Fitness Myths


4 Myths Many Lifters Actually Believe

On April 25, 2016 by Physical Culturist

By: Christian Thibaudeau, T-Nation

Everything works in theory, but some training methods just don’t produce enough benefits to justify the effort. Other training beliefs are just plain wrong. Here are the worst offenders. Sorting them out will give you insight on what to do instead.

Myth 1 – There’s No Need To Train Abs Directly

It’s a popular concept in the strength training field. The argument is that if you’re doing big lifts involving a lot of core strength like a squat, deadlift, the Olympic lifts, push press, etc. then you don’t need to do direct ab work since these exercises are heavily dependent on core strength. Yes, ab strength is key in the big lifts, but this fact can be interpreted two different ways:

  1. I don’t need to work my abs since they’re heavily involved in big strength lifts.


  2. I need to train my abs hard because they’re heavily involved in the big strength lifts.

See the problem? Most smart lifters do a lot of ab work because they understand how making their abdominal muscles strong can help increase their lifts. Otherwise, why are the athletes competing on these lifts (powerlifters, Olympic lifters) doing lots of ab work in their training? And if most elite powerlifters need to train their abs, what makes you think that yours are so strong that you don’t need to train them directly?

And there’s another issue here. In theory it’s true that the big basics will strengthen the core. But that’s only true if your core is functional, if you can use it properly, and if it’s not a weak link to start with. But if you CAN’T use your abs properly then they won’t receive much stimulation from the big lifts.

But “abs are made in the kitchen” right?

That’s true to an extent. You probably won’t see any visual results from spending 45 minutes a day on abs when you’re at 18% body fat. You can do all the abdominal work in the world, but if you’re carrying too much fat, you won’t see your abs.

Some people are gifted in the sense that if they get lean, they have good abs (visually) without training them directly. But by training your abs hard you’ll make the muscle bellies thicker which will help your abdominals be more defined. Why? Because the tendinous separations marking the “6 pack” do not hypertrophy, or grow very little. So if you increase the thickness of the muscle, the separation between each part of your six-pack will be more pronounced.

Years ago a bodybuilder friend of mine did the National (US) bodybuilding championships. He finished something like third or fourth, with a very solid physique all around, great condition, but pretty much zero abs separation.

He told me he never trained his abs until a few weeks prior to the competition. Well, I told him, it’s too late then. To have good abdominal separation you need to build the muscle. And that’s done during the off-season, not when you’re depleted and trying hard to avoid losing muscle (much less adding some). The next year he took the advice and showed up with a very good midsection.

Regardless of the goal, most people should do some ab work in their training. If you want to get stronger, be a better athlete, or just look better, it should be part of your workouts. However, there are exceptions. Just like some people don’t need to directly train their biceps to make them grow, some people don’t need to train their abs. There are some who have a naturally very rigid midsection and who won’t benefit from ab work. But these are the exception, and your training should not be based on the exceptions.

Myth 2 – Do Fasted Morning Cardio for Fat Loss

People believe that training without eating means less readily available energy to use for fuel, which will lead to the breakdown of energy reserves (fat and glycogen) to power the session. Theoretically this will lead to more fat loss. In fact, some studies have found that you mobilize more stored fat when doing fasted exercise. But that’s not the whole story.

Losing fat is not about what happens during the session, but rather what happens in response to the workout over the course of the day. What happens to your resting energy expenditure for the next 24 hours following your session? What will be the hormonal milieu caused by the session? And what will be its impact on muscle mass?

What happens during the session?

Proponents of fasted training will claim that since adrenalin/noradrenalin increases more during fasted training you’ll have more energy to train. In reality it’s pretty well established that when you’re in a fasted state (especially if that state has been going on for a while) your capacity to do work decreases as well a mental tolerance for physical work. This will result in less effective training sessions.

What happens to your resting energy expenditure?

A study by Paoli et al. (2011) compared doing 36 minutes of cardio at 65% of maximum heart rate in a fasted or non-fasted state. During the session the analysis of the respiratory exchange ratio (RER) found that more fat was used for fuel in the fasted state, BUT the opposite happened after the session. In fact, fat utilization was significantly higher in the non-fasted group for up to 24 hours after!

When fasted, the subjects burned a little bit more fat during the 36 minutes of the workout, but they burned less for the 24 hours after. The end result is that more fat was utilized over a 24 hours period when the cardio session was NOT done fasted. This was confirmed by the fact that oxygen consumption stayed higher over a 24 hour period in the non-fasted group (more oxygen consumption means burning more fat since oxygen fuels the aerobic energy pathway which relies on fat).

Here’s the study’s conclusion: “When moderate endurance activity is done to lose fat, fasting before exercise does not enhance lipid utilization; rather, physical activity after a light meal is advisable.”

Of course, you can continue quoting the many studies showing that fasted cardio uses more fat during the session, because it’s true. But the point is, fasted cardio leads to a lower resting energy expenditure (less calories burned at rest) as well as less total fat utilized over a 24 hour period.

What about the hormonal response?

Lifters know cortisol for its catabolic affect on muscle tissue. We fear it because it can break down muscle so that it can be used for fuel, thus making it harder to build muscle when cortisol is high. But cortisol actually serves a useful function when training: it mobilizes stored energy.

When you train, cortisol is responsible for making energy available. The more you have to rely on stored energy (muscle glycogen or body fat) for fuel, the more cortisol you’ll release. The more cortisol you release, the longer it’ll take for it to return to normal levels after the workout. As long as cortisol is elevated, your body is in a catabolic state. So if you produce too much cortisol during your session – which is likely to happen when you’re doing fasted cardio – your risk of losing muscle mass is much greater and building it will obviously be much harder.

