, legumes, sugar, and processed food, counting calories becomes obsolete.

Just a personal example of huger regulation in a well functioning body. I have been eating this way for a year. I have lost fat, become leaner and more muscular. I have increased my ability to resist illness. I have cured my heartburn, allergies, acne, eczema, dry skin, and stomach pains. I have become smarter, faster, and more focused. I have also increased my sex drive, and decreased my recovery time from injury and working out.

Can you say the same after following the USDA’s recommended low-fat, crap-food, high-sugar prescribed diet? I highly doubt it.

When you were a kid, you could come downstairs for breakfast, and EASILY polish off an entire box of cereal.

I bet you could still do the same today. And you would be ravenously hungry a few hours later. How many eggs could you eat? Not many I’m sure. The amount likely hasn’t changed much at your current age. I have a hard time eating more than 3 in one sitting. Today I was barely able to force down 4 of them before the eggs became un-appetizing. The same thing seems to happen with other whole foods, such as steak and veggies at dinner.

This difference in caloric intake can be attributed to your body’s natural ability to sense nutrients and nutrient density.

Your body doesn’t count calories per-se. It wants calories, but does not limit your intake when the “food” you are consuming is nutrient-void. However, when the food you consume is nutrient-rich, everything works in harmony, and your body says STOP once it’s had enough. The most satiating factor of food is fat and protein. The more of each is in a certain food, the more satiating it becomes. This means you will only be diven to eat as much as your body NEEDS. Once it’s replete with nutrients, you are no longer driven to eat. This occurs whether you are physically full or not. It’s possible to push past that barrier, as I did when I forced down that 4th egg today, but it’s difficult.

This is why counting calories is useless and tedious.

You’ve got these built-in mechanisms to tell you when you’ve had enough to eat. Leptin, insulin, ghrelin, etc all working in harmony to elicit hunger and satiety responses. They get thrown off balance by calorically dense food that lacks the nutrients our bodies need. Even if you consume whole foods along with grains and sugars, you are still tricking your body by giving it excess empty calories. There are no complete nutrients to balance out the extra caloric intake from a bagel or a bowl of cereal or a plate of spaghetti.

When everything works properly and nutrient rich food is consumed, calories are irrelevant. Try it for a couple weeks. Eat only meats, eggs, veggies, and fruit. Notice how much clearer your mind is, how much more vibrant your body feels. Notice how you will not be tired after meals. The inevitable afternoon “food coma” will be eliminated. Your body will naturally correct itself, bringing body wetight down to a normal level. You’ll become more active, since you will have more energy. Those “off” days will cease to exsist.

I’m full of energy, and not anywhere NEAR being hungry. My first meal of the day was at 11:00 AM. It was 4 eggs, a tbs of pastured butter, and some turkey. It’s 5:00 PM right now, and I haven’t thought about eating yet. No snacks, just some water. And I still put on muscle each week at the gym. Wow I rule! I’ll probably have a protein shake after the gym, and a fat steak with brussels sprouts for dinner. That’s how I win!

How To FAIL At The Gym. (Health Is Common Sense)

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

I have a complaint.

Is it the media, a lack of information, or just plain LAZINESS that makes people run on a treadmill for an hour and a half, every day, and STILL they can’t manage to change their body composition?

I see them every day, at the YMCA. They run with terrible form, heel slamming, joint killing form. They jump up and down on the elliptical (terrible machines), only doing about 50% of the work they THINK they are actually doing. They pedal carelessly on a bike, while their guts spill over into their laps and they read “Food and Wine” or “People” or some other God-awful publication that’s bound to be contributing to their utter useless lifestyle.

I’ve managed to motivate myself to change permanently for the better, with no other forces at work other than pure determination, and the knowledge that I will not spend, I REFUSE to spend the last 10 to 15 years of my life in decrepitude. The problem with society is that we’ve been programmed, BRAINWASHED into thinking this is normal. Apparently, even though we are still genetically identical to our wild ancestors, we have to accept the fact that we are different, that we can not live without disease and degenerative disorers that render us utterly useless to ourselves, left in the care of our offspring as we lose the ability to MOVE and ACT and have FUN.

