Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fat loss, exercise, and glycemic index: Woman

Fat loss, exercise, and glycemic index: Woman

In a past article, I explained that carbohydrate ingestion limits fat oxidation during exercise. Although I’m a big fan of lowered carbohydrate diets and fasted exercise, this advice won’t work for everyone, so as a coach I need to provide many options to help my clients towards their goals.

So what are your options when you are not on a carbohydrate restricted diet and can’t perform exercise in a fasted state? There are many, and today I will discuss one such option. Let’s say for example that you exercise at mid-day or in the evening after work. By the time mid-day rolls around you may have eaten once or twice, and by the evening possibly three to five meals if you weren’t careful about your carbohydrate selection and amount, your blood sugar may be high enough to inhibit fat oxidation during your exercise session later in the day.

A study using 8 healthy females examined the effects of preexercise mixed meals providing either a high glycemic (78) versus low glycemic (44) meal on substrate utilization during exercise. The woman were provided with a test breakfast 3 hours before performing a 60-min run at 65% VO2max on a treadmill. Both meals provided 2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of bodyweight (way too much carbs for fat loss goals. I would not recommend this amount so please don’t duplicate this part of the study) and equal amount of calories. The only difference between the meals was the glycemic index (78 versus 44).

The results of the study showed that the rate of fat oxidation during exercise was higher in the low glycemic group than the high glycemic group (18.7 grams per hour versus 8.3 grams per hour). That’s twice as much fat oxidized for the low glycemic group! The amount of carbohydrate oxidized during the 60-minute run was 101.5 grams per hour in the high glycemic group and 70.5 grams per hour in the low glycemic group. The amount of carbohydrate you eat and its glycemic value will determine how much fat and carbohydrate you burn during exercise. Are you exercising to burn fat or carbs? If your goal is fat loss, then manipulating your macronutrient ratios (fat, protein, and carbs) is essential, and as this study shows, choosing low glycemic carbs over high glycemic carbs will also favor fat oxidation.

The researchers conclude “although exercise in the fasted state promotes optimal fat oxidation, many find it difficult or impractical to exercise while fasted. Consuming a low glycemic index breakfast may therefore be a good compromise”. I agree. One more finding in this study was that the low glycemic group had a higher rate of feeling full post breakfast. Being hungry can destroy your fat loss efforts.

TIP: regardless of whether you’re training in a fasted state or not, being familiar with the glycemic and glycemic load index will serve you well. If you’re not training in a fasted state, incorporating a lower glycemic index / load becomes even more important if you’re trying to lose fat.

If you require any assistance with diet and exercise program, please send me an email at

Carbohydrate recommendations for fat loss

To maximally promote fat loss, the release of insulin must be controlled. The practice behind many of today’s popular diets is to lower body fat by decreasing the amount of insulin released. When insulin is elevated above normal fasting levels, fat cells start storing fat and inhibit its release. Carbohydrates increase insulin levels. Lower carbohydrate diets release less insulin than higher carbohydrate diets. That’s one of the main reasons low carbohydrate diets are more successful for long-term weight management and health.

If you’re on a ketogenic diet, carbohydrate selection won’t matter much as you will be eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. If you’re eating more than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, then being careful with your dietary sources of carbohydrates will be especially important if you’re trying to lose fat. Your carbohydrate sources and amount will affect your rate of fat loss, your energy levels, appetite, and mood. This can make or break your fat loss efforts.

Now that we know that not all carbohydrate containing foods are created equal, what are some of the considerations we can pay attention to in order to choose the best carbohydrate sources for fat loss, muscle gains, and health? The glycemic index and glycemic load is what you want to consider first. In 1981, researchers from the University of Toronto developed the glycemic index as a way to allow diabetics to measure the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI. This is where the “good’ carbs (slow releasing) versus the “bad’ carbs idea originated from. A glycemic index value of below 55 was consider low, 56 to 69 was considered medium, and a glycemic index of 70+ was considered high. The glycemic index was far from perfect and suffered from many flaws. One flaw was that the glycemic index was based on the consumption of 50grams of a single food. Since humans rarely eat 50 grams of one food at a meal, a more sophisticated concept need to be developed, and that lead to the glycemic load. The glycemic load gave us a much better picture of determining the insulin output of a meal. The glycemic load of a meal is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food item by the amount of carbohydrate per serving, and dividing the result by 100. A glycemic load of fewer than 10 is considered low, 11 to 20 are medium, and 20+ is high. Try your best to stay on the low end of the glycemic load scale to best control your blood sugar.