There’s also the fact that fasted cardio will increase AMPK more than non-fasted cardio. When AMPK is high, it has a negative impact on protein synthesis. So by doing fasted cardio you make it harder to build muscle.

Then why do competitive bodybuilders do it?

I hate to play the chemical comparison game because it doesn’t explain everything, but in this case it does. Nowadays pretty much every competitive bodybuilder worth his salt is using chemical assistance. Heck, even amateur bikini competitors are using stuff.

Using assistance basically helps people bypass the problems caused by fasted cardio. Who cares about elevated cortisol when you’re injecting or swallowing anabolic steroids that amp up anabolism at all hours of the day and reduce the effects of cortisol? So what if you’re raising AMPK if you’re in a constant state of anabolism? And so what if your metabolic rate decreases over a 24 hour period when you’re using stimulants like clenbuterol or thyroid drugs?

I’m not saying that drug-using bodybuilders have it easy and don’t work hard. I’m saying that in some cases, like this one, the limitations that apply to the natural trainee might not apply to them.

Myth 3 – Get Stronger by Lifting on Unstable Surfaces

What we’re talking about here is putting your body weight on an unstable foundation when doing a lifting exercise: squatting on a BOSU ball, lunges on an inflatable disk, bench press on a Swiss ball, etc. These exercises have very little value. And it’s been proven that force production is lower when doing a strength movement on an unstable surface.

Here are the facts:

  • A lot of trainers rely on seemingly fancy unstable exercises because they’re simply not good at making someone stronger or more muscular. They have to find a way to make themselves look competent.
  • When doing an exercise to build strength and size, lifting on an unstable surface is a dumb idea. Not only does it reduce force production, it costs more nervous energy.
  • Doing an unstable exercise specifically to work on a posture, stability, or motor recruitment issues can be effective. But don’t mix and match. Either focus on correcting these issues or on building strength and size, not both at the same time with the same movement.
  • Unstable exercises can be used as a warm-up to prepare for the main lift of the day.
  • Adding a small instability to the bar (hanging kettlebells, adding bands, or chains) can be very effective to improve joint stabilization and unlike lifting on an unstable surface, it won’t decrease force production capacity.

To clarify, unstable exercises when used to improve stability are fine. There are also unstable resistance exercises in which the source of resistance is unstable, not the foundation you’re standing on. These have value.

The current trend in powerlifting performance is on maximizing the solidity of your foundation – jacking up the upper back and tensing the abs to be good at the bench press, and rooting your feet into the floor and creating as much tension in your torso and lats when squatting and deadlifting. The more solid your foundation is, the stronger you can be. So why do people still use strength exercises on a unstable surfaces, robbing them of that much needed stability?

Myth 4 – Train Infrequently to Build More Muscle

The logic behind infrequent training (three or fewer sessions per week) is that muscle grows while you’re resting. Proponents of infrequent training claim that only drug users can train often and recover. They say a natural lifter needs a lot of rest days to grow from his efforts.

Here’s Why That’s Wrong

First, physical activity and more training can actually speed up the recovery process by releasing cytokines. Training more frequently, as long as intensity and volume are properly adjusted ,will likely make it easier to recover from training.

Second, the more frequently you ask your body to perform and recover from physical work, the better it becomes at recovering from such sessions. The body is built for adaptation, which means that the more often you perform a certain type of effort the easier it’ll be for your body to handle it. So by training infrequently you’re actually preventing your body from being able to recover efficiently to training.

Frequency of training means how many times you’re training a week. So by infrequent, I don’t mean training each muscle infrequently (once a week). You could train every day and hit each muscle group only once per week. This would be a high frequency of training.

Training has a systemic effect on the nervous, hormonal, and immune system. Not to mention that there’s some overlap when training. For example, the lats are supporting muscles involved in the bench press, deadlift, and squat. Even when you’re not training back they might still be involved. So it’s important to sort this out.

But what if It DOES lead to better recovery?

Let’s pretend that including a lot of rest days in your week actually did help you recover. The benefit of infrequent training would be to allow you to perform more physical work on the days you train. For that reason, infrequent but high volume training might actually work quite well for some people. Trash yourself every workout, but give yourself ample recovery time.

A low volume of work performed infrequently won’t challenge your body’s recovery capacities, so positive adaptations (muscle growth, strength gains) will be low or nonexistent. It also wouldn’t require 4-5 recovery days per week. Even the bottom of the genetic food chain can recover quite fast from a low volume of work.

If you’re someone who doesn’t tolerate volume well, yes, use a lower daily training volume. But the overall training frequency per week will need to be higher for maximum results, and so that your body becomes better at recovering from physical stimulation.

Infrequent and low-volume training would only be the best solution for those who are working a physical job. The demand of their job makes it so that they won’t have as much energy to spend on training. But also the physical aspect of their work will initiate the cytokine response that helps with muscle recovery, and since they’re working physically every day, they’ll get the benefits of frequent training on the capacity to recover from physical work.

Ironically enough, the population that would get good gains from low frequency/low volume training are those genetically gifted to build muscle, because they don’t need much stimulation to grow.


  1. Paoli A1, Marcolin G, Zonin F, Neri M, Sivieri A, Pacelli QF. Exercising fasting or fed to enhance fat loss? Influence of food intake on respiratory ratio and excess postexercise oxygen consumption after a bout of endurance training. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2011 Feb;21(1):48-54.

source: T-Nation

You’re Fat. Asians Aren’t. Here’s Why.

