Archive | inflammation

7 facts about hunger

Crossfit Science
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  1. Many people experience hunger after a high carb meal.  They wrongly blame insulin and carbohydrate consumption for their hunger.
  2. In reality, carbohydrate consumption increases the amount of leptin circulating in your blood stream.  Leptin is the “I’m full” hormone.
  3. Insulin doesn’t make you hungry; it actually makes you feel satisfied.
  4. Ghrelin is responsible for signaling hunger, and it rises during periods of low insulin.
  5. Most of the confusion arises when people eat high glycemic carbohydrates like rice and potatoes that generate a strong insulin response and possibly lead to a blood sugar crash.
  6. Chronically elevated levels of blood sugar, which render you insulin/leptin resistant, screw up your hunger signaling all together.  This makes it hard to lose fat and regulate your blood sugar/feeding patterns.
  7. You can avoid most of these problems by engaging in high intensity activity on a regular basis, eating carbs around training, and eating mixed meals of fat, carbohydrate, and protein to regulate absorption.

“Myth:  Insulin Makes You Hungry”


A Foundation of Food

Veggies and Meat

This is part of the information I teach in the “Science Lab” seminars that we offer free when you purchase things that support our site (it’s mostly stuff you would buy anyway).  Click the link and it will give you more details.

The first thing I want to say is that I am a big believer in whole foods that reduce systemic inflammation.  Some of these foods, however, will not do that for every individual, and I typically recommend people seriously consider getting a food allergy test done from a doctor.

I am going to start with meats and eggs because that is the easiest, I will be adding to this periodically so if you do not see something simply ask in the comments and I will either let you know why it is not on the list or add it.

Wild caught fish (high in Omega 3′s), Cold water fish is higher in O3′s

Grass Fed Beef (nutrient profile of grass fed is better than grain fed so don’t avoid fatty cuts, do not just eat any beef, if Grass Fed is not available opt for as lean as possible)(Also great as an energy dense option for those struggling to eat enough to support their performance, 85/15 Grass Fed Ground Beef is a PR powerhouse).

Lean cuts of meat (simply lower in fat so inherently not high in Omega 6′s)

Eggs preferrably with Omega 3′s

Simple rule is the darker the better in terms of vitamins and nutrient density, do I really need to say you should have more vegetables than fruits by volume?

Seafood-(Cold Water Fish)









Striped Bass

White Fish



Berries, the darker the better

Pineapple (contains an enzyme Bromelain with excellent healing properties)

Papaya (great for processing protein for muscle development)

Blueberries (anti-oxidants to the max)


goji berries











Coconut (technically can be a nut and seed too)

Bananas (not very nutrient dense and highish in calories, ripe bananas are great for carb nights)(great energy dense fruit with starch)


Cruciferous Vegetables ( Sprouts, Broccoli, Cauliflower and Kale, just to name a few, these are the anti-inflammatory all stars, if you just ate these you would be doing quite well for yourself)


Green Beans

Kale (go to vegetable for salads, lettuce is for wimps)


Spring Onions (mostly green)


Spinach (does it need to be said that Spinach should be a staple food)

Sweet Potatoes (great starchy carb for post workout carb refeeds)(excellent option as an addition for those eating too little)


Bell Pepper (all colors)

Bok Choy



Brussell Sprouts

Sour Kraut

Squash (another good starchy refeed option for athletic types, )





Chestnuts (great starchy carb for post workout carb refeeds, kabocha squash gets high marks)

Fats and Oils (all are great for energy dense option)

Clarified Butter or Ghee

Coconut Oil (great for cooking, remains stable at high temperatures)

Coconut Milk (sauces are phenomenal, use this to make curries)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (great for dressings not great for cooking at high temperatures as it loses some of the nutrition value)

Avocado Oil (also a good high temperature option)

Walnut Oil

Grape Seed Oil

Nuts (be careful with nuts, they are calorically dense and often very processed)

Great List

Macadamia Nuts

Hazelnuts and Filberts

These are OK but just don’t eat a ton


Brazil Nuts





Seeds (limit these as well)

Pine Nuts

Sesame Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds

Sunflower Seeds

Hemp Seeds

Flax Seeds

Chia Seeds











Chili Pepper

Cocoa (I love as raw nibs with fruits for desserts in the evenings)



If I want to lose fat why shouldn’t I be on Carb Nite?

This wasn’t a question that came up specifically in one of the nutrition question and answers but it ended up being the answer to another question.  Namely should you be on Carb Nite Solution if you are trying to lose fat? That answer can be tricky and I have seen women doing Crossfit gut it out with what they believe is some level of success.  Typically the scale went down and certain parts of them look a little tighter because their inflammation levels were lower as a result of eating less than 30g of carbohydrates.  Here are some of the pitfalls these people run into:

Now realize I am having a discussion about populations that Crossfit and some of these negative symptoms can be lessened by eating more fats but that isn’t what most people do.  They eat about the same fat and try and rely on a calorie deficit to do the work.  It basically becomes the suckiest version of Weight Watchers ever.

