Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Losing weight with Intermittent Fasting

For a great success story that has a cameo appearance by non-other than Eat Stop Eat, check out Richard Nikoley's latest blog post here:

Success with Intermittent Fasting

I think Richard's story fits perfectly with the Eat Stop Eat phiolosophy of flexible periods of intermittent fasting combined with a time-efficient weight training program.


PS - Here's some great feedback I received over Email from Sue Grady
in Pennsylvania

"I love your book, EAT STOP EAT. great information, thank you for finally telling the truth! I just finished my first fast, and you are right. i actually felt *fantastic* without food in my system."

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Why am I so Tired?

Yesterday was a daddy / daughter day.

I took Brier to a breakfast place we have around southern Ontario called Cora's (www.chezcora.com).

After eating a rather massive breakfast for lunch consisting of french toast, crepes and fresh fruit, I headed back to the office, and battled to stay awake for the rest of the day.

I know I may come across as a "pro-carbs" kinda guy, but in reality, I mean it when I say "we could all benefit from eating a little less carbs." The difference is, I don't think you need to cut carbs for weight loss, but I do think their are health benefits to eating less carbohydrates and especially sugar.

And, their may be productivity benefits too. I can't recall the last time bacon and eggs made me sleepy. But I know that anytime I have a big "sugar bomb" type of meal, I'm out like a light about 30 minutes after I'm done eating.

At thanksgiving, its not the turkey that gets me, its the stuffing.

Now that I think about it, I'm rarely "nappy" during my fasting days (and I love my naps).

Makes you wonder about the miracle meal that breakfast is made out to be. There seems to be some missing logic here.

Wake up, then try your best to put yourself right back into a deep sleep by eating pancakes, oatmeal, toast and maybe some OJ.

Bottom line - If you are constantly asking yourself "Why am I so tired all the time?", maybe it's what you are eating (as opposed to the far too common answer of "you must be hungry, eat something").


PS - Here is some great Eat Stop Eat feedback from the ttmembers forums (www.ttmembers.com)...

"I have been on the Eat Stop Eat program now for 6 weeks. A solid 12lb wt
loss! So far for me its the easist diet I have tried. Activity level is
turbulance wts 2 x per week. Recumbent bike interval 2x per week. Brazilian
jiu-jitsu 2 x per week. I am 53. Male. Starting wt 251 present wt 239."

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eat Stop Eat - Europe's Best Kept Secret?

Back when I first started writing Eat Stop Eat, I was very careful not to mistakenly put any exaggerations into my writing. Exaggerating is a simple mistake to make, especially when you are very passionate about what you are writing.

The one I was very careful to avoid was the "Fasting is so effective that it is used by millions of people in Europe", or "Fasting is so effective it is used with great success in European medical practice". Truthfully, I've read things like this on the internet, but was never able to find any true substantiation.

For those of you who remember what the bodybuilding industry was like back in the late 90's you will know exactly where I am coming from.

In the late 90's every single "new" supplement was "Europe's best kept secret", and was "So effective it is being used with great success by European Doctors".

The funny thing is, I have just learned that with fasting, this might actually be true. I received a very interesting email from a friend who lives in France who has also authored a book on the topic of fasting.

I have always been very curious as to how Europe views the concept of fasting for weight loss. In our conversation I learned that fasting is actually quite popular in many European countries.

In the email he stated that "In Germany, two million people do a week of fasting every year". He also shared that "In Russia, fasting is a recognized medical treatment, and the most popular Russian book on fasting sold 30 million copies in ten years (Goldanie by Malachov)."

I'm not sure if this is a practice of prolonged fasting, or if it is more of an Eat Stop Eat style of intermittent fasting. (I am going to try to get my hands on a translated copy of these books to learn more). Whatever the case may be, I found all of this information very interesting.

There is even a French Federation of Fasting and Walking, which I am eager to learn more about. I really like the simplicity of this concept...I can just imagine the slogan "Have you put on some weight lately? Well stop eating so much and go for a walk!"

Add in a weight training session or two and you've got my endorsement!


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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to keep arm size while dieting

I received a great question over the weekend about dieting and losing muscle.

To paraphrase the question, it was quite simply, "If I am not losing muscle mass while I am dieting, then how come my upper arm has lost a quarter inch in girth?"

Well, to get to the bottom of this problem we need to look at some very basic math.

Lets take a 16 inch arm as an example...

( I apologize for the bashed up knuckles and hairy armpits)

If you took my arm and cut it in half right through the middle of the biceps, this is what it would look like...

