Exciting Science Ahead!

Why Are We So Fat? The Multimillion-Dollar Scientific Quest to Find Out

In January of this year, the first subject checked into the metabolic ward at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, to participate in one of the most rigorous dietary studies ever devised. For eight weeks, he was forbidden to leave. He spent two days of each week inside tiny airtight rooms known as metabolic chambers, where scientists determined precisely how many calories he was burning by measuring changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air. He received meals through vacuum-sealed portholes so that the researchers’ breath wouldn’t interfere with their measurements. The food itself had been chemically analyzed to ensure an exact number of carbohydrate, protein, and fat calories.

The two-day stays in the chambers were only a small part of the testing, which was also being carried out on subjects at three other institutions around the US. Twice a month, the subjects were required to lie down for dual-energy x-ray absorpti­ometry scans, an accurate way to measure body fat. They offered up their veins again and again so that scientists could measure their lipids and hormone levels. They provided samples of their stools so the researchers could record the different colonies of bacteria residing in their guts.

And yet for all the poking, prodding, measuring, and testing, the most remarkable thing about the $5 million undertaking may be that it’s designed to answer a question you’d think we’d have answered long ago: Do we get fat because we overeat or because of the types of food we eat? The Energy Balance Consortium Study, as it’s called, is one of the first to be backed by the Nutrition Science Initiative, a nonprofit that prides itself on funding fanatically careful tests of previously overlooked hypotheses. NuSI (pronounced new-see) was launched in September 2012 by crusading science journalist Gary Taubes and former physician and medical researcher Peter Attia. The three NuSI studies now under way, which focus on establishing the root causes of obesity and its related diseases, provide just a glimpse of Taubes and Attia’s sweeping ambition. NuSI has already raised more than $40 million in pledges and is in the midst of a $190 million, three-year campaign to fund a new round of studies that will build off the findings in the initial research. Together, the studies are intended as steps toward an audacious goal: cutting the prevalence of obesity in the US by more than half—and the prevalence of diabetes by 75 percent—in less than 15 years.

THE INITIATIVE HAS AN AMBITIOUS GOAL: CUT THE PREVALENCE OF OBESITY IN THE U.S. BY MORE THAN HALF IN LESS THAN 15 YEARS.

NuSI’s strategy is to bring the nation’s top nutrition researchers together to find answers as a team. But arriving at a consensus about our nutrition woes won’t be easy. Almost as striking as the grim health numbers themselves—two-thirds of American adults are now overweight or obese; more than 115 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes—is that for all the thousands of studies and billions of dollars we’ve spent on research, there is no agreement among the experts on why we’ve grown so much more fat and sick over the past several decades or what we should do about it.

The standard explanation is that Americans eat too much—and especially too much fat, which for a long time was thought to be the underlying cause of obesity and most other chronic diseases. That’s why major health organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society continue to recommend diets low in saturated fat, with prominent vegan doctors arguing that the answer to our problems lies in avoiding all animal products.


The idea that some calories—specifically those from refined carbs—are worse than others was popularized by Robert Lustig in this 2009 video.

But in recent years, competing theories have suggested other culprits. A growing number of doctors and advocates now see decades of increased consumption of table sugar and other refined carbohydrates as the most likely explanation for our current epidemics. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, rose to national fame after a 2009 lecture in which he called sugar “poison” went viral on YouTube. (Lustig had a chance to repeat his case against sugar in the 2014 Katie Couric-produced documentary Fed Up.) Meanwhile, newer science has undermined the consensus that fat is all that bad for you. A recent meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found no clear evidence that eating saturated fat contributes to cardiovascular disease. This major study resonated across the cultural landscape, garnering a Time magazine cover (“Eat Butter”) and a public reconsideration of the danger of fat by television host Dr. Mehmet Oz, who had previously preached against high-fat diets.


The 2014 documentary Fed Up, coproduced by Katie Couric and Laurie David, likens the “sugar industry” to the tobacco industry of 30 years ago.

Taubes and Attia are firmly in the sugar-bad, saturated-fat-good camp. Indeed, Taubes has written a number of the articles and books—including the best-selling Good Calories, Bad Calories—on which that thinking is based. But even they acknowledge they can’t be certain. That’s because, as Taubes eloquently argues, most of the existing knowledge gathered in the past five decades of research comes from studies marred by inadequate controls, faulty cause-and-effect reasoning, and animal studies that are not applicable to humans. The whole body of literature, Taubes wrote in a blog post announcing the launch of NuSI, “is based on science that was simply not adequate to the task of establishing reliable knowledge.”

For instance, much of what we think we know about nutrition is based on observational studies, a mainstay of major research initiatives like the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 120,000 women across the US for three decades. Such studies look for associations between the foods that subjects claim to eat and the diseases they later develop. The problem, as Taubes sees it, is that observational studies may show a link between a food or nutrient and a disease but tell us nothing about whether the food or nutrient is actually causing the disease. It’s a classic blunder of confusing correlation with causation—and failing to test conclusions with controlled experiments. “Good scientists will approach new results like they’re buying a used car,” he says. “When the salesman tells you it’s a great car, you don’t take his word for it. You get it checked out.”

NuSI’s starting assumption, in other words, is that bad science got us into the state of confusion and ignorance we’re in. Now Taubes and Attia want to see if good science can get us out.


Gary Taubes

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Delicious and Refreshing

Raspberry Coconut Chia ice pops

These 3 ingredient raspberry coconut chia ice pops are so simple to make at home and the perfect summer treat!
Raspberry Coconut Chia Ice Pops

Ok, so ice pops…I’ve wanted to make these things at home for years and yet for some dumb reason totally resisted buying those plastic molds. I really have no idea why, I just don’t like them. So, I thought ice pop making was out of the question.

Two words: Dixie cups.

One more: DUH

Seriously, how did I not realize that?