1.  They often can’t sleep or have less sleep.

2.  Cardio workouts might be slightly better but during weight training they never feel really strong.

3.  Stress levels are high

4.  Metabolism slows to a crawl

Above is the video where I describe how you can do Carb Back Loading in a moderate way using Crossfit to create a drain on your energy system to get a similar result to Carb Nite Solution without the negatives.  Once again, this isn’t a knock on Carb Nite Solution, it’s a fine diet for some people and I have even had Crossfitters say it works for them.  Overwhelmingly though it’s unnecessary to restrict carbohydrate in an extreme manner with our levels of activity. The end result tends to be a more broken and confused crossfit athlete.




Leptin, the hormone and metabolic trigger

So Leptin says to the brain “Yo homey, why you always hoggin’ the sugar”.  This is a leptin joke that will never catch on but it cracks me up.

Leptin Resistance

Most people are aware of insulin but many people are not as aware of the hormone leptin and its role in the body.  Leptin is sort of like insulin’s identical brother. Each is simply a signal for the body, and a hormonal signal at that. Leptin and its receptors are spread throughout your body and even those areas which do not see the light of day! Leptin is also found in your fat tissue.  It relays signals to your brain regarding energy balance and the brain relays back whether your body should release fat, keep it or store it.  So if you are on a diet, or have ever been on a diet then leptin is something you need to be well versed in.  Blood tests resulting in elevated triglycerides may impair your brains ability to process the relay messages between leptin receptors and the brain. This can serve as a sign of leptin resistance. One week of dieting can lower your leptin by 50%.

The role of leptin in the body is affected when insulin levels are too high due to increased inflammation related to excessive carbohydrate consumption.  Leptin is a complex topic, so complex that this short primer isn’t going to tell you all you need to know but it is a start.

Leptin excess leads to resistance of signaling, much like insulin in excess leads to downgraded organ signaling. When dieting too long or too strictly, especially when using a low carbohydrate diet as a tool for weight loss, leptin is lowered to an extreme level affecting the body’s ability to mobilize fat and keep hormones at healthy libido levels (this is the opposite of the scenario in the last paragraph).  This is where a big helping of sweet potatoes and bananas after a day of low carbohydrate dieting can actually spur fat loss, because you have now opened the door for leptin again and it mobilizes fat as a result (I keep referring to this as the Metabolism Switch and it’s one of the basic premises of the book Carb Back Loading).  As it stands, the body can become leptin resistant from excessive signaling but also levels can become too low from excessive restriction- both impair fat loss.

Carbohydrates are the boogie man of nutrition to many, even more so than fats, though there are groups on both sides who disdain both of them with equal fervor.  The detonator in the carbohydrate war is over simple and complex carbohydrates.  Simple carbohydrates consist of quick acting foods like white bread, cereal, table sugar, soda- very refined foods.  On the other side are complex carbohydrates consisting of sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes and quinoa.  That is a pretty wide spectrum to paint with a very broad brush (but I just did it baby!).

For a lot of people the Paleo Diet can cause Leptin issues but things are fine if they add Paleo starches and some occasional white rice and keep overall calories at maintenance levels. I have no beef with the Paleo Diet if you do it without restricting intake. If you are in a standstill as it relates to weight issues and would rather not count calories Paleo can be useful.  I can assure you it is more difficult to become obese eating in such a way.  That said, if you eat coconut fried sweet potatoes in all of your meals each day it’s not the diet that is the problem …..  Such a diet would clearly be nutrient deficient and you are likely well aware of that fact.

So now that we have cleared that up let’s move on.

Solving Leptin

Solving leptin goes a long way to having a healthy metabolism and one of the best ways to do that is to keep a moderate amount of starchy carbs in your diet. Certainly fruits are advantageous and even the occasional sugary treat can actually serve a purpose as the joke at the top suggests.

Flipping the Metabolic Switch

light switch

For most people that blog about the way people eat I easily have the best folks to work with.  People who do Crossfit and eat correctly basically make what I talk about extremely easy.  I have worked with body builders, power lifters and models in the past.  Most of those populations are trying to put a round peg in a square hole.  Imagine working with a PowerLifter that needs to lift in a weight class trying to pull triple their body weight with less food.  Body builders and models are legendary for eating disorder type behavior but those populations are getting a lot smarter as more scientific information gets out there.  For us Crossfitters, our focus is simply, to get better at Crossfit and we know from the many folks around us each that are all “ab’ed” up that it really does work.  But it’s not working for everyone, for every #SOGO warrior out there, there is also someone in the back of the gym kind of pissed off that they are killing themselves every workout with marginal gains in the mirror.

Why Ketogenic Diets work and when they become a metabolic disaster?

I talked yesterday about the fact that John Kiefer has two books, Carb Back Loading (check out my article on CBL adjusted for Crossfit and Paleo populations) the one I recommend, and Carb Nite Solution–which I don’t recommend.  John is a pretty smart dude and CNS is so drop dead easy that the book is basically all about why the diet works.  Go figure, an author that actually explains the processes that make the diet work.  In my opinion it’s the best Ketogenic book on the market but Crossfitters don’t need another Ketogenic diet.  They need a performance way of eating and that is the gaping hole that Carb Back Loading fills.  Wait, what? That’s right, the way you are eating combined with your activity level nets out to about the point where the Ketogenic Diets become effective.  To flip the metabolic switch when you are an inactive individual the key is strategic carb days like I describe below.  For active individuals, the approach takes on a life of its own and many options become available.

