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

…especially if you’re still eating crap food.

I get so irritated when I hear people discussing the number of calories in their breakfast sandwich, on an english muffin…Then they go on to say, “well, if we added a hash brown that’s only 300 more calories, but it’s all from fat”…wtf!?!? Let’s stop glossing over things here. There’s definitely a lot more going on physiologically than meets the eye.

First off, if you’re trying to lose fat mass, you definitely should be eating less. But you can’t simply go on the interblogz, hypernetz, world-wide-net-whatever, and use some magical calculator to decide for you how many calories you need. Your body does not utilize calories in the same manner as someone else identical to your age, weight and body composition. That traditional approach is way over simplified.

You have to account for your current condition. Do you have insulin resistance or other hormone resistance? Do you have chronic stress? What’s your activity level? Do you have thyroid issues, or systemmic inflammation? If so, what’s the level of inflammation at the hypothalamus? (Well, it’s impossible to tell unless we take it outta your brain, but you’ll then be dead, and that’s the most permanent weight loss of all…). Trouble is, it’s difficult or impossible to measure all of these things and come to a conclusion about how it affects the calories you eat.

The hypothalamus is very important. It controls everything about regulating fat mass. It manages your hormones for hunger and satiety, insulin, ghrelin, leptin, you name it. It also controls how your body responds to calories, and how much energy you actually absorb from the food you eat. It even controls the speed of your metabolism. Now, throw off the hypothalamus with some systemmic inflammation, and whammo, we have the perfect recipe for fat-ass syndrome!

So what’s the easiest way to eat less? That’s easy: eat only nutrient dense, high quality whole foods that are unprocessed and unadulterated. That means plenty of healthy fats from whole food sources like coconut, olives, avocados, 100% grass fed beef, 100% grass fed dairy, game animals, or whole eggs from free range fed hens. Along with that you’ll be sure to get all the fat soluble minerals you need to stay full for longer periods of time. You’ll also be getting just the right amount of protein to help keep you sated. Along with that, get lots and lots of high quality vegetables, of all colors shapes and sizes, for their wonderful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals too!

The brialliant thing about avoiding all the industialized processed crap, and nutrient-void “foods” like grains and sugar, is that it allows your body to auto-correct. It eliminates all the exogenous dietary sources of chronic inflammation that throw off your body’s regulating mechanisms.

Veggie oils – Cause inflammation via oxidation. They break down (oxidize) super easy because these fats are highly polyunsaturated. Polyunsaturated fat contains two or more pairs of double bonds without hydrogen atoms occupying the open space, and it’s the carbon that lies between the double bonds that is wide open to oxidation. All it takes is a little heat or a little time, and poof, oxidized lipid! If you eat out a lot, or cook with canola oil etc, I guarantee you are getting a giant surplus of oxidized lipids floating around wreaking havoc on your body.

Grains – Contain little to no beneficial nutrients, and cause systemmic inflammation via gluten, lecins, phytates, and a host of other anti-nutrients that pass through the gut into general circulation. Not only do you take in a bunch of empty calories, but once your body realizes there’s nothing of value in there, you get hungry soon after.

Sugar – Same deal as grains. Added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, dehydrated-whatever solids, bleh. Empty calories, insulin surge, stresses they body’s natural regulating mechanisms, systemmic inflammation, unhappy hypothalamus, fat-fat-fattie.

…There’s a lot of other “foods” I haven’t discussed, but these are the main ones to look out for.

Now, assuming all that inflammation has been corrected, and you’re on your way to a healthier, happier you, it’s time to talk about those calories again.

It does matter how much you eat, because bottom line is, if you eat too much, your thrifty hunter-gatherer genes will tend to store the extra energy as fat for later use. Still, trying to actually count is pretty useless, because even when all your systems are back to normal and you’ve minimized systemmic inflammation, your individual calorie needs will still differ from everyone else’s. It’s literally impossible to tell exactly how much energy you individually absorb from any given meal, and it changes all the time based on your state of metabolism and activity level, nutrient needs, etc. Again, the hypothalamus regualtes all this stuff. In a healthy human it speeds up or slows down metabolism, and changes how much you absorb from food consantly depending on how much you eat, need, move, etc.

