Get Better Naturally

Transform Your Body and Health with the Low-Carb, Paleo, Ketogenic Lifestyle!


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Four Points for Success

The four essential components of an overall lifestyle of health and wellness I talked about on this episode are:

  • Nutrition
  • Mindset
  • Movement
  • Recovery

If any one of these are off it can affect the other three as well as your impeding overall progress .


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Carb Confusion

Many of you are mixed up about how many carbs you should have, when it’s appropriate to have them and what types work best to stimulate the metabolism without undoing all your hard work!

Relax the “Keto Nazi” stranglehold that is running rampant online. Ketosis isn’t some delicate metabolic state that can’t be interrupted for fear of regaining the weight you’ve lost.

It’s actually beneficial to ramp up your carbohydrates at times to keep your energy levels high and increase hormones that regulate appetite and energy expenditure.

Today is the beginning of another 7 Day Keto Reset. To find out more visit the Coaching tab in the main menu.


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Fat Burning Comes Full Circle

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From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes no sense whatsoever to think that the human body would immediately begin to break down hard-earned muscle after going only a few hours without “refueling”.

If this were the case, our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have become weak and unable to hunt or otherwise procure food in the face of a relatively short term famine. So instead we developed the ability to store excess calories from food in our adipose tissue as fat along with the ability to access that fat for energy when needed due to a temporary shortage of food.

The truth is the idea that we need to be eating almost constantly is more a creation of the food manufacturing and marketing industry than actual human physiology.

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Most experts now agree that the window between “eating opportunities” has decreased from 4 1/2 hours down to about 3 hours over the past few decades.

The way this plays out in everyday life is millions of people hitting the fast-food window or vending machine for “something, anything” to suppress the sensations of hunger lurking around every corner. Millions of kids come home from school and eat Poptarts, cereal, granola bars, or whatever to “keep their energy up” or “help with concentration”.

On the more health-conscious side of things, I was one of those who honestly believed that eating a combination of protein and carbohydrates every three hours would speed up the metabolism and keep you in an anabolic (muscle building) state. I used this approach to lose over 50 lbs and even taught it in my lectures and used it to guide the progress of my clients.

But there is a better way.

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The fact is, once your metabolism has become adapted to burning fat for energy (even dietary fat) through nutrition and training it allows you to go longer periods of time between meals without sacrificing performance or energy and allows you to easily burn stored body fat for fuel.

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The “hammer and chisel” I’m talking about is a whole-food, nutrient dense diet that is higher in fat / moderate in protein and / lower carbohydrate,  combined with combined with a regular exercise program.

There is so much information overwhelm going on right now in the health, nutrition and wellness space surrounding these very concepts. This is what prompted me to begin writing on the subject. I’m not selling anything online and I have no agenda in mind other than helping people to get healthy and stay healthy.

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My experience is that the best ideas travel from one person to another just like they did thousands of years ago. If you’ve had a good experience with these concepts like I have and you want to help get the message out about making positive health changes, (and you are also not selling anything online) “join the tribe” by subscribing, sharing or commenting below.

 


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What’s on the Menu for Burning Fat?

macronutrientsRight now, the world of nutrition science is converging on a few new and novel ideas. Some of the most popular trends at the moment are paleo, primal, ketogenic, carb-cycling and intermittent fasting, just to name a few.

After years of study and practice I’ve determined there are no hard and fast rules to any of this. (They’re more like suggestions actually). A healthy diet is more of a result of what you don’t eat rather than what you do eat. The common factor in all of the popular diets I just mentioned is this:

Eat Real FoodThere you have it! I know this is a revelation for many people but food isn’t the problem, it’s the solution.

The real problem isn’t excess calories. It’s not even excess sugar or fat or any other nutrient. The real problem is excess manufactured foods. When real food is taken out of its natural state, whether ground up powder-fine as with flour or having tons of sodium or other preservatives added as with canned foods, it’s the same effect.

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At one time, I would have devoured a whole pizza without giving it a second thought.

When I first began my journey from being obese to attaining a healthy body weight.  My initial changes were things like substituting a protein shake for my nightly bowl of ice cream or other sweet indulgence. This was a step in the right direction. I started measuring the sugar I put into my coffee instead of just mindlessly pouring it in. Later, I replaced the sugar with honey since it’s a natural product and is absorbed more efficiently. Now I don’t sweeten my coffee at all. I put MCT oil and butter in it and drink it black just before my morning workout to jump start my fat burning for the day.

I have eliminated whole categories of foods, for example abandoning soft drinks completely. (I haven’t had a soda in over five years and I don’t miss it at all.) I cut back on all types of fast food and completely eliminated anything from McDonald’s menu in particular. Here’s why:

Screenshot_20170525-113321Recently, I’ve also ditched all flour and grains from my diet completely. These types of changes are not for everyone. No, I don’t suffer from IBS, Celiac or any other inflammatory condition. I just believe that the health risks of consuming grains outweigh the benefits.