This is just a brief explanation of the way scientist determine the blood sugar response to various foods and meals. Hopefully I haven’t scared you into thinking you must walk around with a glycemic index chart, a food scale, and a calculator to design your diet because you won’t, but I do want you to be aware that you can make better food choices. Eating your steak with a potato and eating a steak with a salad with yield two different blood sugar responses. In my practice I don’t write any meal plans. Instead I determine how much protein and fat the client will need and how much carbohydrates they need in order to lose fat at a respectable speed and coach them on making better food choices

TIP: familiarize yourself with the content of proteins, fat, and carbohydrates in the foods you eat. Be aware of both glycemic index and glycemic load. My advice is not to worry too much as this will just increase you level of anxiety associated with dieting. Losing fat is easier than most people think. Adding stress and confusion during a fat loss cycle will likely cause you to give up the diet entirely. Instead, I recommend people eat vegetables exclusively for their carbohydrate sources instead of starchy carbohydrates like breads, pasta, and potatoes.

In the future I will review studies that compared low versus high glycemic index and load on fat loss and other health issues. If you have any questions or need some assistance with your diet and exercise program please contact me at

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fat loss and skipping breakfast

Fat loss and skipping breakfast

It has been suggested that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is probably true. Starting each day with breakfast is considered an important habit for health. As the obesity rate continues to increase, physical activity and breakfast consumption has declined. I will present to you some of the negatives associated with skipping breakfast.

• Woman that skipped breakfast had a higher incidence of irregular menses.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with higher incidence of constipation.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with being overweight and obese.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with lower dietary fiber intake, micronutrients, and other essential nutrients.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with higher hunger / appetite levels throughout the day, especially in the evening.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with lowered reproductive function.
• Breakfast skipping is associated with insulin resistance and diabetes.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with lower mental health.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with lower academic performance.
• Children with more educated mothers were more prone to skipping breakfast and being overweight.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with high blood pressure.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with reduced physical activity.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with greater consumption of unhealthful snack foods later in the day.
• Skipping breakfast lowers cognitive function related to memory, test grades, and school attendance.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with dysmenorrhea.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with increase in perceived stress.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with body dissatisfaction, dieting, and dieting disorders.
• Skipping breakfast is associated with impaired thermogenesis.

As you can see from the available research, skipping breakfast is not conducive to your health and fitness goals. My tip today is not to skip breakfast. The main reasons for skipping breakfast was lack of time and not feeling hungry upon wakening. If lack of time represents your situation, I would look to altering your daily scheduled routine and make time. If you have time but don’t feel hungry, this could be a perfect time to do something active for 20-40 minutes. Physical activity can increase your hunger levels, but this is a future article. Also in the future I will show you what macronutrient ratios are best during breakfast for health and fat loss, and other tips and tricks that can be applied to help you lose fat and gain muscle.

If you require assistance with setting up a diet and exercise program, please contact me at

Fat Loss Tips and Tricks Facebook

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daylight could help fight obesity.

Daylight Could Help Control Our Weight

ScienceDaily (2009-08-25) -- Exciting research into brown adipose tissue -- brown fat, which is found in abundance in hibernating animals and newborn babies -- could lead to new ways of preventing obesity. ... > read full article

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fat loss and the bloating effect:

Have you ever experienced a bloated abdominal area after starting a fat loss phase? I’ve had many clients call me a few days after a consultation telling me they are bloated, they feel fat, and that something must be wrong and they want a new plan. Nothing is wrong. This reaction is perfectly normal and to be expected, which is why I inform my clients of this possibility of bloating before they stress out and give up on the plan. Increased blood flow to fat cells helps increase fat mobilization, and this is very important for burning fat. Fatter people have less fat cell blood flow than leaner people. Many factors can affect fat cell blood flow. Being insulin resistant is one of those factors, reducing fat cell blood flow. The study below shows us why we can get bloated while losing fat. As you lose fat, your insulin sensitivity increases, thus increasing both water and blood flow to fat cells, which may possibly give you that bloated look.