So how can you lose fat mass, not count calories, and not eat too much? For the most part, listening to your body is the best way. When you are truly hungry, and not just bored or stressed out, eat a nutrient dense, complete meal of whole natural foods complete with plenty of fat, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Think about this: have you ever tried to eat more than 4 whole eggs in one sitting? It’s not that easy, not many calories, it fills you up super quick, and it keeps you full for a long long time. It’s even more filling when it’s cooked with lots of grass fed butter and a couple strips of pasture raised bacon! I can tell you, anecdotally, any day of the week I eat a meal like this, I am full for the entire day. This includes the weekeneds when I am most active in the garage or walking around downtown. No joke. But it makes a ton of sense, right?

Had I combined that same meal with some english muffins, I would easily get hungry a few hours later. It most likely has to do with the phytic acid in the grains binding up many of the nutrients in my gut, making them just get pooped out later on. Im sure the glucose-rush doesn’t help either, flooding my body with insulin. The subsequent drop in blood glucose after the insulin surge stimulates hunger, as it acts in concert with your other hunger regulating hormones. If I did this every day, I might develop leaky-gut due to gluten and lectins. Lectins would be passing through the gut into circulation, binding to other organs causing dysregulation and systemmic inflammation, eventually reaching my hypothalamus, where the long term fat-gain really starts getting revved up. What a vicious cycle!

So yah, calories matter, but it has nothing to do with the government guidelines, which are likely way too high anyway, since they are probably based on the “needs” of a metabolically disregulated McAmerican population.

I’d say don’t bother counting too carefully. There are a lot of other factors that play into this that I won’t get into here. You can read this fantastic article over at Mark’s Daily Apple, about listening to your body, and when it might not always work.

~ Dan

How does fat make you fat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now what about this inflammation nonsense?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Stoneage!

~ Dan

Protein Powder

Someone asked me what I thought about casein protein powder. I gave them the same answer I give anyone regarding whether to take protein or not.

If you can tolerate it, and you are not lactose intolerant, protein powders are safe and should not pose any issues from a health standpoint.

But, it suddenly becomes easy to overeat. Since protein powders bypass our natural satiety mechanisms. You just downed a few hundred calories, and now you’re ready to eat another full meal.

The fullness mechanisms, or satiety mechanisms, like chewing, texture, taste, smell, fullness, etc, all tell our bodies how much we are eating, and when to stop, because our body is now replete with the nutrients it needs.

Chew your protein. You’ll be getting plenty to support growth of new tissues and muscle, without consuming a whole bunch of extra calories, not to mention sweeteners and additives.

If you are one of those people who does not get hungry and becomes sated from protein powders, go right ahead, just make sure you are using it to replace a meal, or a large part of a meal, and don’t add those calories back in the form of other food, unless you have a really high activity level and can utilize the extra energy.

Self experiment a little. I’m sure most people will find that protein powders are really not necessary..

~ Dan

Raise testosterone levels naturally by tinkering with diet, exercise, and lifestyle

Testosterone plays many roles in the human body. It is an important hormone in both men and women. There are lots of modern factors working against us these days that lower our bodies’ natural ability to produce the “T”, like BPA in plastics, carcinogens and toxins in the air, stress, lack of movement and exercise, and even lack of sunshine.

Why is “T” so important? Testosterone is the principal anabolic and sex hormone in humans, responsible for sexual desire and function, muscular hypertrophy, densification of bones, and hair growth. Compared to females, males famously produce about ten times the amount of testosterone, but females are far more sensitive to its effects. Though testosterone is largely responsible for those traits and characteristics that are considered “masculine” – physical strength, body hair, dominance, and virility – both sexes require it for proper sexual and physical development. In mammals, males secrete it primarily from the testicles (about 95% of the total amount, in fact) and women secrete it from the ovaries. Some is produced in the adrenal glands in both sexes.

