Category Archives: weight loss

21 Nutrition Myths, Debunked by Science

Woman Using a Banana as a TelephoneMainstream nutrition is full of nonsense.

Despite clear advancements in nutrition science, the old myths don’t seem to be going anywhere.

Here are 20 mainstream nutrition myths that have been debunked by scientific research.

Myth 1: The Healthiest Diet is a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet With Lots of Grains

Several decades ago, the entire population was advised to eat a low-fat, high-carb diet. At the time, not a single study had demonstrated that this diet could actually prevent disease. Since then, many high quality studies have been done, including the Women’s Health Initiative, which is the largest nutrition study in history.

The results were clear… this diet does not cause weight loss, prevent cancer OR reduce the risk of heart disease.

Myth 2: Salt Should be Restricted in Order to Lower Blood Pressure and Reduce Heart Attacks and Strokes

Salt Shaker and Pile

The salt myth is still alive and kicking, even though there has never been any good scientific support for it. Although lowering salt can reduce blood pressure by 1-5 mm/Hg on average, it doesn’t have any effect on heart attacks, strokes or death.

Myth 3: It is Best to Eat Many, Small Meals Throughout The Day to “Stoke The Metabolic Flame”

Studies clearly disagree with this. Eating 2-3 meals per day has the exact same effect on total calories burned as eating 5-6 (or more) smaller meals.

There are even studies showing that eating too often can be harmful… a new study came out recently showing that more frequent meals dramatically increased liver and abdominal fat on a high calorie diet.

Myth 4: Egg Yolks Should be Avoided Because They Are High in Cholesterol, Which Drives Heart Disease

Eggs in a Basket

Cholesterol in the diet has remarkably little effect on cholesterol in the blood, at least for the majority of people.

Studies have shown that eggs raise the “good” cholesterol and don’t raise risk of heart disease.

One review of 17 studies with a total of 263,938 participants showed that eating eggs had no effect on the risk of heart disease or stroke in non-diabetic individuals.

Whole eggs really are among the most nutritious foods on the planet and almost all the nutrients are found in the yolks.

Telling people to throw the yolks away may just be the most ridiculous advice in the history of nutrition.

Myth 5: Eat ‘Whole’ Grains

Bread

Wheat has been a part of the diet for a very long time, but it changed due to genetic tampering in the 1960s. The “new” wheat is significantly less nutritious than the older varieties and may increase cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers. It also causes symptoms like pain, bloating, tiredness and reduced quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

Myth 6: Saturated Fat Raises LDL Cholesterol in The Blood, Increasing Risk of Heart Attacks

Foods High in Saturated Fat

Several massive review studies have recently shown that saturated fat is NOT linked to an increased risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

 

The truth is that saturated fats raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and change the LDL particles from small to Large LDL, which is linked to reduced risk.

For most people, eating reasonable amounts of saturated fat is perfectly safe and downright healthy.

Myth 7: Coffee is Unhealthy and Should be Avoided

Coffee has long been considered unhealthy, mainly because of the caffeine. However, most of the studies actually show that coffee has powerful health benefits.

Man Drinking a Cup of Coffee

This may be due to the fact that coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables… combined.

Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of depression, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s… and some studies even show that they live longer than people who don’t drink coffee).

Myth 8: To Lose Weight,  Eat Less Fat

Bacon

Fat is the stuff that is under our skin, making us look soft and puffy.

Therefore it seems logical that eating fat would give us even more of it.

However, this depends entirely on the context. Diets that are high in fat AND carbs can make you fat, but it’s not because of the fat.

In fact, diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets… even when the low-fat groups restrict calories.

Myth 9: A High-Protein Diet Increases Strain on The Kidneys and Raises Your Risk of Kidney Disease

Raw Lamb Chops

Although it is true that people with established kidney disease should cut back on protein, this is absolutely not true of otherwise healthy people.

Numerous studies, even in athletes that eat large amounts of protein, show that a high protein intake is perfectly safe.

In fact, a higher protein intake lowers blood pressure and helps fight type 2 diabetes… which are two of the main risk factors for kidney failure.

Also let’s not forget that protein reduces appetite and supports weight loss, but obesity is another strong risk factor for kidney failure.

Myth 10: Full-Fat Dairy Products Are High in Saturated Fat and Calories… Raising The Risk of Heart Disease and Obesity

Dairy Products

Eating full-fat dairy product is not linked to increased heart disease and is even associated with a lower risk of obesity.

In countries where cows are grass-fed, eating full-fat dairy is actually associated with up to a 69% lower risk of heart disease.

If anything, the main benefits of dairy are due to the fatty components. Therefore, choosing low-fat dairy products is a terrible idea.

Myth 11: All Calories are created equal

Woman With Fruit And Junk Food on The Table

It is simply false that “all calories are created equal.”

Different foods go through different metabolic pathways and have direct effects on fat burning and the hormones and brain centers that regulate appetite.

A high protein diet, for example, can increase the metabolic rate by 80 to 100 calories per day and significantly reduce appetite. In one study, such a diet made people automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding protein to their diet.

There are many more examples of different foods having vastly different effects on hunger, hormones and health. Because a calorie is not just a calorie.

Myth 12: Low-Fat Foods Are Healthy

Yogurt

When the low-fat guidelines first came out, the food manufacturers responded with all sorts of low-fat “health foods.”

The problem is… these foods taste horrible when the fat is removed, so the food manufacturers added a whole bunch of sugar instead.

The truth is, excess sugar is incredibly harmful, while the fat naturally present in food is not.

Myth 13: Red Meat Consumption Raises The Risk of All Sorts of Diseases… Including Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Cancer

Meat

We are constantly warned about the “dangers” of eating red meat. It is true that some studies have shown negative effects, but they were usually lumping processed and unprocessed meat together.

The largest studies (one with over 1 million people, the other with over 400 thousand) show that unprocessed red meat is not linked to increased heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

So… don’t be afraid of eating meat. Just make sure to eat unprocessed meat and don’t overcook it, because eating too much burnt meat may be harmful. That means butter chicken is safe, chicken tikka could be harmful.

Myth 14: The Only People Who Should go Gluten-Free Are Patients With Celiac Disease, About 1% of The Population

Young Man Eating Bread

It is often claimed that no one benefits from a gluten-free diet except patients with celiac disease. This is the most severe form of gluten intolerance, affecting under 1% of people. But another condition called gluten sensitivity is much more common and may affect about 6-8% of people. Studies have also shown that gluten-free diets can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy.

Myth 15: Losing Weight is All About Willpower and Eating Less, Exercising More

Woman Standing on The Scale, Frustrated

Weight loss (and gain) is often assumed to be all about willpower and “calories in vs calories out.”

But this is completely inaccurate.

The human body is a highly complex biological system with many hormones and brain centers that regulate when, what and how much we eat.

It is well known that genetics, hormones and various external factors have a huge impact on body weight.

Junk food can also be downright addictive, making people quite literally lose control over their consumption .

Myth 16: Saturated Fats and Trans Fats are Similar… They’re The “Bad” Fats That we Need to Avoid

A Single Butter Curl

The mainstream health organizations often lump saturated and artificial trans fats in the same category… calling them the “bad” fats.

It is true that trans fats are harmful. They are linked to insulin resistance and metabolic problems, drastically raising the risk of heart disease.

However, saturated fat is harmless, so it makes absolutely no sense to group the two together.

Interestingly, these same organizations also advise us to eat vegetable oils like soybean and canola oils. But these oils are actually loaded with unhealthy fats… one study found that 0.56-4.2% of the fatty acids in them are toxic trans fats!

Myth 17: Protein Leaches Calcium From The Bones and Raises The Risk of Osteoporosis

Protein Rich Foods

Although it is true that a high protein intake increases calcium excretion in the short-term, this effect does not persist in the long-term.

The truth is that a high protein intake is linked to a massively reduced risk of osteoporosis and fractures in old age.

This is one example of where blindly following the conventional nutritional wisdom will have the exact opposite effect of what was intended!

Myth 18: Low-Carb Diets Are Dangerous and Increase Your Risk of Heart and Kidney Disease

Low-carb diets have been popular for many decades now.

Man at a Restaurant Eating Steak

Mainstream nutrition professionals have constantly warned us that these diets will end up clogging our arteries.

However, since the year 2002, over 20 studies have been conducted on the low-carb diet. Low-carb diets actually cause more weight loss and improve most risk factors for heart disease more than the low-fat diet.

