"Cooking is the great divide between good and bad eating."
"There is simply no other exercise, and
certainly no machine, that produces the level
of central nervous system activity, improved
balance and coordination, skeletal loading and
bone density enhancement, muscular
stimulation and growth, connective tissue
stress and strength, psychological demand and
toughness, and overall systemic conditioning
than the correctly performed full squat"
Fish Oil Doesn’t Fix A Poor Diet
I mentioned this study a few weeks ago in a presentation that I gave on the Whole30. I think it’s really cool because it shows that we can’t just take a “pill” to fix our health problem—whatever that problem my be! So what’s the study? Well, the study was from the British Journal of Nutrition (2013) and they actually fed rats a “Western diet”—a diet that is full of processed foods, high-carbhydrate and high-fat—mainly looking at the intake of omega-6 fats (the same omega-6 fats found in vegetable oils, like canola, sunflower, and peanut). These omega-6 fats elicit a pro-inflammatory response in the body meaning they promote inflammation— something you don’t want! The study actually found that omega-6 fats created unbalance gut bacteria growth leading to inflammation and oxidative stress (i.e. tissue injury). When the rats were given fish oil (loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3’s EPA/DHA) inflammation in the gut and gut bacteria improved. However, there was a downside! The supplementation of fish oil actually increased oxidative stress. What can we take away from this? Supplementation of fish oil won’t fish your crappy diet—take out take the vegetable oils and other omega-6s will help the problem.
Omega-6 fats in vegetable oils: soybean, peanut, cottonseed, sunflower seed, corn and safflower oil. Even some nuts and seeds, like pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and pine nuts, can have high amounts of omega-6 fats so limit these as they still contain good sources of trance minerals like magnesium and copper.
Fish oil supplementation is still okay, but I recommend you evaluate everything else you are eating first. Are protein levels good? Vegetable intake? Fats? I don’t want to scare you into thinking you shouldn’t take fish oil—but before you keep taking it maybe make changes elsewhere in your diet.
HMB reduces muscle damage and improves recovery
Switching sides now looking at a supplement that has been around for some time. I don’t push supplements that much because I beleive in the power of whole-foods but it’s nice to always look at the research and see what is coming out!
Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate or HMB is a natural metabolite for the branched-chain amino acid leucine. HMB is important for cholesterol synthesis, aids in other metabolic functions. It has previously been shown to improve strength and lean mass, and spare muscle protein. In the current study, also out of the British Journal of Nutrition (2013) they had previously trained males consume 3g/day of HMB before completing high-volume of back squats, bench press and deadlifts. They looked at a few markers for muscle breakdown (creatine kinase and 3-methylhistadine), cortisol, testosterone and perceived recovery status (that is how they “felt”).
What did they find? Muscle breakdown was significantly reduced after consuming HMB and perceived recovery was much better. No changes in testosterone and cortisol were observed. I think this study is important because (1) it has not been previously shown that to be effective in trained athletes, (2) I work with a lot of CrossFit athletes who train high-volume and this can have important implications for them during their high-volume days. Now we don’t want to become reliant on supplements like this to continue our work load. Rest days and whole-food diet should still be at the core of the training regimen!
Specific Dietary Fat Helps Eye Sight
I remember as a kid always hearing “eat your carrots, they are good for your eyes.” Then of course you turn into a bunny for the next few minutes downing as many carrots as you can—or maybe that was just me.
Well, it seems as though eating some dietary fat with those carrots or other colorful vegetables and fruits will help those eyes even more. Vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes contain two important carotenoids used in vision: lutein and zeaxanthin. For these carotenoids to be absorbed they need some type of fat around. In another study from the Britsih Journal of Nutrition (2013)—I am not British by the way—they looked at the bioavailablity of lutein and zeananthin in the presence of different dietary fats. Bioavailablity really just means how well something is absorbed (low bioavailablity means it’s not absorbed by your gut very well).
“Results showed that lutein and zeaxanthin bioaccessibility was greater (about 20–30 %, P < 0·05) with butter and palm oil [saturated fats] than with olive and fish oils.” It seems as though some natural compounds in the oils affected the uptake of lutein and zeaxanthin. “Oral administration of rats with spinach and butter over 3 d led to a higher fasting plasma lutein concentration than oral administration with olive or fish oils.” Therefore, this shows that saturated fats (e.g. butter, palm oil, coconut oil) are better for the absorption of carotenoids in vegetables and fruits compared to other fats, like monounsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil, almonds) and polyunsaturated fats (e.g. marine oils). (The difference here was in the fact that saturated fats created micelles that are smaller compared to the unsaturated fats making the carotenoids more accessible to gut absorption).