So what’s left after making these changes?

Variety of fresh fruit and vegetablesThe foundation of my diet (and any truly healthy diet in my opinion) is vegetables. Tons and tons of vegetables. Along with a few fruits, these provide loads of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Plus, they fill you up without all the extra calories or negative effects of processed foods.

10401886_413228245485337_2640373231153992868_nI eat meat as a source of protein along with eggs and some dairy, mostly because of the demands from weight training and other forms of exercise. I don’t count grams or macronutrient ratios anymore because I think doing this probably leads to unnecessary over consumption of these foods but I get an adequate amount to rebuild and repair muscle tissue and maximize nutrient intake.

betteravacadoFinally fats! (I saved the best for last.)😁When people first hear about approaches like ketogenic or high fat diets, their first thought is something like “Yeah! All the cheese and bacon I want!” Well….not exactly.

The best sources of fat are from plants. These are things like olives, olive oil, tree nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts and macadamias, coconuts and of course my beloved avocados! I don’t think a little butter or cheese will kill you but I don’t eat a stick a day either.

Some healthy fats can be found in animal sources too. For example, omega 3 fatty acids from fish are great for heart health, brain health, circulation and as an anti-inflammatory for reliving aches and pains in the joints. Also, the fat from grass-fed and free-range animals contains less omega 6 fats and higher amounts of omega 3’s than those fed a grain based diet.

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Which leads me to my next point. Not all plant-based fats are healthy either. Commercially produced industrial seed oil such as soy, corn, and canola are rich in omega 6’s and are highly inflammatory in the human body. This brings us back to where we began. “Fake foods are the real problem.” and you can quote me on that!

You may also enjoy reading:

Origins and Evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century Loren Cordain, S Boyd Eaton et al. from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 

This is the original research paper that sparked the current interest in ancestral health practices and popularized what has become known as the “Paleo” movement by proposing that coronary heart disease and other metabolic conditions are due to excessive consumption of Industrial Era foods (such as cereals, refined grains, added sugars, refined vegetable oils, fatty meats, salt, and combinations of these foods) rather than being based solely on excess saturated fat consumption as was previously believed.

 


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Fat, The Alternative Fuel!

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Most cars and trucks can only run on one type of fuel and when the tank runs out that’s it! As a species, we humans have the amazing ability to derive energy from one of two major dietary sources, carbohydrates and fat. (think of us as hybrid vehicles).

On a cellular level, energy production specifically happens in the mitochondria of our cells. Over time, the mitochondria become conditioned to preferentially burning glucose as a source of energy (thanks to an overabundance of processed foods containing sugar and flour). Over a lifetime, we have increased the enzymes in the mitochondria that burn glucose and simultaneously down-regulated the pathways for burning fat due to lack of use.

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Here’s what happens to the average person who doesn’t eat for a few hours. Because they are highly adapted to using carbohydrates as a source of energy, when glucose from the last meal runs out, instead of shifting to the fasted state and mobilizing and burning stored body fat, they become hungry for more glucose, from (you guessed it) more carbohydrates! They spend most of the day trapped in an endless cycle of eating every few hours, spiking insulin levels, and then becoming hungry when blood sugar drops. Since they’ve become so dependent on sugar they can’t readily access their fat stores for energy. Left unchecked this can lead to insulin resistance and even type 2 or “adult onset” diabetes.

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Your body’s ability to utilize fat as fuel is similar to a tanker truck on the highway filled with oil. If the tanker truck runs out of gas it stops moving, despite the fact that it has thousands of gallons of potential fuel on board. This is because it must run on refined gas and is incapable of burning oil for fuel.

Thankfully, we have the ability to influence the expression of our genes, thus becoming “fat adapted” and improving our ability to fuel ourselves with stored body fat instead of glucose.

This is kind of like getting a “conversion kit” for the tanker truck engine that allows it to use all the oil stored in the tank as fuel instead of having to rely solely on the gas in the fuel tank!

However, this takes time and practice, and your body has to do a number of things to slowly up-regulate (or increase) your fat-burning pathways.

