Category Archives for Lose Fat

The Wrong Eating Habits Can Hurt Your Brain, Not Just Your Waistline

A diet high in saturated fats and sugars can affect the parts of the brain that are important to memory. Diet-linked brain changes can also make people more likely to crave unhealthful food.

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You Can’t Tell When You’re Full

Stop counting calories – here’s further scientific evidence that the effects of a bad diet extend far beyond the number of calories consumed – it actually impairs your memory and makes it difficult to determine when you are full.

Sugar Makes You Store More Fat, And Crave More Sugar

There is already conclusive evidence that a diet high in sugar and refined carbs has an effect on metabolism and hunger.  The result is you crave more sweet food, tend to overeat, and your body stores more fat (particularly deep belly fat) rather than burning it.

This metabolic effect stems from the fact that fructose (the chemical that makes sugar sweet) is metabolized in the liver and converted to deep belly fat.

A Bad Diet Also Changes Your Brain

Now there is new evidence that your diet can also change parts of your brain, making you crave more unhealthy food.

A study from The University of Cambridge revealed cognitive impairment in humans that had been demonstrated previously in rodents an American University study.  The brains of rats who were fed a bad diet underwent changes that impaired their ability to tell when they were full.

A 2015 study in the Journal of Pediatrics found obese children performed more poorly on memory tasks that test that same brain region  compared with kids who weren’t overweight.

The average

So Stop Counting Calories and Chasing Them With Exercise

The average American diet gets 30% of its calories from added sugar and alcohol.  It’s the composition of this diet that leads you into a vicious cycle of hunger and fat storage.

Now scientists are also discovering that a bad diet has longer term effects on your brain that worsen these cravings not just in the short term, but changes your brain for a long-term effect, and turns off your “i’m full” signals.

3 Steps to Change Right Now

  1. Replace your morning donut or sugary boxed cereal with whole grain oats & berries.
  2. Eat a palm-sized portion of protein and a fist-sized portion of veggies with every meal.
  3. Store healthy snacks like almonds and berries in clear baggies or bowls at eye-level.  Move cookies and chips to opaque containers in the way-back.


A Brief History of Humankind’s Desperate Attempts to Stay Fit

Having trouble sticking to your exercise routine? Don’t feel bad. Just look at our long drawn-out relationship with exercise gear—from discus to Thighmaster to jBells.

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As the author states, “Machines are nothing, motivation is everything”.  But willpower is not a superpower.  Willpower is for people who haven’t made up their minds.  If you’ve already committed to getting fit. then it’s just a matter of sticking to the choices you’ve already made in advance.

In his blog post about mental toughness, Tim Ferriss quotes former Navy Seal Trainer Jocko Willink:

“If you want to be tougher mentally, it is simple: Be tougher. Don’t meditate on it.”

He says it’s ok to start small.  If skipping that second martini and dessert is the plan then don’t think about it, just do it.  Even going to bed an hour earlier may take a significant amount of discipline.  So just make the plan & stick to it.

But why is it that so many people abandon their New Year’s resolution to get fit even before Valentine’s Day?

The answer is the monotony, the drudgery , the soul-crushing boredom and lame-ass results.  Gyms and fitness machines have constrained our movements into mechanized, repetitive, linear, core-stabilized, mid-range peripheral isolation moves that quickly cause you to lose motivation and just don’t give you the results you want to see in the mirror.

The author states what most of us are feeling:

“I’m looking for motivation that can beat the instant gratification of a peanut-butter cup. I want something that provides results before I throw in the towel.”

So the simple solution is to push slightly beyond your own limitations every day and the results you will experience will serve as a positive feedback motivation loop that will keep you motivated.  Get off the treadmill and instead of exercising like a machine start moving like  the human body was designed to move.

Repetitive, linear, core-stabilized, mid-range isolation moves will never give you results you want to see in the mirror.  The reason is clear: standard exercise deconstructs natural human movement into “linear, closed chains” resulting in athletes with specifically strengthened tissues sitting next to underdeveloped tissues.  According to Laird Hamilton, “When you sit down on an exercise machine, with your back against a chair, you tend to shut down the rest of your body.”

There are no ‘leg days’, ‘back days’, ‘arm days’, or recovery days, there are only whole-body days. You’ve got a whole body, right? so why not use it? Instead of mechanistically bulking up the same tiny bundle of mid-range isolated muscle fibers every day, why not stimulate the maximum number of fibers over the entire range of temporal-spatial dimensions available to you?  Why not let everything get more defined, stronger and more agile in balance with everything else?

Reject the limits that other people and the ‘exercise’ establishment have placed on you.  Stop exercising and start learning how to move.


The 4 Elements of Physical Energy and How to Master Them

“Manage your energy, not your time” says the famous quote from Tony Schwartz. Here’s how to do that, beginning with physical energy.

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One Simple Yet Powerful Change

The most simple and powerful change you can make with respect to fitness has nothing to do with food or exercise.

Go to sleep an hour earlier.

Seriously, that’s it.  Here’s Why:


  1. Sleep is calorie-free energy,
  2. Adequate sleep regulates hunger
  3. Sleep deprivation slows your metabolism and increases stress hormones, causing you to store more fat


A number of studies have demonstrated that sleep regulates leptin, ghrelin, and endocannabinoids, all of which modulate hunger signals.  There is also solid evidence that adequate deep sleep improves athletic performance.  Check out this infographic for a summary of these findings.

Hunger Management

The other powerful change you can make in managing your physical energy has to do with blood glucose levels.  Many articles and books make this sound much more complicated than it needs to be so here’s a simple, practical approach.

