It is probably true that everyone knows a person that is either obese, diabetic or pre-diabetic. That is a very sad statement of the health or our nation and the world. The epidemic of obese and diabetic people has exploded in the last 40 years even though many have done their best to “do their best” by exercising and eating according to the Standard American Diet recommendations of low-fat high carbohydrate. Check out this video: BBC Panorama: “Diabetes: The Hidden Killer” (2016). People are working hard on their diet and exercise, but they are not succeeding. Why? Denise Minger has an excellent book on the subject: “Death By Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined our Health,” (2014).
I started taking a closer look at my own health and fitness back in 2013 after reading Prof. Tim Noakes website “Real Meal Revolution”. Prof. Noakes is a well known expert in running and exercise science and nutrition having written the well known books: “The Lore of Running,” and “Waterlogged.” Both of which I highly recommend. There is one caveat, though, as Prof. Noakes will tell you to ignore the high-carbohydrate nutrition information in the Lore of Running, as he now is convinced, and the science is supporting, low carbohydrate diets for weight loss, health, and even endurance sports performance. (see the books by Volek and Phinney: “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” and “The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance”). More references are listed on our nutrition page. In August of 2013 I eased into a low carbohydrate lifestyle and since 2015 have been eating a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein, optimal diet consisting of less than 30 grams of carbohydrates per day, protein to support lean body mass, and good fats to satiety. The key is to eat no added sugars or high sugar foods, no grains and no vegetable oils, avoiding processed foods as much as possible.
What has been the result? To keep it simple… weight loss without hours of cardio. More importantly my annual physicals show lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, lower blood glucose, and a much healthier liver. Healthy, Happy, and Medication-Free. In fact, LCHF was the standard of care for obesity and high blood sugar before insulin was discovered.
So if you struggle with weight, study the Low Carbohydrate “way of eating” in the references listed and on the web. Then try it out for yourself. It is not a sacrifice diet, since calories are not the focus, and thus it is easy to make into your normal lifestyle. What can be easier than eating eggs, meats and leafy vegetables.
Here is an easy to read online ebook: “Ultimate Diabetes Control On Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) Diet” to get you started on LCHF. More later.
More reasons to focus on building lean body mass, not losing weight and fat per se. The health benefits of maintaining and improving your muscle mass are many… watch this video and see what I mean:
Art by jacques gamelin
You may be aware that I have been on a Low-Carb, High Fat (LCHF) eating plan since last September and although I have not been very public with my results, I feel that this is the best way-of-eating for me. What is LCHF? It is where you get most of your calories from fats and the least from carbs. Typically your total calories are from 75% fats and saturated fats, 15% protein and 10% carbs. On this plan I have maintained my weight at the lower end (about 144 lb.) of the last 15-years range (140 -160) without spending all my time running or riding. In fact, I took the fall and winter off from training, only doing small workouts and some weights. Those of you that ride with me on Tuesday night know that I am not as strong climbing, but my overall average speeds are not bad for not training, and I have good endurance. Since I am now training for the Army 10-mile run race in October, I have been even more interested in how well I can perform on a LCHF diet.
I recently read a book on this subject — “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” by Volek and Phinney, two doctors who have evaluated the performance of LCHF athletes. In this book they discuss that once an athlete becomes keto-adapted, that is where their primary source of energy comes from fat, their endurance levels will increase dramatically. We have about 2 hours of stored carbohydrate that can be used for energy in our bodies, but even the leanest person has more than twice that amount stored in fat. But that fat is not available unless you are keto-adapted.
I came across a blog post from Sami Inkinen, an elite triathlete that sparked my interest. It is an experiment of 1, but quite controlled and he has very interesting results. He has measured the type and amount of energy used during controlled tests using the same equipment 3 time while going from a high carb diet to a LCHF diet. On the first test, he was eating a high-carb diet and guess what…. he has about 2 hours of carbs available and even though he had done hours of training in his “fat burning zone” he could not exceed 200 calories per hour from fat-burning at race efforts. Hence he would run out of energy once his carb stores were gone. A year later he did a second test on a moderate-carb/moderate-fat diet and his fat-burning numbers increased significantly, to 400 calories per hour at the same race effort. Finally, he performed a third test on a LCHF diet with the same parameters and increased his fat burning ability to 600- 750 calories per hour. The chart says it all. At 300W his bonk-time went from 2 hours to 5 hours! Interested? I am. I would love to see what happens with elite athletes such as marathoners and pro-cyclist if they were to go low-carb. I’ll let you know how my “experiment of 1” goes…
According to the article in the Sept issue of Health magazine, “After a killer workout, hitting the gym again is probably the last thing on your mind. But… doing light exercise two days after a tough session is as effective as a massage for relieving aches.”
We all know that the soreness we feel is due to the tiny muscle tears that occur when we stress muscles to build muscle strength. Some light exercise a day or two after an intense one will increase your blood flow, promote healing and enable the muscles to move more easily.
The article calls out these mini workouts “to combat achiness”:
- Take a Walk – a 20 minute stroll at moderate pace around the neighborhood or on a treadmill.
