Search This Blog

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Why Gwyneth Paltrow's no-carb diet for children makes perfect sense

Gwyneth Paltrow has been castigated for saying she avoids feeding her children carbohydrates, but she's right: we don't need to eat starchy carbs at all, says Joanna Blythman

Gwyneth Paltrow has provoked the wrath of the dietetic establishment by saying that she avoids feeding her children bread, rice and pasta, because she believes that these carbohydrate foods aren't good for them. Paltrow was writing in her new low-carb, gluten-free cookbook, It's All Good, which is out in April, and whose recipes are said by her publisher to "form the basis of the diet Gwyneth goes back to when she's been overindulging, when she needs to rebuild, or lose weight."

Dieticians who subscribe uncritically to government nutritional guidelines have been wheeled out to testify to how 'vital' carbohydrate is in the diet, and warn in the bleakest terms of the dangers of restricting it. Paltrow is putting her children, aged eight and six, "at risk of nutrient deficiencies", warns one. Her children "won't be able to think straight as their brain won't be functioning", says another. In the same Daily Mail piece, it is even observed that Paltrow's children are thin – shock horror! – as if this was automatically cause for concern. So accustomed are we to the sight of overweight children, thin ones are beginning to look unusual.

Casting Paltrow in the role of the neurotic celeb, selfishly inflicting her own faddy and dangerous eating habits on her poor starved offspring, has undeniable appeal, especially for those of us who aren't rich or pretty and who struggle daily with our own excess weight. The New York Post says: "The book reads like the manifesto to some sort of creepy healthy-girl sorority." But Paltrow has a point: no one, not even a child, actually "needs" to eat carbs.

Now, this may sound counterintuitive. That familiar notion of "[basing] your meals on starchy foods" is currently a central plank of public health advice. But this orthodoxy is under attack from influential researchers and nutritionists. The fact of the matter is that there are no nutrients (vitamins, minerals, micronutrients) in starchy carbohydrate foods that we can't get elsewhere, and often in a superior form.

Of course, the processed food industry works ceaselessly to convince us that we must eat highly refined starchy foods, such as breakfast cereals and white bread, trumpeting that they give us energy. But all food gives us energy. Contrary to what we have been led to believe, there is no dietary "need" to eat starchy carbohydrates at all.

Now if Paltrow was to starve her children of protein, then social workers could quite legitimately come knocking at her door. We are made of protein. Our bodies require it to build and repair muscles and tissue. But we have no absolute requirement for carbohydrate.

It is only in recent times that starchy foods have been presented as health foods. For much longer, they have been seen as fattening foods. Why do farmers feed their livestock on grains? To plump them up for market.

For half a century we have been told to avoid saturated fat, even though there is no good evidence that fat is inherently fattening. By diligently avoiding it, we have ended up replacing whole, unprocessed foods, such as red meat and butter, with starchy carbs of the highly refined and processed sort, often containing added sugar. Net result? We're getting fatter.

The problem with sugar, and starchy refined carbs, is that the surge of energy they give you is shortlived. Like newspaper ignited with a match, refined carbs burn up quickly, producing a sharp spike in blood sugar level that encourages our bodies to produce insulin, the fat storage hormone, so encouraging weight gain. Unlike protein and fat, which give a longer, slower, steadier release of energy, when our blood sugar level crashes after eating carbs, our appetite is unsatisfied and we crave more food.

This is probably what Paltrow means when she writes in her book: "Sometimes when my family is not eating pasta, bread or processed grains … we're left with that specific hunger that comes with avoiding carbs".

Fruit and vegetables are, of course, carbohydrates, and do contain natural sugar. However, they also contain micronutrients, notably fibre, that slow down the rate at which sugar is released in the blood. The same applies to whole, unrefined carbohydrates, such as brown rice. What's more, the general effort required to chew fruit, vegetables and whole grains puts a natural brake on how much we can eat. But it's easy to overeat refined carbs, the kind Paltrow avoids.

If the daily diet in the Paltrow household includes protein (fish/meat/eggs/pulses), unprocessed fats (butter/olive oil), plenty of vegetables and some fruit, then it is healthy, nutrient-rich and lacking in nothing. If that's what the Paltrow kids eat, she's doing them a favour.

Yes, children do have slightly different nutritional requirements from adults: they need more fat and protein. But filling their plates with empty calories in the form of white pasta, bread and rice is no nutritional kindness.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Do Diets Fail or Do Dieters Fail?

