Monthly Archives: June 2007

Lions Don’t Nibble

They gorge.

And what’s interesting about this is they are not fat. Quite the opposite. They are lean, mean eating machines.

The reason? Is it all the physical activity they do all the live long day out on the savanna?

Nope. Turns out that lions are lazy bums. 22 hours out of every 24 hour day is spent snoozing.

It’s what they eat – meat – that keeps them lithe and powerful.

Humans share almost identical digestive makeup to the pure carnivore. There are some differences (longer small intestines) but compared to a gazelle, we might as well be lions ourselves.

Gazelles and other herbivores, if you recall from watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, eat constantly – they graze. They need to do this because the type of food they eat has very little in the way of fat and protein so the need to eat all the time to get enough.

Nature has provided them with a completely different digestive system from the shape of the jaw and teeth and how they chew, all the way down to the finish line.

It is not wise to mimic their eating habits or eat the foods they eat. Like omnivore bears who eat berries and some plants, most of our calories should come from animal products. Notice how in the wild carnivores and omnivores usually eat a lot at a sitting – to fill – and then not again until necessary sometimes for many hours.

A post or two ago I talked about intermittent fasting. If you look at the lives of the animals who share our digestive system design, you’ll observe that they don’t nibble and graze. They eat to fill – in some cases gorging (or what looks like gorging to us) and then not again for many hours, sometimes days.

I believe that we would do best doing the same. Long fasts have an anabolic (body building) effect so long as the food you eat when you eat is correct.

Think of the lion again – if eating to fill and not again for a day or more was detrimental, lions would have never survived. Clearly long fasts (to a point) are healthy and promote strength and vitality in these animals. It should be much the same for us.

Example: I had steak and eggs for breakfast with some berries the other morning. I ate it all and felt very satiated – not bloated or full as after eating the same amount of bread or pasta. I was not in the least bit hungry until about 6 PM and even then I was only mildly hungry. So without thinking about it I fasted for 13 hours. I felt great. I felt lean. I felt energized.

But I hope I don’t start growing whiskers!

Intermittant Fasting

My co-author Michael Eades, M.D. has blogged on this ‘dieting’ technique in the past so I’m not going to try and do it better. Why? Because I can’t!

My wife and I have IF’d (our pet name for it) several times and it has always helped spark fat loss, increase energy, and improve our pocket change.

And it’s relatively easy. It really is. It’s a lot easier than eating like a hamster, nibbling away at a smattering of calories throughout the day. Eating an amount of calories sufficient for a small rodent does aid fat loss, but it also has the unfortunate side effect of making you so ornery you feel like braining everyone you meet.

According to Robb Wolf, a trainer and research chemist who has extensive knowledge on IF:

"The research shows that IF increases IGF (insulin like growth factor)  and pulsitile growth hormone release to a remarkable degree."

What this means is that it’s great for building strength and muscle mass – if your strength training at the same time of course.

He also says that:

"I think If used selectively ( a cyclic low carb diet…perhaps not
every day IF) intermittent fasting could augment the efforts of a
bodybuilding program. I do not think there is any doubt it can
accentuate health and longevity."

So to boost fat loss, aid muscle gain and potentially greatly improve health and longevity (all the while saving some cold cash and not feeling like commiting murder), give intermittent fasting a try!

Caveat: People with health disorders, the elderly and children should NOT IF.

Good Pain vs. Bad Pain

There are two distinct types of pain that are encountered when strength training. One is good, the other bad.

The Good Pain

The good pain is the discomfort we usually feel within the working muscles during an exercise and is usually called ‘the burn.’ This burning sensation occurs when muscle fibers slide across one another and generate chemical changes and congestion that often are very uncomfortable. This sensation usually forces people to cease performing an exercise just as the exercise is becoming intense enough to stimulate a positive benefit. It feels worse in some muscles than in others and is usually more pronounced in the lower body than in the upper body.

There is another type of good pain and this is the feeling of soreness in the muscles a day or two (or three) after an intense exercise session. The term used is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. DOMS can range from being very mild or so severe that you would swear that you have injured yourself. The soreness can cause you to feel somewhat immobile or give you a feeling of being ‘locked up.’

While it’s nice a few days after a training session to feel an achy rump (making it hard to sit down) or deeply sore biceps (making it hard to bend your elbow), it’s another matter entirely when you feel your neck or lower back muscles this way. Most people have little experience working their spinal muscles intensely and when the DOMS hit these areas it can feel as if you have injured yourself – but this is not the case.

Believe it or not one of the best ways to combat DOMS is to exercise! So don’t feel that you have to wait until the DOMS have completely disappeared before you exercise again. Oh contraire! The sooner you get back to your training the better.

Both of these types of pains are the good pains and are not to be feared but rather to be embraced.

Ironically enough, a lot of people who curse these feelings when they begin a proper strength training program become upset after a few months when they don’t feel these pains nearly as much and actually begin to complain that the exercises might not be beneficial anymore!

The Bad Pain

The bad pain is usually pretty obvious when it occurs. It is usually a sharp or sudden pain in or near a joint during the exercise and is totally different from the feeling of burning in the muscles or a deep seated soreness a few days later.

Most people who are unfortunate enough to have experienced these sorts of pains have a preexisting orthopedic condition and/or are performing their exercises improperly. These sorts of pains are usually accompanied by swelling around the joint (edema) and are best treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). If the pain lingers past a week seek the advice of a physician.

Usually it is not the amount of weight that causes these types of pains but rather the improper execution of an exercise. Sudden herky-jerky, fast initiations of the lifting phase are usually when and where these occur. As Newton discovered force equals mass times acceleration. Let me say it another way: Trying to overcome inertia suddenly and powerfully is the enemy.

Thankfully, Slow Burn training has a built in fail safe. Our recommendation is and always will be to initiate the first inch of movement in 2-3 seconds – barely cracking the weight stack to begin. An analogy I often use is, start an exercise as if you were picking up a day old infant that doesn’t belong to you or, like you are about to diffuse a nuclear bomb. The chances of injuring yourself even if you have a preexisting orthopedic malady are almost impossible if this rule of thumb is obeyed.

The saying ‘No Pain, No Gain’ is, to a large degree, true. But it is the type of pain that is important not just the pain itself.  So bear these thoughts in mind when exercising. By understanding the difference between the good pains and the bad your exercise sessions will be far more productive, safer and in the long run more rewarding.

The Physics of Fat

Here’s how you get fat:

More sugar eaten = more insulin release = more calories converted to fat = more fat storage.

There really isn’t anything more we need to understand – it’s the physics of fat storage.

If you tell your body to make and store fat, it will.

If you tell your body to use fat as fuel and not store fat, it will.

We need to speak the body’s language. You have to be clear and concise when talking to your body – you don’t want to confuse the message.

And sugar confuses the message.

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