On October 22, 2015 by Physical Culturist

By: Mike Sheridan , T-Nation

You're Fat. Asians Aren't. Here's Why. The 10 Real Reasons Asians Are Healthier

Here’s what you need to know…

  • Asian cultures consume fish, offal, seaweed, and fermented food. These nutrient dense staples are rare in the standard American diet.
  • Wheat is mostly out of the picture. Asians aren’t leaner because they eat rice, they’re leaner because they eat less wheat.
  • Asians do a lot more walking and deep squatting. Most Americans don’t squat below couch or toilet level and walking isn’t a daily practice.
  • Asians practice prevention while Americans practice treatment. Instead of medicating their problems, Asian cultures look for the cause and fix it.

Some health and fitness experts out there are making outrageous claims about why Western populations are getting fatter and why traditional Asian cultures are not. Much of what they’re saying is bunk. Let’s set the record straight.

The Truth About Meat, Rice, and Soy

First it was Colin Campbell telling us the Chinese are healthier because they eat less meat… even though an unbiased review of his data in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found zero association between animal foods and cancer. Then it was soy marketers telling us we could stay heart disease-free like the Japanese by swapping tenderloin for tofu… despite their average daily intakes of less than 13g per day.

Now it’s nutrition experts telling us Asians are healthier because they eat a lot of rice – this based on studies finding greater metabolic improvements with a typical Asian diet compared to a typical Western one. But claiming it’s the rice is like saying Italians are healthier because of pasta. It’s not one food making the difference. Rice may be a viable option for replenishing muscle glycogen, and a better option than pizza or cake, but don’t go thinking it’s making you any healthier or it’s more nutrient-dense than a sweet potato.

The 10 Real Reasons Asians Are Healthier

Some Asian cultures are now experiencing drastic increases in obesity and diabetes since the introduction of Big Gulps and Big Macs. So what can we really learn from all this? Here are the healthy habits and preventative practices in traditional Asian culture that can have an effect on your long-term health.

1 – Traditional Asian Cultures Eat Fish (Almost) Every Day

Protein and nutrients aside, the biggest benefit to eating fish is the omega-3 fatty acids. Fish gives our brain and body the DHA and EPA it needs, and keep us on the anti-inflammatory side of the omega-6:3 ratio helping prevent chronic inflammation and the chronic disease that supersedes it. Asian culture has continued to treat fish as the dietary staple it’s always been, something North American culture seems to have forgotten.

2 – They Eat The Whole Animal

Unlike the boneless, skinless, flavorless Costco boxes of chicken breasts, the Southeast Asian cooks waste nothing, using the bones and innards to make soups and finding a way to incorporate the feet, necks, tendons, tails, and heads where possible. This provides a healthy dose of fat-soluble nutrients, collagen, gelatin, cartilage, and beneficial bacteria. Frequent soup consumption is also associated with better hunger and satiation signaling (think leptin), which corresponds to lower levels of obesity.

3 – They Make Seaweed a Staple

Although it’s historically vegetarians reaching for seaweed, kelp, nori, and wakame in hopes of getting the essential nutrients missing in their diet, all of us should be, mainly because it’s one of the only legitimate sources of iodine. While the Japanese are scarfing down seaweed snacks and sushi rolls, hitting 3,000-5,000 micrograms, we’ve resorted to adding iodine to table salt and getting barely 200 micrograms per day. Since iodine deficiency directly affects the thyroid, it’s easy to see how this could pose a problem, not only because we don’t eat seaweed but because many dietary guidelines are still telling us to limit salt.

4 – They Don’t Make Wheat a Staple

Whether you’re on the gluten-free train or not, there’s something to be said about excess wheat consumption. The Chinese and Japanese eat very little of it, with egg or rice-based noodles having a higher prevalence and flour only being used in small amounts. Many think Asians are healthier because they eat more rice, but in reality Asians are healthier because eating more rice makes them eat less wheat.

5 – They Eat More Fermented Food

The fermentation process removes plant defenses and adds good bacteria to the gut. It’s common in Southeast Asia to ferment the soybean into miso, natto, tempeh, and tamarai, which removes most of the toxic properties. Fermenting cabbage to create kimchi and fermenting tea to make kombucha is also a regular practice. Both supply beneficial bacteria to the gastrointestinal tract, similar to the probiotic pills we use in North America.

6 – They Generally Avoid Sweets

Prior to the 21st century, Asians were consuming minimal sweets. Water and tea were the go-to drinks, and the only fructose consumed was coming in the form of fibrous fruit – which tended to be reserved for the occasional dessert. Too much fructose may even have addictive properties that make us eat more and want more.

You're Fat. Asians Aren't. Here's Why. The 10 Real Reasons Asians Are Healthier

7 – They Regularly Use Herbs & Spices

Asian’s seem to have a better grasp on the health benefits of the different herbs and spices. Without going full-blown Dr. Oz here, the rosemary, thyme, cayenne, sage, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin in your spice cabinet have a tremendous number of health benefits including, but not limited to, increasing metabolism and circulation, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, helping with digestion, and improving insulin sensitivity. They’re also anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and contain a heavy dose of antioxidants. Your ranch dressing probably doesn’t.

8 – They Prioritize Healthy Digestion

In Asian culture, eating is an event, not a race. And eating slow is a practice, not a problem. Generally, tea is consumed 30-60 minutes before a meal to prep the stomach, chopsticks are used to ensure it’s a slow process, and eating to half full is encouraged. Contrast that to North America, where preparation time is as short as possible, a shovel is used for maximum uptake per second, and it’s common to feel unsatisfied if you’re not uncomfortably full.

9 – They Walk and Squat Daily

North Americans take fewer steps than the rest of the world, and at one point (pre 1990) the Chinese were doing more walking and performing more heavy labor than most countries. This not only kept them healthy and fit, but it made a case for why they’ve been able to tolerate a higher-carb, rice-dominant diet.