Do Diets Fail or Do Dieters Fail?

I got a question from a blog reader that I wanted to talk about:
I have a question! I have non-FA friends who think that most diets don’t work not because of metabolism or anything like that, but because the actual dieter is weak-willed. They think that people regain the weight plus some because they stop doing the diet or attending Weight Watchers or whatever it is they have chosen to do. In contrast, I think that even if one stays on the diet religiously, still metabolism will change and the weight will be regained in the majority of cases. What do you think?
This is basic math.  Studies show that  the vast majority of diets fail.  Even Meme Roth says that the failure rate is around 95%.  Somehow people still believe that it’s because 95% of people just aren’t doing it right.
In truth, there is a lot of research about the physiological changes the body goes through in response to weight loss for the specific goal of weight regain.  An Australian research team studied people who had lost weight in an effort to understand some of these changes. A year after their initial weight loss:
  • A hormone that suppresses hunger and increases metabolism – Leptin – was still lower than normal
  • Ghrelin, nicknamed the “hunger hormone,” was about 20 percent higher
  • Peptide YY, a hormone associated with hunger suppression was abnormally low
  • Participants reported being much more hungry and preoccupied with food then they had prior to losing weight
A year after losing weight these people’s bodies were still biologically different than they had been prior to the weight loss attempt, desperately working to regain the weight – and participants had already regained about 30% of the weight they had lost.  One of the study’s authors characterized it as “A coordinated defense mechanism with multiple components all directed toward making us put on weight.”
So it does appear that the body fights weight loss strongly. There are other studies that show the same things, as well as studies that show genetics play a large part.
What I want to point out is the fact that, regardless of why a treatment doesn’t work, if it fails 95% of the time then there is an problem with the treatment and an issue with meeting the criteria for evidence-based medicine, and that is the situation with dieting.
The thing that blew my mind when I realized it (thanks to the brilliant Deb Burgard) is that the entire basis of prescribing weight loss for greater health is built on a guess.  There is not a single study that shows that people who lose weight have the same health outcomes as people who were never fat, or better outcomes than if they had just engaged in healthy habits and stayed fat.  This whole thing is just a guess – so all the work and money going into figuring out how to make fat people thin so that we can be “healthier” may be a complete waste.
So it’s not just that it doesn’t appear that long-term weight loss is possible for most people – it’s also that, when it comes to health, weight loss may not even be a worthy goal.
What’s ridiculous to me is that it’s not being widely publicized that we have a mountain of evidence that shows that healthy habits are the best chance for healthy bodies of all sizes.  Plenty of studies show that people who get 30 minutes of moderate movement 5 days a week get tremendous benefits without weight loss.  Another study shows that people who get moderate physical activity, 5 servings of fruits and veggies, drink moderately and don’t smoke have the same health hazard ratios whether they are considered “Normal weight”, “Overweight” or “Obese”.
It’s important to note that our culture’s attachment to weight loss as the path to health is not based on evidence.  It is at best an “everybody knows situation” akin to the time when everybody “knew” that the sun revolved around the Earth (which could be why those of us who are pointing out the evidence are getting told to sit down and shut up faster than they put Galileo under house arrest).  At worst, our attachment to weight loss is a combination of profitability and pride.  The diet industry doesn’t want to give up the 60 Billion a year it rakes in, doctors are enjoying lucrative weight loss practices, and others just don’t have the guts to admit that they’ve traveled so far down the wrong road and given so much bad advice to so many people.
So why do people who have all of this information keep trying to diet?  I think it has a lot to do with the potential rewards and  everyone’s belief that they can beat the odds.  I was watching a documentary about the Green Beret selection process (I’m a documentary junkie).  They know that 50% of people will fail but every man there is sure that he will beat the odds.  At one point one of the guys is so out of it that they ask him “Do you know where you are” and his answer is, I swear to god,  “hashbrowns”.  But as they drive him away to see a medic he keeps yelling that he’s fine, he can do it. Golda Poretsky at Body Love Wellness wrote a great post about this phenomenon as it pertains to weight loss.  I get e-mails all the time “I don’t agree with you because I’m losing weight right now and I’m just not going to gain it back.”  To which I want to reply “hashbrowns.”
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that weight loss almost always works short term, but almost always fails long term and the dieting industry has done a great job of taking credit for the first part of a biological reality and blaming dieters for the second part.  I get so many e-mails from people who say “I believe in HAES, but I’m doing [insert diet here] and I’ve lost X pounds so  it’s working!”   There is so much societal reward when people are losing weight that you can get a huge rush and it’s easy to forget that there is a 95% chance that you will be back where you were or even heavier in 5 years.  Of course everyone is the boss of their underpants and I have no problem with people choosing dieting for themselves, but I do not feel comfortable being part of the rush of praise that people who lose weight receive that makes the near-inevitable weight regain that much more crushing so I choose my words very carefully, and I’m certainly not recommending that people do something that nobody can prove is possible for a reason that nobody can prove is valid.

