Saturday, August 8, 2020

How Sugar can Sabotage Your Weight Loss Program


Many people notice that eating breakfast makes them hungrier throughout the day, and this is probably NOT their imagination!   In this case the culprit is likely what they eat.  Specifically, refined carbohydrates, including sugar, can drive hunger particularly if they are consumed with little fat or protein.

A recent study tested this hypothesis with 16 healthy young women between the ages of 18 and 30 who had a stable body weight for the last 3 months.  Anyone with diabetes or on medications that affect appetite was excluded along with people who were allergic to any part of the meals given as part of the study.

Participants fasted for a minimum of 8 hours prior to the study.  In the morning participants came to the laboratory and were given a standardized test meal consisting of passion fruit juice, one cup of coffee, French bread and 5 grams of margarine.   The two drinks had no sugar added and the participants were instructed to sweeten to their preferred taste.

The sugar container given to the participants was weighed both before and after its use by each person to know the amount of sugar each person added to their drinks.   After completing the entire meal participants did not eat or drink anything (except water) until lunchtime.

Lunch was served 3 hours after breakfast and consisted of pasta with tomato sauce, and participants were instructed to eat until they felt satisfied. 

Study Results

The participants were divided into two groups based on the amount of sugar they elected to add to their breakfast.   The high sugar group added about 25 grams of sugar to breakfast while the low sugar group only added 14 grams of sugar. 
Both groups were evaluated for their perception of hunger and satiety.     The high sugar group had significantly higher levels of hunger during the three hours after breakfast AND consumed significantly more pasta at lunch!

Take Home Message

Avoid high sugar breakfasts such as standard breakfast cereal, fruit juices (eat fruit don’t drink it!) and consume 15 – 20 grams of protein and a small amount of fat.   Also try to add higher fiber carb choices like berries instead of banana, adding spinach to an omelet, etc.      Examples include an omelet with spinach with berries or a shake with protein, greens, and small amount of MCT oil for fat.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

How Many Repetitions and Sets are Required to Get Results from Weight Training?

Many hours are spent in heated debate on this topic, but the truth is that the number of reps per set and number of sets per workout are secondary measures.       A close review of the scientific research shows that the weight of evidence does NOT support the idea that different numbers of repetitions have differential effects on muscular strength and endurance.       Furthermore, a review on this subject concluded that “all these studies strongly suggest that within a reasonable range of repetitions, approximately 3 to 20, there does not appear to be a specific number of repetitions that will elicit more favorable gains in muscular strength, power or hypertrophy.”

What does matter then?   It is ALL about reaching momentary muscular failure (meaning that you cannot complete another repetition of an exercise in good form.     If you do not reach muscular failure or come very close the reps and sets will not produce results.     Perfect form is part of this equation because perfect form means keeping tension in the targeted muscle/s throughout the entire repetition and not using momentum.     For example, allowing the weights being lifted to settle on the top of the weight stack means you are unloading the muscle – NOT what we want to do!     Throwing weight using momentum is another way you can deload the muscle.   The key is performing smooth, steady repetitions throughout the range of motion for an exercise with no deloading until you reach momentary muscular failure.   

For beginners one set to failure between 8 – 15 repetitions is plenty for each muscle group.   Over the longer haul repetitive sets may become necessary to make progress – but never sacrifice reaching muscular failure and perfect form to do extra sets!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Coronavirus Supplement Guide

Although there are no cures or guaranteed ways to prevent a person from becoming infected with Coronavirus other than preventing exposure through social distancing, hand-washing, and mask wearing there are nutritional supplements that can potentially help minimize symptoms.      As always it is critical to discuss any and all nutritional supplements you take with your physician and always contact your physician if you feel you are experiencing symptoms of Covid 19!

So what are these supplements?

Quercetin – is a plant chemical with strong anti-viral activity that is proven to prevent and mitigate all sorts of viral infections as well as being outstanding for allergies.    In the case of Covid it is particularly well-suited because it is a zinc “ionophore” which means it drives zinc into the cells which is what the infamous drug hydroxychloroquine does, but quercetin achieves with no side effects and no prescription.    

The best forms of quercetin include it being mixed with bromelain – a digestive enzyme that increases absorption.    Inexpensive and easy to find on Amazon or at Vitamin shoppe – suggested dosage is 1,000mg per day EVERY day until this thing is over – works way better if it is in your system PRIOR to exposure.   To understand more about Quercetin/Zinc and covid read here:

Do NOT take Quercetin if you are on blood thinners of any kind!!!