The other thing that’s gone extinct on our side of the world is the daily deep squat. Unlike Asian culture, we opted for the high-boy throne as opposed to the traditional crap-in-the-hole technology, which not only makes us less loose and limber in the knees and hips, but makes for a less than pleasant (and potentially less than healthy) elimination experience. A study from the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences in 2003 found that those going number two in a full-squat experienced full bowel emptying after a duration of 50 seconds on average, while those using a toilet had a “less satisfactory experience” that took nearly three times as long.

10 – They Focus Medicine on Prevention

Where Western medicine quickly treats with antacids, antibiotics, NSAIDs, and statins, traditional Chinese and functional medicine attempts to get to the root of the problem using nutrition, healthy habits, and prevention practices.

Traditional Chinese medicine doctor Sun Simiao believed the skills of a great physician were wasted if one did not consider the foods his or her clients were eating and the lifestyle they were practicing. Asians recognize that health and wellness extend far beyond eat-sleep-lift-repeat. And it’s why they practice meditation, martial arts, and other calming daily rituals that clear the mind and strike a balance between yin and yang. Maybe you should too.

source: T-Nation

Fat Burning Truths And Myths

On March 8, 2015 by Physical Culturist

by Charles Poliquin, Iron Magazine

Fat Burning Truths And Myths

A common myth in the casual fitness world is that there is a “fat-burning” zone that will allow you to burn the most body fat. The fat-burning zone does exist!

However, exercising within it doesn’t measure up as the ideal exercise mode for losing body fat. Most important for fat loss is that the energy (calories) that is entering the body is less than the energy leaving the body.

There are lots of ways of making this happen, and increasing the use of fat for fuel is an excellent tool for superior body composition.

This article will give you 11 fat loss facts, covering everything from how the body burns energy to when and how to focus on enhanced fat burning so as to optimize body composition.

#1. Knowing where and how energy is stored in the body will improve fat loss results.

Your body has the following energy sources available to it, which it burns at different rates depending on the intensity of physical activity:

• Body fat provides roughly 30,000-100,000 calories in normal-weight people, depending on how much body fat you actually have. In obese people, the number is much higher.

• Muscle glycogen provides 1,400-2,000 calories or 350-500 grams of glycogen, which is enough for 90 minutes of endurance exercise. It is stored in muscle cells and used by those cells for energy.

• Liver glycogen provides about 400 calories or 100 grams of glycogen. It can be turned into glucose and used by the rest of the body, such as the brain and blood cells.

• There’s also muscle and tissue, which is made of amino acids and can be broken down to produce glucose. This is the not ideal because it leads to loss of lean mass.

#2. During exercise, the intensity of the exercise dictates the proportion of fat or carbohydrates being burned.

Fat is your body’s primary fuel when you haven’t just eaten and aren’t exercising (a state we call “at rest”). At rest, when you’re sitting at your desk or even going for a walk, your body is burning mostly fat, but depending on the need for energy (such as if you had to walk up three flights of stairs), you’re body may increase carb burning.

When you start exercising or lifting weights, you need a more rapid supply of energy. The percentage of fat used as fuel decreases in favor or carbs.

However, this increase in carb burning doesn’t mean that it will lead to less fat loss. In fact, as you increase exercise intensity and rely more on carbs, the amount of calories you burn increases exponentially as you require large amounts of energy to fuel your efforts.

Here’s an example: If you burn 200 calories per hour walking slowly, 60 percent is fat (120 calories) and 40 percent is carbs (80 calories). But if you burn 600 calories running at a pace of 8 minutes a mile, 40 percent is fat (240 calories) and 60 percent is carbs (360 calories).

The higher intensity exercise leads to more calories being used, more fat being burned, and more carbs being burned—all favorable effects for fat loss.

#3. After a strength training workout, there is a profound increase in the rate of fat burning in the post-workout period.

Research into energy use during strength training shows the following relevant facts:

• The time spent lifting in traditional protocols results in minimal calories being burned, but after each set, energy use rises significantly. The most calories are burned between sets.

• After a strength training workout, energy use is elevated for up to 24 hours over baseline, and the percentage of fat that is burned increases.

• The increase in energy expenditure after strength training is generally equal to or greater than the increase following steady-state aerobic exercise. The increase in the use of fat for fuel is also greater with intermittent exercise than steady state.

#4. High-intensity training is most effective for fat loss because it elevates fat burning during recovery the most.

Both sprint training and circuit strength training with short or no rest between sets have a profound effect on post-workout calorie burn and the use of fat for energy.

For instance, a recent study found that after a high-intensity (HIT) strength workout that that took 32 minutes, trainees experienced a 24 percent increase in calorie burn equaling 452 calories in the 22 hours after the workout.

A traditional strength program that took double the time resulted in a 5 percent increase in calorie burn totaling 98 extra calories. This is average for strength workouts with long rest periods that allow for complete recovery between sets so as to maximize load.

In addition, the HIT group had a greater increase in the use of fat for energy over the post-workout period compared to the traditional group.

Another benefit of HIT-style programs is that they improve the body’s ability to burn fat at rest, which is known as metabolic flexibility. Metabolic flexibility is impaired in sedentary people, which is one reason that fat loss is so difficult when only modifying diet.

#5. Intermittent high-intensity exercise modes are favorable for fat loss because they build muscle mass.

The true power of exercise for producing fat loss is in the ability of anaerobic training to build lean muscle mass because it increases your total net calorie burn.

For example, a study that compared high-intensity training and endurance training found that the HIT group lost 9 times more body fat than the endurance group, while dramatically increasing metabolic flexibility.

Basically, researchers found that not only did the trainees burn more fat overall during and exercise and in the post-exercise recovery period, they also enhanced enzymes in the body that allow it to mobilize and use fat for energy all the time.

#6. Burning a large amount of carbs is beneficial for fat loss because it depletes muscle and liver glycogen stores.