(A hypothetical cross-section of my arm, labels included)

You will notice that my arm circumference can be described as circular. If we remember all the way back to grade 11 math class, we might remember that we can calculate the circumference of a circle from its radius and vice versa (I say 'might', because I had to look it up on google)...

(The radius is the distance from the center of your arm all the way to the skin on the outside)

Since we know that the circumference of a circle can be calculated by the equation Circumference = 2(pi)radius, we can determine how much (or little) of a change is needed to the radius of the arm to create a quarter inch loss in girth...

So for a 16 inch arm like the one in the picture above, the radius would be 2.546 inches. For that same arm to lose 1/4 of an inch in its circumference, the radius would have to be reduced to 2.507 inches, a loss of a little less than 1 mm.

So if I lost a little less than 1 mm of subcutaneous fat from my arm (which is more than possible, and barely detectable with most skin fold calipers) I could lose a whole 1/4 inch of my arm measurement without actually losing any muscle mass.

Fat loss happens everywhere,


PS- If you are interested in an easy way to lose fat without losing any muscle, check out EAT STOP EAT here and learn more about flexible fasting for weight loss.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Fasting AND Mental Clarity

As an early Valentines day present I bought my wife the new Mac Book Air. A fantastic machine that has made both our lives a lot easier (For those of you thinking "who gives people electronics for Valentines, don't worry, I also bought her roses!).

Now, no matter where we are in the house or in our travels with lil' Brier, we can have access to the net. Add in the fact that her new mac book is thinner than my Black Berry, and only weighs 3 pounds, and you have the perfect computer for a new Mom on the go (Brier has a busier social schedule than any other 8 month old I know!).

Thanks to the MacBook Air, I was able to spend some time this morning reviewing The Conditioning Research Blog. A great blog that covers a lot of relevant information on fasting.

I noticed Chris ( the blog's author) makes some comments about fasting and increased mental alertness and mental clarity.

I found this interesting because I have had a surprising number of people email me to tell me that they feel a heightened sense of energy and concentration while they are fasting.

It's true. Many people following Eat Stop Eat have told me that they are their most productive when they are fasting.

Perhaps this is because they aren’t spending any time worrying about what and where they are going to eat next, or perhaps it’s because fasting increases circulating levels of the adrenal hormones. Either way, it seems that brief periods of fasting can be useful as a method of increasing both your energy and ability to concentrate.

Eat Stop Eat - An effective way to lose weight that is much easier than you might think, and that just might help you finish that major presentation in time!


No more counting calories to lose weight

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

The lighter side of Food

It's been pretty serious around the Nutrition Help Blog these last couple days. Luckily, Adam Campbell gave me a great idea....a little Jim Gaffigan to lighten the food.

Why Jim? About a minute in, it's all about food.

I could only imagine what Jim would Say about Eat Stop Eat..."I just ready a book about some guy who wants me to stop eating for 24 hours....is that even legal?"


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Does capsaicin burn fat?

I can remember back to my supplement industry days when capsaicin was a big deal. It had a couple studies showing it increased fat burning and more importantly customers would actually 'feel' their fat burner working when it had capsaicin in it.

Unfortunately, this 'feel' was mostly increased gustatory sweating (not your metabolism revving up 2017% higher than normal), and in my personal opinion all the capsaicin in the world isn't going to make you lose weight.

However, capsaicin isn't completely worthless. After all, it's the chemical in chili peppers that makes them "hot". And, from my experience most pungent components of foods such as capsaicin tend to have health benefits.

Lucky for us a company has finally found a great way to use capsaicin in one of their products.

(Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate with Chili - Pure Awesomeness)

Rich dark chocolate and chili pepper extract. Trust me, it tastes way better then it sounds.


PS- Happy Valentine's Day!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Does Cutting Calories Work?

I am beginning to hate shoveling. We are preparing for another 10-12 inches of snow tonight, and I still haven't completely shoveled the last big dump of snow that hit us on Friday. I think it's time to move somewhere warm. I'm thinking Gainesville!

I've been trying to answer all the comments that have appeared on my last post, and I've noticed a number of them are referring back to Gary Taubes. Many people have mistakenly taken the main point of his book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" to be that cutting calories wont help you lose weight.

Instead of getting involved in a big scientific debate over this, I'm going to use the scientific method with this one.

I'm a giant fan of Karl Popper, in my opinion he is one the greatest contributors to the scientific method. It was Popper who suggested that nothing in science could be proven correct, it could only be proven incorrect. And that these constant attempts at proving theories incorrect is what moves our knowledge forward.