Raspberry Coconut Milk Ice Pops

These are my third creation in a week. I’m officially hooked. They’re literally 3 ingredients (with extra add-ins if you want) and could NOT be easier.

Add in a layer of blue (blueberries?) and you’ve got yourself the perfect Memorial Day or 4th of July treat.

Raspberry Coconut Chia ice pops
Prep time
Total time
These 3 ingredient raspberry coconut chia ice pops are so simple to make at home and the perfect summer treat!
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup raspberries (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 15 ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 1½ tablespoons chia seeds
  • 6 9 ounce paper cups
  • 6 popsicle sticks
*Optional add-ins:
  • coconut extract
  • vanilla extract
  • lime juice
  • honey
Instructions
  1. Place raspberries and water in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour about 2 tablespoons of raspberry puree into each cup, saving the remaining puree for later. Place cups in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the coconut milk and chia seeds in a small bowl.
  4. Remove the cups from the freezer and distribute the coconut milk mixture evenly among the 6 cups.
  5. Return cups to the freezer for another 30 minutes.
  6. Remove cups and place a popsicle stick in the middle of each cup, return to freezer again for another 30 minutes.
  7. Lastly, distribute the remaining raspberry puree into the cups and freeze until set (at least 4 hours)
  8. Peel the paper cups off before serving.
Notes
For the optional add-ins:
-Add coconut or vanilla extract to the coconut milk and chia seed mixture when whisking together.
-Add lime juice and/or honey to the raspberry and water mixture when blending.

 

The Perfect Time

There is no official nutrition challenge happening right now, but there are still people at CrossFit Flagstaff taking up the baton for themselves right now and changing their lifestyle eating habit.  Do you want to join them?  There is no better time than TODAY!  The trainers are always standing by to help you attain your goals!

I’d love to get started…

I’m just waiting for the perfect time.

Always waiting for the “perfect time” to get started on new projects? To learn a new skill? To eat better? To exercise more? If so, here’s something to think about.

When I get a different job.

When things are less busy. 

When I find a workout partner.

When I find the right equipment.

When I feel less awkward in the gym.

When I lose 20 lbs.

When I get the right workout routine.

When my fridge is full of the right foods.

Tomorrow. Next week. Never.

Human beings are always “waiting for the perfect time”. But why?

For many, it’s a great distraction and justification. It helps us avoid the real — and risky – work of doing.

For others, perfectionism and avoidance serve as strong armor against potential embarrassment, criticism, and failure.

I could ___ but ___” keeps us safe from pain.

Unfortunately, it’s also what keeps us from growing, thriving, being who we know we have the potential to be.

That’s why all-or-nothing thinking — If I don’t do this perfectly then it’s awful – rarely gets us “all”.

It usually gets us “nothing”.

There is no perfect time. There never will be.

Oh sure, there might be some magic moment in your fitness journey where the universe comes together… and you’re wearing your favorite t-shirt… plus your extra-comfy sneakers… and that song you love comes on your iPod… and your body is full of exuberant, bubbling energy…and your favorite piece of gym equipment is free (in fact the gym is empty today, hooray!)… and you bang out a set of ten reps like the angels are hoisting the barbell for you.

But that magic moment will be one in the zillion other less-magic moments that make up your real life.

Indeed, if we are talking about a moment as, say, approximately ten seconds long, that means you have about:

10 x 6 x 60 x 24 x 365.25 x 76 (if you’re male) or 81 (if you’re female) = somewhere between 2,398,377,600 to 2,556,165,600 potential moments in your life.

Which means that a single perfect moment is, well, a very very very small part of the whole thing.

Yes, celebrate that perfect moment when it comes. But sure as heck don’t wait for it.

Take your moments. Make your moments.

Just so you know, nobody is going to give you any moments. You have to take moments.

Hunt them. Chase them. Make them happen.

Scratch and gouge moments out of other times. Chip off tiny flakes of moments from the monolith of your day. Use your teeth if you must — bite off mouthfuls of those moments.

You are holding the chisel and the pickaxe. You are the miner of your moments.

This frustrates us, of course.

It shouldn’t be this way, 
we think. Everyone else’s moments just… come to them. Everyone else has enough time. Enough money. Enough motivation. Enough information.

But it is this way. For everyone.

This is how it is, with moments. Moments resist expectations like water resists the intrusion of oil.

However, there is a perfect moment. There is actually always a perfect moment.

That perfect moment is now.

Here. Today. The living, breathing sliver of time that you have in this precise second.

Because that is all you ever have: right now.

PN right now Id love to get started... Im just waiting for the perfect time.

Just start. At the beginning.

Here is another secret. You don’t have to actually work to get to the next moment.

All you have to do is start

And then, moments will keep moving, as moments do.

One moment will stack on top of another and before you know it, you’ll have arrived at your destination.

But I can’t! you say. I can’t get started! That is the problem, you see!

No, it’s not. If you can’t get started, you’re just jumping too far ahead.

You’re not starting with starting. You are trying to start somewhere in an imaginary middle.

For instance, let’s say you choose to start with reading about nutrition.

That can be a good start – if it keeps you moving on to the next moment.

But it is not a good start if it keeps you stuck in your chair, clicking through a blur of blogs and charts and plans and testimonials until it’s time for lights-out and you haven’t made a single good nutritional choice today.

So maybe, starting for you shouldn’t be reading.

It should be something else, like walking to the fridge and picking out a shiny fresh apple and eating it.

Or making a shopping list and putting it next to your car keys for tomorrow.

Or reading a menu from the restaurant you’re about to visit, and picking out the salad option in advance.

Starting means initiating action. Starting means committing to a choice of some kind or another. This is how you know it is a true start. 

Starting is when you drop the coin into one pinball machine, not when you stand there looking at the all machines in the arcade, deciding which one to play.

Starting is when you lift up one foot and put it in front of the other, not when you stand there debating which road to take or wondering if you should have worn different shoes.

