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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Basic Guidelines for Health and Performance


More and more people have been coming to me lately for advice on what to eat to help them reach their goals, so I decided to share the basics of what I currently believe is optimal for health and performance.

These guidelines have been created from personal experience, research, and have been tweaked over the years to reflect new information and knowledge. I reserve the right to change my views if new information comes to light about any subject, however those changes will likely be small tweaks. I have seen many people have great success by sticking to these basic recommendations.

Everyone's situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all plan, these guidelines are just what I see as a good starting point for most people. I hope this is of help to you.

Basic Guidelines for Health and Performance
EAT
As much as you want:
  • Quality Meat/Fish/Eggs (grass-fed, pastured, free-range, wild caught, organic, etc.)
  • Non-starchy vegetables of all colors (broccoli, spinach, kale, bell peppers, carrots, eggplant, etc.)


Some:
  • Nuts and seeds (limit to a handful per day or 3 Tbsp of nut butter)
  • Fruit (berries are best; limit to 1 cup per day if weight loss is the goal.)
  • Starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, yams, beets, squash, onions, etc; 100-250g/day carbs depending on activity level)
  • Good non-processed added fats (olive, coconut, macadamia nut, and avocado oils; pastured/grassfed butter; limit to less than 5 tablespoons or 60g added fats per day if weight loss is the goal)
  • Fermented vegetable foods like kimchee, sauerkraut, etc.


AVOID
  • All grains (cereal, pasta, bread, chips, baked goods, flour, rice, corn, wheat, oats…)
  • All legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts)
  • All pseudograins (amaranth, quinoa, etc.)
  • All refined vegetable oils (soybean, canola/rapeseed, cottonseed, etc.)
  • All added sugar, natural or not (including honey, maple syrup, agave syrup/nectar, cane sugar, etc.)
*Most sugar substitutes (including sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, etc) *Stevia is okay occasionally.
**Most dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.) **Pastured/grassfed butter is okay.

TIPS
  • Try to eat about every 3-4 hours, and only until comfortably full. Don’t stuff yourself and don’t starve yourself.
  • Try to eat around 0.8-1g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day(for a 180lb person, this would be 144-180g/day)
  • Drink 1oz of water for every 2lbs of bodyweight per day. (If you weigh 180lbs, drink 90oz/day)
  • Get 8-9 hours of quality sleep in a pitch black room every night. It’s difficult to overstate how important this is. Turning off lights and electronics an hour before bed will help you sleep better.
  • Stick with as unprocessed foods as possible. For example: steak is better than salami, and raw fruit is better than fruit juice, etc.
  • If the meat is good quality (grass-fed) eat all the fatty meat you want, it’s great for you. If it’s conventionally raised (most meat is), go for the leaner cuts of meat.
  • One day a week, eat much more than you would usually eat, try to keep it quality food, but just eat more calories than you would usually eat.

 For frequent high intensity training (CrossFit, HITT, etc):
  • For breakfast, include 50-75g of carbs from  yam, sweet potato or fruit(preferably berries or melon)
  • Eat a post-workout meal IMMEDIATELY after your workout containing 4-8oz of lean protein (meat/fish/eggs/etc) plus 75-100g of carbs from yams or sweet potatoes.


*The longer and harder the training session, the more carbohydrate you will need to optimize recovery. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hand Care for Weightlifters and CrossFitters


While ripped calluses may be considered badges of honor amongst CrossFitters, the reality is that they can also lead to sub-par and limited training sessions soon after. Taking care of your hands in advance can help you to avoid these injuries and keep hitting PRs. Here are some tips to keep your hands in good shape:

Pre-hab/Maintenance
  • Never wash your hands immediately before training, this will soften the skin on your hands and predispose it to tearing. If you do, chalking up your hands before your warm-up can help to remove some moisture before lifting heavy.
  • Wash off your hands after workouts and apply some Corn Huskers Lotion. Corn Huskers Lotion acts to help heal, moisturize, and toughen up your skin. Bag Balm works too, but not as well.
  • Trim your calluses down to make sure they aren't too thick and have no rough edges. Don't completely remove them though. A pumice stone works well for daily maintenance, but if your calluses have grown way too thick, try using a callus remover like this one.
*Corn Huskers Lotion and callus removers can be found in most drugstores.
Taping
  • Often it is useful to tape the thumb before olympic weightlifting. The thumb takes a lot of abuse using the hook grip with heavy weights, so taping it can help avoid painful tears. See Donny's video below.
  • Applying a hand drying agent like Tite-Grip before taping your hands can help the tape stay on better throughout your training session.
  • Using an elastic athletic tape may help it stay on better during training. A good place to buy tape is Findtape.com(good prices and great variety).

