Thursday, May 31, 2007

Diabetes Drugs and Heart Attacks

Normally, I don't post about supplements or drugs. However, an email just appeared in my in-box that made me think an exception may be in order.

According to an email from the American Diabetes Association;

"The government's preliminary evaluation of the diabetes pill Avandia confirms the heart risks reported in an earlier study and suggests that as many as 60- 100,000 heart attacks might be linked to its use over the last eight years, a leading member of Congress said Thursday."

Now I know that word-bites such as this tend to blow the results of any study way out of proportion, so I will reserve an hard comments until I get all the facts, but the reason I chose to post about this topic is as follows:

I find it very frustrating that governments and health professionals are so quick to turn to drug treatment for diabetes, and are so opposed to any dramatic nutritional interventions.

Adam Campbell of Men's Health Magazine has been fighting this battle for a while now (See his blog HERE), and has stated time and time again that the "primary treatment for diabetes should be diet (and, of course, exercise)" and I agree.

This is more of a rant than anything else, but I will end with saying that diet and exercise are and always will be your best tools in the battle to stay healthy.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More Trouble for Diet Pop and Sodium Benzoate

Looks like Benzene and Sodium Benzoate are back in the news again.

If you remember, I wrote about diet pops, sodium benzoate and health risks HERE.

According to a recent release on, it appears that recent research has suggested that "benzoate contributes to faster ageing and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's".

Members of the soft drink industry have shot back saying that sodium benzoate is "approved for use by the Food Standards Agency and we follow the guidance of the regulatory authorities."

I don't know about you, but for me this recent development adds to the volume of questions that surround this ingredient.

My advice, treat pop the way it should be a dessert.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Difference Between a Diet Book and a Nutrition Book

In my quest to read as many diet and nutrition books as possible, I have stumbled across the difference between a "Diet Book" and a "Nutrition Book".

A Nutrition Book is roughly 300 pages of information on food, food politics and some biochemistry.

A Diet Book is roughly 300 pages of information of food, food politics, some biochemistry and recipes.

The difference is that in a nutrition book, all 300 pages are full of information. In a diet book, only the first 50 or so pages are information, the rest is filler in the form of recipes, food combining charts and calorie counters.

Most of today's diet books are one days-worth of reading, tops.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 25, 2007

Can Fish Oils Make You Thin?

If you've read the news in the last couple of days then you've probably read all the headlines about a new study that shows that the combination fish oils and exercise can help you lose fat.

To quickly summarize the study, researchers randomly assigned 75 overweight men and women to one of four groups:

  • Group One took 6 grams of fish oil per day,
  • Group Two took 6 grams of fish oil per day and exercised 3 days per week;
  • Group Three took 6 grams of sunflower oil (the placebo), and
  • Group Four took 6 grams of sunflower oil and exercised 3 days per week.
After 12 weeks, the results showed the subjects in Group Two (The people taking fish oil and exercising) lost body fat.

The subjects in this group lost a little over 3 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. Definitely not extraordinary, but significant nonetheless.

So people who exercised lost some fat. In my opinion this was expected. What was not expected was that the sunflower plus exercise group did not lose any fat.

Now, these people also added exercise to their lifestyle, so you would expect them to also lose fat. So either the combination of fish oil and exercise somehow 'created' this extra fat loss, or, pardon the pun, something is fishy with this study.

On closer inspection of the data I noticed something that may account for these results.

While the fish oil plus exercise group reported that their daily calorie intake pretty much remained the same for the 12 weeks of the study, the sunflower plus exercise group saw their daily caloric intake increase by 327 Kcals per day by week 6 of the trial, and stay elevated by 230 Kcals at week 12.

While the researchers make no mention of this as being significant, it may help explain the lack of fat loss in the sunflower plus exercise group.

At the end of the day, caloric restriction and exercise are the only way to lose fat. The better your exercise program and the better your diet, the more fat you will lose. Plain and simple.

However, don't rule out fish oils. Most fish oil research finds that they can benefit blood lipids and your cholesterol profile.

Bottom line, Fish oils are good for you, just don't get your hopes up about them making you lose weight.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nutritional Customs That Work

If you've had the chance to read the free report I wrote for titled "The Ten Day Diet Solution" then you know I am a fan of nutritional customs.

I think that setting rules that help us control what we eat by controlling how and when we eat is a great strategy for overall health and well being, and is a great (and easy) way to lose weight.

This is why I get angry when so called 'nutrition gurus' rip on nutritional customs.

Take the example of 'not eating after 7 pm' or 'not eating carbs after 7 pm.'

This is a ritual practiced by many of the fitness models I have had the pleasure of meeting over the years. Many of them follow this custom during the periods when they are preparing for a fitness competition.

No matter their reasoning, the simple fact is that this custom allows them to lower their caloric intake. There's no magic. It has nothing to do with increased fat burning, or decreased fat storage during nighttime, it is just a method of "intake" control. And it works because they like it, and its easy.

