Saturday, December 31, 2011

Soundbites & Confessions to End 2011

Sneakin' in one last blog post before 2012...

First off, I have an actual educational, organized, and informative post on adrenal fatigue brewing for early 2012.  This, though, will not be that; in typical North American ADHD fashion, I'm going to puke forth a shwack of Soundbites and Confessions to ring in the New Year.  As always, some will be personal, some will be sciencey, and some will be sarcastic.

Confession:  I think Metabolic Typing is a bunch of Horseshit.

It's interesting that 1) I've been asked more than a few times about this in the recent months from folks all over the country emailing me, 2) Robb Wolf has addressed this numerous times in text (here) and on his podcast, (here, here, and here) 3) Alan Aragon did a recent a thorough ass-thrashing in his Research Review

  This is a bit at odds with my current journey of learning about Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, as FDN aligns itself with MT.  To clarify, though, they are two separate entities.  And yes, while I think MT is horseshit (I had my own metabolic typing done, to the tune of 150 bucks.  I was told to stop drinking coffee and eating spinach.  Because I'm a "fast oxidizer", and these are acidic foods.  When asked about PRAL and specific alkalinity (both of which spinach and coffee have a negative {read:alkaline} PRAL, there was no rebuttal.), I understand why they would align themselves with something like MT.   I'm biased, it's pseudoscience horsehit, but it DOES address individuality.  I still sure as hell wouldn't either use it or recommend it to ANYONE.  Hell, even the Zone might be better, and it sucks.

Soundbite: Chevelle is a fucking badass band.

Sure, bands like Killswitch Engage, Slipknot, All That Remains, and Sevendust are probably more likely to be found on my iPod at the gym, but you can't deny the awesome mesh of Chevelle. A bunch of geeky dudes who probably all have degrees in science, heavy guitar riffs, and actual cerebral lyrics. Figures I'd like em. And yes, their new single Face To The Floor can be found on my iPod. At the gym. LOUD.

Confession, Admission, Prediction

I'm a mediocre athlete Why am I bashing myself down?  I work with, and a train with, some of the best in the world.  It's hard not to suck around these folks.  Sure, I put up pretty good numbers for a skinny assed 38 year old, but fuck me, there's some wicked beasts in the Crossfit Community.  This is an awesome segue into an admission + prediction:

I'm seriously stoked for the 2012 Crossfit Games.  Yeah yeah I bash the whole dealio from time to time, but I'm obviously still waving the flag.  This year, I have a TON of clients that will be competing from coast to coast, so I can't help but be jacked. 

I usually throw out a prediction or two, which, in the evolving world of Crossfit as a sport, is a total crapshoot.  This one isn't specific to 2012 per se, and more targeted to the guys:  We will continually see faster athletes at, or above, the 225# mark.  In the past, 225# was "just too big" for Crossfit...dominate athletes in the male category were around 185-190, exceptions aside.  225#, in the future, will no longer be the exception, it'll be the standard.  Mark my words.

Soundbite:  Dr Terry Wahls on Paleo and Multiple Sclerosis.

Get a cup of coffee, sit the hell down for 17 minutes, and watch. It's Ted Talks. It's about nutrition. It's about curing the incurable. This shit is heavy.

Confession:  I love cooking bacon.

My BBQ lost a bet with 110km/hr winds, hence the shit-kicked look.

I know, that's not very revealing.  But cooking bacon on my back deck on Dec 31st wearing shorts with no snow and a balmy -1 Celsius is pretty freakin' cool.

Soundbite:  Fish oil won't FUBAR your lipid peroxides

I'm pretty sure I've posted on this before:  The idea that too much fish oil (an unstable polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acid) will oxidize and do more harm than good.  This idea, while sound, is much like a lot of nutritional theories floating around the blog-o-sphere and interwebz, is susceptible to what I call the "Run-Like-A-Fucking-Idiot" syndrome.  Folks get a wiff, then take it to the end of extreme.  This goes both ways, by the way.  Think fructose.  Think dairy.  Think fish oil.  For that matter, think "Paleo".   People either want it all or nothing, and a vast majority don't seem to be able to find a happy medium.  Yeah, I get that folks want black and white.  But pull your head out of your ass on this one.

Back on target, let's look at some sciencey goodness:


Effect of fish and fish oil-derived omega-3 fatty acids on lipid oxidation.


School of Medicine and Pharmacology, The University of Western Australia, Medical Research Foundation Building, Box X 2213 GPO, Perth, Western Australia 6847, Australia.


There is evidence that omega-3 (omega3) fatty acids derived from fish and fish oils reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease via mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis, thrombosis and inflammation. Despite these benefits, there has been concern that these fatty acids may increase lipid peroxidation. However, the in vivo data to date are inconclusive, due in part to limitations in the methodologies. In this regard, our findings using the measurement of F(2)-isoprostanes, a reliable measure of in vivo lipid peroxidation and oxidant stress, do not support adverse effects of omega3 fatty acids on lipid peroxidation.
PMID:15479562 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] 
Polyunsaturated fatty acids as antioxidants
Doriane Richard, Kaouthar Kefi, Ullah Barbe, Pedro Bausero, Francesco Visioli

Laboratory of «Micronutrients and Cardiovascular Disease», UMR7079, UPMC Univ 06, Paris, France
Accepted 13 May 2008. Available online 18 May 2008.


The susceptibility of fatty acids to oxidation is thought to be directly dependent on their degree of unsaturation. However, some in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that the relation between chemical structure and susceptibility to oxidation is not as straightforward as hypothesized from theoretical viewpoints. Indeed, long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) might be less oxidizable than others under specific experimental conditions. We investigated the free radical-scavenging potential of PUFA and the production of reactive oxygen/nitrogen (ROS/RNS) species by human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) supplemented with different fatty acids. Fatty acid micelles scavenged superoxide in an unsaturation-dependent manner, up to eicosapentaenoic acid, which was the most effective fatty acid. Supplementation of HAEC with polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega 3 series resulted in lower formation of ROS, as compared with cells supplemented with saturates, monounsaturates, or polyunsaturates of the omega 6 series. This effect was maximal at concentrations of 10 μM. The effects of omega 3 fatty acids on reactive species production appear to be stronger when ROS were evaluated, as a milder, albeit significant effect was observed on RNS generation. Based on in vivo data showing reduced excretion of lipid peroxidation products after omega 3 intake and our data on ROS production and direct superoxide scavenging by LC-PUFAs, notably those of the omega 3 series, we propose that this series of fatty acid might act as indirect anti- rather than pro-oxidant in vascular endothelial cells, hence diminishing inflammation and, in turn, the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
 Commonly heard quote:  Ok, so Mike dug up a bunch of studies.  Big deal.  I'm a BAMF fire breathing, low omega-6 eatin' athlete with body comp so tight I have striations on my striations.  I'm TOTALLY going to oxidize those excess O3s!"  (ok, maybe not so commonly heard quote, but you get my point).  Enter N=1 real life experimentation:
Mike's Recent Lipid Peroxide test: 5.48nM/mg
Optimal range of Lipid Peroxides: 1.00-7.50nM/mg 

Keep in mind this test was taken with the continual consumption of at LEAST 4.8g EPA/DHA per day; at times, I dose at 6g (5 caps of 600mg EPA/DHA x 2/day) In the far past, I've been at 10-15g to deal with a chronic shoulder bursitis.  

Also of note is that lipid peroxides can be elevated due to excessive or hard training, and can be attenuated by the consumption of anti-oxidants.  For the record, I did this test on a rest day, but had trained the previous 3 days in a row (and, this was prior to Maddy being born, so the training was still decent, ha!)I also do not consume antioxidants, and had stopped my Vit C intake day prior to the test.

