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Murph…the WOD that keeps on giving

30 May

Monday, May 29, 2013

I finished Murph…..

No, really, did you hear me?  I FINISHED MURPH!!!!

After I jogged all but 1/4 of the first mile, I started my 5-10-15 strategy.  5 rounds in, I thought to myself, “You have been doing Crossfit for only 6 months, you can be just as proud to do half of Murph.  Just get to round 10 and do your final mile.”

I will tell you this now…this conversation goes through my head in 75% of my WOD’s .  It is something that I battle and have never succombed to since I have started Crossfit, but it speaks to me more often than I want to hear it.  It is part of my problem.  I am still in the mindset that I am this obese person that no one really expect much from, so if I don’t finish a workout, it is no surprise.  “Kudos for trying!” I expect to hear.

Unfortunately, I have made too much of an impression at my box and people expect more from me.  Just writing this down is such a milestone from me and I have to say, I have tears in my eyes (Luckily, my husband and son are watching the Blackhawks, game 7, so I could be bawling uncontrollably and they would not notice).

I am so thankful that the people in my box expect more from me.  I am grateful for the comments that I still find hard to believe are true from Paul’s posts on ETP.  I am thankful for my husband’s comments here and there, calling me skinny.

I really am thankful for all of this and it has made me raise the bar for myself, but honestly, I still don’t always believe it.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe it 60% of the time, but the other 40% of the time, I feel fat.  I feel like I could be working harder.  I feel like I could still be making better food choices.  I feel like if I could do all of these things, I would be 20 pounds lighter and 3 sizes smaller.

Damn Damn Damn!

I wish I could just flip a switch and believe the logic that my head tells me.  I KNOW I am on the right path.  I KNOW I am stronger.  I KNOW that 6 months from now, I will look and feel healthier, stronger and more confident than I do now.  Unfortunately, a little part of my heart seems to be speaking louder than my brain….

When I was young, I was INCREDIBLY shy.  Not just shy, I was “only speak to people in my immediate family” shy.  I was never really aware of this until high school.  I would hear people say that they thought I was a snob or bitchy because I didn’t really give them the time of day.  Little did they know that I was terrified to talk to them.  My self confidence was non-existent.  I had no idea what to say to people.

When I moved from Boston to Illinois after my bad breakup, I consciously told myself “I am done being shy.  Even if I have to fake my confidence, I will no longer be the person who missed out on opportunities because I am too shy.”  I honestly faked being confident for probably about 6 months, when it started coming naturally.  This was also during my “eating disorder” time when I was eating less than 1000 calories a day and exercising a ridiculous amount.  I still have to be thankful for this period though.  This is the period that I met my husband.  I had the confidence to just go up and talk to him that night at the racquet club.  3 hours later, I went home realizing that I just met the man I would marry, and wasn’t shy about sharing that with my family.

When people hear this story, they think, “No Way!  You were not shy!  You are one of the most confident people I know!”  Little do they know, I can still fake it pretty flawlessly.  It’s my defense mechanism.  I am not going to let people know how weak I think I am sometimes.  Hell, my husband can count the times he has seen me cry on one hand.  I am a rock….or so I want people to think.

All of this is why I am SO proud of how fucking sore I am right now.  Never, in my wildest imagination did I EVER think I would do a workout like Murph.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would backsquat 240 pounds.  Never, EVER, did I imagine being able to eat logically and exercise with so much determination.  Doubt is always there, but it’s just like the powdered donuts…you need to see the logic and sometimes fake it.  Fake that you don’t want to quit, fake that you have full confidence of RX’ing a WOD, fake that you are the strongest person in your box….even if deep down you know you are not…if you keep believing it and faking it…you won’t have to eventually, because you will be.   I will be…will  you?

Extreme Fat Loss: Skinny-Fat Edition

5 May

warning fat loss

Many people coming from aggressive deficit dieting or low carbohydrate backgrounds get scared of minor weight gain as they start to adapt to a more performance way of eating.  It’s 100% normal to need to navigate this mentally and the best way to do that is with other people.  That is what the Science Lab does and we have Extreme Fat Loss seminars every Monday night.  Our book Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Atheltes teaches you how to most effectively eat for performance with the net gain being fat loss,  for more information click here.

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article.)