In 2007, I lost nearly 40 pounds as a relatively sedate individual, this left me “skinny fat” but still probably a somewhat healthier version of myself.  I wasn’t moving but I was seeing results.  I fought through all of the headaches and the sleepless nights and got to the other side.  Towards the end, I looked like the walking dead and there is no way in hell I could have done Crossfit.  Basically, I did a Ketogenic Diet with a cheat day.  That cheat day often left me sick, I would obsessively make lists of all the foods I really wanted to eat and just pound them on that one cheat day.  Gradually I was able to manage things a bit better and looking back, all of the pieces of the puzzle were there I just hadn’t put them all together yet.  Instinctively I reduced the window of cheat days from about every 7th day to about every 4th day, otherwise the scale wouldn’t move.

You have to remember I was NOT doing Crossfit at the time.  Which is good, because I couldn’t have done it.  Because I didn’t understand why what I was doing worked and at that time, I didn’t know the details on how to not get sick in the process.  In the end, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I was a metabolic disaster.

I will never recommend a Ketogenic Diet, for anyone, even good ones like John’s because when the scale stalls, the only option people feel they have is to start eating less.  I have found they are unnecessary and can lead to harm in the wrong hands and I think it’s only natural that when the scale isn’t moving you push the panic button, eat less and that’s when things get real bad.

I was just too smart to be fat

If you want to know a synopsis of my life it’s pretty simple.  I don’t follow the crowd.  I walk into most situations with a skeptic’s eye.  There are varying degrees of success people have with “eat less do less” diets but they don’t end up more whole as a result.  I often describe this as the best version of themselves.  Not only active and healthy but those results can be shown on paper through bloods tests and or body fat analysis.

If you aren’t eating any starches and one piece of fruit I am going to say you are probably hurting yourself.  No amount of “rah rah” cheerleading bullshit is going to make that better.  Also no amount of “sugar addicted” proponents can truly explain to you why their approach isn’t working for you, after all, maybe you are just being a baby (does it not stand to reason that with few energy dense options craving sugar represents craving more energy, this isn’t rocket science folks).  “But it’s working for everyone else”.  Is it though? I mean really? Because I hear a lot of people talking about progress but it doesn’t really show.  Not in the mirror and not really in the gym.  “But I am faster and I am stronger”.  This does happen and I can explain it easily.  From a cardio perspective if you pull all of the water out of your body (that’s part of what Ketogenic diets do) you are going to weigh less.  Do you think that would be favorable as it relates to your cardio abilities? Seems obvious right?  But what about strength gains, people often PR while eating low carb and Crossfitting, so what I am saying might not jive with those folks.  Here is that answer and I am just going to lay it on the line.  You weren’t all that strong to begin with.  As someone that knows a fair amount of powerlifters I can tell you that they hone in on their areas of weakness and just hammer those spots.  Then after hammering it they find different ways to hammer it.  In some ways powerlifters are the perfect example of what I am talking about even though many of them are thought to be on the heavy side.  To lift real big you have to realize your muscles potential, powerlifters are a great example of this.  By keeping insulin high they gain muscle but many of them also get fat in the process and they become reluctant to lose weight because they think it might compromise their strength (they are probably right without proper guidance, however even with proper guidance there are no guarantees).

Your Diet Sucks

Your Diet Sucks was a book concept I came up with after many years of not knowing the little details of why all of the diets I was on didn’t work out in the end.  I am not going to lie to you, when you read Carb Back Loading it’s a bit shocking.  It doesn’t seem real and if you haven’t read the book you probably think it’s a book exclusively about making poor food choices work.  The exact opposite is actually true.  The concept I wanted to write about was going to describe some level of metabolic flexibility where I learned to move from one energy system (fats) to another energy system (carbs) and not only was it favorable it allows you to become the best version of yourself.  And then I started hearing about Carb Back Loading.  It has a few warts and if you come from a Paleo background it’s probably difficult to see all of the donuts and cherry turnovers.  I am not even an ardent low carber and it got to me a bit.  Kiefer has talked about this on multiple occasions and has said that while a super Paleo version of carb back loading might not be totally optimal it’s actually pretty close to the way he eats.  He and Robb Wolf are positively gushy talking to each other.

The only book that I could have wrote would not have been technically better than Carb Back Loading but it would have been aimed at regular folks that might not need every detail covered.  I have talked about this a bit, can you do carb back loading without reading the book, that answer quite simply is yes.  But there are some details that make GIGANTIC differences.  By the time I found Carb Back Loading I was doing things mostly right and I found tips in every chapter that made big differences for me and I have gained about 15 pounds of muscle in little over a year.  Those tips only helped.

If you are considering buying the book I would ask you to use the various links on this site.  I don’t recommend a lot of stuff so I need readers to know that it keeps me blogging when you purchase things directly from me.

Here is my blog on CBL for Paleo Crossfit type folks. There is a download link on that page and also one on the sidebar.

Carb Back Loading for Crossfit and Paleo

Sweet PotatoesCarb back loading is probably the best version of what I refer to as a metabolically favorable way of eating.  The focus of this style of eating is not to create a deficit at all, it is to get your metabolism humming along like a Ferrari so when you enter your Crossfit gym you are ready to perform.  The points where I disagree with Kiefer are not significant but I think it should be brought up.  The fact of the matter is simple, if you are looking for the absolute best book to understand what goes on in your body and WHY this book does that better than any I have seen.  If I find a better one, I will put that one in the sidebar but, for now, this is the holy grail for a high functioning metabolism that allows you to burn fat.  The book is expensive, is it worth the money? I think it is.  Much of what I talk about on my blog and the associated Facebook page covers topics in the book.  The book however does a good job as a “one stop place” for an approach to eating with the scientific references to back it up.