Carb Confusion

Carbohydrates are of 3 basic types:

  1. Sweets (anything that tastes sweet)
  2. Starches and refined carbs (bread, pasta, boxed cereal)
  3. Whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice)


The first 2 cause your blood glucose and insulin levels to spike, which depletes your energy and makes you hungry sooner.  This cycle leads to overeating every day.  Whole grains, on the other hand, tend to keep your glucose and insulin levels more stable, which controls your hunger better.


Food labels can be confusing, so here is a simple test to determine if a food is whole grain – if the carbohydrate-to-fiber ratio is less than 10-to-1.  Don’t worry about the serving size, just divide the grams of carbs in a serving by the grams of fiber – if it’s less than 10, you’re good.

Mouth Feel and Belly Feel

I’ve become so used to the hearty texture of whole grains that refined grains have begun to feel insubstantial.  Try this experiment.  Prepare, side-by-side, a bowl of packaged instant oatmeal and a bowl of steel-cut oats.  Notice as you prepare them how the refined oats are light powdery flakes and the whole grain consists of firm gritty nuggets.

Now taste a spoonful of each.  Pay particular attention to how they each feel in your mouth and in your belly.  If you’re like me, the refined packaged oats will feel like mush in your mouth and pretty insubstantial in your belly.  The Whole grain oats have a gritty nugget-y mouth feel and they give you that feeling of fullness in your belly much sooner than the refined oatmeal.

That firm, gritty texture might feel different at first, but you will soon notice that it keeps your hunger in check all day.  And it’s the best way to start managing your hunger, and begin losing fat for good.


The Case Against Sugar Review – an Unsweetened Attack on Diet Myths

Gary Taubes’s latest assault on the ruinous effect of sugar on our lives and the promotion of fat-free diets is detailed and compelling

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Sugar is Not Just Empty Calories

Even more important are its effects on hunger and metabolism.  Sugar causes your insulin levels to spike, which results in a   later sugar “crash” in which the hunger causes you to overeat.   This cycle continues as you satisfy that hunger with more sugar, causing another insulin spike.  Over time, these insulin spikes desensitize your body to insulin, which is a major cause of obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Change The Way Your Body Stores Fat

The other important effect of sugar is on your metabolism and fat storage.  It’s not just that the calories in sugar are stored as fat, but rather that a diet high in sugar changes the way your body stores fat overall.  The net effect is that a greater proportion of ALL the calories you eat are stored as fat.

Heart Health

There is also an effect on the type and location of fat that is detrimental to your heart health.  Fructose, which is the chemical that makes sugar taste sweet, is metabolized in the liver, and this process results in the accumulation of visceral, or deep belly fat.  This type of fat is not only unsightly but it also raises your level of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

So Gary Taubes continues to fight the good fight, against the food industry who wants you to believe that all calories are equal.  They’re not.  Sugar is what’s making you fat.


One Simple Yet Powerful Change

Try this simple experiment on yourself for one week: replace your sweet cereal with whole grains like steel-cut oats with berries and coconut milk.  For a week make fruit the sweetest thing you eat all day.  You will notice 2 things right away.  Your cravings for sweets will disappear and body fat will start melting away effortlessly.


14 Modern Fitness Myths Busted

Fact-checking trusted training maxims.

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If you only correct 2 misconceptions about your fitness this year, these 2 will give you the biggest impact by far:


  • Fat doesn’t make you fat
  • Visualize your workouts


It’s the sugar in your diet that’s making you fat.  Did you know that the average American could reduce calorie intake by 30 percent merely by eliminating the nutritionally empty calories of added sugar and alcohol.

These calories are not only nutritionally empty, they also don’t satisfy, so they make you hungry sooner and lead to binge eating.  Even worse, they’re metabolized in the liver and converted to deep belly fat.  Guess what does suppress hunger?  You got it – it’s fat.  Not the kind in chips and bagged snacks that makes you eat more, but the healthy kind, in almonds, avocados, olives, and coconut.

This doesn’t mean you can’t eat anything sweet, just try limiting your sweets to fruits, and add some nuts and coconut to the mix.  If you’re used to donuts and candy bars there will be an adjustment period but your sweet taste receptors will adapt and you will soon gain the same satisfaction from fruits.  Berries are the best because they have the lowest concentration of fructose and the highest levels of protein, fiber, and phytonutrients.

So try it for a week – make fruit the sweetest thing you eat all day.  A clever psychological hack to increase your chances of success is to position a clear bowl of fresh fruit at eye level in your fridge so it’s the first thing you see when you open the door.

The other busted fitness myth that you can put to work for you today is that visualization improves performance for all levels of athletes.  If there is something you want to achieve, like a handstand, take a minute to visualize yourself floating up into a perfect handstand every day.  As you pursue your goal the visualization technique will help you simply because you are seeing the result as possible.  The biggest obstacle to achieving any fitness goals is just getting started, and visualization is a way of tricking your subconscious into thinking you’re already on the way before you even start.  Your subconscious wants to believe what you tell it, so tell it you’re an athlete and guess what?  You are.


7 Simple Rules for Getting Lean in 2017

Seven easy rules for keeping your fitness New Year’s resolution in 2017.

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If I were to choose one of these rules for the new year it would be #5 – earning your carbs – but I would add that the preparation and timing of those carbs is absolutely critical to reaching your goal – torching body fat and building lean muscle.

The first thing I do every morning is eat a bowl of steel cut oats made with coconut milk and topped with toasted coconut and frozen berries.  This is delicious and along with a strong cup of coffee gives me incentive to jump out of bed every morning.  It also gives me an energy burst that fuels one of my high-intensity interval workout of jump yoga which I’ve pre-programmed using an app called Seconds.