I think it would surprise most people how inaccessible a lot of diet authors are; most of them just write their book, promote it, and then they’re done.  After the initial campaign, they might keep a blog and publish a post once a week.  Maybe they’ll release an amendment to the book in a few years.  All-in-all, there’s very little in the way of support for their product and they rarely practice what they preach.

I have had a lot of luck conversing with high-level authors about studies I find interesting, or successes I have had putting their concepts into practice, but when things start to go awry those e-mails go unanswered.  When I mentioned my plans for the Science Lab, one of my better friends (Who is also a well- known author) said, “That sounds like a train wreck.  This is a numbers game; a lot of people fail.”  Then I said something to him that made him pause:  “What if they fail because they went the wrong way and no one was there to put them on the correct path?”

It’s been a very rewarding experience working with people on a personal level as it relates to their health and fitness journey, but the one thing that does suck a bit is that some people don’t come out on the other side.  They’re hearing a lot of other voices, and sometimes that can also become confusing.  The simple fact is this:  there is no single answer to every query.  Everybody’s path is unique, and there will be much deliberation along the way.  Most people that land at my doorstep have been on the proverbial treadmill for some time, and they want answers now.  Let’s talk about a very common problem that is oftentimes the first bug we have to squash.

what got you fat

Why Low Carb Diets Kill Performance

To begin, let’s clarify what I mean by “low carb”:  less than 100 grams of carbs a day qualifies but it depends slightly upon the person.  It’s a sliding scale; 100g is about the point where brain function is covered, so if that is all you are eating there isn’t a lot left to feed your muscles.  This doesn’t mean you will wither up and die, but it’s not optimal whether you’re a man or a woman.

I am talking to a mostly active audience.  Certainly, if you don’t do very much with your body, some level of carb restriction probably makes sense but even in that instance, it can be harmful to your metabolism to take it to an extreme.  When you add activity (Especially high-level activity like CrossFit or weightlifting), even 100g can become potentially harmful.

Let’s do the math:

  • Your brain and other vital organs use 100g of glucose or more every day.
  • Let’s say you burn 300 calories during a WOD.  Most of those calories come from glycogen storage within the muscle.  (Let’s use 60% carbs as an example.)
  • That would be 180 calories from carbs, divided by 4 calories per gram.  You end up at 45g of carbs used for the WOD.

If you have ever wondered why you feel lethargic after a WOD, now you have some idea.  Your diet barely provides enough glucose to keep your brain going, let alone fuel the workout.  Your body has to find an alternative path to produce energy, since carbs aren’t being made readily available.  It would be nice to think that you’d draw on stored body fat, but fat has to be mobilized before it can be used as a substrate to produce glucose in the liver.  This process is neither quick, nor convenient, but it works under the context of endurance activities.  As far as anaerobic exercise is concerned, muscle glycogen is your best option and you’re running low.  You CAN get by like this, but your power output and maximal strength will likely suffer.

Why Low Carb Diets Make you Skinny-Fat

As most people know by now, carbs and sugars stimulate insulin production.  Insulin is primarily a transport hormone; it helps get nutrients into cells.  This is helpful as far as building muscle goes, but when you’re in a calorie surplus, insulin also helps create fat stores.  When there’s no more room for carbohydrate in the muscles or liver, it will be converted to fat.

When you eat low carb, insulin secretion stays at a minimum and cells become hyper-sensitive to its signaling.  In the short term, this is actually great as far as fat burning and muscle retention are concerned, but it’s a problem if you want to build muscle.  A lot of the protein you’re eating is being used to produce glucose rather than stimulating growth; at best, you’ll retain your muscle mass, but over the long term you’ll start breaking down muscle tissue to produce glucose too.  If you’re not eating enough total calories, you will waste muscle and your body fat percentage will increase.

To make matters worse, your muscles will eventually become insensitive to insulin and the fat mobilizing hormone leptin, leaving your cells inflexible and flat-footed.  This also has a negative effect on your endocrine system.  In general, it’s unnecessary and at worst it can cause all kinds of metabolic dysfunction.

You end up weak, skinny fat, and your metabolism is essentially broken.   Certainly, I am not pitching for extreme levels of dietary carbohydrate intake.  Rather just enough to support muscle maintenance, repair and a little growth on occasion.  Like most things, quality is more important than quantity.