Carb Back Loading is $53 dollars, when you consider all of the $109 nanos, $139 OLY shoes and the list goes on none of those will help your understanding of how your nutrition self and athletic self work together quite the way CBL will.

To Download your version of Carb Back Loading click here

This blog exists to help people understand their health and performance.  It is a business and as such I sell things.  I only sell things I use and I only promote products I believe in.  If you like this blog and you like my content and are considering buying this book I would ask you to use this link.

Can you do this Paleo?

Absolutely you can and it probably best describes how I eat.  I rely mostly on sweet potatoes for my carbs and occasionally white rice (many Paleo authors are starting to include white rice in their “safe to eat” foods for athletes).  My coconut milk smoothies are a perfect addition to the fat back load which is used in conjunction with carbs to get a better response before bed.

Cherry pineapple and Banana Chocolate Hazelnut smoothies

Some minor points of differences

Kiefer suggests A LOT of supplements in the book.  I wouldn’t necessarily say I disagree with his recommendations as much as I would say they aren’t necessary for all populations.  If you are eating a diet of mostly whole foods with adequate protein you have it mostly right.

Is this THE way of eating?

I think if you asked him John would describe this style of eating as the best strategy he has come up with for extreme athletic performance.  BUT IT IS JUST A STRATEGY.  It is not THE way, you could certainly take the concepts in the book and put the pieces together for an optimal way of eating designed for you.  As someone who coaches people on their diets there a lot of one off’s that you need to account for.

Even though people spend 100′s of dollars on personal trainers and Crossfit memberships they are often reluctant to spend the money for a book like this.  That is a mistake.  Even if you never carb back load you will learn infinite strategies related to how to eat to perform (catchy right).

Carb Nite Solution

The other book offered is called Carb Nite Solution, that will appeal to many people who will see it as the holy grail of fat loss.  You won’t however see see a link or it in the sidebar of this site because Ketogenic Diets (even good ones like CNS) are a metabolic train wreck for Crossfitters, especially women who have a history of extreme dieting.

He doesn’t seem to like us Crossfitters

The original versions of Carb Back Loading  was for PowerLifters and Physique Competitors (you see them as the testimonials).  His criticisms of our approach to fitness is legit for optimizing squatting 1,000 pounds or even getting shredded down to 5%.  So if those are goals of yours then you should understand that Crossfit isn’t a good method for reaching those goals.  Crossfitters are attempting different goals.  Let me put it to you this way, if you want to become the best version of yourself this book will show you a great approach to get there.  I also believe that if you play with it a bit, Kiefer describes his approach as Legos, it might take a bit to figure it out completely.  Certainly if you have any questions on how you can adapt this approach to eating to Crossfit leave a message in the comments and I will attempt to help you.

What about all of the donuts and turnovers?

You’ll just have to get over that part.  Think about it, people want an approach to eating that allows them to perform athletically WHILE ALSO allowing them to make some poor choices.  Is the turnover and donut approach vastly superior to a more Paleo approach? I have tried it, it didn’t feel right.  FOR ME.  I am a 44 year old man but I wouldn’t recommend the turnovers and donut approach to most populations.  Do I realize that it might describe an approach to the way some people want to eat? I certainly do.  If you are doing the 80% version of Paleo or even the version that Dr. Cordain recommends in the Paleo Diet for Athletes this can be easily accomplished with carb back loading and just/almost as effective for optimizing Crossfit as the donut approach might be.  Any differences would be minimal and unless you are an elite athlete those differences likely won’t matter for you and your progress related to Crossfit.

Tackling the Sugar Addiction question

First let me start off by saying I don’t make light of addiction.  I have been free of chemicals for 26 years, it destroyed my life as a teenager and I had to leave my family to get treatment for that illness.  So while things kind of worked out for me in the end I still deal with repercussions of that illness to this day.  Let me give you the timeline for this addiction.

- At 18 I was admitted to a treatment facility for 3 months where I underwent extreme psychotherapy

- I then was admitted to a halfway house in Minnesota (where I currently live), I stayed in that facility for 6 months as did most of the residents there.

- I am originally from New Orleans, La. one of the coolest places on the planet.  Most of my family still resides there or near there.

- After leaving the facility in Minnesota I decided to acclimate for a bit before heading back home.  New Orleans held a lot of temptation then and now so I really wanted to make sure I had it right.

- 26 years later I am still here, I met my wife about 6 months after leaving the halfway house.  I often get asked “what makes a person come from a warm weather place that seems as cool as hell to a miserable wasteland (their words not mine, it’s really not so bad and Prince is from here)” my simple retort is often “had to be a woman, right?”

- My children have a great life and our family is well supported by people that care for us but it’s incomplete.  It’s a little tough looking your father in the eye as he tears up because he is being robbed of seeing his “grand babies” grow up.  That is one small casualty of addiction.

So yeah, I take addiction real serious.  As a drug treatment counselor I heard many stories of people who stole their grandmothers microwave to buy crack or compromised their humanity to get a fix.  So while sugar is a powerful chemical can we at least set the bar as a SEVERE consequence that possibly compromises who you are as a result.  Before anyone suggests obesity, let’s not confuse not knowing WHY with uncontrollable behavior.  So let’s start there.