Zinc – if you are routinely eat meat, oysters or pumpkin seeds you probably get enough zinc.   It also makes sense to take a supplement with 15 – 30 mg of a high quality chelated form of zinc like zinc picolinate or zinc gluconate or “Optizinc” which is another chelated form of zinc.   Keep total zinc intake no higher than 50mg per day – too much causes its own set of issues and take with a meal!

Zinc lozenges – zinc lozenges are particularly effective in dealing with all respiratory viruses including Covid and you want to have them on hand and begin taking IMMEDIATELY when you have any symptoms but NOT before then.    Zinc lozenges are NOT something to take all the time - only when you have symptoms!  Best type are zinc acetate lozenges from Life Extension.     You want to ALWAYS have these lozenges available because they are ONLY effective when you start them at symptom onset!     Follow label directions.

Vitamin C – if you take a decent multi and regularly eat fruit and vegetables you get plenty of C for day to day.    However it may be smart to purchase several bottles of liposomal Vitamin C to have available to begin big doses at onset of any symptoms.  This form of C is the most bioavailable form you can get orally.    Start taking 2,000mg immediately and every two hours until you hit bowel tolerance.  Bowel Tolerance refers to the fact that when you take more than you can absorb in your gut your bowels get loose – nothing horrible.   It is KEY to keep taking it more and more till you hit this level and you will find if you are sick you will need to take a lot of it before hitting this point whereas if you are not sick you will hit bowel tolerance much earlier.   C is VERY powerful but ONLY if you get enough in you!

Vitamin D and K2 – if you are not checking your vitamin d level PLEASE start – you can get a test from your doc or order an at home one with finger stick or order your own lab test without a doctor.   Optimizing vitamin d levels is the MOST important thing you can do to prevent yourself from ending up in a hospital in the event you catch Covid and you need to do this NOW!  Taking mega-doses when sick does NOT work nearly as well as getting tested and supplementing up to optimal levels.     

For most people this will require a minimum of 5,000iu per day of Vitamin D3 (only form to take).     ALWAYS take Vitamin D WITH Vitamin K2 – a fat soluble form of K that is critical for optimal absorption and effectiveness of D and is important part of preventing Covid Issues!      20 minutes of direct sunlight during peak sun hours is all it takes for most Caucasians to optimize D levels in most of the US during the summer but do not get burned!    

D with K2 is very inexpensive and you start taking this immediately if you are not sure you have good D levels – particularly if you avoid the sun which is understandable because sun can cause damage if you get too much!   Read this article to give you a sense of how important D is for Covid and how high levels are directly correlated with good outcomes and how low levels with bad outcomes:  

Melatonin – melatonin is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory supplement that may help inhibit the cytokine storm that is what causes many of the serious complications in people that end up having big problems with Covid.   Children typically have very high melatonin levels (10 times higher than adults and 20 times higher than adults over 60) which may be one of the reasons they have way less issues with Covid.  Do NOT take melatonin anytime but directly before bed on a day to day basis – the strategy for using it during an active Covid infection is entirely different!!!  It is good to have it on hand in the event you have Covid symptoms: 

Dosage Upon COVID-19 Infection
 If you are self-quarantined at home, the following dosage applies. 
Melatonin COVID-19 Infection Dosage:  5 milligrams to 50 milligrams
The lower range is for individuals with mild or no symptoms.  The higher range is for older individuals or those with more severe symptoms. 
Those taking ACE inhibitors, or have cardiac conditions or hypertension need to consult your doctor before taking high doses of melatonin.  Note that melatonin may lower blood pressure and cause hypotension at higher dosages.  
The correct infection dose should ideally be divided into daytime and nighttime doses.

Daytime – 40% of total daily dose, divided into small equal portions to be taken every TWO HOURS.  As stated previously do not take melatonin during the day routinely.
Nighttime –  60% of total daily dose, divided into two portions taken 2-3 hours after dinner.  The final dose at night should be completed by 10 pm the latest.

If one is diabetic, or have insulin resistance, DO NOT TAKE MELATONIN before 3 pm.  Melatonin is able to suppress insulin. 
Please note that these higher dosages are only applicable during infections only.  

