Friday, November 30, 2007

Should you be on GH?

I’m willing to admit I abuse GH. In fact not only do I abuse GH, but many top, well-known fitness gurus abuse GH too!

Now I know what you are thinking…Brad couldn’t possibly be talking about growth hormone..the same hormone that Hollywood celeb’s (guys and girls) are rumoured to pay thousands of dollars for in an attempt to lose fat and stay young looking? The same GH that all the home run slugglin’ baseball players are getting caught using?

Yep, it’s that GH!

Now, before you get ready to turn me into the authorities, let me explain…

Anybody who has read Eat Stop Eat knows my opinion on the connection between fasting and growth hormone. And since I follow the Eat Stop Eat lifestyle, my GH levels are normally pretty high.

The interesting thing about GH is that many other fitness pros are abusing GH and they don’t even know it!

There is an important and often underestimated relationship between exercise and GH release. As little as ten minutes of intense exercise can have profound effects on increasing GH levels!

Hmmm, ten minutes of super intense exercise…sound familiar? Anyone who has ever done ten minutes of interval training knows just how intense this can be.

That’s right, turns out intervals and fasting share some similar benefits…they are both great fat loss tools and they both cause rapid increases in GH release.

So, why should you care?

Well, GH is being studied for a lot of cool things, like its ability to increase fat burning, to increase muscle mass and for its ability to make your skin look younger by improving its hydration. While this research is still ongoing, it is starting to show an interesting relationship between GH levels, body composition and aging.

So my advice is simple. Whether you are following the Eat Stop Eat lifestyle or not, try doing ten minutes of intense exercise every single day. I’d suggest getting it done right before your morning shower (It could be a bodyweight circuit of Y-squats, push-ups, lunges, stick-ups). This way, your GH will be elevated at some point during every day of the week.

Every little bit helps,


Fasting and growth hormone

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

DHA - The secret to Fish Oils

After a nice little break attending conferences in Florida, I'm right back into attending seminars in Canada.

Normally, I probably would have taken a day or two off, but yesterday's seminar was on a topic I've always found somewhat confusing - fish oils.

After sitting through a very entertaining lecture, I can tell you that the most important thing you need to know about fish oils is actually the three letters. D-H-A.

These three letters stand for the omega 3 fatty acid Docosahexanoic Acid, but since that's a bit of a tongue twister, everyone just says "DHA".

For all purposes DHA is the reason omega-3 supplements are so popular right now.

DHA is the component of fish oil that plays an important role in the development of brains and eyes of children, and may play a role our brain development even as adults.

The 'Secret' of fish oil is that the daily intake of DHA in North America is incredibly low. North American women tend to average around 80 mg per day of DHA, while children under the of 3 have a daily intake of less than 20 mg. So even the smallest amount of extra DHA in your diet could double your intake!

Now, increasing your intake of omega-3 oils from plants like flax seeds or flax seed oil will do very little to help boost your DHA levels. As it turns out, the best way to increase your DHA levels is by eating DHA. And that means eating more fish, fish oils, or some of the new algae based products that have also appeared on the market.

Now, before you start saying "but Brad, I hate fish and I hate the fish burps I get from fish oil capsules", let me tell you the good news- There are other options.

The next time you go to the grocery store, keep an eye out for foods that now have extra DHA in them. There are eggs and milk that have the added DHA, and of course my favorite, the chocolate milk with DHA. A food that adds as little as 10 mg of DHA to your diet per serving could drastically improve your DHA intake.

Here's my tip for you today - If you don't like fish and don't like taking pills, you can increase your DHA with these new functional foods (and they still taste great). A little extra could go a long way in helping you reach optimal health.

Brad and the team at

PS- If you want to learn more about the health benefits of DHA you can visit the website

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

6 Pack Abs, Made Easy

I just got back from a long weekend of travel. I spent the past 4 days in Florida, talking with a very interesting group of fitness professionals about the benefits of Eat Stop Eat.

I literally spent the entire weekend "talking shop". I never even had the opportunity to step outside into the warm Florida sun, not even for five minutes! And trust me, since I live in Canada, I was really looking forward to the feeling of the warm Florida sun rays beating down on my face!

However, the weekend was amazing (even though I'm completely lacking any form of a tan).

Several times during the conference I was asked, "Brad, I've heard about your book, and I wanted to ask you, in your opinion what is the number one benefit of Eat Stop Eat?"
Depending on who I was talking to (the audience ranged from personal trainers to PhD's) my answer varied from talking about the improvements in insulin sensitivity, to the flexibility of the program and how easy it is to follow.