Now, don’t go out and down a stick of butter every time you eat just make sure that when you cook your food you include small amounts (I tell people thumb-sized portions) of saturated fats. This also has implications into people who eat raw food—they might get the benefits they need if they start cooking!
Sanjoy Ghosh, Erin Molcan, Daniella DeCoffe, Chaunbin Dai and Deanna L. Gibson. Diets rich in n-6 PUFA induce intestinal microbial dysbiosis in aged mice. British Journal of Nutrition, available on CJO2013.
Jacob M. Wilson, Ryan P. Lowery, Jordan M. Joy, Joe A. Walters, Shawn M. Baier, John C. Fuller, Jr, Jeffrey R. Stout, Layne E. Norton, Eric M. Sikorski, Stephanie M. C. Wilson, Nevine M. Duncan, Nelo E. Zanchi and John Rathmacher. β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate free acid reduces markers of exercise-induced muscle damage and improves recovery in resistance-trained men. British Journal of Nutrition, available on CJO2013.
Béatrice Gleize, Franck Tourniaire, Laurence Depezay, Romain Bott, Marion Nowicki, Lionel Albino, Denis Lairon, Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot, Pilar Galan, Serge Hercberg and Patrick Borel. Effect of type of TAG fatty acids on lutein and zeaxanthin bioavailability. British Journal of Nutrition, available on CJO2012.
Whole Egg consumption + Low-carbohydrate diet improves lipid profiles and insulin sensitivity in individuals Metabolic Syndrome.
I know I push egg yolks alot, but too many people still freak out about the whole “cholesterol” thing—it’s old science people! A recent study out of Metabolism (2012) looked at individuals with Metabolic Syndrome (obese, hypertensive, dylipidemic, elevated fasting glucose) who were put on a low-carbohydrate (25-30% of energy from carbs) diet and either asked to consume 3 whole days per day or the equivalent amount of yolk-free substitute for 12-weeks.
A serving of the whole-eggs: 534 mg cholesterol, 0g carbs, 16g protein, 12g of fat.
A serving of the yolk-free substitute:0 mg cholesterol, 2g carbs, 14g protein, 0 g of fat.
What did the find? The combination of carb restriction and whole egg consumption resulted in weight loss and improvements in blood lipids. Most notably “all participants had reductions in VLDL particle size, atherogenic lipoprotein subclasses (small LDL, large VLDL, IDL), and oxLDL.” OxLDL are those associated with infiltration of blood vessel walls leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease. This kind of shows again that a low-carbohydrate diet can improve your blood lipids, especially the blood lipid particles that greatly influence heart disease risk. But it also shows that consuming a whole-egg can have positive outcomes on cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism. It shows that increased consumption of dietary cholesterol (from whole eggs) does not lead to heart disease risk—opposite of what many people believe—or at least in the presence of a low-carbohydrate diet! Now, don’t go out and eat a dozen eggs like some meat-head trying to impress the ladies just don’t toss the egg-yolk out when you scramble up eggs in the morning.
Gut Issues from eating Beans and Wheat—due to plant lectins
Let’s get to the “gut” of the issue. You probably have a messed up intestinal tract—and it’s probably due to a few things: unbalanced gut bacteria, environmental toxins, or even what you eat. I am going to point my finger at beans and wheat here. Beans (legumes) and wheat (cereal grains) contain potentially harmful substances called lectins. Lectins in plants function to improve the survival of these plants (mainly their seeds) because, unlike animals, plants can’t get up and run away (derp!)—so they need some type of “defense mechanism” to increase their survival. Lectins in the diet come from grains and legumes. A study from Gut (2000), kind of old I know, feed rats two dietary lectins (Phaseolus vulgaris lectin (PHA) from kidney beans, and wheat germ agglutinin (WGA)) and looked at changes in the stress response of these gut cells. These gut cells have special molecules called heat shock proteins (HSP), which respond to stress or environmental conditions, like infection or inflammation. HSP are like little housekeepers inside your cells that make sure everything is clean and working properly. It’s like having a babysitter around with the kids—the HSP make sure the house doesn’t get destroyed!