    Quick Taping for Pullups

    Another Method for Taping
Hand Rip Care
  • Mid-session: Check out Donny's method for taping your hands in the video below at 7:30.
  • End of session: Wash your hands, apply antibiotic ointment to the torn skin, cover with a bandage overnight. In the morning, remove the bandage, wash your hands again, and apply Corn Husker's Lotion if dryness is an issue. If needed to train, tape your hands using the method described in Donny's video.

Donny Shankle Talks Hand Care


Friday, August 3, 2012

Book Review: Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo

Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle

If I had to pick only three words to describe Practical Paleo, those would be: COMPREHENSIVE, ATTRACTIVE, and PRACTICAL. And perhaps a fourth: PERFECT!

Practical Paleo is the most comprehensive and accurate guide to nutrition and lifestyle that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It is the only book I have come across that can stand completely on its own as a guide to healthy nutrition. If there were any book to give to someone to introduce them to paleo/primal eating, this would be THE one.

Not only does the book lay out the why's of paleo/primal eating, it provides diverse meal plans tailored to specific diseases or goals, a wide variety of beautifully illustrated recipes and cooking tips, and many different useful and attractive guides that make things easy.

The entire book is very orderly, information is easy to find, well organized. 

This book lays out the theory and science behind paleo/primal eating in a way that is both easily understandable to the layperson, but also provides enough scientific detail and interesting tidbits to satisfy even very well-read paleo-eaters. Diane balances scientific information and practical application throughout in a beautiful and artful way.

It lays out specific meal plans for handling different conditions/goals, ranging from heart health to cancer recovery, weight loss to athletic performance, and even covering stuff like multiple sclerosis, thyroid conditions, etc.

The illustrations are vibrant and the guides are eye-catching yet simple, and pack so much practical information onto a page attractive enough to proudly hang on your refrigerator.

Practical Paleo feels like a masterpiece; as if years and years of learning, planning, and tweaking went into this book, only to be released when it was absolutely perfect and complete.

I highly recommend Practical Paleo to anyone interested in improving health, well-being, or performance. Or anyone that breathes oxygen and can read...and that last part is optional. Buy it now, you won't regret it.

To purchase from Amazon click the link below:
Practical Paleo

Diane's website: http://balancedbites.com/




Saturday, May 5, 2012

Why Saturated Fat? - A Mechanistic Look at Lipid Peroxidation and Its Consequences

Fatty acid peroxidation is a process in which fatty acids are degraded and free radicals form. These reactions are uncontrolled, unlike the ones that provide cellular energy, and their products can cause extensive damage to cell membranes and DNA in the cell. The body produces antioxidants in an effort to neutralize these free radicals before they cause significant damage, however some damage still occurs.





Some fats are very resistant to fatty acid peroxidation, whereas others are vulnerable. These reactions play an important role in our health, and can be affected greatly by the temperature at which the fatty acids are. Thus, cooking with the correct fats can help to lower your intake of damaged fats.
 
Here I will explain the chemistry and implications of it on health.


Lipid Peroxidation 101

To begin with, fatty acids are composed of two parts:
- A hydrocarbon tail, which is hydrophobic, aka fat soluble (butane used as an example below). This chain can be anywhere from 4 to 28 carbons long and naturally occurring fatty acids only contain tails with an even number of carbons.
Butane
- A carboxylic acid group, which is hydrophilic, aka water soluble. (shown below) *The "R" group simply means any carbon chain.
Carboxylic acid group
Put together, these two above examples make butyric acid, a fatty acid commonly found in butter.
Butyric Acid

Carbon atoms will form 4 bonds usually, and as it pertains to this discussion, they always do.