For some folks, starting needs to be an even smaller action. Starting might be just lifting the foot. Or shifting their weight to one leg.

Putting the first foot in front of the second foot might require some help. Which is OK.

As long as something is moving, that’s a start.

Push through. Embrace Resistance.

Many people starting out assume that because they feel resistance, they have failed.

That because broccoli tastes bitter when they first try it, and accidentally overcook it, they just can’t eat vegetables.

That because they forget their printed list of exercises on the kitchen table, they can’t work out once they get to the gym.

That because their legs ache on the ascent, it means they are not ready to climb that hill.

No. That’s just how it feels, sometimes.

Starting will often feel like resistance, at least at first. Like grinding the brain’s gears.

Give it time. Push through. It will switch tracks, eventually.

Remember: You don’t have to fight the resistance of the entire trip.

You just have to push through the resistance of the first few moments.

Get support. For now.

In order for a rocket to leave the earth, it has to fire extra-hard against gravity. It needs a boost.

In order for a heavy train to get moving, it might need an extra engine.

We can start — and stay moving — on our own. But it sure helps when someone (like a coach) gives us a push or a pull.

Someone else can also call us on our procrastination and perfection. On our information-cruising and waffling.

Someone else can snap us out of our all-or-nothing trance with a gentle nudge and reminder.

For a while, we can even affix ourselves to this someone or something else, like hooking that extra engine to our front. As we go along, we can unhook superfluous cars that we realize are weighing us down. We grow lighter, leaner, more mobile.

Eventually, we don’t need that extra engine any more. Our train is now whizzing along just fine on its own. The scenery blurs past the windows and we are heading on a grand adventure.

But in the beginning, we had to start.

PN get started Id love to get started... Im just waiting for the perfect time.

Summary

In the end, if you’re constantly saddled with “waiting for the perfect time”, these tips might help:

  • Revise your expectations. Recognize that there is no perfect time and there never will be.
  • Carve out time, even if it’s imperfect. Nobody will give that time to you. You’ll need to take it.
  • Just start. Find the smallest possible thing you can do right now, in the next 5 minutes, and do it. Now you’ve started!
  • Do something, anything. Action is a “vote” in favor of a different, healthier, fitter life. Vote early, vote often.
  • You only have to get through this moment. This moment of starting will be the hardest. Luckily, it won’t last long.
  • Expect resistance. It’s normal. Push through it. Resistance doesn’t mean this won’t work. It just means you’ve started.
  • Get support. Whether it’s a friend or family member, workout buddy, or a coach, find someone to fire up your booster rockets until you can fly on your own.

5 Factors For Fat Loss

crossfit-family-workout-training-fit-workshop-health-fitness-weights

Jade Teta ND, CSCS, Metabolic Effect.com

One thing we at Metabolic Effect are frequently confronted with is people who desire real body transformation but who are unwilling to make the change. The problem is that these individuals rarely realize they are unwilling. They are often completely unaware of what it really takes to see true body change. We certainly don’t blame them. It is usually just a matter of helping them understand what will be required of them and to explore what blocks they may have. Change is hard in any arena, and body change is no different. However, when people know exactly what is required of them they are far more likely to do what needs to be done.  In my experience, there are 5 key factors a person must master to see real change. Obviously, there are more, but these are the ones that make the biggest difference in my opinion.

sammi-before-and-after1. Diet. Hands down your diet is the single biggest change needed. Too often people think if they switch from corn flakes to oatmeal or from a fast food hamburger to a turkey sandwich they are going to see big changes.  Whether you include or fore go butter on your popcorn is not the issue. The issue is much bigger than that.  The must frustrating thing for me as a physician, personal trainer, and health coach is the damage the calorie model has had on people.  People everywhere still believe that leaving mayonnaise off their sandwich, or getting vegetable pizza instead of peperoni, or switching from fruit loops to cheerios is going to change their bodies.  It wont.  Some of these changes may make you healthier, but they wont drastically change your body.  It is important to understand that a healthy diet does not equal a fat loss diet.  However, a fat loss diet is almost always a healthier diet. In order to see dramatic change in the body, there has to be dramatic change in the diet and this change has to be adhered to upwards of 90 to 95% of the time. Switching from cereal to egg whites, from sandwiches to salads, and from chips to protein shakes is more in line with the changes needed in the dietary regime.  Without these type of changes you are playing the weight loss game not the fat loss game and you will be frustrated by your results or soon hit a plateau you cant break. Diet is the single most important change you can make in a fat loss lifestyle and accounts for probably greater than 75% of your initial results. In my experience, a person will need to make a drastic change that is sustained for 90% of the time for eight to twelve weeks.  As you can see, this approach, while it works is not something most people are willing to do.

2. Exercise. Many people make the mistake of starting an exercise plan thinking that alone will be able to change the body.  It is a great start, but without changing the diet it frequently will lead to maintenance rather than loss.  Here is the thing about exercise that is so important.  A diet without exercise is like getting a tune up in your car without changing the oil.  You will see some benefits to the engine, but they will not last and may do damage in the long run.  This is because a diet is relatively indiscriminate in terms of the weight you lose, meaning you can easily lose muscle as well as fat.  Exercise, at least the right kind, assures that you are burning mostly fat rather than mostly muscle. This brings me to another major issue with exercise. Aerobic exercise is NOT the best form of exercise for fat loss because when used alone (without weight training) it will burn fat AND muscle decreasing metabolic efficiency in the long run.  A good exercise program should combine weight training and aerobic training.  The resistance training should be heavy enough to allow between 6 and 15 reps and aerobic exercise should be shorter and more intense (interval training) or longer and lower intensity (brisk walking). This is because of the complicated biochemistry of exercise.  There are many indications that long distance moderate intensity aerobic exercise (i.e. jogging, biking, etc) may set up a negative hormonal situation.   At metabolic effect we intermix aerobic interval training with weights to maximize caloric burn as well as hormonal fat metabolism. My experience tells me the people who get the best results will put equal emphasis on weight training as they do cardiovascular exercise, they will workout 5 to 7 days per week, and they exercise intensely. The other key element is progressive overload. Like anything in life you want to master, you must encounter challenge.  Too often exercise is not challenging enough. People think showing up is good enough.  It is not.  There are four goals you should have in each workout, get breathless, get your muscles burning, get your muscles straining (lifting heavy weight), and heat your body up (i.e. sweat). To often, none of these goals are reached by the average exerciser.

