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Gary Taubes summarises Good Calories, Bad Calories in 10 short points

December 28, 2009

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes is one of the most in depth and well research health books of our time.  He goes into the history of how we came to many conclusions about diabetes, insulin, and the heart-fat hypothesis, and basically shows us that these hypothesis’ have many holes and in fact aren’t true.  The book is a great (but long) read, and well worth it if you’re after hard and solid facts and would like to know where the terms “artery clogging saturated fat” and “low fat diets” came from.  In an interview with The Daily Bell, Taubes summarises the 10 main findings in the book:

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease or any other chronic disease of civilization.

2. The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion and so the hormonal regulation of homeostasis — the  entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our  health, weight and well-being.

3. Sugars – sucrose and high fructose corn syrup specifically – are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose  and glucose simultaneously elevate insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.

4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary  heart disease and diabetes. They are the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease and the other chronic diseases of  civilization.

5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation not overeating and not sedentary behavior.

6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy  than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger.

7. Fattening and obesity are caused by an imbalance – a disequilibrium — in the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat  metabolism: Fat synthesis and storage exceeds the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue and its subsequent oxidation. We  become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this balance.

8. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated – either chronically or after a meal – we accumulate  fat in our fat tissue. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and use it for fuel.

9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The less carbohydrates we consume, the  leaner we will be.

10. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and  physical activity.


Personal Responsibility

December 17, 2009

About 6 months ago I stopped reading the news.  One of the best things I ever did in my life.  News is such as a stresser, and so depressing and so full of negative energy.  Why should I let a whole bunch of things I have no control over make me feel bad?

So I stopped watching and reading news. And I felt so much better for it.  All of a sudden I could focus on myself and what Ineeded to do.  So what? I’m not “informed”.  And maybe I don’t know who Tiger Woods has slept with or which kid has gone on a shooting rampage in America or who won Dancing with the Stars.

That stuff doesn’t affect me and it’s not important.  But the last 3 days for some reason I have been drawn back in.  I was listening to some health and wellness podcasts about people talking about how Farmers are being forced into using hormones and chemical laden feeds on their animals.  About how the raw milk industry in America is being threatened by food assocation under the guise of big business.

I got angry that so many people have been mislead by governments and the medical industry and so many people are unhappy and unhealthy.  It started to piss me off.  And I got angry.    It affected my work, my study and even my relationship with my wife.  She could see a change instantly.  “You’re back to the old you” she said.  And as soon as she said that I snapped right out of it.  Thank god for my wife to straighten me out sometimes.  I remembered why I stopped reading the news in the first place.

I can only take responsibility for my own actions.

I can only control what I’m doing, I cannot control others and trying to do so only creates negative energy.

I’m becoming more healthy and happy because I’m taking action to do that.  As selfish as it may sound, I should not worry or care if others are unhappy or unhealthy.  It’s their own responsibility to change their lives.  All I can do to help them is to be happy and healthy in myself and if they want my help then I will try and help them to the best of my ability.

Metabolic Typing

December 13, 2009

I was listening to Sean Croxton’s Underground Wellness podcast, and he did an interview with Bill Wolcott, author of the Metabolic Typing Diet.  I’ve never heard of Metabolic Typing before, but listening to Wolcott his ideas and theories regarding diet and health really resonated with me.  The idea behind Metabolic Typing (MT) is that there is no such thing as healthy diet, but everyone has different dietary requirements in order to achieve biochemical and metabolic balance.  The reason we’re all different is because we all live in different climates, eat different foods, environmental conditions, evolution and heredity.  Just like someone might have black hair and another might have blonde hair, biochemically and metabolically, we’re all built differently.

So what works for some people, may have the complete opposite effect in others!  Mind blowing stuff given that I’ve been concrete on a low carb, high protein / fat diet which I thought was healthy for all people.  It works for me, but maybe it doesn’t work for others?

After doing all the research they broke people up into 3 general groups (there is a lot of fine tuning done within the groups).

  • Protein
  • Carbo
  • Mixed

The protein group are fast oxidizers, which mean their cells quickly convert food to energy, so they need to eat more heavy foods that burn slowly such as proteins and fats.  Carbo’s are the other end of the scale and are slow oxidizers which mean they need foods that convert into energy quickly such as high carb foods (grains, starchy vegetables, fruits).

This could explain why my wife (who’s Korean) can eat a high carb, low protein diet and have amazing trygliceride levels of ~40.

I did the self test and I’m definitely in the protein group, which I knew anyway, but there is a lot more interesting information in the book and they have really done their research and tested it on hundreds of thousdands of people to refine their techniques.

Interestingly they found that any food or nutrient may have an opposite biochemical influence from one person to another!   So as an example, Protein types (fast oxidizers) should probably stay away from most fruits which are high in sugar.  Even though we’ve been told that we must eat our fruit and veg, this could actually be causing an biochemical imbalance in our bodies.   I already eat quite a high protein and fat diet, although I haven’t been eating protein at breakfast lately as I’ve been off eggs, its left me feeling hungry all day and I’ve been snacking quite a lot on dairy, dark chocolate and fruit.  Probably not a great mixture for a protein guy.