Morale of the story?  Take your damn fish oil.  Use the bag of fat between your ears, and make decisions on what you do, or do not do, based on sound science.  Not the flavor of the month, and not what the goddamn masses are doing like herds of cattle.  Direct your own health.

Confession:  I'm continually blown away at the far reaching readership of this blog!

It makes me smile, shake my head, and just plain wonder.  Let's be clear:  I don't get a Satan-Klaus bag of mail every day, but I do get questions and comments from all over the damn globe on a regular basis.  I don't get as much hate mail as I probably deserve, but I do get some pretty cool questions.

I recently had a brief discussion with another CF coach about FDN in Florida; another, in New York.  I've had a few Aussies email me with just nice things to say (the rumors aren't true, they are nice folks!), and always lots of California.  I have to admit, my blogging frequency has fallen off the planet, but it's nice to hear from folks from all over, and it's a catalyst to get me to find the time.
That being said, I just got an email notification of a hilarious post left on probably my most popular and completely mis-understood post,  Some Things I Hate About Crossfit

Soundbite: Alistair Overeem

Just watched this absolute freak of nature man-handle Lesnar last night at my buddy Jake's house.  For some clarity, my nutritional consulting does 3 phases; one of the topics in phase 3 is supplements.  I don't do a "Phase 4".  Phase 4 would probably land me in jail.  

Then., at 205#

...Now, at 265#.

In the wise words of one of the best paramedics I know "I'm not sayin'...I'm just sayin'"  Uh huh.  Look at Joe Rogan in the background.  Even he seems bamboozeled by Overeems...transformation.

Confession:  My Adrenals are Trashed.  T-R-A-S-H-E-D.  But it may be normal.

The basis of the FDN course is testing lab values; as a student, one of the first steps is to test my own.  I did my testing prior to my daughter's birth, because I knew once she arrived, all semblance of training/diet/sleep would just be a beautiful memory.  While it actually hasn't been as bad as I thought, my sleep has taken a serious beat down.  BUT, I did do my labs before.  But when I got the results, my jaw hit the floor:
I'm in late Stage 2/early stage 3 adrenal fatigue.  I'll go into the actual ranges, values, and meanings in a blog post early in the new year, but for a primer, think of it like this:
Stage 1:  Elevated cortisol above normal at certain points of the day, total sum still normal
Stage 2: Elevated cortisol throughout the day, total sum elevated
Stage 3: Adrenal Exhaustion, sum less than normal.

My DHEA was low, cortisol low on all points except one, and total is low.  What I find mind-boggling is that I generally don't feel that bad most of the time, and this year I made some pretty decent progress in training, maintained a sub-8% BF, and didn't walk around like I had dementia.  Well, most of the time.  Also, my testosterone is decent at 960ng/mL on a scale of 400-1300.  I'd like to see that above 1000, but shit, considering, I'm happy.  My metcons have sucked ass lately, but my strength has increased at a rate I'm pretty stoked about.

What I Think Has Saved My Bacon Thus Far:  Completely dialed diet (lets assume I know what the hell I'm talking about here), smart training, and intelligent supplementation.  By all rights, I should be barely able to drag my ass out of bed in the morning.  Most of the time I just wake up, swear a bit, and I'm good to go.

The main strategies for dealing with this are, well, obviously, quality sleep; being a career shiftworker has probably been the main, far reaching cause that started 15+ years ago.  My recent deprivation is a drop in bucket, but exacerbating, nonetheless.  Friends that are parents promise me I will get sleep again :).  Also is the use of supplemental DHEA, Pregnenolone and Licorice root.  Think of this as "Phase 3.5"....some of this stuff isn't available in Canada, (which is complete, 100% horseshit).  BUT, being a resourceful sum-bitch, I have in my adrenal fatigued hands sub-lingual versions of all stated, and it looks like a fairly reliable source for the future.  SO, I will be able to treat myself, and my future clients.    More on this next year, and obvious re-testing in the near future ;)

Recent Training

Well since my last post Nov 6th, training has been a challenge, to say the least, but it's happened.  I'm fortunate enough to have a kick-ass garage gym (huge props to my friend, accountant, and owner of CFLA, David "I wear Millionaire" Muryn), and access to a sweet gym at the new firehall.  Motivation/energy has been more of an issue that location...let's be clear on that!

Current PRs:
  • Deadlift, 435#.  Just PR'd this on my first vist back to CFLA.  450# is just around the corner.
  • OHP, 141#.  It's 1 pound.  GFY.  I'm taking it, lol.  Seriously, this does make me laugh, because it's laughable.  Weak sauce, fo' sho.
  • Squat, 355#.  Had a PR of up to 350, and recently, 355.  Lots o' room in my deadlift, but this one is truly at max.  Going to take some serious work to get to 405#.
Nov 21st, CFLA, 11ish or so
CF Total
Back Squat 355#
Deadlift 435#
OHP 140#
Total: 930.  Very happy with this, and really not giving a fuck that I used a belt and went back and forth between my press and DL at the same time.  Came in just with the idea that I was going to squat, and jumped in with David to do the whole deal.

Dec 6th & 8th
TRX session at U of L, 1 hr/each.

This was...ok.  I have to be kinda politically correct here, because 1) there's readers that really like this thing, and 2) Guys at the station use it, and I'm just happy when they are doing pretty much anything.  I'm personally not a fan, though, and won't be buying one for my garage gym nor will I be wasting my time on one.  I purposely tried to kill myself during the last sessions "interval workout", and ended up with nothing more than mild DOMS in my obliques the next day.

Let me put it this way:  If I was stuck in Afghanistan, and my job required a high degree of physical fitness, and I didn't have access to awesome stuff like barbells, and all I had was a tank in the desert and some nylon webbing, I'd use it.  But I'm not in Afghanistan, my job DOES requires a high degree of physical fitness, and I have access to better shit.  'Nuff said.  Flavor of the month, it's not a shitty gimmick, but there way better options available.  (read: barbells, rings, rowers)

Dec 20th, Firehall #1, 10:30
135x10, 155x5, 205x3, 225x3, 245x3, 275x3, 315x3, 350x10.  BOOM.  That was a nice surprise.

Dec 25th, Garage, 11AM
OHP up to 141#.  You have no idea how pissed I was that I couldn't budge 145#.  Fuck around.

3 Rds
15 KBS, 32kg
30 DUs
10 Pullups
15 Ring Pushups
12min + change.  No fractionating expect the pushups, but time between movements taken.

Dec 27th, CFLA, 11 AM

1 set of 405x3, form was sketch, dropped to 365x3 for 4 more sets.
Tabata row, 908
5 sets of weighted chins, worked up to 50#
5 Sets of weighted ring dips, up to 40#

Dec 30th, CFLA, 11 AM

Front Squat
135x10, 165x5, 185x5, 225x5x5

AMRAP 10 Min
15 Power Snatch, 75#
30 DUs
4+3 rounds.  Hit this at 75%, fractionated the PS to 5's after the first round, purposeful breaks.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dynamic Nutrition at Taranis, Real Food vs Vitamins, and Maddy

Dynamic Nutrition Beasts Alicia Connors, Steve Howell, Jeremy Meredith, and Joey Lutz
This past weekend, a shwackload of high-end athletes took part in what's sure to be known as western Canada's biggest mid-season Crossfit competition: The Taranis Winter Challenge, in Victoria, BC.  You can check that link for the listing of the WODS (which looked excellent and well rounded, says this middle-of-the-road athlete that wasn't there), and check HERE for the rankings.

I'm extremely proud to say that FIVE of my athletes placed top 10 in a very deep talent pool of over 50 men and 35 women:  Steve Howell, 1st, Alicia Connors, 2nd, Jeremy Meredith, 3rd, Rachel Siemens, 7th, Joey Lutz, 9th.  Also competing were Jason Noel, 19th, and Jeff Hutton, competing for Team Crossfit Vernon.  