Myth 19: Sugar is Mainly Harmful Because it Supplies “Empty” Calories

Glass Full Of Sugar Cubes

When consumed in excess, sugar can cause severe metabolic problems. Many experts now believe that sugar may be driving some of the world’s biggest killers… including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.

Myth 20: Refined Seed- and Vegetable Oils Like Soybean and Corn Oils Lower Cholesterol and Are Super Healthy

The truth is that several studies have shown that these oils increase the risk of death, from both heart disease and cancer. Even though these oils have been shown to cause heart disease and kill people, the mainstream health organizations are still telling us to eat them.

They just don’t get it… when we replace real foods with processed fake foods, we become fat and sick.

Myth 21: Eating a ‘Healthy Diet’ is enough. Supplements are not necessary

This is a very common belief among the population, and the tragedy is that the medical community contributes to the spreading of this lie. The reason is that as doctors, our teaching of Nutrition during medical studies, is  almost non-existent. So for all practical purposes, your doctor is no better than your grandma when it comes to nutrition. In fact, grandma’s knowledge, backed by tradition and culture, is often accurate.

WHO recommends that all adults take a MultiVitamin supplement daily. Vitamin D levels are inadequate in majority of the population.

We know that micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are part of vital reactions in the body, without which the body cannot function effectively and gradually succumbs to illness.

So targeted supplements can be literally life saving.

Be Informed. Stay Healthy.

From Kris Gunnars, BSc |

How to Do the Perfect Squat

 Squats are a full-body fitness staple that work the hips, glutes, quads, and hamstrings, and sneakily strengthen the core. Squats may help improve balance and coordination, as well as bone density .

How to do the perfect Squat:

The Bodyweight Squat

1. Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles.

2. Roll the shoulders back and down away from the ears. Note: Allowing the back to round (like a turtle’s shell) will cause unnecessary stress on the lower back. It’s important to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.

3. Extend arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down. Or, if it’s more comfortable, pull elbows close to the body, palms facing each other and thumbs pointing up.

4. Initiate the movement by inhaling and unlocking the hips, slightly bringing them back. Keep sending hips backward as the knees begin to bend.

5. While the butt starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight. Keep the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine.

6. The best squats are the deepest ones your mobility allows. Optimal squat depth would be your hips sinking below the knees (again, if you have the flexibility to do so comfortably). Pro tip: Squatting onto a box until the butt gently taps it will be a reminder to squat low.

7. Engage core and, with bodyweight in the heels, explode back up to standing, driving through heels. Imagine the feet are spreading the floor (left foot to the left, right foot to the right) without actually moving the feet.

Squat Snafus (and How to Fix Them)

Mistake No. 1: Not dropping down low enough

The fix: Take a slightly wider stance, which allows the body to stay steady while it squats deeper, and engages more muscle groups. It’s easy to want to squat just low enough so the thighs are parallel with the ground, but squats can be much more effective when we drop as low as possible (the hip joint lower than the knee joint) while still maintaining good form, Greatist Expert and trainer Dan Trink says.

Mistake No. 2: The knees drift inward

The fix: Turn the toes out (between 5 and 20 degrees, to be technical) to keep knees from caving inward. Knees should track in line with both the ankles and the hips to help avoid injury and get deep in the squat.

Mistake No. 3: The body leans too far forward

The fix: Put most of your weight in the heels when lowering into a squat. The weight distribution will help keep the torso upright throughout the entire movement rather than causing you to teeter forward. It will also help keep the hips back and down, outside of the heels. Think of spreading the floor apart by driving outward through the back/outer portion of the heel.

Mistake No. 4: Descending too quickly

The fix: When weight is added, moving too quickly could increase chances of injury. It’s okay to explode with power when returning to a standing position (so long as the body remains controlled), but sitting into the squat should be a little slower to maintain proper form.

Mistake No. 5: Not warming up

The fix: Warming up is important before taking on such a complex move. It’ll help prepare the body’s joints and muscles for movement, and might even help prevent injury once heavy lifting gets underway. Jumping rope, rowing, and doing bodyweight squats help prep the body for movement. If squatting with a loaded bar, start with an empty bar and add weight slowly.

Thanks to Erica Giovinazzo for demonstrating the movements.

Thanks to Greatist, posted as is.

How to Fix Your Gut Bacteria and Lose Weight

 Mark Hyman, MD

“I read somewhere that a high-fat diet can damage your gut bacteria and promote weight gain,” writes this week’s house call. “Should I be concerned if I’m eating a high-fat diet?”

It is true that what you eat can affect your gut bacteria, for better and for worse, and changes in your gut bacteria or microbiome cause weight gain.  Indeed, some studies demonstrate that high-fat diets can adversely affect your gut flora and promote inflammation and weight gain. However, it’s important to note that the type of fat you eat matters!  Most of these studies are focused on diets that incorporate high levels of inflammatory, refined omega 6 vegetable oils like soybean oil. 

Refined omega-6 rich vegetable oils fall into the “bad fats” category and should be avoided. While most of us have been convinced, by the food industry and our government, that vegetable oils are safe and a heart-healthy alternative to saturated fats, we now know differently.

Polyunsaturated fats from soybean, canola, and other seed oils are inflammatory. Avoid them if you want to be healthier. Even if you consume some omega 3 fats while consuming these inflammatory oils, you won’t reap the healthy fat benefits.

For most of human history, we consumed a much higher ratio of omega 3 fats to omega 6 fats. Wild foods like grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish provide a great source of omega 3s, but these foods are not a big part of our modern diet. Unfortunately, the factory-farmed animals that do make up much of our modern diet have almost zero omega 3 fats.

The vast quantities of omega 6 fats in our diet contribute to heart disease, diabesity, and cancerStudies also link high omega 6 fat consumption to depression, suicide, and other major health problems due to increased inflammation.

To reverse these and other problems and create optimal health, replace these damaging omega 6 fats with healthy ones – like coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, fish rich in omega 3s, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Interestingly, when we look at studies that use the healthy, anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats, we see just the opposite effect. These healthy fats promote healthier gut bugs, lower inflammation levels, and increased weight loss.

I said it before and I’ll say it again:  the types of fat we eat matters. The wrong fats increase inflammation, promote the growth of bad bugs, and create resistance to weight loss. The right fats decrease inflammation and help with weight loss.

Why Is Gut Health So Important?

Optimal gut health has become a prominent focus in 21st century health. Having too many bad critters hanging out in the gut has been linked to numerous problems – including autism, obesity, diabetes, allergies, autoimmunity, depression, cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, eczema, and asthma. The links between chronic illness and an imbalanced microbiome (or gut bacteria) keep growing every day.

Many scientists have begun to refer to the gut as our second brain, an idea that is reflected in amazing books like The Good Gut, Brainmaker, The Microbiome Solution, and The Gut Balance Revolution.

Having a healthy gut should mean more to you than being annoyed by a little bloating or heartburn. It becomes central to your entire health and connected to everything that happens in your body. That’s why I almost always start treating my patients’ chronic health problems by fixing their guts first.

You can begin to understand the importance of gut health when you consider there are 500 species and three pounds of bacteria in your gut. There are trillions of bacteria in your gut, and they collectively contain at least 100 times as many genes as you do. The bacterial DNA in your gut outnumbers your own DNA by 100 times. You have about 20,000 genes, but there are 2,000,000 (or more) bacterial genes!

Altogether, your gut is a huge chemical factory that helps to digest food, produce vitamins, regulate hormones, excrete toxins, produce healing compounds and keep your gut healthy.

Intestinal health could be defined as the optimal digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food. But that is a big job that depends on many other factors. For example, the bugs in your gut are like a rain forest – a diverse and interdependent ecosystem. They must be in balance for you to be healthy.

Too many of the wrong ones (like parasites, yeasts or bad bacteria) or not enough of the good ones (like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria), can lead to serious damage to your health.

Optimal gut balance begins with your diet, which directly affects that balance. You want to eat a diet with lots of fiber, healthy protein, and healthy fats.

Good fats, including omega 3 fats and monounsaturated fats – such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocados or almonds – improve healthy gut flora, while inflammatory fats, like omega 6 vegetable oils, promote growth of bad bugs that cause weight gain and disease.

Even obesity has been linked to changes in our gut ecosystem, resulting from an intake of inflammatory omega 6s and not enough anti-inflammatory omega 3s. Bad bugs produce toxins called lipopolysacchardies (LPS)  that trigger inflammation, insulin resistance or pre-diabetes and therefore, promote weight gain.