Fatty acids can be broken into two main groups: 

- Saturated: Every carbon in the hydrocarbon tail has as many hydrogens bonded to it as possible(aka the carbons are 'saturated' with hydrogens), meaning there are no carbon-carbon double bonds.

- Unsaturated: There are one or more carbon-carbon double bonds(C=C), resulting in some carbons that are 'unsaturated', in that they don't have as many hydrogens on them as could be possible. In nutrition, this category is often divided further into monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs, containing only one C=C bond) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs, containing two or more C=C bonds)

Double bonds change a few things about fatty acids, including the structure(which affects melting point) and the rate of lipid peroxidation.

Stearic Acid, a saturated fat commonly found in animal products such as beef. Note the straight nature of the hydrocarbon chain; this lends itself to fitting together well with other fatty acid molecules, so that they can pack densely together, which results in a higher melting point. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature.
Stearic Acid

Oleic acid (the main MUFA in olive oil), an 18-carbon MUFA is shown below. It has one C=C bond (notice the C=C bonded carbons only have 1 hydrogen attached to each of them, rather than 2 as is normal on saturated carbons)
Oleic Acid

Also, notice how the C=C bond makes a kink in the chain, making this type of fatty acid less straight than saturated fatty acids. This kink is responsible for the difference in the melting point between things like butter (mostly saturated) and vegetable oil (mostly unsaturated). The more C=C bonds a fatty acid has, the more kinks in the chain and therefore the molecules cannot layer together as well. This reduces the inter(between)molecular forces, and lowers the melting point.

Carbon-carbon single bonds can rotate freely around the bond axis, but carbon-carbon double bonds are locked in position (the double bond has to be broken in order for it to rotate).

Here is an example of a polyunsaturated fatty acid, Docosahexaenoic acid (aka DHA), a major component of fish oil, with 6 double bonds. Its structure doesn't allow for the molecules to pack tightly, and therefore it has a lower melting point than more saturated fatty acids of the same length(increasing length raises melting point due to increased Van der Waals forces).
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
Now that we know how double bonds affect structure, what do they have to do with cooking?

It turns out, that the hydrogens on the carbon adjacent to the C=C bond, referred to as allylic hydrogens, are highly susceptible to reacting by free radical mechanisms. When a hydrogen is taken, there is left a lone electron (this is what we call a radical) on the carbon where the hydrogen was. Because the free radical formed next to a C=C bond is surprisingly stable; it doesn’t take that as much energy to cause the formation of a free radical as it would without the presence of a double bond.

The double bond can shift between two resonance states (essentially states of electron distribution), and stabilize the fatty acid radical by spreading out the distribution of the free radical over two carbons instead of one. Essentially, there is only a half free radical on each carbon that shares the radical, and this sharing stabilizes the radical, lowering the energy needed to achieve this state.


By lowering the energy needed to reach the radical state, the reaction occurs at a much higher rate.

This is where cooking comes in. It is accepted that in general, the rate of a reaction in chemistry about doubles for every 10 degree Celsius increase in temperature. This is because the rate of collisions between molecules about doubles for each 10 degree increase in temperature.

In cooking, the increased heat causes a rapid increase in the formation of fatty acid free radicals by the process shown below. The lipid radical continues to react (propagation) with other lipids until either two radical react (highly unlikely unless radicals are present in very high concentrations) or it reacts with an antioxidant.
Lipid Peroxidation

The consumption of lipids that have undergone peroxidation will result in the absorption of these compounds. These compounds continue to react with fatty acids in your body, causing major damage to cell membranes, hormones, cholesterol, and more.
(a) Initiation of the peroxidation process by an oxidizing radical X · , by abstraction of a hydrogen atom, thereby forming a pentadienyl radical. (b) Oxygenation to form a peroxyl radical and a conjugated diene. (c) Peroxyl radical moiety partitions to the water-membrane interface where it is poised for repair by tocopherol. (d) Peroxyl radical is converted to a lipid hydroperoxide, and the resulting tocopherol radical can be repaired by ascorbate. (e) Tocopherol has been recycled by ascorbate; the resulting ascorbate radical can be recycled by enzyme systems. The enzymes phospholipase A2 (PLA2), phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (PH-GPx), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and fatty acyl-coenzyme A (FA-CoA) cooperate to detoxify and repair the oxidized fatty acid chain of the phospholipid. (from Buettner 1993).