The difference between a breakfast like this and cereal in a box is huge, and it takes only about a minute more of prep-time.  Making this a habit, even for 17 days, will make a noticeable difference in your energy level and appetite all day.  In his awesome post about how to become a morning person, John Zeratsky’s 3 crucial elements are light, coffee, and something to do.  So make that something to do the preparation of a delicious cup of coffee and your whole grain breakfast with berries and coconut.

What’s the difference between cereal in a box and a whole grain breakfast of steel cut oats with berries and coconut?

  • Whole grains still have the germ, the endosperm and the bran which is stripped out of most refined grains – this is where all the phytonutrients and fiber are.  Fiber slows digestion so you fill up faster and stay satisfied longer.
  • The fact that fiber fills you up and that berries have the lowest fructose content and highest protein and fiber content of any fruit, means that you start re-sensitizing your tastebuds to sugar, which is something you lose without realizing it when you eat sugary cereals.
  • Sugar in boxed cereals makes you hungry sooner and it is converted to deep belly fat in the liver.  When you eat whole grains you stay satisfied longer.

So you reduce hunger and sugar cravings for the rest of the day while giving yourself a sustained feeling of satiety that will manage hunger and prevent overeating and impulse eating.

Sleep and alcohol are probably a close tie for second place for the biggest impact you can make right away.  If you’re not getting enough sleep, following a pre-bedtime ritual of disconnecting from electronic devices (listen to an audiobook or read a paper book), dimming the lights. making your bedroom cool and dark, even turning down the bed will help promote the production of melatonin – a sleep hormone.  Many studies focus on the restorative deep slow wave sleep as recovery for the body and REM sleep for the brain.  But adequate sleep also regulates ghrelin, leptin, and endocannabinoids, all of which modulate appetite and lead to overeating in the sleep deprived.

There are also studies linking improved quality of sleep to enhanced athletic performance.

Finally, just stop drinking alcohol.  Here are 5 great reasons why:

  • It increases deep belly fat
  • it has no nutritional value
  • it makes you eat stupid
  • it slows fat metabolism
  • it inhibits deep sleep

So you really only need 3 simple tweaks to start getting lean in 2017:

  • Get to sleep earlier
  • Start the morning with whole grains & berries
  • Cut down on alcohol or, even better, eliminate it completely.


3 Ridiculously Easy Tricks To Lose Weight On Autopilot in 2017

Forget Counting Calories.  Give Up Deprivation Diets.  Sell Your Scale on eBay.

Listen up - you can apply new scientific findings to start losing weight in 2017 without even thinking about it.

The average American has gained 30 pounds over the past 20 years.  That might sound like a lot but when you do the math, it actually comes down to less than 10 calories a day, which is like 2 peanut M&Ms.

Seriously, 2 Peanut M&Ms!

What that means is that simply maintaining your weight - that is not gaining weight - should be ridiculously easy.  But what about weighing less at the end of 2017 than you do now?

​According to Brian Wansink Ph.D., Author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, In one year's time you will gain or lose approximately one pound for every 10 calories you add or eliminate every day.

Simple Math

The math is pretty simple: cut out one can of Coke (140 calories) per day, lose 14 pounds.  Forego a candy bar (270 calories) a day, lose 27 pounds.  Give up a 420-calorie donut a day, lose 42 pounds.  All by January 1st, 2018

  • 1 can of Coke per day - lose 14 pounds
  • 1 candy bar per day - lose 27 pounds
  • 1 donut per day - lose 42 pounds

​There's an Easier Way

Now I know what you're thinking: you don't want to give up that donut, that Snicker's bar, or that can of Coke.  Well there is a much easier way to cut out that same number of calories and not feel the least bit deprived.

​Do This On New Year's Day

This is powerful stuff: scientific studies show that a few simple tricks and tiny tweaks to re-engineer your environment will actually have a significant impact on what you eat AND how much you eat.  You can implement all of these changes in 5 minutes or less.  The result will actually be weight loss on autopilot for the whole year.

​Step 1 - What You See is What You Eat 

​Are you ready for this?  You are 3 times more likely to eat the first thing you see than the 5th thing you see.  So your first trick to start losing weight is just moving a few things around.

Why is it that everybody hides their fruits and vegetables in those little drawers at the bottom of the fridge where they get wet and rotten?  That little quirk is causing you to gain weight because fresh produce is the last thing you'll see when you open the refrigerator.

Store fruit in clear bowls and at eye level

Store fruit in clear bowls and at eye level

Even worse, you have to work harder to get to those fruits & veggies because you have to open those little drawers and for some reason they're the kind of drawers that always seem to jam and never open smoothly.

So here's the fix: move all of your fresh produce to eye level.  In fact, reserve the eye-level shelf and the container in the door for fruits and veggies only.  Get some ​zip-bags, stackable tupperware containers and an attractive bowl to display all the delicious fruit you buy rather than hiding it away to rot in drawers that you can't see and are hard to open.

Now apply the same logic to your cupboard - healthy snacks and foods like nuts and tuna right up front at eye level.  Cookies, cakes, and candy go high, low, and way back - easy, right?​

​Step 2 - Bag It Up

​Here's another weird scientific finding: how much you eat is determined by the size of the container you're eating from.  This was confirmed with more than 47 products by Dr. Wansink's lab.  These studies included people eating twice as many M&Ms from a 1 pound bag versus a half-pound bag.  In fact, we use more of all kinds of products when they come in bigger packages, including dog food and shampoo.