If your glycogen stores are low, when you eat carbs, they get turned into glucose, which gets stored as glycogen. If your stores are full, the glucose goes to fat.

This is the reason that if you’re in a fat loss phase, you should do glycogen-depleting exercise and eat your carbs post-workout so that those delicious carbs go to glycogen rather than fat. Pretty simple!

#7. Eating a low-glycemic meal pre-workout elevates energy expenditure and the use of fat for fuel in the post-workout period much more than training on an empty stomach.

Despite the consistent rumors that fasted cardio increases fat burning, research shows that when trainees eat pre-workout, they consistently burn more calories during the post-exercise recovery period in both moderate- and high-intensity ranges.

Additionally, there’s at least one study showing that the amount of fat burned during the 24-hour recovery period is significantly greater when trainees ate a meal before the workout.

#8. Supplementing with carbs before or during exercise will suppress fat burning and elevate carb burning. Fructose increases carb burning more than glucose.

Consuming carbs pre-workout leads to an immediate shift to the use of carbs for fuel. Drinking fructose is especially problematic because it not only increases the use of carbohydrates more than consuming glucose, it makes the cells more resistant to insulin.

Endurance athletes often use carbs in the latter stages of workouts to provide a fuel source when muscle glycogen has been used up. There are arguments for and against this practice that are out of the scope of this article. Know that for fat loss, carbs should be avoided pre- and during exercise.

#9. Supplementing with carnitine can increase fat burning and improve the overall use of energy at high intensities for optimal body composition changes.

Carnitine is a nutrient in the body that is critical for fat burning. It is responsible for the transport of fats into the cells to be used for energy.

Elevating carnitine stores has been found to reduce fat gain when eating a high-calorie diet because it increases energy expenditure. During exercise, greater carnitine stores lead to the sparing of glycogen for greater work capacity due to elevated fat burning.

The effect is a significant increase in time to exhaustion when training hard. Greater exercise capacity allows for more total calories to be burned, which is obviously favorable for losing body fat.

#10. Caffeine and fish oil enhance fat burning, however, they are not the magic bullet for fat loss.

Caffeine is the most well-known fat burner available. It encourages the fat in your cells to leave so that it can be burned for fuel. Research suggests doses between 3 and 8 mg/kg of body weight of caffeine as ideal for enhancing athletic performance.

Fish oil increases the activity of the uncoupling protein genes 1 and 3, which enhance fat burning and energy expenditure. Simply, the uncoupling proteins raise body temperature, increasing the amount of calories you burn.

#11. Dietary manipulation and genetics are key players in the body’s use of fat for fuel.

Genetics, diet, and gender also play a role. Women naturally burn more carbs at rest than men, but they burn more fat during exercise, making it imperative for all women to train if they want to get lean.

In one review of fat burning, scientists wrote that “66 percent of the variance (in the use of fat versus carbs for energy) could not be accounted for,” of which some was probably diet, but which the rest was likely genetically determined.

To manipulate fat burning with diet, adopt a high-fat, low-carb (70 percent fat, 20 percent carbs) diet for three days. Increasing carbs in favor of fat will have the opposite effect, enhancing the use of carbs during exercise.


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A Nutrition Myth that Keeps us Fat, Sick & Tired

On February 7, 2015 by Physical Culturist

By: Mark Hyman, Elephant Journal

A Nutrition Myth that Keeps us Fat, Sick & Tired

Busting the Calorie-is-a-Calorie Myth

The calorie-is-a-calorie myth might be the biggest fallacy in nutrition that keeps us fat, sick, and tired. To explain why this doesn’t work, let’s follow 750 calories of soda and 750 calories of broccoli once they enter your body.

First, soda: A Double Gulp from 7-Eleven contains 750 calories, entirely from 46 teaspoons of sugar. Your gut quickly absorbs the soda’s fiber-free fructose and glucose.

Glucose spikes your blood sugar, starting a domino effect of high insulin and a cascade of hormonal responses that kicks bad biochemistry into gear. High insulin increases belly fat, inflammation, blood pressure, and triglycerides while it lowers HDL, decreases testosterone in men, and contributes to infertility in women.

Insulin also blocks your appetite-control hormone leptin. You become more leptin resistant, so the brain never gets the “I’m full” signal. Instead, your brain thinks you are starving. Your pleasure-based reward center becomes activated, driving you to consume more sugar and fueling your addiction.

Fructose, on the other hand, goes right to your liver, where it starts manufacturing fat. Insulin resistance and chronically elevated blood insulin levels result, driving your body to store everything you eat as dangerous belly fat.

Fructose also contributes to fatty liver, generating more inflammation. Chronic inflammation triggers weight gain and insulin resistance. Fructose also doesn’t send informational feedback to the brain, signaling that a load of calories just hit the body. Nor does it reduce ghrelin, the appetite hormone that is usually reduced when you eat real food.

Next, let’s look at broccoli. Those 750 calories of broccoli make up 21 cups and contain 67 grams of fiber, far more than the average American eats. That amount of broccoli only contains about 1.5 teaspoons of sugar; the rest of the carbohydrates are the low-glycemic, slowly absorbed type found in all non-starchy vegetables.

Now, if you ate those 21 cups of broccoli (highly unlikely!), they contain so much fiber that very few of the calories would actually get absorbed. There’d be no blood sugar or insulin spike, no fatty liver, and no hormonal chaos.

Your stomach would signal your brain that you were full. That addiction reward center in the brain would not become triggered. You’d also get many extra benefits that optimize metabolism, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and boost detoxification.

Broccoli’s phytonutrients (glucosinolates) boost your liver’s ability to detoxify environmental chemicals, and the flavonoid kaempferol is powerfully anti-inflammatory. Broccoli also contains high levels of vitamin C and folate, which protect against cancer and heart disease. The glucosinolates and sulphorophanes in broccoli change the expression of your genes to help balance your sex hormones, reducing breast and other cancers.