Well done everyone!
Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;79(6):1060-72.

The 6-a-day study: effects of fruit and vegetables on markers of oxidative stress and antioxidative defense in healthy nonsmokers.


Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research, Søborg, Denmark.



Fruit and vegetables contain both nutritive and nonnutritive factors that might contribute to redox (antioxidant and prooxidant) actions.


We investigated the relative influence of nutritive and nonnutritive factors in fruit and vegetables on oxidative damage and enzymatic defense.


A 25-d intervention study with complete control of dietary intake was performed in 43 healthy male and female nonsmokers who were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups. In addition to a basic diet devoid of fruit and vegetables, the fruit and vegetables (Fruveg) group received 600 g fruit and vegetables/d; the placebo group received a placebo pill, and the supplement group received a vitamin pill designed to contain vitamins and minerals corresponding to those in 600 g fruit and vegetables. Biomarkers of oxidative damage to protein and lipids and of antioxidant nutrients and defense enzymes were determined before and during intervention.


Plasma lipid oxidation lag times increased during intervention in the Fruveg and supplement groups, and the increase was significantly higher in the former. Plasma protein carbonyl formation at lysine residues also increased in both of these groups. Glutathione peroxidase activity increased in the Fruveg group only. Other markers of oxidative damage, oxidative capacity, or antioxidant defense were largely unaffected by the intervention.


Fruit and vegetables increase erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase activity and resistance of plasma lipoproteins to oxidation more efficiently than do the vitamins and minerals that fruit and vegetables are known to contain. Plasma protein carbonyl formation at lysine residues increases because of the vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables.

My Thoughts:  This is a pretty damn interesting study in that it's the first I've seen that compares real food to supplements in a quantifiable nature.  Often, the common saying "real food is better than vitamins and minerals" is thrown about haphazardly, but without a solid explanation of "why".  In my practice, I'm not *against* the use of a multivit/multi-min type supplement or the use of singular micronutrients, but I would rather see folks first 1) obtain as much micro-nutrient intake from whole food, and 2) if needed, use a powdered green type supplement (as an example, Greens+ or Greens First).  As seen in the posted study there IS a difference when obtaining micronutrients from whole food versus pills.

My view, as seen from the top of the world

This last Tuesday, Nov 1st, 1:34AM, my beautiful daughter Madison Taylor came into this world.  While we had to spend 4 days at the hospital with Mom as she recovered from a last minute C-section, I'm happy to report everyone is doing stellar!!!  

While there's going to be some major adjusting, fine-tuning, and time management, I've been lucky enough to already sneak in a workout yesterday at home (I'll be posting in the future on my home gym setup) and get back to some current Dynamic Nutrition clients.

Recent Training

Oct 20th, CFLA
5x10y, 5x20y, 2x40y.
5 Rounds
4 Power Snatch, 70%1Rm (110#)
Max strict pullups
Max band pushup
Rest 2 min between rounds.
10/20, 10/20, 6/15, 6/14, 6/13

Oct 27th, Garage
Wendler 5/3/1, week 1
Using an old 1RM of 415# for percentages, 14reps at 315# puts me at 460#1RM. Gonna have to test that theory out soon.
B) Accessory Work:
Overhead Lunge, 6/leg, 3 sets@ 25#/35#/45#
L-hang, 3set x 20s

Oct 31st, Garage 
Back Squat 3R
135x5/175x5/190x3/225x3/255x3/285x11. Felt better than my 275x10 last week. Odd.
5 Rd
15 20# Push Ball to 10'
5/5 right/left 50lb KB snatch
25 Double Unders
11:30. Low back torched
Cash Out: 3x15 ab wheel rollouts.

Nov 5th, Garage
OHP 45x10, 60x10, 95x5, 105x5, 115x3, 120x3, 125x1, 130x1, 135x1, 140x1, 145x0,0,0. Tied my current PR, so considering running on <3hr sleep, fine with this.
3 Rounds, max rest between rounds:
5 Power Snatch, 95#
10 Butterfly pullups
15 KBS, 50lbs
20 Double unders

Monday, October 17, 2011

RX'd Should Read "Dose-Dependant", Fish Oil and Lipid Peroxidization, and BeastModal on Clients

Yeah, but is it RX'd for you???

Rx: A medical prescription. The symbol "Rx" is usually said to stand for the Latin word "recipe" meaning "to take." It is customarily part of the superscription (heading) of a prescription.    

Recently, I wrote up a guideline on the use and implementation of IF (intermittent fasting) in performance, health, and longevity for VERY specific clients:
There's some solid science to it's benefits---but it must be applied in a similar fashion to how a medical professional would administer a pharmacological agent:
  • The right patient
  • The right drug
  • The right dose
  • The right route
  • The right time
If we think of intermittent fasting (IF) as a "drug", and apply these rules (the right client/athlete, the right amount, at the right time in his/her training, for the right length), we have nothing to lose and everything to gain---in the right person.

I started thinking about this as applied to the whole RX'd deal and how "As Prescribed" is extremely ingrained, overused, and misunderstood in the CF community, and how it's literally fucking people over.  Note the differences:

A Medical Professional:  After a thorough verbal, physical, and mental assessment of patient, consideration of the chief complaint, a diagnosis (DX) is made.  This could also be based on assessment of quantitative lab values, consideration of differential diagnoses and diagnosis of exclusion.  After this is done, treatment based on this info is As Prescribed (RX'd).

Crossfit:  Are you fit?  No?  Let's scale this.  Yeah, it's group programming, but if it's scaled and modded, hell, it's just like individual programming!  Oh, dot-com is good for everything.  It'll make you bigger faster stronger, BA-BEE.

  What's that?  You're fit, like fucking elite fit?  Oh shit, Holmes, you need to do this shit RX'd bro!  Nothing is better than RX'd.

If you haven't caught it (and, I have no idea how, but some folks still haven't) there's a serious layer of sarcasm covering an actual serious issue that's lying below the surface.  Now, my example is poking fun at individualized programing versus generalized group programming.   I'm going to steal and twist-the-hell up a quote by Greg Glassman himself:

"A program that is 100% safe is also a program that is 100% IN-effective"

Yeah, I know :)  that one has already been run into the ground a fair bit by a vast number of people on the outside of Crossfit.  But it's damn true---the greatest possible efficacy in a training program pushes the envelope when it comes to adaptation.  There's a fine line between progress and over-training.  OPT recently touched on this topic on The Big Dawgs blog.

Getting back to "RX'D", and some closing end-points specific to nutrition to leave you thinking:
  •  Every athlete has numerous individual variables that will, and SHOULD, affect his/her training, nutrition, and recovery.  This is assuming they want Optimal, and not sub-standard. 
  • The most potent pharmacological treatment modalities are dose-per kilogram based, with other clinical variables taken into consideration.
  • A generalized training program will yield either generalized, low efficacy results, or possibly negative results
  • A generalized nutritional intake will yield generalized, low efficacy result, or possibly negative results---poor performance, lack of remission of chronic disease, decreased LBM/increase adipose.
  • Food affect hormones.  Drastically.  Should this not be dose dependent? 
RX'D should read Dose-Dependent.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids as antioxidants

Laboratory of «Micronutrients and Cardiovascular Disease», UMR7079, UPMC Univ 06, Paris, France
Accepted 13 May 2008. Available online 18 May 2008.


