Skinny Fat

Exercise, Nutrition, Weight Loss No Comments »

What the heck does it mean to be “skinny fat”?

Here is a simple way to describe it: Normal or low body weight, high body fat (as a percentage), and low amount of muscle.

Someone who is skinny fat might seem like they have a fast metabolism, but everything they eat either goes right through them, or what does stick becomes a double chin, muffin top, or squishy butt.

muffin top

Skinny fat can be the result of excessive cardio training without resistance training to keep/build muscle, or else it’s the result of very low physical activity coupled with low food intake.  (Since both end up at skinny fat, seems like it’d be easier to eat less than to do all the cardio, right?)

Skinny fatters are usually quite weak, since they don’t have any lean muscle.

One of the biggest mistakes someone who is skinny fat can make is to try to do lots more cardio to burn off the fat, be it muffin top, booty, or neck.  But that shuts down muscle building/toning and can even cause muscle breakdown, enlarging the disparity between lean muscle and body fat – which makes the skinny fat dilemma even worse.

All the cardio is doing is using the nutrients taken in to fuel the activity, instead of using them to build muscle.

Fashion Week in Rio, Brazil - 17 Apr 2013

And skinny fatters can’t firm up much by just eating more, even if they’re just rocking protein and veggies six times a day.  It might work a bit, but the skinny fat solution is to focus on building muscle and tightening everything up, THEN embarking on a strategic fat loss plan (that probably won’t involve too much cardio training).

Besides robbing the body of nutrients needed for building muscle, excessive cardio also robs the exerciser of the energy needed for productive muscle building workouts.  The bod can really only focus on one goal at a time.

The trick is hard weight training and eating enough (of the right foods) to gain muscle without “overfilling the cup” and having it spill over into fat storage.  It’s a narrow line to walk, but it’s not too difficult for someone to find their sweet spot if they train hard, eat right, and pay attention to what’s going on in their body.

Most skinny fatters fear that a strategy like the one outlined above will make them fatter and heavier.  It might add a few pounds of lean and toned muscle, but it won’t make anyone into a heavyweight.  In fact, a skinny fatter who adds a few pounds of muscle will look leaner.  (It will also give them more strength, health, and longevity… but today the focus is on appearance :))


Let’s take a bird’s eye view of what would change… Our hypothetical skinny fat subject weighs 120 pounds and has 30% bodyfat.  They are doing cardio four times a week in the “aerobic” zone and following a low-fat intermittent fasting plan (which is often just a way to disguise the beginnings of an eating disorder).  Now our subject has decided that they want to firm thing up and look better both in and out of clothes.  What might their new plan look like?

For starters, there needs to be some resistance training.  Bodyweight exercises, machines, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, whatever.  Something has to be moved against the resistance of gravity with a goal of building some muscle and strength.  Three or four sessions a week.

Next, dropping the long and slow cardio for a few sets of hard intervals.  This will keep the metabolism revving and tell the body to hang on to muscle to power through the sprints.  Two or three short and hard sessions a week.

Finally, nutrition.  Focusing on protein with the right mix of carbs and fats to build strength and health.  Four or five smallish meals packed full of nutrition spread evenly through the day.  The low fat/intermittent fasting plan doesn’t give enough nutrients to build lean muscle

Making these changes is the way for someone suffering from skinny fat syndrome to become tight and lean.

Have fun!

Research: Eating Kelp Helps Lower Estrogen (And Fight Cancer!)

Health, Nutrition, Study No Comments »

What is brown kelp? Wikipedia has the answer:

bladder wrack fucus vesiculosus

Fucus vesiculosus, known by the common name bladder wrack or bladderwrack, is a seaweed found on the coasts of the North Sea, the western Baltic Sea, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, also known by the common names black tang, rockweed, bladder fucus, sea oak, black tany, cut weed, dyers fucus, red fucus, and rock wrack. It was the original source of iodine, discovered in 1811, and was used extensively to treat goitre, a swelling of the thyroid gland related to iodine deficiency.

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have found that brown kelp has an anti-estrogenic effect in the body.  They were looking for an alternative theory as to why Japanese women are less likely to develop breast, womb, or ovarian cancer.  These types of cancer are caused by estradiol, the predominant estrogen in the female body during reproductive years.

estradiol molecule

A traditional Japanese diet contains between 3 and 13g of seaweed every day.  Could this be the reason why estrogen-related cancers are relatively unknown in Japan?  The research points towards Yes.

The study below was a simple one: feed rats seaweed and see if it lowers their estradiol levels.  They gave rats either 175 or 350mg of seaweed per kg of bodyweight and measured estrogen levels.  The rats receiving the higher dose of seaweed lowered their estradiol levels by 40%.