TIP: Don’t panic if you start getting a little bloated while losing fat. It’s a positive sign that indicates your losing fat.

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Jun;27(6):677-83.

Changes in abdominal subcutaneous fat water content with rapid weight loss and long-term weight maintenance in abdominally obese men and women.

Laaksonen DE, Nuutinen J, Lahtinen T, Rissanen A, Niskanen LK.
1Department of Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland.

OBJECTIVE: Insulin resistance decreases blood flow and volume in fat tissue. We hypothesised that fat tissue nutritive blood flow and volume, and thereby water content, would increase during weight loss and weight maintenance in obese persons.

DESIGN: Longitudinal clinical intervention with a 9-week very-low-calorie diet (VLCD) followed by one year of weight maintenance.
SUBJECTS: Obese men (n=13) and women (n=14) with the metabolic syndrome.
MEASUREMENTS: Water content of abdominal subcutaneous fat tissue as estimated by a sensor on the skin surface measuring the dielectric constant at 300 MHz. Anthropometric measures of fatness and fat
distribution. Biochemical measures related to insulin resistance.

RESULTS: Subjects lost 14.5+/-3.4% of body weight during the VLCD, and generally sustained this weight loss during weight maintenance. Insulin sensitivity as estimated by an index (qualitative insulin sensitivity check index) increased during the VLCD, and remained increased throughout weight maintenance. The dielectric constant increased from 23.3+/-2.3 to 25.0+/-2.1 (P<0.001) during the VLCD, and further to 27.8+/-1.9 (P<0.001) during weight maintenance, indicating an increase in the water content of subcutaneous fat. The increase in subcutaneous fat water content did not correlate with weight loss and other measures of adiposity during the VLCD, but there was an inverse correlation that strengthened in significance from baseline to 6, 9 and 12 mo (r=-0.32 to -0.64, P=0.079-0.002). Increases in subcutaneous fat water content also correlated with improvements in insulin sensitivity at 6, 9 and 12 months of weight maintenance (r=0.34-0.54, P=0.094-0.006).

CONCLUSIONS: Water content of abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue increases with weight loss in obese persons with the metabolic syndrome, and may reflect increased subcutaneous fat tissue nutritive blood flow. The increase in water content correlates with the increase in insulin sensitivity, suggesting that weight loss and consequent improved insulin sensitivity could mediate the increase in abdominal subcutaneous fat hydration.

Monday, October 25, 2010



Working out in a cold environment may reduce much of the fat-burning effects of exercise. A study had nine athletes cycle for 90 minutes in four different temperatures: -10°C, 0°C, 10°C, and 20°C. the results showed that fat oxidation was lower at -10°C and 0°C compared with 10°C, and 20°C. In fact, the exercise performed at 20°C burned 166.6 percent and 135.3 percent more fat than the -10°C, 0°C, 10°C workouts, respectfully. “The diminished fat oxidation at colder temperatures potentially reflects a reduction in lipolysis and/or mobilization of FFA or impairment in the oxidative capacity of the muscle,’ conclude the researchers.

TIP: make sure your exercise environment is warm. Also, if your coming into the gym from the cold, spend more time warming up.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Low-glycemic Load Diet May Be More Effective For Dieters With Certain Insulin Response Patterns

Low-glycemic Load Diet May Be More Effective For Dieters With Certain Insulin Response Patterns

ScienceDaily (2007-05-17) -- Overweight individuals who secrete insulin at a higher level may experience greater weight loss by selecting a low-glycemic load diet, compared to a low-fat diet, according to a new study. Researchers also found a low-glycemic load diet to have beneficial effects on HDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations. ... > read full article

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Vitamin C in the blood stream is directly related to fat oxidation

Vitamin C in the blood stream is directly related to fat oxidation
6. April 2006 06:56

Too little vitamin C in the blood stream has been found to correlate with increased body fat and waist measurements. Nutrition researchers from Arizona State University report that the amount of vitamin C in the blood stream is directly related to fat oxidation - the body's ability to use fat as a fuel source - during both exercise and at rest.