The production of free radicals increases oxidative stress on the body, which is known to play a key role in the progression many chronic inflammatory conditions, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, etc[3]. Oxidative stress increases inflammation in the body [1],[2](inflammation increases oxidative stress as well), which also reduces insulin sensitivity[4],[5],[6], a key marker in diabetes.

Summary:
  •          Saturated fats do not undergo lipid peroxidation at anywhere near the rates that unsaturated fats do.
  •          You do not want to eat fats that have undergone lipid peroxidation
  •          Cooking increases the rate of lipid peroxidation
   Bottom line: Cook with saturated fats, limit, but don’t eliminate polyunsaturated fat consumption (there are some essential fatty acids such as omega-3’s and omega-6s’s that you need; still limit omega-6, don’t worry, you’ll get enough.)

For a practical guide on what fats to choose, check out FAQs: What Are Safe Cooking Fats & Oils?

1. Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Obesity
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116179/
2. Oxidative stress, antioxidants, and endothelial function.
3. Oxidative stress and diseases - Wikipedia
4. Inflammation and insulin resistance.
5. Obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
6. Insulin sensitivity: modulation by nutrients and inflammation

Friday, April 27, 2012

Perfecting The Squat

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet demonstrates an excellent air squat.

The Air Squat (otherwise known simply as the squat)
The squat is the basis for a great number of movements in CrossFit. The unweighted squat is also one of the most basic functional movements someone can perform. It is useful in training and in the real world. In CrossFit, we often use the Olympic-style squat because it carries over well into other movements such as the thruster, clean, snatch, overhead squat, high-bar back squat, and wallball shots, just to name a few.  Mastering the proper form for the squat may take some athletes a  long time, as the squat requires not only coordination, balance, and flexibility, and for many people, an elimination of bad habits. The benefit gained from mastering the squat, however, is enormous, and well worth the investment of time.

How I cue the Air Squat to start is as follows:
  1. Set your feet about shoulder width apart, toes pointing slightly out(about 5-10 degrees from straight forward).
  2. Brace your abs like someone is about to punch you in the gut. Hold your arms out in front for balance.
  3. Send your butt back and down while pushing your knees out.
  4. Descend to the bottom of the squat, keeping your weight in your heels.
  5. Stand up the same way you came down.
This usually gets people moving pretty well, from there I triage the form errors and assign homework for issues that can't be addressed immediately.



There are 5 main Points of Performance for the Air Squat

1. Maintain Midline Stability - Imagine a person standing tall, with a neutral spine (with a natural slight S-curve viewed from the side). Now imagine a straight line piercing that person from the top of their head, down through spine and ending at the bottom of their pelvis. This is what we refer to as the MIDLINE. The CORE constitutes the muscles that stabilize and maneuver the midline. Maintaining midline stability means that our torso does not flex, bend, or twist around the midline. Now, note the midline does not include the knees, and thus, in a proper squat, as shown below, the midline is kept intact.

Vertical line is the frontal plane. Diagonal line is the midline. This squat is precisely AT parallel.
The infamous "dog-poop squat" Midline stability is compromised. This is a both dangerous and weak position, especially when loaded. 
Midline stability is important for many reasons, among them are the prevention of spinal injuries, higher performance output, and better muscle recruitment. When we break the midline, the ability to develop force drops dramatically, so this concept is important not only for safety reasons, but for performance. Injury prevention isn't sexy, but performance IS sexy! Frame it in this light, and people will be much more likely to pay attention to this aspect of the movement.

Developing midline stability in the air squat will transfer over to movements in real life in an awareness of the midline and a need to keep it intact. Midline stabilization is a key component of all weightlifting movements and many bodyweight movements as well.

