Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Death of Carb Loading

The Death of Carb Loading

Reference:  The  Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Volek and Phinney

Remember carb loading your kids before a soccer tournament?  Ever done that yourself before a big event?  Ever tried to run a marathon and then “hit the wall” and “bonked” at mile 20?  These are all related events.  Volek and Phinney very elegantly explain to you just why this happens, and how it relates to the rest of us mere mortals who are just trying to lose weight.

Here is the nugget of explanation.  Your body can store about 1500-2000 calories of glucose in your liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.  Your brain likes glucose and will use it preferentially.  But that’s it.  Just 2000.  When you carb load, you force insulin to shoot up that turns those carbs into fat.  So you really don’t store any of those carbs. They really get turned into fat.  More importantly, it programs your fat and muscle cells to adjust to a “carbohydrate economy” in which they burn carbs first before they burn fat.  If the carbs run out, your body becomes more efficient metabolically but doesn’t switch over to fat burning very easily.  It does that to protect your brain.

Your brain can run on ketones.  Ketones are the broken down pieces of fats stored in your fat cells.  When glucose runs out, your brain starts to use ketones, and can do so quite happily.  So, first and foremost, your brain has to get energy before any other organ in your body.  The rest of your body politely and discretely waits until it is sure that the supply of ketones is secure.  In other words, it waits to make sure there aren’t more carbs coming down the pike.  If you eat every 4 hours, you are always supplying carbs to your brain and your “carbohydrate economy.”  But you aren’t burning fat.

If you are an athlete and run a marathon, you want access to more than the 2000 calories stored in your liver and muscles.  A marathon needs about 6000 calories.  Ask the question: do you want to run your marathon on the carb store you have, and supplement it by eating along the way with extra sugar?  Or do you want access to the 10% body fat you have (10% of 150 pounds is 15 pounds of fat equals 62,000 calories).  You can run a lot further if you have access to your “fat economy”, and perform a lot higher.  That’s what Volek and Phinney have figured out in their research.

The conundrum.  It takes about 10-14 days to switch from a “carb economy” to a “ketone and fat economy”. And once you do, you can ruin it quickly by having a burst of carbs.  But if you don’t have any carbs, you suddenly open the door to a huge reserve of fats that get turned into ketones.  And then you lose weight, perform better on your marathon, don’t “bonk” at 20 miles or “hit the wall”.

That 10-14 day delay is all about protecting your brain so that you are sure that it gets enough calories first.   Knowing that, you can design your own metabolic plan.

WWW.  What Will Work for Me?  This is all about weight control too.  If you want to lose weight, you have to eat below the threshold of instigating an insulin response.  Probably 50 grams a day of carbs is all you can get away with.  Fill that 50 grams with vegetables.  And then always have access to your fat cells and watch the weight gradually drift away.  What’s an athlete to do?  Vegetable load.  Fat load.  But don’t carb load.  The carbohydrate meal should never happen before an athletic event.  Forget the spaghetti dinner.  It makes you worse.  Read the book!  It will change you.

Fish Oil Makes Better Baby Brains

Fish Oil Makes Better Baby Brains

Reference:  Perspectives in Psychological Science, Protzko Jan 23, 2013

Dr Protzko performed a meta-analysis looking at all the sources of higher IQ from all the studies that have been done, and done well, over the last decades.  By combining multiple studies you can get more “power” to your predictive value and hopefully more authenticity, more reliability to your findings. That’s what makes this study intriguing.

Fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acid, supplementation was found to raise the IQ of children some 3.5 points.   Not bad.   Sending a child to preschool added 4 points, and a preschool that included a second language added 7 points.  Reading interactively with children was good for 6 points.  (I guess that means pointing to the cat and asking the child, “How does the cat go?”….”Meowww?)  But fish oil stands out as a food element, or supplement that can be added irrespective of everything else.

Why?  Well this isn’t the first study to show this. The Avon Study from Great Britain a few years back showed that mothers who ate fish frequently had children with higher IQs.  They study was phrased negatively: those who ate the least fish had the lowest IQ children.

But why are omega – 3 fats so critical to your IQ?  SIMPLE!  They are the highest single ingredient in your brain.  As much as 20% of the weight of your brain is made of omega-3 fats.  They critically important fatty acids are typically only a tiny percent of your diet – maybe on the order of 1%.  But they are as important as vitamins.  In the  last 100 years, our natural sources of omega – 3 fatty acids have dried up.  They have done so because our animals that we consume as meat or as dairy (milk, cheese, butter, eggs) have had their food sources changed.  Omega-3 fatty acids are made only by green plants.  They are found in grass.  When we eat grass-raised meat, or drink milk from grass raised animals (cow, goat, sheep, camel) we get those essential and valuable fats.

A baby inside a mother’s womb has its brain growing explosively fast.  In fact, there are those who argue that the reason we give birth to such immature infants is that we have to get the baby out before its head gets any bigger.  Ask any women who has given birth just what it feels like to push that baby’s head out and ask if she would like to wait another week so it could get bigger…  It follows to reason that the most prevalent ingredient would have a negative impact if it wasn’t present in adequate quantities.  The worst possible food for a pregnant mother is what we find in our fast food restaurants and in snack food.  Guess what the dominant food is in poor neighborhoods!  Instead of omega fats, fast food is loaded with destructive trans fats.

WWW. What will work for me.  Every mother to be, and every mother of young children should have their kids on fish oil.   Better yet, if possible new mothers should breast feed.  Breast milk is the most potent source of omega 3 fats for a baby.  The American Academy of Pediatrics was the first to advocate for more fish oil in kids.  But they were too cautious.  A pregnant or new mom should be on at least an additional gram of DHA and EPA a day.  A new born child should also be on some additional fish oil for the first 5 years of their life.  You can buy pleasant tasting liquid fish oil at any compounding pharmacy.   Now, it’s good for babies.  It’s good for you too.