To learn more about melatonin and Covid check this out:

Aleve/Naproxen Sodium – if you need to take something for pain/inflammation and you think you may have Covid the safest choice is probably Aleve.    Aleve is a anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen/Motrin.    Aleve is a MUCH better choice if you have Covid and probably better than Tylenol which is a pain killer and NOT an anti-inflammatory.   There is evidence that Aleve (and not ibuprofen or Tylenol) can inhibit issues with clotting that clinicians are seeing with Covid and that it may have direct anti-viral effects against Covid.  So like Vitamin C and Zinc Lozenges would recommend you have a bottle on hand in case you need it!   Do NOT take this for prevention – no evidence it will help and this can cause issues if you take it all the time.   Also do NOT take it at all if on any kind of blood thinning medication!

To learn more about Aleve/Naproxen and Covid 19 see this: 

So in summary:

Quercetin and take all the time

Vitamin D and K – ideally get D levels checked and take necessary amount to get you into optimal range – see article link on D and K above.

Zinc – make sure you get enough on day to day basis – take 15 – 40mg per day in supplement form either from multiple or zinc supplement

Zinc lozenges – only to use when you have symptoms but begin IMMEDIATELY

Lipsomal Vitamin C – have several bottles on hand if you start feeling symptoms immediately ramp up dosage as described in Vitamin C section above.

Aleve – have on hand for pain or fever from Covid

Melatonin – to take in higher doses ONLY if you have symptoms

While these supplements may help and there is sound logic behind using them - they do not replace social distancing, mask wearing, proper nutrition, exercise and sleep – no supplement can replace these!   As always contact your physician immediately if you feel you have symptoms of Covid 19.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Many Benefits of Berberine

Berberine is a powerful plant chemical with proven antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, and immune enhancing properties.    Herbs containing berberine have a long history of effective use and there is considerable science backing these uses.

It is also extremely helpful for treatment of seasonal allergies traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning, and as an oral hypoglycemic for Type 2 diabetes.

As Per Dr. Michael Murray Berberine has been show to:

  • Produce results in clinical trials in improving Type 2 diabetes on par or better than conventional drugs including metformin.
  • Improve blood lipid levels better than statins.
  • Lower blood pressure in many subjects as well as any class of anti-hypertensive medication.
  • Improve liver function and promote anti-obesity effects.
  • Exert significant beneficial effects on digestive health and the microbiome.
  • Produce very encouraging experimental data in a wide range of modern health issues including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and others.
  • Reduce Prostate Inflammation and potentially prevent/slow prostate cancer
How does Berberine work?
Berberine activates adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK).  AMPK is sometimes referred to as a "metabolic master switch" because it plays an important role in regulating metabolism.

AMPK causes a cascade of effects within cells involved with maintaining energy homeostasis.  AMPK helps shift energy towards cellular repair and maintenance.   It has many of the same effects as increasing exercise while at the same time restricting caloric intake.   It is often referred to as an exercise and fasting mimic in that through activation of AMPK berberine causes similar effects and benefits to exercise!    When combined with exercise and intermittent fasting these effects are magnified!

Other benefits of berberine include:
  • Promoting insulin, leptin, and adiponectin function for a healthy metabolism*
  • Supporting healthy blood sugar levels already in the normal range*
  • Promoting healthy insulin sensitivity*
  • Promoting healthy gut microflora*
  • Supporting healthy lipid metabolism*
  • Stimulating the release of nitric oxide for healthy blood flow*

Berberine Helps Ease Anxiety and Depression
Another benefit of AMPK is that it protects neurons and increases key neurotransmitters which improves brain function and psychological well-being.  So, it should not be surprising that several studies have shown that berberine is very useful for anxiety and depression.

Berberine and Cancer Prevention
Berberine slows cancer growth and causes cancer cell death through a variety of mechanisms: tumor cell apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, inhibits blood vessel growth to tumors, inhibition of tumor cellular invasion and metastases (spread), etc.
One of the main anti-cancer targets that is inhibited by berberine is NF-kappa B. NF-kappa B is one of the most important proteins in our cells, acting as a key switch in the development and progression of inflammation and cancer.
·       Cancer (and precancerous cells) often have a permanently activated NF-kappa B, which keeps the cells proliferating and prevents them from dying (apoptosis.)
·       Chronic inflammation can also be a result of activated NF-kappa B, and we know that chronic inflammation can lead to cancer growth
·       Additionally, berberine sensitizes cancer cells to the effects of radiation but NOT of normal cells. So berberine may make radiation therapy more effective. 