Sometimes, near the bottom of the squat, the pelvis will tuck under, rendering the "dog-poop" squat position. This is often caused by tight hamstrings, which nearly everyone has to some degree. Stretching or otherwise mobilizing (foam rolling, lacrosse ball, myofascial release, etc) of the hamstrings and surrounding muscles can be beneficial in many cases. Check out the videos at the end of this post for more mobility work.

2. Squatting Below Parallel - In life, we all squat below parallel. Whether you are sitting down to a chair or toilette, squatting down to look at something on the ground or shooting the duck, our bodies were meant to go below parallel.

Squatting below parallel. Note that the crease of the hip is below the top of the knee.

Contrary to popular misguided belief, squatting below parallel does not damage the knees, it in fact strengthens them when done correctly. Any incorrectly done movement has the potential for injury, especially when loaded up with weight. Correctly done squats strengthen the ligaments and muscles around the knees, which actually help prevent injury in the case of falls and twisting motions (such as those often experienced in sports like soccer or basketball).

Squatting below parallel is also safer in the short term as well (except for people with certain knee issues). At the beginning of the squat, the majority of the load is handled by the quadriceps, which pull from the front of the knee. When the hips drop below the knees the weight shifts so that the glutes and hamstrings carry much more of the load, balancing the forces at the knees and lessening shear(sideways) forces at the knee. As a result, stopping above parallel, which involves a sudden stop, and therefore puts increased load on the quadriceps and front of the knee, without balancing force from behind the knee. As a result, squatting correctly below parallel can be actually safer than squatting to just above parallel.

Some common reasons for improper depth may include lack of flexibility, strength, or simple laziness.

Turning the feet out a bit can help if flexibility is an issue and there is pinching at the hip crease. If strength is an issue, squatting to a high box works great; slowly reduce the height of the box until it is no longer needed.
If laziness is the issue...stop being lazy.

3.Knees Track over Toes - Keeping the knees spread apart so that the knees are directly over(or slightly outside) the feet is very important for both safety reasons (preventing twisting and shear forces on the knee) as well as performance reasons. Forcing your knees out on the squat activates the glutes(largest muscle in the body), allowing you to sit farther back on your heels,and acts to stabilize the midline as well. Just take a look at the pictures below. You will never see someone squatting massive weights successfully with knees caving in. If you do, you can be assured they probably won't be squatting like that for very long.
Knees are out over toes. This is a solid squat.

Knees are inside the feet. This increases shear forces on the knee, and reduces the ability to produce power in the squat.

Some common reasons for an inability to keep the knees tracking the toes(assuming it has already been cued) include weak glutes/abductors, tight adductors, or a lack of external or internal hip rotation.

Squatting with a small band around the knees can be very useful for developing abductor strength. Foam rolling or working with a lacrosse ball on the insides of the thigh can be very beneficial for tight adductors, as well as for a lack of hip rotation. The videos at the end of this post will help you work on mobility in the squat.

A few cues I use for helping athletes with this point are:
- Spread the floor! (useful for visualizing the proper way of pushing knees out, activating the abductors)
- Knees out! (useful for quick reminders during a squat)


4. Hips Back - Pushing the hips back, as in sitting down on a chair behind you, leads to two things: one, the powerful posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, etc) is loaded first, and two, the knees stay back in the squat. Loading the posterior chain first allows it to be loaded more throughout the squat(tissues which are loaded first are loaded maximally), which allows for a stronger squat. Keeping the knees back in the squat serves to reduce shear forces at the knees, which is essential for preventing knee injuries. This also allows heels to stay on the ground, as the farther the knees travel forward, the more ankle flexion is required to keep heels on the ground.

Often, if an athlete is not pushing their knees apart and trying to "spread the floor", they will fall over before they are able to get their hips very far back. Cueing this can benefit both issues simultaneously.

Useful cues include:
- Butt back!
- Sit back!
- Sit back and down.

5. Heels Down - The weight should be centered towards the back of the foot. If the heels come up off the ground, there are a few things that quickly turn bad in the squat. First, the load by necessity shifts to the forefoot and toes. This makes it much harder to balance than standing with flat feet, especially if loaded with weight. Secondly, this shift to the forefoot inhibits in a large part all of the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, etc) muscles that are the major movers in the squat.