The susceptibility of fatty acids to oxidation is thought to be directly dependent on their degree of unsaturation. However, some in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that the relation between chemical structure and susceptibility to oxidation is not as straightforward as hypothesized from theoretical viewpoints. Indeed, long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) might be less oxidizable than others under specific experimental conditions. We investigated the free radical-scavenging potential of PUFA and the production of reactive oxygen/nitrogen (ROS/RNS) species by human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) supplemented with different fatty acids. Fatty acid micelles scavenged superoxide in an unsaturation-dependent manner, up to eicosapentaenoic acid, which was the most effective fatty acid. Supplementation of HAEC with polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega 3 series resulted in lower formation of ROS, as compared with cells supplemented with saturates, monounsaturates, or polyunsaturates of the omega 6 series. This effect was maximal at concentrations of 10 μM. The effects of omega 3 fatty acids on reactive species production appear to be stronger when ROS were evaluated, as a milder, albeit significant effect was observed on RNS generation. Based on in vivo data showing reduced excretion of lipid peroxidation products after omega 3 intake and our data on ROS production and direct superoxide scavenging by LC-PUFAs, notably those of the omega 3 series, we propose that this series of fatty acid might act as indirect anti- rather than pro-oxidant in vascular endothelial cells, hence diminishing inflammation and, in turn, the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

Redox Rep. 2004;9(4):193-7.

Effect of fish and fish oil-derived omega-3 fatty acids on lipid oxidation.


School of Medicine and Pharmacology, The University of Western Australia, Medical Research Foundation Building, Box X 2213 GPO, Perth, Western Australia 6847, Australia.


There is evidence that omega-3 (omega3) fatty acids derived from fish and fish oils reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease via mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis, thrombosis and inflammation. Despite these benefits, there has been concern that these fatty acids may increase lipid peroxidation. However, the in vivo data to date are inconclusive, due in part to limitations in the methodologies. In this regard, our findings using the measurement of F(2)-isoprostanes, a reliable measure of in vivo lipid peroxidation and oxidant stress, do not support adverse effects of omega3 fatty acids on lipid peroxidation.

My Thoughts:
Well, as you can very well read, my thoughts on this are in regards to the concern of dosing fish oil and creating lipid peroxides, which are basically oils-gone-bad. I discuss this in my Fish Oil Guide

Rancidity: - While the benefits of fish oil can't be refuted, on the flip side is spoiled, or rancid fish oil. Being a highly unsaturated fat, fish oil is extremely vulnerable to oxidation; this is the reason the fish in your fridge is only good for a few days, max. Free radicals LOVE unsaturated fatty acids, just like your 18 year old cousin from San Diego LOVES going across the border to Tijuana to get hammered. It's not a good thing, and it's kinda scary.

There's been a fair amount of talk about the concept of high-dosing fish oil and creating lipid peroxides, even though the fish oil is of excellent quality.  This concept intrigued me, as it seemed plausible, but I had yet to see any evidence, either clinical or anecdotal.  The studies seem to prove otherwise, as does anecdotal evidence from those reaping the benefits of supplementing with fish oil.

In the next week, as part of my FDN course, one of the labs I'll run on myself involves a lipid peroxide test.  I plan on NOT stopping my supplementation of fish oil at 4.8g EPA/DHA per day (which I have been doing for years now, in ranges of 4-12g), and seeing where the lab test pan out.

BeastMode Engaged!!!

And now, for some writing far, far better than my own, and a massive dose of sarcastic comedy:
Don't Be a Dumbass Client  I love being a Crossfit coach, I love my clients, but wow did I ever get a laugh out of this post.  Superb.
Random Training
Still plugging away on Coach Ryan "Ryno" Fletcher's programming for me.  In week 10 now, have 12 total to go. 

Oct 17th, Firehall #1
Left the programming to a fellow brother firefighter:
40 minutes of:
12 Hand-release pushups
12 KBs @ 50lbs
12 Goblet Squats, 50lbs
6 Hanging straight leg raises
Treadmill, 3min @ 7.0mph
Set a nice pace, and worked pure oxidative for 40 minutes.

Oct 14th, CFLA, 6PM
3rep Power Clean/3Rep front squat
135#-155#-175#-185#x3. PC felt sloppy, FS was easy.
Rack Jerk 1-1-1-1-1-1-1

Oct 13th, CFLA, 10AM
Only had time to sneak in some front squat prior to 11AM
135x10, 185x5, 225x2, 245x2, 265x2, 275x2. Previous 1RM was 265#

Oct 10th, CFLA, 1PM
SnatchComplex @65#, 95# (PSx2,Hang PSx2, Squat Snatch x1)
115#x2, 135#x2, 155x0,1,1, 165#x0,0,0,0,0.  Grr.  Wanted this PR for my 38th birthday.
One arm DB row, 70#, 3x15/arm
AMRAP 12 min
7 One arm KB snatch, 1.5pood (53#), alternate arms/round
7 Med Ball slams, 20#
7 GHD situps

Oct 4th, CFLA, 1PM

Below-Knee Rack Pulls, 3RM
135x10/225x5/275x3/315x3/335x3/345x3/365x3/385x3/405x3/425x3. Stopped there, as I felt I was pushing my luck.
GHD Situps w. 20lb vest, 3x8
3 Power Clean @ %651RM (135)
6 T2B
10 + 3

Oct 3rd, CFLA, 1PM
1RM Back Squat
Over 2x BW squat @165#. BOOM.
Box jump w/ 50# (25lb DBs) 20"x5, 24"x5, 30"x5, 34"x5
Strict pullups w/ 53lb KB, 5/5/5

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Joining OPT, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, & Positive Life Changes

Joining The Ultimate Team

So, this installment of Confessions is going to be about news...BIG news.  I've been saving it up as it's taken a while for ALL the pieces to fall into place (literally, for all three topics)

First off:  I am now a part of James "OPT" Fitzgerald's exclusive coaching team.  OPT Team Profiles 
Yes, I'll wait patiently as you attempt to pick your jaw up off the floor and madly scramble as your eyeballs roll down the hall.

How It Came All Together, aka Back Story:  I had been doing nutrition for a well known athlete named Steve Howell (HUGE thanks due---the sole reason I was put into contact with Steve was because of Jeremy Meredith, 2nd place finisher in Regionals in 2011 and owner of Crossfit Vernon)since before Canadian Western Crossfit Regionals.  Steve was following the OPT's Big Dawg programming and corresponding with James on a frequent basis; he had asked if it would be alright if he sent my nutritional advice to James for him to look at.

I said "...sure", with a bit of hesitation for a second...what if he thought it was total bullshit?  Then, the next second, I figured "Well, if it is, I'd sure like to hear about it from OPT".  James didn't respond back with much, other than comments like "Looks good/It's solid/Like the carbs".  He seemed happy, Steve was performing at n elite level and making awesome gains, so I was happy.

Jump forward to June; I'm happily working away with momentum gained from word of mouth, and one day I spot an email from James himself.  The title just read "Question".  I though "Oh fuck here we go, James is going to rip me apart for my programming with Steve".  Instead, he stated he was very impressed with my work, and wanted me to consider doing contract work for his exclusive remote clients, since he was overloaded.  He'd do the programming, I'd to the nutrition.  This is the point where *I* was picking up my jaw and looking for my eyeballs.  Over the summer James shot me his client profiles, I dialed nutrition, and he did programming.  I saw, and learned, a ton; he sees a diverse range of athletes from all over the world, and across all different types of athletics.

Jump forward to September; after a discussion about some business ideas, James offers me a spot with his exclusive coaching team.  Once again, blown away---I had some ideas brewing, but THAT wasn't one of them.  In fact, when I think about it, I'm still very stunned.  When Leighanne (Jame's wife and OPT business coordinator) popped my bio up, I shot a text to a good buddy.  I was like "holy shit dude I can't believe this!!"  His response?  "I can.".  One of the best compliments I think I ever got.