So, for the theory that caloric restriction does not work for weight loss, and that the only way to reduce weight is by decreasing the intake of carbohydrates, regardless of calories, I would suggest that extreme results that occur with both laparoscopic band surgery and gastric bypass surgery are evidence that reducing the amount of calories the body can absorb results in substantial, measurable weight loss. These finding are repeatable and reproducible.

(An extreme example, but it does prove a point)

Because of the strength of these finding we can say that with surgical interventions that result in the bodies inability to absorb calories from food their is a rapid reduction in total body weight.

Because of this, we can say that the statement that reducing calories does not cause weight loss is invalid. Irrespective of the percentage of carbohydrate intake, the simple act of reducing calories will reduce bodyweight.


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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Calories, Weight Loss & Weight Gain

Remember how I told you I was snowed in on Friday? Well it’s been exceptionally warm today, so as a result I’m at home dealing with a flooded basement. Awesome.

Somewhere in-between ripping up carpet and tearing down drywall I managed to check my email this morning and received a very interesting question:

“Have you ever met someone who was eating too few calories for weight loss and then when they ate more, they lost weight?”

In my opinion fitness experts are making a huge mistake telling people that you can actually eat so little that you stop-losing weight.

Only in the diet industry could people get away with making a statement like this that lacks so much common sense.

I think this misconception is caused by the articles you read in bodybuilding and fitness magazines and is a prime example of obsessive compulsive eating (OCE).

If you dig down into the history of this theory you will find that it comes from the idea that all we have to do is slightly cut our calories to lose weight at a super accelerated rate.

Let’s analyze the classic example of a man attempting to get shredded by reducing is calorie intake from 2400 down to 2200.

Firstly, it’s important to realize that none of us really know exactly how much we eat.

Sure, we can get a rough idea by using tools like fitday.com, and we might be able to say we eat around 2400 every day, but we could be off by a hundred or so calories in either direction simply as the result of some bad rounding and incorrect estimating.

For instance, a food that is 100 Calories per serving could actually be 104, and the 2 servings you ate could actually have been closer to 2.5. These small little underestimations can all ad up pretty quickly.

Secondly, and here’s the kicker, we really have NO IDEA if 2400 was the right “maintenance” number to begin with!

Perhaps for the person in the example a true maintenance intake is actually 2332 Calories and the 2400 that he has been eating represents a very slow almost undetectable steady weight gain.

Now a reduction down to 2200 calories is barely a 4% reduction in calories. And, I guarantee that in this situation on any given day, 2200 could easily become 2300 and thus cause no weight change at all.

Hopefully by now you are seeing why over-analyzing your nutrition and focusing too much on numbers can cause “Paralysis by Analysis”. Things that should work on paper may not work in real life.

It may be true that over the long run even small changes like this can create big results, but it takes some serious amount of appraisal and adaptation to make weight loss happen at more drastic speeds.

So forget all of the numbers and equations and stick with what we know for sure-
If a certain amount of calories does not make you lose weight, then that amount of calories is the amount it takes to maintain your current weight at your current activity level.

To lose more weight you can either decrease the calories you eat, or increase the calories you burn. It does not matter who you are or what you do; this is the easiest most logical approach.
It also does NOT matter what person X eats or how much person Y exercises, it only matters how much YOU currently eat and if YOU are currently losing weight.

If you aren’t losing weight and you want to, then you must adjust your calorie deficit.
The idea that there is a dieting threshold and that dieting too much will actually stop weight loss is silly.

I think it is important to for us to look outside of health and fitness occasionally. A very harsh example of the effects of extreme caloric deprivation is people who suffer from anorexia.
These poor people reduce their calories to ridiculously low levels to the point where they waste away until they die.

They never hit a magic number where they stop losing weight. AND they see massive losses of muscle mass, so by the classic definition they would have 'slower' metabolisms, yet they still lose weight until they are a walking skeleton, and then unfortunately for many of them, until they are deceased.

I know this is a very harsh example, but it puts things into perspective, and corrects our myopic “health and fitness” view of how the body works.

People who advocate the idea of “eating so little that you stop losing weight” should Google image search anorexia just to remind themselves how ridiculous they sound. And, imagine how they must make families who have lost loved ones to anorexia feel when they say; “if you eat too little you won’t lose weight”.

Another, less tragic example are long distance runners.

These people eat a lot. And they eat a lot of Carbohydrates. But because of their training they still spend large periods of time in a caloric deficit.

This combination of intense exercise and not being able to make up for this level of training with the amount of foods they eat keeps their bodyweight and body fat at extremely low levels. It does not make sense that eating even less would slow their weight loss.