Sometimes this fault can come from a lack of ankle flexibility and/or tight calves.


A collection of videos from Kelly Starrett on fixing mobility issues in the squat:

http://www.mobilitywod.com/2012/02/prog-13-squat-cycle.html
http://www.mobilitywod.com/2012/02/prog-22-squat-cycle.html
http://www.mobilitywod.com/2012/02/daily-prog-33-squat-cycle.html


http://www.mobilitywod.com/2010/12/episode-117365-working-deep-squat.html
http://www.mobilitywod.com/2011/06/episode-260365-positional-inhibition-and-hip-external-rotation.html
http://www.mobilitywod.com/2011/01/episode-138365-banded-squat-mobilizer.html
http://www.mobilitywod.com/2011/05/episode-250365-creating-loaded-hip-stability-and-torque.html



Below is a collection of videos to help you understand what IS and what IS NOT good form.

http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFit_AirSquats.mov
http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFit_SquatFlawHeels.mov
http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFit_AromasL2NicoleSquatTrick.mov
http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/SquatTherapy.wmv

Guest Post - Getting Active in the Fight Against Cancer


Getting Active in the Fight Against Cancer

A diagnosis of cancer was once, and still is by too many people, considered to be a death sentence. Advances in treatment, new treatment options, and advanced diagnostic tools have combined to greatly increase the odds for patients. Modern techniques have likewise led to fewer complications from treatment and better management of symptoms. A new understanding about the role of exercise during every phase of treatment is making treatment even more successful while also improving quality of life and reducing reliance on pharmaceutical medications.

Exercise Recommendations Follow Research

The leading research organizations are currently recommending that every cancer patient engage in a regular fitness routine. Guidelines have been developed to support the beneficial use of exercise for the most common forms of cancer and treatment, and doctors have been advised to help patients achieve their fitness goals by working with a physical therapist.

Research has shown that exercise is applicable even in cases where it may seem contraindicated by the cancer, such as during treatment for mesothelioma or lung cancer. The benefits highlighted by studies on colorectal cancer have consistently been replicated and expanded. It was found that modest amounts of exercise provided significant gains in both preventing cancer recurrence and making treatment more successful. Treatment outcomes that were once thought to be subject only to genetic predisposition of the patient are now understood to hinge on lifestyle factors, such as balanced nutrition and physical fitness.

In the studies on colorectal cancer, chance of death from the cancer was reduced by 40-61 percent. The risk of recurrence was reduced by 40-57 percent. As a side benefit, the risk of death from any cause was reduced by the same amount. This is only one side to the benefits of engaging in physical fitness. The other side can be thought of as short-term benefits. Patients have reported in study after study that exercise helps in managing common symptoms. Fatigue, rapid weight changes, emotional disorders, and digestive upset can all either be moderated or eliminated entirely with responsible use of exercise. Reducing reliance on medications is a major benefit for patients, because the commonly used drugs can be expensive and typically cause side effects.

Individualizing the Workout Program

Since no two patients have the same fitness profile, the same cancer, and the same treatment program, it stands to reason that workout routines will have to be individualized for each patient. Those in outpatient treatment programs will have the widest range of exercise options. Special consideration must be given in many cases. Breast or prostate cancer treatment often involves the use of hormones, and weight-bearing exercise will be needed to prevent bone loss. During radiotherapy or chemotherapy, patients will often have trouble sustaining motivation, and programs that include family and friends will be useful.The best source of advice for exercise recommendations during cancer treatment is a physical therapist trained in cancer care.  The doctor will also be able to help by providing any contraindications. Exercise offers a unique method of building health during treatment.
By David Haas
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance




Check out the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meat (an example of "correlation does not equal causation")



Meat, particularly red meat has gotten quite the bad rap for a long time.

Many epidemiological studies (those that study factors and disease distribution in populations) have revealed correlations between red meat consumption and various chronic diseases, most notably cardiovascular disease.

Red meat consumption and risk of heart failure in male physicians.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20675107

Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20479151

Associations of processed meat and unprocessed red meat intake with incident diabetes: the Strong Heart Family Study.