It wasn't until I was back in my hotel room, getting ready for bed after a long day of lectures and seminars that I realized, for me, the number one benefit of Eat Stop Eat is the way it makes me look.

I know this sounds conceited and maybe even a little vain, but its true. I like my abs.

I have been practicing the Eat Stop Eat method of flexible fasting combined with resistance training for over a year now, and for over a year, I have never been more than 5 pounds off of my goal weight.

There is a certain freedom to knowing that you have found a program that works well, fits easily into your lifestyle and is completely uncomplicated.

And, come to think of it, this is the main reason that I wrote Eat Stop Eat - because I wanted to share this feeling with you.

So, if you haven't had the chance to check out Eat Stop Eat, please take a look at the following website ==>

It could very well be the program that you've been looking for.The one that can give you the freedom to feel great about the way you look, without complicating the way you eat.


PS- Just so you know I practice what I preach, I made sure to do a flexibel 24 hour fast on my travel days, so I could avoid the tempting call of my airport Nemesis - The smell of Cinnabon.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cereal, Kids and Diabetes

I woke up early this morning to find the following email in my in box from the American Diabetes Association.

"The number of children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes is on the rise as more and more kids become obese. The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention co-sponsored the latest efforts of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) to provide parents and teens with the tools necessary to reduce their risks of complications related to type 2 diabetes and manage their disease."

Considering the post I just wrote about snack foods and breakfast cereals, I thought this was very timely.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Snacking, Obesity, and Making Healthy Food Choices

Today I was in a mood for some snacks. So when I finally made it home and saw that my wife had bought my favorite breakfast cereal I knew it just had to be.

After I finished pouring myself a bowl, I noticed that the nutrition information was indicated for one cup of cereal. One Cup? This is what one cup of cereal looks like...

This made me curious, how much cereal do I usually 'free pour' for myself? After measuring my cereal I was shocked to find that I usually pour 3 cups of cereal for myself. Now, my bowl was not overflowing with cereal...In fact I think it looked pretty normal. Here's a picture...

To make sure I was not just being a little over zealous with my pouring, I had my wife pour herself a bowl, with instructions to pour an "average amount". This is what she poured...

She poured a little over two cups of cereal. Since the recommended amount of cereal is one cup, and I poured myself 3 cups, and my wife poured a little over 2 cups, I decided to take the middle ground and look at the nutritional profile for two cups of cereal. It looks like this...
Calories 460
Fat 9 g (saturated 3 g)
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 210 mg
Potassium 820 mg
Carbohydrates 86 g
Fibre 8 g
Sugars 26 g
Protein 10 g
WOW. So what I was about to eat as my "Snack" was going to be almost 1,000 Calories (3 cups of cereal with a cup of skim milk).
But let's stick with the 2 cups of cereal and compare it to my other favorite snack...

The nutrition profile for a Dairy Milk looks like this..

Calories 220
Fat 12 g (saturated 7 g)
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 70 mg
Potassium NA
Carbohydrates 26 g
Fibre 1 g
Sugars 22 g
Protein 4 g

So, the question is, which one is the better snack?

I compared the middle ground of the cereal intake (2 cups) to one bar of Dairy Milk (Even on a really bad day, I couldn't eat two chocolate bars in a row and not feel gross)

The cereal has added vitamins and minerals, has 6 grams more protein, 7 grams more fibre and 4 grams less saturated fat than the chocolate bar.
However, the candy bar has 24o less calories, 60 grams less carbohydrates and 4 grams less sugar than the cereal.
Comparing the ratios of protein to carbs, the cereal has a 1:8.5 ratio of proteins to carbs (I rounded down) while the candy bar has a protein to carbs ratio of 1:6.5.

So the question becomes is 6 grams of protein, 7 grams of fibre and 4 grams less saturated fat more important than the extra 240 calories, 60 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of sugar?

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure which is the better snack. I'm leaning towards saying the Diary Milk would be the healthier option, because I have a hard time beleiving the health benefits of an extra 6 grams of protein and 7 grams of fibre are worth the extra 60 grams of carbohydrates, however I know I can eat 3 cups of cereal and feel alright, but if I ate 3 Dairy Milks in a row, I'd be hurting. (which could be viewed as benefit as I simply cannot overeat chocolate to the degree I could with cereals)

My final point is that I think this little experiment illustrates the fact that when we are pointing fingers and proclaiming that certain food groups are causing our obesity crisis and our failing health, we may want to be careful who we are pointing at and why we are pointing at them.


