Sunday, December 31, 2006

Deconstructing Nutrition

For the next couple weeks I will be posting about the idea of “Deconstructing Nutrition”.

My plan is to take many of the things that we believe to be the known facts of nutrition and check their accuracy against the actual scientific findings. Think of it as doing fact checking for the big book on nutrition.

I’m going to start with what I think is the absolute best place to start when studying nutrition – fasting. By studying fasting we learn what happens to the body when there is zero nutrition being supplied. Once we understand this, we will be better able to understand what happens to the body when we add nutrition.

Stay tuned for the first post in the Deconstructing Nutrition series.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nothing to do with Nutrition

I reserve the right to every once in a while talk about something other than nutrition. Especially when it's a concept I need some help on.

I'll give you the background.

Two weeks ago I was at a DVD photo shoot with Craig Ballantyne and John Barban, running through a bunch of great body weight exercises with our athletes for an upcoming grrlathlete project.

About half way into the shoot Craig had the athletes do a bunch of "siff" squat and lunge variations. These are variations where you perform a normal squat or lunge, but you stay on the balls of your feet through out the exercise.

I didn't think much of it until the other day when John and I were at a meeting with a good friend of ours who is a bio-mechanist. During our conversation, we started talking about running and jogging, and our bio-mechanist friend mentioned the incredible stress that is placed on your spine during a typical heel strike (think about how your heel hits the ground first when you are running - that's a heel strike).

Then today, I was at my Krav Maga class, and I couldn't help but notice that when you are sparring, and moving around, you are always on the balls of your feet!

So this all started me thinking, if almost all athletic activity involves us being on the balls of our feet, why do we train flat footed when we are working out?

Now, my main "thing" is nutrition - It's what I know best. I love working out, and exercise science, but for questions like this I always go to the experts...

So hopefully I can get Craig, John and a couple of other people to chime in here and give us their thoughts...


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Friday, December 15, 2006

The Omnivore's Dilemma

As the old saying goes “Eat like everyone else, look like everyone else”.

OK, I think I made that up, but it’s still true.

The way you eat is a large determining factor in the way you look and feel. For this reason I highly recommend that you read the book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollen.

In a very in-depth and systematic approach, Mr. Pollen investigates the history behind what we put on our plates, and the driving forces behind the food choices we make.

I suggested this book earlier in one of my emails for, but now I consider it mandatory reading for anyone who is trying to eat healthy and live healthy.

The food industry is no different from any other industry -they want you to buy their product, and will tell you anything they can to get you to choose their product rather than its competition.

This constant barrage of "buy me" advertising creates a very blurry and muddled message, that leaves people confused about what they should and should not eat.

I'm often asked what's the best way to beat the obesity epidemic. Well, in my opinion, you can forget about fad diets and you can forget about drugs, because being an informed consumer is the best weapon you can possibly have against obesity.

If you want to learn the history behind the foods that people eat and the way they are manufactured, then I highly recommend you read this book.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Forget about Cheat Days

Back in July and August, I spent a fair amount of my time up in Northern Ontario Cottage country.

The cottage is a great place to hide out and get some reading and writing done, but sometimes it can be a horrible place to try and 'eat clean'. It's very easy to rationalize a couple bad days at the cottage as "cheat days".

For some reason, body building magazines and fitness "gurus" love to promote the idea of cheat days.

It is more than common for a dieting bodybuilder to spend 6 days out of a week eating as little as 1200 Calories per day, and then on the seventh day eat close to 10,000 Calories!

People rationalize being a complete glutton for one day with excuses like "reloading" and "refueling".

These types of excuses are based on what I like to call fitness magazine science.

Fitness magazine science is all of the theories that appear in fitness magazines that have no scientific backing. Take for instance the idea that you can't store the excess calories from cheat days. This is rationalized by stating that your metabolism increases because of the massive amount of foods that you just consumed, and therefore you burn off all the extra energy.

A perfect example of a theory with no scientific backing.

But here is the real deal, and its plain and simple math. If your target calorie intake is a 500 Calorie deficit, and you lower your intake from 2,500 calories to 2,000 calories, then you have created a 3,000 Calorie deficit over six days.