Lack of sleep and chronic stress also contribute to gut imbalance, In fact, your gut flora listens to and becomes influenced by your thoughts and feelings.  So be sure to get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep and remember to practice your favorite stress reduction activities daily. 

9 Ways to Fix your Gut Bacteria and Lose Weight

The best way to grow a healthy inner garden and make your gut bugs happy begins with your diet. Here are 9 ways to build healthy gut flora starting with your next forkful:

  1. Eat whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods. One of the best ways to maintain gut health involves cutting out the sugar and refined carbs and jacking up gut-supporting fiber.
  2. Make 75 percent of your plate be vegetables and plant-based foods. Your gut bugs really love these high-fiber plant foods.
  3. Eat good fats and get an oil change. The good fats we mentioned earlier (like omega 3 fats and monounsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil) will help with decreasing inflammation, giving healthy gut bugs a chance to flourish.
  4. Supplement smartly. Beyond the numerous benefits (including reducing inflammation), studies find omega 3 fatty acids can support healthy gut flora.  You should definitely supplement with an essential fatty acids formula, if you’re not regularly eating wild-caught fatty fish. Take a good probiotic supplement. This helps reduce gut inflammation while cultivating health and the growth of good bacteria.
  5. Add more coconut. Studies demonstrate anti-inflammatory and weight loss benefits from adding Medium Chain Triglyceride or MCT oils. One of my favorite fats, coconut oil and coconut butter, contains these fabulous fat-burning MCTs.
  6. Remove inflammatory fats. Cut out bad, inflammatory omega 6 rich fats like vegetable oils. Replace these with healthier oils like extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
  7. Add fiber-rich foods. Nuts, seeds, and a fiber called inulin provide prebiotics and feed our healthy bacteria.
  8. Add fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso contain good amounts of probiotics so your healthy gut bugs can be fruitful and multiply.

The above recommendations are not miracle cures.  They are the actions that lead to normalized gut function and flora through improved diet, increased fiber intake, daily probiotic supplementation, the use of nutrients that repair the gut lining, and the reduction of bad bugs in the gut with herbs or medication.

Yes, inflammatory fats will definitely damage your gut bacteria. But the right fats, including omega 3s and extra-virgin olive oil combined with a whole, real food diet can actually repair your gut and even increase good bacteria.

Be Healthy.

Is it possible to exercise while fasting?

Is it possible to exercise while fasting? This is a common question we hear all the time. People think that food gives them energy and therefore it will be difficult to fast and exercise at the same time. Some people with physically demanding jobs feel that they could not fast and work properly. What’s the truth?

Well, let’s think about this logically for a second. When you eat, insulin goes up telling your body to use some of that food energy immediately. The remainder is stored as sugar (glycogen in the liver). Once the glycogen stores are full, then the liver manufactures fat (DeNovo Lipogenesis). Dietary protein is broken down into component amino acids. Some is used to repair proteins but excess amino acids are turned to glucose. Dietary fat is absorbed directly by the intestines. It doesn’t undergo any further transformation and is stored as fat.

Insulin’s main action is to inhibit lipolysis. This means that it blocks fat burning. The incoming flood of glucose from food is sent to the rest of the body to be used as energy.Macro oxidation

So what happens during a fast? Well, it’s just the process in reverse. First, your body burns the stored sugar, then it burns the stored fat. In essence, during feeding you burn food energy. During fasting, you burn energy from your stored food (sugar and fat).

Note that the amount of energy that is used by and available to your body stays the same. The basal metabolic rate stays the same. This is the basic energy used for vital organs, breathing, heart function etc. Eating does not increase basal metabolism except for the small amount used to digest food itself (the thermic effect of food).

graph

If you exercise while fasting, the body will start by burning sugar. Glycogen is a molecule composed of many sugars all put together. When it comes time to use it for energy, the liver simply starts breaking all the chains to release the individual sugar molecules that can now be used for energy.

As mentioned before, short term storage of food energy (glycogen) is like a refrigerator. The food energy goes in and out easily, but there is limited storage. Long term storage (fat) is like a freezer. Food is harder to get to, but you can store much more of it. If you eat 3 times a day, it’s like you go shopping for food 3 times a day and any leftovers get stored in the fridge. If there is too much for the fridge, it goes into the freezer.

So what happens during fasting and exercise? Well, the body simply pulls energy out of the ‘fridge’. Since you have enough glycogen stored up to last over 24 hours on a regular day, you would need to do some serious exercise for a long time before you could exhaust those stores.

unnamed

Endurance athletes occasionally do hit this ‘wall‘, where glycogen stores run out. Perhaps there is no more indelible image of hitting the wall as the 1982 Ironman Triathlon where American competitor Julie Moss crawled to the finish line, unable to even stand. Athletes also term complete exhaustion of short term energy stores ‘bonking’. I know some of you may think ‘bonking’ refers to other activities done on all fours, but this is a nutritional blog!

So, how do you get around that? Glycogen stores are not enough to power you through the entire IronMan race. However, you know at the same time, that you are still carrying vast amounts of energy in the form of fat. All that energy is stored away and not accessible during exercise. But the only reason it cannot be used is because your body is not adapted to burn fat.

By following a very low carbohydrate diet, or ketogenic diet, you can train your body to burn fat. Similarly, by exercising in the fasted state, you can train your muscles to burn energy. Now, instead of relying on limited by easily accessible glycogen during competition, you are carrying around almost unlimited energy drawn directly from your fat stores.

Studies are starting to demonstrate the benefits of such training. For example, this study looked at muscle fibres both before and after training in the fasted state. This means that you fast for a certain period of time, usually around 24 hours and then do your endurance or other training. The combination of low insulin and high adrenalin levels created by the fasted state stimulates adipose tissue lipolysis (breakdown of fat) and peripheral fat oxidation (burning of fat for energy). Other studies had already shown that breakdown of intramyocellular lipids (IMCL – fat inside the muscle) is increased by training in the fasted state.Six weeks of training in the fasted state also induced a greater increase of fatty acid binding protein and uncoupling-protein-3 content in muscle.

TrainFasted-1-300x150

What does this mean in plain English? It means that our bodies have the wonderful ability to adapt to what’s available. When we fast, we deplete much of the stored sugar (glycogen). Our muscles then become much more efficient at using fat for energy. This happens because muscle ‘learns’ how to use the fat as energy by increasing the amount of proteins that metabolize that fat. In other words, our muscles learn to burn fat, not sugar.

Looking at muscle cells before and after exercise in the fasted state, you can see that there are more muscle bundles, but also that there is a deeper shade of red, indicating more available fat for energy.

Legendary exercise physiologist and physician Tim Noakes of Cape Town, South Africa has led the way in understanding the benefits of low carbohydrate diets for elite level athletes. Many national level teams (such as the Australian cricket team) are now applying these lessons to crush their competition. Legendary NBA players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are turning to low carbohydrate, high fat diets to slim down and prolong their careers.

lebron

You can be damn certain that these elite level athletes would not be doing this Low Carb mumbo jumbo and training in the fasted state malarky if it had any detrimental effect on their athletic performance. Quite the contrary. Hall of Fame NBA player Steve Nash does not eat simple carbs at any cost. Drinking sugary Gatorade? Not bloody likely to help.

Another study looked at the effects of a 3.5 day fast on all different measures of athletic performance. They measured strength, anaerobic capacity and aerobic endurance. All of these measures did not decrease during the fasting period.

The body simply switches from burning sugar to burning fat. But, for endurance athletes, the increase in available energy is a significant advantage, since you can store infinitely more energy in the form of fat rather than sugar. If you are running ultra marathons, being able to utilize your almost unlimited fat energy instead of highly limited glycogen energy will mean that you won’t ‘bonk’ and might just win you that race.

During the period where you are adjusting to this change, you will likely notice a decrease in performance. This lasts approximately 2 weeks. As you deplete the body of sugar, your muscles need time to adapt to using fat for energy. Your energy, your muscle strength and overall capacity will go down, but they will recover. So, LCHF diets, ketogenic diets and training in the fasted state may all have benefits in training your muscles to burn fat, but they do require some time to adapt.

fuel

Consider an analogy. Imagine that our bodies are fuel tankers. We drive these large tankers around, but only have a limited amount of gas in the gas tank. After the gas tank runs out, we are stuck on the side of the road calling for help. But wait, you might say. That’s ironic. You are carrying an entire tank of gas, but ran out of gas. How is that so? Well, that gas is not accessible.