Since eating seaweed definitely lowered estrogen levels in rats, the researchers next tested the effect of seaweed on human ovary cells.  And again, the higher the concentration of kelp, the lower the amount of estradiol the ovary cells made.

In the final part of this study, the researchers tested whether kelp would block estradiol and progesterone receptors in human cells.  Again, kelp beat estrogen.

The reason why kelp is such a powerful anti-estrogenic remains unknown.  All we can say for sure is that it definitely works.

Adding in seaweed supplements and eating foods containing seaweed on a regular basis will be a valuable anti-estrogenic tool for your health and nutrition toolbox.

seaweed salad

Here’s the citation for this study (it has graphs and lots more cool sciency stuff if you’re interested):

J Nutr. 2005 Feb;135(2):296-300.
Brown kelp modulates endocrine hormones in female sprague-dawley rats and in human luteinized granulosa cells.
Skibola CF, Curry JD, VandeVoort C, Conley A, Smith MT.

C’est Magnifique! Some Books On French Cooking You Should Check Out

Nutrition No Comments »

One of the biggest reasons behind the “obesity pandemic” in the US is the lack of a traditional food culture.

See, America is the forerunner of new foods and styles of eating that we don’t have traditional rules for.  Big sodas aren’t an old-school food, and being handed a meal via your car window isn’t a way of eating that can be guided by passed-on wisdom.  It’s all so new that our bodies and minds are thrown into a tizzy and we don’t have any traditions to guide us through.

fat flag stomach

The lack of a food culture first came to my awareness a few years ago when I read Michael Pollan’s excellent book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Pollan’s premise is that culture has a lot to teach us about how to choose, prepare and eat food.

Instead of deferring to science and industry for recommendations – where you can never be sure of the accuracy of the information or the motivation behind it – learning traditional ethnic eating habits can guide you with wisdom gathered over generations that has been proven time and again.

It’s only since losing these traditions that our health has spiraled downward and our weight has rocketed upward.

 The French Paradox

The French Paradox is the observation that traditional French cuisine is deliciously rich, yet the French have lower risks for heart disease, diabetes, strokes…. and they’re much thinner, too.

And we can’t claim it’s somehow genetic, French people in larger cities that eat more like Americans have the same weight and disease problems Americans have.

eiffel tower

So, there’s something valuable we can learn from traditional French food culture.

Below are some great resources that compile the cultural rules of French eating.  They are a must-add to your healthy eating library.

French Women Don’t Get Fat

I held off on reading this book for a long time.  I figured it was just another gimmicky fad diet with some magic secret like “drink a glass of red wine before dinner each night.”  Bleh.

Instead, it turned out to be a marvelous collection of the French food rules.  Literally a handbook of French food culture.  What a find!

Mireille Guiliano

Mireille Guiliano

There is a strategic weight loss strategy in this book that a few of my clients have tried.  Nothing gimmicky about it.  You just kick off your journey into traditional eating with a weekend (or even just a day) where you eat nothing but leek soup.

This is actually a great strategy for many people, the soup is very filling for being so low-calorie, and it will help rid you of water weight in the first few days so you’ll be starting your new food journey off with a great big win.  Plus, it serves as a “Reset” button on your current eating plan (or lack of a plan) so it breaks bad habits quickly and effortlessly, instead of small changes that take forever to make a difference.

The book continues to give French guidelines for meals and snacks and cooking and drinking and exercise and social events and and and pretty much everything else.  For a hardcore nutritional science guy like me to be so blown away by a “popular” book is quite rare, and I constantly recommend it to all of my health and fitness colleagues.

(For delicious recipes that fit this healthy style of eating, also check out the The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook)

The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever

The Dukan Diet is a phenomenal plan by Dr. Pierre Dukan.  It’s sensible, simple, and most of all… it works!

Pierre Dukan

Pierre Dukan

One of the best features of the Dukan Diet is that it focuses on what to do after you’ve lost the weight.  So many diet plans are effective in the short term, then totally drop the ball on the follow-through – which leads to rapid rebound weight gain.

Not so with Dr. Dukan’s plan.  There are four distinct stages: Attack, Cruise, Consolidation, and Stabilization.

In the Attack phase, it’s a high protein, low fat, and low carb blast that lasts for a few days and can create a shocking amount of weight loss.  I’ve detailed it here: Scale Shocker Program

(Important Aside:  The main criticism of this phase seems to be that a lot of the weight lost is only “water weight.”  That’s great!  If your body is holding on to excess water it leads to higher blood pressure, swollen joints (ankle edema afflict anyone here?), disturbed metabolic function, and bloating.  When something in your body is going wrong, it holds on to as much water as it can.  Make thing go right for a change, and your body will gladly release the burden of all the extra water weight.)