Now on the seventh day, if you gorge yourself and eat yourself into the 6,000 Calorie range (which is hard, but definitely not impossible to do), you have just undone almost all the dieting you did during the week. There is no magic that makes those calories disappear.

Your body is amazing at storing energy. Sure, you lose a little to heat production and some ramped up metabolic processes, but at the end of the day the practice of cheat days is destructive. Like I said in my previous post on metabolism, the effect that food has on your metabolism is actually very small.

The idea that your body can't store all of these calories, or that somehow these extra calories don't turn into fat is a myth and a lie that will never die. It’s OK to reward yourself with ice cream every now and then, but full out cheat days with the soul purpose of gorging yourself should be avoided, plain and simple.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Doctrine of Signatures

It is an unpleasant fact that science will always become outdated.

I am sure that a hundred years from now, schoolchildren will laugh at the principles we currently believe to be absolute scientific truths, just like how we now laugh at what was once "truth" centuries ago.

Take for instance the doctrine of signatures, which states that resemblance is a good indicator of effectiveness. If a particular plant resembles a human ear in its shape, then according to the doctrine of signatures this plant would have some sort of useful relevancy to the ear, perhaps being able to cure an earache.

While this now seems very arbitrary and somewhat unreliable, the doctrine of signatures still could be found in mainstream medical texts well into the 19th century and today is still the main principle of homeopathic medicine.

In fact, the doctrine of signatures can still be found in some nutrition myths that are still popular today. I know it's hard to believe that we would still use the doctrine of signatures with all of the research and scientific advancement that has happened in the world of nutrition, but take for instance fat, protein and cholesterol.

Many people still believe that eating fat will make you fat, that you need to eat large amounts of protein to build large amounts of muscle and that eating dietary cholesterol will make your blood cholesterol levels go through the roof.

Even though many of these "facts" are now largely disputed within the research community, people still believe them.

Why? You ask.

I think the reason is that these days science outdates itself so quickly that we no longer know what to believe. However, don’t blame the scientists for this.

You see, the job of science and scientists is to add to the existing body of research - To do their small part in answering the big question. However, most mainstream journalism and media need quick answers and they needed them yesterday! And this is where the major mistakes happen.

While scientists look at their work as something that helps answer a small piece of the puzzle, media looks at it as “THE ANSWER”.

This “jumping to scientific conclusions” can have dire consequences, as illustrated by one of my favorite articles, written by Gary Taubes and published in The New York Times back in 2002.

I think this is a very important piece of work that everyone should read, so please check it out by Clicking Here and let me know what you think of Gary's take on the last twenty years of nutrition research and policy.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Rules To Shop By

After a quick trip to the grocery store this morning, I realized how confusing it can be trying to pick out the good foods from the bad foods.

Food companies are jumping on the health claim bandwagon, and just about everything is now 'healthy this' or 'reduced that'. So here's a quick tip - The quicker it goes bad, the better it is for you.

Fruits, vegetables, meat and fish all go bad quickly, whereas cereals, boxed food and frozen food can last forever. Now there are some exceptions to this rule (nuts can last, especially if you keep them refrigerated), but generally this is a nice clean rule to go by.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Fat Wars, and Why I Cook with Butter

I've been following some very interesting stories in the news lately.

The first story concerns the City of New York. It seems that the Board of Health for New York City has recently voted to make New York the nation's first city to ban Trans fats at restaurants.

I found this story to be very interesting because as little as two decades ago Trans fats were introduced into our diet as a way to "save us" from the evils of saturated fats like butter and lard. And now research is starting to be published that questions the dangers of saturated fat, while trans fats are being banned by an entire city and David Kats, the director of the Yale Prevention Research Center is describing Trans Fats as "basically a slow form of poison!"

Then just this morning, I read on that an Australian company has just lunched a new "healthy milk" in China. This "healthy milk" has had all the animal fat removed and replaced with vegetable fat.

mmmmm yummy.

It seems to me that in our never ending quest to blame the foods we eat for our health woes, we keep making Frankenstein versions of food that inevitably come back to hurt us even more than the original versions.

My advice is the same as always. Eat lean and green. Fill your plate with as many vegetables as it can handle, don't be afraid to add as much color into your diet as possible, and try to limit the amount of food you eat that comes in a box.

