Adam Campbell over at the Men's Health Blog does a great job of explaining why lifting weights is such a vital part of any weight loss routine.
Weight lifting (or any form of resistance training) helps you burn more fat while on a diet then you would with just the diet alone.
You can read Adam's post HERE, and be sure to check out the great graph!
PS- Even my program EAT STOP EAT isn't just about meal timing and short periods of fasting for weight loss - it is the combination of short periods of fasting combined with resistance exercise. I truly believe that this combination is the key to long term weight loss success!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Adam Campbell over at the Men's Health Blog does a great job of explaining why lifting weights is such a vital part of any weight loss routine.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Here's a quick nutrition tip for you.
Resveratrol is a interesting chemical found in several plant species that is currently being studied for its possible anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects.
While Resveratrol is commonly known to be found in red grapes, blueberries, cranberries and red wine, you can also find high sources in peanuts.
An ounce of peanuts can contain as much as 70 micrograms of Resveratrol, about the same amount as in a half ounce of red wine.
Since many people associate the Red colour of red wines and grapes with their Resveratrol content you may be wondering why peanuts aren't red (since they contain so much Resveratrol). It turns out Resveratrol is only red at certain pH's (acidic environments), otherwise it has a neutral color!
Monday, October 29, 2007
It was about a month ago that I attended a seminar that was covering the health benefits of red yeast extract. During this seminar I heard some pretty convincing evidence supporting the beneficial effects that supplemental red yeast extract has had on cholesterol levels in various clinical trials.
As a scientist, I tried my best to pick apart the research, however that data was fairly convincing. I left the seminar open to the idea that red yeast extract may hold promise for its beneficial effects of lowering cholesterol.
This morning I read in an issue of Nutrition Outlook Magazine that stated that some red yeast extract products have been pulled from the market because they were adulterated with Lovastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug.
Now, this has me wondering, what kind of red yeast extract was used in the scientific trials? Did they also contain Lovastatin, and can that account for the cholesterol lowering effects that were observed?
While most likely we will never know the answers to this question, and I am sure that not all red yeast extract products have been adulterated, this kind of thing does make me even more hesitant about the efficacy (and safety) of herbal supplements.
This is another reason why I like the simplicity of using exercise combined with caloric restriction or short periods of fasting for weight loss purposes- you are getting the health benefits (including improvements in cholesterol profiles) simply by eating less, so you don't have to worry about what might, or might not be, in your functional food.
In this regard, you can think of eating less as "functional NO food".
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Just a quick note today to point out that this time last year was the very first time I tried a 24 hour fast.
By now, I had collected over a hundred papers on the topic of short-term fasting, and was starting to put "pen to paper".
I can honestly say, I don't think I'll ever go back.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I spent the morning catching up on some reading today, and came across a very interesting study in Acta Physiologica Scandinavia - The journal of the Scandinavian physiological society. In this study the effects of a 3-day fast on regional lipid and glucose metabolism was examined.
The authors found the typical benefits that are associated with fasting:
- No decrease in Energy Expenditure - metabolic rate DID NOT slow down
- A decrease in RQ - indicating an increase in fat burning
- Increased blood flow - some very impressive numbers, I challenge any "NO" supplement to show this kind of data!!
- Decreased blood insulin levels - Considered to be one of the major health benefits of fasting
- Increased glucagon levels - more reliance on body fat as a fuel source
- Increased Growth Hormone levels - Anybody who has read Eat Stop Eat knows that I think this is one of the major keys behind the benefits of fasting
- Increased noradrenaline - More fat burning hormones
- No increase in cortisol - No reason to think that muscle is being broken down
One of the major things that caught my eye in this paper was the great graph showing the change in fuel sources that were fueling metabolism.
You'll notice that the amount of calories being burned are roughly the same (about 2000 Kcals), however during fasting a lot more of these calories are coming from fat. And, since the subjects were not eating any fat while fasting, this fat must have been body fat.
Another interesting finding was that the majority of this fat was either stomach fat or muscle fat.
While I would not recommend fasting for 3 days straight (I prefer 24 hours), this study does add evidence to the idea that fasting can be an effective method of reducing calorie intake, and does not negatively effect metabolic rate, or muscle mass.
(Gjedsted J, Gormsen LC, Nielsen S, et al. Effects of a 3-day fast on regional lipid and glucose metabolism in human skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Acta Physiol 2007, 191, 205-216.)
Monday, October 22, 2007
Here are a couple great "Nutrition by Addition" ideas:
1. Instead of using lettuce in your sandwich try using Basil or even Mint leaves.
Basil has been studied for its oxidant protective abilities, and for its relatively high Vitamin K content, while extracts from mint are currently being studied for their potential in Cancer Treatment.
2. Add rosemary to any Egg Dish
Rosemary is currently being studied for having anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Add Dried Cranberries to a Spinach Salad.