All Carbs are not Created Equal

To replenish muscle glycogen, the quickest and most efficient sources are going to be starches.  Something like Kale or broccoli might be good as far as vitamins are concerned, but your body will derive very little net carbohydrate from these sources and you’ll have a heck of a time refueling your muscles.  Sugars are a step in the right direction, but most are inefficient as they are only partially glucose.  A notable exception is dextrose, which is a100% glucose form of sugar and is popular in supplements and sports drinks.

For a more in-depth look at optimal carb sources, review this article.

So How Does This Person Recover and Lose Fat?

The answer is actually so simple, it’s going to make you mad, but it’s also difficult to quantify immediately.  Because the person wasn’t eating enough carbohydrate to aid in protein turnover, all they need to do is eat enough to start putting on some muscle mass.  Much of the “fat” that was gained was simply the body trying to protect itself, as well as a decrease in lean body mass that artificially inflated your body fat percentage.  When you eat an adequate amount of quality carbs from whole food sources (We’re not talking three pints of Ben and Jerry’s) you start refilling your muscles with water and glucose, and as you lift heavier weight you add density and functional tissue.  The results tend to be quite extreme, and they happen relatively quickly.  It’s not uncommon for someone to gain five pounds of muscle within a few weeks.

The best part is that as long as you’re active and you eat relatively clean, all of that added weight is lean mass.  If you have been depleted for some time, you can actually mobilize some fat, but the numbers don’t tend to be quite as significant; you won’t lose 10% of your body fat but 1-2% isn’t out of the question.  What you are doing however is aiding your work capacity in a significant manner, and as you gradually build muscle mass (women may refer to this as “muscle tone”) you can start to chip away at your body fat.  Meanwhile, you end up squatting more, deadlifting more, and making Fran your bitch.

Two of the rarest commodities, patience and understanding, are required to get there.  This approach might set you back a few weeks or months before you can tell that the train is definitely on the right track.  Most people instinctively know that the direction I want them to go is the correct path, but old habits die hard.  Remember this:  I am not saying you shouldn’t eat low carb occasionally.  In fact, that is a central theme of what we teach in the Science Lab, but you should always allow for maintenance and growth of muscle tissue.   Under eating and low carbing won’t get you there.   It’s only half of the equation.

Summary:

  • A big part of why Eat To Perform is dedicated to providing support for our users is because everyone is on their own unique path and sometimes, the people who don’t succeed were the people who needed a more in-depth look.  We want to see people achieve their goals!
  • Your brain and organs use about 100g of glucose on a daily basis, just to keep you alive.  Low carb diets do not allow any energy for your muscles, and your workouts will probably suck.
  • When your workouts suck and you’re not providing your body with enough carbs to increase protein synthesis and retention, you’re going to lose muscle mass.
  • A low body fat percentage without a significant amount of muscle mass results in a damaged metabolism and a gaunt physical appearance.  Without a lot of muscle, you will never diet away the last bits of fat.
  • How do you fix yourself and get back to burning fat?  It’s simple:  you eat enough carbs and food overall to fuel performance!
  • As your performance increases, you’ll get stronger, you’ll add muscle mass, and you’ll be able to burn fat at appropriate times, resulting in an overall improved body composition and optimized health.

Pan Seared Scallops and Roasted Kabocha Squash

22 Apr

Soooo, a little more about myself before I share this yummy dinner…

I really began my love of cooking in the past 5 years or so.  I have been married for almost 20 years (20 this June!) and have two boys, ages 19 and 15.  We have never been wealthy by any means (at least not with money – fun, laughter and love we have had plenty) so dinner was very often hamburger helper, meatloaf, spaghetti, etc.  It was whatever we could afford and were able to cook when we got home from work.  Once my boys got a little older, I began having this fascination with recipes.  I found that the Food Network was the channel I watched more often than any other and really began learning more about flavor profiles and how to actually COOK!  This new world of food and cooking opened up my mind about food in general and how delicious foods can be transformed into AMAZING meals.

I will be honest, my family and my husband’s family, is well aware that I DO NOT LIKE VEGETABLES!  What is crazy is how open minded I have become about foods that I would NEVER have tried prior, especially since I began this journey with Paul and Crossfit.  Simply understanding the value certain foods has when it comes to performing has completely turned my world upside down.

I am putting this out there to a lot of people who do not know my past….