And lastly, try cooking with butter. Yes butter. It tastes great, it cooks evenly, and at least with butter you know you are adding 2-3 grams of fat to your food, as opposed to some of the alternatives, in which you are adding 2-3 grams of 'who knows what' to your food.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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The Women's Workout Blog

Finally, after what seems like years of me begging, my friend John Barban has finally started a blog.

John has a wealth of experience when it comes to sports conditioning and fat loss. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a varsity strength coach, has his masters degree in nutritional science and human physiology and is one of the authors of grrlathlete's fat loss manual - ShapeShift. Talk about an impressive resume!

John's new blog - The Women's Workout Blog, specializes in training female athletes and females for fat loss. Take a look at his thoughts on training, including some of the fun workouts he'll soon be posting.


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Monday, December 04, 2006

Why Goat's Milk?

A couple of days ago in one of the grrlathlete newsletters I recommended that people give goat's milk an honest try (If you don't receive the grrlathlete newsletters, I've put a sign-up box on the top right column of my blog).

Since then, I've had more than a few people ask me to elaborate on why.

Well, firstly, because most of us have been drinking cow's milk since the age of two. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against cow's milk per Se, except that for many of us, we have been drinking it for more than a couple decades! So switching it up for a change may not be a bad idea.

Aside from the novelty, here are a couple more reasons that goat's milk deserves a fair test...

Goat's milk is the milk of choice in most of the world.

Because the protein in goat's milk has a different make-up than the protein in cow's milk, many people with cow milk allergies can tolerate drinking goat's milk .

Compared to cow's milk, goat's milk has similar amounts of protein, fat, iron, vitamin C and vitamin D. Goat milk has more natural vitamin A, more vitamin B , and less lactose.

Unlike cow's milk there is no need to homogenize goat's milk. While the fat globules in cow's milk tend to separate to the surface, the globules in goat's milk are much smaller and will remain suspended in solution.

So give goat's milk a try. I'm not claiming that it's some miracle food, but rather a tasty drink that many people are missing out on.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sparring with the American Diabetes Association

Looks like Adam Campbell of Men's Health magazine has found himself in a verbal sparring match with the ADA.

It all started with a very well written and well researched article that Adam wrote about diabetes and carbohydrates. If you'd like to learn more about Adam's article and the American Diabetes Association's response then Click HERE to visit Adam's Blog.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Metabolism Myths

For the longest time I believed that if you dieted to strictly your metabolism would slow to a crawl. This was Bodybuilding dieting gospel.

Skip breakfast? Now you've slowed your metabolism down for the entire day. No way you’re burning any fat now!

Turns out, your metabolism is not that complicated. The idea that you have to keep your metabolic furnace stoked with food is a complete myth. Just another example of "experts" trying to make nutrition more complicated then it needs to be.

The portion of your metabolism that is affected by what you eat is very small. The largest part of your metabolic rate is set by your body weight. If you weigh more your metabolism is higher (especially if it's muscle), if you lose weight, your metabolism will go down.

The foods you eat effect your metabolism by something called "the thermic effect of food", which is the energy it takes your body to process the food you eat for storage or use, but again this is very small compared to the amount of energy it takes just to "run" your body.

It makes no difference metabolically whether you eat many small meals or one large meal. What does make a difference is the make up of these meals. Protein, carbs, fats and different ratios of each all have very small effects on the "thermic effect of food" which then has a very small effect on your metabolism.

Bottom line- It's still very important to eat "lean and green" and there are definite benefits to eating smaller meals throughout the day. But if you are looking to your diet as a way to control your metabolism, you're missing the boat.

The best way to increase your metabolism is with exercise. Other than drastic changes in bodyweight, this is the one way you can control your metabolism. Effective weight loss programs like Craig Ballantyne's Turbulence Training program or the ShapeShift program over at are examples of good workout programs that can increase your metabolism.

Remember, if you miss a meal or cut your calories a little too low it doesn't mean you've shut down your metabolism. Your diet is still incredibly important in the fat loss process - (In my opinion it's even more important than your workouts), It’s just not the main regulator of your metabolic rate.


