Saturday, January 28, 2023

Solving the Weight Loss Puzzle - Part 2


If you have not seen part 1 take a moment to review it.  So what is the key to weight loss anyway?   Although there is a lot of press out there stating that “Calories do not count” and “just focus on eating healthy” the fact is that regulation of bodyweight and bodyfat (two different things!) are primarily controlled by the balance of energy you take in from food and beverages (calories) and the energy you use to maintain all your cells and fuel all movement.    So why are people (including some very bright researchers as well) saying that calories don’t count?

First because a lot of research that is quoted was done WITHOUT controlling calories taken in and using participant recall to estimate calories taken in.  Here is the problem with this – we are lousy at estimating calories taken in.   In fact even trained dieticians frequently underestimate their calorie intake by 40%!  Imagine running a business and underestimating your bills by 40%!  In literally every case when food intake is precisely controlled or measured through a process using “doubly labeled water” (which can be used to measure food intake with 100% accuracy without having to measure and provide food) people do in fact lose weight based on calories in and calories out!
Second because there is confusion about a process that is built into every human being called “Metabolic Adaptation”.    Simply put your body adjusts to any prolonged reduction in calorie intake (regardless of the type of diet!) by reducing resting metabolic rate.    In addition if the reduction in calorie intake is really large your level of spontaneous physical movement will be reduced.  This process is based on hundreds of thousands of years of humans living in a world where adequate food intake was NOT guaranteed and in fact people frequently were forced to not eat for prolonged periods of time.  So the ability to reduce the body’s need for energy was a fundamental survival mechanism encoded in all our genes!
For example if you take a group of people of about the same height, weight, age, sex and activity level who require 2,000 calories per day to maintain their current bodyweight and drop their calorie intake to say 1,500 calories per day all of them will lose weight/fat initially.    However within a 2 – 3 month span all weight/fat loss will cease even if they continue to eat exactly 1,500 calories per day and maintain the same physical movement profile because as you lose weight/fat the body ALWAYS responds by lowering resting metabolic rate.    So unless you INCREASE physical activity ALL DIETS become less effective over time regardless of how “healthy” they are!

Stay tuned for part 3 and learn the difference between weight loss and fat loss!

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Solving the Weight Loss Puzzle - Part 1 of 4


Have you tried to lose weight and failed? If so, you are not alone. 95% of the people who try to lose weight fail to reach their goal, and even less are actually able to maintain their weight loss once they achieve their goal. Obesity and the associated disease diabetes are increasing exponentially in the America despite the many published health warnings about the health risks associated with being overweight.

Why are people unable to lose weight? People are hopelessly confused about the factors controlling bodyweight regulation. This is not surprising when you understand that every single program, book, and guideline developed by various diet “experts”, including our own government, lacks crucial information, contains misinformation, or contains myths. The list of experts and programs seems endless: The Keto Diet, The Paleo Diet, The Carnivore Diet, Dr. Atkins, Dr. Andrew Weil, The Pritikin Diet, Sugar Busters, Protein Power, Dr. Dean Ornish, and all the rest. To make matters worse much of the “information” from different experts seems to be completely contradictory.
Take this short True/False quiz to see how much you really understand about controlling your weight and bodyfat levels.
Eating a low fat diet is the key to losing weight
Eating a low carbohydrate diet is the key to losing weight
Most obese people have a slow metabolism
Obesity is a genetic disorder
Some people have a slow metabolism and some people have a fast metabolism
Exercise is not really effective for weight loss
You can eat all you want and lose weight if you do not eat carbohydrates
Low carbohydrate diets are unhealthy
If you eat foods in the right combinations you will lose weight
The key to weight loss is eating healthy not counting calories
Americans are eating more fat than ever before
Americans are eating less fat than ever before

Sound familiar? It should. All these statements have been made by various “experts”. Unfortunately, all but the last one is FALSE. If you want to control bodyweight you have to understand ALL the factors that govern bodyweight regulation and how they apply specifically to you. Stay tuned for part 2 of this article next week to learn more!

Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Dangers of Trans Fats and Many Vegetable Oils

People tend to be very black and white regarding how they view fat intake – from fat is great to fat is the cause of all disease.    Of course, neither position is correct.  The types of fat you consume and the ratios of these fats along with other constituents of your diet determine how healthy or unhealthy fat intake is!

Having said there is one type of fat is clearly terrible for your health:  partially hydrogenated fat aka “trans fats”.    In fact there are two types of trans fats – naturally occurring and man-made and you guessed it – the man-made trans fats are the problem! You need to avoid them like the plague.    These man-made fats were created to improve shelf-life of products rather than using saturated fats which are also shelf-stable.

Almost all pre-packaged foods contain trans fats including margarine and spreads, store bought cookies, cake and pie crusts; frozen pizza; canned biscuits and rolls; crackers and potato chips and fried foods.

Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol and directly increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.  

Linoleic Acid

Another fat that is the cause of much disease is the excessive consumption of Linoleic Acid.    Linoleic acid is an Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and is required to produce various hormones and essential chemicals in our bodies.   The problem is that we are eating a whole lot more of these fats than our bodies were designed to handle.    When you consume too much – which the vast majority of Americans do - its is broken down into toxic metabolites such as aldehydes and acrolein resulting in chronic inflammation.  

Excessive linoleic acid acts as a biological poison and is cytotoxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic and causes fat cells to store more fat!

Where does Linoleic Acid come from in our diet?

Within the last 150 years human consumption of vegetable oils/fats has sky-rocketed – take a look at most mayonnaise, salad dressing, and snack foods and you will almost always see soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, or other nut or vegetable oil.    With few exceptions these fat sources are chock full of linoleic acid.   The consumption of vegetable oils in the US has increased from less than 2 grams per day in 1860 to 80 grams per day as of 2010.  In 1900, 99% of added fats where from animal fats (mostly saturated fat).    In 2005, 85% of added fats were from vegetable oils.   

There is a clear and strong correlation between common health conditions and vegetable oil intake – there is NO correlation between naturally occurring animal based saturated fats and disease.   This is not to say that some people do not experience increased levels of cholesterol from saturated fat intake but that is not the norm!

What is the Answer?

Avoiding trans fats and excessive linoleic acid is pretty simple:

1.    Avoid processed shelf-stable foods whenever possible – they are almost always full of trans fats and/or high levels of vegetable oils packed with linoleic acid.

2.    Choose whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, meats, fish, whole nuts, poultry and eggs.

3.    Avoid stick margarine and vegetable shortening.

4.    Avoid fried foods – choose foods that are baked, steamed, broiled or grilled.

5.     When you do choose packaged foods read the label and avoid foods with ingredients including “partially hydrogenated”; “trans fatty acids”; canola oil, corn oil, soybean oils and other vegetable and seed oils.

6.    Make your own salad dressings with organic extra virgin olive oil packaged in small glass bottles what has a harvest date listed within the last 18 months or less!  Olive oil can be very healthy but it is fragile and goes rancid very easily so pay attention to these tips to get benefits from olive oil.

7.     For mayonnaise choose mayo made with avocado oil which is shelf-stable but not full of trans fats!

8.     Use butter or extra virgin coconut fat/oil for high heat cooking.

9.     For quick stir frying and sautéing use a high quality Olive Oil.    Lastly, remember that ALL fats are high in calories so watch your fat intake!

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Heart Rate Variability - Key to Optimizing Recovery


We all know that exercise is key to health and fitness, but it is easy to lose sight of the fact that exercise is a stimulus and stressor and that progress occurs during recovery from exercise!

There are many factors which affect our ability to recover from and improve from exercise including adequate sleep, breathing patterns, hydration, nutrition, and mental ability to relax to name a few.

Measuring your Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is an accurate and easy way to check your recovery status.  HRV refers to the fact that the time between each heartbeat continuously changes!   The picture above shows the change in time between each beat of the heart on an electrocardiogram.  Even though the time between each heart beat is always varying your heart rate - expressed as beats per minute - can be steady at times.

For example, an average heart rate of 60 beats per minute (bpm) does not mean that the interval between every heartbeat is exactly 1.0 sec, instead they may fluctuate/vary from 0.5 sec up to 2.0 sec.   During exercise, HRV decreases as heart rate and exercise intensity increases. HRV also decreases during periods of mental stress.