However, there is a huge caveat here in that these studies were PURELY OBSERVATIONAL. Factor A went up at the same time Factor B went up. We CANNOT conclude that Factor A caused Factor B to increase, or vice versa. There very well could be a Factor C which causes both to increase, or some other complex interactions of factor.

The point is, observational studies are good for coming up with ideas about where to direct research, but are NOT for drawing conclusions from. Observational studies reveal trends, which must be followed up with experimental studies in order to draw any substantive conclusions.

Now, what kind of results DO experimental studies show?

Incorporation of lean red meat into a National Cholesterol Education Program Step I diet: a long-term, randomized clinical trial in free-living persons with hypercholesterolemia.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10872897

Increased Fat-Free Body Mass and No Adverse Effects on Blood Lipid Concentrations 4 Weeks after Additional Meat Consumption in Comparison with an Exclusion of Meat in the Diet of Young Healthy Women
http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnume/2011/210930/

Now, there are still a few studies out there, experimental studies, that show some increases in risk factors for certain diseases. But then again, we must ask, what are "risk factors"? More correlations!

In some circumstances, we are sure enough about the mechanisms of diseases to actually get something from correlations, however many times, this is not the case.

I don't have time to go into the nuances of this subject, so I will leave you with someone who has gone over this topic quite well.

The Meaty Gritty on the Red Meat Debate: A Comprehensive Rebuttal of the Constant Assault On My Beloved Steaks
http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2012/04/meaty-gritty-on-red-meat-debate.html

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Zonulin and its regulation of intestinal barrier function: the biological door to inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer.

Intestinal permeability is becoming more and more accepted to be an important causal mechanism in many inflammatory conditions such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, and inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Scientists are realizing the prevalence of leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability) is also much higher than previously thought.

http://physrev.physiology.org/content/91/1/151.full

Friday, February 3, 2012

"Belief" by Jon Gilson of AgainFaster

"Belief" by Jon Gilson of AgainFaster.com


As a child, you can do anything. The future is an unwritten story, unencumbered by the fetters of harsh reality. Belief is easy to come by, as simple as hearing or seeing. Potential is infinite, and always given its due.


As we get older, living is no longer an exercise in blind faith. Doubt creeps in, and skepticism finds its way into our minds. The world gives us our knocks, and with each blow, the bounds of reality narrow. The vernacular of the impossible impregnates our speech and infects our actions, until we stay with the safe, the pleasant, and the known, afraid to push back against the unfamiliar and the difficult.


This unfortunate evolution leaves us unsure of our abilities, scared to display incompetence and unwilling to attempt the unknown. Terrified of another hard knock, we display only those traits with known rewards and certain payoffs. We become small and weak as the chains of doubt weave themselves into our lives.


We cannot conquer frustration by quitting, nor defeat the unknown with doubt.


Every time you grab a barbell or strap on a weight vest, you have the opportunity to reverse this disastrous course. Instead of succumbing to the gravity of your misgivings, you can take heart in your potential. You can push back against the pain, secure in the knowledge that every failure can be remedied, every misstep righted. With a piece of cold rolled steel, you can crush the virus of inadequacy beneath your heel.




We don’t trade in exercise. We trade in the idea that your potential is exactly what you believe it to be. Squats, pull-ups and levers are merely tools, a chance to show the world that it is wrong, its lessons flawed. We cannot conquer frustration by quitting, nor defeat the unknown with doubt. Meekness can never be rewarded, and with every clash, we scream this message.




I’ve seen athletes perform the impossible, heaving against every fiber of their being, a living war cry in the face of adversity. They overcome through sheer exertion of will, shattering the fallacy of the immovable object by becoming the unstoppable force. These athletes come from a thousand different places, unique only in their refusal to accept the world’s false constraints. They choose to believe in their own capacity for greatness, and they are rewarded.


Belief is a place where the irrational exuberance of childhood finds new life, where the burden of the past is shed in favor of the promise of the future. Belief is a chance to give all the hard knocks back, to free ourselves to become anything. Stop wondering if you can, and know that achievement is as simple as trying, over and over again.


Written by Jon Gilson - againfaster.com