In the same manner, we carry around huge stores of energy as fat. But our muscles are trained to run on sugar, and run out of energy, so we need to continually refuel despite the large tank of fuel stored as fat.

So, what my best advice on physical exertion and fasting? Don’t worry about it. Do everything you normally do during fasting. If you normally exercise, or even if you don’t, you can still do it during fasting. Whether you fast for 24 hours or 24 days, you an still exercise. Your muscles may take up to 2 weeks to become fat adapted, though. During the first 2 weeks of fasting, you may need to take it a little easy, but you should quickly recover after that.

Jason Fung, MD.

How to Do Intermittent Fasting: 17 Popular Questions Answered

Yuri Elkaim


How to Do Intermittent Fasting

If you’ve been wondering how to do intermittent fasting, I’m going to provide you with the ultimate primer on this amazing dietary practice.

You see, intermittent fasting is arguably the least expensive and most powerful healing method we can incorporate into our lives.

Every religion has an element of fasting—whether it’s 30 days of Ramadan or a one day Yum Kippur fast. Our ancient ancestors were definitely on to something.

We humans have been fasting since we first walked the earth. Our paleolithic ancestors didn’t have the luxury of 24/7 convenience stores, a Starbucks on every corner, or even refrigerators to store their food.

Thus, they ate what was freshly available.

But sometimes they couldn’t find anything to eat, and their bodies evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time. Today, we still have this same biology – we haven’t evolved at all.

And, if anything, fasting from time to time is more “natural” and healthier than constantly eating 3-4 (or more) meals per day. I’ll show you proof further below.

For years, my clients and readers have asked me which is better for weight loss; eating 3-5 meals per day or intermittent fasting, not to mention they also wanted to know how to do intermittent fasting.

So in this post, I’m going to answer 18 of the most common fasting questions I’ve been asked in order to give you a solid understanding of the topic.

Let’s jump in…

1. What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and not eating. It’s not a diet that says “eat this, not that”, but rather you don’t eat any food for a certain length of time – usually 16-24 hours.

There are a number of different types of intermittent fasting (highlighted below), but they all serve the same purpose—to allow your body time without food to spend more of its energy on internal healing and repair—something that cannot happen when you’re constantly in a fed state.

2. Who is Intermittent Fasting For?

Based on the numerous benefits you’re about to discover, intermittent fasting is really meant for anyone who is serious about improving their health and perhaps losing weight without overhauling their diet.

The 10 Best Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting or Exercising

Technically, you don’t need to change anything about your diet to benefit from intermittent fasting, which makes it very appealing to many people.

Intermittent fasting is also for those who want that extra edge to burning fat while maintaining their muscle (shouldn’t we all?).

It’s completely safe to do and provides enormous benefits so it’s really just a matter of committing to it, trying it out, and seeing if it’s something you want to do regularly.

3. What Are Some Intermittent Fasting Benefits?

There are literally dozens of benefits! If you’re wondering how to do intermittent fasting to get the most bang for your buck, check out some of these incredible benefits – all backed by science:

Increased Life Expectancy:

Studies on animals are being done by Dr. Mark Mattson and colleagues at the National Institute on Aging. The findings from these studies suggest that animals age slower and live longer when they consume fewer calories. The research is showing that this effect can be achieved by eating less each day, or by fasting on intermittent days.

Living Longer - The Okinawa Secret to a Long, Lean Life

Improved Hormone Profile:

When fasted, we get significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as a drastic increase in human growth hormone. These all favorable for losing weight, maintaining muscle, and reducing our risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease.

Faster Weight Loss:

Most people want to know how to do intermittent fasting because they’ve heard it’s a safe and effective way for losing weight. And they would be correct.

Many studies have shown that both overweight and obese subjects burn more fat and lose weight with intermittent fasting).

Here are a number of other documented benefits of intermittent fasting:
  • Maintenance of skeletal muscle mass
  • Decreased blood glucose levels
  • Decreased insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity
  • Increased lipolysis (breakdown of fats) and fat oxidation
  • Increased uncoupling protein-3 mRNA(important for the production of energy inside the cell)
  • Increased norepinephrine and epinephrine levels, which increases fat breakdown
  • Increased glucagon levels, which breaks down fat
  • Increased growth hormone levels, which preserves muscle mass
4. Why is Intermittent Fasting Effective?

A 2014 review of the literature showed intermittent fasting’s powers come from its impact on adaptive cellular responses that reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, optimize energy metabolism, and improve cellular production.

Basically, that means that it helps your body deal with stress, which includes being able to better cope with fasting (which is a form of stress) itself.

Fasting also triggers the process of autophagy, which breaks down and recycles dysfunctional proteins and cellular debris.

This is  similar to taking out the trash and cleaning up around the house – a process you’d hope would be taking place in your body on a frequent basis.

5. Why Does Intermittent Fasting Burn Fat?

Basically, not eating tells your body to rely more heavily on its fat stores. This is a similar phenomenon experienced with consistent exercise training.

Your body becomes “smarter” and understands that, in order to maintain blood sugar and spare muscle and liver glycogen (stored carbohydrates) for potential immediate use, it’s better off relying on fat, which naturally provides more energy (9 calories per gram) versus carbohydrates or protein (4 calories per gram each).

6. Which Type of Intermittent Fasting is Best?

Here, I’ll explain how to do intermittent fasting through three different methods and I’ll tell you which one I employ on a weekly basis.

Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting:

Alternate day intermittent fasting is basically fasting every other day for a 24-hour period. For instance, you would eat normally on Monday, fast Tuesday, eat Wednesday, fast Thursday, eat Friday, fast Saturday, and so on.

This style of intermittent fasting is the most popular form used in research studies, but from what I have seen it isn’t very popular in the real world. I’ve never tried alternate day fasting myself and I don’t plan to do so.

In my eyes, it’s a bit excessive and many of the negative effects seen in some women while fasting tend to be related to this type of fasting.

And it makes sense since you’re not eating half the time, which is not advisable, especially for women for whom carbs and caloric intake are important for hormones and fertility.

If this is the first method you try as you figure out how to do intermittent fasting, my fear is that it will be too difficult for you and you’ll give it up altogether.

The truth is, it’s just not sustainable for most people unless you enjoy feeling miserable 50% of your life. As a result, I think you’re better off using either (or a combination) of the following two intermittent fasting methods.

16/8 Daily Fasting:

This type of intermittent fasting was popularized by Martin Berkhan from Leangains.com and has worked really well for him and thousands of his followers.

Basically, you fast for 16 hours and eat during the remaining 8.

His general position on the fasted phase is that it should last through the night and during the morning hours. Ideally, the fast should then be broken at noon or shortly thereafter if you wake up at 6-7 AM like most people. Afternoons and evenings are usually spent in the fed state.

To be quite honest, even though I only do a committed fast once per week, I probably do 16/8 fast – inadvertently – 2-3 times per week mostly because I don’t feel like eating anything until about lunch time.

It doesn’t matter when you start your 8-hour eating period. You can start at 8am and stop at 4pm. Or you start at 2pm and stop at 10pm. Do whatever works for you. Based on my schedule, I tend to eat around 1pm and 5pm most days.

The 1-Day Fast:

As the name implies, this is a 1-day fast – typically 18-24 hours in length.

Here, instead of fasting every day or every other day, you simply fast once per week. I’ve found this to be most realistic and sustainable for most people.

To make it easy on yourself, simply start your fast after dinner so that by the time you wake up the next morning you’ve already completed about 12 hours of your fast. Then, if you can make it on water and/or herbal tea until mid-afternoon or early evening, you’re golden.

Being hard on yourself for not making it the full 24 hours is not a good idea. Don’t beat yourself up. If you’ve fasted 14, 17, 20, or however many hours, just be happy with the fact that you’ve given your body a “breather” to do some much needed cleansing and healing.

Please remember as well that your first 1-day fast will likely be a challenge, especially if you’re used to eating all the time. However, it will also be one of the most rewarding experiences you go through as you’ll a lot about why you eat.

A lot of times you’ll recognize that you’re not hungry but rather anxious, bored, or in a “conditioned” situation (like working at your desk) where you would normally be snacking on food. This awareness alone is worth doing a 1-day fast.

Whichever type of intermittent fasting you choose, the additional benefit it provides you is a little more flexibility with your diet.