What did the study find? Well, when the gut cells were exposed to these lectins their HSP decreased dramatically, meaning their stress response was lowered. In other words, the housekeeper job of HSP was impaired and the kids were allowed to run wild! The house burned to the ground! We want our HSP to be in working order, especially in our gut because our gut is the first line of defense against a lot of harmful substances we consume in our food! Another reason to eat a Paleo diet? I think so!
Blesso CN et al. “Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome.” Metabolism. 2012 pii: S0026-0495(12)00318-6. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2012.08.014.
Ovelgonne JH et al. “Decreased levels of heat shock proteins in gut epithelial cells after exposure to plant lectins.” Gut. 2000; 46:679-687.
If you are interested in leaning out, managing those food cravings or just want to experiment with intermittent fasting (IF) then I suggest you check out the link above. Dr. Berardi has very extensive review and personal experience with IF that will answer any questions and hopefully get you started!
It takes 2-5 times more energy to break down protein (thermogenic effect of food) than fats and carbohydrates.
The level of cooking (steaming vs grilling) can actually increase the absorptive capacity of nutrients in that food. For example, the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes is better absorbed in cooked than raw sweet potatoes (kinda obvious there, who wants to eat a raw sweet potato?).
Humans lack a desaturase enzyme in their tissues to create a carbon-carbon double bond in fats (past carbon-9 actually), therefore, long-chain fats like linoleic acid (omega-6 fat) and linolenic acid (omega-3 fa) are essential—we must consume them in our diet.
The first vitamin to be clinically defined was thiamine (B1) in 1911.
Whey protein stimulates the release of insulin from your pancreas, and insulin actually acts as an anabolic hormone to aid in muscle recovery and growth (it’s actually the amino acid leucine found in whey protein that causes the release).
A low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet (or ketogenic diet) can increase HDL levels and decrease triglyceride levels—improve dylipidemia levels in overweight and obese individuals.
Lipoproteins (VLDL, LDL, IDL and HDL) that transport cholesterol and triglycerides in our bodies actually prevent bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, protect against pathogen-induced tissue damage and present toxins to the immune system that help trigger antibody release.
Glutamine, Medium-chain Triglycerides (MCTs), exercise and colostrum (found in milk) are effective at treating “leaky gut syndrome.” They increase gut integrity by increasing IgA.
Grass-fed beef contains a trans fat called Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)…Oh no! However, CLA is a healthy trans fat that has been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial, weight loss and thermogenic effects!
Your liver can hold roughly 50-120 g of glucose (stored as glycogen), which is about 1/4 of a pound.
Our body can make fat (in the liver and adipose tissue) from carbohydrates, and this fat is called palmitic acid—this is the same saturated fat found in animal fat and many people consider to be toxic.
Krill Oil is esterfied into phospholipids where as most fish oils are packaged in triglycerides. The esterifed krill oil makes it better absorbed in the gut—one benefit of taking krill vs fish oil.
Vitamin D is required to absorption of calcium, however, a majority of the population is vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is best obtained via sun light, but can be obtained in the diet. Best sources are fatty fish (salmon, mackerel) and fish liver (cod liver).
How To Lose Weight: The Real Math Behind Weigh Loss
I agree with:
- Getting away from the 3500=1 lb myth. I hate this idea because it assumes our body is a lab experiment and that hopping on a treadmill, entering our weight and then watching a machine (that really isn’t even accurate) tell us how many “Calories” we burn running is an effective way of “burning” fat. Sorry your body has no clue that 3,500 calories = 1 lb body fat, all it knows is that it needs to keep using whatever you have stored away for energy. And the most readily available source is actually not fat, but glucose in the form of muscle glycogen (stored sugar). Most people are “sugar burners” rather than “fat burners” because they constantly supply their body with glucose, they will use glucose because a hormone, insulin, is around preventing the release of fat so it can be used as energy (insulin blocks lipases—enzymes that release fatty acids from stored body fat, among other things). This does depend on many things—how long you exercise, the intensity and what you ate before you starting exercising.