In the book they go into as much detail as telling you exactly which foods you should and should not eat based on your group, and even explain why those foods are either good or bad depending on your group.  Its a great read and you can tell this is more than a fad diet just on the research they’ve done.

So this week I’m going to start the protein challenge, and see if this MT stuff really works.  I’m also going to try it out on my wife who I think is probably a carbo or mixed and see how it works for her.

Have you tried Metabolic Typing?  How’s it worked out for you?

I’m allergic to eggs?!?! Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!

December 2, 2009

I love eggs.  And who doesn’t?  Runny, yokey soft goodness in a shell, choc full of lovely saturated fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals.  I could probably live in eggs forever.  In fact since I started a low-carb / caveman / crazy (according to my friends) lifestyle they have replaced bread as my staple food.  I probably eat anywhere between 2-4 eggs a day.  When I get my recipes section up and running I’ll post some photos of all the omelettes I’ve made.

About a week ago I started getting some pretty nasty stomach cramps about an hour after breakfast, which is in fact lunch given that I was intermittently fasting and not eating until 11 or 12-ish most days.  The pains lasted about 2-3 hours and they were also accompanied by lovely rounds of belching, something I’ve managed to remove from my repertoire since I went Low-Carb.

At first I thought it was probably stress related, didn’t give it much attention, but then a lady posted on one of the Low carb forums about Intermittent fasting and the possibility of extended fasting leading to gallstones!  Gallstones are formed when liquid bile contains too much cholesterol, hardens and whamo, gallstones are formed.   This is particularly nasty when one is fasting, bile has nothing to attach to so it builds up, and when that first bit of fat comes in you can get gallstone attacks which are painful and usually at night.

After reading this I got a bit concerned, reading about golf ball size rocks of concrete in my body was not nice and I decided for a few days I was going to go on a more low-fat diet, so I stopped eating eggs for breakfast and bought some fruit.  I also stopped fasting, and started eating a breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, or the previous nights leftovers, usually meat and veg.  I did this for a few days and the symptoms went away.

On Sunday I didn’t sleep really well, and slept in until 12pm.  My wife and I went to a spicy chicken restaurant (by spicy I mean burns at both ends spicy).   So basically I fasted, didn’t eat until 1pm and then ate spicy chicken to break my fast!  No problems.   7pm came around, the wife was out and I was feeling lazy so I fried up a few eggs, to test the “fasting theory”.  I ate 3 fried eggs, 1 hour later.  Blam!  Stomache pains.

So I pretty much scrapped the gallstone theory then and have accepted the fact that I probably have some kind of allergy to eggs.

So why now?  I’ve been eating eggs pretty much daily for the past 12 months and never once had a bad reaction.  Could it be because winter is upon us and usually in winter chickens lay less eggs (because of less sunlight), and they are forced under UV lights to keep pumping out the eggs?  Has something changed in the eggs?

Or have I just developed some kind of allergy over time? Checking out the net I found stories of many people who over time developed allergy to eggs and ended up with the same symptoms, and sometimes worse.  Well whatever it is, eggs are off the recipe for me to be replaced with yoghurt and fruit.

Yesterday I helped a man with his squat

December 1, 2009

Another little story about my gym session the other day.  There was an 50 something year old Korean guy on the torturous incline leg press machine, which happens to be right next to the squat rack.  While I was doing my squats I could see his reflection in the mirror looking over at me, obviously interested in what I was doing.

After I’d finished my quickfire 3 sets and deadlifts, I moved away to do some dynamic stretching to warm down.  The Korean guy was on the squat rack struggling to do squats with 20kgs of weights on the bar.  I walked a bit closer and I could see so many things wrong about his technique, so in my poor Korean I offered to help him, which he was more than happy to receive.

Firstly his feet were way too close together and  his feet were pointed straight ahead.  Both of those things stopped him from going deep in the squat and probably put a lot of pressure on his knee and ankle joints.   When you go down in a squat your knees will automatically go out so if your feet are straight you’re going to get a twisting in your knees.  If your feet are pointed out, your knees and feet will be aligned so its more of a natural range of motion.  I told him to put his feet wider, parallel with shoulders and point his feet out at about 30 degrees.

His grip was way too wide on the bar itself, so I got him to bring those in and bring his elbows back which creates a nice shelf on the shoulders for the bar to sit on.    All the weight should be on your upper back, your hands are just there to keep the bar in position, there should be no weight on the hands or wrists at all.

I took the weights off the bar so he could practice his new technique without too much weight.  In a good squat your hips should go below your hips to active your hamstrings, lower back and to also maximise hip thrust coming up.  There are some people who say its bad for your knees, but this is wrong if you’re doing a squat with good technique you’ll have no pressure on your knees or ankles.

So he did the squat and he did it really well.  He knew straight away because it felt good to him and we loaded some more weight on the bar and he did a really nice 3×5 squat set with 20kgs on the bar.  He thanked me profusely and I felt good about helping him.

Personally I love the squat, it’s not just a leg exercise, its a total body workout which hits your legs, core and lower back.  A squat done with good technique will work just about every muscle in your body and it really does build functional strength.

