Archive for the 'diet' Category

23
Dec
08

The Low-carb Diet is without question, the healthiest diet

Vilhjalmur Stefansson lived with the Eskimos for approximately a year between 1906 and 1907. He was a Harvard educated anthropologist and he was a pioneer in the low-carb eating phenomena. The Eskimos lived on a virtually all-meat and fat diet. For the most part they consumed fish and seal. Stafansson was clinaically observed by professionals whilst he continues to experiment with the diet, and to all’s surpise, he remained healthy and very lean.

Years later, but before diet became an ideological forum, another man made inroads in destroying dietary myth. His name was Wolfgang Lutz, and he contributed to a book called, A Life Without Bread.  In the book, Lutz talks about his own work in Germany and Austria in using low-carb diets not only for weight loss, but to combat gastro-intestinal disorders and chronic disease related to aging.

Next came Dr. Atkins. Atkins is who people associate low-carb with and he did the most to reveal this diets benefits, though he was still unable to completely shatter the idea that fat is bad for us, because that idea been handed down by our grandparent’s grandparents.

But the results are declarative, the science sound. More carbohydrate in the diet leads to fat retention, cancer, heart disease and probably even dementia. Refined carbs, such as white sugar and bread are the worst. And it’s all because of the most important hormone in your body: Insulin.

I’ve seen too many results in my own body to argue that low-sugar/carb is the way to go. Of course, this does not mean that a person has to live without carbs, but I believe that all would be wise to severely restrict them. It takes time for your body to adjust, but you’ll see a difference.

For the final word on the low-carb phenomena, read Bad Calories, Good Calories. The book’s author is award-winning, scientically competent, and had access to all of the research. You’ll be throwing the Wonder Bread out the window when you’re done reading.

30
Nov
08

Veganism

The other day while I was in the corner store, I was flipping through a mixed martial arts magazine. An article profiled a UFC fighter who was a vegan, that is, he eats only vegetables–no dairy or eggs etc. In the article, the fighter was interviewed. He stated that when he first came into the UFC, the fighters were given a bench press test, probably similar to what is given to college football players at a combine. He practically boasted that he could only do two or so repetitions, while all of the other fighters did about twenty. This fighter bore all of the hallmarks of a vegan-athlete: Sallow and pale skin, overly thin. To make matters worse, he seemed to have taken up a rather odd ritual prior to his fights: Drinking his own urine. He stated that in order to ensure his system was clear of any foods, he would begin drinking his own urine until he defecated nothing but urine….

With more wins than losses in this fighter’s short career, I applaud the fact that he’s managed to do what he’s done, despite the fact that everything he’s doing with his diet is counter-productive and downright lunacy. To me, this fighter is acting like the bearded lady at a circus. People want to watch him, not because he’s a great at something, but because he’s an oddity.

A fighter can always make use of strength. Let’s not be too romantic about technique and all of that garbage. Punching hard and fast or being able to lift another fighter from the ground and slam him onto the ground before taking a mount position is all the technique some need. It’s called ground-and-pound, and it’s worked very well for many. And even if a fighter is a master of submissions or a great technical striker, having great strength and knowing how to use it can only help. Strength need not be divorced from technique. When we did New Army Combatives in my training, (It’s basically Brazillian Ju-Jitsu), I found that I was stronger than every person I faced. All of the techniques they had been shown didn’t much matter. I’d lay them in my guard, clamp their head against my chest with an interlocking grip, and arch my back hard. Most would tap in less than thirty seconds. One guy told me he could feel his vertebrae seperating. Now, as the week bore on, each day starting with almost two hours of grappling, I found my strength waning. Fatigue was setting in. I had to rely on technique more and more and there was not the instant domination of before. This proves that strength is an important factor. Though I was never beaten in training, there were two people that I was unable to force to “tap out” in our three minutes of alloted grappling time.

Getting back on track–veganism is a horrible choice for any athlete, and for most other people. It’s yet another way people try to make the world be as they think it should be, not as it is. The human body cannot digest most plant matter. Most of the digestable portions of a plant are encapsulated within walls of cellulose,and since we’re not cows, our bodies don’t have the enzymes to break down those walls. Chewing and cooking can release some of the nutrients however. That’s why raw veganism is even worse than the ordinary sort of veganism.

The USDA recommends about .75 grams of protien intake for every kg (2.2 lbs) of your body weight, per day. For athletes, the requirement is much higher: from 1.2 grams to 2 grams per kg of bodyweight. It’s very difficult to acheive this with a vegan diet, and people will see a significant decline in strength and sense of well-being if those levels are not met, particularly if they are training hard. I’ve experimented myself with vegetarianism. I’ve also gone high protein. There’s no comparison. I need protein and lots of it.