Berberine also inhibits the tendency of cancer cells to become drug resistant over time by inhibiting the cellular membrane proteins that pump drugs out of the cell. When berberine is taken with numerous chemotherapy drugs, studies have shown that they work synergistically to fight cancer.
Contraindications for Berberine
May cause a prolonged QT (a variable in cardiac electrical conduction) in patients with underlying heart disease

Drug Interactions
While berberine is quite safe and well-tolerated, it may be contraindicated if you’re taking medications.  For example, berberine may hinder absorption of tetracycline and other similar antibiotics, rendering them ineffective. Also, because berberine significantly inhibits CYP3A enzymes — enzymes needed to metabolize most drugs — it can lower the clearance of medications, which in turn can augment their effect. This can lead to overdose, the risks of which will vary depending on the drug in question.

Berberine increases the effects of drugs that lower blood sugar so it is critical that you not mix berberine with these drugs unless under the supervision of a physician.
IT is important to note that berberine produces all the benefits of metformin with much lower risks!

Sources of Berberine
Berberine is available as an isolated supplement OR through certain herbs such as goldenseal or Phellodendron.    Nexrutine is a patented Phellodendron Extract with high levels of berberine that is particularly effective at reducing joint pain, improving mood, and reducing prostate inflammation and likely prostate cancer risk.   Phellodendron has a long history of being used to reduce prostate inflammation.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Honey is an amazing substance – especially when you consider how it is made by bees. It is a complex mixture of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids.  Honey has many health benefits when used in moderation (assuming you're healthy).

Honey Production Process

It takes about over 50,000 bees traveling up to 50,000 miles and visiting up to 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey!  Bees stores the nectar in their extra stomach where it mixes with enzymes, and then the bees pass the nectar  to another bee's mouth. 

This process is repeated until the nectar becomes digested and is then deposited into a honeycomb where it becomes honey after the bees fan it with their wings to evaporate some of the liquid it contains.   The bees then seal the honey comb with secretions from their abdomen.   In this way honey can be stored almost indefinitely as it is sealed away from air and water.

Honey is infused with many chemicals from the different flowers bees visit which accounts for the extremely wide variation in color and taste of different honeys collected in different regions.

Health Benefits of Honey

Honey is excellent cough medicine, and research has proven that honey works as well as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over the counter cough medications.

Honey can treat wounds and was commonly used to prevent and treat wound infections until the advent of antibiotics.   Today it is being used again more and more as research shows it can be an extremely potent and safe way to treat serious skin infections.    One specific type of honey – Manuka Honey – is specifically used for creating wound and burn dressings.

Manuka honey is made from the flowers of the Manuka bush, and research have shown that Manuka honey is effective in combatting more than 200 clinical strains of bacteria, including anti-biotic resistance strains such as:

◦ MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

◦ MSSA (methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus)

◦ VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci)

Honey releases hydrogen peroxide through an enzymatic process, which explains its general antiseptic qualities, but Manuka honey contains and unknown unique factor that makes it far superior to other types of honey when it comes to killing off bacteria.

Even so, research shows that any type of unprocessed honey helps wounds and ulcers heal.

Honey Is Great for Your Scalp: Honey diluted with a bit of warm water can significantly improve seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff and itching.

Honey is a Great Energy Booster: Honey is a great energy booster before a workout, and this is particularly true for athletes.

Honey Can Safely Dramatically Reduce Allergy Symptoms: Local honey, which contains a wide variety of pollen from local plants, introduces a small amount of allergen into your system. This can act like an allergy shot and gradually condition your immune system to stop reacting to allergens.  Dosage is a teaspoon-full of locally produced honey per day, starting a few months PRIOR to the pollen season, to allow your system to build up immunity.

One study on local honey and allergy showed that, during birch pollen season, compared to the control group, the patients using birch pollen honey experienced:

◦ 60 percent reduction in symptoms

◦ Twice as many asymptomatic days

◦ 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms

◦ 50 percent decrease in usage of antihistamines

Honey can Combat Herpes

Honey helps fight herpes sores by:

• Drawing fluid away from the sores

• Suppresses microorganism growth

Honey may help fight cancer by limiting certain cancer cell proliferation, inducing cancer cell death and inhibiting tumor growth. It's been shown to lower the risk for cancer of the skin, cervix, colon, prostate and breast, among others.