I grew up VERY athletic.  With an older brother (who is the one who turned me on to Crossfit) who played football, basketball and baseball, I was constantly trying to keep up with him.  I played soccer, basketball and softball and excelled at all of them.  Honestly, I probably could have gotten an athletic scholarship of some kind if I had any kind of drive or knowledge about how athletic I was.  Unfortunately, I grew up around very well off families, most of whom were a size 6 or smaller.  With legs like tree trunks and probably having less body fat than most of the boys in my class, let alone the girls, I thought I was fat.  I had little self confidence and I believe that helped lead me in the path of self destruction.

After a rough breakup with my first love, I moved from Massachusetts to Illinois to live with my parents at age 19.  I decided this was a great time to change myself, both inside and out.  The first step was to lose weight….ugh…thinking back, I can’t believe how stupid I was.   I was probably eating less than 1000 calories a day… a yogurt for breakfast and 2 lean cuisine meals a day…biking several miles to the gym to do the stair climber for 45-60 minutes a day and then bike several miles back home.  In my spare time, I would run with my beloved dog, Rusty, to get him some exercise….I looked DAMN good….

I cannot even fathom the trauma I had done to my metabolism in this time alone….one good thing came of this time however…I met my husband.  From that one night I decided to talk to him (despite his lack of an ass) I knew I would marry him…

There is so much more that I will share as we go, but I want everyone to know that I am a real person who has struggled with weight and food her entire life.  There is far more to read about my journey, but I don’t want to give it all in one blog….(this is how we keep you reading these blogs…you have to know what happens next, right?)

With the help of my past failures and successes, Paul(Eat to Perform) and Crossfit, I think I might have it figured out…we’ll see I guess…

Anyways…when my pantry and refrigerator are scarce in supplies, I find I am at my most creative…

Today, while looking in my freezer, I found some large scallops, begging to be defrosted.  While I prefer fresh seafood, here in Minnesota, that is quite impossible…so frozen will have to do…

Kabocha squash…honestly, never tried it…  Another milestone to check of my “eating vegetables” list.  (Last night I ate FOUR pieces of broccoli!  That’s a pretty big deal for me!)  I got this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo since I had no clue what to do with it.  I am not sure if these two items really “GO” together, but they both tasted great!  Enjoy!

scallops

Pan Seared Scallops

Ingredients

  • 8 large sea scallops
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • A splash of citrus vodka

Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Melt butter in the pan and add scallops to the heated pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side (do NOT overcook scallops or they will be rubbery!) Remove the scallops from the pan and add the maple syrup and vodka to deglaze the pan, stirring constantly.  Cook the sauce for about 1 minute and pour over the scallops.  OH!  These are heavenly!

If I want to lose fat why shouldn’t I be on Carb Nite?

10 Mar

This wasn’t a question that came up specifically in one of the nutrition question and answers but it ended up being the answer to another question.  Namely should you be on Carb Nite Solution if you are trying to lose fat? That answer can be tricky and I have seen women doing Crossfit gut it out with what they believe is some level of success.  Typically the scale went down and certain parts of them look a little tighter because their inflammation levels were lower as a result of eating less than 30g of carbohydrates.  Here are some of the pitfalls these people run into:

Now realize I am having a discussion about populations that Crossfit and some of these negative symptoms can be lessened by eating more fats but that isn’t what most people do.  They eat about the same fat and try and rely on a calorie deficit to do the work.  It basically becomes the suckiest version of Weight Watchers ever.

1.  They often can’t sleep or have less sleep.

2.  Cardio workouts might be slightly better but during weight training they never feel really strong.

3.  Stress levels are high

4.  Metabolism slows to a crawl

Above is the video where I describe how you can do Carb Back Loading in a moderate way using Crossfit to create a drain on your energy system to get a similar result to Carb Nite Solution without the negatives.  Once again, this isn’t a knock on Carb Nite Solution, it’s a fine diet for some people and I have even had Crossfitters say it works for them.  Overwhelmingly though it’s unnecessary to restrict carbohydrate in an extreme manner with our levels of activity. The end result tends to be a more broken and confused crossfit athlete.

 

 

 

Flipping the Metabolic Switch

3 Mar

light switch

For most people that blog about the way people eat I easily have the best folks to work with.  People who do Crossfit and eat correctly basically make what I talk about extremely easy.  I have worked with body builders, power lifters and models in the past.  Most of those populations are trying to put a round peg in a square hole.  Imagine working with a PowerLifter that needs to lift in a weight class trying to pull triple their body weight with less food.  Body builders and models are legendary for eating disorder type behavior but those populations are getting a lot smarter as more scientific information gets out there.  For us Crossfitters, our focus is simply, to get better at Crossfit and we know from the many folks around us each that are all “ab’ed” up that it really does work.  But it’s not working for everyone, for every #SOGO warrior out there, there is also someone in the back of the gym kind of pissed off that they are killing themselves every workout with marginal gains in the mirror.