So it’s our duty to ourselves, for longevity, health, and sexual happiness, to maximize natural “T” stimulators, and try to minimize “T” antagonists.

The first thing you should do is try to minimize those things which hinder natural “T” production. Since cholesterol is the mother of all hormones, and is a direct precurser for “T” production, we should make sure our bodies can produce plenty of it. That means avoiding statins and other cholesterol lowerig drugs (not only for “T” reasons, but for overall health reasons as well).

Stress causes us to increase our cortisol levels. Cortisol is a direct antagonist and “T” reducer. The easiest way to minimize stress is to get lots of sleep, avoid overtraining and excess cardio, and do lots of stress-releiving activities, like massage, camping, walking, or chillin’ with your significant other 😉

Foods that regularly spike blood glucose levels also have been shown to lower our natural “T”. Researchers found that 75 grams of pure glucose, and the resultant spike in blood sugar, was enough to drop testosterone levels by as much as 25% in a random grouping of 3 groups: healthy, prediabetic, and diabetic men. Now keep in mind how rapidly many SAD carb choices (pasta, cereal, bread, etc) convert to glucose upon digestion… Time to get stoneage! Eat paleo!

After diet and stress have been reigned in, our next step is to make little tweaks to our diet and lifestyle in order to maximize our natural “T” production.

A proper functioning body requires plenty of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, so we should make sure to consume a wide range of animal products and many colors of veggies. There is some great info [here] about high levels of vitamin A actually raising “T” production. Zinc is also directly related to “T” production. Therefore, make sure you eat plenty of seafood and grass-fed beef liver at least once per week! You can also make sure you eat plenty of saturated and monounsaturated fats. A study looking at male athletes found that both saturated and monounsaturated fats, as well as high cholesterol foods, were positively correlated with resting “T” levels. Comparatively, a low-fat high-fiber diet actually reduced serum and free “T” levels in middle aged men! Good thing the paleo diet is focused on plenty of nutrient-dense foods!

Vitamin D, already associated with bone and muscular strength, also positively correlates with testosterone levels in men. So make sure you get plenty of sun every day (don’t get burned and don’t use poisonous sunscreens). If you can’t get sun, you can supplement with about 5,000 IU of D3. I’ve even seen some people experiment with upwards of 10,000 IU per day.

If you’ve already been lifting heavy things, and sprinting, both of which have been shown to increase “T” levels, the next step would bo to maximize recovery. Since testosterone and growth hormone both correlate with deep sleep cycles, getting better quality sleep should help us maximize our usage of “T”. Zinc, Magnesium, vitamin D, and melatonin all promote deep, restful sleep, and have been shown to increase “T” levels and improve recovery time.

Utilizing rest periods between weight lifting sets, between 90 and 120 seconds, has been shown to increse “T” levels after intense training.

Also, avoiding other stressors, like large caloric deficits or very high activity levels, will both increase our ability to recover, increase the amount of fat burned, and reduce total cortisol levels, all of which may result in a bit higher “T” levels. Cutting calories too much just makes us hungry and stressed out. And running all the time just increases inflammation, which hinders our ability to recover and increases cortisol. Cortisol also results in strange things like abdominal fat accumulation.

If you want to try a few other things, here are some neat little tricks that may help you on workout days.

Like always, get stoneage!

~ Dan

Missing Link(s)

Happy Friday all you paleoists! Here’s some fun links to help you enjoy your nice long weekend!

Power hash browns from Fast Paleo. Perfect for your Sunday post-sprint meal!

Coffee and happiness

Orangutans play with iPads 

Grains are a poor triathlon fuel

Delicious looking grilled salmon and asparagus frittata

The Poliquin Protein Primer (produced by Charles Poliquin) quotes Jack Weatherford’s book “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World”, saying “The Chinese noted with surprise and disgust the ability of the Mongol warriors to survive on little food and water for long periods….  The Mongols consumed a steady diet of meat, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products and they fought men who lived on gruel made from various grains. The grain diet of the peasant warriors stunted their bones, rotted their teeth, and left them weak and prone to disease.”