Honey has been shown to have anxiety reducing, anti-depressant, anti-convulsant and anti-pain properties.

Using High Quality Honey is Important!

The antibacterial activity in some honey is 100 times more potent than in others, while processed refined honey will lack many of these beneficial properties altogether. Most honey found in your grocery store is probably highly processed.

The best honey is unprocessed, and a great source is locally produced raw honey purchased directly from a beekeeper, farmers markets, co-ops, and natural stores like Trader Joe's. When choosing honey, be sure it is raw, unfiltered, and 100% pure, from a trusted source.

Honey Should Be Consumed in Moderation

Honey is high in fructose. Each teaspoon of honey has nearly four grams of fructose, which means it can be inappropriate for anyone with diabetes and too much can make pre-existing insulin resistance worse.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Squats and Anatomical Variation Among Individuals

Squatting is one of the fundamental movement patterns everyone should train, but it is very important to understand and consider the effect that individual variations in limb length and anatomical variances can have on exactly how each person can and should squat.

Everyone cannot and should not squat the same way!  Many trainers and individuals try to squat in “perfect” form with feet flat, no heel lift, feet pointing forward, with back upright and straight with butt to the grass but this is not only not possible for some people – it can actually get them hurt!

One of the biggest factors determining how an individual can squat is the relative length of their femur (upper leg bone) relative to their lower leg and upper body length.       In general, the longer the femur and the longer the torso the greater the person MUST lean their upper body forward in order to get thighs parallel to floor much less going below parallel.     This puts a TON of stress on the low back and in extreme examples trying to get to parallel is a BIG MISTAKE – swap for another exercise like a lunge or step up – nobody wins when you get hurt exercising!

To gain a really strong understanding of these concepts check out this fantastic article on this subject by Bret Contreras that includes video links to a short, but powerful video presentation on this subject using a stick model:  .     Once you see it you will never try to force someone into a fixed squat pattern again without really thinking it through.

In addition to limb length differences there can be dramatic differences in the shape of the acetabulum (the hip socket), the head of the femur (ball of femur) and femoral neck angle.   The end result can mean very different squatting mechanics are required.     Here is a great article showing how these differences manifest themselves in squatting:

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

There are many different types of fasts, but the most popular and practical is called intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting gives your body more time to effectively digest what you are eating and eliminate waste. 

The most popular way to do intermittent fasting is to restrict your daily food intake to a specific window of time - typically a six to eight-hour time-frame each day.

For example, if you skip breakfast and make lunch the first meal of your day, you might restrict your food intake to the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. If you are a breakfast lover, your window could be between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  The best results are obtained by having an early feeding window to match the bodies circadian rhythm.   Food intake is a major part of setting that rhythm along with morning bright light exposure and limiting light for 2 - 3 hours before bed.

If you choose a later feeding window make sure you stop eating or drinking anything with calories at least three hours before bedtime.   This ensures that you get a better growth hormone release during sleep and avoid heartburn.   When you eat three or more meals a day, you rarely, if ever, empty your glycogen stores (storage form of glucose – mostly in your liver), mainly because it takes about eight to 12 hours to burn the sugar stored in your body as glycogen.

By fasting about 16 to 18 hours a day, you give your body enough time to drain your glycogen stores and shift into fat-burning mode. This pushes your body to use fat as a fuel.  Because fat is a slow-burning fuel, you will not only have a more balanced energy supply, but you will also avoid the typical sugar "highs" and "lows" that come with typical diets.

While you will undoubtedly feel hungry on occasion, that is perfectly normal. Once your body adjusts, you may be surprised to discover how much less food you will consume to feel completely satisfied. In many cases your food cravings literally disappear once you have regained your ability to burn fat for fuel.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting provides a number of health benefits including:
  • Forces the body to become efficient at burning fat as the primary fuel which helps eliminate sugar cravings
  • Increases growth hormone to help build muscle and promote overall health and wellness
  • Enhances brain health and helps prevent neurological disorders like Alzheimer's
  • Reduces oxidative stress and fights aging and diseases like cancer
  • Lowers triglycerides and reduces inflammation
  • Dramatically boosts brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons.
  • Dramatically increases the process of Autophagy

Benefits of Autophagy

Autophagy means “self-eating” and refers to processes that your body uses to clean out various debris and detoxify while also recycling damaged cell components.   It is quite literally like your body’s recycling program.   It improves metabolic efficiency, gets rid of faulty parts, and stops cancerous growths.   It also helps to dramatically decrease inflammation throughout the body.