Cranberries are being studied for their potential in Diabetes treatment. Be careful to avoid certain brands of dried cranberries as they have been soaked in extra sugar.
The other day, I was having a conversation with several nutrition graduate students when someone made the comment that peanut butter is a "terrible food".
I've always personally thought that there really is no such thing as a terrible food, or even a bad food for that matter. Tome, it is always a matter of moderation and variety.
The problem with peanut butter is the presence of two certain strains of mold - Aspergillus Flavus and Aspergillus Parasiticus. While we can't see either of these molds with the naked eye, they are almost always present in peanut butter(and many varieties of nuts, corn, grains, spices, soybeans,beer and milk for that matter).
The trouble with these molds is that they secrete a natural mycotoxin called aflatoxin, a known carcinogen that can cause liver cancer in laboratory animals.
In 1965, the USDA set standards for acceptable levels of aflatoxin in peanuts. Every peanut sheller is required by the USDA to have every lot of peanuts tested by a government-approved lab prior to shipping. Any that are found to be in excess of 20 parts per billion (ppb) are not allowed for sale for human consumption. However, many health professionals feel that this standard may be too high, and should be lowered.
Since it seems inevitable that Peanut butter will contain some amount of aflatoxin, it begs the question why eat it at all?
Well firstly, It's a cheap source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6,and artery-friendly monounsaturated fats. Secondly, it just tastes good, and good tasting food is hard to avoid (mind you, people with peanut allergies are very good at it).
You could just try and 'replace' peanut butter with a substitute, but unfortunately, great tasting peanut butter alternatives like almond butter and my personal favorite cashew butter, also run the risk of containing aflatoxins. And,although a study conducted by the FSA in 2000-2001 suggests that these peanut butter alternatives may have lower contents of aflatoxins, the truth is, they will still contain some aflatoxins.
For the most part, exposure to aflatoxins seems unavoidable with the typical North American diet. Again, increasing the variety of foods you eat seems to be an appropriate course of action when dealing with Aflatoxins, so try other nut butters including Almond, sunflower and cashew.
The best course of action is most likely to try your best to increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet. After all, if you can't help but eat small amounts of cancer causing agents every day, it makes sense to offset this by eating very large amounts of cancer fighting agents, like the ones found in fruits and vegetables.
PS- Another key to combating the potentially harmful impact of mycotoxins in your diet is to reduce the amount of food you eat. Research conducted on the benefits of caloric restriction and intermittent periods of short term fasting have shown that they can lower the risk of certain types of cancer and suppress tumor growth.
PPS- If you are interested in a diet plan that utilizes a super easy and effective method of using short periods of fasting as a way to reduce calories then check out Eat Stop Eat
Thursday, October 18, 2007
You may have noticed that part of my "mantra" for healthy nutrition includes eating lots of nuts, herbs and spices.
There is a very good reason why you should include as much variety of thse foods into your diet as possible...
Back when I worked in the supplement industry I was always amused when ever I looked through the list of potential new ingredients that had strong supporting research behind their effects.
The list typically looked something like this: Green tea extract, cinnamon extract, raspberry extract, pine nut extract, curcumin, cayenne pepper extract, mint, basil, rosemary...
Notice anything about this list?
These are all ingredients that you could be adding to your diet, especially if you are following the principle of nutrition by addition. Many of these ingredients are currently being studied for their potential to have positive effects on some very important markers of health, such as helping to manage healthy insulin levels, cholesterol levels and some of the more complex areas of body weight regulation.
The funny thing is, I often wonder if these ingredients would still be considered potential "functional foods" if we ate them more often. I believe that nuts, herbs and spices are one of the missing links in North American Health. If we ate them more often, then we would be regularly reaping their health benefits, and wouldn't need some fancy label like "functional foods" to describe them!
Take pinolenic acid for example. This compound is currently being studied for its potential beneficial effects on several ofthe 'hunger hormones' that regulate our feelings of hunger.
This ingredient has some big potential and, most likely will be available in a pill sometime in the very near future.
Of course, instead of buying the pill, you could always get it in its natural form by adding a handful of pine nuts to your salad.
A perfect example of Nutrition by Addition and the importance of eating a variety of nuts, herbs and spices.
PS - Here is what Craig Ballantyne had to say after he read Eat Stop Eat:
"This book will question everything you've ever been told about eating for fat loss. Bodybuilder mags have hyped up their eating & created inhuman workout programs for one reason - to sell supplements. That's right. Most nutrition programs are "designed" just to sell you stuff like protein powder and expensive post-workout sugar drinks. Brad's book turns the industry upside down and shows you how to eat normally, while making one slight, easy change that could bethe missing link in your fat loss nutrition program."
You can learn more about fasting for weight loss by going here
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I've always been a fan of nutrition by addition. The idea that you have to constantly avoid the foods you like in order to eat healthy is nonsense. Sometimes the best way to add nutritious foods to your diet is by adding them to things that are traditionally "bad" for you.