More about gut health and gut flora related to obesity

How I eat and move on a typical day

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

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

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

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

Usually around noon I start to get a bit hungry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m going to hit the gym at about 6pm

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

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

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

On rest weekdays, I usually only eat twice.

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

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

On weekends I usually sleep in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep it caveman!


Missing Link(s)

Government tries to shut down paleo diet blogger

“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

The Declaration of Independence

This I have to blog about.

CHARLOTTE — The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is threatening to send a blogger to jail for recounting publicly his battle against diabetes and encouraging others to follow his lifestyle. 

Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling.”

Steve Cooksey has learned that the definition, at least in the eyes of the state board, is expansive.

When he was hospitalized with diabetes in February 2009, he decided to avoid the fate of his grandmother, who eventually died of the disease. He embraced the low-carb, high-protein Paleo diet, also known as the “caveman” or “hunter-gatherer” diet. The diet, he said, made him drug- and insulin-free within 30 days. By May of that year, he had lost 45 pounds and decided to start a blog about his success.”

College vegetarian goes Primal, gets healthier

Is fortification of food dangerous?

Sweet potato: marathon fuel secret weapon.

5 Movements essential for long term health

The relationship between exercise and food intake

Decode lottery tickets (may not make you rich, but it’s fun)

Whole Grains. Important nutrients for your body?

What is a grain? It’s a small, hard seed or seedlike “fruit”, esp. that of any cereal plant, as wheat, rice, corn, rye, etc.

So far, I don’t see any evidence here that important nutrients exist in this “hard seed”, do you?

The package goes on to list “the benefits of whole grains”

Bran: The outer layers of any grain. Contains some protein, vitamins, minerals and lots of fiber.

So far, I’m not convinced. How much protein is some? Is it a complete protein, or is it deficient in some amino acids like lycine?

And lots of fiber. This is mostly insoluble, which means it causes lots of gut irritation and gas, as it ferments in the colon. The bacteria in your colon are the only things that can break down insoluble fiber.

Endosperm: The large central portion of the grain. It contains most of the carbohydrates and some protein of the kernel. White flour is made up of ground endosperm alone.

Again, we get some protein, with no indication that it’s either significant, or even bioavailable. I mean, gluten is one protein in grain, but it’s not easy for anyone to digest, and causes a lot of problems with the immune system. Another thing we notice is that the endosperm contains lots of sugar, which isn’t good.

Germ: The small structure at the lower end of the kernel from which sprouting begins and the new plant grows. The germ is naturally high in food value and is rich in protein and vitamins.

Ah, more BS. What exactly is food value? It’s not something I see listed in the ingredients list, or on the “nutrition facts”. This vague term is another failed attempt to convince me there might be something of value in this product. How much food value do I need? Is it healthy? What other foods contain food value?

And oh, the vitamins. How many vitamins? Not many apparently, since they have to add vitamins to the bread to bring the value up. I have a feeling the actual amount of vitamins is almost non-existent without those additives. Wait…it doesn’t matter anyway. Phytic acid makes all those vitamins bio un-available anyhow!

[Why Grains Are Unhealthy]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The food is still shit.

Is carb loading or carb-refeeding necessary for big muscles?

In every circle of body builders and body science experts there are folks trying to find shortcuts for getting bigger and stronger in less time. Protein timing, meal timing, workout timing, carbo-loading, etc, it’s all scrutinized and debated into the ground.

One of the most common things you’ll hear is that carbohydrates after exercise is “absolutely necessary for protein synthesis”, or that “carbohydrates increase protein synthesis beyond what can be achieved with protein supplementation alone”.