What bothered me was that a couple of years ago, while in a seminar session at the annual Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology conference, I heard a supposed nutrition guru explain why this custom was 'ineffective'.

With as much Show-man 'Bravado' as he could muster, he pointed out all the reasons why the "science did not support this fallacy" (While at the same time, pushing his own ridiculous weight loss diet plan).

The fact of the matter is, if people like to follow this nutritional custom, and it helps them eat less during the day, and stay in control of their nutrition plan, then it works. Plain and Simple.

Sometimes, so called gurus can blind themselves with science and lose site of the big picture. If it works for you and you are happy with it, then keep the custom.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Health Claims and Advertising

This morning I realized that yesterday's blog may have been a little confusing, so I made a trip to the grocery store so I could find some examples.

Luckily, I found two really good ones.

Firstly, on the side of a certain cereal box is the following statement, (it appears besides the Heart and Stroke Foundations "Health Check" symbol.)

"This cereal is low in fat and is a source of fibre. Emphasizing grain products such as cereals and increasing fibre intake are components of healthy eating. This cereal financially supports the Health Check education program of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. This is not an Endorsement"

Sounds pretty healthy to me. In fact, after reading this statement and noticing the 'Health Check' symbol I might buy this cereal for my kids.

However, at closer inspection we realize that "financially supports" means "gave money to" and "this is not an endorsement" means "This symbol does not mean our cereal was 'approved' by the Heart and Stroke Foundation".

My next example is on my bag of Oatmeal.

There is a little green check mark on the front of the bag, with a statement that the product is a "Smart Selection Made Easy". What they don't tell you is that the "Smart Selections" symbol is actually a trademark of the Oatmeal company.

The problem I have is that both of these products are descent food products. And, these advertisements are not misleading per se. However they do take advantage of the fact that not all of us may have the knowledge or the time to dig around and find the true meaning behind these claims.

This is why I think its best that when shopping for food, stick with the strong silent types that don't have to 'scream' about their health benefits.

No one ever questions whether or not eating an apple or a pear is good for you.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 18, 2007

Snake-Oil Traders

I Just finished reading an article in the Skeptical Inquirer by Edzard Ernst called "Snake-Oil Traders," that describes the current practice and marketing of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the UK.

It was a well written article, with some very interesting points regarding how the British Medical Association and the General medical Council governs the ethics of advertising in medicine.

Specifically, The British Medical Association takes the stance that people who seek medical advice are vulnerable to exploitation. Then they go on to say that the information doctors publish "Must not make unjustifiable claims, offer guarantees of cures, or exploit patent's vulnerability or lack of medical knowledge."

It was the last line that really caught my attention and made me think of the functional food and supplement industry.

Have you noticed how technical and scientific many of the current health claims are becoming in functional food and supplement advertising?

As more and more people are spending time worrying about their health, perhaps its time we adopted a stance that punishes companies from using marketing that is not misleading, but may be exploiting the fact that we might not all have the medical knowledge needed to make educated decisions about the claims in food and supplement advertising.

When it comes to health claims and advertising, I believe many companies are trying to 'blind us with science', thinking that if they use big enough words, then we will have no choice but to believe their claims.

When it comes to advertising, I prefer my 'functional foods' to be the strong silent types. The ones who don't have to yell and scream about their "awesome health benefits". You know, foods like oranges and bananas.

As Michael Pollan says, the more health claims on a product, the less healthy it probably is.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I got my A$$ Kicked By a 260 Pound Monster!

It's true!

It's finally getting nice outside up in Canada, so I decided to move my workouts outdoors.

I absolutely love this time of year, because in my opinion, training outside is about a thousand times more fun that training in a gym.

However, I forgot just how gruelling pulling sleds can be, and after only 3 trips of about 50 yards, my legs were burning and I was exhausted.

Lesson learned, nothing gets your conditioning up quite like pulling sleds.


PS- I just finished writing a new nutrition report for, this report will be FREE for anyone who signs up for the newsletter, so pop on over to and check it out.

Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 04, 2007

Nutrition from 1972

Just a quick post today to share an excerpt from a book I just read while waiting at my Doctor's office. (He was running a little behind, so I started leafing through some of his older text books).

Here's a piece from a Nutrition text book published in 1972 called "Human Nutrition and Dietetics" by Davidson, Passmore and Brock (fifth Edition)

"The diet of an athlete should not differ from an ordinary balanced diet, except for the need for an increase in calories."

I couldn't agree more.

I have often said that with the exception of the calorie content, the diet of an athlete should be no different from the diet of an average person.

Usually when I say this, the "sport nutritionists" out there tend to get their noses all out of joint, but when I re-word it as, "The diet of an average person should be the same diet as an elite athlete, just with different total calorie intake." they seem to be OK with it.

Go Figure.

The next excerpt was equally as interesting...

(Still talking about the diet of athletes)

"High energy diets should contain large amounts of fat unless they are to become very bulky. Physical activity prevents the disturbances in blood lipids which commonly arise in sedentary people on high fat diets, and large quantities of fat in the diet will do no harm to physically active people."