You eat twice as many M&Ms from a big bag versus a small one

You eat twice as many M&Ms from a big bag versus a small one

Th​e reason is that we look for external cues to tell us how much to eat instead of simply relying on  our own feelings of hunger and fullness.  The studies show that there is a 20% "error-bar" extending in both directions, which means that you will eat an average of 20% more or less depending on the size of the container.

Remembering our math we learned in the introduction above, for a single 250 calorie snack a day, that 20% margin can add up to 25 pounds over the course of a year.  Would you rather weigh 25 pounds more or less a year from now?

The action step here is simple​: put your snacks in smaller packages.  Get some small zip-close baggies.  Buy the ones with the actual slider-zipper, not the zip-strip, because the sliders are much easier to open and close and they will keep your food fresher.

if this seems like a lot of work, just get started with the worst offenders - chips, cookies and candy.  Take them out of their original packages and divide them up into 5 to 7 smaller baggies.  Remember the idea here isn't to measure precisely but rather to simply start eating snacks out of smaller containers.  You will magically eat 20% less on average every time you pick up a bag of snacks.  And those bags will be harder to pick up since they'll be low down, high up, or way back.

​Step 3 - Clarity vs. Opacity

Cover plates and bowls of cakes and cookies with aluminum foil

Cover plates and bowls of cakes and cookies with aluminum foil

This final step takes step 1 above to the next level.  Start making use of the different opacity of containers and kitchen wraps as an external cue of what to eat.

You can see through plastic wrap, so use it to cover bowls of healthy leftovers, tuna, salads, fruits and vegetables.   Cover plates of cake and other leftover desserts or sweets with aluminum foil.

​In fact, store healthy protein like leftover salmon or tuna and fresh produce in glass bowls or clear containers so you always see them first.

​Remember those baggies of cookies, chips, and candy you portioned out earlier?  Wrap them in aluminum foil too, or put them into an opaque container in the back of your cupboard, making them harder to see and to reach.

​When you're done you should open your refrigerator to see a nice clear glass bowl full of healthy fruit, surrounded by  clear tupperware containers of vegetables and healthy leftovers.  The desserts will be exiled to low shelves and the way back.

​What Are You Waiting For?

Imagine losing 25 pound by New Year's Day 2018 without dieting, counting calories, or even thinking about what you eat.  Take these 3 ridiculously easy steps right now, before New Year's Day, and put the latest science of eating to work for you to lose weight on autopilot through all of 2017.

Life-Changing Scientific Fitness Findings of 2016

Two numbers are particularly emblematic of what science had to tell us abut fitness this year: 42 percent and $2,500.

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Dude, these are nothing short of life-changing scientific fitness findings that were only discovered THIS YEAR!  So, seriously, listen up.

This first one is my favorite – you can actually feed your brain with exercise.  We’re not talking metaphorically here.  The study showed that exercise was like pizza for the brain – you heard me right, pizza!

Students were allowed to eat as much of their favorite pizza as they wanted after intense mental activity and when they exercised first they actually ate less.

The mechanism has to do with blood glucose and lactate levels but the bottom line is that there is actually a difference between brain hunger and muscle hunger and you can suppress brain hunger by working out.

The other astonishing findings were that exercise produces hormones that can change fat cells from the lazy kind (white fat) to the kind that burns calories (brown fat).  Exercise also produces proteins that cause brain cells to produce new neurons.  And not just any neurons, but neurons with a kind of “superpower” – the ability to multitask.  These neurons are able to enhance completely unrelated cognitive skills.

Finally, studies this year showed that your risk of premature death is increased by 42 percent if you are out of shape, which is almost as bad as smoking.  Any exercise, even walking, will also save you an average of $2,500 annually on medical costs.

If there were a pill that made you lean, smart, extended your life, and saved you money, would you take it?  There is, it’s called exercise.  So what are you waiting for?

The Case for Cheating on Your Diet

Some athletes swear by a once-a-week indulgence. Are they right?

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Mathematical arguments just don’t cut it – it’s not about calories in minus calories out.

The real advantage of cheating on your diet is much more psychological than physiological.  This makes sense because hunger is more of a mood than a physiological process subject to chemical and mathematical analysis.

There are 3 huge benefits of giving yourself a cheat day, cheat meal or even just a cheat dessert:

  • You enjoy it more
  • You miss it less
  • You Learn hunger management

Every time you turn down junk food snacks and drive-thru meals in favor of healthier options, remind yourself of your cheat day and how you can plan and choose your favorite indulgences for that day.  Those mediocre alternatives which are only tempting because they happen to be convenient or quick, will start seeming less gratifying when you compare them to the future pleasure of planning to eat as much as you want of your favorite foods.

You will notice motivational rewards to sticking to your diet that perhaps you weren’t expecting, like a feeling of control, mastery of your appetite and purpose in reaching your goals.  As you feel yourself getting lighter, more agile, and more mobile, that powerful motivational feedback will reinforce your willpower, allowing you to stick to your diet and miss those indulgent foods less.  You will start realizing identity-based goals, like being the kind of person who when tempted by a donut, eats an apple, or one who exercises every morning on first awakening.  Once you start feeling these motivational forces kick in, they will be a powerful substitute for the short-term reward of junk food.

When you condense your indulgences to a single day or meal, you will quickly get a powerful lesson in hunger management.  Your first impulse might be to stuff your face, but after a while you will get much more selective not only about the foods you indulge in on your cheat day but also the manner in which you consume them.  You will find it far more enjoyable to eat until your are no longer hungry rather than eating until you are full.  This lesson in hunger management will then benefit you on your non-cheat days as well.

