The other day I was advising a new client on adopting a low carbohydrate diet when she became extremely resistant to the idea because, as she said, “Eating low carbohydrate causes your body to create ketones and go into ketosis which is very dangerous”.
Unfortunately, my client is being led astray by misinformation.
Yes, when you eat less than roughly 60 grams of carbohydrates per day your body goes into ketosis, which is the process by which the body shifts from using glucose (carbohydrates) as it’s main energy source to using ketones (fat) as it’s main energy source . By the way, fat is the body’s preferred energy source, and as Dr. Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, and Adam Campbell mention in their book, Men’s Health TNT Diet: The Explosive New Plan to Blast Fat, Build Muscle, and Get Healthy in 12 Weeks, “National Institute of Health scientist Richard Veech, MD, PhD, has found that ketones may help both your brain and heart run 25 percent more efficiently.”
Ketosis is a perfectly normal and healthy process, and ketones are not bad and are simply a by-product of fat being broken down for energy. In many instances people, and yes, even doctors (as I have seen firsthand), are scared off by low carbohydrate diets because they confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis, which is an abnormal condition seen in uncontrolled diabetes. Ketoacidosis is a serious condition. Ketosis is, as I already said, a perfectly normal and healthy process.
There are many benefits to being in ketosis including the fact that they prevent protein in your muscles from being broken down so that you are more likely to be burning fat rather than muscle, and they suppress your appetite.
So please, don’t be scared away from low carbohydrate dieting due to misinformation. You’ll be missing out on being a lean, mean and efficient fat burning machine.
Over the past 30 years, the general population has come to believe that saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for us. However, as I tell my clients, friends, family members, and acquaintances on a pretty regular basis, this is nothing more than a myth; a well told lie. The truth is that grains, starches, and sugar are responsible for obesity and the diseases of civilization.
So where did this lie about saturated fat and cholesterol come from? This video from Tom Naughton’s fantastic movie Fat Head, explains it perfectly. Enjoy! And if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend you add it to your Net Flix queue right now!
When advising clients and friends on proper eating and following a low carbohydrate diet, I am often asked what I eat on a day to day basis. With that in mind, I thought I would share with you what I eat on a typical day.
When I first get out of bed in the morning, I don’t like to eat a “real” breakfast. My stomach isn’t quite ready for it and since I have been sleeping (and consequently not eating for many hours) I like to get something easily digestible right into my body. So, I start off with a whey protein shake (I use Vital Whey) and I throw in either a raw egg or a tablespoon of coconut butter to add some essential fats.
Eggs. Due to the nature of my schedule those eggs are typically hard boiled. It normally takes 5 eggs to satisfy me.
Two cans of boneless and skinless sardines in olive oil, along with a salad of various greens and avocado.
Roughly 10 ounces of grass fed red meat (in the form of hamburgers) with a side of green veggies in butter (such as broccoli or string beans), or avocado, or spinach sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
I usually do not have snack between breakfast and lunch. Between having a protein shake when I wake up and then having breakfast, I find myself pretty satisfied. I usually have a snack between lunch and dinner. I may have a snack after dinner depending on whether or not I have dinner at a reasonable time.
Snacks may include real food such as: sardines, eggs, almond butter or almonds, coconut butter, etc. If I have a dairy craving I may eat whole fat Greek yogurt or whole fat cottage cheese. On the occasions where I desire fruit as a snack, it will generally be dark berries such as blueberries or strawberries.
Again, this is what I eat on typical day. Many of these items are interchangeable. I may have eggs for dinner or lunch. I may have red meat, poultry, or fish for breakfast. However, the dietary guidelines never change.
Some key factors you may have noticed:
- I consume a very low carbohydrate diet (a typical day for me would be between 10-20 grams of carbohydrate).
- I avoid all grains and starches.
- I consume a diet high in fat and adequate in protein. On average, this constitutes a 60/40 or 70/30 split.
- I eat a minimal amount of fruit (generally only when I have a “craving”).