The insulin hypothesis

The insulin hypothesis goes like this, if you can keep insulin suppressed it solves body fat storage because insulin is said to be a “storage hormone”.  Let’s be clear about this, body fat can store without the presence of insulin through multiple channels.  Insulin is more accurately described as a building hormone.  Eat correctly and it builds muscle, eat incorrectly and it BUILDS/stores fat.

It has been proposed that if you can control insulin you can control your health, that is the basis for all low carbohydrate diets.  As many of you know that frequent this page/blog I recommend eating carbohydrates with strategies related to the time you workout or even eating in a smaller window in the evening.  No matter which macronutrient we are talking about I believe you should have a strategy as it relates to that macronutrient.  I also believe that you should have some general idea of your overall intake needs daily and adjust those needs related to your activity level.  Let me give you an example of what that might look like, for protein I try to get around 160g a day, each gram of protein equals 4 calories, so I need 640 calories from protein a day (you don’t really need to count calories daily to have a good idea of your protein intake but it might be helpful for a week or so just to check, knowledge is powerful).  Through massive trial and error I have found a good balance of about 200g of carbohydrate, up to 300g if my activity is higher, once again, I do this intuitively but as most of you know I am pretty good at this whole nutrition thing.  Carbs also equal 4 calories per gram so I need 800 to 1200 calories of carbohydrate to support my daily activity.  While yes I realize carbohydrates are a non-essential macronutrient they are very favorable as it relates to metabolism.  I know this because I basically cured my hypothyroidism related to chronic dieting once I went down this road of discovery related to my intake needs.  Which brings me to fats, through various ways including dexascan and bodpod testing as well as trial and error I know that I need about 3000 calories a day to support my activity levels.  Once again I don’t actually count this stuff but I am also not naive as it relates to the caloric values of the foods that I eat and also know what those foods represent in my body.  Which is another article for another day and not germain to the discussion of sugar addiction.  So fat calories basically equal the rest, if I get 640 calories from protein roughly and 800 calories from carbohydrates that leaves me with 1560 calories coming from fat, fat calories (as most of you know) equal 9 calories per gram, so my fat intake represents more than half of my calories, which is right about 170g a day of fat alone.

For the ladies in the crowd I will use my wife as an example without all of the dirty details. Protein 120g, carbohydrates 150g, total calories for her (she is a crossfitter so quite active) are 2400 a day (she doesn’t count either but eats in an intuitive manner similar to the way that I do).  So her fat calories represent also over 50% of her calories at 1320 or roughly 146g from fat.  From what I have seen my wife is pretty average but I would like to put out there that everyone’s life journey should be a bit more self discovery.  In a lot of ways that is why I made this blog and my accompanying Facebook page, it is my life’s mission to help people navigate these personal struggles.

If you think you don’t need to eat that much to support your activity level you are almost certainly wrong.  Even if you are right it is only minor degrees.  I am not saying this as someone using two people as an example, I have many case studies that prove this.

So let’s start there as it relates to your sugar intervention.  Until you actually KNOW these types of numbers and have worked towards this level of self discovery and you haven’t had to miss carpool to prostitute yourself for a twix bar (you are going to have to imagine this in Jeff Foxworthy voice switching our redneck for sugar addict) “you might not be a sugar addict”.  Just so people know I am not stereotyping I pick up carpool for my children and I can say to you “god willing” I haven’t had to miss carpool for a twix.

So why so much fat?

I like fat as a primary fuel because it’s very stable, I have heard it said that over reliance on glucose (carbs) for energy is like burning a fire with kindling and fat is like putting a log on the fire.  At rest, for most people, fats are a great source of daily energy levels.  Fats also keep insulin blunted and while it seems odd fats can be a good STRATEGY as it relates to your body fat levels.  I highlight the word strategy because my way and my wife’s way might not represent the best way for you.  That will be part of your self discovery but stick with me and I will give you some clues on how to get there.  Don’t be fooled though, the insulin hypothesis goes like this,  keep carbs out of your diet and you will be in fat burning mode all of the time.  Not only is this wrong it’s borderline irresponsible and has left many people broken with eating disorder type behaviors as a result.

The effects of Carbohydrate on a Ketogenic approach to eating

In an attempt to figure out if they are in ketosis many people pee on their hands each morning to check their ketone levels.  I don’t mean to make light of people working towards a better style of eating but there is a crucial aspect they are missing.  Carbs are said to be a non-essential macronutrient because your body can exist without them, the body requires glucose (a fuel source readily available through actual food) so much that it actually can turn fats and mainly protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis (I misspell this word non-stop).  It’s an inefficient process and can often leave the user with headaches as a result.  The brain functions mostly on glucose but I don’t want to get ahead of myself, it can however function on Ketones which is the by-product of fat metabolism.  So while yes if you can suffer through the bad workouts and the headaches it is indeed possible to use fats as a primary fuel source but the net result as it relates to body fat mobilization becomes dependent on the amount of fats you eat as a result.  The process is relatively inefficient for athletic populations and virtually impossible as a strategy for Crossfitters that want to excel.