Building a cheat day or meal into your diet is the best way to learn that successful dieting is not about starvation or calorie counting but rather hunger management.  Planning your indulgences will make you much more mindful of your cravings and how to manage them.  The new habits you establish on your diet will be much more likely to stick with you for the long term.

A Day in Food on the Ketone Diet

How endurance athlete Patrick Sweeney puts away nearly 3,000 calories a day on the ketone diet

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Also check out Tim Ferriss’ podcast on the ketogenic diet.

I can always see new individual rippling muscle fibers when I go on a ketogenic diet even for a few days – so I know I’m burning fat quickly.

But there are several problems that I quickly encounter.


  1. Carb cravings
  2. Boredom
  3. Low energy
  4. The weight comes back with a vengeance


These problems are common to all food restriction diets, and they highlight the controversy over why low carb diets work:

Does the body actually burn more fat stores or do people eat less because of “sensory specific satiety”?


Food restriction diets in general allow you to eat a limited variety of foods in unlimited amounts.  Studies show that we get bored of the same food and habitually eat less of it.  When variety is re-introduced we eat more. Dr. Barbara Rolls, a nutrition researcher at Penn State, showed in a study that if people are offered an assortment of 3 flavors of yogurt they will consume 23% more than if only offered 1 flavor.


This is the same reason the Atkins Diet was so successful at first – it was only meat and veggies – BOOOOORING.  But then all the low carb cakes and cookies came out and everyone on the diet started eating more because of the variety, so they started gaining weight.


There is good evidence that low carb diets work better than calorie-restriction (starvation) or low fat diets, but in order to sustain the weight loss you need a way to beat the carb cravings and the boredom.  It turns out that there is a simple solution to both of these problems that also takes care of the low energy problem and helps keep the weight off as well.


The 20-to-1 ratio

Try applying a simple formula to every nutrition label, the 20-to-1 ratio.  Just divide the number of calories by the number of carbs on the label.  Serving size doesn’t matter since it’s a ratio.

The idea is that your entire diet overall should have a calorie-to-carb ratio of greater than 20:1.  So if you eat 2000 calories in a day you would have no more than 100 grams of carbs.

This simple solution works because it adjusts the macronutrient (protein, carb, fat) components of your diet to include the foods that fill you up and prevent hunger.  They also allow you to feel satiated for a longer time between meals and snacks.  Finally, since sugar and refined carbs are metabolized by the liver to become deep belly fat, limiting intake of these will help you lose body fat overall.


Start the morning with whole grains

The other trick that makes this all work is eating the majority of your carbs, as whole grains, when you first wake up in the morning.  This keeps my energy level high enough to do a solid hour of intense interval training and yoga, and have energy all day, without the carb cravings


How the Tour de France Diet Has Changed Over the Decades

How has eating changed at the world’s biggest bike race? We made it our mission to find out.

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When it started in 1903, the Tour de France was more of a race that you survived than one that you won.  This study of the evolution of the Tour de France diet is a great way to understand the role of complex carbs and macronutrient ratios not only for endurance but for also for your everyday workouts.

There are 2 different reasons you feel the burn of muscle fatigue: depletion of glycogen stores and the buildup of lactic acid.

The idea that complex carbs, which are metabolized slowly, can replace muscle glycogen wasn’t really well understood and put into widespread practice until the 1980s.  In the early days of the tour, riders’ diets included lots of wine and red meat because of the idea that it was a source of energy.  The great Italian rider Fausto Coppi who dominated bicycle endurance events throughout the 1940s and won the 1949 and 1952 Tour, was one of the first to use this formula to his advantage.

While other riders ate veal for breakfast, smoked cigarettes to open their lungs, and drank “Binda Zabaione” (20 beaten egg yolks and some sugar), Coppi ate a breakfast of whole grains and snacked on tarts, sandwiches, and fruit throughout the race.  We now know that he was gradually replacing his muscle glycogen stores throughout the race.

So take a lesson from the ultimate endurance athletes who figured it all out before the era of high-tech supplements.  Wake up with a whole grain breakfast and some fruit – that’s not only your energy source for your workout but also a way to replace glycogen stores and prevent muscle fatigue.  That extra energy and the prevention of glycogen depletion will help you push through your limits.


Why dietary supplements are suspect – Harvard Health

Herbal remedies and other dietary supplements aren’t held to the same standards as FDA-approved drugs. Evidence indicates that few are effective, and…

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Dietary supplements are a $37-billion industry.  A health benefit of a dietary component doesn’t always translate into its benefit as a supplement.  A good example is omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon.


Studies show that the omega-3s docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) help boost brain and heart health, respectively. “Omega-3s help with blood vessel compliance and have a nice blood-thinning effect,” which can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, says Shawn Talbott, fellow at the American College of Sports Medicine, and author of The Secret Of Vigor.


A 2012 paper published in Epidemiologic Review found that women who ate more salmon lowered their risk of heart disease, and DHA protects neurons in the brain from damage and inflammation. A 2015 meta-review in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Review found that an increase in fish consumption could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by more than 30 percent.


Eating more salmon can prevent heart disease and dementia, but there is no evidence that fish oil capsules have the same effect.  So save your money on the capsules and spend it on salmon and enjoy.


Melatonin is a supplement that actually works.  It’s a synthetic form of the naturally occurring hormone that starts making you sleepy as the sun goes down.  Because the blue light emitted by computer and smartphone screens suppresses melatonin production, this may be the best natural remedy for our smartphone-addicted culture.  There are a few cheaper options, like developing a “power down” ritual two hours before bedtime (try reading a book – remember books?), or an app called f.lux, which adapts the spectrum of light on your device to the time of day or night, allowing natural melatonin to kick in.