What’s the reason for this belief? I think a lot of it stems from conventional wisdom. You know, that driving force that keeps everyone following the USDA dietary guidelines, stuffing themselves with cheap sugar calories in the form of bagels, pasta, and “hearthealthywholegrains” (they do form the base of the food pyramid, by the way).

Another driving force is the fitness and health industry, people who are licensed to parrot that conventional wisdom to anyone who is willing to pay for their “training advice”. Most of the things that are taught through personal trainer licensing programs and dietitian programs, etc, teach these people basic weighing and measuring of carbs-protein-fats. They even teach them formulas to calculate the exact amount of carbs you will need for your given activity level. This, again, makes carbs appear to be a necessary part of our lives.

The final and possibly most influential force in the belief that carbs are needed for big muscles? The big-muscle guys themselves. Again, it’s merely conventional wisdom rearing its ugly head. Something so basic and incorrect can be repeated a million times by huge influential dudes in the community, and that thing suddenly becomes truth, because it’s been repeated over and over. But where’s the proof?

I think one thing that drives people to accept this theory lies in the fact that carbs (and sugar) cause a spike in insulin secretion. Insulin is a growth hormone that forces nutrients into cells (as long as you aren’t insulin resistant like most Americans). Forcing nutrients into cells is what body builders want, because it initiates growth and repair of damaged muscle tissue. That’s exactly how you get bigger muscles, faster.

But wait, is that all there is to it?

Did you know that protein initiates an equal, if not larger amount of insulin to be secreted compared to carbohydrates? That’s pretty interesting to know, because that fact by itself disproves the idea that carbs are required because of the insulin effect. Given enough protein ingestion, there will be plenty of insulin response to get your tissues growing.

Now, what about replenishing those lost glycogen stores after our brutal workout?

Well, if you are already eating a Paleo type diet, high in vegetables, starchy tubers, and some fruit, your daily diet will supply enough “carbs” to easily refuel your lost glycogen. It can even be replenished across a few days. Your liver even takes care of this via gluconeogenesis if you are on a very low carb diet.

And, if you are sticking to a fairly moderate exercise plan, about 3 times per week and no longer than an hour each, there is no need to “carb up” so rapidly, since you really aren’t draining your glycogen stores that much. If you are doing lots of HIIT (more than once or twice a week) or you are an endurance athlete, this changes a bit, as you may want to have more carbs in your diet, but I’m not talking to you marathoners right now.

There is one caveat to all this carb loading stuff. If you are doing occasional carb-refeeds or some sort of other carb-cycling protocol like Leangains to get rid of that last few percentages of stubborn body fat. There is a time and a place for that, but it really does not relate to the purpose of this discussion (which is whether or not carbs are required for protein synthesis or increased protein synthesis).

Bottom line, carb-refeeding or cab-loading is not necessary, and carbs are not required, for normal or increased protein synthesis.

Let’s look at the proof.

Here is a study that looked at just that. They compared protein synthesis post workout after ingestion of 20 grams of protein. They then compared it with the same amount of protein+some carbohydrates. The outcome? Nada. None. No difference in protein synthesis.

This study looked at the difference in protein synthesis and growth hormones after consumption of protein OR carbohydrate, and strangely enough, found no difference in protein synthesis versus consumption of just protein or just carbs. They did not state whether or not the subjects had fasted before hand, so they very well could have already eaten and had some amount of amino acids already floating around in their blood, waiting to be used. This seems to suggest that had you eaten at all that day, eating anything at all after workout will stimulate a similar amount of growth. Huh!

This last study can be confusing because of their wording. They tried to make it appear that carbs were necessary to facilitate increased protein synthesis. The problem is, they were comparing Protein+Carbs to Carbs only. The protein+carbs group had a higher myofibrillar, but not mitochondrial protein synthesis. And the amount of carbs in both groups was small at 25g. Having more grams total in the P+C group is likely the major contributing component.