The Cruise phase consists of alternating protein days with protein plus vegetable days.  You just go back and forth between the two until your reach your goal weight.  Dr. Dukan makes some great points about what a sensible goal weight should be and let’s you know that the weight loss will not be instant, figure on at least three days for each pound you want to lose: 20 pounds to go?  Figure on 60 days for the Cruise phase.


The protein plus vegetable days are a perfect time to eat some of the delicious leek soup detailed in French Women Don’t Get Fat ;)

Consolidation is the phase that makes the Dukan Diet really stand out.  Your body has a tendency to rapidly regain weight but this phase allows your metabolic functions to normalize at the new weight.  It also keeps you at your new weight while your mind adjusts to the new you – this is as important as the metabolic restructuring if you want to keep the weight off.

Plus, the Consolidation phase has a definite timeline: 5 days for every pound lost.  If you’re now 20 pounds lighter, stick in Consolidation for 100 days.

During this phase, you slowly reintroduce previously “forbidden foods.”  This slow reintroduction allows you to gauge how you feel with each addition, and to see how your body responds.  As an example, a client decided to re-try almond butter for the first time in months, and she literally put on 4 pounds from just two servings in one day.  The calorie math doesn’t add up, it was her body bloating up very quickly from the stress of a food she reacted badly to.


You also get two “celebration” meals each week.  Not to go hog wild, but to celebrate everything you’ve achieved.  The final piece of the Consolidation phase is that you have one pure protein day each week.

Finally, the Stabilization phase.  You’ve re-trained your body and mind on what’s good for you and what isn’t, plus you know what a satisfying portion will be.  You can eat most foods following YOUR personal guidelines, and you take one pure protein day each week.

In short, the structure of the Dukan Diet makes it very effective and simple.  It can be adapted to paleo incredibly well too.  (If that’s your thing)

My Life in France

Ahh, Julia Child is awesome.  I thought so before I read her biography and even more so now.


She became a master French Chef and worked incredibly had to put together the outstanding Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

And guess what?  Despite being very tall and cooking (and EATING!) rich French foods all day, every day; Julia didn’t put on any weight!  She cooked delicious foods from fresh ingredients and practiced self control.  That’s the kind of plan outlined in French Women Don’t Get Fat, remember?

Reading Julia’s biography has stirred me to experiment and enjoy myself more in the kitchen, I hope it will do the same for you.

I find that if I just taste everything and eat small portions I maintain my weight. – Julia Child

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

This is the story of Julie Powell, who spent a year cooking all 524 recipes in Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.  This one definitely isn’t a diet or health book, it’s just a fast fun read of kitchen adventures.

French stew

It inspired my family to try a similar trek, we’ve since cooked every recipe in Everyday Paleo, The Primal Blueprint Cookbook, Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook, and we are now working on the recipes from Paleo Comfort Foods.

Even if you don’t get a wild hair to cook every recipe from a cookbook, Julie Powell’s story is well-worth reading.  (Skip her second book Cleaving though, it was horrible)

Going Forward With French Cooking

Is the French way of eating the be all, end all of diets?  Nope.  But if you’re ready to develop your own healthful food culture, it’s a wonderful and delicious place to start.

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients. – Julia Child

 Bon appetit!

Add Fat To Lower Insulin Response? Nope

Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss No Comments »

It’s time to clear something up.

Books, magazines, and weight loss courses have all been spreading a bit of misinformation about eating fats and your body’s insulin response.

After vilifying  insulin response to foods, “experts” are recommending adding healthy fats to carbohydrates to reduce insulin in your blood after meals.  Here are just 3 examples I’ve seen today:

  • Adding peanut butter to your whole grain english muffin
  • Adding butter to your baked potato
  • Adding sesame oil to your steamed rice

english muffin with peanut butter

The idea is that the fats will slow/level out the rise in blood sugar in prevent a big insulin release after eating.


Fat doesn’t cause an immediate insulin response, it’s true.  But when added to a protein or carbohydrate, fat either has no effect on insulin response or else it slightly increases insulin response.

Sorry, but it doesn’t slow insulin down.

But there’s good news!  When fat REPLACES an equal caloric amount of carbohydrates, the insulin response is reduced.