I disagree with:
- Pouring in more water into the bucket causes you to gain more weight. This is just another way of saying that the more calories you consume than you burn equals weight gain or calories in = calories out. Personally I am against the entire calories in equals calories out and counting calories for weight loss (here is are my thoughts: Not All Calories are Created Equal). The analogy of pouring water into a bucket and having a leak at the bottom is cleaver and thoughtful, but honestly our bodies don’t really work like that. The timing of the calories (i.e. time of day), how much and most important the quality of the calories—that is are these calories coming from processed foods like Twinkies (RIP), and pizza or are these calories coming from almonds and salmon. Quality matters, not so much calories. This has been shown a lot in low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diets. Yancy, et al. found that compared to a low-fat group over a 24 week period, a low-carbohydrate group lost more body fat even though the low-carbohydrate group consumed slightly more “average” calories per day (1,502 calories vs 1,461 calories) In fact, they also found that the low-carbohydrate group decreased their triglycerides and improved their HDL (“good” cholesterol) more than the low-fat group. I do think at some level calories matter, but deciding to buy a snack because it has a “100 calorie” label on it is a bad reason to buy the snack. Buy a snack for the nutritional value or quality of the food rather than the calorie count.
Yancy et al. “A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic Diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia.” Ann Inter Med. 2004; 140:769-777.
“Made with real fruit”…because we won’t accept fake fruit, it tastes like plastic!
If a food makes claims like these, then I would not buy them or consider an alternative:
- “Fortified with..”
- ”____% less fat/sugar”
- “Fat-free; reduced-fat”
- “No added sugar”
- “Contains real fruit”
It’s funny that people listen to the food they buy for nutrition advice. In reality they are buying lower quality, highly processed crap that doesn’t make their situation any better!
In fact I wouldn’t even suggest buying foods that have claims like these on the box because most likely they are a processed food!
You throw your yolks away? Tis tis!
If you are ordering an “egg-white omelet” think again, those yolks actually hold a lot of nutritional vale. And NO the cholesterol won’t give you heart disease. EAT THE WHOLE EGG! Come on people!
I have been messing around with my pre-WOD meals recently trying to find something that can keep me going. Recently I have been
super ketogenic (that is high fat/low-carb), keeping my daily carbs below 100g. But most of my carbs will come around my WODs, usually before. I have been experimenting with what I call my Pre-WOD sauce:
- 0.5-1.5 cups applesauce
- 2-3 tablespoons MCT oil
- 5 g BCAAs (2:1:1 ratio)
1 g Glutaminebetter post-WOD than pre-WOD
- Dash of Stevia
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
MCT = Medium-chain triglycerides
I will usually double (maybe triple) my dose of applesauce or even add in some raw honey to give it a little more carbs around my workout if I know that it’s a longer WOD, or if I am doing extra strength in the beginning before my MetCon. Personally, I think you need to fuel to perform and with WODs that are short, intense (i.e. MetCons) people will see better results if they have some carbs around. MCTs will also help as they are metabolized pretty quickly—and can be used for fuel during the WOD. The MCT oil is absorbed fast, and can get into the circulation a lot faster than its counterpart—Long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) . LCTs are those monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs/PUFAs) found in olive oil, animal fats and fish oils. I know a lot of people who consume nuts and nut butters before a workout (MUFAs) and these are okay, but you can do a lot better with MCT oil.
If you have any background in Crossfit/Paleo then you will know that MCTs are found in coconut oil. This is great! But, the level of MCTs in coconut oil is pretty small compared to the highly concentrated MCT oil. Therefore, I suggest buying the MCT oil (it costs $14.00 on Amazon).
A few more points to make…
- If you are CFE (endurance) then I would cut out the applesuace completely. MCT oil will do just fine, and if you are training on a ketogenic diet you should be good to go!
- MCT oils can give you nausea, and loose stools (ewww!) so don’t go drinking it straight from the jar. Go easy at first—1-2 tbsp should be okay.
- BCAAs can be replaced by whey protein (20-25g) pre-WOD.
- If you are overweight/obese you might want to consider keeping the applesauce out (and honey) as you might be more insulin resistant , wait until you reach a healthy body weight. Exercise does increase insulin sensitivity [3, 4, 5] so overtime you can start introducing these high-glycemic carbs back in.
Play around with your pre-WOD meal. I will usually consume this 45 mins before my WOD, but I have a pretty tolerable stomach so some might need to push it out to like an hour or 1.25 hrs.