As a general rule of thumb we want to see HIGHER Heart Rate Variability.    Higher HRV indicates that your body is in a highly responsive state and able to quickly adjust to changes and challenges to optimize homeostasis.   Homeostasis refers to the need for your body to maintain a consistent internal environment to function properly so your body needs to constantly adjust to changes such as changes in air temperature, changes in muscle activity, changes in light level, etc.

HRV is regulated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which controls the function of our internal organs such as heart, lungs, intestines, level of arterial tension, digestion, etc.    The Autonomic Nervous System has two parts:  Sympathetic and Parasympathetic.  

The sympathetic nervous system is the "fight or flight" system, while the parasympathetic nervous system is often considered the "rest and digest" system. In many cases, these systems have "opposite" actions such as the Sympathetic System turning off digestion and the parasympathetic System turning on Digestion. 

Parasympathetic activity decreases heart rate and increases HRV, whereas sympathetic activity increases heart rate and decreases HRV.    Recovery is all about increased parasympathetic activity.   When your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is active for long periods of time – you cannot recover from stress and sooner or later you will begin to experience symptoms and disease.  This is what being “Stressed Out” is all about!

Measurement of HRV

Measurement of HRV allows you to know how your body is responding and adapting to all the stressors in your life.  By measuring HRV each morning upon waking before you rise from bed or eat or drink anything you can very accurately track your recovery status.   There are several easy-to-use devices and apps available to measure your HRV:


      Fitbit – in the Sense, Versa 2 and 3, Charge 4, Inspire 2 and Luxe models – less expensive than many other options

      Oura Ring – – very popular and one of the best available and simple ring   

By looking at your HRV daily you will quickly notice patterns and find out how different workouts, alcohol intake, stress and caffeine affect your recovery.  You will also see how your HRV score tracks directly with the quality of sleep.   When you have a great nights sleep you will see it reflected in improved HRV!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

High-Intensity Aerobic Exercise Can Rduce Risk of Metastatic Cancer by 72%!


A recent study by the Tel Aviv University showed that intense aerobic exercise lowered the risk of developing metastatic cancer by 72%.  Metastasis is the process cancer uses to spread and metastasis is ultimately what kills those with cancer.  

The research found that high-intensity aerobic exercise increased internal organs’ consumption of glucose (blood sugar) which decreased the energy available for tumors to grow and spread.

The two lead researchers stated that:  “Studies have demonstrated that physical exercise reduce the risk for some types of cancer by 35%.   This positive effect is similar to the impact of exercise on other conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.  In this study we added new insight, showing that high-intensity aerobic exercise, which derives its energy from sugar, can reduce the risk of metastatic cancer by as much as 72%.   If so far the general message to the public has been ‘be active, be healthy’, now we can explain how aerobic activity can maximize the prevention of the most aggressive and metastatic types of cancer.”

The research combined an animal model using mice with data from 3,000 individuals for 20 years.   Both sets of data showed similar outcomes which enabled researchers to identify its underlying mechanism.   By sampling the internal organs of animals before and after physical exercise and also following the injection of cancer – researchers found that aerobic exercise significantly reduced the development of metastatic tumors in the lymph nodes, lunges and liver. 

For more information on how exercise can help prevent cancer and help prevent metastatic cancer click here:

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Make Your New Years Resolutions Come True this Year!


Clue:  If you want to make your resolution come true -- willpower won't get you there!

Achieving goals is best approached as if you are trying to overcome an addiction.  In fact, that is exactly what you are doing. We all have addictions.

"Willpower is for people who are still uncertain about what they want to do."  -- Helia

If willpower is required – there is clearly some type of internal conflict. You want to lose weight, but you also want that beer.

When willpower is required there are two causes:

1. You don't know what you want, and you therefore have internal conflict.

2. You are not committed to a goal/change and created the conditions that facilitate your commitment.

What do you really want?

If reaching your goal requires willpower, you haven't figured out what you want. Because once you really make a decision, the internal debate is over.

After you decide what you want, the decision is made. Thus, all future decisions regarding that matter have also been made. No questions.