Fasting for Weight Loss , Circuit Training for Women

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Diet Pop - Do You REALLY Know Enough?

You may or may not know that back in 1990, Diet Orange Crush was recalled in certain areas of the US because it had an elevated Benzene content.

Earlier that same year, there was a recall on Perrier spring water for the same reason.

Now, it's safe to say that benzene was not being added to these drinks on purpose. It turns out that two common ingredients in many drinks - sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can react to create benzene.

I'll be the first to admit that when I found this out, I was a little scared. From what I knew about benzene, this sounded like some pretty scary stuff.

You see, Benzene is an organic chemical compound that is used mainly as an industrial solvent and precursor in the production of drugs, plastics, synthetic rubber, and dyes. It's not exactly something I want in my drink.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) classifies benzene as a human carcinogen - a compound that promotes cancer.

Eating or drinking foods that contain high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid heart rate, and death.

So should we throw away our sodas and never touch them again? Well for many health reasons the answer may be yes, but NOT because of the risk of benzene content alone.

Everyone is exposed to a small amount of benzene every day. In fact, auto exhaust and industrial emissions account for about 20% of our total national exposure to benzene. We are also exposed to benzene from both active and passive second hand smoke.

So while we do want to limit the amount of benzene we are exposed to, the contribution from sodas is actually very small.

It is still a good idea to read the label of any soda you wish to purchase. Avoid or limit the consumption of products that contain both ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate.

Other factors that affect the formation of benzene are heat and light. Storing soft drinks in warm conditions speeds up the formation of benzene. Interestingly, sugar has been shown to inhibit the formation of benzene.

So while the small amount of benzene that may or may not be present in your soda is not a reason to panic, it is another reason to drink mostly water or green tea and save the soda pop for special occasions.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Preserving Muscle Mass While Dieting

Back in early August, I wrote about the "secret" to preventing muscle loss while dieting (check it out here).

My point was this- based on the hundreds of measurements I made back when I had access to a body composition lab, I am convinced that if you are lifting weights while you are dieting, you will not lose any muscle.

After writing that post, I started thinking - I wonder if this is still true for VERY low calorie diets.

Turns out it is.

In a study conducted by J.W. Bryner and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, subjects were put on an 800 Calorie per day diet and weight trained 3 times per week. At the end of the study, subjects lost body fat but did not lose ANY muscle mass.

This is really impressive information as the subjects were on an 800 Calorie per day diet for 12 WEEKS!

What's even more significant about this study is that the subjects were only eating 80 grams of protein a day for 12 weeks.

This study helps prove that it was the weight training and not the high protein diets that caused the preservation of muscle mass I talked about in my last post.

Based on this research, and my own research, I am certain that the best way to preserve your muscle mass, even when on an extremely low calorie diet is to weight train.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Monday, November 13, 2006

3 Great Tips from CB

Last week I wrote about the importance of these next several weeks -The time between Halloween and New Year's. These weeks can make or break any physique.

I also asked you to throw out your Halloween candy. If you haven't done it yet, go do it now! (They're two weeks old now, it's time for them to GO)

Now its time to cover the next key to making these ultra-important weeks your best ever, so you can hit the ground running come new years eve.

It drives me crazy to hear about people working really hard in the gym but getting no results.

But I see people in the gym everyday that are doing the same workout and getting no where. You can see the look of frustration and the dread of even doing the workout in their eyes. I hope this doesn't describe you and your fat loss situation. If it does, let's take a look at some of the best fat loss tips and workout solutions to get you back on the fat loss track.

I checked in with my friend over at, Craig Ballantyne and had him list his Top 3 Training Tips for Fat Loss...

CB's Top 3 Training Tips for Fat Loss

i) Train with intensity. Yes it takes a lot of effort to do 45 minutes of cardio, but that is low-intensity exercise (since you can do it for 45 minutes straight). Instead, you have to increase the intensity of your efforts. That means the following...

ii) Don't rely on slow, steady, long workouts of cardio. Use intervals instead.

iii) Don't use high reps for fat loss. Use low reps instead. You want to increase the intensity of your training to put "metabolic turbulence" on your muscles. So you need to use moderately heavy weights or advanced bodyweight exercises and interval training to apply this metabolic disturbance and elicit a significant increase in post-exercise energy expenditure.