I have a TON of people to thank for helping me get to this point---you know who you are.  Being in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing the right way for the right people can make all the difference in the world. ;)

Oh, this is going to be ultra-geeky.  Giddyup.

Since I'm of the mindset that I actually have 48hrs in my 24hr day and my plate isn't full enough, I've decided to take on more education:  Functional Diagnostic Nutrition.  A while back I had started searching out another avenue to expand my knowledge; I sure as hell didn't want to go down the RD route, and in all honesty, a PhD in molecular biology really wasn't in the cards (Ha!).  I had been toying with the idea of a clinical nutritionist cert, but then James put me onto FDN.  I was skeptical at first (as always...).  I figured, though, James wouldn't waste my time, and if I was wasting my time, I'd also be wasting *his* time.  He put me in touch with Reed Davis out of San Diego, the founder of FDN, and after a lengthy phone convo I was convinced.  The combination of running functional (read: USEFUL) diagnostic lab values like cortisol, DHEA, hormone panels combined with sound nutritional advice and targeted supplementation just made sense.

I'm only a week into the course, but WOW, is it heavy, geeky, and awesome.  Let's just say I can't wait to apply this stuff in an athletic arena.  Guinea pigs, get ready! :)

Best News Of All!

Of course, best news for last:  My beautiful wife (pictured here at 34 weeks on our back deck.  Quit staring at my lawn.  I know it's awesome) is due at the end of the month!  Those that know me know this isn't "new" news, but it's worth announcing, nonetheless!  We'll be having a baby girl, and we have a name (and only we know it), and it'll be positively, massively, life-changing.  We are very excited/anxious/nervous, and it'll be a whole new world.

SO:  I'm still working for the fire department (and always will be, that's in my blood, and will be till I'm pushing daisies), still coaching at Crossfit Lethbridge, still running (being over-run?) Dynamic Nutrition, doing an intensive nutritional course, and now working with OPT. Where am I going to fit a baby into that?  Right at the top, yo.  Nothing else will take priority but my baby girl.  There's going to be some serious sleep deprivation and cortisol spiking, but my wife and I will adapt.  

If life wasn't a challenge, it wouldn't be any fun, would it?  ;)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bullshit of the Week, Much Ado About Deadlifting, and Poliquin's Carb Intake Rules

 Holy Shit!  I Forgot I Had A Blog!

Well, not's just been continual chaos and me refining my time-management skills to a razor sharp ball-bearing point *note heavy sarcasm.  I recently had someone I've never met email me and remind me that I *DO* in fact have a few readers, some from the start.  Okay!  Enough excuses.  The Crossfit Games have come and gone, Glassman may or may not still be in a gin-induced haze counting his Reebucks, the AHS has come and gone as most hunter-gatherers do, and well, summer is almost gone, too.  So, grab a cup o' Joe, and let's start with: 

I came across this article on one of the (way too) many blog subscriptions I have on my Reader.  Why subscribe to a vegetarian blog?  Because, dear reader, comedy like this is both tragic and hilarious at the same time.  Note how the top sources also contain the largest concentration of anti-nutrients.  Read, and laugh, or weep, or both:

12 High Protein Alternatives To Meat

by John Smith on August 2, 2011

If you normally consume a great deal of meat, you may find it initially quite difficult to adapt to vegetarian alternatives.
However, more and more people are adding vegetarian options to their menu on a regular basis. One of the reasons for this is that good cuts of meat are exorbitantly expensive, and given the economy, many of us need to cut back a little.

12 high protein alternatives to meat

1. Seitan

Seitan is made from wheat, and the texture is actually very similar to that of wheat. Seitan is the most densely-packed source of vegetable protein known, with 20 to 30 grams of protein in a four-ounce portion. You can add Seitan to your favorite dishes and it will pass for meat, so it is pretty versatile.

2. Soy

Soy protein is not just very healthy, but is also low in fat, and contains phytochemicals such as saponins, phytc acid and isoflavones. Soy protein and its associated phytochemicals are thought to help reduce heart disease, osteoporosis and the risk of cancer. It contains around 29 grams of protein per cup.

3. Tofu

Tofu has been an Asian staple for 2,000 years. Known for its nutritional benefits, it is a versatile food, that can be eaten raw in salads, or steamed, cooked or baked. It is basically soy curd, like soft cheese. Bland and slightly sweet, tofu absorbs other flavors beautifully, which makes this food really easy to cook with.

4. Almonds

The king of all nuts, almonds are high in calcium and protein. They are also low in carbohydrate, and make an excellent and filling snack. A great source of natural fiber, almonds can be eaten raw, roasted, ground and added to salads, stews, shakes and baking, amongst other things.

5. Yogurt

Natural, bio yogurt is high in calcium, living cultures and protein. Try to make it one of your snacks each day. It can be eaten plain, or with some fruit added, blended into a smoothies, or added to main meals, such as curry and soups.

6. Tempeh

Tempeh is a high protein meat alternative, which is widely used in Thailand and Indonesia. It is made from fermented soy beans, and has a nutty flavor, which tastes very good when fried. It can taste quite bland, however, so I recommend marinading it before cooking.

7. Legumes And Beans

Legumes such as black beans, lentils and chickpeas, or beans such as French, broadbeans and runners, make excellent sources of protein. They are filling, contain good quantities of fiber, and are super cheap. A cup of almost any starchy bean contains 12 to 15 grams of protein, with a cup of lentils providing 18 grams of protein.

8. Cheese

Cheeses of all types are excellent sources of protein. Try organic cheddar or mozzarella cheeses along with your pasta, salads, soups and sandwiches. Cheese does contain a considerable amount of fat, however, so make sure you factor the correct portions into your diet — around 1 ounce per day is enough.

9. Quinoa

The highly nutritious quinoa is called the “Mother Grain” of the Andes. Quinoa is high in protein, high in iron, and contains the necessary amino acids. It has a pleasant nutty flavor, which many people like, and takes less time to cook than rice. It may be eaten with steamed vegetables, gravies, or cooked and served cold in salads. You can also buy quinoa flour and pasta, so it is extremely versatile.

10. Broccoli

For a green vegetable, broccoli is pretty high in protein. It contains around 5 grams of protein per cup, which is pretty good for a vegetable, so try to make it one of your veg portions each day.

11. Spinach

Follow in Pop-Eye’s footsteps and get 3 grams of protein per cup of spinach. You can eat baby spinach leaves raw in salads, or it can be steamed, added to curries, stews and soups, etc. Try not to overcook your greens, though, as they will lose their taste and a certain amount of their nutritional value. For best taste, lightly steam spinach and eat it seasoned with black pepper and a little olive oil.

12. Milk

Milk is so common place in almost every home that people don’t think of it as a source of protein. But, 1 cup of milk contains 8 grams of protein. As we all know it is a very versatile food. You can drink it straight from the carton, add it to your tea and coffee, or use it in any number of dishes and desserts.

This next article is just a straight-up fantastic piece from T-Nation on the deadlift; I'm always in awe when a writer can put up a great, educational piece about a movement that's been around for ages.  I especially like the emphasis on set up---and neck position. 

Much Ado About Deadlifting

Much Ado About Deadlifting
Truth be told, there isn't much that I can legitimately claim to be an expert on, Star Wars notwithstanding. One rare exception is the deadlift. While not Andy Bolton-esque by any stretch, my 570-pound pull at a (then) bodyweight of 190 pounds allows me some bragging rights.
I consider the deadlift the ultimate showcase of overall strength. The entire body has to work in unison to accomplish the task at hand, and unlike the squat or bench press (where it's much easier to cheat), there's no debating the deadlift. Either the bar comes off the ground and you lock it out, or it doesn't, and you have to hand in your man card.
While I've written extensively on the deadlift in the past, I still have more to say. Let's see if the following random thoughts help you finally achieve deadlifting badassery.