Edit 4/18/12: Also, another reason that carbs are not required to fuel muscle building!Branched chain amino acids, which are found natrually in the protein of animal products and also as a workout supplement off the shelf, can convert to glucose as your body demands. This is great for those of us who do fasted training, because taking BCAA’s pre workout will stop our bodies from breaking down precious muscle mass to produce glucose for fuel. It’s the isoleucine and valine that convert to glucose, while leucine converts to ketones. So there is absolutely no need to consume “carbs” before or after workout to prevent muscle breakdown!

So there you have it. Carbs necessary for protein synthesis or body building? Nope! Just get plenty of protein and nutrients, and you’re golden!

Like this post? Leave a comment!

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

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

Guest post: The importance of stress management for perfect health

In my 9 Steps to Perfect Health series, I argued that stress management may be the most important of all of the steps.

Why? Because no matter what diet you follow, how much you exercise and what supplements you take, if you’re not managing your stress you will still be at risk for modern degenerative conditions like heart disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism and autoimmunity.

Read the rest [here]

Missing Link(s)

Paleo uses for a neolithic appliance (I only suggest making the hash browns)

Best time to nap for cognitive benefits

Hunter-Gatherer Wiki

The diet and lifestyle of the Vanuatu people. “They have no concept of carbs, proteins, and fats – they just eat food”.

Why hunting and gathering makes us smarter and thinner.

Hunter gatherer brains make men and women see things differently

How to smash a coconut

Smashing a coconut takes a lot of mental and physical preparation. The proper tools are crucial. And deciding how to hold it still can be difficult. But with the right mindset and know-how, enjoying your coconut can be an exciting food experience.

  1. Once you have located your coconut, take it home and locate your tools. You should have a chisel and a hammer handy, as well as a large bowl or a brave friend to help hold the sucker still. If you decided to use a machete, all bets are off. I take no responsibility for the missing limbs or any other outcome.
  2. Place your coconut in front of you. We will have to prepare the coconut for the initial attack. You will have to assert your alpha-dominance by staring the coconut down prior to smashing. You need to let it know you mean business. This will cause the coconut to submit and lie dormant, allowing you to sneak up on it with your chisel.
  3. Quickly take the chisel and hammer and drive a hole into the top, before the coconut has time to react. ejoy the coconut water as is, or pour into a glass and chill for later. Yum!

Next we want to get to the meat of the coconut, because that is the best part. Now that you have incapacitated the coconut and enjoyed it’s juice, you will have an easier tme handling the coconut for smashing, which can be a difficult and dangerous task.

  1. Bring your coconut outside to a suitable location. The concrete steps work wonderfully, but a large rock will do.
  2. The proper stance is crucial. Stand with feet wider than shoulder width. You need to bend at the knees slightly, and straddle your coconut-smashing object.
  3. Bring the coconut overhead with both hands. Prepare yourself. Quckly bring the coconut down on the sharp edge of the steps or rock, being careful not to completely release the coconut so as to not lose any pieces, but also so as to not smash any fingers.
  • If you are at a Crossfit box doing your WOD, a handy barbell or kettlebell should work as well. Do your overhead press or other olympic lift with coconut on the ground in front of you. Bring the barbel down squarely on top of the coconut, and enjoy!
  • Once your coconut has been successfully smashed, you can scrape out the insides with a tool of your chosing, or just use your teeth. Yum! Have fun and enjoy your coconut.
  • If broken properly so that you have a coconut-bowl, you can leave the water inside and add rum. This makes a great treat to sip in the sun. It’s like a mini vacation! All right!


Let me know about your coconut experiences. Post your results to comments!

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

Why grass fed? Because it really does matter what your food eats!

Something I have been meaning to get to recently, but just haven’t had in the forefront of my mind until now. Since we are trying to attain optimal health and “look-good-naked” status, [wink] it makes sense to consider not only what you are eating, but where it came from and how it was grown or raised.

Not only is factory farming cruel and dirty, but it raises sick animals by feeding them cheap grains and feed, and it commoditizes our food making it lower quality, sacrificing our health for their bottom line ($$$).