During the bio-energetic challenge of exercising or fasting, autophagy is increased.   This stimulates stem-cells including muscle stem cells which can help prevent sarcopenia (muscle loss with aging).     So, intermittent fasting can help maintain the regenerative capacity of muscle stem cells.

There are three ways to boost autophagy:   exercise, fasting, and nutritional ketosis. 

Difference between intermittent fasting and chronic low calorie intake (aka dieting!)

There is a huge difference in what happens when we intermittent fast compared to eating low calorie all the time.       When we keep our daily calories low for weeks or months at a time our body compensates by slowing our metabolic rate aka our daily calorie burn.    In addition you end up losing lean mass (muscle) which is exactly what we you want to avoid as you get older!     You also end up feeling deprived, fatigued, and it is easy to not fulfill all your nutrient needs.     

Intermittent fasting does NOT reduce metabolic rate or result in loss of lean mass because of the cyclical nature of the practice.   Since calories are not chronically reduced the body does not slow down.     You can use this method for weight loss but it is easy to maintain your weight by simply eating enough during your eating window each day.

How to get started with Intermittent Fasting

There is no need to jump right into a 16 - 18 daily fast.   Start by not eating in an eight hour window then progress slowly to 10 hours then 12 and eventually 16-18 hours.      A good plan is doing a week at 8 - 10 hours of fasting then progress to 10 - 12 hours the following week then 12 - 14 hours the third week and finally 16 - 18 hours in the fourth week.     This is very easy and not a big shock for most people.

The Importance of Proper Food Choices during Intermittent Fasting

During intermittent fasting, your food choices are very important. Since you'll be eating less, it's vitally important that you get proper nutrition from your food. Healthy fats are essential because intermittent fasting pushes your body to switch over to fat-burning. Particularly if you begin to feel tired and sluggish, it may be a sign that you need to increase the amount of healthy fat in your diet.

Cutting net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) is equally important. Focus on:
  • High quality fat intake in the form of avocados, coconut oil, organic grass-fed butter, organic egg yolks and nuts.
  • Moderate amounts of high-quality protein from organically raised, grass-fed or pastured animals, which translates to no more than 40 to 80 grams of protein per day
  • High amounts of fresh, low-net-carb vegetables, ideally organic

Contraindications for Fasting

Although most people can safely benefit from intermittent fasting, it's important to take caution if you have certain health challenges. Do NOT use fasting unless approved by your physician if any of the following are true:

  • You are underweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 or less
  • You are malnourished
  • Children should NOT fast! They need nutrients for continued growth; if your child is obese, consider cutting him or her back on refined grains and sugar to promote weight loss
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should NOT fast because a consistent flow of nutrients must be shared continually with the baby to ensure its well-being
  • If you take medications that should be taken with food you will need to be very cautious about fasting and consult with your physician first.   This is especially true for diabetics and those with gout.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Consequences of Too Little Sun Exposure

We are constantly reminded that sun exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancer.     However, there is WAY more to this story and the details matter!    First of all, many studies show that the deadliest form of skin cancer – Melanoma – is not associated with cumulative sun exposure.    In addition, skin cancer risk is mostly about avoiding sun burn, and everyone agrees this is an important goal.

Another important consideration is Vitamin D production – optimizing Vitamin D levels is incredibly important for disease prevention and the best way to do this is with safe, sensible sun exposure.    See this blogpost for information on how to optimize your sun exposure based on your genetics and where you live:

Negative implications of lack of sun exposure:

Increased dementia risk - People who completely avoid sun exposure have almost a 40% greater risk for dementia as they age.   

Increase Breast Cancer Risk – Woman who avoid sun exposure have a much greater risk of developing breast cancer.    In an analysis of women in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Study, researchers found that the protective effects of sun-exposure on breast cancer was simply enormous. The risk reductions were highest for women who lived in United States regions of high solar radiation, with RRs ranging from 0.35-0.75. That means, sun-exposure reduced the risk of breast cancer by three-fold; for every 100 breast cancers in women practicing sun avoidance, the sun-loving women only had about 35 cancers, an enormous reduction.