It has been well known for a long time that when you eat in a ketogenic way and then cycle your carbs that stimulates metabolism whether it by intraday, bi-daily, weekly or whatever floats your boat.  When you eat low carbohydrate and then you have a carbohydrate re-feed (you eat a good amount of carbs) you not only mobilize fat but the net result tends to be more favorable than the “eat less do less” model of eating.  This is because a low carbohydrate way of eating suppresses the hormone leptin which is the primary mover as it relates to body fat mobilization.  Suppressed leptin levels can lead to hypothyroid like symptoms and is often the result of extreme dieting.

So low carbohydrate dates get to a point of diminishing returns as it relates to body composition.  I will say there are always outliers where it can work but those are not the majority of folks that go down the low carb path.

I am going to stop here because this is going long

I am not going to make any promises related to WHEN I will write the second part of this article but you already should have some thoughts flowing through your head related to “sugar addiction”.  The next article is going to focus more on strategies related to eating that will allow to better understand your bodies signals.  Let me end on this note though, most people who think they are sugar addicted are underfed, plane and simple.  Since low carb dieting is not favorable as it relates to metabolism down the line people often need to reduce their fat intake to try and chase their body composition goals which is like driving towards a point that is continuouslyy moving.  Those that aren’t underfed are simply relying more on glucose (carbs or sugars) as their primary fuels and this can be handled easily by adjusting their diet patterns.  Here is the deal, you miss the sugar because the brain really really likes sugar, if you gave the brain sugar all of the time it would just ask you for more because, well, brains are gonna brain.  That’s what they want.  If you provide your brain adequate nutrition with strategies related to how the rest of your body manages your fat the equation for optimal health starts to appear.

I am thinking the next article should probably be called “The case for responsible energy management” but let’s be honest, no ones gonna click that.  So I’ll probably call it something like “The Sugar Addiction Cure debunked”.  I’m tricky like that.  Oh yeah, Doctor Oz can suck it.  I can’t believe people still think his information is even remotely responsible.

Some conjecture and Science on why Fats are important


It might seem somewhat ironic but “Carb Back Loading” is a book about eating fats most of the time and using carbs to most effectively use those fats.  You can support this site and get a free science lab membership by purchasing items using the links on this site (much of which you probably already buy or want to buy).  Check this link out for directions on how that happens (or you can now purchase a Science Lab membership for $4.95 monthly).

Fat cells are part of the endocrine system, and, as I’ve discussed before, they have the power to influence the degree to which muscle cells prefer glucose versus fats as an energy source. They exercise this control by releasing two signaling peptides: leptin and adiponectin. Adiponectin promotes glucose consumption by the muscles, and it also acts directly on the fat cells to encourage them to take up glucose and convert it to fat. Leptin, on the other hand, stimulates the muscles to prefer fat consumption over glucose consumption.

For several decades now, Americans have come to believe that the following two practices are foundational in a healthy lifestyle:  eat a low-fat diet, and  stay away from the sun. Additionally, if people consume adequate amounts of calcium, then all three nutritional deficiencies that have led to obesity will be overcome: vitamin D, calcium, and dietary fat.

Lack of Dietary fats is a precursor to metabolic syndrome

The lack of adequate dietary fat contributes to the metabolic syndrome in at least four ways:  vitamin D is only available in fatty food sources because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, calcium uptake is more efficient when the calcium is consumed with dietary fats, calcium uptake depends critically on the presence of vitamin D, which is deficient due to (1) above, and the burden of fat cells to manufacture fatty acids from sugar is alleviated by the dietary availability of fats from ingested food sources.

I would also argue that one should make sure to ingest adequate amounts of dietary fat, especially dairy fat . Whole milk (assuming you are not intolerant) is particularly outstanding because it contains substantial amounts of calcium and vitamin D, and it contains the necessary fat to assure that these two elements will be well utilized rather than just passing through the digestive system unabsorbed. Animal fats such as bacon are good sources of vitamin D, while also supplying fatty acids to help with energy needs. Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines are particularly good because they contain both omega-3 fats and vitamin D. One should assiduously avoid the trans fats found in processed foods such as cookies, crackers, and margarine. Butter and eggs are also healthy choices. Egg yolk is particularly good because it contains both fats and vitamin D. Nuts, particularly walnuts, almonds, and macademia nuts, are excellent sources of omega 3 fats.

The fat cells are able to influence the muscles to preferentially take up fats rather than glucose by releasing certain hormones into the blood, hormones that also have a powerful influence over appetite. One of these hormones is leptin. While leptin influences the muscle cells indirectly through its signaling in the hypothalamus, it also stimulates the muscle cells directly, and influences them to oxidize fatty acids in their mitochondria. Leptin also encourages the fat cells to release their fats through lipolysis. All of these actions work in concert to redirect fuel usage away from glucose. The programming of the muscles to preferentially consume fats aligns well with the fat cells’ infusion of fats into the blood and absorption of sugars through their fat-producing factories.

Leptin influences appetite

Leptin also has the effect, via the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, of suppressing appetite. Adiponectin is another hormone released by fat cells, and it is generally agreed that adiponectin induces hunger. Leptin and adiponectin levels would ordinarily fluctuate throughout the day, with leptin levels rising at night to encourage a switch from glucose-based to fat-based energy management. However, in the obese person, the leptin levels are typically high all the time, and the adiponectin levels are kept very low. High levels of leptin in the blood signal to the appetite center in the brain a sense of being full, whereas high levels of adiponectin are hunger-inducing. This means that the obese are being informed both that they are full, and that they are not hungry. You would think that this would protect them from overeating. However, it is likely that the observed insensitivity to leptin as an appetite suppressant in the obese is also related to calcium depletion, because the signaling mechanisms that respond to leptin in both the hypothalamus (Details) and the pituitary gland (Details) depend on changes in internal calcium concentrations.