A couple interesting points from this statement.

Firstly - "Unless they are to become very bulky"

Since fat does not make the diet nearly as bulky as carbohydrates or proteins, I'm going to assume that the authors are referring to the athletes in question. This suggests that 35 years ago, we seemed to have not yet developed the "Fat makes you Fat" mentality we have today.

Secondly - "large quantities of fat in the diet will do no harm to physically active people."

This interesting quote is sure to raise many eyebrows, as it still has me thinking.

While I believe this statement is true, I will admit that my strengths are nutrition, metabolism and body composition, and not blood lipids and cardiovascular disease, so I will run this by some people who have a little more knowledge than I do in this area.

So the recommended diet for an athlete 35 years ago was to eat a healthy balanced diet, but add some more fat to keep your calories up.

Sounds perfect to me.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Why Starbucks is Like Godzilla

On Monday I had a chance to catch up with one of my good friends who has spent the last five years living in Japan. He was back in Canada for a wedding, and since I haven't seen him in years it was definitely time to catch up.

Of course, the conversation eventually turned to Nutrition, and I learnt an eye-opening fact about some disturbing trends in Japan.

According to my friend, Starbucks is making a push to get a foot-hold in the Japanese market. Kind of like Godzilla, only without the death and destruction.

While this shouldn't be shocking to any of us (after all, while visiting China I saw a Starbucks INSIDE the forbidden city!), what is shocking is the effect that Starbucks is having on some of the Japanese nutrition customs.

In Japan it is a centuries-old tradition that you don't drink while walking.

And this poses a huge dilemma for the Starbucks crowd.

Since space is very hard to come by in Japan, many of the Starbucks shops are walk-up "express" versions with little to no seating. Basically, if you want your Starbucks, you are going to have to walk with it.

And guess what - People are walking with their Starbucks. Starbucks is single-handedly destroying centuries of Japanese tradition.

This is a perfect example of a soon-to-be extinct custom that once prevented people from eating while they are distracted. And it fits perfectly with the stories I have been telling you from the book,"Mindless Eating".

In this incredible book there are examples of many other mindless eating methods that have replaced our own nutrition customs. (i.e. If you read it you'll find out what eating in front of the TeeVee has done to us, rather than eating around the dinner table).

So not only are these eating customs "sacred", but they also serve a purpose. In fact, I believe that the disappearance of traditional eating customs is one of the largest factors in our current obesity problem.

If you don't already have your own set of "nutrition customs" perhaps it's time you thought about adopting some.

Here is an easy one for all of you commuters out there. For the rest of this week, do not eat in your car. You can drink, just no food. This rule will help you keep your car clean AND save you from some mindless distracted eating.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.


PS- Summer is here so...

...strength coach John Barban is back running his summer conditioning camp. You can read about the first day of camp HERE.

Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Is There a Conspiracy to Make Us Fat?

Thanks to some very frustrating airport delays yesterday, I managed to finish off "Mindless Eating" by Brian Wansink.

This book did not disappoint me. Almost every page had great facts about the way food is marketed and the factors that make us decide to eat. This book is definitely in my list of top-ten must-read nutrition books.

I've been racking my brains trying to figure out the top lesson I learnt from this book so that I could share it with you, and I think I have it.

You know how everybody these days seems to be blaming the food companies for our obesity problem? - As if it's some giant conspiracy?

Well the number one thing I learnt from "Mindless Eating" is that there is no "fat conspiracy".
Food companies do not care if you EAT their foods. They only care if you BUY their foods and continue to BUY their foods.

The people at McDonalds don't care if you buy a happy meal, turn around and throw it in the garbage, just as long as you buy the happy meal.

Also, food isn't designed to be "fattening" (Whatever that means). Food is designed to be inexpensive for the companies to make and desirable enough for you to repeatedly purchase.

This is the great conspiracy. Yes food companies, restaurants and shopping centers go to great lengths to figure out how to make us BUY there food, but we are the ones making the decision to EAT the food.

And this is where some of the great ideas from "Mindless Eating" come into play.
Do you remember the picture of the four glasss I posted on my blog on Monday (look below)? Every glass in the picture contains 1 and a half cups of fluid, except for the small squat one, it has 2 cups.

This is reffered to as the "horizontal-vertical illusion". If you picture an upside-down capital "T" where both the horizontal line and the vertical line are the same length, we will always see the vertical line as being longer.

So if you were to fill the small cup to almost the top, like most of us do, it would contain a little over 2 and a half cups of fluid.

So a morning cup of orange juice could actually be a morning 2-and-a-half cups of orange juice. This could account for an extra 33 grams of sugar and 165 Calories!

This is just one great example of how our assumptions combined with some excellent marketing get us to buy more and consume more. If we can become more aware of these "overeating ques" that are around us every day, then we can be more aware of ways to avoid them.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

Stumble Upon Toolbar