To really make it clear, let’s use one of the examples above.  If you add butter to your baked potato, your insulin response will be the same or a little greater than if you ate the baked potato alone.  But if you eat half a potato with butter (even if you replace, calorie for calorie the butter for half a potato) your insulin response will be much lower than if you ate the whole potato plain.

baked potato guinea pig

So the key to using fats to lower insulin response isn’t in adding them to the meal, as if they were an anchor being dragged to slow your food.  The key is to exchange carbohydrates for fat to produce lower insulin levels.

Most of the confusion comes from people’s failure to recognize the difference between adding fat versus substituting fat.

See, adding fat to a meal does (in fact) slow down the rise in blood sugar that follows eating carbohydrates.  Since your insulin response is usually – in healthy people – aligned with the rise in blood sugar, it makes total sense to assume that adding fat to a meal would reduce the insulin response to that meal.

It makes sense, but that isn’t what actually happens!

As I said before, it turns out that insulin is either not affected or it rises with the addition of fat to carbohydrates.

(This is probably related to gastric inhibitory polypeptide, which is a hormone secreted from the pancreas in response to eating fat and which can heighten insulin reaction)

What about the insulin effects of protein?  Everything so far has focused on carbohydrates.  Well, first off, protein doesn’t raise insulin levels as much as carbohydrate… not by a long shot.

But it does affect insulin levels a little (about 30% as much as carbohydrate).  There are three main factors that determine your insulin response to protein:

1.  Fat Content.  The more fat versus protein, the lower your insulin response.

2. Amino Acid Profile.  Sources that are higher in lysine (example: beef) bring on more insulin than other protein sources

3. Processing.  The more processed your protein is, the more it will raise your insulin.  Ground beef doesn’t require as much digestion as steak, so it enters your bloodstream more rapidly.  (Ground meat actually ends up giving you more calories as well, because you don’t use up as much energy during the digestion process.  For a fascinating look at how cooking and grinding food shaped human evolution, I recommend reading Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human)

t bone steak

Fortunately, protein stimulates glucagon release as well, so you don’t need to worry as much about the insulinogenic properties of protein as you do about carbohydrates.  (If you don’t know much about glucagon, think of it as the opposite of insulin).

What does all this mean from a practical standpoint?  How then can you control the insulin response to bread, protatoes, rice – to go with the examples from earlier in this post?

In fact, why worry about the insulin response to carbohydrates at all?

Well, to control the insulin response from carbs… stop eating so many carbs!  Use the insulin response with strategically timed meals, after a workout or as part of a carb cyling plan, for example.

turtle eating strawberry

And you should be concerned about bumping insulin when you’re eating fat because when fat is consumed while your body is in fat-storage mode (high insulin), it is more likely to end up as bodyfat.

When your insulin levels are high, everything you eat is more liable to end up in your fat stores.  Fat especially heads straight for your fat cells when your insulin is high, especially because insulin causes fat burning to stop.

Translation: Fat is fattening IF you are in a fat storing mode (high insulin).

Your solution is to not eat fat when your insulin levels are high, and keeping carbs low the rest of the time.  You want to keep fat and insulin producing carbs apart from each other.

One situation would be to have protein and fat at every meal except for one or two meals right after your workout.  Here’s a sample schedule:

7 am: Protein + Fat

11 am: Protein + Fat

2 pm: Protein + Fat

4 pm: Workout

5 pm: Protein + Carbs

7 pm: Protein + Carbs

Or if you workout in the morning:

6 am: Workout

7 am: Protein + Carbs

10 am: Protein + Carbs

1 pm: Protein + Fat

4 pm: Protein + Fat

7 pm: Protein + Fat

Another option is to have higher carb “refeeds” every few days.  This is a good strategy when you’re looking to gain muscle and lose fat.

Day One: Several moderate protein, moderate fat meals

Day Two: Same as Day One

Day Three: Moderate protein, low fat meals during the day, 3 hour high carb, low protein, minimal fat refeed after your workout

Day Four: Same as Day One

Day Five: Same as Day One

Day Six: Same as Day One

Day Seven: Moderate protein, low fat meals during the day, 3 hour high carb, low protein, minimal fat refeed after your workout

food log body

What a plan like this does is keep you in fat burning mode most of the time, but still bump insulin to keep you anabolic and allow you to build muscle.  If you have more fat to lose, you’d want to go longer between refeeds.  If you’re already lean and looking to build muscle, you can have your refeeds closer together.

So to loop back to the original point of this post, adding fat to carbs doesn’t benefit you from a hormonal standpoint, in fact, it makes it more likely you’re going to store that meal as fat.

EDIT: I was asked why, if adding fat to meals doesn’t help with insulin, does adding fat make you feel fuller longer?

The answer is simple: You ate more calories!