Chamomile is an herb that can relieve anxiety and help you sleep, and there is some scientific evidence that it works.  It has also been used to treat a wide variety of conditions including hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids.  We consume more than 1 million cups of chamomile tea every day.



There’s no sugar-coating it: All calories are not created equal – Harvard Health Blog

By choosing the low-glycemic foods and thus the minimally processed foods, people can lose more weight, feel fuller longer, and remain healthier.

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Flawed and corrupted science is the reason we all grew up thinking that fat is bad for us.  The low-fat craze that still persists today began with a 1967 study funded by the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) and published in the most prestigious medical journal in the world, The New England Journal of Medicine.

The doctors who authored that study were paid by the SRF (about $50,000 in today’s dollars) to only include evidence that fat, not sugar was the major cause of weight gain and heart disease.

It turns out that the opposite is true, and 50 years later America’s obesity epidemic is living proof of what happens when you substitute sugar and refined carbohydrates for fat in your diet.

The reason is that sugar has important effects on your metabolism and hunger.

  • It causes insulin resistance and spikes, which make you store more fat
  • Its breakdown by the liver results in the accumulation of deep belly fat
  • The sugar crashes caused by insulin make you hungry sooner and contribute to overeating

According to Dr. David Ludwig, Nutrition Professor at Harvard, “Overall, these processed carbohydrates are worse than the fats they replaced”.

According to the Harvard blog, doctors are now focusing on categorizing carbohydrates by an index that quantifies their effect on your insulin and blood sugar levels.  This index is determined by several factors, including the sugar content and how refined and processed it is.  Refined carbs are usually stripped of fiber and other nutrients.  That is why you should ideally satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit from the produce section instead of packaged and baked goods.  Think about it – you can make a batch of cookie dough as sweet as you want, but nature has a built in limit on the sugar content of fruit in proportion to its other nutrients.  Also, avoid boxed cereal and eat whole grains instead.  Finally, healthy fats (like avocado, olive oil, and almonds) are good for you.  It’s the “fat-free” packaged goods that are killing you.



The Definitive Superfood Ranking

It seems like everything these days is considered a superfood, so we decided to look into which of these foods are actually research-backed and which ones are all hype.

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Superfoods don’t cancel out donuts


As Richard Feynman once said, “your self is the easiest person to fool”.


Are you using “superfoods” as an excuse to eat junk food?  As if eating a superfood cancels out a donut?. I know I did this for a long time and thus rationalized getting fat with the belief that I was eating “healthy”.  One day I took a good look at “The Blob” in the mirror and I realized that I was fooling myself.


I know I’m not the only one because  a recent report in the Harvard health blog on Americans’ calorie sources reported that most of our calories come from cookies, donuts, soda, pizza, and alcohol.


Guess what?  The real superfood is the pizza or cookie that you don’t eat.  Eating healthy is really as simple as driving past the drive-thru.


Think of it this way – it’s not the superfood itself but what the superfood is replacing that really matters, and its effect on your hunger and metabolism.


Blueberries and Salmon


Having said that, I’m happy to see blueberries and salmon near the top of the list of superfoods, but I would put them there for much different reasons.


Hunger management is THE game-changer for weight loss.  Salmon is an example of a food that delivers healthy protein along with healthy fat (the omega-3s DHA and EPA).  There is good scientific evidence that consumption of these fats reduces your risk of heart disease and dementia.  But the hunger control effect of healthy protein and fat will have an even greater impact on reducing your risk of obesity, which will dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and cancer, all of which are leading killers.


Sugar is the other key to weight loss, mainly because fructose, the sweet chemical in sugar, stimulates hunger, desensitizes you to sweets and is stored as deep belly fat.

Berries have the lowest fructose content of any fruit, which is the real reason they rock as a superfood (not the oligomeric proanthocyanidins).  Think about it – you can put any amount of sugar into a cereal box or cookie batter, but nature has a built-in limit on how much fructose is delivered in fruit per gram of fiber and other nutrients.  So eating berries as your sweet treat controls your hunger and sensitizes you to sweets – dialing down your cravings.  Nothing will help you progress toward your weight loss goals quicker than making berries the sweetest thing you eat all day.  They also reduce the risk of heart disease and reduce post-exercise stress in athletes.


A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain — NEJM

Special Article from The New England Journal of Medicine — A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain

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If you think the average weight gain during the holidays is 5-10 lbs., think again.  The New England Journal of Medicine did a prospective study which determined that it’s closer to 1 lb.


The important point that the authors emphasize is that it’s not the weight gain that’s really important but rather the fact that most people never lose the weight back.


In fact, despite the focus on the “calories in minus calories out” model of weight gain, the truth is that the onset of obesity is insidious for most people. That is, weight gain accumulates slowly, at a few pounds a year – which translates to a very small number of calories per day, something like the equivalent of a few peanut m&m’s.


If the prevention of obesity were as simple as reducing calories by such a tiny amount per day, then the epidemic problem would not be nearly so intractable.


What this evidence suggests to me is that if you want to prevent becoming overweight or obese – instead of weighing yourself every day you’d be better off weighing yourself once a year.


So go ahead and enjoy that slice of pecan pie, just remember to get back into a daily regimen of clean eating and regular exercise on January 1st.






You Don’t Need More Fitness Advice – Just Do These 3 Things

Any google search on fitness will give you advice-overload, but America is not getting fitter.  On the contrary, we're getting fatter.

Two-thirds of Americans are now obese or overweight, and judging by the more than $60 billion we spend on diets and exercise programs, most people aren't happy with the body they see in the mirror.  Are you?