- I eat a minimal amount of dairy (again, generally only when I have a “craving”. Although I am a sucker for cheese!).
Bottom line? I try to eat like a caveman!
I recently finished reading The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. I was absolutely blown away by this book. There were literally moments where what I was reading sent shivers down my spine. Ms. Keith has quite a way with words. Her writing is gripping, to say the least.
Dr. Mike Eades said it best: “Everyone should read this book, vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike. If you’re a radical feminist, you should read this book; if you’re a male chauvinist, you should read this book; if you have children, especially female children, you should read this book; if you are a young woman (or man) you should read this book; if you love animals, you should read this book; if you hate vegetarians, you should read this book; if you are contemplating the vegetarian way of life, you should definitely read this book; if you have a vegetarian friend or family member, you should this book and so should your friend. As MD (Dr. Mary Dan Eades) said after she read it, ‘everyone who eats should read this book.’”
In my humble opinion you should go buy this book right now. It’s one of the most important books you will ever read.
“It sucks being fat, you know.” That was Drew Carey’s response to why he finally made the lifestyle change necessary to shed a whopping 80 pounds in 7 months.
And how did he lose all this weight? “No carbs. I have cheated a couple times, but basically no carbs, not even a cracker. No bread at all. No pizza, nothing. No corn, no beans, no starches of any kind. Egg whites in the morning or like, Greek yogurt, cut some fruit.”
My one complaint here would be that he is only eating egg whites. Eat the whole egg. Fat is good for you and only exerts a negative health effect in the presence carbohydrates: “The deleterious effects of fat have been measured in the presence of high carbohydrate. A high fat diet in the presence of high carbohydrate is different than a high fat diet in the presence of low carbohydrate.” – Richard Feinman, PhD
And despite what you have come to believe saturated fat does not cause heart disease.
While a low carbohydrate diet certainly does not have to be “no carb” (technically a low carbohydrate diet would be under 60 grams of carbohydrates per day) Drew cut out the main culprits: grains and starches. He even recognized that he needed to minimize his intake of fruit. In addition, he stopped drinking soda and now only drinks water.
The greatest news of all: “I’m not diabetic anymore. No medication needed.” To be clear, there is no cure for diabetes. However, we know that slashing carbohydrate intake can essentially reverse Type-2 diabetes and cut the use of medications.
Drew also credits the enormous amount of cardio he is doing as key to his weight loss: “Lots of cardio. About 45 minutes of cardio, at least 45 minutes of cardio. I’ve been kind of lazy like lately, so I’m not doing it 6 days a week, but I will be for this next month.” This is where he is veering off course. As I have stated in a previous post, exercise will not make you thin. The loss/retention of body fat is hormonal, which is exactly why carbohydrate restriction works so well. Cardio does not help you lose weight. In fact, doing too much cardio (such as 6 days a week) can often hinder the loss of body fat through harmful hormonal changes and muscle wasting.
My advice to Drew? Stop doing the cardio and make sure you are doing your strength training. You need this to build muscle and it will increase your insulin sensitivity. Not to mention a myriad of other health benefits, such as: an increased metabolic rate, enhanced flexibility, improved blood pressure, increased bone density, and more!
Now that Spring is here (actually it has felt more like summer lately!) I have been reflecting on how I held up over the Fall/Winter of 2009/2010. Being that I am always on the go and average only 5-6 hours of sleep a night, my Fall and Winter usually consists of several colds and at least one that lingers for a couple of weeks. Outside of the fact that I run around like crazy and do not get much sleep, I take exceptional care of myself. I strength train 2-3 times a week, I eat a low carbohydrate/high protein & fat diet, and I supplement myself with whole food vitamins.
As I just mentioned, I eat a low carbohydrate diet. (less than 60 grams of carbohydrates per day). Up until the Fall of 2009 I was still eating some grains, albeit not a great deal of them. As I have mentioned in previous posts, grains contain antinutrients. Simply put, they interfere with our body’s ability to absorb nutrients and they are linked to a myriad of other health problems (this is a must read: Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword, by Loren Cordain). However, I still ate them because 1) I ate a minimal amount and 2) I liked eating them.
