Thursday, February 25, 2010

Carbs, carbs, carbs

Has there been any more debated food group over the last decade than carbohydrates? Nope! 

Do they make us fat?  Are they killing our kids?  How many carbs do we need in our diet?  If you're sedentary do you need them?  If you exercise, surely you need them?   Can we survive without carbohydrates?  Do you need carbs post-workout?

Why are they the topic of such hostile debate?
A carbohydrate is an organic compound that includes simple sugars, disaccharides, and starches.  A carbohydrate’s role is supplying energy.  Most tissues in the body can use glucose for fuel and most will use glucose unless it's not available.  If not derived from food, the body enlists gluconeogenesis to provide glucose from the liver responding appropriately, as needed, to glucagon (a peptide made and secreted from alpha cells in the pancreas).  When glucose is not available, fat and ketones are used for energy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sabotaging Your Efforts With Overtraining

In our quest for that perfect body, perfect health, and the fountain of youth, many of us overtrain.  We lift too often, run too far -- too often, lift too heavy before we're ready, all in the name of good health.  But are we sabotaging ourselves by pushing too hard, too often?

Ironically, Mark Sisson over at MDA spoke to that very topic in today's post.  He gives you 8 signs that you are overtraining.  Make sure you check it out.

Overtraining is something that takes place at every level of fitness, from beginner to elite, olympic athletes.  Here's the key: you need to stress your system, not strain your system to create change.  Let me clarify.  I'm not talking about pushing for those extra 5 reps in any one given exercise; but rather working that same muscle with too many sets, with too little rest between workouts.  Overtraining can lead to immunne system breakdowns, poor quality of sleep, stress fractures, muscle tears, tendon strains and tears, not to mention an overall rundown feeling of crapiness.  So in effect, you're bringing on the very thing that you're trying to avoid by exercising and eating right.  Overtraining can lead to hormone imbalances that can lead to a lot of unwanted metabolic abnormalities as well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Is your coffee making you fat?

I apologize for the melodramatic title, because I really don't think coffee makes you fat. Now the overabundance of sugar, milk, cream and syrups that Americans typically partake in along with plain ole coffee is another story entirely.  But for the purposes of this post let's talk only about black coffee or more specifically, caffeine.

Adenosine is an important nucleoside involved in (one of its many roles of cellular signaling) insulin signaling and glucose uptake and disappearance.  Caffeine happens to be an adenosine receptor antagonist; this means that caffeine will block the actions of adenosine.  In this case, we are considering its specific actions on adenosine that effect insulin signaling and glucose transport.

So what does it all mean?  Below is a study published in Diabetes in October 2001.  Don't worry, the science still applies to today.  The findings of the study?  Apparently caffeine decreases glucose disposal and suggests that adenosine plays a role in regulating glucose disposal in resting humans.  So caffeine can have a blunting effect on insulin sensitivity, thus inhibiting your body's ability to take glucose and use it for energy as effectively as possible. 


So should you eliminate caffeine completely from your daily routine?  I'm not going to eliminate it from my diet.  A black coffee or Americano is essential to my existence (well, not really).  Should you take breaks from caffeine every once in a while?  It's probably not a bad idea.  However, there are benefits to caffeine, but we'll save that for another day.

Will caffeine make you fat?  I'm going to go out on a limb and say...NO!  But I think it's always important to know exactly how things that you ingest can impact your overall health and fitness.


Until next time...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Special Announcement: PrimalCon 2010

PrimalCon 2010!

Sterling Advice Readers:

I'm pleased to announce that my good friend, Mark Sisson, has announced his first annual PrimalCon to be held Friday 4/23 - Sunday 4/25.  This will be a one-of-a-kind conference/workout weekend to learn from one of the most respected health & fitness experts around.  As you know, I fully endorse Mark Sisson's 'Mark's Daily Apple' and 'The Primal Blueprint'. 

I'm offering a Sterling Advice special offer!  If you click on the 'PrimalCon' button on my blog, I'll pay $25 towards your registration fee after you have registered and confirmed for PrimalCon 2010.  Please see the details below and click on any of the the PrimalCon buttons on my blog to get ALL the details.  GrokOn!