Why Ketogenic Diets work and when they become a metabolic disaster?

I talked yesterday about the fact that John Kiefer has two books, Carb Back Loading (check out my article on CBL adjusted for Crossfit and Paleo populations) the one I recommend, and Carb Nite Solution–which I don’t recommend.  John is a pretty smart dude and CNS is so drop dead easy that the book is basically all about why the diet works.  Go figure, an author that actually explains the processes that make the diet work.  In my opinion it’s the best Ketogenic book on the market but Crossfitters don’t need another Ketogenic diet.  They need a performance way of eating and that is the gaping hole that Carb Back Loading fills.  Wait, what? That’s right, the way you are eating combined with your activity level nets out to about the point where the Ketogenic Diets become effective.  To flip the metabolic switch when you are an inactive individual the key is strategic carb days like I describe below.  For active individuals, the approach takes on a life of its own and many options become available.

In 2007, I lost nearly 40 pounds as a relatively sedate individual, this left me “skinny fat” but still probably a somewhat healthier version of myself.  I wasn’t moving but I was seeing results.  I fought through all of the headaches and the sleepless nights and got to the other side.  Towards the end, I looked like the walking dead and there is no way in hell I could have done Crossfit.  Basically, I did a Ketogenic Diet with a cheat day.  That cheat day often left me sick, I would obsessively make lists of all the foods I really wanted to eat and just pound them on that one cheat day.  Gradually I was able to manage things a bit better and looking back, all of the pieces of the puzzle were there I just hadn’t put them all together yet.  Instinctively I reduced the window of cheat days from about every 7th day to about every 4th day, otherwise the scale wouldn’t move.

You have to remember I was NOT doing Crossfit at the time.  Which is good, because I couldn’t have done it.  Because I didn’t understand why what I was doing worked and at that time, I didn’t know the details on how to not get sick in the process.  In the end, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I was a metabolic disaster.

I will never recommend a Ketogenic Diet, for anyone, even good ones like John’s because when the scale stalls, the only option people feel they have is to start eating less.  I have found they are unnecessary and can lead to harm in the wrong hands and I think it’s only natural that when the scale isn’t moving you push the panic button, eat less and that’s when things get real bad.

I was just too smart to be fat

If you want to know a synopsis of my life it’s pretty simple.  I don’t follow the crowd.  I walk into most situations with a skeptic’s eye.  There are varying degrees of success people have with “eat less do less” diets but they don’t end up more whole as a result.  I often describe this as the best version of themselves.  Not only active and healthy but those results can be shown on paper through bloods tests and or body fat analysis.

If you aren’t eating any starches and one piece of fruit I am going to say you are probably hurting yourself.  No amount of “rah rah” cheerleading bullshit is going to make that better.  Also no amount of “sugar addicted” proponents can truly explain to you why their approach isn’t working for you, after all, maybe you are just being a baby (does it not stand to reason that with few energy dense options craving sugar represents craving more energy, this isn’t rocket science folks).  “But it’s working for everyone else”.  Is it though? I mean really? Because I hear a lot of people talking about progress but it doesn’t really show.  Not in the mirror and not really in the gym.  “But I am faster and I am stronger”.  This does happen and I can explain it easily.  From a cardio perspective if you pull all of the water out of your body (that’s part of what Ketogenic diets do) you are going to weigh less.  Do you think that would be favorable as it relates to your cardio abilities? Seems obvious right?  But what about strength gains, people often PR while eating low carb and Crossfitting, so what I am saying might not jive with those folks.  Here is that answer and I am just going to lay it on the line.  You weren’t all that strong to begin with.  As someone that knows a fair amount of powerlifters I can tell you that they hone in on their areas of weakness and just hammer those spots.  Then after hammering it they find different ways to hammer it.  In some ways powerlifters are the perfect example of what I am talking about even though many of them are thought to be on the heavy side.  To lift real big you have to realize your muscles potential, powerlifters are a great example of this.  By keeping insulin high they gain muscle but many of them also get fat in the process and they become reluctant to lose weight because they think it might compromise their strength (they are probably right without proper guidance, however even with proper guidance there are no guarantees).