However, with how consistently I had been getting sick every Fall and Winter year in and year out, I started thinking about this more. What if even the small amount of grains I had been eating was enough to interfere with my body’s ability to absorb nutrients and was therefore the main culprit in my getting so sick? What if this was what was truly compromising my immune system, much more than my lack of sleep (I am NOT disregarding the importance of sleep)?
With all this in mind I made a change in the Fall of 2009. I removed ALL grains from my diet.
As I sit here reflecting on this past Fall and Winter, this is what stands out: I did not get sick even one time. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Not even a sniffle. OK, you get my point.
Some people might say this is nothing more than a coincidence, and I suppose that could be true. But knowing that grains do in fact interfere with our body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and that since I have cut them completely out of my diet I have not gotten sick AND I feel great, it’s hard for me to say that there is not a relationship.
Now, if I can only find a way to get more sleep…
The other day I was training a client who in training with me twice a week (and of course making the appropriate dietary changes) has seen some very nice declines in body fat and increases in lean muscle mass. While she was working out, she mentioned a friend who trains everyday, and wanted to know if she should be working out more as well.
The first question I asked her was: “Is your friend seeing results?” The answer: “No, and she doesn’t understand why.”
Because more does not equal better. Resistance training is a “controlled detriment”. When you resistance train you are in fact breaking down muscle. All the benefits of resistance training happen when you are resting between workouts, not during your workouts. Over-training simply leads to the continued breakdown of lean muscle tissue. In addition, over-training leads to the release of stress hormones such as Cortisol. We know that Cortisol is responsible for increased abdominal fat. This is all obviously counter-effective to building lean muscle, reducing body fat, and gaining strength.
We also know (as I stated in a previous post) that the reduction of body fat has nothing to do with exercise. It is hormonal: eating too many carbohydrates (sugar) leads to sudden increases in the production of insulin which in turn leads to body fat storage. You must change what you eat to see a reduction in body fat.
More does not equal better. When it comes to exercise and nutrition, you should always choose quality over quantity.
I recently came across another commercial that once again made me cringe. This time it was from Wal-Mart. Check out the commercial below.
This commercial is brilliant. Let’s poison ourselves and our children with this junk instead of going to the drive thru and poisoning ourselves with a different kind of junk because the junk you will buy at Wal-Mart is cheaper than the junk you will buy at the McDonald’s drive thru. I’m sold!
Of course, this commercial doesn’t take into account the amount of money we will spend on medical bills and dental bills due to the ill effects eating this food will have on our bodies. Throw those numbers into the mix and you will see that the real savings comes from eating REAL WHOLE FOODS.
You can purchase a dozen Large Brown Organic Eggs for $3.79. That means you can have 3 eggs for breakfast in the morning for 95 cents! Add in a serving of fruit (such as blueberries) or a couple of slices of breakfast meat (such as bacon or sausage) on the side and you have yourself a wholesome and nutritious breakfast for probably right around $2 or $3. Add in the savings in medical bills and you have yourself quite a deal!
Bottom line: If you want to have savings in your wallet and savings in your health always go with real whole foods, and take the trash that companies such as Wal-Mart are spewing out and put it where it belongs: IN THE TRASH.
I will be honest. I really did not want to write a blog on this topic, as it has been the theme of so many blogs the last few weeks. However, a certain event transpired that has prompted me to chime in.
My 12 year-old daughter recently had her yearly physical and her pediatrician stated that she was right on the borderline for potentially becoming overweight for her height and age. Keep in mind that the pediatrician is talking about her body weight, and not her body fat composition which is not something they test for (which is the criteria we should really be looking at).
The main recommendation her pediatrician gave was for my daughter to partake in more physical activity. Now, I want to start by saying that my daughter is not a child that sits around watching television all day. She is quite active. She plays sports, rides her bike, roller blades, and even strength trains with me on the weekends (and if she had her way she would be wrestling with me every weekend as well). My daughter’s name and the phrase “needs more physical activity” simply do not belong in the same sentence. Yet that is precisely what her pediatrician was recommending: more physical activity.