Your Blood Type And What NOT To Eat

Health, Nutrition No Comments »

When I was in college I was friends with an insanely strong football player.  He could jump out of the gym, lift more weight than anyone, and outrun the track stars…. Plus he was good-looking (the jerk).

And all he ate was buffalo meat, berries, and mountains of green vegetables.  A naturopath had told him that was the perfect diet for his blood type.  It definitely worked in his case.

red blood cells

In fact, over the years I’ve seen people have lots of success by following blood type based diets.  I figure it’s because people believe in them and thus stick to them – and sticking to your chosen diet is the key to making it work ;)

A quick search on showed 895 results for “blood type diet”, but the best known book is Eat Right 4 Your Type by Dr. Peter D’Adamo, and it’s where to start if you want more info on matching your food choices to your blood type.

Now, what does it mean in the title of this post when it says “What NOT To Eat”?

I think that blood type/food matching isn’t the first thing you should worry about.  Food quality, quantity, and timing are more important for weight loss and athletic performance.

And yet and yet and yet… This can be a big tipping point for losing stubborn fat and getting rid of nagging health issues.

Your blood type is actually better at informing you which foods you should avoid (yes, even some healthy foods) than telling you what you should eat.

The main reason for this is the lectins found in foods.

(For more than you ever wanted to know about lectins, check out this blog post: Chemical Warfare: Lectins Attack!)


Lectins are scary little proteins that work (or force!) their way undigested into your bloodstream where your body recognizes them as invaders and goes into defense mode.  Certain lectins bind to the surfaces of certain blood cells.

Besides causing an autoimmune response in your body, lectins also clump up and then destroy your blood cells.  You know…. those things that keep you alive.

Lectins also:

  • interfere with digestion
  • interfere with absorption
  • cause nutrient deficiencies
  • lead to food allergies
  • can cause inflammatory bowel disease
  • cause headaches
  • give you general achiness
  • give you diarrhea
  • can make you irritable
  • can give you anemia
  • contribute to diabetic problems
  • are definitely linked to rheumatoid arthritis
  • are definitely linked to psoriasis
  • can give you painful gas
  • can lead to immune deficiencies

Many of the effects of different lectins are blood type specific.  So you can avoid a lot of the problems with lectins by avoiding eating foods that contain the lectins that react with your blood type.

If you’re suffering from any of the problems listed above, or if you want an extra nutritional edge to help you lose fat faster, stay away from the foods that react with your blood type.  Here’s how to do it – it’s only two steps.

eating broccoli

Step One: Find out your blood type.

If you already know your blood type, go ahead to step two.  If you don’t, you can donate blood and they’ll tell you.  You can ask your doctor.  Or you can get a home blood test type kit from the pharmacy or order one from Amazon (here’s a link: Eldoncard Blood Type Kit).

Step Two: Don’t eat the foods that react most strongly to your blood type.

Special Note: GMO foods usually have increased lectin levels, avoid all GMO foods.  The most common genetically modified foods in the US are: Corn, soy, cotton (the oil is used in foods), papaya, rice, tomatoes, rapeseed, dairy, potatoes, and peas.  Wheat is often heavily modified too.

What Not To Eat: Blood Type A

  • blackberries
  • brown trout
  • clams
  • corn
  • french mushrooms
  • halibut
  • flounder
  • lima beans
  • snow white mushrooms
  • sole
  • soy
  • string beans
  • tora beans

What Not To Eat: Blood Type B

  • bitter melons
  • black-eyed peas
  • castor beans
  • chicken
  • chocolate/cocoa
  • french mushrooms
  • pomeranates
  • salmon
  • sesame
  • sunflower seeds
  • soy
  • tuna

What Not To Eat: Blood Type AB

  • blackberries
  • black-eyed peas
  • brown trout
  • clams
  • cocoa/chocolate
  • corn
  • french mushrooms
  • halibut
  • flounder
  • lima beans
  • pomegranates
  • salmon
  • sesame
  • white mushrooms
  • sole
  • soy
  • string beans
  • sunflower seeds
  • tuna

What Not To Eat: Blood Type O

  • blackberries
  • cocoa/chocolate
  • french mushrooms
  • halibut
  • flounder
  • sole
  • sunflower seeds

Avoiding GMO foods and the foods that react with your blood type will help your body get back into it’s naturally healthy state and help ease the system stress that is causing you to hold onto stubborn pounds.

Plus, it’s really easy – just don’t eat the foods on your list!

personality and blood type

The Cheetara Diet

Exercise, Nutrition, Rant 1 Comment »

One of my very favorite cartoons is Thundercats.  I loved watching it as a kid and I still enjoy it now.

