Train to Win, Eat to Lose

A Health and Fitness Blog

Big Fat Lies

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!

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October 10, 2010 Posted by | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Personal Observations/Reflections | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Sucks Being Fat

“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!

July 30, 2010 Posted by | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Strength Training | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cholesterol Is Your Friend

Recently, I have been giving dietary advice to a friend who came to me with questions on how he could lose body fat.  During this time quite a few questions were asked, including: “What can I eat to help safely promote the manufacturing of testosterone?”  I absolutely love this question because the answer brings us back to the topic of America’s most demonized nutrient: Cholesterol!

Cholesterol is a precursor to testosterone (as well as all steroid hormones).  So the answer to my friend’s question is to eat food that has a higher cholesterol content.  This is further reason to NOT AVOID eating food that is high in cholesterol and fat. Yes, that means eat those eggs (yes, the yolk too)!

My friend’s question also got me to dig a little deeper and what I found (thanks to my friend Eugene Thong and his phenomenal blog Eugenization) was this study Surprise – Cholesterol May Actually Pose Benefits, Study Shows (this study came out two years ago so I am admittedly way behind in being aware of it): “At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that there was a significant association of dietary cholesterol and change in strength. In general, those with higher cholesterol intake also had the highest muscle strength gain.”  This makes perfect sense since testosterone is key to the repair of muscle tissue.

Let me reassure you that eating cholesterol DOES NOT increase blood cholesterol.  In fact, cholesterol is an essential nutrient.  If you want to learn more about cholesterol and all it’s benefits (and in process debunk all the myths you have come to hear about it) I highly recommend you visit the Cholesterol-And-Health website.

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Strength Training | , , , | Leave a comment

More Does Not Equal Better

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.”

The reason?

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.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Strength Training | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Lose Body Fat You Must Change What You Eat

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.



August 31, 2009 Posted by | Fat Loss | , , , , , | Leave a comment