​I used to spend a lot of time collecting and curating complex advice about everything from antioxidants (eat dark chocolate!) to resveratrol (drink wine!), until I realized that I was simply justifying my own consumption habits and laziness.  The day I figured out the ridiculously simple fitness rules that really work was the day I started actually changing the shape of my body and loving what I saw in the mirror.  It really is as simple as 3 rules.

3 Simple Rules

  1. Eat Before You're Hungry
  2. Learn to Push Your Own Limits
  3. Sleep When it's Dark​

​Eat Before You're Hungry

​Those four words are worth more than all the diet books ever published.

You will find lots of advice about when to eat, all of which are myths based on other people's guesses at what works.  For example:

Why follow someone else's eating schedule when you have your own built-in scheduler? - it's called hunger.  But waiting until you're hungry to eat won't work for the specific reason that hunger evolved as a survival mechanism.  In order to put that signal to work to help you lose weight you have to understand how hunger works.

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Hunger evolved to help us survive periods of famine.  When your body anticipates starvation it will signal your brain to consume more food and store it as fat, so you won't run out of the energy you need to survive.  In other words, it evolved to make us gain weight, not lose it.  Since food is now plentiful and you have access to it any time, you can flip the script and use your hunger signals to help you control your weight.

The prefrontal cortex is the decision, planning, and simulation engine of your brain.  It's kind of like the brain's brain.  All you have to do is exercise that part of your brain in two specific ways to take advantage of the hunger signal and use it to help you control your weight.

First, you need to learn how to measure and rate your own hunger and fullness.  There a lots of internal signals that you can learn to recognize - so start ranking them on a numerical scale.  Are you salivating at the thought of food?  Does your belly feel hollow? Is your mind preoccupied with your next meal?

What about fullness?  Learn to listen to all the signals like hiccups, belt-tightening, even being so stuffed that it's hard to take a really deep breath.  Once I learned to recognize these signals I began to get a true sense of just how full I was.

You also need to learn to distinguish genuine hunger from eating out of habit, anxiety, boredom, or because other people put food in front of you.

​The second component of putting the hunger signal to work for you is pre-planning meals and snacks so you can eat before you're hungry.  When you notice your hunger level reaching a 4 or 5 on a 10-scale, you should eat before it gets to 7 or 8, and definitely before you are famished at level 9 or 10.  You will soon realize that certain macronutrients like protein and healthy fats, keep you satiated for longer periods and sugar makes you hungry sooner, so you can adjust accordingly.  But the key to weight loss, the one thing you must do, is to ignore other people's advice and learn how to manage your own hunger.

Learn to Push Your Own Limits​

Are you waiting till the 13th rep to feel the burn?  Why are you wasting 90 percent of your workout time on reps that aren't maximally stimulating new muscle fibers in new dimensions?  If you're not breathless and feeling the burn on the first rep, your reps are too easy.

If you're not breathless and feeling the burn on the first rep, your reps are too easy.

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​That advice might fly in the face of conventional workout rhetoric.  But, look around - are most people getting results that are worthy of the effort they're exerting?  Would you be happy with results that are the average of your fellow gym members?  I'm guessing the answer is NO.

​You've probably been taught to exhaust your muscle fibers with repetitive, linear, isolation moves 12-15 reps at a time.  But why settle for someone else's arbitrary number or measure of intensity when you have your own built-in signal that comes direct from your own muscle fibers?

​The problem is that nobody's ever taught you how to identify your own limits and push through them.  The burn you feel after doing multiple reps is from muscle exhaustion, but you can get to that burn much quicker by stimulating new muscle fibers in new dimensions rather than just repetitively stimulating the same ones over and over.  Try these killer planks and feel the burn with the first rep!

Superman plank give you maximal lengthening of the psoas muscle in an isometric contraction, sculpting a long, lean side view.

Superman plank gives you maximal lengthening of the psoas muscle in an isometric contraction, sculpting a long, lean side view.

Crescent side plank uses the deltoid, lats, and biceps as opposing muscle groups to eccentrically lengthen the psoas muscle.

Crescent side plank uses the deltoid, lats, and biceps as opposing muscle groups to eccentrically lengthen the psoas muscle.

​In order to achieve this level of intensity, you need to incorporate at least one challenge move, one that is outside your comfort zone, into your workout every day.  Not only does this approach help keep boredom at bay and maintain motivation, but it will also help you recognize exactly where your limits are so you can motivate yourself by pushing through them.

Right now you are accepting the limitations that other people are placing on you.  ​This is a sure-fire recipe for mediocre results.

Standard crunches. like most exercises you've learned at the gym, bulk up your psoas muscle, giving your profile

These Crunches are too easy with core stabilization and since they are a mid-range move they bulk-up the mid-psoas fibers and make your belly bulge

Try these instead - since only the tailbone is anchored they engage the obliques and transversus muscles, also, maximal psoas length sculpts a lean, shredded side view

If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it.

Navy SEAL David Goggins

In his book, Living with a SEAL​, Jesse Itzler tells the story of how Navy SEAL ​David Goggins shocked him out of a fitness rut by challenging him to do 100 pull-ups, which he did, a few at a time. Goggins' "40% Rule" states that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done. And he had a motto: If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it.