BULLSHIT I say. You can change your falsely pre-determined future. Its so friggin easy people, all you have to do is realize that you are poisoning your body slowly over the entire course of your life by feeding yourself food toxins [1] [2], by being lazy, by hiding from the sun, and by listening to the government tell you what is healthy. These problems largely do not exist in the wild! Paloelithic human beings didn’t have to deal with cavities, heart attack, obesity, cancer, etc. Know why? They hunted, sprinted, lifted heavy things, ate animals, vegetables, and fruit. They didn’t sit around playing Halo on Xbox 360. They didnt eat 7-11 servings of birdseed (grains) every day! They didnt have soy. They didnt have veggie oils. They fasted. They didn’t eat every 2-3 hours trying to “keep blood glucose elevated” (fuckingstupid). They were lean, fit and HEALTHY throughout their lives. Don’t believe me? Modern anthropology continues to find evidence of this. GO TO A MUSEUM you fool.

Health is common sense. Most, if not at least 80% of body composition and total health, is determined by what you EAT. Movement only constitutes about 10%. The rest is lifestyle. If you don’t change what you eat to REAL FOOD (animals, vegetables, fruits), you will never know true health.

However, if you realize that there is no science behind the FAT-PHOBIA, CHOLESTEROL, FOOD PYRAMID, HEARTHEALTHY WHOLE GRAINS, you will live largely sickness and disease free, and you will change your body composition. You will lean out and gain more muscle. You will become more attractive naked. You will emit a positive attitude. To everyone around you, you will appear to be unstoppable, full of energy, immune to whatever virus is floating around the office.

Your brain will fucntion at optimum efficiency, soaking up all the information and beauty around you. You will feel ultimate clarity. It’s like a permanent high. Engergy on-tap, whenever it is needed. Power to have explosive workouts at the gym. Speed to spint to your car after work. Drive to make-your-bed-rock (ooooh yeaaaah). Recovery to do it all again. Your immune system will function at top efficiency because you will not have chronic inflammation, you will not get sick, you will recover from your brutal lifting sessions faster. You won’t waste time consuming fillers made of grain or soy, so there will be more room for amino-acids and fatty-acids to build and construct new tissues, bigger muslces. You will train your body to burn fat for energy by promoting mitochondial adaptaion. You will be a FUCKING SUPER HUMAN!!!11 YUP!

Did I mention I feel really really good today?

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

Study Critique: Low Carb Diet Improves Memory

This study attempts to draw conclusions between a low-carb (ketogenic) diet, and enhanced memory function. Their conclusions are that a ketogenic diet is protective because of the lower insulin levels it secretes. In this post, I’ll take a look at the other hormones at play, and try to find out what might be the real cause for the memory improvement. Seems like a good time, let’s see how it measures up…

Take a look at the graphical data below from the study. Clearly there was a memory improvement after the low-carb meals. Makes it easy to put the blame on insulin, huh?

But, what else might be going on here? We know there must be other hormones at play. Notice the breakdown of each meal below, and take note on the amount of protein in each one. They are very close, basically the same for the purposes of this study.

I’ve said previously that protein actually enacts a higher insulin response than carbohydrate. Since both meals in the study kept protein relatively the same, the insulin response from the high-carb meal could only be a result of the higher carbs. I suspect that, had the low-carb diet used the same amount of protein (a good estimate of the average low-carb meal), and the high-carb diet used half the amount of protein (about 30 g. a more realistic amount for the Standard American Diet), the researchers would have observed a higher insulin response in the low-carb meal, or even an insignificant difference in insulin response.

Now, introducing Ghrelin, a wonderful hormone indeed.

Ghrelin production ramps up when you become hungry and during periods of fasting

  • It increases secretion of growth hormone
  • It increases focus and cognitive function
  • It increases cardiac output
  • It increases the amount of dopamine in the brain’s center of reward and addiction
  • ITS A RUSH
  • IT ENHANCES LEARNING AND MEMORY

If you don’t believe me, just Google it.

So normally, once you eat, ghrelin will decrease, and insulin will increase. Here is where satiation kicks in, and you start to feel satisfied, relaxed, calm, and possibly a bit fuzzy, depending on what exactly you ate.

Now I’ll try to show you how insulin alone is not the reason for the difference in cognitive function. This study shows the different levels of ghrelin responce across 3 breakfast meal types: a  high calorie simple carb, a  high calorie complex carb, and a low calorie meal (water).

Ghrelin concentrations decreased after the HC-SC breakfast by 41%, after the HC-CC breakfast by 33%, and after the LC breakfast by 24%. No significant differences in ghrelin concentration among the 3 breakfasts were observed until 120 min. Ghrelin concentrations were correlated with subjective measures of hunger (r = 0.51) and fullness (r = –0.44). The percentage decrease in ghrelin between 0 and 30 min was inversely correlated with the percentage increases in insulin (r = –0.76) and glucose (r = –0.79) but not with changes in leptin (r = 0.10). The percentage changes in ghrelin concentrations between 30 and 180 min were correlated with the percentage changes in insulin (r = –0.53) and leptin (r = –0.47) but not with changes in glucose (r = 0.22).