Nutritional recommendations in the US date back to the late 1800’s when the USDA started making dietary recommendations to the population. Food guides like “Food for Young Children” and “How to Select Food” popped up around the great Depression, and during WWII “A Guide to Good Eating (Basic Seven)” [seen below] introduced daily servings and needs from seven food groups .
Figure 1: A Guide to Good Eating, which appeared in the 1940’s.
As the years went on more and more recommendations began to appear, like “Food for Fitness” in the 60’s and 70’s when exercise began to become popular, and the “Food Wheel: A Pattern of Daily Food Choices” in 1984. And of course the wonderful, easy to understand (cough, cough) “Food Guide Pyramid” showed it’s ugly little head in 1992. Since then it’s been changed two more times, into the “MyPyramid” and now “MyPlate.”
Figure 2: Food Guide Pyramid released in 1992. The worst pyramid ever constructed by man—the Egyptians are turning over in their tombs.
Looking back, did these recommendations make things easier? Are they making us sick? We are continuing to get sick, and die from Western diseases , like coronary artery disease, diabetes and cancer, from our Western diet—high carbohydrate, high fructose, highly processed foods, low-fat, low-cholesterol. Currently, 34% of the US population (both male and female) are diagnosed obese , around 25.8 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes (7.0 million undiagnosed cases) and cancer rates are still high, declining at only a rate of 1.0% over the last decade . It seems as though these nutritional recommendations gave us more of a death sentence rather than any healthy outcomes.
So, what’s the issue with nutritional recommendations or these dietary guidelines?
- They are too general. We need specific recommendations for age, gender and activity levels. People need more education and background information on what foods to look for, where to find them and how to spot “crap” foods (i.e. processed foods). Granted this is easier said than done.
- They are not in the best interest of our health. What are the essential nutrients of the body? Well, we need fats, and proteins—those are essential because our body does not make all fats and proteins. Carbohydrates are not essential—the liver can make carbohydrates (gluconeogenesis). Therefore, meats/eggs/fish/oils (i.e. coconut, olive)/nuts are important sources of fats. Dairy to a certain extent, but for some strange reason we recommend low-fat diary because, why—it has less calories? Come on! This might be the dumbest reason to not eat full-fat diary. Especially recommending it to young children—WHO NEED DIETARY FAT TO GROW! We also need vitamins and minerals, therefore vegetables and fruits are important. People forget that whole vegetables and fruits provide a crap ton of fiber as well. They also provide low-glycemic carbohydrates.
- They don’t make any recommendations on what to drink. One-half of the population aged 2 or older consumes sugar drinks on any given day . That’s roughly 150,000,000 (that’s million if you didn’t recognize all those zeros and commas). Fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks—the list goes on. No real recommendations on the MyPlate for beverages, except dairy. What happen to drinking water? Or tea? Coffee has loads of benefits—people just abuse them by getting whipped cream, sugar and adding artificial sweeteners to them (like this—which is crap).
I do think its hard to make nutritional recommendations because so many people have interpretations of their diet and what they are/aren’t suppose to eat. But, what we have been recommending now is not working, we need a more radical change. I think people need to be eating more low-carbohydrate, high fat (ketogenic) diets. They are safe, and effective at weight loss [6,7,8]. Eating Paleo, while limited studies provide evidence as to the “newness” of the diet, does show promise as being a healthy diet [here].
It’s also important to understand that what you eat (and don’t eat) has the greatest impact on your health. We continue to abuse our bodies with harmful, toxic-rich foods that offer little nutritional density, and value.
1. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion “A brief history of the USDA Food Guides.” June 2011.
2. Carrera-Bastos et al. “The Western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization.” Reseae Repor Clin Cardio.2011; 2:15-35.
3. Zhang et al. Abdonminal Obesity and the Risk of All-Cause, cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality: Sixteen Years of Follow-Up in US Women. Circulation. 2008;117:1658-1667.
4. Ogden C. et al. “Consumption of Sugar Drinks in the United States, 2005 - 2008.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2011.
5. Cancer Statistics 2012. National Institute of Health. cancer.gov.
6. Yancy et al. “A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia.” Ann inter Med. 2004, 140:769-777.
7. Krauss et al. “Separate effects of reduced carbohydrate intake and weight loss on atherogenic dyslipidemia.”Am J Clin Nutr. 2006, 83(5): 1025-1031.
8. Gardner et al. “Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women.” JAMA. 2007: 297:969-977.