Before beginning a controlled four-week, low-fat diet, 20 obese men and women were randomized by gender and body weight into either a Vitamin C group, taking a 500 mg vitamin C capsule daily, or a control group, taking a capsule, identical in appearance to the vitamin, containing a placebo. Neither participants nor researchers knew who was receiving which capsule until the study was over. All participants consumed a low-fat diet that the researchers adjusted individually to promote slow weight loss (about two pounds per week). The diet contained 67 percent of the USRDA (recommended daily allowance) for vitamin C (40 mg/d).

At the beginning of the clinical trial, participants with the lowest concentrations of vitamin C in their blood had the highest body fat mass and tended not to oxidize fat well compared to their less obese counterparts. As the participants moved through the four week diet, with a steady amount of vitamin C being consumed, blood vitamin C concentrations increased 30 percent in those taking vitamins and fell 27 percent in the control group whose only vitamin C intake was the 67 percent of the USRDA contained in the food. As vitamin C blood concentrations fell, so did the participants' ability to oxidize fat (an 11 percent reduction).

The highly-controlled diet worked for all participants. Although body fat mass decreased slightly more in the vitamin C group, approaching but not reaching statistical significance, both groups lost an average of nine pounds, indicating that vitamin C depletion did not appear to affect the ability to lose weight in the short term. But because the study supported early findings in Dr. Johnston's laboratory of a decrease in fat oxidation, the researchers are now studying whether the impact of vitamin C status is associated with a gradual gain in body fat in non-dieting individuals.

It is important to understand the impact of vitamin C deficiency, says Dr. Johnston, because it affects about 15 percent of adults in the United States, up from only 3-5 percent 25 years ago. She believes the increased processing of the food supply is part of the problem, since vitamin C in foods is destroyed by exposure to light, oxygen, and/or heat.
How does vitamin C affect fat oxidation and thus the risk for weight gain and obesity? Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for the biosynthesis of a small protein-like molecule known as carnitine. Carnitine functions to shuttle fat molecules to the site of fax oxidation in tissue cells. When cells do not have access to fat molecules, feelings of fatigue ensue since energy metabolism is affected. Moreover, fat tends to accumulate in tissues when carnitine concentrations are reduced.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is Your Job Making You Fat? Study Links Office Work With Obesity

Is your job making you fat? Study links office work with obesity

ScienceDaily (2010-10-05) -- Working nine-to-five may be the way to make a living, but it may be padding more than the wallet. According to a new study, office-workers have become less active over the last three decades and this decreased activity may partly explain the rise in obesity. Their findings may have health implications for the millions of people toiling behind their desks. ... > read full article

Protein intake induced an increase in exercise stimulated fat oxidation during stable body weight.

Increasing your protein intake resulted in reduced body fat, increased lean muscle mass, and increased fat oxidation during exercise in this 3 month study.

Physiol Behav. 2010 Sep 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Protein intake induced an increase in exercise stimulated fat oxidation during stable body weight.

Soenen S, Plasqui G, Smeets AJ, Westerterp-Plantenga MS.

BACKGROUND: Protein-rich weight-loss diets spare fat-free mass at the cost of fat mass. The objective was to examine if there is a change in stimulated fat oxidation related to protein intake during stable body weight.

METHODS: Subjects' (BMI 22±2kg/m(2), age 25±8 years) maximal fat oxidation (Fat(max)) was assessed during a graded bicycle test, before and after a 3-month dietary-intervention of 2MJ/day supplements exchanged with 2MJ/d of habitual energy intake. The parallel design consisted of protein-rich supplements in the protein group and an isocaloric combination of carbohydrate and fat supplements in the control group. Daily protein intake was determined according to 24-h urine nitrogen. Body composition was measured according to a 4-compartment model by a combination of underwater-weighing technique, deuterium-dilution technique and whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).

RESULTS: Subjects were weight stable and did not change their physical activity. The protein group (n=12) increased protein intake (11±14g, P<0.05) and had significantly higher daily protein intake vs. control (n=4) (80±21 vs.59±11g, P<0.05). Fat(max) increased significantly in the protein group (0.08±0.08g/min, P<0.01). Fat-free mass increased independent of change in body weight (P<0.01), and fat mass and fat percentage decreased (P<0.05). Change in Fat(max) was a function of change in protein intake (r=0.623, P<0.05), and not of changes in body composition or VO(2)max.