Kill Cancer Cells with Green Tea and Chilies

Kill Cancer Cells with Green Tea and Chilies

Reference;  Morre and Morre

Cancer doesn’t spring forth as an aggressive, invading intruder when we are in our later years.  It probably starts 20-30 years earlier as a couple of immature cells.  Pathologists, looking at cancer development under a microscope describe a progressive series of changes in a colony of cells from normal to “hyperplasia” (where cells are still normal looking but start to look piled up with too many reserve cells) to “metaplasia” (where the normal looking cells start looking more like skin cells instead of their normal cell type), then to “dysplasia” where the cells really start looking disorganized to finally “anaplasia” where the cells are just bizarre, weird and disordered: cancer.   From organized, regulated cells you see a progression of disorder.

Cancer biology is beginning to understand the steps and how the normal control mechanisms gradually go awry.  The next step is to develop and discover how to identify those cells that have just slipped outside the boundary of normal behavior and have started to lose self-control.  Can we find them there, and teach those cells to reregulate themselves?  Considering that it takes about a billion cells to be a marble that you can see on an x-ray or feel on an exam, and that takes 30 cell doublings – then we need to find methods of catching that colony of cancer cells when there have only been 20 cell doublings and we only have a million or so cells.   That would be the size of a grain of salt.

Can we find a cancer when it’s just the size of a grain of salt?  And it’s really not that nasty yet, just getting a little bit mean and crabby.   Well, yes, we can.   As cancers progress from hyperplasia to metaplasia, they start putting a protein on their outer surface that is meant to be deep inside.  It’s called ENOX2.

ENOX 2 is a regulatory protein that is distinctly not meant to be on the surface.  It is shed off of cancer colonies into the blood, and in that context can be detected in femtomole quantities.  (A femtomole is a billionth of a millionth or 10-15.)  A pair of professors at Perdue figured out how to measure it, and that ENOX is a reliable cancer marker.  Their estimates are that you can find this protein between 6-7 years before cancer becomes clinically apparent.

More importantly, the cancer colony is still slightly organized.  It isn’t dysplastic yet,  it’s just metaplastic and can be nudged back into regulation.   And I bet you were wondering where the green tea and chilies comes in.  Yup.  That’s it.  EGCG and chilies are remarkably effective at arresting disorganized cells in their growth phase when grown in petri dishes.   Given around the clock in a precise dosing pattern, green tea extract with chili can arrest those cells and make them go through natural cell death.  This type of therapy heralds a whole new world in cancer therapy: the re-regulation of cancer rather than the poisoning of cancer, which often poisons us and never kills the cancer completely.

WWW.   What will work for me.  Hmm  I can find cancer cells when there are just a few of them?  Do I want to know?  I’m not sure.  Maybe I would if I had a spot on my lung, or a lump in my breast…… or, or, or…..?   But I do know I’m going to learn to like green tea more.


When You Eat is Important – if you want to lose weight

When You Eat is Important – if you want to lose weight

Reference:  International Jr of Obesity, Jan 29 2013

Breakfast like a King/Queen, Lunch Like a Prince/Princess, Dinner like a Pauper.  You’ve heard that.  Grandma knew it.  Now we have research to support it.  Dr. Garaulet from Spain was the lead author in collaboration with Harvard researchers interested in chronobiology – the timing of natural rhythms.

Dr Garaulet found 420 Spaniards who were interested in losing weight.  They were separated into two groups based on when they naturally ate their largest meal of the day.  Then, they were given some training on how to lose weight.  Over the next five months, both groups ate the same amount of calories, which were carefully tracked.  Both had the same hormonal changes.   But one group lost 5 pounds more, or 25% increased weight loss.  That was the group that ate their largest meal at lunch time, earlier than 3 pm.   Those who ate their largest meal later than three pm also tended to also skip breakfast more than the others.   Now, it is culturally common in Spain to eat a big lunch and then a smaller dinner.  It is also not uncommon to eat the last meal very late at night.  The late eaters were very similar in all aspects from the early eaters except for their insulin sensitivity.  In that instance, they tended to be a bit more insulin resistant.

Why would this be the case?  We’ve actually known this for a long time in tiny pieces.  In America, we have had studies that show that if you eat a low glycemic breakfast you will eat 200 fewer calories later in the day.  We also know that there is a strong correlation with skipping breakfast and being overweight.  So there are clear indications that timing matters.  What is that timing?

Cortisol is our main chronobiological hormone.  It is called our “stress” hormone but that role may be overstated.  It is also the hormone that makes us feel alert and awake and helps us mobilize energy.  Hence, when we have stress we make extra energy available, which is a good thing.  Cortisol peaks at 7-8 am and reaches a low during the night.  If you eat a big breakfast, you are matching your calorie intake with the main hormone your body is putting out to help mobilize energy.   If you eat a large meal after 4 pm, you are taking in a lot of calories just when your “mobilization of calories” is winding down.  Hence, you might as well store them.  Considering that it takes a couple of hours for calories to work through your digestion and into your blood, it only makes sense to have those calories show up as you need them.  Now match that timing with healthy protein and vegetables, reduce the total amount and you lose weight.

WWW. What will work for me.  I sleep better when I let myself get used not eating late at night.  That evening snack often disrupts my sleep later.  Many of us are late night snackers.  We are shifting the burden of calories to the time our body wants to shut down, leaving it little choice but to store.