5 reasons most diets fail

Many dieters succumb to a variety of pitfalls. Here's how not to become a statistic

By Ali Hale

Why most diets fail

Are you on a diet at the moment? So are millions of other women—and statistics show that the vast majority (a staggering 95 percent) won’t manage to lose weight and keep it off. So why might your diet fail? And what can you do to make sure you’re among that successful 5 percent?

1. Your diet is too strict and you end up bingeing on forbidden foods

The diet you’re following bans all your favourite foods (chocolate, cheese, ice cream, chips…) and you feel deprived. You might last a couple of weeks, feeling more and more bored with the monotony of your regime—but then you’ll crack. And when you do give in, you end up stuffing yourself with those forbidden foods to make up for days of self-denial.
Fix it: A small chocolate bar, or a single bag of chips, won’t ruin your diet. Allow yourself to have an occasional treat—just be honest about portion sizes.

2. You see your diet as a temporary fix, not a lifestyle change

Perhaps you’ve managed to lose weight in the past, for a special occasion or event. But you inevitably return to your old eating habits straight afterward—and pile the weight back on. Your diet is a quick fix, rather than a permanent change to make your lifestyle healthier.
Fix it: Use your diet as a great excuse to try out lots of new foods. Aim to change your tastes and find ways of eating healthily that you want to stick to for good. (Try Best Health's recipe database to get started.)

3. You’re too impatient for results from your diet

Once you’ve made the decision to lose weight, you want it over and done with as soon as possible. When you find that you’re losing weight at a rate of one to two pounds a week, you’re frustrated: what about all those stories of women shedding 30 pounds in a month? After a couple of weeks, you give up, convinced you’re failing because you’re not losing weight as fast as you’d like to.

Fix it: Remind yourself that it took months or years to gain that weight—it’ll take some time to lose it, too. Remember that dieters who lose weight slowly are much more likely to keep it off long-term.

4. You succumb to all-or-nothing thinking when dieting

One day, you grab a chocolate digestive with your mid-morning coffee, almost without realising. Once you’ve eaten it, you decide that your diet’s failed. You end up ignoring your planned lunch in favour of a pizza, and then get takeout for dinner. So you might as well give up for the week...
Fix it: Tell yourself, firmly, that one cookie won’t ruin your diet. One bad day doesn’t need to turn into a bad week or a bad month. Focus on making “good” food choices, not “perfect” ones.

5. Your metabolism has slowed down

If you have a history of yo-yo dieting (losing weight then gaining it again), your body will have learned to be as efficient as possible with food. That means that you’ll burn fewer calories when at rest—and when you overeat, your body will store as much fat as possible, fearing the next “famine” when you diet again. This makes it harder and harder to lose weight and keep it off.
Fix it: Exercise while dieting—this ensures your body will break down your fat stores, not your muscles, for energy. Aerobic exercise also helps keep your metabolic rate high.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

10 Most Common Bulking Mistakes

Alex StewartNow that summer has come to an end and tank tops and shorts are replaced by baggy pants and sweat shirts, it can mean only one thing in the bodybuilding world: it is time to bulk.  Your goal this winter should be to put on some solid beef. The off-season is the time to make the improvements to your physique so that you will improve your placement in your next contest or bring up a lagging body part. Every off-season, many\bodybuilders fall short of their goals. Why? You might ask. Below are some of the most common mistakes bodybuilders make during the off-season that hinder their gains. If you can avoid as many of these mistake as possible, you will be on your way to a productive off-season.

1) Not Eating Enough

First off, I have to say that women tend to fall victim to this mistake a lot more than men. The reason behind this is that women hate putting on weight and after looking so good on stage the last thing that they want to do is put on FAT. So they continue to eat like they are still dieting. The result is they don’t have the energy to make any new gains or improvements to their body and, in many cases, lose muscle mass.  The off season is the time of year a person makes 95% of their improvements to their physique.
Without the energy and the fuel, via a surplus of healthy clean food, you can not make the improvements you need. Make sure that you are eating enough calories to enable you to make those improvements and show up better next time you step on stage. Though you might put on a little (note I said a little) body fat, the body fat will come off once you diet down for your next show.

2) Not Eating Enough Healthy Clean Foods

What is the first thing you do after you step off the stage with all of your trophies (let’s be optimistic)? You go directly to your favorite restaurant, or fast food place, and EAT.  Granted, it is fine to indulge in good food after the show is over. You earned it. However, don’t let a fast food frenzy spill into your off season diet. Now, above I talked about taking in enough calories so you can put on good size in the off season.
You might say ‘fast food and junk food are calorie dense so why not have them once or twice a day so I can bump up my overall calories?”  While you want to have excess calories while bulking, the majority of those calories should be from clean healthy foods: lean cuts of meat, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.  The off season is the time to put on size but the majority of it should be muscle, not fat. A diet riddled with junk food will result in little muscle gain and plenty of fat storage. Clean it up and you beef it up!

3) Staying away from Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a very important part of the off season diet and a great energy source, if used properly throughout the day. Simple carbohydrates (i.e., fast digesting) are great to have post-workout because they spike your insulin level and drive the glycogen into your muscles. They also help to drive the amino acids from your protein shake, that you should have post-workout, with that simple carbohydrate to aid in protein synthesis (i.e., muscle building). Complex carbohydrates provide a more prolonged energy source and are great to have for breakfast or later in the day. Examples of complex carbohydrates are oats, brown rice and sweet potatoes. Examples of simple carbohydrates are sugars, white bread and pasta.

4) No Cardio

This is a huge mistake that I see all the time and 99% of the time men fall victim to the no cardio approach in the off season. They justify it by saying “I don’t want to lose any size”. Well, I am here to tell you that three 30 minute cardio sessions a week will do wonders for your bulking phase. By incorporating a cardio routine into your workout program, your appetite will go through the roof, which will make it a lot easier to eat clean healthy food.
You also will improve your cardiovascular system, which is critical when lifting heavy. I have seen countless guys fail to reach their desired rep range because their cardiovascular system failed on them. They were strong enough to get those extra 2 reps but were too out of breath and had to rack the weight. Sooner or later you will start losing muscle if you don’t reach your desired rep range. If you want to put on that size start, then start doing some cardio.

5) Too Much Cardio

Ladies, this is where many of you slip up. You don’t want to put on those couple of extra pounds so you stick to your contest prep cardio program. Your body cannot make improvements in muscle size and shape if you are expending too much energy with cardio. Most people (guys and gals) should stick to a moderate cardio program like 3-4 low intensity 20-30 minute sessions a week. This will keep both your metabolism humming and your appetite up and, most importantly you will be working the heart, which is the most important muscle of all.

6) Too Much Machine Use

Too many trainers rely too heavily on machine use in their workout programs. With all the new fancy machines out now, who can blame them? They are comfortable, smooth and easy to use. But I have the motto “nothing in weight lifting is easy”. These machines do have benefits, when used properly and are great to supplement your program (I like to use them at the end of the workout, if I use them at all) but nothing works better than free weight basics.
Free weight basics, with barbells and dumbbells, like squats, deadlifts, rows, bench etc., should be the bread and butter of all of your workouts off season and pre-contest. They recruit the most muscle fiber use which will lead to maximum growth and improvement. Only after you have exhausted maximum energy with the free weight basics, should you think about using machines or cables. Remember, the harder you work, the better the results and nothing is harder than free weights.

7) Not Enough Rest/ Recovery Time

In the off-season, your major goal is to put on lean muscle mass. Many novice trainers don’t realize that you do all your growing outside the gym. Even some experienced lifters find it hard to stay away from the gym in the off season. They do everything right: eat clean, workout out hard, but forget to give their body’s enough rest and recovery time between workouts so gains are negligible. You break down the muscle tissue in the gym, given that you fuel your body with nutritious food.
The final piece of the puzzle is time. You need to give your body time to recover. Without adequate time to recover, you will break down already broken down muscle tissue caused by over training. There is a lot of debate over how long a muscle needs to rest/recover from a workout before you should work it out again. I am a big believer in 72 hours, or 3 days of recovery time. If the muscle still seems to be sore, give it another day of rest. The last thing you want to do is to injure yourself.

Don't let ego drive up thew scale.8) Scale

Worrying about the scale has caused a lot of men to put on fat in the off season. Men love stating how much they weigh, if the number is above 200 lbs. So in their pursuit to put on as much weight as possible, most of these ego driven males end up putting on a substantial amount of body fat. Your body cannot continue to add pounds of lean muscle mass each week, so if your weight continues to increase every week, you are probably putting on too much body fat. I tell my clients to focus on what they look like, not on what the scale says.
Women are the complete opposite once they see their weight go up; they either stop eating as much or do a lot of cardio. This shift is driven by the pursuit to keep in contest shape. However, this practice will make it extremely difficult to make improvements.

9) Lack of a Goal

This issue is for my competing athletes and starts immediately after your contest is over. You should talk to the judges about your presentation to help you understand where you can improve and what your strong points are.  Then, in the next week or so, sit down with your personal trainer and discuss how you are going to approach the off season and make the improvements to your physique.
I see many competitors, pros and amateurs alike, who show up every year looking the same. These individuals don’t improve and also don’t win. Judges take notice of competitors who improve on weak points and they will reward you with a higher placing. So in the beginning of the off season, make some short and long term goals for yourself; this will help keep you focused on the improvements that you need to make between competitions.

10) Skipping Meals:

This is a common mistake made by the hard gainers. They are not hungry so they either push back the meal by an hour, or worse, just skip it all together.  This is a big mistake.  Your body needs protein every 2.5-3 hours so your muscles can have a steady stream of available amino acids. You need to keep your body in a positive nitrogen balance. When your body doesn’t have enough amino acids, it goes to your muscles to find them.
Your body will begin to eat away at your hard-earned muscle for fuel, a result you must avoid. This is referred to as a catabolic state (i.e., muscle wasting). You want to be in a positive nitrogen balance as much as possible, which is referred to as the anabolic state (i.e.,muscle gaining). If you can’t stomach a full meal, then try to suck down a whey shake. This will give you enough amino acids until you eat your next meal.
The off-season is a time to make improvements to your physique. Use this time as productively as possible by avoiding any of the mistakes discussed above. Wasted time is wasted growth so if you find yourself falling into any of these pitfalls, then make a quick correction in your diet and/or workout programs. If you can do this, you will be well on your way to adding that desired inch to your physique.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Is it Illegal to be Overweight in Japan?

Today we’re taking a look at claims that it is illegal to be overweight in Japan. Is this claim real or a hoax?

There is a law in effect requiring some citizens are to be measured every year, with certain steps mandated for those who exceed the recommended waist size.
There is no punishment for individuals who are overweight in Japan.
Metabo Law
The law is officially known as the Standard Concerning Implementation Special Health Examinations and Special Public Health Guidance. It is more commonly known as “metabo law” – named after “metabolic syndrome” which is Japan’s official name for obesity. It became effective in April 2008 and added a new waist measurement requirement to the existing annual checkups required of all 40-75 year olds by local governments and employers.
Men with waists measuring more than 33.5 inches or women with waists measuring more than 35.5 inches are considered “at risk” and are referred to counseling, email and phone monitoring/correspondence, and motivational support. There is no fine or penalty for those who exceed the recommended measurements.
Some citizens complained of the embarrassment of exposing their stomachs while being measured, so the government decided to allow patients to remain fully clothed and deduct 1.5 centimeters from their final measurement.
Is it illegal to be overweight in Japan?
A Japanese man has his waist measured as part of government anti-obesity guidelines.
GoalsLocal governments and employers must maintain a minimum of 65% participation in the program and meet specific guidelines. The first goal was a 10% reduction in obesity rates by 2012, with a 25% goal by the year 2015. Over 50 million Japanese are expected to be measured each year.


There is no penalty or punishment for individuals. The law is aimed at putting pressure on companies and local governments. Employers unable to meet the guidelines will be forced to pay nearly 10% higher health payments into the national health insurance program. This can equate to millions of dollars for large corporations.
The annual waist measurements have prompted some people to crash diet in the weeks leading up to their yearly checkup. Some companies now offer free gym memberships or special diet plans for their employees. There has also been an increase in the sale of health products related to the metabo law.
Despite the lack of individual punishment, there is a direct effect of the law on some individuals. Those who are overweight and seeking employment may be deemed less desirable by potential employers. It is also unclear whether or not an individual can legally be fired for being overweight.
Sumo wrestlers
A common question raised in the discussion of the metabo law is that of sumo wrestlers. Keep in mind that the law only applies to people between 40 and 75 years old, so the vast majority of sumo wrestlers will not be measured during their careers. Kyokutenho Masaru, for example was the oldest wrestler to win a top division sumo championship - at age 37.
Another question is how to deal with individuals who are unusually tall, muscular, or have other physical anomalies or conditions (such as a thyroid problem) which would prevent them from meeting the guidelines.
CNN Report
Below is a 2008 CNN report on this law.
Bottom Line
To say it is “illegal” to be overweight in Japan is a mischaracterization of the law. It has been referred to as a “fat tax” which may be closer to reality. The Japanese government issued guidelines and goals related to overweight citizens, with penalties for companies who do not meet those goals. Individuals are not punished or fined in any way, though overweight people may be subject to increased pressure to lose weight by by employers and fellow workers. There may also be discrimination against overweight people seeking jobs.
Your Turn
What do you think of the Japanese metabo law? Is it a good idea or are there too many potential abuses to make it practical?

12 Week Fat Destroyer: Complete Fat Loss Workout & Diet Program

Workout Summary

Main Goal:
Lose Fat
Workout Type:
Full Body
Training Level:
Days Per Week:
Equipment Required:
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Kettle Bells
Target Gender:
Male & Female
Max Riley

Workout Description

This workout plan is designed to help you shred fat and get in shape in only 12 weeks. This might sound like hype, but it's not. The following plan is not easy. It starts slowly, but builds rapidly.

Every detail of your diet and training for the next 12 weeks will be laid out for you. You will be told exactly what to eat, how much cardio to do, and how to weight train.

The goal is simple: lose fat, maintain muscle mass, get in shape and transform your physique as much as possible over the next 3 months. You want to not only look better, but have the fitness level and strength to match your new body.
12 Week Program Expectations

Over the next 12 weeks your goals and expectations are:
Fat Loss - To lose at least 20 pounds of fat.
Muscle Mass - To maintain, or even gain lean muscle mass.
Conditioning - To be in amazing shape; perhaps the nest shape in years.
The 12 Week Diet Plan

Each week will consist of 3 different types of eating days.
High Carb Days - 1 day per week
Moderate Carb Days - 3 days per week
Low Carb Days - 3 days per week

You may structure these days in any preferred manner. I suggest keeping the high carb day for special occasions. That way you can attend family functions, or eat out with friends, and indulge a little more than normal.

It should be noted that calorie intake can be adjusted based on metabolism. The follow changes are recommended:
Men 40+ - Reduce daily calories by 300.
Men 20-25 - Increase daily calories by 300.
Women 40+ - Reduce daily calories by 200.
Women 20-25 - Increase daily calories by 200.
12 Week Eating Plan for Men

Week 1 - 3 low carb days with 2300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2400 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 2 - 3 low carb days with 2200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2400 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 3 - 3 low carb days with 2100 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2400 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 4 - 3 low carb days with 2000 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2400 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 5 - 3 low carb days with 2300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2300 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 6 - 3 low carb days with 2200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2300 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 7 - 3 low carb days with 2100 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2300 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 8 - 3 low carb days with 2000 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2300 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 9 - 3 low carb days with 2300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2200 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 10 - 3 low carb days with 2200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2200 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 11 - 3 low carb days with 2100 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2200 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
Week 12 - 3 low carb days with 2000 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2200 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.

Protein intake should be a minimum of 180 grams per day. If you are a bigger guy, or have a fair amount of muscle mass, then eat 200 to 220 grams of protein per day. If you eat a little more protein the drop your daily fat intake to make up for the calories.

Fat intake should be approximately 20-30% of your daily calories. Once you have determined your daily calories from proteins and fats, fill in your eating plan with carbohydrates.

Also, you are allowed up to 10% of your daily calories from dirty foods/junk foods. You do not have to eat any junk if you prefer. This option exists as a convenience, should you be battling a craving, or attending a social gathering where you would prefer to have a small snack.
12 Week Eating Plan for Women

Week 1 - 3 low carb days with 1500 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1600 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 2 - 3 low carb days with 1400 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1600 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 3 - 3 low carb days with 1300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1600 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 4 - 3 low carb days with 1200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1600 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 5 - 3 low carb days with 1500 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1500 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 6 - 3 low carb days with 1400 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1500 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 7 - 3 low carb days with 1300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1500 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 8 - 3 low carb days with 1200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1500 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 9 - 3 low carb days with 1500 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1400 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 10 - 3 low carb days with 1400 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1400 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 11 - 3 low carb days with 1300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1400 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
Week 12 - 3 low carb days with 1200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1400 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.

For women, protein intake should be a minimum of 100 grams per day. If you are in good shape and have a fair amount of muscle mass, then eat 120 grams of protein per day. If you eat a little more protein the drop your daily fat intake to make up for the calories.

Fat intake should be approximately 20-30% of your daily calories. Once you have determined your daily calories from proteins and fats, fill in your eating plan with carbohydrates.

Also, you are allowed up to 10% of your daily calories from dirty foods/junk foods. You do not have to eat any junk if you prefer. This option exists as a convenience, should you be battling a craving, or attending a social gathering where you would prefer to have a small snack.
The 12 Week Cardio Plan

It doesn't matter which form of cardio you use for these 12 weeks. Pick something that gets your heart moving, be it treadmill, elliptical, or swimming.

The first thing you will notice about this cardio plan is that it starts slow. That's ok. Right now you are out of shape. This program is designed to get you in shape over the course of 12 weeks.

Be patient. Trust the plan and stick to the plan. After the end of 12 weeks your level of conditioning may surprise you.

During the first 6 weeks take at least one day of rest between cardio workouts. After week 6 it is recommended that you perform cardio using a 2 days on, 1-2 days off pattern.
Week 1 - 3 cardio sessions. 5, 8 and 5 minutes.
Week 2 - 3 cardio sessions. 8, 10 and 8 minutes.
Week 3 - 3 cardio sessions. 10, 12 and 10 minutes.
Week 4 - 3 cardio sessions. 12, 15 and 12 minutes.
Week 5 - 3 cardio sessions. 15, 20 and 15 minutes.
Week 6 - 3 cardio sessions. 20, 20 and 20 minutes.
Week 7 - 4 cardio sessions. 20, 22, 20 and 22 minutes.
Week 7 - 4 cardio sessions. 22, 25, 22 and 25 minutes.
Week 9 - 4 cardio sessions. 25, 27, 25 and 27 minutes.
Week 10 - 4 cardio sessions. 27, 30, 27 and 30 minutes.
Week 11 - 4 cardio sessions. 30, 35, 30 and 35 minutes.
Week 12 - 4 cardio sessions. 35, 40, 30 and 45 minutes.
12 Week Gym Workout Split

You will be using an upper/lower workout during the next 12 weeks. Rep schemes are merely guidelines.

When a weight becomes manageable using the given set and rep schemes, add weight to the bar. For sake of convenience, use the same weight for each of the sets for a given exercise.
Day 1 - Upper A
Day 2 - Lower A
Day 3 - Off
Day 4 - Upper B
Day 5 - Lower B
Day 6 - Off
Day 7 - Off
12 Week Gym Workout
Upper A
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Bench Press 3 8-10
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10-12
Seated Barbell Press 3 8-10
Pull Ups 3 10
Skullcrushers 3 10-12
Dumbbell Curl 3 10-12

12 Week Gym Workout
Lower A
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 3 8-10
Leg Curl 3 12-15
Leg Extension 3 12-15
Leg Press Calf Raise 3 15-20
Plank 3 60 sec
Twisting Hanging Knee Raise 3 20

12 Week Gym Workout
Upper B
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10
Barbell Row 3 8-10
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 12-15
Lat Pull Down 3 10-12
Cable Tricep Extensions 3 10-12
EZ Bar Preacher Curl 3 10-12

12 Week Gym Workout
Lower B
Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 3 15-20
Still Leg Deadlift 3 8-10
Walking Dumbbell Lunge 3 10
Seated Calf Raise 3 15-20
Cable Crunch 3 20
Russian Twist 3 20

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Insulin Index

The insulin index, which first made its appearance in a 1997 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article, was primarily the creation of Susanne Holt, a graduate student at the time and now a doctor. Interestingly, Holt, her supervisory co-authors, or other researchers haven’t chosen to conduct further research to update the “preliminary” results of their insulin index study since its creation eleven years ago now.
While Holt and her co-authors found a high correlation between glycemic index and insulin index measurements, they stumbled upon an intriguing exception. High protein, virtually no-carb foods like meat and eggs, while low on the glycemic index, measured high on the insulin index. In other words, while the meat and eggs didn’t cause a spike in blood sugar the way most carbohydrates do, they did result in an unexpectedly significant rise in insulin. (Baked goods, with their high levels of refined carbs, elicited a very high rise in insulin as well. Of course, this comes as less of a surprise.)
Obviously, the index has some eyebrow-raising potential, especially in those of us who choose a high protein diet. But there’s more to the story here. First off, let’s remember that the protein-rich foods didn’t result in the physical stress of blood sugar spikes. But what about that rise in insulin? Why? Should I be concerned about that omelet I ate for breakfast?
Insulin, in and of itself, is a good and necessary thing. It promotes the storage of nutrients after all. In our natural, primal state, this was an essential process. Even in our modern lives, this storage process is still vital. (We just have a nasty habit of flooding the system these days.) In the case of high protein foods, it makes perfect sense that the body recognizes the need to store amino acids. (Primal life wasn’t a perfect set schedule of three square meals a day after all.)
The insulin helps drive amino acids into the muscle cells where they’re needed. At the heart of this process, one thing is for certain: the body knows what it’s doing.
But there’s another dimension to the protein-insulin issue. When we eat protein-rich food, another chemical is released by the body that actually has a contrary effect to insulin. Protein-rich foods also result in a release of glucagon. (Carb-rich food does not.) Glucagon raises blood sugar levels in part to allow for absorption of amino acids in the liver and their subsequent transformation there to glucose. In our evolution, we developed the capacity to make what we required out of what was available. If dinner was going to be part of a mammoth carcass, then the body could enjoy the protein it needed and use insulin response to store essential amino acids. Simultaneously, it had the glucagon to keep blood sugar stable in the absence of carb-based foods.
What does this tell us? It underscores the fact that we don’t need to (and shouldn’t) include extra carbohydrates in our diet. The carbs we get from vegetables and the glucose that can be made even from protein-based foods offer plenty of the right fuels our bodies need.
For people without diabetes, the insulin and glucagon responses mitigate each other, and we’re looking at a healthy picture. For people with diabetes or impaired insulin response, however, this picture is much different. In diabetics, this crucial equilibrium is damaged. The body not only has difficulty compensating for blood sugar spikes from carb intake, it’s also at a disadvantage when it comes to low-carb, protein-based meals with the lack of insulin-glucagon balance. (Another reason to avoid developing diabetes from the outset.) Nonetheless, diabetics fare better with a low-carb diet.
In short, while the insulin index raises some intriguing points, I don’t think it undermines the Primal Blueprint or unravels existence as we know it. It’s another bit of research that illuminates the natural interaction of our body’s systems with the diet we feed it. The index highlights the need for responsible food choices based on our inherent physiological functioning.
Now, pass the bacon.

How to Spot Added Sugar on Food Labels

Spotting added sugar on the food label requires a bit of detective work. Food and beverage manufacturers must list a product’s total amount of sugar per serving on the Nutrition Facts Panel. But they are not required to list how much of that sugar is added sugar. That’s why you’ll need to scan the ingredients list of a food or drink to find the added sugar. (1)
All ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. (2) So the relative position of sugar in an ingredients list can give you an idea of whether the food contains a lot of sugar or just a smidge. Added sugars go by many different names, yet they are all a source of extra calories. The American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended that Americans drastically cut back on added sugar, to help slow the obesity and heart disease epidemics.(3) The AHA’s suggested added sugar threshold is no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar) for most women and no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar) for most men. But remember—your body doesn’t need to get any carbohydrate from added sugar. A good rule of thumb is to skip products that have added sugar at or near the top of the list—or have several sources of added sugar sprinkled throughout the list.
Here are a few of the names for added sugar that show up on food labels (list adapted from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (1)):
  • Agave nectar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup


1. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Chapter 7: Carbohydrates. Accessed on April 5, 2009.
2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2008. A Food Labeling Guide: Chapter IV. Ingredient Lists. Accessed April 10, 2009.
3. Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009; 120:1011-20.

Terms of Use

The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products.