EJ-Testimonial3. Schedule. I can tell you from experience watching and training top level athletes, as well as working with physique athletes (bodybuilders, fitness models, figure competitors), that rigid adherence to a schedule is a key factor in success.  The reason a schedule is so important is that even the most scientifically sound and proven fat loss program will not work if it is not adhered to. I beleive in order to truly assess whether a program is valuable or not, a person must adhere to that program 90 to 95% of the time.  The only way that is possible is by scheduling it as a priority in the day.  Not only should a person know exactly what time they are going to eat everyday, but they should also know exactly what they are going to eat.  The dietary plan and schedule needs to be laid out and prepared for.  The most successful strategy I have seen for scheduling a diet is having a day set aside for preparation of food for the week.  Sundays are the day that seems to work best.  This is a day where the food needed for the week is usually purchased, prepared, separated into individual meals, and placed into Tupperware for easy travel and reheating. Flying by the seat of your pants will not work and rarely will help you reach your goals for fat loss.  The same attention to detail is key for exercise.  Exercise should be carefully mapped out for the week.  Are you going to exercise first thing in the morning Mon-Sat and take Sun as a rest day?  Or are you going to exercise Mon-Wed-Fri immediately after work and Tues-Thur-Sat first thing in the morning? Just as the scheduled times and days need to be mapped out, the workouts need to be decided as well.  When are you doing upper body vs. lower body, when will you do interval training verse a weight focused workout? Are you going to break the body into body parts focusing on chest and back one day, arms and shoulders another day, and legs on another day? This is all stuff that needs to be thought out and adhered to.  Finally, dont forget about scheduling the things that make a difference in your ability to stick to a schedule in the first place.  Sleep is a key issue here. If you don’t schedule an early enough time to sleep or enough sleep, the early morning workout you scheduled is much more likely to be put off or skipped all together.  Likewise, if you don’t schedule stress reducing activities, you are likely to be pushed out of balance through stress.  Not taking time for meditation, a relaxing movie, sex, a warm bath, massage or other stress reducing habits will lead you to abandon your fat loss schedule more often then you should.

4. Sleep.  I mentioned it above, but sleep is a huge part of fat loss.  This is because sleep directly impacts the ability for the body to recover from stress.  Sleep can be prime fat burning time or prime fat storing time depending on your habits.  The thing to know about sleep is it has great influence over fat burning hormones.  However, you need to understand how sleep works to use it to your advantage.  You can think of sleep like the reset button on your computer.  When your body (the computer) crashes, sleep is like hitting the restart button. Sleep is analogous to restarting a computer after downloading a new piece of software.  Ever notice how when you load a new piece of software on your computer it takes time, and things need to be done in sequence?  After it is finished, you must restart the computer.  However, if something goes wrong, or you do things out of sequence the computer will crash and you have to start over again.  With sleep, the software you are downloading is software that suppresses stress hormones like cortisol, and elevates muscle building and fat burning hormones like human growth hormone (HGH). However this takes time.  There are several key things the body needs to properly load this software.  It needs seven to nine hours of sleep, it needs complete darkness, and it needs normal blood sugar levels during sleep.  These three elements can be achieved by focusing on protein and not starch before bed, avoiding food a few hours before sleep, going to bed by 10pm not 12am, and making sure you sleep in complete darkness.  This is because stress hormones are released in response to light, changes in blood sugar, and staying up too late.  Research has shown that two groups of people who sleep the same amount of hours with one group going to bed at midnight vs. 10pm have different waking stress hormones.  Those who go to bed later have higher cortisol levels and lower nighttime HGH secretion despite sleeping the same amount of time.  This is because their hormonal “download” did not have time to complete.  Light and higher than normal blood sugar levels at bedtime are the major reasons many people store fat rather than burn it at night.

kristy-awesomeness-post15. Supplementation.  Nowadays it is impossible to live a fat loss lifestyle without functional foods and good quality supplementation.  The major reason for this is the super fast paced world we live in.  Not many people will be able to prepare all the meals they need for the week without some quick food options such as protein shakes or bars.  Likewise, even the most healthy among us have difficulty eating all the vegetables we require.  In addition, there are factors beyond our control that have made it necessary to supplement.  Omega 3 oils from fish are absolutely essential not only for our health, but to burn fat.  However, farm raised fish and contaminated oceans mean many fish either have the wrong fats or are contaminated with mercury, both of which will throw a wrench into fat loss.  Stress hormones and foods containing caffeine not only zap our energy, but deplete our brain neurohormones, making it so hunger and cravings win the willpower game.  To help with this I usually recommend all my fat loss clients take 1. Metabolic Complex ( a multivitamin specifically formulated for fat loss). 2. High Potency Omega 3 (a molecularly distilled, pure fish oil) 3. Crave Control (a specially formulate product using a 10 to 1 tyrosine to 5-HTP ratio to control cravings, balance mood, and improve motivation). 4. The Meal (an ultra pure whey protein based meal replacement supplement from grass fed cattle). 5. Fat Burner Complex (a potent thermogenic aid) that works in overlapping mechanisms to elevate fat burning, control cravings, and improve energy without the dangerous stimulant effects of other fat loss aids. Supplementation can no longer be taken for granted and as much as I would like to say all this is possible with real food, it just is not in today’s high-stress, fast paced world.  If you are interested in learning more about any of these supplements, you can learn more at the link here. Does this mean you have to get only the supplements listed above from Metabolic Effect?  Of course not, there are many supplements on the market, some good and some bad.  The point is to make sure you have these bases covered and are consistent in supplementation.  Ask your doctor or nutritional adviser what they think is best, keeping in mind the average MD knows next to nothing about nutrition.

