THE NUTRI-SPEC LETTER
Volume 16, Number 1
How many of your patients just made New Year’s resolutions regarding exercise?
SEIZE THE MOMENT!!
Larry resolutely bought a new pair of running (plodding) shoes, determined to drop the 25 pound spare tire around his middle. Becky resolves to firm up those hips and thighs with a new leg flinger routine on DVD. Jenny and Bob just joined the new health club in town, while Brian and Sue have been working out with the new exercise contraption they got for Christmas.
Despite their noble ambitions, only one thing is certain ...
THEY WILL ALL FAIL ...
to meet their goals, eventually giving up in frustration. Why? Why will their resolution turn to disillusion? Because disillusion ways comes from illusion. Your patients are putting their faith in exercise mythology, the same collection of misconceptions about effective training methods that are so thoroughly ingrained in our culture that they are accepted as scientific fact. Only you, with your knowledge of exercise physiology and the nutrition required to maximize fitness gains, are in a position to assure the success of your health-minded patients. They will never be more receptive to your shattering of their cherished myths as they are right now with their new year, fresh start, mind set. Do seize the moment.
Here is a summary of some of the ridiculous nonsense your patients have accepted on faith that will guarantee their failure at physical conditioning.
Sit-ups and crunches are the way to get rid of a flabby abdomen. This is actually two myths in one. So, let us break it down.
“I’ve got an exercise program to flatten my tummy, lose inches from my thighs, and firm up my flabby arms.” Your patients who talk this way (and they will constitute the majority of those attempting to shape up with exercise) are victims of the oldest and most well established myth of all. We have named these people “flingers” to describe their futile attempts at achieving fitness by flinging their arms and legs in endless combinations of non-productive movements. You must make them understand that there is no such thing as spot reducing.
Sit-ups and crunches are the way to build strong abdominals.
On the contrary, sit-ups and crunches do not even exercise the abdominal muscles except in an isometric contraction (thus, “the burn”). As the distance between the xyphoid and the pubis is pathologically shortened, doing sit-ups and crunches over a period of time will actually cause the abdomen to stick out, while the shoulders droop, the chest sinks, and the chin protrudes.
Elite athletes are perfect human specimens and perfect examples of what it is like to be in perfect health.
In actuality, elite athletes demonstrate perfectly the consequences of over-training. Exercising beyond the degree required to maintain health causes cumulative catabolic stress. The destruction from too much exercise is every bit as damaging as poor nutrition. Since they so severely over-train, elite athletes begin to show the catabolic signs of aging prematurely. On the aggregate, they tend to suffer the diseases of aging earlier in life than the average person, and they tend to die young. Exercise is definitely not a “more is better” proposition.
When in a physical conditioning program we need a high protein diet.
The dietary needs of people in training are the complete opposite of the musclehead dogma that dominates people’s thinking. Protein needs are definitely increased over those of a sedentary person. However, protein needs do not increase in proportion to the other components of the diet. In fact, protein need as a proportion of calories actually decreases. This relative decrease in protein intake applies to all people following an exercise regimen, and applies to an extreme in those who are in higher level training.
What must increase in the diets of your patients as they exercise is the percentage of calories that come from fat. Patients who are over weight need to consume their own fat (and that goal can be achieved maximally by the Grizzly Bear Intervals and Grunt and Growl Strength Training methods you are giving them). Those who are already lean need to consume the extra fat from their diets. A little history on the use of dietary fat by elite athletes will help illustrate the point. Back in the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s (before steroids dominated the sport), body builders trained by Vince Giranda reached a level of muscular development never before seen. One of Vince’s training methods that allowed his athletes to dominate the Mr. America and Mr. Universe competitions of the day was that he eschewed the high protein diet popular among body builders, and had his trainees consume at least a pint of heavy cream daily.
Body builders are not the only athletes to benefit from consuming more fat. At the other end of the sports spectrum are distance runners. I recall in the early 1980’s at the peak of the running boom, one of the running magazines did a feature on the diet of the two top runners of the day, Bill Rogers and Greta Waite. The writer of the article expected to find that these extraordinary athletes were benefiting from the latest scientific developments in nutrition, namely the “high complex carbohydrate” myth that was beginning to dominate both the scientific and lay literature. Much to the writer’s surprise, both athletes consumed a diet considered to be extremely high in fat, and relatively low in carbohydrate.
For Bill Rogers the major source of fat was (Ugh!) mayonnaise! While he couldn’t have chosen a more damaging fat than soy bean oil, the main point to be taken from his example is that his need for fat was so high that he covered nearly everything he ate at every meal with gobbs and gobbs of mayonnaise --- totaling thousands of calories per day. The cover of the magazine that featured the article pictured Bill Rogers sitting at a table with a plate full of food and a mountain of Hellman’s mayonnaise jars piled high all around him.
Greta Waite’s diet was perhaps even more shocking to those who held the common wisdom of the day. Her diet was actually ultra low in carbohydrates. Her meals consisted largely of eggs and fish with a little bread and some non-starchy vegetables. With meals, and especially between meals, she ate cheese --- tons of it.