So, are you serious about this? Until you decide, you'll be required to use willpower, and will continue making minimal progress.

Are you committed?

When it comes to achieving goals, commitment involves:

·        Making it public

·        Setting a timeline consisting of small measurable goals that lead to the overall goal

·        Creating several forms of feedback and accountability

·        Removing everything in your environment that opposes your commitment

Once you truly commit - it's as though you've already succeeded. All doubt and disbelief are gone.

Commitment involves building your life around your goals. Your internal resolve, naked to an undefended and opposing environment, is not commitment.

Create conditions that make success inevitable

You will fail to achieve your goals if you don't change your environment.

An alcoholic who really wants to quit drinking needs to not hang around bars and people drinking, but this analogy applies to all goals!

So consciously create an environment that facilitate your commitments. Actually, if you're really committed to a goal, this is exactly what you'll do.

This is how personal growth occurs. We adapt to our environment. Thus, personal growth involves deliberately choosing or creating environments that helps mold us into the person we want to become.


Bill Walsh said, "If your why is strong enough you will figure out how!"

If you're required to use willpower:

·        You haven't made up your mind.

·        Your desire (your "why") for your goals isn't strong enough.

·        You haven't fully committed to what you're going to do.

·        Your environment is not in alignment with your goals. You haven't created an environment that facilitates reaching your goals.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

The Incredible Mental Health Benefits of Exercise!

High levels of stress are being reported by most Americans!  About half of U.S. adults say that uncertainty about the future makes them feel that it is impossible to make plans for the future.    About a third say their stress levels are so high that they sometimes struggle with even basic decisions.   It has been estimated that 75 – 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems.

The great news is that exercise is extremely effective for reducing stress and relieving anxiety and depression!

Exercise Drives Multiple Pathways to Reduce Anxiety and Depression

Exercise boosts BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor) which improves learning and memory and literally acts like miracle grow for the brain.

Through a separate action exercise causes muscles to help detoxify a toxic chemical called Kynurenine.   Kynurenine is produced from the faulty metabolism of tryptophan.   Under conditions of acute or chronic inflammation Kynurenine forms Quinolinic Acid instead of serotonin.  Excess Quinolinic acid is directly linked to major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia – Kynurenine clearance in exercised muscle cells suppresses this build-up in the brain.

Overtime regular exercise remodels the brain’s reward system leading to higher levels of dopamine and more dopamine receptors.    Through this action exercise can both relieve depression and increase your capacity for joy.

Exercise also boost levels of endocannabinoids (yep – the same ones that come from the cannabis plant!).  The “high” from exercise comes from a boost in endocannabinoids.     These endogenously produced chemicals dock on brain receptors and reduce anxiety and induce a state of contentment.    Studies have found that these brain changes help boost positive interactions with friends and family.

The latest research even shows that lactate – produced during intense exercise – travels to the brain from muscles where it is produced – and alters brain chemistry in ways that can reduce anxiety and protect against depression.  

The Evidence on Effectiveness of Exercise for Anxiety and Depression

A recent Metanalysis of 25 Randomized Controlled trials found that aerobic exercise improved depression – particularly for moderate or intense aerobic activity.  In addition, this metanalysis found that previous studies underestimated the power of exercise to control anxiety and depression.

Intense aerobic exercise has also been found to be very effective in treating anxiety – specifically the lactic acid produced during intense intervals has been shown to have a strong anti-depressant effect.  Furthermore, lactic acid has been shown to be linked to improved REM/dream sleep.    After lactate is released by muscles, it travels through the bloodstream to the brain, where it can reduce anxiety and protect against depression.

An analysis of 15 different studies showed that aerobic exercise - especially high-intensity aerobic exercise - reduces symptoms of anxiety.   These anti-anxiety effects persisted for several months after cessation of exercise.

All the participants in the studies had some degree of anxiety.   Their symptoms presented on a spectrum including anxiety disorders, raised anxiety levels, and raised anxiety sensitivity - a condition in which a person feels anxious about the physical symptoms that can accompany anxiety.   People waiting to receive treatment for anxiety served as the controls for comparison.