Increased Bone Fracture Risk – Cumulative sun exposure decreases risk of breaking a hip.    Fractures are significantly lower in those with high lifetime sun exposure.   

Increased Risk of Multiple Sclerosis – Many studies show that both lifetime sun exposure and current sun exposure reduces the risk of contracting Multiple Sclerosis.

Increased of Myopia (near sightedness) – according to studies, children who get a lot of sun exposure have a much-reduced risk of developing myopia.

Increase Mortality Risk – A Study that followed 29,000 Swedish women for up to 20 years showed that sun avoiders died much younger than sun lovers, and that the effect of sun avoidance on mortality was equivalent to the risks created through smoking!

CAUTIONS – As stated above getting sun-burned is a very bad idea for many reasons.      Like most things in life it is all about the right dose which is individual based on your skin type,  where you live and your age  - sunburns are particularly bad for children and children's skin is much more sensitive to sun.   Using clothing made to block sun exposure including hats is particularly important for children who will be in the sun for a long period of time!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Can Cold Showers Increase Fat Burning and Improve Exercise Performance?

The short answer is YES!   Exposure to cold is unpleasant, but used properly, cold exposure is an extremely potent tool for improving health, exercise capacity, and fat burning.

Cold causes an increase in metabolic rate to produce heat to try and counteract the effects of cold resulting in increased calorie/fat burning. However, exposure to cold has a far deeper biological and hormonal impact on the body.

Cold Therapy (CT) is proven to increase adiponectin levels. Adiponectin is a hormone that stimulates fatty acid oxidation in muscle cells by activating AMP-activated protein kinase. Or in simple terms – cold increases adiponectin, adiponectin burns fat.

CT also lowers blood sugar levels by burning glucose as heat, and increases glucose uptake into muscle helping speed up recovery times. Clearance of excess blood glucose into muscle helps prevent blood sugar being converted into fat by the liver. Meaning a cold shower after a high carb meal might prevent a lot of the negatives from high sugar intake!

CT also activates conversion of regular body fat (known as white adipose tissue or WAT) into brown adipose tissue (BAT – aka Brown Fat). BAT is very different than typical fat in that it is dense in energy producing mitochondria (hence its brownish color) and utilizes body fat (typically from the belly and back) as its fuel source.

Cold and Norepinepherine

Norepinepherine (NE for short) is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is one of the primary initiators of fat burning.  NE is the key initiator of the Sympathetic Nervous System’s (SNS) Flight or Fight Response.

The Flight or Fight Response is something we have all experienced anytime we are really scared such as almost getting into a serious car accident. If you recall an experience like that you will remember that you are often shaking after the danger has passed.

Shaking occurs because when you perceive a threat the brain pushes out high levels of NE. High levels of NE stimulate a cascade of effects including:

Increased heart rate

Increased oxygen consumption

Increased circulation

Shut-down of digestive tract while pushing more blood to muscles for action

Increased pupil dilation

Increased mental focus

Reduced perceived exertion, pain, and inflammation.

Release of fatty acids and glucose from storage to fuel high levels of muscular activity.

High levels of NE also stimulate the adrenal glands to secrete epinephrine (EP).   EP is also known as adrenaline.   NE and EP are chemically almost identical with NE being a neurotransmitter and EP being a hormonal version.     

This strong SNS response prepares you for action!

Even brief exposure to extreme cold (20 seconds at 40°F, 4.4°C) causes a 200-300% boost in norepinephrine that lasts for an hour. As stated above increased NE stimulate release of EP as well. You experience a noticeable boost in vigilance, focus, attention, and mood, along with improved oxygen delivery, blood circulation, antioxidant function, mitochondrial biogenesis, and reduced perceived exertion, pain, and inflammation.

Cold and Sleep

Although cold exposure initially causes a strong sympathetic nervous response (like what occurs during any high intensity exercise) later the body re-balances and there is an increase in your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) response as a reaction to this stimulus.

Your PNS is basically your rest/sleep/repair mode.   So the increased PNS response to cold exposure after the acute SNS response helps with sleep quality.    
Takeaway – Cold Showers can be an effective tool to boost exercise performance and fat burning. for those seeking lower body fat levels. Do 5-10 minute sessions in the morning, dry off and then warm-up and exercise – you will feel rocket charged, have a better workout and burn more fat!

To learn more about all the positive effects of using cold exposure for positive health and fitness benefits listen to this great podcast on the subject: