Using Carb Refeeding to shake things up…

Welcome back!!

This week I want to take a bit of a different look at low carb eating & lifestyle.

As always seems to be the case, information taken solid research seems to lead to extreme pendulum swings in terms of belief & perception.

High protein, low carb is the perfect example of this. Too many folk don’t bother to learn about this and adopt one of 2 opposed stances – all carbs are ‘bad’ or eating high protein is ‘bad.’ Of course neither is correct nor entirely wrong.

Protein & low processed carbs - Ideal!!

Eating low carb means eating low glycemic index. Low glycemic load, low-or- no processed carbs, it doesn’t mean avoiding carbs. It also means pretty much avoiding starchy carbs, but as we will see even these have their uses.

Let’s make no mistake- there is such a thing as ‘bad’ carbs and they are the highly processed calorie dense nutrient sparse crap that fills our western diet. Eating highly processed, high GI and high GL foods are detrimental to your health – the evidence has been in for over a decade on this!!

Likewise eating high protein will not cause heart disease or any of the other highly touted but never proven side effects – but like any fuel source too much can cause imbalances in your body systems and in every case too many calories eaten above those needed for your activity level and you’ll put on fat. No matter what the source of those calories. (But as we discussed in earlier posts the source & type of calorie does matter – processed foods with HFCS and transfats elicit different & damaging responses from our metabolisms compared to salad & steak!)

Many ‘fans’ of low carb diets will only eat the bare minimum of carbs that they feel is necessary to maintain health – this is extreme and wrong. Carbs do not have to be shunned – just chosen wisely, and eaten in line with body needs. This means that it is alright to go high carb if you earned it!! The immediate post work out period is one such time as is first thing in the morning or after a long period of intense mental effort.

The best, the healthiest and most ‘acceptable’ forms of carbs are vegetables & fruits. So although most carbs aren’t the “bad guys” they’re not viewed in the same light as “heroes” like protein and healthy fats and there’s good reason for the food discrimination.

Perfect carb sources

Of course most of us are now aware of the processed carb / insulin /fat storage connection (see last week’s post on Obesegenics) and this is one of the biggest reasons to keep processed carb consumption low. If you can keep insulin sensitivity high and insulin levels low you will not only be maintaining a healthy and optimally functioning body, you’ll also be able to drop body fat if you need to.

We also know that our bodies love to become efficient at everything they do so they can reduce the amount of energy used (our bodies are still focussed on energy  conservation) – this is why you should alter your workouts at least every 6 weeks – to keep ‘inefficiency’ and therefore metabolism high…

Likewise your body seems to adapt and get used to any particular diet. Research supports the view that most of us eat fewer than 20 different meals on a regular basis. Again our body becomes efficient at handling these foods and the results we may be trying to use diet to achieve can become blunted.

This is as true for low carb diets as for any other eating pattern. This means that if you’ve been on a low carb diet for a prolonged period of time, an occasional ‘spike’ in your carb intake can actually be beneficial for your health.

There are a number of terms for this, the most common being ‘carb refeeding’.  Really it is a way to give your metabolism a bit of stimulation that is not activity dependent, and if you’ve hit a fat loss plateau it can help restart it.

It works like this – you add starchy carbs (strategically chosen – see below) to your diet in amounts that actually increase your insulin production.  Notice I said strategically chosen – junk is junk and processed

Junk is still junk - refeeding or not!

carbs are processed carbs no matter when you consume them. The only real exception to this is if you are using a short term carb ‘surging’ protocol to replenish glycogen stores after some serious depletion. This is using the famous ‘cheat day’ once a week.
So bad carbs (processed and / or high glycemic index & glycemic load) remain not good for you and too many calories are still too many – even on programmed cheat days. The goal is to stimulate your insulin, not release so much that it begins to create an environment of insulin resistance in your body!
There are healthier ways to increase your carb intake that’ll help re-stimulate your insulin and make sure that this hormone is working efficiently.

In normal practise I recommend that we keep our carb intake to around 100 – 150g a day. This level is easy to maintain and means that you are able to consume enough nutrient dense vegetables and fruits to sustain a very healthy diet.

Eating this way though means that starchy carbs are likely to be a part of your diet very often (a good thing except in this case). Starchy carbs are what we use to re-stimulate your insulin.

Let me be clear – by starchy carbs I don’t mean breads, muffins or any baked goods; nor do I mean pasta or rice. Why? It is becoming increasingly supported that grain based foods are actually detrimental to our health largely because they contain plant proteins called ‘lectins’ and a host of enzyme inhibitors. (look up Marks Daily Apple for a Paleo style run down on this – my own research mans that I only any grain based foods on a Sunday – and that is usually for the family brunch…)

Definately NOT the type of starches I'm talking about...

No the starches I recommend and am talking about here are grain free foods that don’t contain these harmful, if natural, compounds. I recommend: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, plantains, squash, beets and taro.  This is by no means a complete listing – but the foods on it are easily found in most areas.

Here are some rules to cover off your carb re-feeding:

Carb refeeding is not suitable for everyone.  If you have insulin resistance, metabolic disorder, diabetes or any auto-immune disease it’s not recommended.

Carb refeeding is for you if you’ve been eating low carb for over 2 months and you’re beginning to feel a bit ‘flat’, and you fat loss has slowed or even stopped.

Carb refeeding doesn’t mean adding if foods you don’t normally eat (Yams, sweet potato etc should be a part of your regular diet!) but it does mean increasing the percentage of them for a short, insulin ‘invigorating’ period of time.

Carb refeeding is meant for short time use, not daily / weekly regular add-in to your diet. It is best done like a cheat day – once a week and usually never more than 3 or 4 weeks in a row.

If you do the weekly version then you can increase your carbs up to 500 g for that day if you’re eating vegetable starches (never grain) – but try to make it a day where you have a challenging weight lifting session.

Carb refeeds work better on days when you move some iron...

Remember the idea is to ‘tickle’ your insulin, not to undo the good work of your previous weeks of diet. This means that if you’re doing a carb refeed once a week; make sure that the very next day you get right back to your low carb diet.  Don’t lose control and let your carb intake remain high. You can even lower your carb intake further than normal – by about 50% – the next day to get you back to your normal routine.

Likewise you should decrease your fat intake for the day when you’re carb refeeding.  A good range is around 200 – 500 calories.

Carb refeeding is really designed for folk who have been eating low carb for at least 10 weeks, 12 – 16 is even better. The reason is that if you use carb refeeding before your body has the chance to adapt to burning fat as its main fuel source (which is a part of the reasoning behind low carb diets – metabolically switch your body’s fuel preference) it will hinder your fat loss progress.

If you’ve been leading a low carb lifestyle for some time now (at least 10 weeks) and you’re feeling great – don’t change! It is working for you and you should stick with it.

Conversely if you’re feeling like things have stagnated and you need to shake things up a little, incorporating a carb refeed may be just what your body and mind needs.

 See you next week.

The Fat in your diet is not the Fat on your Hips…(or Belly or Thighs or…)

Welcome back!!

There has and continues to be a lot of debate about the best ways to lose weight. Regular readers know that I think that is a poor term – what we want is to drop fat!!

Eating fat in your diet is not associated with cancer

Regardless – if you talk to a Dietician or Nutritionist – they say it is all in the food & calories or else in eliminating particular foods or eating special ones. Doctors tend to say eat less and exercise more. Personal Trainers will emphasise exercise.

One thing that they will all tell you is to eat less dietary fat, that fat in your diet is the enemy and you should eliminate it.

They’re wrong.

More & more research is coming to light that shows that dietary fat is in fact beneficial to your metabolism, your nutrient partitioning and your health. The real message that we should be getting is that most fats are good.

The Chairman of of the Department of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr Walter Willett, said back in 2000 that ” the relationship of fat intake to health is one of the areas that we have examined in detail over the last 20 years in our 2 cohort studies: The Nurses Health Study & the Health Professionals Follow Up Study. We found virtually no relationship between the percentage of calories from fat and any important health outcome.” (Bold & Italics mine)

So what you say – that was 11 years ago… but wait a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition saw researchers reporting on the results of a recent study looked at the relationship of dietary fat and cancer risk using data taken from 4 separate studies in Great Britain.

But Trans fats will increase your cancer risk...

They looked at the data from 657 breast cancer cases in pre and post menopausal women and compared this data to 1911 control subjects. Essentially they crossed tracked the results with the incidence of breat cancer, with a specific interest in this and the intake of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturtated fats.

They were unable to find any link.

Yep none. In fact what they did find was that those with a higher dietary fat intake actually enjoyed a slight protective effect. In fact the highest fat intake when compared to the lowest has a 10% reduction in the liklihood of breast cancer.

Now before you go off and start eating deep fried foods etc there are a couple of things for you to put into perspective:

Let’s be very clear – your risk of various cancers (not to mention other chronic health ailments) rises in line with your body fat – this is an identified and recognised medical fact.

Carrying extra body fat, especially a lot of extra body fat is a definite risk factor for many cancer types. Fat cells pump out hormones and inflammatory substances which can increase the risk of cancer (&diabetes & heart disease &…)

The fat on your plate, the marbling in your steak – are not the same as the fat on your belly or on your hips.

You don’t get fat from eating fat. Fat does not magically go from your plate through your digestive system & end up on your waist. You get  fat from eating more calories than your body needs for your level of activity.

The percentage of fat in the excess food in your diet does not matter at all when it comes to putting on fat.

It's the Trans fats that'll do you in...

Likewise if you are lean & active – if you are eating calories in line with what your body needs for fuel & to stay lean, then the percentage of those calories that come from fat doesn’t matter either.

The fact is that dietary fat intake has little to no effect on insulin and doesn’t stimulate the fat storing hormones in the same way that an identical number of extra calories from sugar, or cereals or bread or pastries will.

There is one fat, and one fat only to be vigilant about: Trans fats. These, along with high fructose corn syrup are man made disasters and responsible for more health issues than any thing else we have in our diets.

If the fat on your plate has been excessively heated, or does not come from a whole food source, then don’t eat it.

So do something about the fat on your belly & hips – but don’t lose too much sleep about the fat on your plate or in your diet (so long as it is not transfats!!) We know that in order to lose fat you have to increase your metabolism through regular challenging exercise, use foods in a strategic way to support a faster metabolism and to manipulate your hormones (Leptin, Ghrelin etc) and generally avoid nutrient sparse but energy dense processed foods.

In a nut shell – you can’t out train a poor diet. But you can lose fat quicker and become healthier by combining these three things:

  1. Exercise
  2. Food choice
  3. The intelligent use of 1 & 2 to manipulate your hormones

We can't all look like this, but dietary fat in line with our calorie needs won't be the reason if we don't...

In reality, the key to losing body fat is to adopt a strategic, holistic approach that emphasises an intelligent diet, good challenging exercise and lots of rest.

The rules are simple – eat as much nutrient dense, unprocessed, as-close-to-whole-foods as possible, line up your calorie intake with your energy needs, exercise often & in a challenging fashion, move more, sit less and get a full night’s sleep.

Not only will you be healthier anbd happier but you’ll stop worrying about bogeymen like dietary fat.

See you next week.

Harness the Power of Insulin

 Welcome back –

There have been millions of words written and many millions more I’m sure to come all on the subject of how to lose weight and build muscle. Now regular readers know that I hate the term ’lose weight’ it is inaccurate & wrong – your goal is to lose body fat. It is entirely possible to lose kilos of fat but have the scales drop by less than that amount because you’ve added some muscle.

So losing weight is out, losing fat is in.

The questions usually revolve around two polar opposites – either how do you eat to add muscle without adding fat, or how to diet to lose fat whilst still adding muscle.

Do use intermittent fasting? Atkins? Palm Beach? Drink Shakes 3 x a day? Run miles every day? Work out twice a day? Eat low carb? Eat high carb? Add the latest magic food?

You know there are plenty of available strategies to consider and they all try to address one or both of the needs mentioned above but results are mixed. What works for some fails for others. The unpalatable truth is that there is no magic one-size fits every metabolism solution available. The cookie cutter approach needs to stay in the kitchen with the pastry.

For Fat Loss there isn't a cookie cutter approach...

There is a common thread in all of the effective strategies though – they utilise your metabolism to work with you for the desired results and they all – the ALL – harness the power of insulin.

Insulin has been given a bad rap in the popular press – it does not cause obesity, it is not the ‘fat hormone’. It is true because it is a ‘carrier’ hormone insulin has the ability to induce fat storage if the environment allows for this.

However id allowed to work as it is supposed insulin is in fact the single most anabolic hormone present in your body (remember anabolic means build, catabolic is to tear down)

Insulin ensures that your cells are ‘fed’, that amino acids are taken up and protein synthesis is completed.

Energy cannot be destroyed, just transformed.

If I remember my High School science correctly we were taught that energy can be changed from one form to another (ie transformed) but it can’t be created or destroyed.

To lose body fat you need to use up more energy than you take in. To lose a pound you need to either take in an amount equal to; or use up a total of 3500 calories. To gain weight (I deliberately did not say fat in this case – to build serious muscle you have to eat a lot of nutrient dense foods. Google Chris Hemsworth’s diet for his muscle gain for Thor) you have to ingest more calories than you need to remain in energy homeostasis if you are going to support lean tissue gains.


Serious training needs serious eating to support serious growth...

Of course if you eat more than you need and you are not exercising to create lean body mass then you’ll get fat. The Bottom line is that if you eat too much, without the mitigating effects of high intensity exercise, you’ll get fat, no matter where the calories are coming from.

In the real world, the world without chemical interdiction of the body’s processes, there is simply no mystical combination of nutrients – macro, micro or otherwise – of meal timing of super supplements etc et that can change this fact. It simply is – eat more than your body needs on a consistent basis and you’ll get fatter.

BUT – we know that a calorie is NOT just a calorie and all calories are NOT created equal. Different macro- & micronutrients produce different long-term effects hormonally and metabolically.

This brings us to nutrient partitioning.

Nutrient Partitioning: Macronutrients Matter

Nutrient partitioning is another of those scientific sounding terms that a lot of folk use to make their theories for weight loss (not fat ahem…) sound more solid. Dr Scott Connelly the man who with Bill Phillips ‘created’ MetRX, was the first to use the term I supplement marketing. Now a lot of folk do.

This doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, or that it’s not rooted in solid science it is. Nutrient partitioning is regulated by a co-ordinated, multi-part symphony that consists of liver & gut action, brain & Central Nervous System (CNS), of muscle & fat tissues, of hormones & ion channels and more besides. Even now we are still not entirely sure of all of the components and exactly how nutrient partitioning works…But work it does.

The supplement that introduced the term 'Nutrient partitioning' into marketing speak...

More importantly we can make it work for us.

What is done with the food we eat by our bodies is a function of nutrient partitioning.

The calories we ingest are either burned for fuel, used for repair & growth or stored as energy for future use (yep – glycogen first then fat once the glycogen stores are full).

Naturally we’d want as much of the food we eat to be used as fuel for repair and lean tissue growth with as little as possible being stored as fat. Whether we are a week end athlete, a couch potato or a real athlete we all agree on one thing we want to eat our food with the absolute minimum stored as bodyfat.

So whilst you can’t destroy the energy we gain from food the macronutrients we ingest do matter and have an effect on nutrient partitioning. The question is how do we maximise the glycogen stores in our muscles & liver and minimise our fat stores whilst conditioning our metabolism to either maintain or gain lean muscular tissue?

Part of the answers lies in the fact that nutrient partitioning becomes less efficient, less effective the more insulin resistant that you become. In diabetics and the obsese nutrient partitioning is so out of shape that it becomes dysfunctional.

Insulin is enormously important in the actions of nutrient partitioning – the more insulin sensitive you are the better it works, the more that nutrients are partitioned & used by your body towards our muscle building, low fat storing goals.  The more insulin resistant – the more fat you store as Nutrient partitioning twists out of true.

Insulin: Sensitive = Good, Resistant = Bad

You keep a knockin' but you can't come in - Insulin Resistance

We eat food and the carbs are broken down to glucose and absorbed by our blood stream. This gives our bodies an immediate and easy to access source of fuel. If the fuel is required it is burnt (via ATP synthesis) if not needed it is stored – both of these actions are controlled by Insulin.

Under insulin’s direction glucose is either stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissues, or it is converted to triglycerides and stored as body fat. That’s it, only 2 possibly outcomes.

Despite what we have read, and the fact that we want to max out glycogen storage and restrict fat storage – Insulin doesn’t care. Its action is constant – it gets out fat cells to be always taking up glucose. Once in the fat cell the glucose is transformed to fatty acids or glycerol both of which are needed to make up triglycerides. Which then get stored as fat.

So what?! you say – well this means that our bodies are ALWAYS storing fat after each & every meal. It sounds scarier than it is really is though…

The amount of fat stored under normal circumstances is under 15% because the lion’s share of the glucose (85 – 95%) is taken up & used by the muscles and as a part of body repair actions.

The key here is ‘under normal circumstances’…

Eat too many nutrient sparse, processed carbs and the whole glucose as our nutrient partitioning friend scenario alters radically. Too much available glucose means that the glycogen stores quickly fill up (their storage is limited) and the excess glucose is turned to fatty acids and then stored as triglycerides – you add fat. Speed is an issue here as well glycogen stores rapidly fill as they are the primary source of energy for our muscles and major organs like the liver. These stores can empty at a slower rate than they fill (although it is still quite quickly) even if we are out under sudden wide ranging stress, hit a hard exercise session etc. This emptying requires that more glucose be taken up to place what is used. Thing is if there is an excess of glucose in the blood stream and the just filled glycogen stores are not given a chance to empty then we

They don't come much more processed than this...

store it as fat.

Too much glucose in our blood stream is, ironically, poisonous – this is why insulin’s main purpose is to clear it from the blood through glycogen and / or fat storage. Our bodies are designed to constantly clear glucose from our blood streams. It does this by using insulin to interact with a specific receptor on fat cells that signals the fat cell to uptake the surplus glucose. This signal is sent once the glycogen stores are full.

Thing is – Insulin is just the messenger, the uptake of the glucose is controlled by a receptor. If your body has become insulin resistant the receptor ignores the insulin. But the glucose remains toxic so more insulin is released in quantities that force the receptors to allow the glucose & other nutrients to get into the cells.

Gain so what?! You say – well thing is a non-virtuous circle of feedback is created – the more insulin used to ‘pry’ open the cell receptors the more resistant to the actions of insulin they become so the more insulin is released…Even worse the insulin resistance in muscle & other tissues also rises meaning that the insulin sensitivity has decreased.

Normally this happens in these tissues when the glycogen stores are full, but with increased resistance mimicking the ‘full’ signal glycogen stores may not fully fill up falsely creating an excess of glucose in the blood stream which causes the dreaded insulin spike to get it cleared. Not only does insulin resistance cause you to get fat but it also robs your lean tissues and organs of a full complement of energy.

Consistently increased insulin levels also cause the metabolism to become “stuck” in its carbohydrate-burning mode. It does this by inhibiting the fat burning genes and by activating the carb metabolism ones. So your body develops a preference for carbs as all fuel and fat as little or none.

So we need to restore or at least improve our insulin sensitivity.

How to go about Improving Insulin Sensitivity

Good Carbs

Realise as a start that carbs are not bad, they’re not the enemy. Excess carbs, especially from highly processed nutrient sparse sources are.

Firstly watch what types of carbs you are eating. Again – you know the drill eat carbs from sources as unprocessed and as nutrient dense as possible. Next look at when you are eating you carbs. Aim to have about 30% of your daily intake at breakfast with a godly amount of lean protein.

Spread the other 70% over the day – again being aware of the source of them. If you are working out ensure that you have a decent ‘hit’ of carbs with protein in the hour after working out.

Look everyone’s metabolism and its needs are different – these are only rules of thumb – you have to see what works best for you. Main thing is to eat fibrous, unprocessed carbs mainly from fruit & vegetables and sparingly from grains. Eating this way will bolster your chances of nutrient partitioning working more for and less against you.

Remember that most folk have about 100 grams of glycogen in their liver and another 400-odd in their muscles. If you were to totally deplete these stores any amount of carbs over 500 grams not burned immediately for energy would be destined for fat storage.

So again try to limit your carb intake to avoid taking in an excessively high amount. Also again – check your sources of carbs – lean towards the fibrous, the unprocessed as much as possible.

What we really need is a way to improve our nutrient partition by increasing our insulin sensitivity, or by decreasing our insulin resistance.

Improving nutrient partitioning by combating insulin resistance

I have written before about the effect of whole body inflammation on metabolism, fat storage and heart disease. It should come as no surprise that by reducing any inflammation in the body we also improve our insulin sensitivity.

Look for oils that have a low Omega 6 and a high Omega 3 porofile

Leaving aside the cogent arguments of the Paleo folk regarding the inflammatory effects of grains, we know that a major cause of inflammation is the imbalance between Omega 3 & 6’s. Turns out that this imbalance is also a supporting factor for insulin resistance. High Omega 6’s means a higher than desirable level of inflammation regulators, whilst a high level of Omega 3 means higher levels of the anti-inflammatory ones. (we do need both but it is the ration that effects out sensitivity.)

A common denominator in obesity & diabetes (especially type II), is chronic inflammation of the cell membranes. This means that poor insulin sensitivity means you’ll gain fat, and that  your ability to effectively partition nutrients will suffer.

Increasing your Omega 3 ratio is the easiest way to limit if not decrease inflammation and also improve your insulin sensitivity. Fish or Krill oil supplements, eating fatty deep sea fish and even supplementing with alpha-linolenic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid will all help.

Using olive, coconut or macadamia oils for cooking & dressings and cutting down as much as possible on ‘vegetable oils’ (seed oils really) like canola, safflower, peanut and blended oils will help also. All of these oils have a much higher level of Omega 6 than omega 3.

Now here is some concerning news – whereas fat tissue was once thought to be passive and largely inert, we now know that fat stores also have a function to control our whole body insulin sensitivity. Inflammatory responses in our body that cause insulin resistance & diabetes are in fact linked to our fat stores. The more of these you have the more likely it is that you will have insulin resistance and be at high risk of diabetes.

Fat it appears acts more as endocrine (hormone producing) organ, releasing hormone types called “adipokines.” It is these adipokines that control whole-body insulin sensitivity and inflammation. The famous hormone Leptin is an adipokine that is a strong nutrient partitioning agent that increases fat burning, decreases fat storage and improves insulin sensitivity.

Other adipokines work in the opposite direction. The way to influence which ones are produced is to up our Omega 3’s so the ‘good’ adipokines are released and the ‘bad’ ones are not..

Lastly – Don’t Stress!

This'll kill you - destress!!

Our insulin sensitivity falls off a cliff if we are under chronic, not acute stress. In these days of traffic jams, deadlines, taxes, poor economies etc etc it is hard to avoid experiencing at least some form of chronic stress.

Unchecked. Constant stress is a killer. It affects a plethora of body systems and erodes your health in numerous ways.

Learn to get enough sleep, exercise hard & regularly, enjoy regular sex, relax, do some meditating, choose who you spend time with and work at not worrying about the things outside of your control.

You’ll live longer, be happier and have much better insulin sensitivity…

See you next week – don’t forget to Tweet or face Book us!!


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Drawn in part from an excellent article on by Bill Willis PhDc and John Meadows, CSCS, CISSN – 9/14/2011



Fat Loss, Pain & Metabolism

Welcome back!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then it’s a sure bet that you are either looking to take back control of your body or are at least pursuing a leaner, more toned body.

It also means that you know that I believe that reconditioning or at least elevating your metabolism is the keyto achieving this.

Body Weight works well...

There are many definitions of metabolism the one I like is: “Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to sustain life.”

However if you are carrying too much body fat, or want to develop more muscle and become stronger and fitter, not to mention healthier – then simply sustaining life isn’t the goal to aim for.  Just surviving shouldn’t be your standard. Changing how you look & feel, what you eat, how (& how often) you move basically moving past mere survival towards thriving, growing, exceeding, and surpassing – this is a worthy goal.

It is in fact a life goal.

Becoming fitter & leaner is as simple (& as complex) as the fact that the higher level your metabolism functions, the better become your results as far as fat loss and maintaining a slim, trim body. Notice I didn’t say the more efficient your metabolism becomes…(although it will of course do so)…in many ways we want our metabolism to stay somewhat irregular because once your body become efficient at anything homeostasis sets in and your body fights against change…

It is better to think in terms of elevating your metabolism by manipulating the components of it that we can exert influence over. Of course once you’ve achieved your desired fat loss / lean body then keep doing what got you there and create a new metabolic set point – this way you co-opt your body’s desire for homeostasis to work for your goal, not against it…

Metabolism is complex (& simple)

So let’s revisit some of the strategies that you can utilise to make your metabolism work at a higher rate for you…

Human metabolism can be broadly broken down into two parts: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is concerned with tearing things down – it is the burning of calories, the digestion of food, the breaking down of body tissues for energy or as a precursor to rebuilding (think sore muscles after a hard work out – for the sake of simplicity the muscle soreness you feel is associated with catabolic processes). It is essential the processes whereby your body fuels your cells with energy by breaking down available fuel sources.

Without the catabolic part of metabolism we would not have the energy to provide the energy to our muscles that is needed to stand, sit, move, breathe and generally create movement. It is often talked about in a negative sense but without catabolism we would just be inert sacks of chemicals & minerals.

The other side of this simplified metabolic coin is Anabolism. The anabolic side of the equation is the building part of our metabolism. Cell repair, muscle, hair, & nail growth are all anabolic processes. Basically anabolism takes energy and uses it to link / bind chemical compounds together to make larger molecules & cells.

In order to use these processes in your quest to become less fat, stronger & healthier you need to maximise both of them. For catabolism this means challenging, regular exercise that causes your muscles & other energy pathways to burn fuel like fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. For anabolism it too means challenging exercise coupled with protein and nutrient rich foods. The more intensely that you

Tabata protocol using KBs works both sets of muscles & burns fat...

train the more your metabolism elevates and more opportunities your body gains to shed fat and gain lean mass.

As we’ve seen intense training is not long duration training and more importantly training that uses protocols like Tabatas or HIIT tend to work a lot of muscles – and this is important for overall fitness, well being and fat loss.

Muscles are the furnaces that burn fat in your body. Muscles are numerous and together they have 2 general roles to play – mobility & stability. You know by now my preference for whole body workouts that use compound movements. Compound movements are important because they not only use the large muscles but they also activate and exercise the stabilising muscles. Stabilising muscles are an often overlooked component of movement & fat loss.

The larger muscles (think quadriceps, deltoids, pecs & lats) are called ‘prime movers’ and allow your body to move with what is called ‘Dynamic Mobility’– which is another way of saying through a full range of motion.