The found that participants who did both low and high-intensity aerobic exercise experienced greater improvements in their anxiety than non-exercising people in the control group.    High-intensity exercise reduced anxiety symptoms more effectively than low-intensity exercise.    The various interventions lasted between 10 weeks and six months, with participants exercising three times per week on average.

Multiple mechanisms are responsible for the anti-anxiety effects of exercise.   However, one key mechanism mentioned above is the production of lactate from high-intensity exercise.   Increased lactate levels promote the production of lactate which increases the levels of norepinepherine and serotonin levels.  Low levels of these neurotransmitters can drive anxiety and the inability to handle stressful situations.   Learn more about lactate and its effects on the brain in this Found My Fitness Episode featuring Dr. George Brooks:   

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Holiday Gifts for Fitness Enthusiasts


There is still time to order from Amazon and get a delivery in time for Christmas!    So what should order for the fitness enthusiast in your life?   Fortunately, there are some fantastic products to allow you to get a great workout at home or on the road when you cannot get to the gym. 

Inertia Wave – a true game changer product that looks like a Battle Rope but delivers so much more – check out this short video to see what the Inertia Wave is all about: The product delivers the finest HIIT workout available; is super easy to use, and very easy to travel with – a perfect gift for the fitness enthusiast in your life – to order click here: at $118.95 this is incredible product that will last a lifetime!

Quiet Punch – a simple to set-up and use device that you mount in between just about any standard door.     Once it is set-up it provides a square punching surface mounted between two poles that go across the door frame and is suspended by bungee cords from the poles.      You can really get after it and get a fantastic boxing workout that is does not shake the house down!    The app comes with great workouts and the system has a cell phone holder so you can watch and follow one of the many boxing/fitness videos available through the app.        You can purchase from Amazon or directly at for  $125

Core Coaster is another dolly device at a much lower price point.   It has larger wheels rather than using the balls like Core Flyte.    If you are going to use on carpets this product should allow smoother movement because of the larger wheels and the platforms are also much larger than Core Flyte.    The three wheels are mounted in a swiveling carriage mounted to bottom of the platform which allows 360 movement just like the Core Flyte.     At $39 these are a steal!  You can purchase directly from Amazon.

Bellabooty – a great product that allows you to easily load the most effective glute training movement – the hip thrust – without the need for a big barbell:  At just $59.95 this is a great gift for anyone who wants to be able to strengthen and tone their glutes!

Elastic Resistance – are a fantastic way to provide a full body workout that can be done in a very small space and virtually anywhere.    There are two main types of elastic resistance: 

Circular Tubing that usually has handles attached – can purchase many different types directly from Amazon

Flat Circular or directly from Amazon

If you also include a door mount which typically is placed through the inside edge of the door jam while door.   Then you close the door and there is usually a loop or other way to attach tubing to this anchor so that you can push and pull against the tubing.

There are literally hundreds of highly effective exercises than can be done with elastic resistance and for less than $100 you can buy several different sizes/strengths of bands and sizes along with door mount and take them anywhere!   Resistance bands can be purchased directly from Amazon and great brands include Lifeline Fitness and for flat circular bands.

Another fantastic band product is the X3 Bar System - - this clever system allow for maximal safe loading and a highly effective full-body workout!.    X3 is on sale for $399.

Another similar system is the Harambe System - Full Harambe systems start at $515.

Suspension Trainers – the most well-known is TRX, but there are quite a few high-quality options.   Suspension Trainers use straps with handles and by adjusting your hand and foot position relative to the straps and where they anchored you can do hundreds of exercises and work your body head to toe.   These systems are light and very easy to transport.     Most come with some type of door or universal mounting system to allow you to use them in many places from a hotel room to a playground to a gym.

High quality Suspension Trainers include:

TRX – the most well know product on the market and it is available from TRX available on Amazon for $149.    Or buy directly from TRX at

Lifeline Jungle Gym XT – another fantastic product with a split anchor design which allows you to precisely target certain muscles better such as chest doing chest flies.   At $99.99 this is a great value and a virtually indestructible product.   This product can be purchased from Amazon or at


Sunday, December 4, 2022

How to Handle Holiday Stress!