So you see, food is more than calories; it is information. Every bite of food you eat broadcasts a set of coded instructions to your body that can create either health or disease.

So what will it be, a Double Gulp or a big bunch of broccoli?

Studies Prove a Calorie is not a Calorie

Science shows calories are not created equal. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found low-protein diets mean you store bad fat around your organs including the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. High-protein diets, on the other hand, add muscle and increase your resting metabolism and muscle mass. Since muscle burns seven times as many calories as fat, that’s a good thing.

Researchers in this study observed volunteers in a hospital ward for 12 weeks. They controlled everything they ate and did. Everyone overate about 1,000 calories a day, either as protein or carbs.

The low-protein group lost 1.5 pounds of muscle and gained 7.5 pounds of fat. The high protein group gained 6.3 pounds of metabolically active muscle.

Both groups gained weight—understandable considering they consumed too much food—but the high-protein group gained less weight than the low-protein group.

This study shows if you overeat anything, you will gain weight, but it also proves calories are not equal. Some calories will make you store fat. Others will make you store muscle.

Quickly absorbed carbohydrates, which form the basis of America’s and increasingly the world’s diet, are very efficiently turned into belly fat in the body. And that leads to obesity and diabetes, or what I call diabesity.

In America today, 69 percent of us are overweight and over 35 percent of us are obese. If these trends continue, one in three Americans could have Type 2 diabetes by 2050.

Children and adolescents will suffer the most. In less than a decade the rate of pre-diabetes or diabetes in teenagers rose from nine percent to 23 percent. Put another way, almost one in four kids have pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

Carbohydrates and protein trigger very different chemical messages in the body independent of calories. Carbs lay down the fat, while protein lays down muscle.

Reduce Belly Fat and Build Muscle? Focus on Protein, not Calories

Reduce Belly Fat and Build Muscle? Focus on Protein, not Calories

Reducing belly fat and building muscle become far more than just about the calories. As this and other studies show, where those calories come from matter far more.

Here are a few simple tips to speed up your metabolism and get rid of belly fat.

  1. Skip the sugar—in all of its forms. Especially liquid calories from any source (soda, juice, alcohol), which store as belly fat. Be on a mission to get high-fructose corn syrup out of your diet, it is especially good at laying down belly fat.
  2. Ditch the flour—yes, even wheat flour, which converts to sugar. Did you know that two slices of whole wheat bread raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar?
  3. Start the day with protein—not starch or sugar. Try whole omega-3 eggs, a protein shake, nut butters or even kippers! Skip the bagels, muffins and donuts.
  4. Have protein with every meal—try nuts like almonds, walnuts or pecans, seeds like pumpkin, chia or hemp or have beans, chicken, or fish.

Somehow we became duped by the idea that all calories are the same. They are not. Hopefully soon popular nutrition advice will catch up with science, then perhaps we can make a dent in the tsunami of obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease coming right at us.


Bray GA, Smith SR, de Jonge L, Xie H, Rood J, Martin CK, Most M, Brock C, Mancuso S, Redman LM. Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2012 Jan 4;307(1):47-55.

Devkota S, Layman DK. Increased ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein shifts the focus of metabolic signaling from skeletal muscle to adipose. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011;8(1):13

Pollock NK, Bundy V, Kanto W, Davis CL, Bernard PJ, Zhu H, Gutin B, Dong Y. Greater fructose consumption is associated with cardiometabolic risk markers and visceral adiposity in adolescents. J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):251-7.

Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Nieuwenhuizen A, Tomé D, Soenen S, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein, weight loss, and weight maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr. 2009;29:21–41.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 May 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

“Study Finds 23 Percent of Teens Have Prediabetes or Diabetes.” Study Finds 23 Percent of Teens Have Prediabetes or Diabetes. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

source: Elephant Journal

7 Common Calorie Myths We Should All Stop Believing

On January 10, 2015 by Physical Culturist

By: Mark’s Daily Apple

7 Common Calorie Myths We Should All Stop Believing

Many people think weight loss is simply about cutting calories. They believe that to lose weight, you must reduce calories (either eat less or burn more), to gain weight you must add calories, and to maintain weight you keep calories constant. To these folks, calories in, calories out is the only thing that matters. They usually oppose the Primal Blueprint because they assume that we “deny” the importance of calories in weight loss.

Well, they’re wrong. I don’t deny the importance of calories. Calories absolutely count. And if someone has lost weight, they have necessarily expended more calories than they consumed. That said, there are some major misconceptions about calories, body weight, fat loss, and health. These calorie myths are often rooted in truth but presented in black-or-white terms that are useless at best, harmful at worst, and do little to help the average person lose body fat.

Let’s dig right in.

1. Calories in, calories out is all you need to know.

Simple is nice. Simple is good. But overly simple is dangerously inaccurate, so let’s break this statement down.

What does “calories in” refer to?

Calories in — what we eat. We can’t metabolize sunlight or oxygen. We can’t feast on the souls of the damned. The food we eat determines “calories in” entirely. Simple.

“Calories out” is where it gets confusing. There are several components to “calories out”:

  1. Resting energy expenditure — the energy used to handle basic, day-to-day physiological functions and maintenance
  2. Thermic effect of food — the energy used to digest food and process nutrients
  3. Active energy expenditure — the energy used during movement (both deliberate activity like lifting weights, jogging, and walking, plus spontaneous activity like shivering and fidgeting)

Not so simple, is it? There are a lot more variables to consider.