The stabilising muscles tend to be smaller, less obvious (even when developed) and lie deeper in the body & closer to the joints. Their role is to do as their name suggests – to stabilise. Stabiliser muscles like your shoulders rotator cuff, like your deep abdominals, like your infraspinitus and spinal multifidi all work to keep our bodies ‘together’ whilst it moves. Whether walking, pitching a ball, skiing a slope or sitting in a meal these muscles stop the actions of the prime movers from pulling us apart as we move dynamically. They are in use all of the time and as such are major (but oft times unsung) users of energy.

Working both types of muscles is important for another reason – if the Prime Movers become too strong &

Stress releases cortisol - belly fat anyone!!??

overwhelm the stabilising muscles then we begin to collect injuries – often chronic ones. Or if the stabilisers become weak then the Prime Movers have to pull ‘double duty’ and act not just as movers but also as stabilisers. This type of overload can lead to joint dysfunction and pain. Note I mean pain, not the soreness that accompanies a good workout, but deep lasting hurt!

Pain is read by your body as a source of stress and causes it to release stress hormones like cortisol which not only blunts anabolic metabolism but also directs fat storage to the belly area.

Chronic muscle imbalance = Pain = more belly fat.

 So in order to avoid this you’ve got to move often, move intensely, & move well. This means using compound movements (think Olympic style lifts) with activities like sprinting and walking.

To get the most out of your metabolism, both in terms of catabolism & anabolism your training should involve training intensely in a way that is without pain. Chronic Pain will constantly undermine the effectiveness of your workouts and pull your metabolic levels down.

See you next week.

Vitamin B & Fat Loss

Welcome back:

This week we’re going to look at three special B-Group Vitamins that compliment your fat-loss quest, while keeping you healthy and strong.

Losing body fat is a bit like fighting a war – you need the right strategy the right weapons and the right troops plus the will to overcome if you are going to win.

To win the war against excess body fat, the B-Group Vitamins should be amongst your best friends and a part of your arsenal. They’re a vital component of nutrition that enables your body to turn food into energy.

It is easier to work out and to exercise your will power when you are full of energy – without the B-group Vitamins your energy levels will be low and your ability to recondition your metabolism and to withstand temptation will fall. This in turn will make your fat-shedding efforts so much the harder…

There are three (3) main B vitamins that I want focus on. Individually they are important to your health – when used together they keep you strong, healthy, energised and compliment your fat loss efforts.

But first – What are B-Group vitamins exactly?

The B-Group Vitamins

The B-Group Vitamins are water-soluble vitamins. This simply means that they once they are processed by your body any excess is excreted in your urine.

Overdosing on B-Group is rarely an issue…

This also means that they are quickly depleted in situations of high sweat loss and activity. Because water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body in appreciable amounts and are used up and depleted rapidly, it’s important that you ensure that you are getting enough of them by eating foods that are rich in these vitamins or by taking a supplement to make sure that you have adequate levels in your system.

I recommend that you do both.

Drinking alcohol also increases the need for the B-Group Vitamins so after a heavy session of ‘glass raising’ taking a B supplement before hitting the sack is always a good idea. It’s even better if sleep is followed by another Vitamin B Group tab or 2 upon rising the next morning.

There are eight B-vitamins, which include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), cyanocobalamin (B12), pantothenic acid and biotin.
These vitamins act as coenzymes and as catalysts in the chemical reactions that transfer energy from the food we eat to our body systems.

They are essential for the breakdown of the macronutrients(Carbs to glucose,

Hangover – alcohol increases your Vitamin B needs – a lot!!

proteins & fats to a number of elements essential for the repair and maintenance, growth, normal functioning of our nervous system and healthy hair, skin and nails. You need to be getting B-group Vitamins everyday – without them you’ll ail.

Several of these B-Group Vitamins are especially important to having a fast (ie fat burning) metabolism and by extension a leaner, fitter body.

Pyridoxine: Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 has three chemical forms (as pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine) and is the B-group Vitamin most necessary for proper protein metabolism. The coenzyme form of B6 is associated with more than 100 other enzymes which are critical for amino acid breakdown from protein foods and the conversion of certain amino acids from one type to another.

Amino acids as you know are essentially the body’s building blocks and are a necessary part of tissue repair, muscle growth, nerve sheaths, nails, hair etc etc.

B6 also helps your body to access and use the glycogen in your muscle cells for energy when you are moving and especially when you are working out. No glycogen = no movement.

If you’re not sleeping then your B-Group needs go up!!

Also the breakdown of glycogen plays an important part in the regulation of blood sugar levels (blood sugar is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver but once these areas are full the excess is stored as body fat!).