Thoughts On the Setup

Without question, the setup makes or breaks the deadlift. If you're lazy and just go through the motions, you'll fail miserably, or worse, get hurt. Conversely, if you check your ego at the door and take the time to setup correctly, more often than not, you'll be rewarded with a bigger lift.
On several occasions I've noted that one should retract (pull together) their shoulder blades when setting up for the pull. This stiffens the mid-back, engages the lats (which in turn provides more spinal stability), and activates the thoraco-lumbar fascia, which helps to better transfer force from the lower body to the upper body.
Based on feedback in the LiveSpill as well as various emails I've received, this whole "retraction" thing has confused more people than Chaz Bono in a men's room.
As such, while I still feel that stiffening the upper back and activating the lats is integral for improving the deadlift, I've modified my approach. Slightly.
Trying to actively pinch the shoulder blades together while deadlifting just feels awkward. But when I use the phrase, "lock your shoulder blades into place and think about putting them in your back pocket," it's like magic, and people get it.
As a result, many of the benefits that I described above come into play. You shorten the lever arm length from the shoulder to the lumbar spine, and you also engage the lats to help protect the lumbar spine and the SI joint. But as a general observation, the pull just "feels" stronger.
Try it out on your next deadlifting day. I can almost guarantee you'll notice an improvement.

Packing the Neck

Much Ado About Deadlifting
Possibly more important for a healthy, powerful, deadlift is packing the neck as opposed to hyperextending it, which is a big no-no for several reasons.
  • Hyperextending the neck isn't safe. We've got one spine, and whatever happens in the neck will, concurrently, mirror itself in the lumbar spine. We wouldn't allow someone to deadlift with a hyper-lordotic lower back, so it stands to reason that we shouldn't allow hyper-lordosis in the cervical area, either.
  • Respected trainer and therapist Charlie Weingroff also notes, "Spinal stabilization is and always will be the name of the game when it comes to pulling big weight. It's no coincidence that the positions of integrity are also the positions that lend themselves to improved performance."
Don't believe me? Try this little experiment. Stand tall against a wall and pack your neck (make a double chin) making sure to "wiggle" your head high into position.
Now, have someone shove you. You probably didn't budge.
Alternatively, do the same thing but relax your neck, and maybe extend it a little (look up). Have someone nudge again. You should've noticed a big difference.
If you're weaker when the neck is extending while standing, how is this any different than when doing a deadlift?
So to reiterate, when deadlifting, pack your neck. While this rule may not be quite as easy to follow during max effort attempts, I'd be remiss not to show that it IS possible.
To summarize, let's break this down into list format:
  • When you set up, grab the bar and "pull" yourself into position by "locking" your shoulder blades into place and actively keeping them depressed, i.e., in your back pocket.
  • Additionally, and to add onto the point above, think "chest tall, hips down, and arch your back!"
  • When in position, pack your neck. Again, if you can see the wall in front of you, you're not doing it right. Alternatively, if you look down at a point that's roughly 10-15 feet in front of you, and keep your eyes fixated on that point, you're golden.
  • If you're wearing gloves, stop it. Now. Seriously.

Thoughts on Weak Points

When it comes to deadlifting, trainees tend to fall into one of two camps: those who miss off the floor, and those who miss at lockout.

If you miss at the bottom:

  • This could be the Captain Obvious in me speaking , but you have too much weight on the bar. Take some plates off, tough guy.
  • Get your lats activated. See above. I'm telling you, it works. The only way you're going to find out is by giving it a try.
  • You're slower than molasses and need some dedicated speed work to help plow through your sticking point and get the bar off the ground with more force. Getting faster will undoubtedly help with getting you stronger, which is why powerlifters often incorporate "speed" days (dynamic effort) during their training week.
In short, by using roughly 50-65% of your 1RM, you're going to concentrate on , which will help with ripping the bar off the floor with a little more "giddy up."
  • Moreover, another (and less commonly used) strategy would be to make the movement more challenging by increasing the range of motion. By standing on some blocks or plates you'll make the movement harder and force your body to improve leg and hip drive. Do this for a few weeks and I guarantee when you revert back to traditional pulling, it will feel infinitely easier.
  • Along similar lines, you could also include more snatch grip pulls into the mix as the widened grip increases the range of motion.
  • Lastly, try some Anderson half squats, a favorite of fellow T NATION contributor and ass-Jedi Bret Contreras. Yes, I just used the words half and squat in the same sentence. Hear me out.
Any movement that emulates the starting position of the deadlift will likely transfer well to the deadlift. What's more, and this is something that many trainees fail to recognize, the quads do play a significant role in the lift, especially in the starting position. Anderson half squats are an awesome movement that will help produce more leg drive off the floor, translating into a bigger, more efficient pull.
One piece of advice, however. Make sure that you share the load properly between the hip and knee joints. If you let the knees jut forward than it probably won't transfer much to the deadlift. Remember to sit back.

If you miss at the top:

  • For those who tend to miss their pulls at or near knee level and can't seem to lock it out, some dedicated speed work implementing accommodating resistance (chains or bands) would be in order.
Using chains as an example, the premise here is simple. The bar is "deloaded" at the bottom, and "loaded" as you get closer to lockout. Because the bar is deloaded near the floor, you're now able to generate some bar speed, which will then help you explode through the sticking point at or near the top half of the lift.
  • Rack pulls. I'm not convinced that rack pulls translate well to the deadlift. As noted above, much of what makes speed work with accommodating resistance so beneficial is that you're emphasizing bar speed, and working your way through a sticking point.
In fact, some studies state that there's only a 15 to 20 degree carry over. Significant, yes, but definitely not ideal when you're trying to improve a lift that starts from the ground.
That said, if you want to do rack pulls, do rack pulls. For some, it's a psychological boost, and there's something to be said about "feeling" what it's like to locking out a heavier weight. Nonetheless, if you go this route, make sure you replicate the same kinematics as the top portion of your deadlift, meaning that the rack pull will almost look like a Romanian deadlift, not a partial squat.
  • For the most part, your time would be better spent focusing on accessory work that hammers the muscles most involved with your lockout, namely the hamstrings and glutes. Good mornings are #1 on my list of "go to" money exercises to increase the deadlift. Some other ones would be barbell hip thrusters, kettlebell swings, and glute ham raises.

Miscellaneous Miscellany

Much Ado About Deadlifting
In closing, here are some other random bits of awesomeness to kick up your deadlift.
  • For the love of all that's holy, take off your shoes. If you train at a gym that forbids barefoot training, at the very least, get yourself a pair of Chuck Taylors or New Balance Minimus.
  • Slow down. When performing multiple reps of deadlifts, think of each rep as it's own set.
This works really well with clients when trying to clean up their technique. There's no law against pausing on the floor between each rep to "gather" yourself, get your air, re-establish a good back position, activate the lats, and perform a crisp rep.
Slow down. Gather yourself between each rep, and do it right!
  • Back off with the high reps. I rarely program more than 5-6 reps with deadlifts. Anything more than that can technically be considered cardio, and more to the point, technique often suffers. So, while you think your sets of 20 with 225 lbs is 2 legit 2 quit, I think it's retarded. And your spine hates you.
For most, using the 5x5 approach to take your deadlift from the 200+ lb range to the 300+ lb range will work brilliantly. It's progressive overload at it's finest, and it works. However, if you're attempting to enter "big boy" status and pull in the 400+ or even 500+ range, 5x5 ain't gonna cut it. Sorry.
I'd go so far as to say that you'd be hard pressed to ever get to the really big weights using the 5x5 protocol, and if you do, it will take !
On the other hand, if you're already pulling in the 300+ lb range, I'd suggest adding in more pulls at or above 90% of your 1RM.
Getting stronger is really about making the CNS more efficient. Sadly, you're not going to accomplish this by performing 5x5 till you're blue in the face. Conversely, it's well established that using loads at or slightly above 90% of one's 1RM affects the following:
  • Maximum number of motor units (MUs) are recruited.
  • Fastest MU's are activated.
  • The discharge frequency (rate coding) is increased.
  • Activity is synchronous.
  • Improved coordination between synergistic muscles.
  • Potential for future hypertrophy gains.
  • Increased serum Testosterone levels.
  • Spontaneously impregnate every female within a two-block radius.
So the only question left to answer is, what would a typical training session look like?
Lets say your goal is to hit FOUR sets at or above 90% of your 1RM. You know going in that your previous best deadlift is 405 lbs. If that's the case, 90% of 405 lbs is 365 lbs.
So it may look something like this:
225 x 5
315 x 3
365 x 1
Lastly, if anyone comes up to you and says something like "I heard that deadlifts were bad for your back," you have my permission to scissor kick them in the face.
I'm done. Go. Deadlift Your Ass Off.