This topic was the focus of a recent Time Magazine article titled “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin”, by John Cloud. Although Mr. Cloud was off-the-mark on quite a few points in this article, he hit the nail right on the head with the main message in the article: Exercise has pretty much no affect on fat loss. The simple truth is that if you want to lose body fat you must change what you eat.
We all have friends that I am sure we could go as far as to deem “lazy” in terms of their physical activity and yet, they are thin. Our children have friends who do in fact sit in front of the television all day and yet, they are thin. The opposite is also true. A couple of years ago, there was a child on my daughter’s soccer team who played just as hard as she did. She was busting her butt, running up and down the field with sweat pouring down her face, going after the ball with all her might. Yet this girl was obese. I recall working at commercial gyms as a personal trainer, and seeing certain group exercise instructors teaching 6 classes a day. These instructors were almost as active in the class as the people taking the class. Essentially six hours of intense physical activity per day, several times a week, yet I would have easily deemed these instructors “overweight”.
Sadly, we live in a society where a majority of Americans (including doctors and fitness professionals) still think that the solution is more exercise. The cold hard truth is that despite this belief and despite the fact that Americans are exercising more than they ever have…Americans are also fatter than they have ever been.
Until we wake up and realize that the bottom line is that the solution is NOT more exercise but instead changing what we eat and sticking to those changes, the obesity epidemic in America will not be going away any time soon.
I am always amazed by how many people I talk to that do not eat breakfast on a regular basis.
Let’s take a look at the word “breakfast”. Breakfast is actually a blend of two separate words: “break” and “fast”. It is specifically referencing the fact that you are ending your fast from the previous night.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Why? Let’s look at an example:
The last thing you had to eat last night was at 9pm. You went to bed at 11pm. You woke up at 6am. You SKIPPED breakfast. You finally decide to eat something around 9am when you get into the office. You have just gone 12 hours without eating. Maybe you even go as far a not to eat until lunch time. Let’s say 12 noon. Now you have gone 15 hours without eating.
During this whole time, you are fasting. Fasting is without a doubt, a horrible way to try and lose body fat. If anything, you are leading your body toward muscle catabolism. In other words, you are burning muscle tissue for energy. If you do this on a regular basis you will in fact see a loss in lean muscle mass and subsequently a rise in your body fat percentage. In addition, you are depriving your body of the very important nutrients it needs to help propel you through your day.
The two most commons reasons I hear for skipping breakfast are: 1) I don’t have time and 2) I have trouble eating so soon after I wake up.
If you don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning, you need to prepare ahead of time. Get your breakfast ready the night before or purchase healthy food items that require no preparation the morning of. Examples:
- Hard boil 3 or 4 eggs then night before. Better yet, boil a dozen eggs so that you have several days worth. They can easily be stored in your refrigerator.
- Purchase cans of sardines in olive oil (my personal favorite is boneless and skinless sardines in olive oil).
- Purchases bags of almonds.
- Purchase cottage cheese (whole fat and sans the added fruit…you don’t need the extra sugar).
- Purchase a low sugar yogurt such as FAGE (whole fat and sans the added fruit…you don’t need the extra sugar).
If you have trouble eating so soon after you wake up (as I do), make yourself a “liquid breakfast”. I have found that this solves any problem I (or more aptly my stomach) have had with eating breakfast upon rising. Purchase yourself whey protein powder. One of my favorites is the Healthy ‘N Fit brand of whey protein because it is all natural with no artificial sweeteners (they use the Stevia herb instead). Make a whey protein shake and blend it with ice cold water. Add fat by blending in fish oil or flax seed oil. You could even use a natural nut butter such as almond or coconut butter. You now have a breakfast that is packed with the protein and fats you need to break the fast.
Bottom line: Take the time to prepare so that you can start your day off right and eat what really is the most important meal of the day.