Tony Gonzalez, the All-Pro tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, went vegetarian last year. Look at his performance now. I never see a highlight with him in it, while before, he was probably the best at his position, in the game. In an interview, he said that when he first started his new diet, he could barely lift any weight in the weightroom; he’d experienced a significant decline in strength since becoming a vegetarian. Only after adding lots of beans to his diet did he regain his strength. That seems like a circuitous route to his goal.

Some want to talk about veganism being a moral choice. I don’t think it’s moral to go against nature. There may be arguments as to what nature actually constitues, but here the message is clear: Vegans are physically weaker, thinner, have weaker bones and their diet lacks important B vitamins obtainable only through meat products. The long term effects of B vitamin deficiency are psycological problems ( I could get further into the mental make up of most vegans that I’ve met, but i’ll spare you), vision problems and nerve damage. How is this moral?

28
Sep
08

On Fitness and Diet

It was my father who first got me into fitness when I was young. Little boys want to be like Dad, and my Dad would do some pretty weird fitness routines when I was young. He was usually training for a canoe race, or just burning off excess physical energy.

He was a welder at St. Regis mill in Maine, and the men he worked with called him the Three Million Dollar Man. I’m not sure if he was half of Steve Austin’s height, or capabilities, but it didn’t matter to me: He was cool. He’d walk on his hands around the living room, or hold onto one toe while jumping over his leg with his one planted foot. All of this from a guy who was over 40. He had virtually no body fat either, and looked young enough that people used to think he was my older brother.

When we were out to camp, I’d be sitting on the beach and he’d wake up to me. “Time to go for a run, Doug.” We’d run around the lake on the beach. People would look at us like we were nuts. I guess we were. Then we’d paddle the canoe around the lake or we may paddle to some remote location like “Thirty Nine Tannery,” at which lie the ruins of an old tanning facility. I’d help port the canoe, which built some pretty tremendous upper-body strength for a 10 year old.

Because of all this, I always did really well in my fitness tests in Junior High and High School. I was a little kid, but it didn’t hold me back.

I think I was blessed with a combination of good genes, and a father who knew how to make exercise fun. There was always some random physical challenge he’d come up with, and he never shorted me on praise.

I think that the attitudes he passed down to me are still of help, as I routinely max my physical tests and am told that I look much younger than I am. So, from Dad I learned that physical training should be fun and random. One day I may lift weights, another I may go for a run or just a walk. I rock-climb, do body-weight exercises, just about everything you can imagine.

In recent years, two types of training have been of considerable benefit. The Combat Conditioning routines advocated by the controversial Matt Furey (It’s an all body weight routine) and working with Russian Kettlebells. Kettlebells are iron balls with handles on them. You can do various swings and presses wih them, and they build an excellent balance of strength and endurance. One other form of exercise that I like and science has proved to be a great training protocol, is interval sprinting and hill sprinting.

I plan to begin training with kettlebells again as soon as I’m out of AIT.

As far as diet goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Some say 5 or 6 small meals a day is the way to go. Most experts agree, but from what I’ve noticed, these experts don’t appear to be in very good physical condition themselves.

Here’s what I’ve found to be effective, and what recent science is suggesting may be of great benefit. It’s called controlled fasting, and yes, it’s controversial. The person who got me onto this is named Ori Hofmekler, and his book–The Warrior Diet–has helped a lot of people with their energy levels. It’s premise is that the best diet is one large meal at the end of the day, with some nuts or small amounts of fruit during the earlier parts of the day. Coffee is advocated, which of course I like. The diet may not be for everyone, and I personally don’t agree with everything that Hofmekler says, but he does back his ideas with science, and my own experiences say there’s something to his ideas. Mice, subjected to a fast, then given the opportunity to eat as much as they pleased lived approx. 30% longer than mice who were fed a normal diet. This occured without the normal negative effects of reduced calorie diets (muscle loss, lowered labido, loss of strength).

To sum up my overall attitudes about fitness and diet:

1) Make exercise fun.

2) Don’t make exercise something that breaks you down. It should build you, and make you feel more energenic.

3) Eat instinctively and naturally. You know what you want to eat, but the easiest and quickest food available may be what you grab for. Resist the urge and eat natural food as much as you can.

4) Finally–don’t make your eating too Spartan. Treat yourself every-so-often and if you have a food you don’t believe you can live without, eat it. I like beer and wine. I also like ice cream. I eat them and drink them in moderation and my results are fine. And, actually beer and wine in moderation are probably a good thing. Here’s to Heineken and Merlot.




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