"Amy, you're looking a little thin, better start eating less so you don't lose any more weight"

Lastly the idea that eating more will actually cause you to lose weight, is just typical of the OCE confusion that they use to fill the fitness magazines and that over the years has managed to dig its claws into the dieting paradigm.

If a long distance runner started to eat more food, they would start losing more weight? Similarly, would an anorexic lose more weight by eating more? I don’t think so.

Now I’m not condoning extremely harsh low calorie diets (I think a 10-20% reduction from a true maintenance is ideal).

What I am advocating is careful appraisal of the progression of a diet, and logical problem analysis for logical solutions. Follow this paradigm and nothing about weight loss ever has to be drastic.

If you lower your calories you will lose weight. If you continue to lose weight you will eventually hit a new weight that your lower calorie intake can maintain. This means you will stop losing weight.

If you lower your calories slightly again you will start losing weight again until your body reaches the weight that your new lower calorie intake can support. These changes may be very minor, but they still need to be made.

I will admit that drug use may skew everything I just said, as would people who are attempting to get to super freaky levels of near death body fat for a real bodybuilding show.

I’ve spoken with many trainers who have very unique stories about top level athletes who are getting down to incredibly low levels of body fat and who have stalled in their fat loss. If you are trying to go from 4.5% body fat down to 4% you are way outside of normal human physiology and I admit I’m not an expert in this area.

In this unique situation things like “refeeding” days may actually be warranted. Again, preparing people to be on a stage, near death, flexing for an audience is not my area of expertise.

For normal people trying to lose weight, maybe even get lean enough to have a visible "6-pack" of abs, everything I just said is my educated opinion of the way things work.

There is a lot of confusion out there, but none of it is really logical.

This is why I hate Obsessive Compulsive Eating. It just doesn’t make any logical sense.

Its time we started thinking like children again. If you asked a classroom full of 8 year olds what happens if they eat too much they’d all yell out “we’d get fat”. Ask them what happens when they eat to little, they yell, “we’d get skinny”.

This is why I follow the Eat Stop Eat program. I simply don't beleive that equations, calculations and estimations are effective tools for weight loss. I like finding an amount of food that I can eat and maintain my current weight, then reducing the amount I eat so I lose weight. I just makes the most sense to me.


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Friday, February 01, 2008

The Origins of Obsessive Compusive Eating

I'm snowed in today (gotta love Canadian winters).

In all honesty this couldn't have come at a better time. I have a major speaking engagement tomorrow I have to prepare for, and I have a number of emails I need to get written.

Naturally, since I have a crazy amount of work to do, I started the day off with the perfect procrastination tool - I decided to clean out my in-box.

This quickly became an eye opening expose into the origins of our Obsessive Compulsive Eating craze.

Ever wonder why so many people are so confused about what is good for them and what is bad for them? Well I think I may have found part of the answer. Take a look at the following e-mail subject lines I found in my In-box about caffeine, coffee and tea:

'Coffee linked to lower ovarian cancer risk', 'Caffeine linked to risk of miscarriage', 'Black tea shows blood sugar benefits', 'Caffeine linked to higher blood glucose levels'.

Or, how about Carbs:

'The carb rotation diet', 'eat all the carbs you want', 'carbs kill', 'whole grains may reduce pancreatic cancer risk', 'Good and bad carb definitions misleading says review', 'Carbs linked to obesity', 'Eat all the carbs you want and still lose weight'.

and sugar:

'High Fructose drinks no different to sucrose, milk for satiety', 'mechanism proposed for fructose syrup-obesity link', 'Soft drinks not responsible for obesity – study', 'Fructose linked to fatty artery deposits, study says', 'Study finds no link between sugar drinks and kiddie obesity', 'Should you really avoid fruit juice?'

And these were all just from January!

By constantly reporting on small little snip-its of research, writers can definitely create great headlines, but they do it at the risk of confusing their readers.

In academics, you constantly have to make sure you are aware of the total body of research. Which is just a fancy way of saying you need to know all the research on a certain topic, and how all this research fits together, before you should comment on that issue.

I feel comfortable talking to you about fasting, because I have spent years studying it. However, if I started reporting on one single paper that I read on Cardiovascular disease, then I would be doing you a major disservice as I do not know the total body of research on that topic.

It is this quick "snip-it" approach to reporting on nutrition and health that I think plays a role in people's obsessive compulsive eating. We only hear little tiny pieces of the story and very rarely do we hear about the nutrition "big picture".

Always remember when you read anything about nutrition that you must consider how this one little article fits into the total big picture.


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