And gotta admit it: I kinda had a crush on Cheetara.


Who wouldn’t?  Bright orange leotard, sweet bo staff skills, and the ability to run over 120 miles per hour.

She’s based off the idea of a cheetah; Cheetara’s main attribute is her wicked fast speed.  The thing is, it takes a lot of training and nutrition to run like a cheetah.

So here’s some food for thought if you want to be a Thundercat, it’s the meal plan of the cheetah sprinters at the San Diego Zoo…

It goes on a 3 day cycle:

Day 1 – Sprint Demonstration Day

  • 1-2 x 100m @ full effort – simulates hunting in natural habitat
  • Fed 1/2 of 3 day caloric intake after running to simulate a successful hunt

Day 2 – Recovery Day

  • Easy long slow walk in the park
  • Fed 1/3 of 3 day caloric intake

Day 3 – Rest/Light Activity Day

  • Fed 1/6 of 3 day caloric intake

Pretty cool!  It mimics a hunt, then an easy day with some food left over, then a very easy day, and the next day the cycle starts over with another hunt.

This plan keeps the cheetahs lean and mean.

cheetah running

An interesting thought experiment with this is to think about how you could apply some of the same principles to your personal training and nutrition plan.

Doesn’t the cheetah plan above look a little like how a hunter might have eaten and lived during the paleolithic period?

paleo bodies

Hard sprint, hard effort to take down some big meat, then a feast with your friends and family.

The next day, since there’s still food left you hang out and play around camp, not eating as much.

Day three you scout around gathering fruits and veggies and check out where the game animals are browsing.

Day four you go for the hunt and it all starts again…

Life was probably a lot like this for hunter/gatherers.  And it’s doubtless why intermittent fasting, carb backloading, and other calorie cycling plans work so well for fitness and fat loss – it’s how our genes want us to eat.

Now, I’m not saying the cheetah plan above will turn you into Cheetara – you’d have to be a noble cleric from the planet Thundera for that.

But what can you take from this?  What about the plan would work for you?

Here’s a very simple adaptation for someone wanting to get fit (who also loves the Thundercats):

Day 1: Power And Sprint Day

This is the day you get to hunt and feast.  Rigorous effort followed with a delicious prize to follow.


Weightlifting session focusing on big exercises – Snatch, squat, deadlift, bench press, clean and jerk, and other BIG movements.

Follow this with some anaerobic sprints – Sled pulls, hill sprints, bike intervals, and other locomotive movements that will push your system to the max.

And then eating time.  You brought down the wild boar with all your hard work.  Now you get to enjoy it!

Assuming a 2500 Calorie/day diet, half of your three day average would be 3,750 Calories.  You could make this one lots of meat and organs, the best parts of your prey.  Smaller eating window, since butchering and cooking the meat would take time.

Day 2: Play And Build Day

There’s still some meat left over after yesterday’s hunt, so you stay close to home.  You play with the kids and spend some time making camp more comfortable.


“Bodybuilding” Movements – Curls, triceps extensions, chest flyes, calf raises, and other smaller movements; nothing too strenuous (this is the building and moving stuff around your camp)

Play! – Tag, slacklining, frisbee, wrestling, ping pong, or anything else fun that you would do hanging out with fit healthy people you enjoy being around.

For food, you’d still have some meat, and some easy to pick fruits and veggies that you could gather without venturing too far.  So add in some produce and have some of the leaner meat (not as prized).

At that 2,000 Calorie/day average, one third of your three day average would be… 2000 Calories.

Day 3: Light Scouting Day

Time to do some more gathering and plan your next hunt.  You don’t want to wear yourself out too much, in case you end up with an angry auroch charging you tomorrow.

Auroch Enichires

Looking around to check out the areas where game feeds and gathering more hard-to-find plants since you’re already out and about.

Walking or hiking, lots and lots.

And something to help relax you and get you ready for the hunt, like some yoga or tai chi.

You’re about out of big game meat, so you have some smaller, leaner animals for protein and fat.  But you gathered a big assortment of greens and herbs so you have a small amount of protein and some huge salads.  Based on the 2000 Calorie/day number, one sixth of your three day average would be… 1000 Calories.  Not a lot, be enough to ensure you’ll be motivated to hunt tomorrow.

Conclusion: Sight Beyond Sight

sword of omens sight beyond sight thundercats

Again, this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive plan for you to follow.  Just a little food for thought.

Too often we get caught up in a certain daily rhythm, and our sight stops extending much beyond that.  The thing is, if you want to keep your body changing, you can’t lock into a set routine.  You’ll make progress for a while, then your body will plateau with whatever you’re doing, and then finally start making negative changes.