You don’t need to be a food nazi and nit pick every single thing you eat as a weekly fast can help clean up some of the junk. But also don’t use that as a hall pass to eat whatever you want at your other meals throughout the week.

7. How to do Intermittent Fasting — Where to Begin

Whether you’re a man or woman, the benefits of fasting are simply too numerous to ignore. So how do you get started?
I’m very aware that the mere mention of the term fasting terrifies many people, conjuring up images of intense suffering and starvation. They picture themselves waking up in the morning and starting their 24-hour timer, anxiously counting down the milliseconds until they can have the first bite of their post-fast meal. Others can’t even fathom the idea of going a full day without food.

It really doesn’t have to be so awful, and there’s an approach that actually makes it quite doable. For example, if you had a big dinner around 7 p.m., your body would be in a “semi-fasted” state by the time 10 p.m. rolls around. Consider that the kickoff of your fast. Hit the sack and sleep for 7 to 8 hours. By the time you wake up, you’ve completed one-third of your day’s fast without batting an eyelash, literally.

If you’re anything like me, you might not feel hungry in the morning. There’s a good chance this will happen considering how much you stuffed yourself the day before. So much for breakfast. If you can make it to lunch on a few glasses of water, then you’ve just knocked out 14 hours of your fast.

And if you can make it to at least 4 p.m., that’s 18 hours. You’re really on fire at this point. Maybe you can have a cup of peppermint tea as a reward. After all, this is when the massive health benefits from your short-term fast really start to kick in.

At this point, if you really can’t take it, you can have a smoothie or smaller meal to break your fast. However, if you really want to win, power through to dinner without taking a bite. Once you reach 10 p.m., you’ve made it. You’ve successfully completed your fast and you can go to bed dreaming about breakfast.

If you can’t wait until morning to eat, I recommend a small high-protein meal or, better yet, a protein shake with a few carbs about an hour before you go to sleep. That way, you provide essential proteins to your muscles, while keeping your tummy satisfied until morning. The 1-Day Fast isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either, and when you stay focused on the benefits, it becomes a lot more doable. Can you do this? I bet you can.

What makes it all a whole lot easier is simply making the decision to do it. Most people have a tough time without food because they’re constantly thinking about what they’ll eat next. In the middle of a stressful day, that just feels like too much to handle, as the satisfaction that comes from a delicious meal—even one that’s not good for you— helps people soothe their blues away. When that food isn’t there, they start panicking.

When you consciously make the decision that tomorrow will be a fast day, you activate a new mechanism inside yourself. You’re forced to let your innards recharge while you reflect on the bad eating habits with which you’ve been self-medicating. Fasting is such a profound tool for deep change. No wonder people have been turning to it for centuries.”
There you go. That’s all you need to start intermittent fasting.

8. How to Do Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?

Although a lot of the research on fasting has used “alternate day” fasting where you basically don’t eat every other day (which is crazy if you ask me), you can still see noticeable fat loss results with just a single day of fasting each week.

So finish dinner and start your fast thereafter. Then, if you can make it through to the next day’s dinner you’re golden. Remember, when your body is in a fasted state is starts to rely more on its fat stores for fuel.

Thus, it helps you become a fat burner instead of sugar burner who is constantly craving food. It’s a very freeing process.

Here’s another strategy you can use to speed your weight loss while intermittent fasting:

At any point of your day, do 5-10 minutes of high intensity interval training to increase your body’s release of catecholamines. These are your fight- or-flight hormones—specifically, epinephrine and norepinephrine—released by the adrenal glands in response to stress like high intensity training.

One of the roles of these hormones is to break down stored fat in your body into free fatty acids that can then be converted into energy. This intense exercise also depletes your glycogen stores much more readily.

As glycogen is depleted, your body must rely further on burning fat for energy.

You do not get this catecholamine response with low-intensity exercise. (If the word intensity scares you, don’t be alarmed. You’ll only be doing 5 to 10-second bouts interspersed with nice and easy recovery.)

And if you want to take your fat burning to the next level, then after you finish your intervals, spend 30 minutes or more going for a nice easy walk or bike ride to burn up those free fatty acids (from broken-down fat) that have flooded into your bloodstream.

Post-workout is when your body, since it’s recovering, really relies on those fats for fuel.

For instance, a 2008 study showed that even though carbohydrates were the predominant fuel source during the actual workout, for more than 3 hours afterwards, fats became the main contributor to energy.

Basically, the most fat was burned post-workout. But again, workout intensity sets the stage for this to happen.

So, to really take advantage of this fat-burning window, I strongly recommend following your high intensity intervals with 30 minutes (or more) of low-intensity cardio like walking.

This will help shuttle those free fatty acids floating around in your bloodstream into your muscles to be burned as fuel.

9. What Should I Eat After My Intermittent Fast?

One of the most important steps in learning how to do intermittent fasting is figuring out how to ease back into eating.

When you finish your fast you need to pretend that your fast never happened. No compensation, no reward, no special way of eating, and no all-out binges.

The minute you decide to stop fasting, simply wipe the fast from your memory, and eat the exact way you would normally eat at that specific time of the day (while eating responsibly of course).

If you end your fast at dinnertime, have dinner. If you end your fast at 4:00 PM and you don’t typically have dinner until 6:00 or 7:00 PM, then have a light snack… but nothing larger than you would normally have at that time.

There is no magic way to end your fast. The absolute best thing you can do is simply pretend your fast never happened and begin eating in the exact way you would normally eat at that specific time of day.

One thing I have noticed though with many clients is that they tend to “crave” healthier foods at the end of their fast.

As a result, they end up choosing a green smoothie or a healthy snack instead of devouring a large pizza (as you might think would happen after not eating anything all day).

10. Is Intermittent Fasting Bad for My Blood Sugar?

The truth about having low blood sugar is that it is not nearly as common as we are often led to believe. But obviously check with your doctor if you’re uncertain.

For the vast majority of the healthy population, we are easily able to maintain healthy blood sugars that are neither too-high nor too-low in a whole range of different situations, including fasting and intense exercise.

In research examining the effects of a 24 hour fast, it was found that fasting did not cause blood sugar levels to dip below 65mg%, meaning that during the entire 24 fast, blood sugar slowly lowered itself, but remained at normal non-hypoglycemic levels.

11. Can I Exercise When Intermittent Fasting?

I absolutely encourage you to practice as many different types of exercise as possible. Just like nutrition, I think variety is the key to exercise and both yoga and mountain biking are excellent examples of exercises that complement intermittent fasting.

As long as you are doing some form of resistance training at least two or three times a week you will not lose muscle since intermittent fasting actually increases growth hormone, which helps preserve muscle.

One thing you may notice is if you work out on day in which you’re fasting, your energy levels may be a little lower. That’s because the workout will be tapping into lowered glycogen reserves, which means you may fatigue sooner than on a traditional “eating” day.

However, exercising, especially for short durations at high intensity, in a fasted state is a secret weapon I would strongly encourage you to explore as it will accelerate fat loss tremendously (more on that below).

12. Why Do I Get Hungry When Intermittent Fasting?

Well, you’re not eating any food so naturally your stomach might experience the odd growl here and there.

Additionally, your hunger hormone ghrelin responds to a lack of food in the stomach, which will naturally have it firing on all cylinders, making your brain think you’re starving.

Hunger pangs usually dissipate after your first 2-3 fasts as your body adjusts.

13. Why Do I Get a Headache When Intermittent Fasting?

First of all, not everyone does.

But there has been a lot of research on Ramadan fasting and headaches.  It seems that women are particularly susceptible to headaches while fasting.

This is not due to dehydration and may actually be similar to withdrawal symptoms, similar to the headaches you experience when you quit drinking coffee cold-turkey.

From my experience, if you experience headaches they do tend to go away after your first couple of fasts. If needed, you can treat your headache as you normally would when not fasting. Just remember to drink lots of water and get some fresh air during your fast (and in general).

14. Can I Drink When Intermittent Fasting?

Yes you can but make sure there are no calories.

That also doesn’t mean drinking diet soda is ok, because it’s not. Just drink water or herbal tea.

Some people tell you that black coffee is ok to drink during a fast but I wouldn’t advise that. Yes, the caffeine in the coffee will skyrocket your epinephrine which can assist with fat loss, but since I don’t advise drinking coffee in general, you’re better off without it, especially when its caffeine isn’t buffered by food.