CONCLUSION: Increased stimulated fat oxidation was related to increased protein intake.
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sleep Loss Limits Fat Loss

Sleep loss limits fat loss

ScienceDaily (2010-10-05) -- Cutting back on sleep reduces the benefits of dieting, according to a new study. When dieters got a full night's sleep, more than half of the weight they lost was fat. When they cut back on their sleep, only one-fourth of their weight loss came from fat. Sleep-deprived dieters also felt hungrier, producing higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure. ... > read full article

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cardio or resistance training first in a workout? Part 1

One of the most common mistake I see in the gym is people doing cardio before resistance training. Research is showing that performing resistance training and aerobic training can have a negative impact on each other, so the obvious solution would be to separate cardio and resistance training workouts to get maximal benefit out of both. In the real world, people just don’t have time to hit the gym twice a day, so we need to find a way to combine both forms of exercise for the best results.

On this board I will present research that proves resistance exercise should always be done after strength training. In the study below, the researches concluded “It appears that in training that combines both aerobic and resistance exercises, performing a comparatively higher intensity resistance exercise first would augment fat utilization and energy expenditure during subsequent aerobic exercise”.

My suggestion is to always do resistance training before cardio if both are combined in the same workout, and to also use heavier weights as they burn a lot more calories and elevate anabolic hormones more than lighter exercise. Stay tuned for more research on this topic.

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009 Sep;107(1):43-50. Epub 2009 Jun 6.

Effect of preceding resistance exercise on metabolism during subsequent aerobic session.

Kang J, Rashti SL, Tranchina CP, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, Hoffman JR.
Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science,
The College of New Jersey, 222 Packer Hall, Ewing, NJ 08628, USA.


The present study was undertaken to evaluate the acute effect of prior resistance training of varying intensities on energy expenditure and substrate utilization during subsequent aerobic exercise. Eleven males and 21 females completed three experimental trials consisting of (1) aerobic exercise only (C), (2) aerobic exercise preceded by a high-intensity resistance training (HI), and (3) aerobic exercise preceded by a low-intensity resistance training (LO). Resistance training produced an equal volume between HI and LO and consisted of six exercises with each performed for three sets of eight repetitions at 90% of 8-RM in HI and three sets of 12 repetitions at 60% of 8-RM in LO. Aerobic exercise was performed on a cycle ergometer at 50% VO(2)peak for 20 min in all trials. Oxygen uptake (VO2), and carbohydrate and fat oxidation were determined throughout each aerobic exercise session. Fat oxidation rate was higher (P < 0.05) in HI than either LO or C in both males and females. VO2 was also higher (P < 0.05) in HI than either LO or C in females. In males, although between-trial differences in VO2 did not reach statistical significance, they were consistent with the trend seen in females. No differences in carbohydrate oxidation rates were observed across the three trials in either gender group. It appears that in training that combines both aerobic and resistance exercises, performing a comparatively higher intensity resistance exercise first would augment fat utilization and energy expenditure during subsequent aerobic exercise.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Seafood consumption and weight loss

Researchers out of the University of Iceland are showing that simply adding fish to a hypocaloric diet can increase weight loss. The inclusion of either lean (cod) or fatty (salmon) fish to be eating 3 times a week at 150 gram potions ( roughly 5 ½ ounces) resulted in a significantly higher weight loss than the control group not eating fish but following the same diet ( 505 carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 20% protein with a 30% caloric deficit).

Although the subjects in the study lost a considerable amount of weight, 40% of that weight was lean muscle tissue. The study didn’t include any exercise, and it is well established that calorie deficit diets will cause a massive loss of lean muscle tissue. Don’t ever diet without an exercise program, especially with a calorie deficit that high. This diet had a 30% caloric deficit and I could never recommend anything over 20%, and that would be from a combination of food and energy expenditure from activity. And finally, low calorie high carbohydrate diets don’t work.

Tips: Add some fish in your diet either by food or by supplements. They are proven to increase your health and help you lose fat. Following a high carbohydrate low calorie diet can be quite a risky in terms of health and fat loss. The success rate on such diets is extremely low. If you knew the dropout rate of these low calorie diets you would be shocked believe me. Never follow a fat loss diet without exercise, and more specifically I’m talking about resistance exercise. Muscles need to be loaded and worked hard to maintain them. In the future I will talk more about fish oil and what you can do to maintain, and even gain, muscle while you’re dieting.