Only healthy happy animals make happy healthy Paleo food for us!

Yes it does matter. Just as you would (or should) choose organic pesticide free fruits and vegetables, locally and sustainably grown, you should also ask “where did this animal come from? How was it raised?  What did my food eat before I ate it?

Residues that accumulate as a result of the factory farming system (pesticides, antibiotics) are fat-soluble, and stored in the animal’s fatty tissues. Consuming the fat from these animals causes us to accumulate these toxins as well. These toxins are also dose-dependent, meaning the more you consume, the more your health is at risk.

Bacon, for example, is one of the fattiest cuts. Bacon from the factory farming system contains some of the highest doses of these toxins. In addition, pigs are arguably the most abused, poorly fed, sick animals in the factory farming system. Therefore, to enjoy bacon and maintain your long-term health in the Paleo context, it should always come from local farms that allow their pigs free range pasture, with a diet free from grains or other commodity feeds.

The fatty acid ratio in factory farmed animals is also pretty bad. There is a total lack of omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed to balance out the omega-6 content. The omega-6 content also sky-rockets from grain-feeding, making the nutrient profile even uglier.

Grain fed animals also suffer many of the same health problems as people who follow the Standard American Diet. Being fed a steady diet of mostly grains results in systemic inflammation, intramuscular fat accumulation, poor nutrient profile, and sick animals who are shipped off to slaughter just before becoming ill or dead from it.

What should my food eat?

Your food should eat what would normally be available to it in the wild. For cows, that’s wild grasses. But, to say grass-fed cows eat grass isn’t telling the entire story. It’s more accurate to say they eat graminoids, which comprise hundreds of different species of sedges (found in wild marshes and grasslands; a famous sedge includes papyrus), rushes (a small but plucky family of herbaceous and rhizomatous plants), and true grasses (cereals, lawn grass, bamboo, grassland grass – the type of grass that produces the leaves Walt Whitman writes about). And that’s just the graminoid. Cows will also nibble on shrubs, clovers, and random leaves if they can get to them. Basically, they’ll eat whatever’s in reach, green, and leafy. Legally, grass-fed cows may also eat cereal grain crops in the “pre-grain stage,” hay, silage, and non-grain crop byproducts

You need to be careful, though, because sometimes beef may say “pastured” on the label, even though many pastures contain supplemented feed bins with grains. The same goes for chickens. Chickens and eggs will often be labeled as “free range” or “vegetarian fed” or some such nonsense. Chickens are not vegetarians, and should eat grubs and bugs to make the healthiest tastiest eggs and chicken wings for us Paleoists!

Grass fed beef is higher in necessary B-vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin K, and trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, and selenium. Studies show that grass feeding results in higher levels of CLA, a healthy naturally occurring trans fat. Grass fed dairy also has more of the beneficial trans fats. Grass fed beef has plenty of healthy fats, distributed more evenly throughout the animal’s subcutaneous tissue, where it belongs (Fat accumulation in muscle tissue is not a sign of a healthy animal).

Grass-fed truly shines in the micronutrient profile for one reason. Grass-fed cows get more nutritious food. Remember: they aren’t munching on monoculture lawn cuttings (let alone soy and corn). They’re eating a wide variety of (often wild) grasses, sedges, rushes, shrubs, and herbs, each with its own nutrient profile.

Plus, it just tastes better!

The clearly superior version of beef, chicken, eggs, or pork comes from grass-fed and finished, or pastured and free-range-fed. Animals that are raised by ranchers committed to providing excellent stewardship of both soil quality (for our food’s food quality), and animal quality. Plus it’s the more responsible thing to do. I know I feel better eating animals that were treated with care, and were happy and healthy up until slaughter, and the point where it became food to sustain me as a healthy animal.

YUM I am hungry.

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

Thoughts on high intensity interval training (HIIT)

[Shared from Matt Metzgar’s blog]

Following up on the last post, I think there are many ways to get the benefits of sprinting.  I thought it was interesting that in the video associated with the last post, Mercola stated that he only did Sprint 8 once per week instead of the recommended 3 times per week.