Bottom line: While long cardio work is focused on breaking down the body, strength training, intervals and bodyweight exercises like yoga and Pilates all focus on building the body. Stick with body-builders.



To Get your very own copy of Turbulence Training, Craig's fat loss program that incorporates intense weight training and intervals & to get his Nutrition Guide click here: Turbulence Training

Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Halloween Fat-Bombs

They've been sitting around your house for almost an entire week.

You've used every excuse possible to avoid having to deal with the issue (the latest excuse I heard was that they cost money so you CAN'T throw them out). But now it's time.

Go find your hidden stash of left over Halloween candy and throw it in the garbage! - ALL of it.
You don't need it and what's worse, it is sabotaging you for what could be the most important 8 weeks of the year.

Yes, it's true. There are only 8 weeks left until New Years Eve. It is this gap, between Halloween and New Years, where I see most people put on weight and let go of their fitness goals.

However, if you can do some damage control right now, keep your weight where it is, maybe even lose some fat and gain a little muscle, then you will be miles ahead of everyone else come January first.

Imagine hitting January first in full stride!

It is possible, but first you have to get your nutrition back in order - which means throwing out the candy.

Second, you better get yourself a good new workout program. I suggest you give the grrlathlete Body-Weight Manual a try. It's quick, easy, extremely effective and you can do it at the gym or in your home.

Don't do what everyone else does and hibernate until the New Years...Get started now and avoid the need for a new years resolution!

Helping you make 2007 the best year ever,


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Working-Out and Fat Loss

Ever wonder why some people can exercise religiously for months and not lose any weight?

Every now and again I run into this type of woman at the gym. She is on the elliptical everyday at 5:30 AM, and when I'm leaving the gym at 6:30 AM, she's still on the elliptical.

When I'm back in the gym around 7 PM, she's there again too, running through all the weight machines.

The problem is, no matter how hard she pushes herself she's still not losing weight. The answer to her weight loss goals is in her nutrition plan.

To get the best results out of any program you must not only have a great exercise plan, but a great nutrition plan as well.

And a new study has shown us just how important nutrition is for fat loss.

In this study, women exercised on a treadmill until they burned a set number of calories. The women were then asked to guess how many calories they burned during the workout.

The subjects were also told to eat at a buffet and try to eat the same amount of calories that they had just burned during the workout. Think you could do that?

Shockingly, the researchers found that the women over-guessed how many calories they burned by 300 to 400%! And, they ate double to triple the amount of calories that they had actually burned during the exercise!

Are you undoing all the benefits of your workout by eating too much?

Are you giving yourself "free reign" nutritionally just because you worked out?

It's a common myth in the fitness industry that you can eat anything you want after your workout and it won't become fat. It is also a myth that you need large amounts of calories in order to "recover" from your workout (a very small amount will do).

When left to eat as you please, your mind and body will try and convince you to overcompensate and eat more than you normally would.

So don't shoot yourself in the foot and waste all that hard exercise by eating too many calories, especially in your "post workout meal".

Always remember that the best approach to getting the body you want and the performance you desire is by combining a solid exercise program with a sound nutrition plan.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Two Types of Food

In the last couple of weeks I've been writing about the benefits of interval training for weight loss and athletic conditioning over at grrlathlete.

So now it’s only fitting that I move on to what I consider the most important piece of the puzzle that you need to get in shape, lose weight and improve your fitness - Nutrition.

Nutrition is discussed by just about every magazine writer, talk show host, fitness expert and guru in the industry. Just about everyone and their dog can quote some type of scientific research, touting the benefit of eating one certain type of diet or another, or ramble on about the scientific reasons why some foods are better for you than others.

In my opinion, all of these scientific intellectual ramblings may actually be part of the reason why people still don't eat well.

Let's face it, when it comes to understanding what's good for us and what's not, "science" is confusing the heck out of us!

Because the science of nutrition seems to involve flip-flopping your opinions every other day, the best approach to eating healthy is to look at nutrition with the most simplified technique possible. In your mind think about what your current goals are, whether it is sports performance, weight loss, weight gain or overall health, identify your goals.