Effect of dietary fish oil on body fat mass and fat oxidation in healthy adults

So far in my articles I have shown you that not changing your exercise and other training variables frequently will stall your fat loss efforts. I have also shown you that being dehydrated and consuming carbohydrates before and during exercise will limit your fat oxidation. Today I’m going to show you how you can increase fat oxidation at rest and during exercise with fish oil.

One of the first studies to show the fat loss effects of fish oil in humans at rest was published back in 1997. In this 12 week study, the objective was to investigate whether the substation of fish oil for visible fats influenced body fat mass and substrate utilization in six healthy adults (5 men, 1 woman).throughout the 12 week study, participants ingested a diet consisting of 52% carbohydrates, 32% fat, and 16% protein, but at week 9 some of the participants were asked to substitute 6 grams from their diet with 6 grams of fish oil for the remaining 3 weeks.

The results: Substituting 6 grams of visible fat by fish oil over three weeks reduced body fat mass and increased basal lipid oxidation. Body weight didn’t reduce much during the study, but body fat did, showing that fish oil can manipulate the partitioning of fat between oxidation and storage (positive calorie partitioning).Resting metabolic rate was approximately 4% higher (burning more calories during the day). Protein and carbohydrate oxidation were also lower in the fish oil group (burning less protein and carbohydrate calories throughout the day and more fat). This last affect will help during your workouts, but I will explain that in a future write up.

Can fish oil help you burn fat during a workout? A study done 6 years ago looked at supplemental fish oil to assess the effects of acute and chronic fish oil supplementation on fat oxidation during exercise during a high fat diet. The study design wont interest you much so I will keep it short and get to the results. The researchers report that 4 grams of fish oil per day for three weeks increased fat oxidation during exercise.

What’s the take home message? Two studies, one high in carbs and no exercise, another high in fat but with exercise, shows that fish oil can help you burn more fat. Both of these diets are not conducive to fat loss, but as you can see, the fish oil acts as a strong positive partitioning agent and I would strongly recommend you take a high quality fish oil supplement for both health and fat loss purposes. I believe so strongly in the power of fish oil that a few years ago, one of my clients was a major owner of one of the world’s biggest fish oil manufacturing companies, and that allowed me to get as much free fish oil as I wanted for all my clients. It didn’t take long for everyone to get hooked on it once they seen the results.

In the future I will discuss the many mechanisms of which fish oil can help burn fat and increase muscle mass. This is what I call one of those best bang for the buck supplements. If you would like to know more about the benefits of fish oil before I present them on this page I recommend you read Omega Rx by Dr Barry sears, the author of The Zone. It’s a bit dated, so see if your library has it. Be warned though, some of Dr. Sears recommendations can be borderline crazy (manipulating prostaglandins), and he does sell fish oil at a price that will make you put a second mortgage on the house. If you’re interested in buying fish oil but confused about which brand and how much it should cost, please send me an email telling me what country you live in and I will do my best to help you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Carbohydrate ingestions before and during exercise limits fat oxidation

Yesterday I reviewed a study on fasted exercise and glucose tolerance. Please read it now if you haven’t done so. Although the investigators were interested in finding out whether fasted state exercise is more potent than exercise in the fed state to rescue whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity during a period of hyper-caloric fat-rich diet and not body composition changes, the body composition changes at the end of the study were quite interesting, so today I will briefly discuss what happens when you ingest carbohydrates before and during a workout.

In yesterdays review both groups followed the same exercise program but the diet was different. The fasted group (exercise performed in a fasted state) but consuming a hyper-caloric fat-rich diet (50% of calories came from fat, and consuming 30% more calories than required to maintain a stable weight).Group two, the carbohydrate group, which ate breakfast 90 minutes before exercise consisting of 675 calories with a macronutrient ratio of 70% carbohydrates, 15% fat, 15% protein (118 grams of carbs!!!) plus consuming a beverage containing 1gram of maltodextrin per kilogram of bodyweight during exercise, and finally group three, no training, but same diet as group one and two.