Simple Nutrition Infographic

Workout nutrition illustrated.

What to eat before, during, and after exercise.

We all know that what you eat is important. But so is when you eat, especially if you’re active. That’s why, in this infographic, we share what to eat before, during, and after exercise.

Workout Nutrition Infographic Workout nutrition illustrated. What to eat before, during, and after exercise.

Notes:

1. Click here for a fully printable version of this infographic.

2. For a complete explanation of this infographic, including a review of the latest research, check out our accompanying article: Workout nutrition explained: What to eat before, during, and after exercise.

3. For more about using your hand as a portable portion guide, check out this article: Forget calorie counting: Try this calorie control guide for men and women.

Good Fat!

7 Reasons Why Fat Is Great for You

avocado

There is always a vigorous debate when it comes to athletes and dietary fat. For years, we were told to avoid it or risk compromising all that hard-won athletic performance. Now, to a growing degree, we are told the exact opposite… so what gives?

Famed strength and conditioning coach Charles Poliquin lays out why you should be eating fat in the first place and provides seven reasons why fat is good for you, along with his famed meat & nut breakfast (see below):

[Certain] fats, which include a diverse array of fatty acid profiles, provide massive amounts of essential nutrients. Research suggests eating these fats can promote optimal leanness and aid in the prevention of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Certain of these fats have also been shown to be antimicrobial, improve digestion, and enhance protein synthesis in response to strength training, while reducing muscular soreness.

Let’s turn to the seven reasons Poliquin provides for why fat is so good for you, as featured on www.poliquingroup.com:

1. The Right Fat Will Not Make You Fat, But It Might Make You Lean

Eating “good” fats won’t make you fat. Rather, they can improve body composition and make you leaner. Strange but true since everybody knows that fats contain a lot of calories — nine per gram. Fat is more calorie-dense than protein, carbs, and alcohol.

Eat whole avocado rather than avocado oil and nuts rather than nut oils.

Fat tends to be known as the macronutrient that is most easily processed in the body, meaning it requires the least energy to break down—a process called the thermic effect of food. However, things are not so simple and all fats are not created equally.

Scientific studies show that the body processes the assorted types of fat very differently. The body does not store the essential fatty acids (EFAs) — such as the omega-3 fats found in fish and flaxseeds — as fat in the body. The body likes to use these fats to make hormones and build the lipid layer of cells.

The effect is that eating the omega-3 fats will raise energy expenditure, leading you to burn more calories than you would otherwise. For example, a study of overweight men found that when they increased their omega-3 intake from 0.43 g/day to 2.92 g/day, they experienced a 51 percent increase in the amount of calories they burned after eating…. We see this in practice: Association studies repeatedly show an inverse association between the consumption of “good” fats, such as nut and avocado, and body fat percentage.

2. Go Low-Carb When Eating Good Fats & Avoid All Processed Foods

Go Low-Carb
The fats highlighted here will improve insulin sensitivity, decrease inflammation, enhance cellular health and gene signaling, and support hormone balance. But they can’t fix the damage that you do if you eat lots of carbs, trans-fats, or processed foods.

For example, recent research shows that it is carbohydrates, not fats, that elevate cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, contributing to the development of heart disease. Carbohydrates activate pro-inflammatory processes through their effect on the fatty acid composition of blood lipids and cell membranes. This leads to the development of atherosclerosis.

Therefore, eating a diet that limits carbs but is abundant in an array of healthy fats will give you the perfect diet for promoting health and preventing heart disease. Elements of the perfect diet include the following:

•    Eat whole foods instead of processed or refined foods. Many healthy fats can be consumed in a whole form or a more refined form—opt for the whole form. Eat whole avocado rather than avocado oil and nuts rather than nut oils, for instance.

•    When choosing animal fats—yes, they are delicious and healthy!—get them from animals that are pasture-raised and that eat a natural diet appropriate for them.

•    Limit carbohydrates, particularly grains and sugar. Eat abundant green vegetables and a variety of other veggies and fruits. Choose local and seasonal when possible.

3. Eat a Lot of Omega-3 Fats

Eating a small quantity of flaxseeds to get the third omega-3 fat, ALA, is also acceptable, but don’t rely on flax for all your omega-3 intake.

You shouldn’t be surprised that the fat derived from fatty fish is extremely important for a healthy body. The omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, support body composition because they are incorporated into the outside lipid layer of cells. This improves insulin signaling to the cells, which allows for a better metabolism. …

Dietary Tip: Get EPA and DHA from fish, fish oil, and organic, pastured meat, wild meat and dairy. Eating a small quantity of flaxseeds to get the third omega-3 fat, ALA, is also ideal, but don’t rely on flax for all your omega-3 intake. Don’t cook with omega-3 fats because the polyunsaturated fats they contain are easily oxidized.

4. Use Coconut Oil

Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is full of medium chain fatty acids (MCTs), which have been shown to promote health, aid brain function, and improve body composition. The MCTs don’t enter the cholesterol cycle in the body. Even though coconut oil is 92 percent saturated fat, it won’t elevate cholesterol levels. …

Dietary Tip: Make sure the coconut oil you buy is “virgin” and not partially hydrogenated—this is extremely important! Use it to flavor coffee, or try cooking with coconut oil in place of vegetable oils. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and can be treated like butter in recipes, however it has a high smoke point (around 350 degrees), making it ideal for stir-frying.

5. Eat Butter

Eat Butter
Keep it real: 
Avoid margarine and butter substitutes

Butter is good for you as long as it’s organic and from grass-fed cows. Butter has lots of fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin K, which is important for bone health because it enables calcium metabolism. In addition, it contains conjugated linoleic acid, which is a potent cancer fighter, aids in muscle building, and has been found to produce fat loss when it is eaten daily.