Along those same lines, Clarence Bass recently wrote about interval training.  He writes:

“My concern, however, is that three hard interval sessions a week is too much for most people to sustain; they’ll do it—even enjoy it—under supervision (as in the Little study), but they’re not likely to keep doing it on their own. Hard training every workout is asking for trouble; it is neither fun nor productive. My own experience is that one or at most two hard interval workouts a week is all I can tolerate effectively, especially in the context of a balanced program of strength and aerobic training.”

Clarence has been doing intervals for decades, and I put a lot of stock into what he has to say.

My own experience mirrors this point of view.  When I’ve tried to do the full Sprint 8 programs 3 times per week, I can do it for a month or so, but then I burn out.  Conversely, I can do hard intervals once a week and continue month after month.

So we know sprinting once a week is sustainable, but what are the other options?  Chris over at Conditioning Research (who by the way just released a new book titled Hillfit) pointed to a study the other month about a minimalist sprinting routine.

Here is an interesting part of the study:

“Several recent studies have suggested that high-intensity interval training (HIT), a training model involving a series of 30-second ‘all-out’ cycling sprints (i.e. Wingate sprints) with 4 minutes of rest/recovery between each bout, may provide a time-efficient strategy for inducing adaptations that are similar to traditional cardiorespiratory training (Gibala et al. 2006; Burgomaster et al. 2005; Burgomaster et al. 2008; Rakobowchuk et al. 2008; Burgomaster et al. 2007; Trilk et al. 2010).

Furthermore, we have recently demonstrated the beneficial effects of HIT on insulin sensitivity (Babraj et al. 2009), a finding that has since been confirmed by others (Little et al. 2011; Richards et al. 2010; Whyte et al. 2010). However, whilst these observations are interesting from a human physiological perspective, their translation into physical activity recommendations for the general population is uncertain for two reasons. Firstly, the relatively high exertion associated with ‘classic’ HIT sessions requires strong motivation and may be perceived as too strenuous for many sedentary individuals (Hawley and Gibala 2009). Secondly, although a typical HIT session requires only 2-3 minutes of actual sprint exercise, when considered as a feasible exercise session including a warm-up, recovery intervals and cool-down, the total time commitment is more than 20 minutes, reducing the time efficiency(Garber et al. 2011). Thus, there is scope for further research to determine whether the current HIT protocol can be modified to reduce levels of exertion and time-commitment whilemaintaining the associated health benefits.”

In short, they suggest that the benefits of sprinting could be obtained with a reduced workload.

Here is their formulation:

It has consistently been shown that a single 30-second Wingate sprint can reduce muscle glycogen stores in the vastus lateralis by 20-30% (Esbjornsson-Liljedahl et al. 1999; Parolin et al. 1999; Esbjornsson-Liljedahl et al. 2002; Gibala et al. 2009). What is intriguing, however, is that glycogenolysis is only activated during the first 15 seconds of the sprint and is then strongly attenuated during the final 15 seconds (Parolin et al. 1999). Moreover, activation of glycogenolysis is inhibited in subsequent repeated sprints (Parolin et al. 1999). This suggests that the traditional HIT protocol (4-6×30 seconds) may be unnecessarily strenuous as similar glycogen depletion may be achieved using 1-2 sprints of shorter duration (15-20 seconds). In turn, this would make the training sessions more time-efficient, less strenuous and more applicable to the largely sedentary general population.”

Thus, they are saying that traditional sprinting programs may be overkill in a way, and that you could deplete glycogen just as well by doing 1-2 sprints of 15 to 20 seconds.

This I think leads to a real insight: if you cut the number and duration of sprints (but keep the intensity), then I could see how you could be able to do this workout more frequently.  So while 3 days per week of 6 to 8 30-second sprints may be too much for many people, 3 days per week of 1 to 2 15-second sprints may produce similar benefits and be more appealing to people.