Once you have your goals firmly in your head, think of a food, any food.

Now ask yourself "Will this food move me closer to my goals or farther away from my goals?". If you believe it will help you move closer to your goal, then eat it.

If you believe it will actually move you away from your goals, then don't eat it, or at least eat it moderately and in very small portions.

The key to this technique is that you have to believe that there are no "neutral" foods. It is either good or bad.

The trouble with eating healthy is that nobody wants to think about it because nutrition is perceived to be a very complex and confusing topic.

But when we don't think about it, we eat what is put in front of us, and when we eat what is put in front of us, chances are we over eat, and eat the wrong foods.

However, when you simplify the problem down to "good food, bad food" it becomes very easy to "think nutrition". It is not complex or confusing. It simply returns to very fundamental wisdom that your grandmother probably told you when you were a child. Gravitate towards fruits and vegetables and lean protein, and be weary of anything processed (generally foods that you buy in a bag or in a box).

So forget all the debates and all the fads. It doesn't matter whether or not aspartame is good for you. Look at that diet cola and ask yourself if it will move you closer to your goals. If the answer is no, then go get a sparkling water, or green tea or any other drink that you think will move you towards your goals.

By following this principle it makes it easier to "think" nutrition. Every time you put some food in front of you ask the simple question "good or bad" and then act accordingly.

You will find that by simplifying nutrition down to this simple equation you can make dramatic improvements in the way you eat, and avoid a lot of the confusion that is out there.

Nutrition really is the missing piece of the puzzle for any fitness program, and from our experience, when you combine interval training and really good success measurements (like the ones we outlined last week) with a solid nutrition program, amazing things can happen in very little time.


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Monday, September 25, 2006

How to Beat Chocolate Cravings

I've been doing a lot of reading about Chocolate lately.

The history of chocolate is really quite amazing. The making of chocolate traces back to the Mayans and the Aztecs, who worshiped chocolate for its health and anti-fatigue benefits as far back as 2,600 years ago.

In fact, I think Cocoa roughly translates into "food of the gods".

Nowadays, chocolate is often thought of as a nutritional "evil". No matter how hard we try, most of us just can't resist chocolate. Many of the women I work with have tried to quit cold turkey, and then end up 'breaking down' and eating more chocolate then a kid on Halloween night.

Even when I was training for a bodybuilding contest and consuming 3-4 chocolate flavored protein shakes (I don't do this anymore), I still broke down several times and had some chocolate!

It seems that no matter how hard we try, a good chocolate craving can derail even the best diet plan.

Unless of course you have learned the secret to beating your chocolate cravings...

The one way that I have discovered can help people beat their chocolate addiction is by becoming a chocolate snob.

You can have chocolate while dieting, in fact, you can have a little bit of chocolate everyday, it just has to be the good stuff.

By good stuff I mean real dark chocolate, or anything over 70% cocoa mass.

Did you now that when scientists refer to the health benefits of chocolate, they aren't talking about your grocery store check-out line variety of chocolates, they are talking about the good stuff.

Chocolate is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, rivaling red wine and green tea in these areas. Not only that, but chocolate also contains healthy fat. I bet you didn't know that much of the fat in chocolate is oleic acid, the same healthy fat that is in olive oil!

Problem is, these health benefits are highest in the good dark stuff. When it comes to those check-out line chocolates, the more diluted the chocolate, the less antioxidants and polyphenols it contains.

Here's the trick with real dark chocolate, its bitter. It takes a while to get used to how bitter it is. But, because its so bitter, it only takes a little bit to really conquer your chocolate craving, so you end up eating less.

Also, as an added bonus, once you've developed a taste for the good stuff, you learn to love the bitterness, and your typical check-out line variety simply tastes like chocolate flavored wax. They're just not appealing anymore.

So if you want to beat your chocolate cravings, start by eating a little bit of the good stuff. It will help you eat less chocolate, get all the health benefits, and keep you from going back to the check-out line varieties.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Monday, September 04, 2006

The "Secret" to Fat Loss

Can I eat carbs with fats if I am dieting?

Which fats are better, monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats?

Is it true that I shouldn't eat after 7 pm?

How much protein do I have to eat to lose weight?