At the end of the 6 week study, the fasted exercise group gained 0.7 kilograms (kg) in bodyweight, and the carbohydrate group gained 1.4 kgs of bodyweight. So how did the carbohydrate group gain double the weight even though they consumed about a 1000 less calories per day? It has long been recognized that carbohydrate ingestion during exercise reduces fat oxidation during exercise. It has also been shown that a high carbohydrate dense meal can suppress fat oxidation for at least four hours after a meal. It doesn’t take much of a rise in insulin (carbohydrate ingestion raises insulin) to slow down fat oxidation. Innumerable amount of studies have proven that carbohydrate ingestion shortly before (2-4 hours) and during exercise can suppress fat oxidation during exercise. One study that had volunteers consume carbohydrates during exercise report “glucose ingestion during moderate-intensity exercise inhibits the expression of genes involved in the transport and oxidation of lipids”. So by having higher insulin levels at the time of exercise you are suppressing these favorable adaptive changes in fat metabolism that you’re hoping for, and you start to accumulate fat. That’s exactly what happened to the carbohydrate group in yesterdays review even though they were training intensely 4 times a week.

What’s the solution? If you’re on a carbohydrate dense diet (300 plus grams a day) I would suggest you lower your carbohydrates and increase your fat and protein consumption. The lower your carbohydrate intake is the less fat oxidation suppression you will experience. I would also suggest you don’t time a carbohydrate dense meal too close to a workout. Regardless of which diet you’re currently on, fasted exercise can work great for dropping excess fat, especially when doing cardiovascular / endurance exercise. There are more solutions to this problem and I will write about them in the future.,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet.

I was originally going to write about breakfast and fat loss today, but then I got an interesting email from a lady who is following my articles. Specifically she wanted to know if fasted cardio / endurance exercise is beneficial to losing fat. Her trainer is against fasted cardio because, so he claims, she will lose muscle and get weaker. To top it off, this trainer also has her consume fruit juices and sports energy drink during the workout. Talk about making a bad situation worse. This lady was clearly frustrated with her results and is desperate to find someone that can help her. I’m sure our conversation today will put her on the right path to success.

One of the great debates coaches have amongst each other is whether fasted exercise is a valuable tool, or detrimental, to fat loss and gaining muscle. I believe that fasted exercise, especially when doing cardiovascular / endurance exercise is one of our most valuable tools for causing positive partitioning effects in our body, and in the future you can count on me to review these studies on my blog so I can make you a believer too.

A study I want to review today is quite interesting. Most studies that deal with exercise and obesity usually have the subjects consume 70% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 15% fat. Although this type of diet is far from ideal for losing fat and gaining muscle, most studies do show that fasted exercise does result in a large amount of fat oxidation versus doing exercise in the fed state.

The researchers investigated whether exercise training in the fasted state is more potent than exercise in the fed state to induce favorable adaptations in whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity during a period of hyper-caloric fat rich diet. .All volunteers were male, healthy, between the ages of 18 and 25. The length of the study was 6 weeks. Exercise was performed four days a week, two-60 minute sessions and two-90 minute sessions of running (85% of Vo2Max) and cycling (70-75% of Vo2Max). Three groups; the fasted group (exercise performed in a fasted state) but consuming a hyper-caloric fat-rich diet (50% of calories came from fat, and consuming 30% more calories than required to maintain a stable weight).Group two, the carbohydrate group, which ate breakfast 90 minutes before exercise consisting of 675 calories with a macronutrient ratio of 70% carbohydrates, 15% fat, 15% protein (118 grams of carbs!!!) plus consuming a beverage containing 1gram of maltodextrin per kilogram of bodyweight during exercise, and finally group three, no training, but same diet as group one and two.

The results: the fasted group gained 0.7 kilograms (kg) in bodyweight, the carbohydrate group gained1.4 kgs of bodyweight, and group three gained 3 kilograms of bodyweight. Glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity increased more in the fasted group than the carbohydrate group. Muscle GLUT-4 protein content was increased by 285 in the fasted group and only by 3% in the carbohydrate group. I will stop here about the results and get to the point, “This study for the first time shows that fasted training is more potent than fed training to facilitate adaptations in muscle and to improve whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity during hyper-caloric fat-rich diet.” If your glucose intolerant and insulin resistant, fasted exercise will be of great benefit to you.
The fasted group consumed approximately 1000 more calories than the carbohydrate group and only gained 0.7 kgs (insignificant).why did the carbohydrate group gained double the weight while following the same exercise program? Nutrient partitioning! If you can set up your diet and training program properly to include more fat, more protein, less carbohydrates, and fasted exercise, you will see some very pleasant results in your body composition. If your working with a trainer, doctor, nutritionist, or whatever, that recommends consuming carbohydrates during exercise, I suggest you fire them immediately.