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This includes improving insulin sensitivity to lower insulin and promote fat mobilization. There are several ways to improve “fat adaptation” or the ability to successfully burn stored body fat for energy, and these include the following:

  • Low carbohydrate / high fat diets. Eating a Low Carb High Fat diet conditions the body to utilize fat rather than glucose for energy. The key is not “topping off the tank” with carbs and sugar every time the “low fuel light” comes on. Consuming more dietary fat sort of helps “prime the pump” and helps the body recognize fat (including body fat) as a fuel source.
  • Exercise. High-intensity exercise depletes glucose and glycogen rapidly, forcing the body to switch over and utilize more fat for fuel. Exercise also improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Supplementing with Omega 3 EFA’s from fish oil to improve the permeability of the cells and L-Carnitine to facilitate the transfer of fatty acids into energy
  • Calorie restriction. Eating less often also equals less glucose being available for fuel so the body relies on stored body fat for fuel. Cleaning up your diet will help too, since you will eat less calories when you stick to whole, natural, unprocessed, real foods found in nature and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
  • Intermittent fasting, and spending more time in the fasted state, which gives the body more ‘practice’ at burning fat.

I’ve only recently begun incorporating intermittent fasting into my routine but so far it’s working well. (It sounds hardcore but basically, it just amounts to skipping lunch and snacks a few times a week.) I’ve also done liquid and fat only “modified fasts” with black coffee and MCT oil with butter for breakfast and chicken broth for lunch.

If skipping meals entirely doesn’t sound that appealing, try just eliminating excess carbohydrates (especially any flour or sugar-based ones beginning in the morning).

Put these tips into practice and you’ll be trucking right along and burning fat before you know it!

 


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Training for Maximum Fat Burning

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When people ask “What’s the best type of exercise to burn fat, weight training or cardio?” my standard response is “Both!” You see, different types of activity rely on different energy “pathways” and so they affect our metabolism differently.

Moderate-intensity activity such as walking, hiking, cycling, etc utilizes a mix of glycogen (stored carbohydrate) and fat to fuel performance. If you are following a lower-carbohydrate eating plan the muscles will burn fat more readily once the glycogen stores have been depleted. (This is why I recommend doing weight training first before a cardio session.)

Higher-intensity activity like running or higher-repetition weight training uses more glycogen (carbohydrate) for fuel but it also pushes the body to make more adaptations resulting in a higher level of fitness along with  increased cardiovascular capacity, improved ability to utilize oxygen, improved blood pressure, reduced insulin levels, and more.

The best mix I’ve discovered when it comes to cardiovascular exercise is something called H.I.I.T or High-Intensity-Interval-Training.

It sounds complicated but it’s really not! It simply involves alternating bursts of higher effort with lower-intensity or recovery periods.

My standard pattern is 5 rounds of 5 minute cycles going from lower to higher intensity effort on an elliptical machine. I increase the resistance level each minute. On every 5th minute I try to push my heart rate to about 75%-80% of my max.

Another secret to maximizing fat burning during exercise is to keep the intensity to a level that allows you to breathe through your nose. Once you reach a level that requires you to breathe through your mouth you have crossed from aerobic (with oxygen) to anaerobic (without oxygen) and are more likely to require glucose from stored carbohydrates or worse, force your body to break down your hard earned muscle tissue and turn it into glucose!

The majority of effort needed to transform your physique  and improve your health can come from dietary changes and a few key supplements. It’s not necessary to go so hard in the gym that you don’t enjoy your workouts. Put these tips into practice and take your workout to a whole new level!


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Supplement Science: MCT Oil

pure mct oil Capture

After years of following the pattern of eating every three hours and combining protein and carbs at every meal I’ve finally jumped on the “Eat Fat Burn Fat” bandwagon and I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the results. It’s only been a few weeks and I’ve already burned through 10 lbs of body fat!

One tactic I’ve used to increase my intake of healthy fats while lowering my sugar consumption is ditching the honey and creamer in my morning coffee in favor of MCT oil.

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I quit putting regular table sugar in a few years ago, switching to honey since it’s a natural product and I feel it’s a healthier alternative. The fact remains however, it’s still a source of sugar and I know that taking it in first thing in the morning can’t be doing good things for my insulin levels.

I have to admit it was a bit of an adjustment going from my usual blast of morning sweetness to a slightly bitter drink. (A little almond milk blended in does help take the edge off). Here’s what I’ve noticed in the past few weeks after making the shift.

  • I’ve had more energy during my early morning workouts and feel like I’m using more body fat to fuel my performance.
  • I’m not as hungry during the day which signals to me that I’ve reduced the levels of insulin and glucose circulating in my bloodstream.
  • I’m dropping 2-3 lbs a week without increasing exercise intensity above my baseline of 45 minutes 5 times a week.

MCT oil is just a concentrated and convenient source of healthy fats I’ve added to my diet along with more egg yolks, olives and olive oil, almonds and other tree nuts, plus avacados.

MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) are fats that are naturally found in coconuts. They are more easily assimilated and rapidly digested than other types of fats since they require lower amounts of enzymes and bile acids for intestinal absorption. MCT’s are metabolized rapidly in the liver and encourage energy expenditure rather than promoting fat storage. Studies suggest MCT’s may help support a healthy weight and body composition.