This Man Knows A Few Things About Carbs

Poliquin's Carb Intake Rules

This makes so much sense that I had to re-post---out of all the blogs I read, Polquin is constantly putting out solid recommendations and science, albeit he sometimes is biased to pitching mass doses of his supplements.  That being said, these rules are excellent.

1.    Eliminate Grains, Particularly Wheat.
Wheat raises the blood sugar levels quickly in the same way as plain table sugar. White flour-based foods such as white bread or corn flakes are a poor source of fiber and they have a high glycemic content, meaning they cause a quick spike in insulin.

The presence of insulin tells the liver that food intake is meeting energy requirements so lipolysis, or the breakdown of fat for energy from body stores, becomes unnecessary. The insulin spike stops the body from burning fat for fuel. Any excess sugar or food intake is saved for future energy requirements and stored as fat. Constantly high insulin levels make the body resistant to insulin and leads to diabetes. This is why it’s best to eliminate grains, particularly white grains, and do resistance training –you’ll improve insulin sensitivity.

Research shows that eating a breakfast of whole wheat grains such as barley or rye results in significantly better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity than a breakfast of white wheat bread. Plus, whole wheat breakfasts improve glucose uptake at lunch and dinner. Whole wheat would be better than white wheat—also nicknamed “white death,” but no wheat is your best bet (see number 2). We’re going for low carb here, so I recommend eliminating your grains when possible and getting your carbs from fruits and vegetables.

Indeed, a review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition points to the fact that vegetables and fruit are preferable to even low glycemic wheat and grain-based foods because they have qualities besides simply promoting glucose tolerance to recommend them. The benefits will be revealed below.

2.    Yes, Eliminate Grains, Part II!
The grains that make up the Gliadin family such as oats, wheat, and spelt are the most common food allergen because they contain gluten. People of the Celtic ancestry, like the Irish, are more likely to be allergic to gluten. In fact, the National Health Institute estimates that gluten allergies affect almost one percent of Americans, and this number is likely underestimated because this allergy often goes undiagnosed.

An allergy to gluten is called celiac disease and means that the sufferer will have serious digestive damage from eating foods containing gluten, which causes a wide variety of other health problems including weakness, anemia, malnutrition, osteoarthritis, bone disorders, stomach cancer, and abdominal bloating to name a few—all problems that will trip you up if you want to gain muscle and lose fat.

You can be allergic to wheat and not have celiac disease as well, and even if you’re body isn’t intolerant to wheat and gluten, removing them from the diet is recommended for optimal body composition, digestion, and health.

Besides raising insulin levels in the body and providing a large carbohydrate and caloric punch, the body releases cortisol in response to the stressor caused by the gluten allergy. Research shows that cortisol partially prevents the harmful effect of gluten in the body. The problem is that cortisol results in muscle degradation and elevated levels suppress immune response and lead to adrenal exhaustion manifesting in the form of fatigue, depression, insomnia, and illness—not good!

3.    The Main Source of Carbs Should be Fibrous.
Fibrous carbs, including many green vegetables, typically have very low carbohydrate content. Their inherent high fiber brings about a very moderate insulin response, thus making them an ideal fat loss food. Research shows that the higher fiber content of most vegetables will delay carbohydrate absorption, favorably modifying the glucose response. Dark green vegetables usually have a large antioxidant content as well (not as great as dark fruits, but still a sizeable amount). The best sources of fibrous carbs include:

● Kale
● Broccoli
● Lettuce
● Cabbage
● Cauliflower
● Mushrooms
● Green beans
● Onions
● Asparagus
● Cucumber
● Spinach
● All Forms of Peppers
● Zucchini
● Cauliflower

4.    The Darker the Fruit, the Better it is For You
Dark fruits tend to have very thin skin, meaning they need to produce more antioxidants to protect themselves from the sun. In contrast, light colored fruits with thick skins such as bananas and melons have lower antioxidant content. Dark red, blue, and purple fruits are great anti-inflammatory foods because the extra antioxidants help get rid of free radicals that cause aging and inflammation.

Research shows that berries with high antioxidant content such as bilberries, blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries decrease glucose response in healthy subjects, slowing digestion. Researchers suggest that the bioactive polyphenols that dark-colored fruits contain promote greater insulin sensitivity. In addition, there is evidence that adding berries rich in polyphenols to high-glycemic foods that normally trigger a negatively high spike in glucose can moderate the body’s response, producing a remarkably low insulin response.

5.    The Darker the Fruit, the Better it is For You, Part II
The darker the fruit, the lower the glycemic load. I referred to this above, but be aware that the reason dark fruits promote insulin sensitivity is that they produce a low glycemic response in the body.

Let me call your attention to the fact that not only will you have a better glucose response with dark fruits, but adding them to high-glycemic foods appears to moderate the body’s response as mentioned in number four. Researchers suggest dark fruit with high antioxidant content lower the glucose response of other foods because they work as enzyme inhibitors. Take note that it is necessary to fully chew berries or fruit to release the polyphenols to work their magic on the glycemic index of carbs. 

Again, when you compare berries and cherries with bananas and pineapple, the latter two fruits have a significantly higher glycemic index. Of course, this applies to fruits in their natural state; when grapes become raisins, their glycemic index goes up because of dehydration of the fruit.

6.    Replace Grains with Various Forms of Lettuce in Sandwiches
This rule is promoted by Jonny Bowden, author of “Living The Low Carb Life.” Instead of using bread, use dark leafy greens to wrap the meat. This will slow down the glycemic index and help shift the acid/alkaline base in your favor. Research shows that eating low glycemic foods or adding herbs to high glycemic foods that have a glycemic lowering effect such as flaxseed or fenugreek, reduces pH and glucose response.

Besides, the dark greens will provide more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals as opposed to grains, which are lower in micronutrients. For example, phytates—the salts of phytic acid that are found in high content in whole grains—block the absorption of many minerals, especially zinc, iron, manganese, and calcium.

7.    Limit Fructose Intake

Even though fruits are great foods loaded with nutrients, they also contain fructose. Fructose in too high quantities can slow down thyroid function, reducing metabolism and negatively affecting body composition. Research shows that excess fructose in rats results in decreased ATP in the liver, leading to less thyroid hormone uptake, and a reduction in fat burning.

Too much fructose in the diet also increases glycation. Glycation in layman's terms is browning, like the browning that makes crust on bread. Glycation is the cross linking of proteins (and DNA molecules) caused by sugar aldehydes reacting with the amino acids on the protein molecule to create Advance Glycosylation End-Products (AGEs). If you want to see protein cross-linking in action, cut an apple in half and watch it turn yellow!