I get one of these questions at least once a day over at When it comes to dieting, people are just plain confused. And no wonder, if you search "dieting" on you will find that there is over 14,000 books available on dieting. Each with their own set of rules and gimmicks.

In last Friday's health section of the Toronto Star, Megan Ogilvie wrote a very interesting article about the amount of diets that are out there.

According to the article, Megan has been on 55 diets in the last 56 weeks. She has had varying degrees of success with each diet. According to Megan, the key problem with diets is that "Unless you are an expert in nutrition you could easily fall for a diet fallacy".

So true .

Megan then goes on to say that, "diets that promote health weight loss- and prescribe it in a healthy way are the minority in this mega-business".

Again, very true.

The fundamental "problem" with diets is that they all work in theory. Anytime you lower your calorie intake below your daily need, you will lose weight. And, we know from previous research that if you are lifting weights while on ANY of these diets you will not lose any muscle mass.

Therefore, the very best diet for you is the one that fits your lifestyle and that you can stay on for an extended period.The more limited the diet is, and the more crazy rules you have to follow, the more likely you are to fail.With this in mind, here are my five golden rules of dieting.

1. Lower you calories to a level where you will see 1-2 pounds of weight loss every one to two weeks. Typically, this is about 500 to 750 Calories below what you would normally consume.

2. Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you possibly can. Fruits and veggies are the cornerstone for any successful diet or nutrition plan.

3. Eat foods you like. Let's face it. If you don't like oatmeal, then trying to follow a diet that calls for oatmeal for breakfast is going to be painful. Pick foods you like, just make sure the portions are correct.

4. Lift weights to preserve muscle mass. We know from research that the number one way to ensure you are burning as much fat as possible is by resistance training. Our Turbulence Training program has been designed to ensure you burn as much fat as possible by helping you preserve muscle mass. You can check out Turbulence Training HERE.

5. Record what you eat. I know you are probably sick of hearing me say this, but I believe recording what you eat is the key to successful weight loss.A good diet is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Most likely, you are going to be dieting for anywhere between 6 and 12 weeks, sometimes much longer. It is vitally important to your success that your diet is realistic, and built around foods you like.

Ignore diet fads. They will only cause you to become frustrated.


PS- You can read Megan's article HERE

Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lessons from Ottawa - Nutrition For Fat Loss

I just spend the last couple days helping out at a hockey skills camp in Ottawa, Canada. Now that I'm back, I'd like to share some observations with you.

The key thing that I noted from this years camp is that the athlete with the lowest body fat is rarely the athlete with the best conditioning. In fact, if you were to rank the athletes I was working with last weekend, the leanest most shredded athlete wouldn't have even been in the top three for conditioning.

It is true that you can have incredible conditioning, whether it is aerobic or anaerobic, and not be "shredded".

Now, I’m not saying that body composition isn't important in sports. If you take the really well conditioned athlete and melt twenty pounds of fat off him or her, they become an even better athlete. They will still be highly conditioned, only now they will have less weight that they have to move around with them.

That's were nutrition comes into play. Nutrition is the key to losing body fat, especially for highly trained athletes.

If you are already training for two or three hours a day on almost every day of the week, adding in some more exercise with the hopes of losing weight may just not be possible and will definitely not be effective.

While most people understand the importance of keeping a workout log, I think that keeping a nutrition log is far more important for an anyone who is trying to lose some fat.

Just like with a workout log, a nutrition log allows you to look back on the last week, month or year and really examine what worked for you and what didn't work for you. It allows you to quickly identify why you had stalls in progress or dips in performance.

Bottom line: If you are trying to lose weight but are not keeping a nutrition log, you are making the process a hundred times harder then it needs to be. Keep a log and you will be able to lose fat without compromising any of your conditioning or performance.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Crabs in a Bucket - Weight Training Over 50

After a busy couple of days of travel, I decided it was time to head back up north to get some more work done on some of my projects with grrlathlete.

When I'm up north, people often drop in for a visit, and last night was no exception. I had a couple of old friends drop in on me for dinner.

As usual, it only took a little bit of time before the conversation turned to nutrition and working out. One of my friends was in his late 50's. He has always been in great shape. He maintains a great workout program and always pays attention to what he eats. Yet, on this particular visit, he seemed a little discouraged with his progress.