Oh, and about those variables…

2. Calories in and calories out are independent variables.

That would be nice. You could drop energy intake and maintain your resting metabolic rate while burning the same amount of energy digesting food (even though you’re eating less of it) and working out. The fat would melt off at a predictable, constant rate. Anyone with basic arithmetic skills (or a calculator) could become a successful weight loss coach and very few people would be overweight.

In reality, the amount and type of calories we eat affect the amount of energy we expend:

  • During calorie restriction, the body “defends” its body weight by lowering resting metabolic rate and reducing spontaneous physical activity. To keep weight loss going, you often have to lower food intake even more (to counteract the reduced metabolic rate) and remind yourself to fidget, tap your feet, twiddle your thumbs, and shiver (to recreate the missing spontaneous movement). And you have to do it again when the body readjusts.
  • Whole foods take more energy to process and digest than processed foods. In one example, subjects either ate a “whole food” sandwich (multigrain bread with cheddar cheese) or a “processed food” sandwich (white bread with cheese product). Both meals were isocaloric (same number of calories) and featured roughly identical macronutrient (protein, fat, carb) ratios. Those eating the multigrain sandwiches expended 137 calories postprandially (after their meal). The white bread group expended only 73 calories, a 50% reduction in the thermic effect of food.
  • Protein takes more energy to process and digest than other macronutrients. Compared to a low-fat, high-carb diet, a high-protein diet increased postprandial energy expenditure by 100% in healthy young women. And in both obese and lean adults, eating a high-protein meal was far more energetically costly (by almost 3-fold) than eating a high-fat meal.

Calories in affects calories out. The two variables are anything but independent of each other.

3. Weight gain is caused by eating more calories than you expend.

Calorie fetishists love pointing out that weight gain requires overeating. That is, everyone who gains weight necessarily ate more calories than they expended. Okay. We’ve established that everyone agrees on this. But it’s just restating the issue. It doesn’t tell us anything new or useful. It’s merely descriptive, not explanatory.

To show you what I mean, let’s do the same thing with other phenomena.

Why was Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated? Because someone pointed a sniper rifle at him and fired it.

Why did Usain Bolt win the 100 m final in the Beijing Olympics? Because he crossed the finish line first.

Why is the restaurant so crowded? Because more people entered than left.

These are technically true, but they ignore the ultimate causes. In King’s case, they fail to discuss racism, the civil rights movement, or the motivation of the shooter. They don’t mention Bolt’s training, genetics, or his childhood. They don’t discuss why the restaurant has attracted so many customers — new menu, Valentine’s Day, graduation? They simply restate the original statement using different words. They just describe what happened.

I’m interested in what truly causes us to eat more than we expend and/or expend less than we eat. I don’t care to merely describe weight gain because that doesn’t help anyone.

4. A calorie is a calorie.

Look. I loved Carl Sagan. Like everyone else, I got chills when he’d wax poetic about our place in the universe and our shared origins as “star-stuff.” But just because steak comes from the same star-stuff as a baked potato, isocaloric amounts of each do not have identical metabolic rates in our bodies when consumed.

We even have a study that examined this. For two weeks, participants either supplemented their diets with isocaloric amounts of candy (mostly sugar) or roasted peanuts (mostly fat and protein). This was added to their regular diet. After two weeks, researchers found that body weight, waist circumference, LDL, and ApoB (a rough measure of LDL particle number) were highest in the candy group, indicating increased fat mass and worsening metabolic health. In the peanut group, basal metabolic rate shot up and neither body weight nor waist size saw any significant increases.

Does this invalidate the relevance of energy balance? Of course not. Since the peanut group’s metabolic rate increased, they expended more calories in response to added calories, thus remaining in balance. But it does elegantly and definitively invalidate the simplistic notion that all calories, especially added calories, are treated equally by the body.

5. Weight loss and fat loss are the same thing.

People don’t want to lose weight. “Losing weight” is common parlance, but we really want to lose body fat and retain, or gain, muscle. And studies indicate that the macronutrient composition can differentially affect whether the weight lost is fat. It’s not just about total calories.

Take the 2004 study from Volek that placed overweight men and women on one of two diets: a very low-carb ketogenic diet or a low-fat diet. The low-carb group ate more calories but lost more weight and more body fat, especially dangerous abdominal fat.

Or the study from 1989 that placed healthy adult men on high-carb or high-fat diets. Even though the high-carb group lost slightly more body weight, the high-fat group lost slightly more body fat and retained more lean mass.

Just “weight” doesn’t tell us much. What kind of weight? Are we losing/gaining fat or muscle, bone, sinew, organ? Are we increasing the robustness of our colons and the number of bacterial residents (who, though small, carry weight and occupy space) from added prebiotic fiber intake? These factors matter for health. I’d argue that they’re the only factors that actually matter when losing or gaining weight because they offer insight into our health and body composition.

6. Exercise helps you lose weight only by burning calories.

Most people think of exercise as a way to mechanically combust calories. And that’s true, to a point. Exercise does “burn” calories, and this is a factor in weight loss. But it does lots of other cool things to our physiology that can assist with improving body composition, too.

Compared to something high intensity like burpees or something aerobic like running a 10k, lifting free weights doesn’t burn many calories when you’re lifting them. But it does improve insulin sensitivity, which reduces the amount of insulin we secrete for a given amount of carbohydrate and increases our ability to burn body fat. It increases muscle mass, which uses calories (protein). It strengthens connective tissue, which also uses calories. It even preserves metabolic rate during weight loss and boosts it for up to 72 hours post-workout. All these changes affect the fate of the calories we ingest.

If calories burnt were the most important factor, then the best way to lose weight would be to hammer it out with as much endurance exercise as you can withstand because that’s the most calorie intensive. But studies show that combination training — aerobic and resistance training — leads to greater reductions in body fat than either modality alone.