Its weekly Gym Day!

November 28, 2009

I only go to the gym once per week, and my sessions last about 30 minutes at most.  Its very fast, focussed and enjoyable.   You can read more about what I typically do here, just scroll down to “Excercise”.

What I really like about going to the gym once per week instead of being a gym junkie is:

  • I really look forward to it!  It’s not a chore at all.
  • I can get really pumped about one gym session a week, It’s a lot better to give 110% for 30 minutes once a week, than it is to give 50%, 3 times a week.  My goal is to build and activate fast twitch muscles fibres so I absolutely have to give 110% during every exercise.
  • I feel so pumped up before I go to the gym that I always have far more high intensity workouts than if I was going 3 or more times a week.
  • If I’m going every day or 3 times a week its easy to fall into the trap of making up for today’s laziness tomorrow.
  • The more you go to the gym and do the same excercises, the more your body will become used to the training and you’ll make less gains.
  • Save money! I buy a 10-pass for about $60 which lasts me 10 weeks.  Usual gym fees are about $60 a month.

Once a week works well for me, but I’d also like to add something else during the week, and still keep to my goal of doing less than 1 hour of high intensity exercise per week.  I used to do a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) called Tabatas (8 x 20 second sprints with 10 second break in between), but since it got a bit cold here in Korea I have stopped training outside.  I’m thinking about a session of body-weight exercises (anyone good any good recommendations?) one time per week which I can do inside my apartment.

Yesterday morning I went to the gym but it was closed due to cleaning, so on the way home I went to the park, did about 4 short duration sprints at full pace, and then did body-weight pullups and dips in the park.

Today is Saturday, I went to the gym and did benchpress (max 57.5kgs), squats (max 57.5kgs), deadlifts (max 70kgs) and overhead press (max 30kgs) as well as 1 set of 10 inverted rows.  I only did 1 set of 10 as the squat rack freed up and I didn’t want to chance waiting around for some other guy to jump on.  If I miss the squat rack, there’s not much else I can do!

Typically I try to do 3 sets of as many body-weight exercises as I can.  I think once you can do over 10 reps of any bodyweight exercise it might be good to add weights, although I’m not quite at that stage yet.

Inverted rows are pullups done on the smith machine, with your body lying horizontal and usually using a bench to rest your feet on.  They are great for building strength in arms, shoulders, back and core as you should keep your body completely rigid and straight through the excercise.   Again its another one of those excercises which utilises so many big and small muscles groups in your body.  Everything is rigid, everything is either pulling or balancing so its a great exercise.

Video displaying inverted row with good technique here

Inverted Rows are great for building up strength if you can’t do pullups.  You can also start with your feet on the ground if the horizontal ones (using a chair or bench) are too hard so its a great exercise no matter what level of strength building you’re at.



November 26, 2009

These days I found its better just to go with the flow rather than try to be rigid and follow schedules and systems.  I found this works a lot better for weight loss and health too.  The human body isn’t designed to follow rigid schedules, and in fact when you do become rigid, your body resists and you begin to lose momentum.

The more I go to the gym, the less gains I make.  This is a stunning thing I learned recently.  The more you do the same excercise, the more your body becomes resistant to it.  The key to weight loss and strength is to mix things up so your body is surprised and has to work different muscles at different speeds.

Think about the word rigid for a second.  The word itself conjurs images of stiffness, of a strict disciplinarian or someone who is unwilling to accept a new idea.  Its far better to flexible, to be loose and be relaxed and let everything wash around you.

Personally for me, I’ve been rigid my whole life and its only in the last few months I’ve really worked hard to let go and just let life happen rather than try to force it.  And things start to seem like they’re working out…Business is improving, my health is too and I’ve started losing body fat again and getting stronger, when I stagnated for about 3 months because I was stressed out and I was doing the same things over and over.

Not just that, but I feel so much better.  I don’t plan anything any more.  I just let it happen.  When I write a blog piece, its because I had an inspiration or idea, its not because I feel like I have to update it daily.

Yesterday I was writing the copy for my new business Noworriesmate, a service for Korean working holiday makers coming to Australia to help them learn English language and Australian culture.  I didn’t feel in the right mood to do this, but I felt like I had to do it, because I need to set things up before I leave Korea.  But I really didn’t feel good about doing it that day.  I really felt like working on this blog and working on another game I’m making.

The copy I wrote for Noworriesmate was complete rubbish.  And I knew it too.  So I put it aside, and worked on this blog and my game and I felt much better about it.   Today I woke up and had a great idea for noworriesmate, so I updated the copy and its much better!  Problem solved.

When I have a great idea for a game, or I just have a feeling I want to go out for a coffee, I do it.  I’ve lived for way too long doing things I HAVE to do, rather than doing things I feel like doing.

So this it.

From this day forward I am going to do things when I feel inspired to do them.   I’m not going to plan anything.  I’m going to go with the flow.  Whatever happens, happens.  If I’m feeling happy and relaxed, good things will happen for me.

How do you manage these kind of situations?  Are you rigid? Or are you loose?  How do you break out of old habits?