After a little bit of prying I found out why.

He had been out having dinner with several of his friends who were all medical doctors and they were "on him" about working out. Turns out these three highly educated individuals were trying to convince my friend that it was physically impossible to put on muscle once you pass fifty years of age.

They told him that it had something to do with his hormone levels and lack of testosterone.

No wonder he was discouraged!

Thankfully, in no way is any of this true. There is lots of research that has been conducted on subjects over 50 years of age showing the benefit of weight training.

A group of researchers at the University of Saschetchewan in Canada has been studying the effects of creatine supplementation and weight lifting in the elderly with great results.

Dr. Ira Jacobs, one of my early mentors, has been quoted as saying that at least 80% the muscle loss associated with aging can be attributed to lack of activity.

When it comes to muscle - Use it or lose it. That’s the bottom line.

There is no truth to the saying that you can’t build muscle over a certain age. People in their 70's can build muscle with weight training. So why would a group of medical doctors try to convince my friend that he was wasting his time working out, when research clearly shows there is benefit?

The answer is "crabs in a bucket".

If you aren't familiar with the "crabs in a bucket" analogy, it’s pretty simple. Crabbers never have to worry about crabs escaping when they are caught and thrown into a bucket. This is because if one crab starts climbing the walls of the bucket, the other crabs will pull the escaping crab back down.

The crabs see it like this - if we are going to be dinner, then you are going to be dinner too.

After a little more prying my friend informed me that his three medical doctor friends did not workout, were overweight (one of them was very overweight) and mostly ate fast food.

Like I said, crabs in a bucket. When you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, you are always going to go up against crabs. They do not like it when you say "no" to dessert, pass on "just one more drink", or go work out. The reason they don't like it is because it makes them painfully aware that you are in control of an area in your life that they have no control over in there own.

Ignore the crabs and remember- no matter your age, if you want to look and feel better than the average person, then you can’t eat and work-out like an average person. You have to go one-step farther.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The "secret" to Preventing Muscle Loss While Dieting

I review a lot of fat loss programs. It's part of my job at From the most underground e-books, to the latest best seller on Amazon, I’ve read through stacks of them.

Let me tell you, most of the time, once I’ve finished reading of these works of garbage, I feel like I need to take a shower.

They are just that sleazy.

Sure, they’re some of the greatest examples of marketing this side of beer commercials, but the actual information in them is a combination of basic good nutritional practices (you should eat more fruits and vegetables) and make-believe (never eat carbohydrates past 6:45 pm).

Most of the time the marketing story starts like this… “My special ‘melt the lard’ program guarantees you will lose fat fast without losing any muscle”.

The part I have a trouble with is the “without losing any muscle”. It seems losing muscle is something everyone is deathly afraid of doing. Most of the bodybuilders, athletes and fitness models I’ve talked with are convinced that they lose muscle when they are dieting.

Here’s the truth about losing muscle mass while dieting. I don’t believe it. Not at all.

I have taken over one hundred body fat measurements on amateur body builders and fitness models, none of them lost any more than 1 or 2 pounds of lean mass while dieting for a competition!

They drop anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds of fat, but lose almost no muscle! My measurements were taken with a BodPod, and validated with both skin fold calipers and limb circumference measurements, so I’m sure they were accurate.

All of these athletes were on different types of low calorie diets and loads of different supplements or no supplements at all; however, none of them were losing muscle.

This is for one reason and one reason only.

People who are weight training while dieting (within reason) will not lose muscle mass. I believe this is for one main reason. By lifting weights, you are telling your body you need that muscle. Your body recognizes that need, and thinks “Whoa. Looks like I’m dieting again. I need to burn something for some extra energy but if I get rid of some of this muscle, it’ll make this whole lifting weights thing even harder. I better keep this muscle and burn something else, maybe this fat over here…”

Straight up, the number one way to ensure you don’t lose any muscle while you are dieting is by lifting weights. Protein may play a role on in this (almost all of the people I was tracking were eating a high protein diet), but other than that, no fancy diet program works better than weight training for preventing you from losing muscle while you are dieting.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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