PS- I'd love to hear your opinion...which do you think is the healtheir snack?

PPS- With Thanksgiving fast approaching, and the Winter Holidays after that, maybe it's time you took a look at my weight loss program Eat Stop Eat, and avoid the winter 10.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Food, Not Specific Nutrients, May Be Key to Good Health

Here is a review of a very interesting bit of research that was published in last month's Journal of Nutrition Reviews.

Food, Not Specific Nutrients, May Be Key to Good Health

In a way, this exemplify's both Eat Stop Eat and Nutrition by Addition, as it points to focusing on food, rather than specific nutrients in your approach to overall health.

Happy Reading,


PS - I received an absolutely amazing email from someone who has lost an impressive amount of weight while making some quality changes in his life, including incorporating the Eat Stop Eat of fasting for weight loss. You can read his email as the bottom of this page => HERE

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

How much protein do you need to build muscle?

The idea that you need massive amounts of protein in your diet in order to build muscle is one that will probably never go away. While I agree that many of us need to eat a little more protein than we typically do, I don't think we need super-mega amounts in order to pack on muscle.

In a really interesting study published back in 1996, 43 men who were experienced weight lifters took part in a study that involved exercise and weekly injections of testosterone enanthate for 10 weeks.

Yep, these boys were on steroids for the benefit of science!

They were divided into 4 groups.

  • The first group performed no exercise and didn't get any steroids.
  • The second group performed exercise but didn't get steroids,
  • The third group didn't exercise but received the weekly injections and
  • The fourth group exercised and received the injections.

As you can imagine after 10 weeks of lifting weights 3 times per week, the group that was receiving the steroid injections gained over 13 pounds of muscle.

The group who were just working out didn't do too bad either, packing on almost 4.5 pounds of muscle in only ten weeks.

The guys who sat around doing nothing for 10 weeks but received the steroid injections still had an increase in lean mass (almost 6 pounds), while the group who received no steroids and didn't workout did not see any change in their lean mass.

So what does a study on steroids have to do with nutrition? well, all four groups were on the same diet. They were all consuming about 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight and about 16 Calories per pound of body weight.

What this shows is that for a group taking steroids while exercising, 120 grams of protein per day was enough to supply the amount of protein needed to allow for a 13.5 pound gain in lean mass!

It was also the same amount of protein the the exercise only group ate to gain 4.5 pounds, and the other groups ate to see their gains, (or lack thereof).

What this shows is that for the groups who saw less gains in lean mass then the steroid group, the amount of protein that they ate was not what determined how much muscle they gained. The workouts and the steroids did that.

In the end, protein is important, but as this study shows, 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight is enough daily protein to allow for a 13.5 pound increase in lean mass in 10 weeks. It's also enough to allow for a 4.5 pound increase in people not taking steroids, which is still very impressive muscle growth for a ten week period!


For those of us who are not 'pharmaceutically enhanced' this study helps support the idea that your workout is the most important part of your muscle building journey.

Get a great workout, put in a great effort, see great results, it might just be that simple.

PS - If you are looking for my recommendation on a great quality workout, then Turbulence Training is where it is at. You can check out Craig Ballantyne's Turbulence Training programs by clicking HERE.

(Bhasin S, et al. The New England Journal of Medicine. 335(1), 1-7)

Interested in learning more about fasting for weight loss? Then click HERE

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Tom Venuto vs. grrlAthlete and Eat Stop Eat

If you are a regular reader of fitness and nutrition blogs, then there is a great chance that you have heard the name Tom Venuto. Tom is a well respected authority in the online weight loss community.

So why am I blogging about Tom?

Well in one of Tom's recent blog posts the issue of starvation mode was discussed (You can read it HERE). Specifically, Tom discusses an unnamed email that he disagrees with.

While I respect the fact that Tom blanked out the website name, but he didn't need to. The email was from the grrlAthlete newsletter. And since I'm involved in this site I stand behind the newsletter and its contents.

Here is a little background for you, Tom makes a living selling a weight loss program that "is based on keeping you OUT of starvation mode or minimizing its effects", while my program Eat Stop Eat, is based on the idea that when it comes to short periods of fasting combined with weight training, starvation mode does not exist.

pretty confusing. Two guys saying two completely different things about what sounds like the exact same thing. Well let's take a deeper look.