Your Diet Sucks

Your Diet Sucks was a book concept I came up with after many years of not knowing the little details of why all of the diets I was on didn’t work out in the end.  I am not going to lie to you, when you read Carb Back Loading it’s a bit shocking.  It doesn’t seem real and if you haven’t read the book you probably think it’s a book exclusively about making poor food choices work.  The exact opposite is actually true.  The concept I wanted to write about was going to describe some level of metabolic flexibility where I learned to move from one energy system (fats) to another energy system (carbs) and not only was it favorable it allows you to become the best version of yourself.  And then I started hearing about Carb Back Loading.  It has a few warts and if you come from a Paleo background it’s probably difficult to see all of the donuts and cherry turnovers.  I am not even an ardent low carber and it got to me a bit.  Kiefer has talked about this on multiple occasions and has said that while a super Paleo version of carb back loading might not be totally optimal it’s actually pretty close to the way he eats.  He and Robb Wolf are positively gushy talking to each other.

The only book that I could have wrote would not have been technically better than Carb Back Loading but it would have been aimed at regular folks that might not need every detail covered.  I have talked about this a bit, can you do carb back loading without reading the book, that answer quite simply is yes.  But there are some details that make GIGANTIC differences.  By the time I found Carb Back Loading I was doing things mostly right and I found tips in every chapter that made big differences for me and I have gained about 15 pounds of muscle in little over a year.  Those tips only helped.

If you are considering buying the book I would ask you to use the various links on this site.  I don’t recommend a lot of stuff so I need readers to know that it keeps me blogging when you purchase things directly from me.

Here is my blog on CBL for Paleo Crossfit type folks. There is a download link on that page and also one on the sidebar.

Tackling the Sugar Addiction question

2 Mar

First let me start off by saying I don’t make light of addiction.  I have been free of chemicals for 26 years, it destroyed my life as a teenager and I had to leave my family to get treatment for that illness.  So while things kind of worked out for me in the end I still deal with repercussions of that illness to this day.  Let me give you the timeline for this addiction.

– At 18 I was admitted to a treatment facility for 3 months where I underwent extreme psychotherapy

– I then was admitted to a halfway house in Minnesota (where I currently live), I stayed in that facility for 6 months as did most of the residents there.

– I am originally from New Orleans, La. one of the coolest places on the planet.  Most of my family still resides there or near there.

– After leaving the facility in Minnesota I decided to acclimate for a bit before heading back home.  New Orleans held a lot of temptation then and now so I really wanted to make sure I had it right.

– 26 years later I am still here, I met my wife about 6 months after leaving the halfway house.  I often get asked “what makes a person come from a warm weather place that seems as cool as hell to a miserable wasteland (their words not mine, it’s really not so bad and Prince is from here)” my simple retort is often “had to be a woman, right?”

– My children have a great life and our family is well supported by people that care for us but it’s incomplete.  It’s a little tough looking your father in the eye as he tears up because he is being robbed of seeing his “grand babies” grow up.  That is one small casualty of addiction.

So yeah, I take addiction real serious.  As a drug treatment counselor I heard many stories of people who stole their grandmothers microwave to buy crack or compromised their humanity to get a fix.  So while sugar is a powerful chemical can we at least set the bar as a SEVERE consequence that possibly compromises who you are as a result.  Before anyone suggests obesity, let’s not confuse not knowing WHY with uncontrollable behavior.  So let’s start there.

The insulin hypothesis

The insulin hypothesis goes like this, if you can keep insulin suppressed it solves body fat storage because insulin is said to be a “storage hormone”.  Let’s be clear about this, body fat can store without the presence of insulin through multiple channels.  Insulin is more accurately described as a building hormone.  Eat correctly and it builds muscle, eat incorrectly and it BUILDS/stores fat.