Butter also contains MCTs, and since they don’t enter the cholesterol cycle, butter won’t raise “bad” LDL cholesterol either. Saturated fat is benign as long as you avoid eating an abundance of high carbohydrate foods!Dietary Tip: Eat butter however you like, just make sure it’s from grass-fed cows. Avoid margarine and butter substitutes.

6. Eat Avocado, Quality Olive Oil & Nuts

Avocado, olive oil, and tree nuts have all been called “anti-obesity” foods by food scientists. They all provide omega-6 fats, which when eaten in balance with omega-3s, are very good for you.

There’s much confusion about omega-6 fats because the typical Western diet is dangerously high in them from vegetable oil. Processed vegetable oils are fats you want to avoid, but avocado, unrefined, virgin olive oil (or olives), and tree nuts aren’t processed and can improve body composition, while countering inflammation. Plus, if you eat any of these fats with vegetables, the fat bolsters absorption of vitamins and nutrients in veggies.

Dietary Tip: Add them to salads, or cooked vegetable dishes.

7. Avoid Vegetable Oils—Canola, Corn, Soy, Sunflower, etc.

Avoid Vegetable Oils
At first glance these oils are not so bad because they contain a high percentage of monounsaturated fats and omega-6s. This is partly why canola is being called “heart-healthy” by the mainstream establishment.

However, a closer look shows that these oils are highly processed—heated, washed, treated with the chemical hexane—and have a poor omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. These oils along with olive oil are easily destroyed by oxidation, which is damaging to the body. Avoid vegetable oils and restrict your intake of olive oil to a high-quality product that is minimally processed.

Dietary Tip: Use olive oil raw. Do not cook olive oil with high heat! This causes oxidation, which is very very bad for you!

Meat & Nuts Breakfast, Anyone?

While you are at it, give Poliquin’s meat and nuts breakfast a try, rotating your nut of choice every morning with a different meat:

When people ask me for the best single dietary tip for optimal leanness, energy and sustained mental focus, I invariably tell them to try the rotating meat and nuts breakfast. Clients ranging from NHL & NFL stars to corporate executives rave about the increased mental acuity and focused energy they derive from this food combination. The meat allows for a slow and steady rise in blood sugar. The nuts provide a great source of healthy smart fats that allows the blood sugar to remain stable for an extended period of time.

Here are five sample rotations of the meat and nuts breakfast – give them a try this week, and remember the key point is not to add anything to them!

Day 1
• 1-2 Buffalo meat patties
• 1 handful of macadamia nuts

Day 2
• 1 large venison steak
• 1 handful of cashew nuts

Day 3
• 1-2  Lean turkey burgers
• 1 handful of almonds

Day 4
• 2  lean ground beef patties
• 1 handful of brazil nuts

Day 5
• 2  chicken breasts
• 1 handful of hazelnuts

Read the rest of Charles Poliquin’s article “Why Fat Is GREAT For You: Seven Tips For Eating Fat So You Lose Fat” (originally published on June 12, 2013) and read the rest of “The Meat and Nut Breakfast” (originally published March 16, 2010).

Call Them Crazy…Crazy Healthy!

Our Year of No Sugar: One Family’s Grand Adventure

By Eve O. Schaub, Special to Everyday Health

Once upon a time, I was healthy; at least I thought I was.

Sure, I lacked enough energy to get me through the day, but with all the commercials on TV touting energy drinks for America’s tired masses, I always assumed I wasn’t the only one suffering. And sure, everyone in my family dreaded the coming cold and flu season; but again, I thought come January everyone develops some degree of germophobia.

At least, that’s what I thought until I heard some disturbing new information about the effects of sugar. According to several experts, sugar is the thing that is making so many Americans fat and sick. The more I thought about it the more this made sense to me — a lot of sense. One in seven Americans has metabolic syndrome. One in three Americans are obese. The rate of diabetes is skyrocketing and cardiovascular disease is America’s number one killer.

According to this theory, all of these maladies and more can be traced back to one large toxic presence in our diet… sugar.

A Bright Idea

I took all of this new found knowledge and formulated an idea. I wanted to see how hard it would be to have our family — me, my husband, and our two children (ages 6 and 11) — spend an entire year eating foods that contained no added sugar. We’d cut out anything with an added sweetener, be it table sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave or fruit juice. We also excluded anything made with fake sugar or sugar alcohols. Unless the sweetness was attached to its original source (e.g., a piece of fruit), we didn’t eat it.

Once we started looking we found sugar in the most amazing places: tortillas, sausages, chicken broth, salad dressing, cold cuts, crackers, mayonnaise, bacon, bread, and even baby food. Why add all of this sugar? To make these items more palatable, add shelf life, and make packaged food production ever cheaper.

Call me crazy, but avoiding added sugar for a year struck me as a grand adventure. I was curious as to what would happen. I wanted to know how hard it would be, what interesting things could happen, how my cooking and shopping would change. After continuing my research, I was convinced removing sugar would make us all healthier. What I didn’t expect was how not eating sugar would make me feel better in a very real and tangible way.

A Sugar-Free Year Later

Capture11It was subtle, but noticeable; the longer I went on eating without added sugar, the better and more energetic I felt. If I doubted the connection, something happened next which would prove it to me: my husband’s birthday.

During our year of no sugar, one of the rules was that, as a family, we could have one actual sugar-containing dessert per month; if it was your birthday, you got to choose the dessert. By the time September rolled around we noticed our palates starting to change, and slowly, we began enjoying our monthly “treat” less and less.

But when we ate the decadent multi-layered banana cream pie my husband had requested for his birthday celebration, I knew something new was happening. Not only did I not enjoy my slice of pie, I couldn’t even finish it. It tasted sickly sweet to my now sensitive palate; it actually made my teeth hurt. My head began to pound and my heart began to race; I felt awful.