Firstly, the point of the grrlathlete email was that "starvation mode" as defined by most diet people as "a reaction to a caloric decrease that causes your body to slow down its metabolism and actually store more fat WHILE you are dieting", does not exist.

Our argument is based on the fact that your metabolism is largely based on your lean mass. In studies where people are dieting but their lean mass is maintained through resistance training, there is no reduction in metabolic rate.

Secondly, in periods of complete caloric restriction, LPL and HSL activity (the enzymes that regulate the movement of fat in your body) change to encourage the movement of fat out of your fat stores into your blood and to your muscles where they can be burnt for fuel. If you body was actually storing fat, this enzyme activity would need to be reversed, and this just doesn't seem to happen.

So far I think Tom would agree with our points, they definitely make logical sense and are backed by a considerable number of scientific studies.

In fact, I think his post points out one of the major problems that we have with "starvation mode" - that it lacks a solid definition.

For instance, Tom states out that there is a large amount of research that points out that in studies where lean body mass is reduced considerably, not only is metabolic rate lowered, but it is lower than would be expected by the loss in lean body mass alone.

I have no problems with this statement. When someone loses considerable amounts of lean mass there are many metabolic ramifications of this loss, including many hormonal changes. Again, this is a result of the loss of lean mass, and not the caloric restriction per say. So again, his point is the same as our point - caloric restriction doesn't slow down metabolism, but loss in lean body mass does and a loss in lean mass can have a snowball effect on lowering your metabolism.

The most troubling part of Tom's post was the reference to the Minnesota Experiment, a very old study conducted in the 1940's that studied the effect of 6 months of starvation on healthy male subjects. Now there are a lot of issues with this experiment that I'm positive Tom nor any other fitness expert would agree with.

For instance, The men in the trial started off already very skinny - 5'10" and about 150 pounds was the average. This would correspond to a BMI of under 21. I'm sure if someone with these same measurements came to Tom for advice he would tell them to start weight training and put on some muscle.

But instead of starting a solid weight training program, they reduce their calories down to as low as 1500 Calories for 6 months.

Not only this but they also had to walk 22 miles a week! that's over 3 miles a day of long slow boring cardio...the equivalent of walking on a treadmill for an hour every day...something that goes directly against the muscle preserving advice of Fitness Experts Like Craig Ballantyne, John Barban and Tom Venuto.

Now, getting back to starvation mode. The point of the original email was that caloric restriction does not cause a decrease in metabolic rate, but rather that a loss of muscle mass is what causes metabolic rate to slow down.

So did the people in the Minnesota experiment lose muscle...well, based on these pictures, I'd say yes!

Before and after pics of a subject from the Minnesota Experiment. Two things to notice 1) This subject was VERY skinny to begin with 2) This subject obviously lost muscle mass over the course of the study.

The bottom line is that the Minnesota Experiment did not control for changes in lean mass, nor did many of the other early studies on caloric restriction. This is why many early nutrition studies say that caloric restriction causes a reduction in metabolic rate, and why these studies are confounded.

Lastly, Tom points out that contrary to what was stated in the grrlAthlete email, Starvation mode is actually a scientific term that describes starvation induced increases in "food seeking behavior". Again, you can see the problem with starvation mode and its very vague definition.

If this is the official definition of starvation mode, than it may very well exist in this regard, but this is VERY different from the "starvation mode" as defined in the typical diet literature of "caloric restriction causing a decreased metabolic rate and increased fat storage".

The take home point here is that I stand by the statement that caloric restriction does not cause a decreased metabolic rate and increased fat storage. It is a decrease in lean mass that causes these effects, and this decrease in lean mass can be prevented by a proper weight training program.

Hope this helps,


PS- With regards to the question, "who is right?" I am hoping this post helps clarify that in a way, we are both right, and under that same pretense its important for me to say that I do not believe that my Eat Stop Eat is the only road to weight loss.

I believe that short term periods of fasting for weight loss are an incredibly effective and easy method, but it is by no means the only method. I'm sure that Tom Venuto's program "Burn the fat" and other program like John Berardi's "Precision Nutrition" are also very effective. Different but effective.

At the end of the day the key is finding a program you can stay on long term, because finding the right diet that works for YOU and combining it with a solid resistance training program is the key to succesful, long term weight loss.

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