Another important function of B6 is its ability to diminish the actions of hormones such as cortisol – the stress hormone. As we’ve previously explored on this blog when you’re under stress your body releases lots of cortisol which does a number of negative things primarily for our discussion – it promotes the storage of belly fat. It also promotes the breakdown & use of muscle tissue as fuel.

Great double whammy – you store more fat and lose muscle so your metabolism slows even further…

Adequate B6 levels are critical in times of stress (bad stress like job, money or relationship worries or even good stress like exercise) so your body does not store extra body fat and use precious muscle protein for energy.

Because B6 is so important for protein metabolism, it’s requirement depends on the

B-group helps you feel like this!!

amount of protein you consume on a daily basis. An intake of about 1.6 mg of B6 for every 100 g of protein is considered by the National Academy of Sciences to meet the needs of adults under normal conditions .

However, for athletes and people that exercise regularly (and often eat more protein), their vitamin B6 requirements will be higher given the greater need for energy and protein metabolism. Scientific studies have shown that exercise greatly depletes B6 levels in the body and needs to be kept in check through supplementation.

As you can see, when you’re an active person consuming more protein than the” Average Westerner”, your needs for vitamin B6 are increased, and it’s critical you get at least the minimum amount in each day.

Some of your best food sources of B6 include fortified cereals, potatoes, bananas, chickpeas and chicken (contains ~ 0.5-0.7 mg), but even if you are eating those foods you’d be wise to take a B-Group supplement.

Cobalamins: Vitamin B12.
What we call Vitamin B12 is actually a collection of compounds that are different molecules all containing the element cobalt. The most common form is the B12 vitamin known as cyanocobalamin.

The various forms of B12 work in the body to maintain normal brain and nervous system development and function, and play a role in influencing DNA synthesis and regulation.

B12 also plays an important role in the metabolism of fatty acids and creation of energy from foods containing fats.

You’ll hit the wall without enough B-Group Vitamins in your system… 

People with insufficient B12 in their diet suffer fatigue, depression, and can develop poor memory. In severe cases cracks may form in the corner of their mouth ( a condition known as angular cheilitis).

The cause of this tiredness and skin damage is related in part to B12’s role in red blood cell production which is necessary to carry oxygen and iron through the body. Because of this B12 is important in assisting the prevention of anaemia.

Athletes and hard exercisers may have low body B12 status, due to their increased metabolism and the raised demand for this vitamin to be used repair damaged blood cells and injured muscle tissue; and to carry more oxygen around in the blood while exercising.

This means that if you are working out regularly and hard then you will need more than the average daily allowance of ~2.4 mcg/day.

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal based foods so vegetarians – especially vegans – are

Good B6 Source – Chicken!!

at risk of developing the above mentioned symptoms of deficiency unless they supplement their dietary income.

The foods highest in B12 are shellfish (mussels, lobster), oily fish (trout, salmon, tuna), and organ meats (liver).

Biotin is an essential cofactor for several key enzymes in the production of glucose (& glycogen) and the metabolism of fats and proteins. For example, in order for the liver to make glucose (through a process called gluconeogenesis), an enzyme essential to this process called pyruvate carboxylase requires biotin in order to function correctly. No biotin no liver produced glucose…

Biotin is also needed for the breakdown of the branch chain amino acids from protein (leucine, isoleucine and valine), and some fatty acids from fat-containing foods.

B-Group Vitamins help when you’re stressed…

People who exercise often have an increased need for biotin for several reasons:

• Increased metabolism resulting in the loss of this vitamin in urine or sweat
• Increased mitochondrial enzymes that require more biotin for cofactors
• Increased need for tissue repair and maintenance
• Increased food intake requiring biotin for metabolism

The richest source of Biotin is cooked eggs (Forget the ‘Rocky’ raw egg eating – raw egg whites bind biotin due to the protein avidin). Although the average daily allowance is set at least 30 mcg of biotin each day, there is no toxicity associated from higher intakes, especially in people who are active.

B-Group Vitamins = Good Health

As you can see, ideal intake of these B-Group Vitamins helps gives your body the energy

B-Group Vitamins help you look like this…

to exercise hard, so that you can burn more fat and build more lean muscle. If you’re constantly tired because your metabolism is sluggish, if you can’t create the right energy from the food you eat then you’ll be unable to rid your body of excess body fat or achieve a lean, strong physique. So, make sure that you get plenty of these simple but potent vitamins via eating unprocessed foods and topping up with a supplement.

If you do so then your body will lose fat, your metabolism will run better and your overall health will improve.

See you next week.