It took a good hour lying on the couch holding my head before I began to recover. “Geez,” I thought, “has sugar always made me feel bad; but because it was everywhere, I just never noticed it before?”

After our year of no sugar ended, I went back and counted the absences my kids had in school and compared them to those of previous years. The difference was dramatic. My older daughter, Greta, went from missing 15 days the year before to missing only two.

Now that our year of no sugar is over, we’ll occasionally indulge, but the way we eat it is very different. We appreciate sugar in drastically smaller amounts, avoid it in everyday foods (that it shouldn’t be in, in the first place), and save dessert for truly special occasions. My body seems to be thanking me for it. I don’t worry about running out of energy. And when flu season comes around I somehow no longer feel the urge to go and hide with my children under the bed. But if we  do come down with something, our bodies are better equipped to fight it. We get sick less and get well faster. Much to my surprise, after our no sugar life, we all feel healthier and stronger. And that is nothing to sneeze at.

Eve O. Schaub is the author of Year of No Sugar: A Memoir. She holds a BA and a BFA from Cornell University, and a MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her personal essays have been featured many times on the Albany, New York, NPR station WAMC. You can join Schaub’s family and take your own Day of No Sugar Challenge on April 9, 2014.

Meat: As Bad As Cigarettes?

Um, Actually, Eating Meat Isn’t Even Remotely As Bad As Smoking

A recent study proclaiming that eating meat could be as dangerous as cigarettes sent carnivores—and the media—into a tizzy. But a closer look suggests the science is as bad as the sensational journalism.

A recent study suggests that eating meat is dangerous. But the science says otherwise.     Photo: Design Pics/Getty Images

Unless you’ve been on an extended spring break, on an extremely remote beach, you’ve no doubt caught wind of the recent headline that spread faster than the smell of good BBQ: Eating meat and cheese is as deadly as smoking. The idea was broadcast in numerous media outlets, from NPR to Scientific American to the L.A. Times. Vegans rejoiced at the vindication of tofu (according to the study, protein from plant sources was “non-harmful”). In the carnivore camp, meat eaters shook their collective fists, while rational, health-conscious folks who take neither side simply wound up confused, and—rightfully—worried. What’s the deal? Is a meat-and-cheese plate really as bad for you as a pack of Marlboro Reds?

The research in question has the insomnia-curing title, “Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population,” published in the March 2014 issue of Cell Metabolism. There were multiple pieces to the study, but I’m only looking at the human information here. This data focused on a bit of epidemiology, pulling information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANESIII). This is a long-running study in which participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about what they ate. The data was collected, then these people were tracked with regards to the occurrence of a wide variety of disease, including cancer.

In the Cell Metabolism report, the researchers claimed to have found a correlation between consuming animal protein from sources like meat and cheese, and increased cancer rates. This sounds quite serious, but one can find a number of alarming correlations that seem scary but beautifully illustrate how correlation should not be mistaken for causation. For example, one such report would have you believe there is a “clear” correlation between an increase in autism cases and… organic food sales.

The best that correlation can offer is a proposed mechanism, which may be investigated in rigorous settings like Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT’s). It’s not surprising that many media outlets irresponsibly jumped on this research and spun sensationalistic headlines—the media is pretty good at that. But more concerning to me, as a scientist and author, is that the researchers themselves presented this material as if it were gold-standard science. It. Is. Not.

Here’s the problem: Researchers too-often rely on tools like NHANESIII, which is just a survey. People are asked to recall things like: What/how much did you eat? How often/much did you exercise? The funny thing is that people are terrible at recalling information like this. People forget. Sometimes they even “lie.” NHANESIII is actually the result of tweaking two earlier iterations of the same study in which it was clear the study participants were vastly underreporting food intake. Here is a quote from a critique of the NHANES studies:

“Across the 39-year history of the NHANES, EI data on the majority of respondents (67.3% of women and 58.7% of men) were not physiologically plausible… The ability [of the study] to estimate population trends in caloric intake and generate empirically supported public policy relevant to diet-health relationships from U.S. nutritional surveillance is extremely limited.”

So, in my firm opinion, the very dataset that this study is based on is, at best, deeply flawed. It is certainly not rigorous enough to make a sweeping, outrageous statement like animal proteins are as hazardous as smoking.

Oh, and here’s another problem—a serious conflict of interest: Health researcher Zoe Harcombe recently conducted a great analysis of this same paper, revealing that several of the authors are involved in a plant-based protein company called L-Nutra. This might not seem like an important issue until one reads the paper and notes that the researchers go out of their way to say that plant-based protein is not a problem, but animal protein is. Hm.

I have my own biases in all this. Full disclosure: I’m a Paleo diet researcher, and it’s my position that animal protein is a vital part of the human diet. In my work, the science appears quite clear: Not only is meat intake not bad for you, it can, in fact, be quite healthy when managed correctly. Here is an example of an RCT that shows how the inclusion of red meat (along with some strength training) improved body composition and fitness, while also reducing inflammation. This study was conducted in a retirement-community setting, which means we were not relying on suspect food questionnaires. Researchers actually had great control over what food participants actually ate. This is the type of research that should make headlines, but “Old People Ate Meat, Lifted Weights, Got Jacked, and Reduced Inflammation” isn’t nearly as catchy as “Meat: As Bad As Cigarettes.”

I’ve worked with many individuals who have lost weight and cleared up chronic problems, ranging from autoimmunity to diabetes. I have worked with a local municipality that implemented a Paleo-type diet among its Police and Fire Departments. A two-year pilot study indicated that the Paleo-based diet helped employees dramatically reduce the likelihood of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke (and saved the city a potential $22 million in health-care costs). In the next few years we will see some gold-standard RCT’s comparing the Paleo diet with other popular nutritional approaches.