The big high calorie simple carb meal would have likely been the equivalent of pop tarts, waffles, syrup, or any combination of cereal grains covered in sugar. You know, the processed food-like crap that millions of ignorant parents shovel into their kid’s mouths before they run off to school.

The high calorie simple carb meal suppressed ghrelin more than either of the other two meals. The simple-carb meal would have enacted the largest spike in blood glucose levels, with the largest decrease in cognitive function, motivation, clarity, etc, flooring levels of ghrelin. Although the responses to ghrelin were inversely correlated with insulin levels, I assume that is because the 3 meals also had similar protein amounts, making the difference in insulin response only a result of the amounts of cheap carbs across the meals.

Want to stay sharp and focused in the morning? Tired of the mid-afternoon slump after lunch? Try limiting blood glucose spikes by eliminating sugar, bread and cereal from your diet. Eat only things that will keep you on the cognitive razor’s edge: meat, veggies, fruit.

More Evidence Against Grains, Bad Gene Expression

I came across a great paper summary from one of my favorite blogs: That Paleo Guy.

It turns out grains may be much more damaging than you think.

From Bioacive antinutritional peptides derived from cereal grains:

Not only cereals grains have a poor nutritional value for healthy individuals, but some cereals may also induce widespread primary and secondary intolerances, thus becoming “non tolerated” or “toxic” under particular, although rather frequent, conditions. Peptides originating from digestion of wheat protein or of other “toxic” cereals in the human gastrointestinal tract are responsible for both primary and secondary intolerances

And From Antinutritive effects of wheat-germ agglutinin and other N-acetylglucosamine-specific lectins

…as the lectin appeared to be fully active and fairly stable against proteolytic breakdown, its potentially harmful effects on both metabolism and health need to be explored, particularly when diets containing WGA are fed for extended periods of time.

The consequences of the continuous stimulation of the pancreas, particularly in the long term, may be harmful for both of its vital exocrine and endocrine functions. Moreover, as one of the previously shown toxic effects of dietary PHA [kidney beans] is due to its interference with the functioning of the immune system, it is of special concern what effects the systemically-absorbed WGA may have on the gut and the body’s immune systems. The thymus atrophy observed in rats fed with diets containing WGA may be particularly damaging for the proper functioning of the immune system.

it is particularly worrying that detectable amounts of functionally- and immunochemically-intact WGA are transported across the intestinal wall and may reach the systemic circulation

And Paleo Guy summarizes:

So let’s summarise.  We know that grains are a poor source of nutrition and easily replaced by more nutrient-dense foods.  We know that they can contain immuno-reactive proteins, such as gluten.  We know that they can also contain lectins, and in the case of the lectin, wheat-germ agglutinin, we know that this go avoid digestion and end up in systemic circulation, where, possibly, we might see effects on the endocrine and exocrine function of organs such as the pancreas and on immune-regulating organs such as the thymus.  We also see that there is potential for these lectins to also have insulin-like activity.  All of these effects are seemingly independent of the carbohydrate content of the source foods they are found in.

All good reasons to avoid grains, IMHO. Another thought comes to mind. I know people tend to use the excuse “I just have bad genes”, or, “I was born into a family of people with bad [insert problem here]”. The truth is, these effects are gene expressions, things that you or I am naturally predisposed to expressing under certain conditions. Well, genes don’t necessarily need to be expressed all the time, it takes hormones to express those genes. And you are perfectly capable of changing most of those conditions!

Now ask yourself, what causes hormones to be expressed? hmmmm…..OH NO SHIT! The FOOD YOU EAT! And the things you do!

Diet and toxin exposure have been shown to influence gene expression 1, 2, 3

Exercise causes positive hormone reactions, and eating the right foods causes more positive hormone reactions! These hormones cause good genes to be expressed. This comes through in our health and outward appearance. Avoiding toxins and laziness stops the bad genes from being expressed.

Note this nice discussion from Mark’s Daily Apple on gene expression.

Our modern lifestyles, as we say in the Primal Blueprint, create a deep chasm between our genetic expression and that of our ancestors

Live and move like the predator you evolved to be! Gene expression is in your control.