PrimalCon Press Release

Health and fitness expert Mark Sisson, publisher of the acclaimed, is pleased to announce the inaugural "PrimalCon" a 3-day health and fitness retreat at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort in Oxnard, CA. Guests will enjoy a mix of educational seminars focused on the principles of Sisson's acclaimed book, The Primal Blueprint; small-group workouts guided by fitness experts on the beach or expansive grass park; outdoor play sessions, beach hikes, ocean plunges, mind/body obstacle courses and other innovative recreation; and Primal-style breakfast, lunch and dinner feasts daily. "PrimalCon offers a chance for our vibrant community of Primal enthusiasts connected by the Internet to come together in person for the first time and enjoy an intensive weekend experience leading the Primal lifestyle. The resort and picturesque surroundings offer incredible relaxation and luxury at an affordable price, while our lively daily agenda gives participants a comprehensive education and hands-on experience about all things Primal", commented Sisson. Registration fee of $695 includes all meals and an attractive kit of participant apparel, gifts, and nutrition products.

Email me with any questions:

PrimalCon 2010!

High-fat, ketogenic diet effective treatment for seizures

This study is a little bit outside the realm of health and fitness, but I found it very interesting.  It seems that a high-fat, ketogenic diet (one that derives most of the body's energy from fat & ketones) is an effective treatment for seizures with no 'long-lasting side effects' such as heart disease and death most associated with a high-fat diet (by conventional wisdom definitions).

By definition, a ketogenic diet is also a low-carbohydrate diet.  I believe this study gives credence to those that link diabetes and obesity with a high-carbohydrate diet, which is what most Americans partake in.  Although, as I've stated before, obesity is due to eating more calories than one burns in a given period of time.  Incidentally, I don't think I've seen too many fat people whose lifestyle revolves around a diet rich in protein, veggies, and fat and very low in carbohydrates.  Take a gander at an obese person's diet and I guarantee (with very few outliers) that their diet is 50% or greater carbohydrates.

From what I could find, I did not see the researchers specify the source of the subjects fat intake, i.e. processed fat, animal fat, etc.  That would be an interesting detail to know, given that most processed fat are found in processed carbohydrates.

At any rate, I found it an interesting read.  I'll try and get the full PDF of the study.  Meanwhile, take a look at the abstract.


Purpose: The ketogenic diet has well-established short- and long-term outcomes for children with intractable epilepsy, but only for those actively receiving it. However, no information exists about its long-term effects years after it has been discontinued.

Methods: Living subjects were identified who were treated at the Johns Hopkins Hospital with the ketogenic diet from November 1993 to December 2008 for ≥1 month, and had discontinued it ≥6 months prior to this study. Of 530 patients who were eligible, 254 were successfully contacted by phone or e-mail with a survey and request for laboratory studies.

Results: Questionnaires were completed by 101 patients, with a median current age of 13 years (range 2–26 years). Median time since discontinuing the ketogenic diet was 6 years (range 0.8–14 years). Few (8%) still preferred to eat high fat foods. In comparison to the 52% responder rate (>50% seizure reduction) at ketogenic diet discontinuation, 79% were now similarly improved (p = 0.0001). Ninety-six percent would recommend the ketogenic diet to others, yet only 54% would have started it before trying anticonvulsants. Lipids were normal (mean total cholesterol 158 mg/dl), despite most being abnormal while on the ketogenic diet. The mean Z scores for those younger than age 18 years were −1.28 for height and −0.79 for weight. In those 18 years of age or older, the mean body mass index (BMI) was 22.2.

Discussion: This is the first study to report on the long-term effects of the ketogenic diet after discontinuation. The majority of subjects are currently doing well with regard to health and seizure control.

NOTE: Conflict of interest disclosure: Dr. Kossoff has received grant support from Nutricia, Inc. and consultant fees from Nutricia and Atkins Nutritionals Inc.
Until next time...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Milk: Does it do the body good?

There have been multiple discussions and internet blog posts about milk lately.  Is it good?  Is it bad?  Should you drink it when leaning down?  Should you use it to bulk up?  Some say that it's nature's recovery drink and excellent for recovery.  Others say it's flat out poison.  So who is right? 

I'm providing links that will offer much food for thought; these are some of the most respected and knowledgable bloggers in health and fitness.  Let me know your thoughts and experiences with milk.

Milk 'Roundtable' Discussion
Mark Sisson's take on milk

Until next time...