It has been proposed that if you can control insulin you can control your health, that is the basis for all low carbohydrate diets.  As many of you know that frequent this page/blog I recommend eating carbohydrates with strategies related to the time you workout or even eating in a smaller window in the evening.  No matter which macronutrient we are talking about I believe you should have a strategy as it relates to that macronutrient.  I also believe that you should have some general idea of your overall intake needs daily and adjust those needs related to your activity level.  Let me give you an example of what that might look like, for protein I try to get around 160g a day, each gram of protein equals 4 calories, so I need 640 calories from protein a day (you don’t really need to count calories daily to have a good idea of your protein intake but it might be helpful for a week or so just to check, knowledge is powerful).  Through massive trial and error I have found a good balance of about 200g of carbohydrate, up to 300g if my activity is higher, once again, I do this intuitively but as most of you know I am pretty good at this whole nutrition thing.  Carbs also equal 4 calories per gram so I need 800 to 1200 calories of carbohydrate to support my daily activity.  While yes I realize carbohydrates are a non-essential macronutrient they are very favorable as it relates to metabolism.  I know this because I basically cured my hypothyroidism related to chronic dieting once I went down this road of discovery related to my intake needs.  Which brings me to fats, through various ways including dexascan and bodpod testing as well as trial and error I know that I need about 3000 calories a day to support my activity levels.  Once again I don’t actually count this stuff but I am also not naive as it relates to the caloric values of the foods that I eat and also know what those foods represent in my body.  Which is another article for another day and not germain to the discussion of sugar addiction.  So fat calories basically equal the rest, if I get 640 calories from protein roughly and 800 calories from carbohydrates that leaves me with 1560 calories coming from fat, fat calories (as most of you know) equal 9 calories per gram, so my fat intake represents more than half of my calories, which is right about 170g a day of fat alone.

For the ladies in the crowd I will use my wife as an example without all of the dirty details. Protein 120g, carbohydrates 150g, total calories for her (she is a crossfitter so quite active) are 2400 a day (she doesn’t count either but eats in an intuitive manner similar to the way that I do).  So her fat calories represent also over 50% of her calories at 1320 or roughly 146g from fat.  From what I have seen my wife is pretty average but I would like to put out there that everyone’s life journey should be a bit more self discovery.  In a lot of ways that is why I made this blog and my accompanying Facebook page, it is my life’s mission to help people navigate these personal struggles.

If you think you don’t need to eat that much to support your activity level you are almost certainly wrong.  Even if you are right it is only minor degrees.  I am not saying this as someone using two people as an example, I have many case studies that prove this.

So let’s start there as it relates to your sugar intervention.  Until you actually KNOW these types of numbers and have worked towards this level of self discovery and you haven’t had to miss carpool to prostitute yourself for a twix bar (you are going to have to imagine this in Jeff Foxworthy voice switching our redneck for sugar addict) “you might not be a sugar addict”.  Just so people know I am not stereotyping I pick up carpool for my children and I can say to you “god willing” I haven’t had to miss carpool for a twix.

So why so much fat?

I like fat as a primary fuel because it’s very stable, I have heard it said that over reliance on glucose (carbs) for energy is like burning a fire with kindling and fat is like putting a log on the fire.  At rest, for most people, fats are a great source of daily energy levels.  Fats also keep insulin blunted and while it seems odd fats can be a good STRATEGY as it relates to your body fat levels.  I highlight the word strategy because my way and my wife’s way might not represent the best way for you.  That will be part of your self discovery but stick with me and I will give you some clues on how to get there.  Don’t be fooled though, the insulin hypothesis goes like this,  keep carbs out of your diet and you will be in fat burning mode all of the time.  Not only is this wrong it’s borderline irresponsible and has left many people broken with eating disorder type behaviors as a result.

The effects of Carbohydrate on a Ketogenic approach to eating

In an attempt to figure out if they are in ketosis many people pee on their hands each morning to check their ketone levels.  I don’t mean to make light of people working towards a better style of eating but there is a crucial aspect they are missing.  Carbs are said to be a non-essential macronutrient because your body can exist without them, the body requires glucose (a fuel source readily available through actual food) so much that it actually can turn fats and mainly protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis (I misspell this word non-stop).  It’s an inefficient process and can often leave the user with headaches as a result.  The brain functions mostly on glucose but I don’t want to get ahead of myself, it can however function on Ketones which is the by-product of fat metabolism.  So while yes if you can suffer through the bad workouts and the headaches it is indeed possible to use fats as a primary fuel source but the net result as it relates to body fat mobilization becomes dependent on the amount of fats you eat as a result.  The process is relatively inefficient for athletic populations and virtually impossible as a strategy for Crossfitters that want to excel.