Why is the worst glycation agent fructose? Because it does not raise insulin. In other words, the insulin is not getting it into muscle cells, meaning it lingers around in the body and wreaks metabolic havoc. As nutrition expert Robert Crayhon used to say: fructose is like the guest that won't go home once the party is over.

One study compared the effect of a diet high in fructose with one high in glucose. After ten weeks, the fructose group had significantly elevated levels of cholesterol and insulin, while insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism decreased. They also gained significantly more total fat and an even greater percentage of abdominal fat than the glucose group. Further research shows that this extra insulin causes dysfunction of cells, and in addition to the negative effect on body composition, it accelerates aging, vascular degeneration, and development of diabetes.

In contrast, there is evidence that consuming a post-exercise meal with glucose as the carbohydrate source results in greater fat oxidation and a more favorable metabolic response than if fructose is used. A study found that long-term high fructose consumption accelerates skin and bone aging  because it modifies DNA, damaging tissue collagen. While this doesn’t speak directly to our topic of body composition, it points to the damaging effect of excessive fructose on health and longevity.

Take note that Robert Crayhon recommends that the average American eat no more than 5 to 10 grams of fructose a day! For very active individuals, 20 to 30 grams of fructose should be the maximum intake.

One of the worst sources of glycated fructose are weight loss bars that contain high fructose corn syrup, like the ones that used to be sold by a famous Texan verbally abusive lawyer turned weight loss guru. Then again, he was fat, and still is!

To check your glycation levels, ask your doctor to measure the concentration of glycated hemoglobin in your blood. A study from England revealed that glycated hemoglobin is the best tests to predict mortality—far better than cholesterol, blood pressure, or body mass index.

8.    The Best Time to Load Up On Carbs is the First Ten Minutes Following Your Workout
Insulin sensitivity is at its highest after a workout making this the critical time to take in carbs to maximize muscle mass gains. Originally, based on the research that was available at the time, I typically recommended two g/kg of bodyweight. Over the years, after being exposed to more research and discussing it with my colleagues, I have come to the conclusion that it should be a reflection of the training volume for the training session. The greater the number of reps per training unit, the greater the carbohydrate intake.

Of course, all reps are not equal. A squat or deadlift repetition is more demanding than a biceps curl or triceps extension rep. By the same token, three reps of  slow tempo squats has a different caloric demand than three reps of the power clean. As a general rule, I would recommend the following carbohydrate intake based on training volume for a given workout:

* 12-72 reps per workout: 0.6 g/kg/lean body mass (lbm)
* 73-200 reps per workout: 0.8 g/kg/lbm
* 200-360 reps per workout: 1.0 g/kg/lbm
* 360-450 reps per workout: 1.2 g/kg/lbm

Take note that these recommendations are based on lean body mass, not your weight. To calculate lean body mass you need to know your lean mass percentage (or body fat percentage and subtract that number from 100). Then multiply this percent by your body mass and you’ll get your lean body mass.

Regarding the source of carbohydrates post-workout, I have experimented with various sources and I prefer fruit juices with a high glycemic index such as pineapple or grape to provide 15 to 20 percent of the carbs, with the rest of the carbs coming from carbohydrate powders. The powder should contain various types of maltodextrin and a minimal quantity of ribose. For variety, I use different types of juice such as a berry blend. You can also use any type of mushy fruit like bananas or peaches. For seriously underweight athletes, I may use more pineapple juice and/or corn flakes to drive the glycemic index upwards. Instead of using maltodextrin, you can also use desiccated honey.

9.    Use Supplements That Promote Insulin Sensitivity with High-Carb Post-Workout Meals
A number of supplements support glucose uptake and promote insulin sensitivity, including nutrients such as taurine, arginine, magnesium, and R-form alpha lipoic acid. Adding them to your post-workout meal will help send glucose to muscle cells instead of fat cells.

Indeed, a review from the journal Biological Trace Element Research reports that magnesium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism, while influencing the activity of hormones that control blood glucose levels. Low magnesium can cause insulin resistance, which may result in the kidneys being unable to retain magnesium during episodes of hyperglycemia, creating a downward spiral of magnesium deficiency, fat gain, and subsequently diabetes.

Many herbs such as American ginseng, fenugreek, and bitter melon also facilitate glucose uptake by muscle cells. Research shows that adding fenugreek to a whole wheat bread will result in greater insulin sensitivity and more glucose uptake than consuming whole wheat bread without fenugreek. Similar results were evident when flax was added to a wheat chapatti, indicating flax may be a good addition as well.

10.    Add Protein to Your Post-Workout Carb Meal
Protein is a critical part of post-workout nutrition because your muscles are primed for feeding and need amino acids for peak recovery. Essential amino acids (EAAs), particularly the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), have been shown to trigger protein synthesis and fat loss. Taking BCAAs will also allow you train harder and longer because the amino acids enhance fat oxidation and research shows that individuals with a higher BCAA intake in their diets have lower body weight and better body composition. 

Taking as much as 40 grams of EAAs after heavy training results in an anabolic shift from muscle protein degradation to protein synthesis. I suggest using 15 grams of protein for every 50 lbs of bodyweight—you will increase glycogen storage by as much as 40 percent, and will boost release of the anabolic hormone, IGF-1.

My Training

It's been too damn log to log anything but my recent training---and recently, I *did* change things up a bit.  I asked one of the owners of CFLA, Ryan "Ryno" Fletcher, to do some programming for me.  I had been having no issue with what I was doing, but found my very loose and random choice of WODS (hmm...that seems...familiar) not very goal oriented.  And I've had  a few strength goals for years now that I haven't gotten close to.  So, Ryno repsonded to my request.  First off, my recent testing benchmarks:

Deadlift: 405#.  Previous was 415#.  Been slacking, yo.  Goal is 450#
Squat: 315#.  Previous was 305#.  Goal unknown, add AMFWAP (as much f-ing weight as possible)
C&J: 205#.  Previous the same.  Clean 215# easy already.  Goal is 225#
OHP: 135#.  Previous 140#.  Goal BW, which is 165# now.  Hopefully, that'll increase, too.
Snatch: 155#.  Previous same.  Goal is 165#, which is very close to happening already.

These aren't lofty or elite goals, but they are my goals, and for a guy mere days from 38 years old on a 6' frame coming in at 165#, I think they are tough but doable goals.

I'm on week 4 of Ryno's programming, which is very CFFB (Crossfit Football) and MEBB (Max Effort Black Box)---think big lifts, high lactate stuff (sprints, big box jumps, sets to failure).  Very tough, but VERY fun.  A sample week:

Day 1

 Squat 12x2 @ 75% of 1RM - rest 45s between sets
 Press 3RM
 AMRAP 15 mins
  7 supine ring pull ups
  7 push ups
  7 box jumps 30"

Day 2
 Deadlift 5RM
 Weighted pull up 3/3/3/3/3
 10 Rounds
  5 x 20" lateral hops
  20 yard sprint
  rest 60s, alternate sides for each set
  for lateral hops, set a 20" high barier and hop over from side to side, exploding off the outside leg.  On the fifth hop, transition directly into a 20 yard sprint

Day 3
 5 x max height box jump
 3 x max time handstand hold
 AMRAP kettle bell swings per minute with 2 pood kettle bell
 Rest 1 min between attempts
 Do 5 attempts
 Attempt to get 30 swings in each minute
  For each attempt that you do not reach 30 swings, do 1000m row as penalty

Day 4
 Strict pull ups 3 x max reps
 2 cleans + 1 jerk on the minute for 15 mins @ 65-80% of 1RM clean and jerk
 For every set not completed, do 5 burpees as a penalty at the end of the 15 mins