Now, as the high complex carbohydrate fad has run its course, and after more than 20 years is being replaced by an equally inane low carbohydrate and low fat fad, we must continuously remind ourselves and our patients that too much carbohydrate makes us tired, fat, depressed, and more susceptible to high cholesterol, high triglycerides, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. On the other hand, the low carbohydrate, low fat diet currently in vogue is, by default, a high protein diet. High protein leads to excessive output of the catabolic stress hormone cortisol, while at the same time inhibiting androgens. That, of course, is the last thing any of us needs, let alone those of us who are attempting to enhance our health through exercise.
[INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: have you noticed that the low carb diet being so heavily promoted the last couple of years is being presented along side of the same low fat paradigm that accompanied the high complex carb myth for several decades? Did you ever stop to think that if a diet is to be low in both carbohydrates and fat it must necessarily be high in --- that’s right, high in protein. Yet, no one refers to the currently fashionable diet as a “high protein diet.” You see, there is still a stigma attached to the term “high protein.” “High protein” represents either the “archaic” thinking of “fanatics” from decades past, or, the radical thinking of today’s Atkin’s Diet proponents. The processed food industry is investing zillions of dollars to dissuade people from eating meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and cheese so that they can sell them soy powder and other substitutes for real food.]
Remember, it takes 45,000 extra calories to build a pound of muscle. If those calories come in the form of either protein or carbohydrate, they will do metabolic damage. Additional calories in the form of fat are the perfect way to provide the energy demand required for muscle building in such a way that is compatible with anabolic/catabolic balance and with metabolic efficiency. Do not neglect to mention to your patients that the building of muscle is the key to success with exercise. There is no way to lose excess body fat and keep it off without expending the 45,000 calories needed to build each pound of muscle. Once lean, there is no way to stay lean without the fired up metabolic factory your body becomes when it is well muscled. Three to five workouts weekly of Grizzly Bear Intervals or Grunt and Growl Strength Training is the caloric equivalent of running miles and miles, seven days a week, and yields metabolic benefits that cannot be touched by plodding “aerobic” exercise plans.
If workouts are not yielding satisfactory gains in either strength, stamina, or weight loss, then we must do more in our work-outs, and work-out more often.
If you have learned nothing else from these Letters it is that over-training sabotages the efforts of countless exercisers, from novices to competitive athletes. No one, including especially the “experts” realizes how little exercise volume it takes to achieve maximum benefits. With high intensity interval training and strength training ...
MORE THAN A FEW MINUTES OF EXERCISE
Throughout the four decades of the American exercise boom, the so-called experts have given no means to measure when a person has reached the point of maximum benefit from a work-out. The experts say that jogging (plodding) is good for you. Should you jog a mile? Two miles? Three miles? Ten miles? The more the better? Is jogging two miles twice as beneficial as jogging one mile? Or three times as beneficial? Or 50% more beneficial? Very few people are guided in their workouts by any objective measurement.
“They” say that strength training is good for you. How many exercises do you do in each workout? How many sets of each exercise? How many reps in each set? There are as many answers to these questions as there are “experts” giving advice. Only with your Grizzly Bear Intervals and your Grunt and Growl Strength Training do you have a perfectly objective monitor built into every single workout indicating when you have obtained maximum benefit from today’s effort. Maximum gains with no danger of over-training --- the advice you are giving to your patients is the perfect workout plan --- avoiding the failure and frustration certain to derive from the pseudo-scientific mythology they have been brainwashed to believe in.
In one recent issue of the NUTRI-SPEC Letter I promised to give you a quick and sure indicator of whether a person is over-training. That promise completely slipped my mind until now --- so here it is.
In the 1950’s America sat fat and happy on top of the world, politically, economically, and scientifically number one. Stunned by Russia’s success with Sputnik in 1957, America woke up to its complacency, devoting sufficient resources to regain the lead in science. But in 1960, America’s arrogance was dealt another shocking blow as Russia and East Germany challenged American dominance in international athletic competition by winning a ton of medals at the Olympics. Instead of rising to the challenge, American coaches and athletes went into denial, refusing to recognize the obvious results of superior Soviet training methods.
Predictably, the Russians and Eastern Europeans blew America away in the 1964 Olympics, and then again in 1968. What devious communist plot had allowed these dirty Reds to conquer the world of athletics? As a teenager with a passion for fitness, I eagerly read a lengthy feature in Life Magazine describing their advanced training techniques. Their state of the art training facilities were impressive, but the essence of their success derived from the very principles of exercise physiology you have learned in these Letters.
1Athletes with body temperature two tenths of a degree above or below normal at workout time did not train that day. --- Positively elegant in its simplicity, this low tech but highly scientific clinical analysis signaled an incomplete anabolic/catabolic cycle. For world class athletes, a little rest was all it took to restore a high amplitude diphasic cycle. For your patients (ex-plodders, ex-flingers, exercise novices, weekend warriors) achieving and maintaining maximum vital reserves requires all the science that only you can deliver:
Make it a happy, healthy New Year for you and your patients.
Guy R. Schenker, D.C.