Confusing signals cause deficiencies related to blood sugar 

The result of these three deficiencies is defective glucose uptake in both muscle and fat cells. The obese person becomes trapped in an endless metabolic cycle of trying to supply the energy needed for a steadily increasing demand. The fat cells are at the center of the storm, because they are burdened with the arduous assignment of converting the excess consumed sugars and carbohydrates into fat. The fat cells must do this because the muscle cells are impaired with a malfunctioning ability to metabolise sugars. Even if the metabolic problem were not fixed, if the obese person simply ate more fat, and therefore consumed fewer carbs, the fat cells’ burden would be greatly alleviated. In addition, getting plenty of vitamin D and calcium, either through diet or sun exposure, would alleviate the core problem of impaired glucose transport across the cell wall. Now that the heart and muscles can utilize sugars directly, the excessive burden on the fat cells to expand and proliferate is relieved, and the body fat will inevitably melt away.

The metabolic syndrome is a term used to encapsulate a complex set of markers associated with increased risk to heart disease. The profile includes insulin resistance and dysfunctional glucose metabolism in muscle cells, excess triglycerides in the blood serum, high levels of LDL, particularly small dense LDL, the worst kind  low levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and reduced cholesterol content within the individual HDL particles, elevated blood pressure, and obesity, particularly excess abdominal fat. I have argued previously that this syndrome is brought on by a diet that is high in empty carbohydrates (particularly fructose) and low in fats and cholesterol, along with a poor vitamin D status [Seneff2010]. While I still believe that all of these factors are contributory, I would now add another factor as well: insufficient dietary sulfate.

Why being “fat adapted” makes your body run better

Glucogenesis is the process where the body breaks down proteins and possibly fats for energy, what this means is that in the absence of glucose the body can make glucose which is important for brain function.  This is also important for all those people that think they need carbohydrates every fewer hours to maintain their energy.  When a good majority of your energy comes from fats you are said to be “fat adapted” and less prone to voracious hunger related to blood sugar changes.  There is nothing wrong with glucogenesis, nor is there anything wrong with carbohydrate restriction. A glucose fueled body and a fatty acid fueled body are both healthy body’s (the latter arguably more health promoting and anti inflammatory). Insulin in and of itself has little to do with body weight and weight gain. The liver, pancreas and brain take care of this. One could potentially eat a ‘perfect’ diet totally devoid of carbohydrates, and still gain weight. if whatever you are eating is spiking your blood sugar and your pancreas is not releasing efficient amounts of insulin to clear the spike, then in turn you will store fat. This goes the same for EVERYTHING YOU EAT. Insulin is required to live, without it you would die. I think people are missing the point when the carbohydrate junk is thrown around, as well as the fear of blood sugar rises.  To suggest that one macronutrient is “bad” or “good” misses the whole point, conditioning your body to be able to exist on either is not only healthy, it’s optimal.

Lets say, for example, you do a 20 minute heavy lifting session in a fasted state (like first thing in the morning). Your body is PRIMED to produce a spike in blood sugar regardless of what you eat. NOT TO STORE FAT, but to reinstate hormesis in your muscles and deliver nutrients. This is the job of amino acids, but to deliver it you need insulin.

Dealing with Inflammation

In the body, to ‘inflame’ is to swell or agitate. Everything from a sun burn, knocking your big toe against the bed, to arriving at work to a boss chewing your head off results in inflammation. Taking your body out of its equilibrium and homeostatic environment will inflict inflammation.  The body uses inflammation as a way to correct and heal imbalances.  When you get a cut on the outside of your skin, that part of your body becomes inflamed in an attempt to deal with that injury.  This acute inflammation is necessary for your body to heal itself.  If there were no resulting inflammation from a burn wound, there would never be a scar to heal.

The same process happens on the inside of your body due in large part to your dietary habits.  Everybody is different in regards to what causes chronic low grade inflammation and what doesn’t. One who is lactose intolerant will deal with inflammation of the gut from dairy products while a celiac will be fine with cheese but grain products will rip apart their intestines. Just because a food is ‘real and whole’ does not automatically assume the body should be able to deal with its consumption on an everyday basis.

Different macronutrients have different inflammatory properties as well. Carbohydrates assist the healing process inside your body in instances of workout recovery by refilling spent glycogen. Sweet potatoes, bananas or white rice after workouts are a way of reconciling the imbalance (lifting heavy results in inflammation, good carbohydrate sources and timing increase absorption of glycogen and keep inflammation low which keeps healing high).  Eating protein is another way.  Both of which inflame your system in an attempt to heal it.  This periodic inflammation allows a maximum amount of healing. Muscles would not grow post work out if they did not get inflamed. The anti-inflammatory stage (recovery) is when muscle grow and become more dense.