It has been well known for a long time that when you eat in a ketogenic way and then cycle your carbs that stimulates metabolism whether it by intraday, bi-daily, weekly or whatever floats your boat.  When you eat low carbohydrate and then you have a carbohydrate re-feed (you eat a good amount of carbs) you not only mobilize fat but the net result tends to be more favorable than the “eat less do less” model of eating.  This is because a low carbohydrate way of eating suppresses the hormone leptin which is the primary mover as it relates to body fat mobilization.  Suppressed leptin levels can lead to hypothyroid like symptoms and is often the result of extreme dieting.

So low carbohydrate dates get to a point of diminishing returns as it relates to body composition.  I will say there are always outliers where it can work but those are not the majority of folks that go down the low carb path.

I am going to stop here because this is going long

I am not going to make any promises related to WHEN I will write the second part of this article but you already should have some thoughts flowing through your head related to “sugar addiction”.  The next article is going to focus more on strategies related to eating that will allow to better understand your bodies signals.  Let me end on this note though, most people who think they are sugar addicted are underfed, plane and simple.  Since low carb dieting is not favorable as it relates to metabolism down the line people often need to reduce their fat intake to try and chase their body composition goals which is like driving towards a point that is continuouslyy moving.  Those that aren’t underfed are simply relying more on glucose (carbs or sugars) as their primary fuels and this can be handled easily by adjusting their diet patterns.  Here is the deal, you miss the sugar because the brain really really likes sugar, if you gave the brain sugar all of the time it would just ask you for more because, well, brains are gonna brain.  That’s what they want.  If you provide your brain adequate nutrition with strategies related to how the rest of your body manages your fat the equation for optimal health starts to appear.

I am thinking the next article should probably be called “The case for responsible energy management” but let’s be honest, no ones gonna click that.  So I’ll probably call it something like “The Sugar Addiction Cure debunked”.  I’m tricky like that.  Oh yeah, Doctor Oz can suck it.  I can’t believe people still think his information is even remotely responsible.

Ladies Cinnamon Roll Challenge

28 Feb

Cinnamon Rolls

If you are looking to optimize your performance this is my blog post on Carb Back Loading for Paleo and Crossfit.

There are four common myths I am hoping to dispel with this exercise but the participants are under no obligation to confirm what I suspect.  The three myths go like this:

1.  Sugar is toxic (not only is it not toxic for athletes it can be used as a very effective energy source, the does always matters and since you will be eating it before bed your blood sugar will auto regulate.  So no cravings throughout the day.)

2.  Eating poorly hurts my workouts (this logically makes no sense in moderation, certainly if you have a 12 pack of beer the night before and attempt to Crossfit that might not work out so well.  More energy from an energy dense source should always be favorable in workouts)

3.  Calories in versus Calories out (I am actually a calorie agnostic, it’s really the only measuring tool we have so I am not a hater but even the most ardent defender of calories in calories out could not make a proper case for the concept when metabolism is not functioning correctly).

4.  Don’t eat carbs at night.

Here is how we will set up how you will eat

Eat under 30g of carbs throughout the day excluding fibrous vegetables (meaning you should eat these for size) and eat normal, no different than you normally might.  Delay breakfast for an hour or two and eat fats and proteins (no fruit).  For lunch let’s stick with fats and proteins still and as close to possible 0 carbs until about 6pm (once again veggies are cool).  Do not under eat in anticipation of your treat (I am on to you ladies).  Ground beef at lunch will help you for later workouts (taco salad kind of thing).  In the evening I want you to eat relatively normal with really no rules, ideally if you are working out the following day have some sweet potatoes.

Every morning you will weigh yourself

The numbers aren’t important I just need pluses and minuses and keep a log of how you feel.  Also you will keep a workout log, nothing too big (workout sucked or workout was awesome is fine).  I’m not going to tell you my expectation for this but you should know there is a risk the scale could go up.  However it’s only 4 days, so the risk of dramatic weight gain is pretty small.

Who should do this?

Obviously if you have diabetes this isn’t smart.  I would also ask those that are carrying a fair amount of fat avoid the challenge as well.  So you are lean but have that last bit of fat left to go.  Ideally you are a pretty clean eater and you are struggling to figure out how to get rid of that last bit of fat.

When do I eat the Cinnamon Roll?

30 minutes before you go to bed.  Here is what you will be eating.  You will be eating one of this each day for 4 days (yes with the sugar on top).  http://udisglutenfree.com/products/cinnamon-rolls/