Even aerobic exercise isn’t just about mechanically burning calories. It also preferentially targets the reward regions of our brains, reducing the allure and spontaneously lowering our intake of junk food.

7. Counting calories allows us to accurately monitor food intake.

You’d think that, wouldn’t you? Most foods at the grocery store have labels. Even restaurants are beginning to emblazon menus with calorie counts for each item. As humans, we implicitly trust the printed word. It looks so official and authoritative, and it spells out with great specificity exactly how many calories we’re about to eat.

Except studies show that’s not the case. Whether it’s the nutritional information provided by restaurants, the calorie counts on supposedly “low-calorie” foods, or the nutritional labels on packaged foods, calorie counts are rarely accurate. Food manufacturers can even underreport calories by 20% and pass inspection by the FDA.

Maybe that’s why people have so much trouble sticking to their allotted number of calories. If only reality would bend to the will of the label!

You may roll your eyes at some of these ideas because they’re so preposterous, but consider where you’re coming from, where you’re reading this. This is how the general public – and, often, the experts and physicians advising their patients and writing policy — approaches the question of fat loss. Sure, not everyone immersed in conventional wisdom holds every one of these myths to be true. And when they’re actually faced with the statement, few will claim that a calorie of steak is metabolically identical to a calorie of white sugar or that weight loss is the same as fat loss. But when calories in, calories out is the first line of attack against excess body fat, these are the kind of myths that become entrenched.

It’s important to take them head-on.

No one wants to be fat. The obese know they’re obese. They’ve had “calories in, calories out” drummed into their heads for years. If it were really as simple as eating less and moving more, they wouldn’t be obese. And yet here we are. That might be the biggest danger of the continued propagation of these myths — they convince people that they’ve failed at something simple, basic, and central to being a healthy, moral human being.

source: Mark’s Daily Apple

Top 10 Exercise Myths (Infographic)

On October 22, 2013 by Physical Culturist

Below is pretty neat infographic from that debunks the top 10 exercise myths.

Top 10 Fitness Myths (Infographic)

Fitness Myth: It’s Important to Build Aerobic Conditioning First Before Getting into More Intense Anaerobic Work

On July 24, 2013 by Physical Culturist

Another popular fitness myth busted!

Fitness Myth: It's Important to Build Aerobic Conditioning First Before Getting into More Intense Anaerobic Work

Fitness Myth: Suck In Your Stomach When Exercising

On July 20, 2013 by Physical Culturist

One thing I’ve noticed in common between Ancient Martial Arts and Strength Sports like weightlifting, powerlifting and strongman, is the importance of finding your centre in order to produce extraordinary levels of power. In Chinese Martial Arts, this area is called the “Tantien”. In strength sports, we call it the Belly!

Fitness Myth: Suck In Your Stomach When Exercising

Fitness Myth: Women Should Focus on Performing Aerobic Activities Because Weight Training Will Give Them a Many Apperance

On July 17, 2013 by Physical Culturist

Women Should Focus on Performing Aerobic Activities Because Weight Training Will Give Them a Many Apperance

Fitness Myth: Strength Training Will Stunt the Growth of Children

On July 16, 2013 by Physical Culturist

The pursuits of physical culture benefit people of all ages! 🙂

Strength Training Will Stunt the Growth of Children

Fitness Myth: Lifting light weights for high reps will “shape and tone” your muscles

On July 14, 2013 by Physical Culturist

There is no such thing as “firming and toning.” There is only stronger and weaker. – Mark Rippetoe

Fitness Myth: Lifting light weights for high reps will

Fitness Myth: Athletes Are Examples of Perfectly Healthy Human Beings

On May 16, 2013 by Physical Culturist

Athletes Are Examples of Perfectly Healthy Human Beings

Fitness Myth: Saturated Fat and Cholesterol In The Diet Are Bad For Your Heart.

On May 15, 2013 by Physical Culturist

Saturated Fat and Cholesterol In The Diet Are Bad For Your Heart.

Fitness Myth: Spot Reduction (ie: Doing Sit-ups to Burn Fat Off Your Stomach)

On May 13, 2013 by Physical Culturist

Are you doing countless sit-ups and crunches in the hopes of shredding some fat off your waistline? – Ditch those ab exercises! If you wanna get lean, lift weights and sprint!

fitness myth: doing sit-ups will burn fat off your stomach, spot reduction

Fitness Myth: Eating Fat Makes You Fat

On May 13, 2013 by Physical Culturist

fitness myth: eating fat makes you fat

Fitness Myth: A Very Slow Heart Rate is a Sign that You’re in Great Shape

On May 11, 2013 by Physical Culturist

Fitness Myth: A Very Slow Heart Rate is a Sign that You're in Great Shape

Fitness Myth: Running is The Best Way to Lose Weight

On May 9, 2013 by Physical Culturist

Fitness Myth: Running is the best way to lose weight. Truth: A COMBINATION of strength training (lifting weights), interval training (sprinting), and low-impact aerobic activity (walking) will yield the greatest results in fat loss and overall body re-composition. Which form of exercise you prioritize depends on your current fitness level and body composition. For overweight people who are just starting out, it is best to focus mainly on strength training and walking. Lifting weights will help you build muscle, which will increase your metabolism, leading to greater fat loss. Lifting will also help your body shape into a more desirable form. Walking will help you burn off additional fat mass without affecting your recovery between strength workouts. Once you achieve a good level of fitness through strength training and walking, you can slowly start to incorporate some interval training.
Diet also plays a huge role in fat loss. Focus on eating whole unprocessed foods. Be sure to get protein, fat, and vegetables in every meal. Avoid starch/sugary carbs except for around your workout (before & after exercise; fueling your body for intense training, and re-fueling after).