Instead, focus on drinking plenty of water and/or any herbal teas that you enjoy without the use of milk, sugar, or sweeteners. Remember, this is a day of “rest” for your body so that means no calories of any kind.

15. How Often Should I Do Intermittent Fasting?

This really depends on the type you’re using but if you’re following my 1-day fast, then once per week is plenty. Some people choose to do TWO 24-hour fasts per week and have seen great results doing so, but I would say that’s the maximum.

But if you’re doing the 16/8 fast, you can do it as often as you like. In fact this is a good way to deal with travel or work, not having to worry about eating out.

16. Will Intermittent Fasting Slow Down My Metabolism?

In spite of all the fat burning benefits I’ve already mentioned, you might still be wondering whether or not intermittent fasting will slow your metabolism to a halt.

After all, you’ve probably been told that you have to eat every 2-3 hours or your metabolism will shut down and you’ll store fat. Thankfully, that couldn’t be more untrue.

In a 2000 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, subjects went through 4 days of fasting to determine the impact on their resting energy expenditure, which is the amount of energy your body needs to carry out all of its basic functions when you’re resting.

The findings would surprise most people: for the first 3 days, the subjects all saw their resting energy expenditure (metabolism) increase!

In another study by a different group of researchers, people who even fasted every other day (alternate day fasting) for 22 days had no decrease in their resting metabolic rate.

In addition, people who were on very-low-calorie diets and on a resistance exercise program (i.e., lifting weights) did not see a decrease in resting metabolic rate, and these people were eating only 800 calories a day for 12 weeks!

In still more studies, there was no change in the metabolic rate of people who skipped breakfast, or people who ate two meals a day compared to seven meals per day.

The bottom line is that food, or the lack thereof (at least in the short term), has virtually nothing to do with your metabolism.

In fact, your metabolism is much more closely tied to your body weight, and specifically your muscle mass. If your body fat (and thus your lean mass) goes up or down, so does your metabolism.

It is prolonged fasting which slows metabolism. What we are doinh here, however, if alternate fasting and ‘feasting’ (normal eating).

Slow Metabolism - The Number One Cause

The #1 cause of slow metabolism is low muscle mass.

Bringing a few of these studies to your attention has hopefully shown you that short-term fasting can provide incredible benefits without worrying about it sabotaging your metabolism.

There’s nothing to be scared of, and hopefully, I’ve eased any misconceptions you’ve had about how to do intermittent fasting and its impact on your metabolism.

17. Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Women?

Ah, I’ve saved the best for last.

This is the biggest area of controversy when it comes to how to do intermittent fasting.

Those who caution women against intermittent fasting state that studies show that it negatively impacts fertility. And that’s true.

Unfortunately, what most of these people fail to realize is that ALL of these studies use “alternate day” fasting protocols where women are literally eating nothing every other day!

No wonder their hormones get messed up and have fertility issues.

Remember, I’m advising a 1-day fast once per week – which is much, much safer and I’ve yet to see any negative effects in the thousands of women that I’ve helped with intermittent fasting.

There is some research that looked at the effect of short-term fasting on the menstrual cycle of women.

These research studies found that despite the metabolic changes that occur during fasting, even fasts as long as 72 hours do not seem to have an effect on the menstrual cycle of normal cycling women.

Interestingly, even longer fasts have been shown to have little impact on the menstrual cycle of normal weight women.

There is research, however, to suggest that longer fasts (72 hours) can affect the menstrual cycle of exceptionally lean women (body fat levels well below 20%). (18, 19)

Overall, there’s a lot of research (even some of the “alternate day” studies) that show intermittent fasting to be safe, healthy, and effective at burning fat in women of all shapes and sizes. But again, we’re not going crazy with this and only fasting for no longer than 24 hours.

Nonetheless, if you’re a woman and still unsure whether or not intermittent fasting is right for you, then my advice would be to inch yourself into it so that you’re fasting for 8-10 hours at a time. Then gradually increase that length of time as you see fit.

UPDATE: Here are a few more questions that have come across my desk…
What is your opinion on intermittent fasting if a person has hypothyroid?

In general you should be fine if your fast is no longer than 24 hours. Here’s what you should know:

Since the circadian rhythm is affected by both food and light exposure, lifestyle practices can enhance natural circadian rhythms. These practices should optimize the circadian cycle:

Light entrainment: Get daytime sun exposure, and sleep in a totally darkened room.

Daytime feeding: Eat during daylight hours, so that food rhythms and light rhythms are in sync.

Intermittent fasting: Concentrate food intake during an 8-hour window during daylight hours, preferably the afternoon. A 16-hour fast leading to lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and the more intense hormonal response to food that results from concentration of daily calories into a short 8-hour time window, will accentuate the diurnal rhythm.

Adequate carb intake: this will be taken care of on other days where you’re eating plenty of healthy carbs.

I’ve read that it’s not a good idea if you have adrenal fatigue. What’s your thoughts?

It will depend on the individual but if you’ve got full blown AF you may want to do a shorter fast and have something small throughout the day to stabilize your blood sugar.

Hope that helps.

Sta Healthy.

6 Charts That Show How The War On Fat Was A Gigantic Mistake

 

bacon-7.png

The war on fat is the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition.

As people have reduced their intake of animal fat and cholesterol, the incidence of many serious diseases has gone up. We are now in the midst of worldwide pandemics of obesity, metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.

Studies conducted in the past few decades conclusively show that neither saturated fat nor dietary cholesterol cause harm in humans. Scientists are now beginning to realize that the entire low-fat dogma was based on flawed studies that have since been thoroughly debunked.

Here are six graphs that clearly show how incredibly damaging it has been to advise people to reduce their consumption of animal fat.
1. In Europe, the Countries that Eat the Most Saturated Fat Have the Lowest Risk of Heart Disease

saturated-fat-heart-disease-in-europe
Saturated fat heart disease in europe – Data from: Hoenselaar R. Further response from Hoenselaar. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012.

 

The reason for this is simple, actually … the truth is that saturated fat simply has NOTHING to do with cardiovascular disease. There is no paradox. It was a myth all along.

Thanks to Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt for the enhanced graph.
2. The Obesity Epidemic in the USA Started at Almost The Exact Same Time the Low-Fat Dietary Guidelines Were Published

low-fat-guidelines

Low fat guidelines – Kris Gunnars – Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.

Although this graph doesn’t prove anything (correlation does not equal causation), this does make sense because people started giving up traditional foods like butter in place of processed “low-fat” foods high in sugar.

Since then, many massive studies have been conducted on the low-fat diet. These studies show clearly that the low-fat diet does not cause weight loss and has zero effect on cardiovascular disease in the long term.

Despite the poor results in the studies, this diet is still recommended by nutrition organizations all over the world.
3. Diets that Are High in Fat But Low in Carbohydrates Cause More Weight Loss than Diets that Are Low in Fat

weight-loss-graph-low-carb-vs-low-fat

weight loss graph low carb vs low fatKris GunnarsSource: Brehm BJ, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003.

If animal fat was as bad as they say, then diets that contain a lot of it should be both fattening and harmful to your health. However, the studies do NOT back this up.

In the study above, women eating a low-carb, high-fat diet until fullness lost more than twice as much weight as women eating a calorie restricted low-fat diet.

The truth is, diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to much better results than low-fat, high carb diets.

Not only do they cause more weight loss, but they also lead to big improvements in pretty much all the major risk factors for diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
4. The Diseases of Civilization Increased as Butter and Lard Were Replaced with Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

fat-consumption-in-usa

fat consumption in usa – Kris Gunnars – Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.

In the 20th century, several serious diseases became common in humans.

The heart disease epidemic started around 1930, the obesity epidemic started in 1980 and the diabetes epidemic started around 1990.

Even though these diseases were almost unheard of before, they have now become the biggest health problems in the world, killing millions of people per year.

It is clear from the graph above, that these diseases have skyrocketed as animal fats have been replaced with shortening, margarine and processed vegetable oils.
5. The Obesity Epidemic Started as People Reduced Their Intake of Red Meat and High-Fat Dairy Products

fatty-food-consumption-from-1980-1990

fatty food consumption from 1980 to 1990 – Kris GunnarsSource: Hu FB, et al. Trends in the Incidence of Coronary Heart Disease and Changes in Diet and Lifestyle in Women. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2000.

It amazes me that some people still blame traditional foods like meat and butter for the diseases of civilization. These foods have sustained humans in good health for a very long time and blaming new diseases on old foods just doesn’t make sense.

All the data shows that people actually reduced their consumption of these foods as these diseases went up.