Just so we are clear, fasted means fasted. No food at all. Some coaches recommend a small amount of fat and/or proteins before or during early morning exercise and still calling it “fasted” exercise. That’s not fasted. Fasted to me means at least 7 hours since your last meal and preferably when you wake up. One last warning; please don’t duplicate this study. It was an experiment, the results were positive, and let’s leave it there. Consuming an extra 1000 calories on a fat-rich diet while doing fasted cardio resulted in an insignificant amount of weight gain. Imagine what would happen if the diet was set up correctly. Later this week I will explain what happens when you do consume carbohydrates during a workout.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Negative partitioning and fat Loss: part 1

“Changing the macronutrient composition of an individual’s diet can result in weight loss despite the ingestion of the same amount of energy”
Lambert CP, Frank LL, Evans WJ. Sports Med. 2004; 34(5):317-27.

One of my most valuable lessons came about 20 years ago when I had a conversation on nutrition with a very successful bodybuilding coach. He taught me about nutrient partitioning, what your body does with the food you consume. Your body will either send nutrients to muscle cells or to fat cells and certain compounds, hormones, cytokines, lifestyle choices, exercise and the macronutrient distribution of the diet can have a pronounced effect on nutrient partitioning. Since that conversation, the majority of my study time has been devoted to understanding how to best manipulate the body’s biochemistry to enable my clients to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Without understanding nutrient partitioning, your fat loss efforts may not be so rewarding, resulting in failure to achieve your body composition goals. Once you understand what causes negative (gaining fat) or positive partitioning (losing fat and gaining muscle), you will realize how easy it can be to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. You will also realize how the common recommendation of reducing caloric intake (negative energy balance) and increasing energy expenditure (exercise) is so wrong, and leads to a high failure rate. Let me give you a quick example; your overweight, you have low testosterone, low thyroid, a slow resting metabolic rate, leptin resistant, feel tired to exercise frequently and intensely and following a typical high carbohydrate, low protein, low fat diet.. What strategy would you use to lose fat? Most dietitians, doctors, and coaches would have you lower your calories (creating a negative energy balance, the difference between how many calories you eat and how many your body expends) and exercising more. Will this work? Rarely! The failure rate on such a program is huge. Even if you did lose considerable weight on such a program, 25 to 50% of that weight would be muscle tissue, now leaving you looking skinny fat, and in a worse metabolic condition that will further shift your body into a negative (losing fat and muscle) over a positive (losing fat and building muscle) state. Reducing calories doesn’t tell me which calories you’re reducing. Was it the carbohydrates, fat, or protein? Does it matter? Is a calorie a calorie like most scientist tell us? Yes it matters if you want to create a metabolic advantage (positive nutrient partitioning). No, a calorie is not a calorie. Different types of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins will have different effects in the body (positive or negative partitioning). Different macronutrient ratios will also affect partitioning. Proteins and fats are essential nutrients, carbohydrates are not. Protein is more thermogenic than carbohydrates, and carbohydrates are more thermogenic than fats. In an insulin resistant state, carbohydrates lose there thermogenic power, resulting in a lower thermic effect of food. In my above example, simply increasing the total calories and calories from protein and fat while reducing your carbohydrates intake would have resulted in a metabolic advantage that would have allowed you to lose fat, build muscle, increase your testosterone, increase thyroid, elevate your metabolic rate, increase your insulin sensitivity, increase your leptin sensitivity, increased your energy levels that will allow you to perform better, more productive workouts without feeling tired and hungry all day. Low calorie diets don’t work and increase negative partitioning of calories through various mechanisms. With the low success rate of low calorie diets (regardless of macronutrient ratios) your setting yourself up for repeated diet / fat loss cycles (think yo-yo dieting) and that can be extremely damaging to your overall health. This review isn’t even scratching the surface on what we know on nutrient partitioning, but remember, fat accrual is a disorder of nutrient partitioning. To find out more about positive and negative partitioning, and other fat loss tips and tricks be sure to come back to this page frequently.