- Hit the Pool – Swimming a few easy laps will warm up the body and boost circulation. And best of all – it’s super low impact so won’t jar your joints.
- Work Out Your Core – Balance, or core focused moves, like single leg squats or side planks improve blood flow, up overall fitness and still give whining muscles a break.
And when all else fails, I hear a day at the spa is a scientifically proven cure-all!
Fitbata!™ exercise is the latest in Small Group Training designed for all fitness levels. This 45 minute interval-format class has you performing simple moves, over short durations to achieve lasting results. This is a total body workout conducted twice a week that will cover Upper Body, Lower Body and Core. You’ll learn to follow the work-rest intervals and progress the moves at your rate over the 8 week session. Fitbata!™ is also the first FitnessEDGE class to provide additional email support with Menu Monday (Recipe/Ingredient of the Week), Hump Day Healthy Hints and Fit Friday Mini At-home Workouts.
Sign up now for 8 weeks on Tuesday & Thursday EVENINGS, 6PM – 6:45PM or 8 weeks on Tuesday & Thursday MORNINGS 6AM-6:45AM.
What? Work harder but shorter to burn fat? Haven’t we always been told we need to spend endless hours at moderate effort to burn the extra pounds? Well more recent studies show that shorter, higher intensity workouts (think HIITS) actually results in more fat burn overall than the moderate exertion in a longer cardio workout. If these shorter workouts can really deliver results it’s great news for everyone ‘cuz what’s the number one excuse why people don’t exercise? that’s right… time!
So what is it about this higher intensity format and why shouldn’t you just hide before someone tries to make you do it?
First word. EPOC . Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption. Translation – burn up to 5x more calories AFTER your workout. That’s right. EPOC increases your metabolism and burns calories (and hence fat) for up to 24 hours following your exercise. This effect is not seen with low-moderate intensity exercises. (see this reference).
Second word. Interval. Without getting all clinical and technical, it simply means seconds of exercise followed by seconds of rest. Each exercise/rest cycle is called an interval. Now combine some intervals back to back and you have a set. Pretty simple really.
Third word. Effort. The other part of the equation. (you thought I was going to say intensity, right? but I know that word scares you…) The idea is, during those seconds of exercise, you’re supposed to “give it all ya got”, then rest, and repeat. There are different timing cycles, with the best known being 20/10 for 8 rounds totaling 4 minutes or Tabata timing. The key is to maintain the 2:1 ratio of exercise to rest. So 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of recovery, or 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of recovery, etc.
So what high-intensity exercise should you try? BuiltLean.com has a menu of example workouts here that provides one framework for you to follow. There are many others out there, so browse around. But, one that we especially like, and is the basis for our Fitbata class, is progressive or mixed-interval training. In this method, rather than repeating the same move in a 20/10 pattern, you follow a 40/20-30/15-20/10 interval, adding effort and movement each time yielding a hard, harder, hardest approach where you control the effort.
So the next time you head to the gym for your regular steady-state aerobic routine, think of me – Short, but intense 🙂
Less time. Concerted effort. Bigger results.
I have been a continual cramping machine since I started running in high school and continuing ever since. Mostly, it is the “charlie horse” cramp that occurs when stretching or sitting in a chair, but I also cramp on the long rides, usually after 50 to 60 miles of hard effort. The cramps will affect my calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and the abductor/adductor muscles. Generally any muscle used to spin those pedals on those long, hard efforts. I like everyone else always thought it was caused by low electrolytes in my system due to the long effort. In attempts or prevent cramping, I have swallowed electrolyte pills at regular intervals, drank lots of water, drank less water, drank electrolyte drinks, and tried many different things in an effort to prevent cramping, all unsuccessfully. So I’ve been reading up on the subject.
I found an article where Joe Uhan summarizes the state of the science concerning the true cause of cramping, see his blog entry “Cramping My Style.” Here is what I learned: Surprise…. the notion that salt, or the lack of salt causes cramping is based on a 100-year old scientifically-flawed study of British miners. As it turns out, there are no scientifically sound studies that link low electrolyte (or salt) levels to exercise-induced muscle cramping. One study (Schwellnus, Drew et al. 2011), found that no difference in hydration or blood sodium concentrations between crampers and non-crampers. So what is the cause? Nobody knows for sure, but one new theory is that it is a neuromuscular mechanism to shut down the muscles to protect the body from harm that might result from continuing to perform at a high level. This is part of the “Central Governor” theory proposed by Dr. Tim Noakes (Science of Sport) in his books the “Lore of Running” and “Waterlogged.”
Oddly enough, it has been found that tasting salt (or pickle juice) can stop cramping very quickly, too fast for the salt too have been absorbed into the blood stream. Hence the theory that it is the brain and the nervous system that controls the cramping response, not the electrolyte or water balance. Essentially fooling the brain into allowing you to continue cramp free.
Whatever you think, Joe Uhan’s blog shed some interesting light on the subject and even gives a list of things that we can do to reduce the occurrence of muscle cramps and to manage them when you get them. Most of the recommendations are not about training your muscles or taking supplements, they are training your brain to allow you to continue. Good advice to consider.