The graph above, from the Nurses Health Study, shows that Americans were reducing their intake of red meat and full-fat dairy at the same time the obesity epidemic was starting.
6. In the Framingham Heart Study, Heart Disease Goes up as People Replace Heart-Healthy Butter with Toxic Margarine

butter-vs-margarine-stephan-guyenet-larger

butter vs margarine

Stephan Guyenet  Kris GunnarsSource: Gillman MW, et al. Margarine intake and subsequent coronary heart disease in men. Epidemiology, 1997. Photo source: Whole Health Source.

In the graph above, based on the Framingham Heart Study, you can see how heart disease risk goes up as people eat less butter and more margarine instead.

For some very strange reason, many health organizations are still recommending that we avoid heart-healthy butter and replace it with processed margarine.

It’s simple: eat the way grandpa and grandma used to. And you’ll enjoy the health quality they did.

From Kris Gunnars

You’re not sick because you’re fat. You’re fat because you’re sick

Sarah Berry

Weight problems cannot be measured by numbers, according to David Ludwig.Weight problems cannot be measured by numbers, according to David Ludwig.

Overeating isn’t making you fat.

Rather, getting fat makes you overeat.

This is the word of Dr David Ludwig, an obesity expert and professor of nutrition at Harvard.

“It may sound radical, but there’s literally a century of science to support this point,” Ludwig tells The New York Times.

So what, if not overeating, is causing an obesity crisis of epidemic proportions?

There are two things to consider, says Ludwig, who examines the epidemic and foods that act as “fat fertilisers” in his new book, Always Hungry.

Firstly, what we are eating is a big problem.

“It’s the low-fat, very high carbohydrate diet that we’ve been eating for the last 40 years, which raises levels of the hormone insulin and programs fat cells to go into calorie storage overdrive,” he explains.

“I like to think of insulin as the ultimate fat cell fertiliser.”

The calories become so well stored in the fat cells that our bodies cannot access them to burn for energy. This means we always feel hungry, as our bodies cry out for fuel they can use and simply trying to eat less exacerbates the problem without addressing the real issue.

“When we cut back on calories, our body responds by increasing hunger and slowing metabolism,” Ludwig says.

“We think of obesity as a state of excess, but it’s really more akin to a state of starvation.”

He continues: “If the fat cells are storing too many calories, the brain doesn’t have access to enough to make sure that metabolism runs properly.

“So the brain makes us hungry in an attempt to solve that problem, and we overeat and feel better temporarily. But if the fat cells continue to take in too many calories, then we get stuck in this never-ending cycle of overeating and weight gain. The problem isn’t that there are too many calories in the fat cells, it’s that there’s too few in the bloodstream, and cutting back on calories can’t work.

“And that makes weight loss progressively more and more difficult on a standard low calorie diet.”

The second part of the problem is predetermined by genetics. 

In this sense, fat people and thin people aren’t all that different, but it explains why the same diet can have dramatically different outcomes.

We have a body weight ”set-point” Ludwig explains, which seems heavily based on the genes we were born with.

“We’ve been following the wrong advice for too long. Dieting doesn’t need to be this hard. The key to long-term weight loss isn’t counting calories; it’s eating in a way that lowers insulin levels, calms chronic inflammation and, by so doing, readjusts the body weight set-point to a lower level.”

This involves nourishing through nutrition instead of eating by numbers. And nutrition guidelines are finally starting to catch up with ever-evolving nutrition science.

This year, sugar took over from fat as public food enemy number one. In the States at least, where new dietary guidelines advise significantly cutting back on sugar – specifically limiting added sugars to 10 per cent of daily calories.

“The quickest way to lower insulin is to cut back on processed carbohydrates and to get the right balance of protein and fat in your diet,” he says. “A high fat diet is really the fastest way to shift metabolism. It lowers insulin, calms fat cells down and gets people out of the cycle of hunger, craving and overeating.”

It also gets them out of the cycle of calorie counting, reiterating that the battle of the bulge is much more than just a numbers game.

“Cutting back on calories won’t do it. That doesn’t change biology. To change biology, you have to change the kinds of foods you’re eating.”

Change the way we eat to Stay Healthy.

High Blood Sugar Level Increases Risk of Breast Cancer and Brain Shrinkage

from William Faloon, Luke Huber, ND, and Kira Schmid, ND

Protecting arteries against after-Meal glucose Spikes

 

With 12% of all American women destined to develop a breast tumor, taking preventative steps make sense, especially if the same approach also slashes risk of dementia and heart attack…and helps shed fat pounds.

An abundance of published research links high-normal blood glucose levels to increased breast cancer risk. This article reviews the evidence and emphasizes the importance of maintaining glucose at safe low-normal ranges.

Compelling Findings
Senior Woman With Adult Daughter In Park

Life Extension®’s  analysis of 12 independent studies identified strong data suggesting increased breast cancer risk amongst women with so-called “normal” blood glucose levels. For example, premenopausal women with a blood sugar above 84 mg/dL had more than two-times the risk of developing breast cancer compared to those with a blood sugar below 84 mg/dL.

A study of 10,633 women from Italy found significant relationships between blood sugar levels and breast cancer risk.9 In this study, women in the highest glucose quartile (median 96 mg/dL) had a 63% increased risk for breast cancer compared to those in the lowest quartile (median 73 mg/dL) after being “fully adjusted” for multiple variables. The authors stated in the discussion:

Glucose: Our Modern Day Enemy

High-normal blood glucose is a leading cause of premature death overlooked by mainstream doctors today.

More than 80% of the adult population has blood sugar levels that are too high. Most of these people are not diagnosed with diabetes, but just by having high-normal fasting glucose  (over 85 mg/dL), risk of death from cardiovascular disease increases by 40% according to a long-term study conducted on close to 2,000 people.27

This and other studies show that even in otherwise healthy people, those with high-normal glucose are at increased risk of vascular death. For example, those with higher after-meal glucose (for example, 101 mg/dL compared to 83 mg/dL) had a 27% increased risk of death from stroke.

A large body of published scientific research documents that people with higher after-meal glucose spikes have sharply increased risks for most of the diseases we associate with aging such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure, retinal damage, and vascular blockages.

Chart 1 on this page shows the horrific consequences when glucose levels are elevated above optimal ranges. (We classify optimal fasting blood sugar as under 86 mg/dL).

Chart 1: Increased Health Risks in People with “Normal” Glucose Levels
Condition Glucose Levels (mg/dL) Increased Risk
Developing Type II Diabetes 100-104 Up to 283%
Stomach Cancer 95-105 Up to 130%
First-time Heart Attack Above 88 242%
Need for Coronary Bypass or Stent Procedure Above 95 73%
High Normal Blood Sugar Harms the Brain
Blood Sugar Test

In September 2012, Australian researchers published findings showing blood glucose at the high end of normal resulted in significant brain shrinkage.47,48

The shrinkage occurred in regions of the brain (hippocampus and amygdala) involved in memory and other critical functions. Atrophy (shrinkage) in these brain areas worsens memory.47,48

For this study, neuroscientists at Australian National University in Canberra studied 249 people in their early 60s. Each of them had blood sugar levels in the normal range. The study subjects’ brains were scanned at the beginning of the study, and again four years later.

Comparing the before and after images, the researchers found significant brain shrinkage among those whose blood sugar levels were high but still below the World Health Organization’s threshold for pre-diabetes (fasting glucose under 110 mg/dL). The researchers report that these high normal levels may account for a 6% to 10% decrease in the volume of the hippocampus and amygdala.

The lead researcher stated, “It is this chronic exposure to high glucose levels that is more likely to lead to poorer brain health.” He cautioned that these findings should not be taken “lightly,” as the association between high normal blood sugar and brain shrinkage was “robust.”

Proven Methods To Lower Blood Glucose

Intermittent Fasting is a great way to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.

Ensuring adequate intake of nutrients like chromium, lipoic acid, and green tea extract improves insulin sensitivity, as does ensuring that you maintain youthful blood levels of hormones like DHEA.

green olives plate
Why Aren’t Doctors Taking Steps To Lower Blood Sugar Levels?

Doctors rely on outdated reference ranges, meaning they accept dangerously high glucose levels as being normal. Yet more than 80% of the adult population has glucose levels that put them at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer. The bottom line is that doctors are not lowering their patient’s glucose levels enough to prevent these needless diseases.