Try moves every day that stimulate new muscle fiber in new dimensions and you will quickly see the results in lean, toned, defined muscle.  I've included a few suggestions to get you started:

The superhero crunch maintains a powerful isometric contraction of the deep core and the surface abdominals, laser-focusing all your efforts and time on hyper-defining the lines and angles you want to see in the mirror

The superhero crunch maintains a powerful isometric contraction of the deep core and the surface abdominals, laser-focusing all your efforts and time on hyper-defining the lines and angles you want to see in the mirror

Standard squats are core-stabilized, repetitive, linear isolation moves that don't activate the maximum number of gluteal fibers

Standard squats are core-stabilized, mid-range, repetitive, linear isolation moves that don't activate the maximum number of gluteal fibers

Superhero squat stimulates the entire length of gluteal fibers and incorporates side wobble to maximize upper and lower fiber stimulation

Superhero squat stimulates the entire length of gluteal fibers and incorporates side wobble to maximize upper and lower fiber stimulation

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Sleep When It's Dark​

Sleep is calorie-free energy.  You're not getting enough of it and the effect on your metabolism, fat storage and energy burn are preventing you from reaching your fitness goals.  Going to sleep an hour earlier will do more for your fitness level than spending that hour on the treadmill - seriously.

According to an NIH study, we are chronically sleep deprived. The number of prescriptions for sleep medication increased from 5 million in 1999 to more than 20 million in 2010.

sleep is just as important to weight loss as exercise and healthy eating, according to this review of 36 studies involving over 600,000 individuals.

​The Earth comes with a built-in sleep timer - called darkness - and a built in alarm clock - called sunrise.  Humans evolved over hundreds of millennia to be active in daylight and sleep in periods of darkness.  Then about 150 years ago we started lighting up the night with electricity.

Your brain measures the intensity and color spectrum of light entering your eye and sets your wake signal to daylight exposure. Indoor light is less intense than outdoor light and we spend much of our day indoors.  Bright daylight anchors your wake rhythm, and when you don’t get enough of it, your wake rhythm shifts. Then you get too much artificial light at night. So, living in the modern world causes a double-whammy—too little light during the day and too much light at night—shifting our wake rhythm forward.​  For more details see this Article by Daniel Pardi

​A growing body of evidence shows that light pollution exacerbates, and might directly cause, cancer, obesity, and depression.

If you could take a pill tonight that would improve your athletic performance tomorrow, would you?  Try going to sleep at least an hour earlier.

I was blown away by the results of the sleep study performed on the Stanford basketball team. For five weeks the team slept 10 hours per night instead of their usual 8 and the measured performance results were dramatic. Shooting percentages increased by more than 9% and their 80-meter sprints were more than half-a-second faster. Wow!

Sleep deprivation may also be the reason you're not losing weight. Lack of sleep makes your hunger hormones go all cattywampus - turning off the "I'm full" signal and pumping out more ghrelin and endocannabinoids, which make you eat more. It also increases insulin resistance and the stress hormone cortisol that makes you store more belly fat. That extra hour of sleep may actually be better for your waistline than an hour at the gym.

Oh yeah, one more thing - good quality sleep makes you happier and smarter. And it's free!

So here's the quickest, easiest, cheapest way to get leaner, smarter, happier, and fitter - go to sleep earlier.

The Science of Sleep: A Brief Guide on How to Sleep Better Every Night

Want to learn how to sleep better? Look no further. This guide walks you through everything you need to know to learn how to sleep better every night.

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Sleep and athletic performance

If you could take a pill tonight that would improve your athletic performance tomorrow, would you?

Try going to sleep at least an hour earlier.

Anyone who is serious about fitness and health must read James Clear’s excellent review on the science of sleep.  I was blown away by the results of the sleep study performed on the Stanford basketball team.  For five weeks the team slept 10 hours per night instead of their usual 8 and the measured performance results were dramatic.  Shooting percentages increased by more than 9% and their 80-meter sprints were more than half-a-second faster.  Wow!

Sleep and weight loss

Sleep deprivation may also be the reason you’re not losing weight.  Lack of sleep makes your hunger hormones go all cattywampus – turning off the “I’m full” signal and pumping out more ghrelin and endocannabinoids, which make you eat more.  It also increases insulin resistance and the stress hormone cortisol that makes you store more belly fat.  That extra hour of sleep may actually be better for your waistline than an hour at the gym.

Happy & Smart

Oh yeah, one more thing –  good quality sleep makes you happier and smarter.  And it’s free!

According to an NIH study, we are chronically sleep deprived.  The number of prescriptions for sleep medication increased from 5 million in 1999 to more than 20 million in 2010.

So here’s the quickest, easiest, cheapest way to get leaner, smarter, happier, and fitter – go to sleep earlier.

It Doesn’t Matter When You Eat

There are so many myths and strangely specific rules about when to eat to lose weight, but alone they do nothing to help. Eat a hearty breakfast and light all day. Eat small meals every few hours. Rules around when you eat are less important than you think, and even when they do help, they’re not for the reasons you think.

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Ditch the dogma

Ditch the dogma – stop wasting time following someone else’s rules.  Since hunger is purely subjective, and controlling hunger is much more important than following any rules, you’re much better off developing an individualized hunger management plan.

3 steps

There are 3 steps to developing a hunger-control plan:

  1. Learn how to rate your own hunger, from famished to full, on a 1-to-10 scale, and plan to eat based on your satiety level.
  2. Change your macronutrient ratio to include more protein and healthy fat (mono-unsaturated), and notice the effect on your satiety and appetite.
  3. Plan and prepare your next meal or snack in advance and be aware of the differences between actual hunger and eating out of habit, boredom, anxiety, or because someone else puts food in front of you.

Hunger is more of a psychological mood than a physiological phenomenon, and there are lots of ways to control hunger that don’t involve the consumption of calories.  The first step is ditching the dogmatic rules and learning to understand your own hunger.


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