If you want to keep progressing, you have to keep changing your stimulus.  Calorie and activity cycling plans like the cheetah-inspired one above are two ways.  I’ll write about some more in the future…

The important thing is to keep things new and fresh, so you don’t get bored and your body doesn’t stop adapting.

Oh, and…. Thundercats Hooooooooooooo!

Protein: The Coolest Nutrient?

Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss 2 Comments »

I think protein is awesome.

It does all sorts of cool stuff in your body:

  • It forms antibodies to protect you when viruses and bacteria wanna play dirty
  • It forms enzymes to help you digest your food
  • It builds your body, from muscles and bones to organs and connective tissue
  • It carries oxygen through your blood and delivers it to your organs and muscles
  • It forms hormones to tell your body when to burn food for energy and when to store it as fat

protein molecule is awesome

Protein is like the all-star kid from high school that letters in every sport, gets straight As, plays in the band, leads the debate team, and still has time to organize a blood drive and parade.  In short, it’s a versatile superstar.

You should make getting quality protein the number one foundation of your diet because it does so much for you.  Plus…

Protein burns more calories.  Your body has to break down foods to get at the nutrients and energy in the food.  Protein takes about twice as much energy to break down as carbohydrate.  So getting at the energy in the food costs more energy and you use a lot more calories to do it.  When you eat more protein (in place of carbs and fats) you burn more calories all day.

Protein is delicious.  Lobster.  Steak.  Chicken.  Salmon.  Shrimp.  Oooh yeah.  When your diet is built around super-tasty food it’s a lot easier to stick to.

steak steak steak

Protein attacks belly fat.  Well, not directly… But a high-protein diet helps you body control cortisol, a “stress hormone” that leads to fat storage on your abs and upper back.  Less cortisol = less body fat.

Protein satisfies.  You feel full faster when you eat a high protein meal.  I can eat a plate full of cookies in nothing flat. Eating a can of salmon though?  It’s tough!  The fullness will help keep you from overeating.  Plus, high-protein meals keep you satisfied longer, so you’re not starving again an hour later (like you would be after the cookie binge).

Protein helps you firm up.  The lean, toned muscle you build from working out?  Yeah, it’s made from protein.  When you exercise, you create tiny little tears in your muscles.  To repair these tears, your body needs protein.  So if you wanna tone up, you need protein.  Lots of protein.  (And when your body is rebuilding proteins, it’s totally in fat burning mode too.  Win win situation.)

getting toned

That’s five good reasons to make protein the cornerstone of your diet.  Combine them and you can see how focusing on protein will get you burning fat and toning up.

A few tips to help you get the most from protein:

  • ALL plant proteins are incomplete protein sources (yes, even soy).  Get complete protein from animal foods.
  • Choose the wildest meat you can find.
  • Most protein drinks are loaded with fillers and other junky chemicals.  If you supplement with protein powders, read the labels carefully.
  • Your minimum protein intake should be one gram of protein for every pound you weigh.  Ex: If you weigh 150 pounds, get at least 150 grams of protein.
  • Protein is a mild diuretic, so drink lots of water when on a high-protein diet.
  • If you have gout or are diabetic, work with a doctor or nutritionist to plan your diet.
  • Make your protein as delicious as possible.  Try new foods, use lots of spices, keep things interesting

Have fun and go eat some protein!

Weight Loss Plateau? Try This French “Scale Shocker” Program

Nutrition, Strategies, Weight Loss 1 Comment »

Sometimes the numbers on your scale stop going down.

And it’s super lame.

You’ve been following your diet plan faithfully, exercising, taking your supplements, and staying motivated… but then your weight just refuses to budge.

flat plateau

This is your “drop-out-of-the-diet” danger zone.

When your weight loss stagnates, your motivation drops.  And when your motivation drops, temptations become much more tempting.

A lot of people hit a plateau and then give up.  Or they fall off their plan, gain some weight, start dieting again, hit a plateau, fall off their plan, gain some weight, and on and on ad infinitum.

Every time you gain the weight back it’s going to want to come off a little slower next time.

stop giving up

So breaking through this weight loss plateau is critical to your success.

As soon as your scale needles starts moving again, your motivation will come back and you’ll be ready to keep going.

The following comes from The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever, which is billed as “The Real Reason The French Stay Slim.”