Taking Charge of Your Blood Sugar

It is advised that we keep their fasting sugar in the range of 75 – 80 mg, and an abundance of peer-reviewed published research findings validates this position.

If your last blood test showed fasting glucose of 86 mg% or higher, please see an Integrative Medicine specialist near you, and get back on the path to good health.

Summary
Technician with patient getting mammogram

High-normal blood glucose is a leading cause of premature death overlooked by mainstream doctors today.  More than 80% of the adult population has glucose levels that are too high.  An abundance of published research links high-normal blood glucose level to increased breast cancer risk.  New research links even high normal blood sugar level to brain shrinkage in key areas involved with memory.  Reducing ingestion of simple sugars and starches helps, but as people age, most of them produce excess glucose in their liver (gluconeogenesis) that causes higher glucose levels no matter how many carbohydrates they restrict. The key is to inhibit intestinal absorption of carbohydrates, suppress excess production of glucose in the liver, and improve glucose utilization in tissues through enhanced insulin sensitivity.

It is simple to Stay Healthy.

 

Magnesium as Weight Loss Support?

Minerals and microelements

Recently we hear a lot about magnesium. Since I am taking natural magnesium on a regular basis my health has drastically increased in several regards. But how about weight loss? Can it really support your weight loss process?

So I decided to give that mineral a closer look. And what I got to learn so far sounds very promising.

To begin with, the older you are the less your body can utilize magnesium from food and the larger amounts you need to supplement.

Here are some facts about magnesium:

  • Magnesium helps the body with basic functions of the nerves, what is crucial these days with the increasing electromagnetic pollution through cell phones.
  • Not only nerves, but also muscles and other organs need magnesium for proper function. Very good news for us is the fact that magnesium also makes better use of all nutrients for sufficient digestion and it helps the body to better process the food you consume. This can definitely help you maintain a healthier weight.
  • If you have a blood sugar problem, magnesium might at least be part of the solution since it plays an important role in regulating your blood sugar levels. According to a 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition, a high intake of magnesium has been linked to lower glucose and insulin levels. Both of them control fat and weight gain.
  • British researchers found in another study that supplementing magnesium can help reduce water retention and relieve bloating during the menstrual cycle.
  • Younger people can achieve weight loss simply by adding magnesium-rich food to their daily diet. Fruits, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, fish, meat and dairy products are all rich in magnesium. Of course the food has to be fresh from the market or the farm. The older you get, a healthy diet may not be enough and you may need to supplement magnesium.
  • Magnesium is a contributing factor in balancing your metabolism and providing the body with energy, which makes exercising easier and the fat-burning process faster and more effective. It helps the body synthesize proteins, carbs and fats and you need less food to be full and satisfied.
  • Another tremendous benefit of that mineral is that it allows the body to convert blood glucose into energy effectively what plays a major role in your body’s insulin function. That way supplementing magnesium alone can help to apply healthier eating habits.
  • A deficiency in magnesium leads to a loss of energy and fatigue, just to name a few side effects. This again reduces the motivation to work out and exercise. Healthy amounts of magnesium make you feel better emotionally and physically. You find it easier to eat properly for better weight maintenance.
  • When your magnesium levels are low, you feel more exhausted and you crave any kind of food.
  • Magnesium can even reduce anxiety and stress…both can cause increased hunger and appetite. While under stress, your body stores more fat, making it difficult to lose weight. According to Dr. Carolyn Dean magnesium neutralizes the effects of stress.

Products rich in magnesium on wooden spoons.

Whatever nutrient you lack, your body begins to crave it. Since most of us have un-learned to listen to their body, lack of vital nutrients often show in form of cravings for sugary and unhealthy foods. Hardly anybody craves magnesium per se, unless you regularly supplement it so that your body had the chance to get used to and distinguish it from other nutrients.

Of course as one of my long-time readers you already understand that all this only works if you strictly stick to whole foods. Processed foods have not only lost most of their nutrients (including magnesium), but also contain lots of additives and toxins that contribute to weight gain.

Therefore, when weight is an issue, there is only one option: eat natural, healthy, organic produce and, depending on your age, you may want to add some extra magnesium. For faster and easier weight loss, both internal and external use is recommended. You can purchase a natural magnesium salt from the Dead Sea and regularly take a bath with Epsom salt.

Mindful Eating 101 – A Beginner’s Guide

 

 

Wondering About FoodMindful eating is a technique that helps you gain control over your eating habits. It has been shown to cause weight loss, reduce binge eating and help you feel better.

This article explains what mindful eating is, how it works and what you need to do to get started.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is based on mindfulness, a Buddhist concept.

It is a form of meditation that helps you recognize and cope with your emotions and physical sensations . It has helped treat many conditions, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety and various food-related behaviors.

Mindful eating is about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings and physical cues when eating.

Fundamentally, mindful eating involves:

  • Eating slowly and without distraction.
  • Listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full.
  • Distinguishing between actual hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating.
  • Engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures and tastes.
  • Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.
  • Eating to maintain overall health and well-being.
  • Noticing the effects food has on your feelings and figure.
  • Appreciating your food.

These things allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, healthier responses.

Why Should You Try Mindful Eating?

Eating has become a mindless act, often done quickly. This can be problematic, since it actually takes the brain up to 20 minutes to realize you’re full. If you eat too fast, the fullness signal may not arrive until you’ve already eaten too much. This is very common in binge eating. By eating mindfully, you restore your attention and slow down, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one.

 Mindful eating helps you distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. It also increases your awareness of food-related triggers, and gives you the freedom to choose your response to them.

Mindful Eating and Weight Loss

Weight Scale

It is a well-known fact that most weight loss programs don’t work in the long term.

Around 85% of obese individuals who lose weight return to or exceed their initial weight within a few years . Binge eating, emotional eating, external eating and eating in response to food cravings have been linked to weight gain and weight regain after successful weight loss.

Chronic exposure to stress may also play a large role in overeating and the development of obesity.

The vast majority of studies agree that mindful eating helps you lose weight by changing eating behaviors and reducing stress. A 6-week group seminar on mindful eating among obese individuals resulted in an average weight loss of 9 lbs (4 kg) during the seminar and the 12-week follow-up period).

By changing the way you think about food, the negative feelings that may be associated with eating are replaced with awareness, improved self-control and positive emotions .

When unwanted eating behaviors are addressed, the chances of long-term weight loss success are increased.

Mindful Eating and Binge Eating

Junk Food

Binge eating involves eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time, mindlessly and without control. It has been linked to eating disorders and weight gain, and one study showed that almost 70% of binge eaters are obese.

Interestingly, mindful eating has been shown to drastically reduce the severity and frequency of binge eating.

One study found that after a 6-week group intervention in obese women, binge eating episodes decreased from 4 to 1.5 times per week. The severity of each episode also decreased.

Mindful Eating and Unhealthy Eating Behaviors

In addition to being an effective treatment for binge eating, mindful eating methods have also been shown to reduce:

  • Emotional eating: Eating in response to certain emotions.
  • External eating: Eating in response to environmental food-related cues, such as the sight or smell of food).

Unhealthy eating behaviors like these are the most commonly reported problems among obese individuals.

Mindful eating gives you the skills you need to deal with these impulses. It puts you in charge of your responses, instead of you acting on them without thought.

How To Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating Burger
There are many simple ways to get started, some of which can have powerful benefits :

  • Eat more slowly and don’t rush your meals.
  • Chew thoroughly.
  • Eliminate distractions by turning off the TV and putting down your phone.
  • Eat in silence or enjoy conversation with people you care for
  • Focus on how the food makes you feel.
  • Stop eating when you’re full.
  • Ask yourself why you’re eating. Are you actually hungry? Is it healthy?

To begin with, it is a good idea to pick one meal per day, to focus on these points.

Once you’ve got the hang of this, mindfulness will become more natural. Then you can focus on implementing these habits into more meals.

Mindful eating takes practice. Try to eat more slowly, chew thoroughly, remove distractions and stop eating when you’re full.

Where to Find More Information
  • Amazon: Many good books on mindful eating are available on Amazon.
  • Web resources: This website lists 50 mindful eating web resources.
  • Videos: This is a short video introduction to mindful eating.
  • Meditating: Here is a short meditation to help manage food cravings.
  • Workshops: Mindful eating seminars are located around the world and online.
Take Home Message

Mindful eating is a powerful tool to regain control of your eating.

If you have failed with conventional “diets” in the past, then this is definitely something you should try.

Simple. Eat well. Stay Healthy.

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