Although the holidays are a fun time of year they are also a very stressful time of year!   45 percent of Americans say they would prefer skipping the entire season because of financial pressure.  Most Americans feel that the stress really starts to build around December 13th, grows worse through the 18th and peaks on Christmas Day.

This holiday stress can be highly detrimental to your health, and it is sad but true that many take their lives during this season.    The physiological impact of this stress manifests as increased cortisol which boosts blood sugar levels, helps drive weight gain, and breaks down muscle.

Here are some tried and true ways to combat the holiday stress syndrome:

1.  Get your workouts in!  Now is NOT the time to skip workouts – even a short one can have an immediate and lasting effect in reducing your mental and physiological stress response.    A quick high intensity workout - just three 20 second sprints with one minute of active recovery – is proven to help maintain fitness and immediately improve mood while lowering blood pressure, mental stress and appetite!

2.   Get your Sleep!   Easier said than done, but focusing on when you eat, go to bed and wake up can keep your body in a good rhythm.   A simple way to do this is get up and go to bed at the same time every single day regardless of the day of the week – do NOT change your schedule on weekends.  

Then try to keep your food and beverage intake (except for water) in a 12-hour window so that you are NOT eating or drinking anything (except for water) for 12 hours.   For example, if you wake up at 6am and drink a cup of coffee at 7am (the clock has started at 7am).   That means you want to take in your last food or beverage no later than 7pm.     

So, if you know you are going to go out to parties try to take in your first calories at 8am to give you until 8pm to finish all food and beverage intake.   By keeping your sleep/wake cycle consistent along with your eating and not-eating schedule you allow your body to recover better.

3.   So if you are going to go out to parties – start early and leave early or just start drinking water and nothing else once you hit the end of your 12 hour window.

 4.   Set an alcohol budget – and switch to water after you hit it.     Doing this along with scheduling your wake/sleep cycle and food intake cycle can prevent a lot of issues while allowing you to have a great time!

 5.   Do not overbook yourself or your family – plan on downtime and keep it simple.     Less is often more in life the holidays are no exception!



Sunday, November 27, 2022

Exercise to Reduce Alcohol Cravings!


Yes – you heard that right – exercise has actually been proven to help people reduce or eliminate alcohol intake and mitigate alcohol dependence.    Multiple studies have proven that exercise is an effective adjunctive treatment for the treatment of alcoholism

For example, in a meta-analysis of 7 randomized controlled trials using exercise interventions for the treatment of alcoholism exercise was shown to significantly reduce alcohol consumption!  This included all forms of exercise such as aerobic and resistance training.

The effects of Fibroplast growth factor 21 (FGF21) on Alcohol Intake

FGF21 is a hormone released by the liver and muscle during exercise.

When FGF21 was given to mice and vervet monkeys addicted to alcohol - it reduced their alcohol intake by 50%.  FGF21 cross the blood-brain barrier and binds to receptors in the hypothalamus where it alters dopamine signaling which plays a prominent role in alcohol craving.

The liver releases FGF21 after alcohol intake with a significant increase in blood levels.

Studies have shown that FGF21 is elevated from aerobic exercise and peaks 60 minutes later than returns to baseline 2 hours later.

A Mouse Study showed that:

Mice that were unable to release FGF21 consumed more alcohol

Mice given an FGF21 analog decreased their alcohol consumption by 50%

Another study used Vervent Monkeys.  Vervent Monkeys fall into three subtypes as it relates to alcohol in a distribution seen in humans:

Alcohol avoiders who do NOT like alcohol

Moderate alcohol drinkers

Heavy drinkers who will consume alcohol until drunk

Monkeys given FGF21 reduced alcohol consumption

Collectively these studies suggest that FGF21 is involved in telling our brains whether to drink more alcohol or not and does so across at least two species studied and that increasing FGF21 may decrease alcohol consumption in humans as well.

Exercise also modulates the brain’s dopamine reward system as well as boosting Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).   Low BDNF levels have been correlated with the severity of alcoholism in clinical studies of alcoholics!   In addition, regular alcohol use decreases BDNF and is associated with cognitive defects from alcohol consumption.