The level of intensity, length, and episodic routine regarding weight lifting will determine your inflammation. The body’s breaking down and healing process is happening over and over all the time.  For those not working out, regularly eating foods causing inflammation does not allow your body to fully heal itself. Working out involves the process of breaking down tissue, some fat, some muscle.   Short, intense, heavy lifting requires more ‘healing’ and recovery time than a ‘runner’ who jogs for an hour every day. Their diets to de-flame their systems will differ as well. Often, you see heavy lifters perform best with only enough glucose post exercise to distress their hormonal system. Runners who spend hours on the elliptical and performing bodyweight workouts will function better with more carbohydrates in their diet simply because letting the body know it will be distressed (from fruit etc.) will allow it to optimize inflammation and its turnover.

In our inactive, desk job, long route to destination lifestyle, it becomes easy to see why the large carbohydrate intake of the standard diet is resulting in chronic low-grade inflammation. This exact inflammation, which is prolonged and never dealt with, plays a key role in the development of several chronic diseases. These include but are not limited to: as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Parkinson’s, and many others (

Ridding your body of inflammation is quite simple

The three focal points of inflammation are what leave the body under prolonged pressure: mental stress; lack of sleep; and excessive exercise. Tackling these three aspects is tackling inflammation. Eating in a way to eliminate inflammation will allow for a better mind set, sounder sleep and short sweet to the point workouts.

Chronic inflammation is not acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation is best tackled with anti-inflammatory substances like oregano, turmeric, and a sound diet. When low grade chronic inflammation is present, learning to eat in a way to eliminate it is key. Attempting to lift heavy, run or endure any inflammatory activity on top of low grade inflammation is like getting a burn on a broken arm.  Said differently, starting a workout routine to deal with chronic inflammation should be part of the solution but the majority of that solution should come from your diet.

Understanding inflammatory responses will allow you to customize your own diet to benefit your lifestyle. If you just love you some cheesecake but are lactose intolerant, understand and realizing the cause and effect to eating a slice will allow you to set-up and deal with the situation as it arises. Having an idea of what inflames you will allow you to also realize what you need to get rid of it.  Assuming the lactose intolerant individual eats the cheesecake, he should expect water retention, bloating, gas and possible indigestion as well as skin breakouts or rashes. For each inflammatory intake, the body has to hold a certain amount of fluid as a way of processing.  The more fluid your holding, the more inflammation you have, and the more body fat you are likely to store because under stress the body likes to hold onto and store body fat (it is unhappy, so you’re going to also be mentally unhappy when you see what has accumulated in the mirror).  Once again, generally speaking, the more body fat you have will make the processing of these fluids more difficult.

Remember from the fat chapter, omega 6 fats serve as inflammatory agents while omega 3 fats serve as anti inflammatory agents. Both have their place, but need to be balanced for a homeostatic environment in your body. Excess inflammation from years of vegetable oil, excessive processed carbohydrate products and indoor living will often times benefit from extra omega 3.

Take two basic meals and compare inflammation. You will be able to see where people run into problems.

Meal one: Slow cooked rib roast and a salad including a dressing of vinegar and coconut oil (spiced with garlic and ginger) with spinach, shallots, carrots, and dried cranberries

Anti-inflammatory Properties: slow cooked meat allows easier digestion and assimilation, garlic, ginger and cranberries are full of antioxidants and a wide range of benefits relating to decreasing inflammation, coconut oil is an immediate energy source for the body and known for its anti-inflammatory effects.

Meal two: Char grilled chicken breast on stone ground wheat bun with tomato/pepper, side of potato salad (mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt/pepper)

Inflammatory Properties: most people will digest white bread better than a stone ground wheat but both choices result in inflammation, char-grilled food leaves a burnt aspect to the outside of the food and will often lead to digestive troubles and dangerous by-products. Peppers and tomatoes are not a one size fits all in regards to inflammation as some people handle them well and others get inflamed joints, arthritis and other inflammatory symptoms. Potato salad, serves as an excessive carbohydrate intake coupled with the grainy bun, and made with store bought mayonnaise guarantees the omega 6 ratio in this meal as a whole is screaming inflammation.

A note to the chronically inflamed

Better awareness of your body is a means to an end in fixing chronic inflammation issues. Being in tune with your responses to food, sleep or lack thereof, and working out will all enhance your optimal health status.  A long term approach involves all three of working in unison for hormesis within the body. Lack of sleep will elicit a stress response and this response results in a low grade inflammation, as well as reduced insulin sensitivity and concentration. One other area worth looking into if you feel you may suffer from inflammation is the use of antibiotics. Balancing your bacteria in your gut means not flushing away bacteria through antibiotic use.  Antibiotic use, stress, and poor diet can all the balance of gut flora (and this is a delicate balance), resulting in undesirable bacteria overload that can lead to inflammation. You can tackle this with a good probiotic such as acidophilus or bifidus, and also by including naturally cultured foods in the diet.  The obvious ones include sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, and kombucha (fermented tea) and also yogurt and some raw cheeses.

Why you should pack up your scale and mail it to your worst enemy

Scale weight is mostly irrelevant from a day to day basis.  Checking your weight occasionally is fine but many factors contribute to that number and it rarely represents the true nature of your body composition.  When the number is too high it rarely represents just fat, too low and it rarely represents lean mass.  Hence from this chapter, inflammation will play a big role in what the scale read on a day to day basis, even an hour to hour. Taking a weekly weight and noting progression or lack thereof will help you find an idea of what is working for you and what isn’t.

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