Take chocolate cake for example. I love chocolate cake (actually, I love anything chocolate). One single slice of chocolate cake can have as much as 300 Calories, 40 grams of sugar and almost no fiber. But, if you top that piece of cake with a whole cup of raspberries you add only 60 Calories, with over 8 grams of fiber, and over 30 mg of Vitamin C. A perfect example of nutrition by addition!
Yesterday, my wife picked up a cookbook that she heard about on Oprah. It's called "Deceptively Delicious" and it is written by Jessica Seinfeld (Yes, she's married to Jerry). As usual I was skeptical, but WOW this book is full of great ideas for nutrition by addition!
I highly recommend "Deceptively Delicious" to anyone with picky eaters in their household, or who are looking for creative and fun ways to practice nutrition by addition.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Lately, I've noticed a lot of people are trying out fasting for weight loss. There are lots of different types of fasting methods you can use, from the Eat Stop Eat method of fasting once or twice a week, to a more stict form where you fast every other day.
Personally, I'm not a fan of every other day fasting. I've tried it and found it to be too restricting. One of my stongest beleifs when it comes to nutrition is that any plan you are on must not only be effective, but it also needs to be flexible and easy for it to succeed long term, and with every other day fasting I definetly new I was on a diet.
Now I wont aruge with the fact that you can see some great results with this type of protocol, I just couldn't be on a diet that was that controlled for too long before I'd get tired of it.
That's why I prefer the Eat Stop Eat method, and another method I recently learned about while reading the will work for Abs blog . The method is called "Lean gains" and involves shorter periods of fasting (16 hours). The cool thing is that Martin Berkhan, the author of this method, actually uses it with his clients as a form of fasting to gain muscle!
Its a very interesting concept and one I will have to look into further. I've exchanged some emails with Martin and found him to be very knoweledgable and logical. His site is worth checking out. ==> http://www.leangains.com/
That's all for now,
Monday, October 08, 2007
In my opinion there are two types of vegetarians. You can either be a healthy vegetarian or a box vegetarian. And personally, I think box vegetarians are some of the most unhealthy people in the world.
A healthy vegetarian, is a person who has decided not to eat all, or some, forms of animal products, and instead has turned to a diet extremely high in a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. These types of vegetarians tend to be better than average cooks, and are extremely creative in the kitchen.
Box vegetarians on the other hand, are people who has decided not to eat all, or some, forms of animal products and instead live off of anything and everything that comes in a box (cereal, pasta, crackers) and occasionally have some fruits and veggies to go along with their box food.
It doesn't matter if you are a vegetarian or a die-hard meat eater, at no point should the majority of the foods you eat be boxed foods.
PS- the key to avoiding box foods is knowing how to shop properly. Check out this blog for a very impressive grocery list, and to get some ideas for your next meal!
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Well, it finally happened. I knew it would happen sooner or later, so I can't say I'm surprised.
Someone referred to my book Eat Stop Eat as a "fad diet". Now, I know for a fact that this person hasn't actually read my book, so really they were implying that using fasting for weight loss was a "fad diet". In particular, I think what this person was trying to point out was that long term, prolonged fasts aren't ideal for weight loss...which could be the farthest thing from what Eat Stop Eat recommends...but I digress..
This particular person felt the need to point out that "weight control and body composition changes are achieved by healthy nutrition, sensible dieting and an active lifestyle."
hmmm, interesting. Lets take a look at exactly how Eat Stop Eat fits into this description.
Firstly, in the united states, the US Dietary Guidelines describe a "healthy diet" as one that:
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts;
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars; and
- Stays within daily calorie needs.
You'll notice two things. Right away, the US Dietary Guidelines make no mention of how many times you should eat in a day, nor do they mention anything about the ideal amount of time in between each meal (For my Canadian friends, the Canadian Guidelines for Healthy Eating doesn't mention any form of recommendation for the amount of times in a day you should eat or an ideal amount of time in between each meal either) .
Second, compare the bullets above to the following statement...
"Eat less, but enjoy the foods you eat. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and lots of herbs and spices. And maybe most importantly, spend less time stressing over the types of food you are eating."
This is my own personal "golden rule of eating" that I share in Eat Stop Eat.
Finally, Eat Stop Eat is not just a specific method of using short term fasting for weight loss. It is a specific method of using resistance exercise AND short term fasting for weight loss.
Thus, by all accounts using brief periods of fasting (especially the Eat Stop Eat method where you still eat everyday) in combination with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, can be considered within the scope of the US Dietary Guidelines and if followed correctly, an effective tool in a person's on going quest for health nutrition and sensible weight loss.
If you are interested in learning more about using 24 hour fasts for weight loss, then check out my book Eat Stop Eat