All that said, keep in mind that the vast majority of our health and nutrition stories these days tend to come from epidemiological research that is at best correlation, not causation. Add to that the knowledge that these epidemiological studies rely on sources like NHANESIII, and you begin to realize that the data is suspect long before the headlines come out. No wonder they’ve come up with a saying about how research now tends to fall into three categories: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.

Robb Wolf is the author of The Paleo Solution, and the founder of NorCal Strength and Condition. He lives in Reno, Nevada.

Sugar Dangers

Lecture by Dr. Richard Johnson – understanding what you’re putting into your body…

In case you think table sugar is safer than high fructose corn syrup, and juice is better that soda . .

the_sugar_fix_ppbk_cover

Educated Choices

Why Nutrition Is So Confusing

By GARY TAUBES for the New York Times

Nearly six weeks into the 2014 diet season, it’s a good bet that many of us who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight have already peaked. If clinical trials are any indication, we’ve lost much of the weight we can expect to lose. In a year or two we’ll be back within half a dozen pounds of where we are today.

The question is why. Is this a failure of willpower or of technique? Was our chosen dietary intervention — whether from the latest best-selling diet book or merely a concerted attempt to eat less and exercise more — doomed to failure? Considering that obesity and its related diseases — most notably, Type 2 diabetes — now cost the health care system more than $1 billion per day, it’s not hyperbolic to suggest that the health of the nation may depend on which is the correct answer.

Since the 1960s, nutrition science has been dominated by two conflicting observations. One is that we know how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. The other is that the rapidly increasing rates of obesity and diabetes suggest that something about the conventional thinking is simply wrong.

In 1960, fewer than 13 percent of Americans were obese, and diabetes had been diagnosed in 1 percent. Today, the percentage of obese Americans has almost tripled; the percentage of Americans with diabetes has increased sevenfold.

Meanwhile, the research literature on obesity has also ballooned. In 1960, fewer than 1,100 articles were published on obesity or diabetes in the indexed medical literature. Last year it was more than 44,000. In total, over 600,000 articles have been published purporting to convey some meaningful information on these conditions.

It would be nice to think that this deluge of research has brought clarity to the issue. The trend data argue otherwise. If we understand these disorders so well, why have we failed so miserably to prevent them? The conventional explanation is that this is the manifestation of an unfortunate reality: Type 2 diabetes is caused or exacerbated by obesity, and obesity is a complex, intractable disorder. The more we learn, the more we need to know.

Here’s another possibility: The 600,000 articles — along with several tens of thousands of diet books — are the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment. Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong.

The situation is understandable; it’s a learning experience in the limits of science. The protocol of science is the process of hypothesis and test. This three-word phrase, though, does not do it justice. The philosopher Karl Popper did when he described “the method of science as the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.”

In nutrition, the hypotheses are speculations about what foods or dietary patterns help or hinder our pursuit of a long and healthy life. The ingenious and severe attempts to refute the hypotheses are the experimental tests — the clinical trials and, to be specific, randomized controlled trials. Because the hypotheses are ultimately about what happens to us over decades, meaningful trials are prohibitively expensive and exceedingly difficult.  It means convincing thousands of people to change what they eat for years to decades. Eventually enough heart attacks, cancers and deaths have to happen among the subjects so it can be established whether the dietary intervention was beneficial or detrimental.

And before any of this can even be attempted, someone’s got to pay for it. Since no pharmaceutical company stands to benefit, prospective sources are limited, particularly when we insist the answers are already known. Without such trials, though, we’re only guessing whether we know the truth.

Back in the 1960s, when researchers first took seriously the idea that dietary fat caused heart disease, they acknowledged that such trials were necessary and studied the feasibility for years. Eventually the leadership at the National Institutes of Health concluded that the trials would be too expensive — perhaps a billion dollars — and might get the wrong answer anyway. They might botch the study and never know it. They certainly couldn’t afford to do two such studies, even though replication is a core principle of the scientific method. Since then, advice to restrict fat or avoid saturated fat has been based on suppositions about what would have happened had such trials been done, not on the studies themselves.

Nutritionists have adjusted to this reality by accepting a lower standard of evidence on what they’ll believe to be true. They do experiments with laboratory animals, for instance, following them for the better part of the animal’s lifetime — a year or two in rodents, say — and assume or at least hope that the results apply to humans. And maybe they do, but we can’t know for sure without doing the human experiments.

They do experiments on humans — the species of interest — for days or weeks or even a year or two and then assume that the results apply to decades. And maybe they do, but we can’t know for sure. That’s a hypothesis, and it must be tested.

And they do what are called observational studies, observing populations for decades, documenting what people eat and what illnesses beset them, and then assume that the associations they observe between diet and disease are indeed causal — that if people who eat copious vegetables, for instance, live longer than those who don’t, it’s the vegetables that cause the effect of a longer life. And maybe they do, but there’s no way to know without experimental trials to test that hypothesis.

The associations that emerge from these studies used to be known as “hypothesis-generating data,” based on the fact that an association tells us only that two things changed together in time, not that one caused the other. So associations generate hypotheses of causality that then have to be tested. But this hypothesis-generating caveat has been dropped over the years as researchers studying nutrition have decided that this is the best they can do.

One lesson of science, though, is that if the best you can do isn’t good enough to establish reliable knowledge, first acknowledge it — relentless honesty about what can and cannot be extrapolated from data is another core principle of science — and then do more, or do something else. As it is, we have a field of sort-of-science in which hypotheses are treated as facts because they’re too hard or expensive to test, and there are so many hypotheses that what journalists like to call “leading authorities” disagree with one another daily.

It’s an unacceptable situation. Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and yet the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.) Making meaningful inroads against obesity and diabetes on a population level requires that we know how to treat and prevent it on an individual level. We’re going to have to stop believing we know the answer, and challenge ourselves to come up with trials that do a better job of testing our beliefs.

Before I, for one, make another dietary resolution, I’d like to know that what I believe I know about a healthy diet is really so. Is that too much to ask?