  • 4 Days of pure lean proteins without any deviation
  • Restricting salt intake as much as possible
  • Minimum 2 quarts of water with a low mineral content
  • Getting to sleep as early as possible (sleep before midnight is much more beneficial than after)
  • Adding a gentle herbal diuretic to eliminate any hidden water retention
  • Walking for 60 minutes a day for 4 days

This shock/blitz/jumpstart/kickstart program is a great way for you to break through your weight loss plateau.  And it’s totally paleo-friendly :)

help scale

Just a few more tips from me:

  • Organic and grassfed lean proteins are going to work much better for you on this plan
  • Mrs. Dash is your friend when you can’t use salt
  • Distilled water seems to increase the power of the kickstart
  • Check out this post for tips on improving your sleep: Sleep, Weight Loss, And Health
  • My favorite gentle diuretic is a salad made from Dandelion Leaves, they’re bitter but they work great (Check your organic produce section, eat them raw)
  • Walking is the final key to this strategy, don’t skip it!

Now remember, this isn’t the long term final solution… It is a tool to get your weight loss moving again.  Follow the 4 day prescription to the letter and then get back on your normal weight loss diet.

EDIT: Someone asked if this would work to use right before a big event where you want to look your best.  Well… yes, but that’s not what it’s designed for.  If you do use this as a get-ready-for-a-big-event plan, promise me that it’s a one-time deal and you’ll do your best to get in shape so that you’re always ready for a big event, ok?

think about why you started diet

Simple Health And Weight Loss To Do List

Health, Nutrition, Strategies, Weight Loss No Comments »

Small changes made and sustained over time are a much easier way to lose weight than crash diets.

Sure, you might not lose weight as quickly as your friend who is eating only 2 apricots a day, but you’ll lose the excess weight painlessly, and the results will last (no more rebounding after a crash diet!)

With the overarching goals of being stressless and sustainable, here are some simple changes that will help you transform your body and your health:

  • Cook more, eat out less.
  • Think about good things to eat. (Instead of worrying about bad things to eat)
  • Eat what’s in-season for maximum flavor and value.  Availability doesn’t equal quality.  (Eating in-season is better for the environment as well)
  • Explore farmer’s markets, co-ops, and ethnic markets.
  • Take the stairs.  Park farther out.  Add as much non-exercise movement as you can.
  • Don’t watch much TV. (Or spend forever on Facebook)
  • Experiment with herbs, spices, and other taste-makers to discover new flavors and make meals seem new.  (I never used coriander or cardamom before making Paleo Butter Chicken, now they’re two of my favorite spices)
  • Eat smaller portions of more things, instead of larger portions of fewer things.
  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Eat more fruit.
  • Drink more water.
  • Walk everywhere you can.
  • Present your food appealingly, even if you’re just serving yourself.
  • Don’t eat “fat free” or “sugar free.”  Stay away from artificial flavors.  Instead, enjoy the real thing in moderation.
  • Indulge healthfully – see this post: Coffee, Chocolate, And Red Wine
  • Drink lots and lots of water.
  • Plan meals in advance.
  • Choose your own indulgences and compensations.
  • Don’t follow media fads.
  • Laugh more.  (True laughter leads to positive hormonal changes)
  • Use all five of your senses while you’re eating and less will seem like more.
  • If you choose to exercise in addition to moving more, choose something you enjoy that motivates you.
  • Use clothing and the mirror to keep track of your body shape, not the scale.
  • If you slip up on your plan, just come back.  Don’t focus on the negative.
  • Don’t snack all the time.
  • Never get too hungry.
  • Never get too full.
  • Never eat standing up, walking, in front of the TV, in front of the computer, or while driving.
  • Train your taste buds.
  • Sleep more.  But not too much.
  • Get more sunshine and fresh air.

Is Sugar A Ninja? Sneaky Ways Sugar Is Creeping Up On You

Health, Nutrition No Comments »

Sugar reminds me of a ninja.  It sneaks in when you least expect it and does some serious damage.

ninja cat

In order to help you guard yourself from the sugar ninja menace, here’s a list of other names for sugar, ways it disguises itself to sneak into your food:

  • Agave syrup
  • Grape sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar

ninja dog

  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Panocha
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Sorbitol
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose

ninjas in living room

  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Sugar
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yellow sugar
  • Date sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextran
  • Dextrose
  • Diastatic malt
  • Diatase
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Barley malt

ninja cat 2

  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar

Did you know that because of sneaky sugars, the average American eats more than 6oz of sugar a day?

Keep yourself safe from ninja sugars, when you see any of these names on a label, think twice before putting it in your mouth.  It might just be waiting for its chance to attack…

Check out some of these other posts on Wold Fitness about sugar:

Sugar Cravings Taking Over Your Brain!

99 Ways Sugar Is Poisoning You

Sugar Primer