Going Keto: Is It Worth It?

A short and sweet summary of what Keto is, what actually happens, and who all should consider using it.

The Ketogenic diet has been all the rage lately with its claims of weight loss glory and sciency sounding words used to describe it. However, like all extreme diets, there are reasons both to jeer and cheer. So today, I wanted to give a short and sweet summary of what Keto is, what actually happens, and who all should consider using it.
What Is Keto?
In short, if you don’t eat carbs, your body will turn fat into ketone bodies that act like sugar in the tissues that need them. More specifically, the ketogenic diet involves severely restricting carbohydrate intake to about 10-20 grams per day while having a high fat intake, along with moderate protein consumption. So when people hear that the Keto diet forces your body to burn fat, they think “Eureka! It’s the holy grail of weight loss!!!!” In the short term, you will lose a lot of weight, which will get you motivated to stick with the diet. But this is water weight that will return once you eat carbs again and restore the glycogen (muscle fuel) to your muscles. However, what we do know is that ketogenic diets don’t seem to provide a metabolic advantage or result in a higher rate of fat loss when compared to isocaloric non-ketogenic diets with equal amounts of protein (1). Just because you burn fat doesn’t mean you lose fat!
Inline image 2
Other Claims
Those who swear by Keto also say that fat is good for you, sugar is bad,the diet can reduce inflammation, high fat diets make you burn more calories, carbohydrates are stored more easily than fat, eating fat before a meal makes you eat less, you eat less when you eat high-fat meals, and fat is more satiating than carbohydrates. Almost sounds like this diet is too good to be true! Well… it is.
No, sugar is not by itself bad for you when used in moderation. The old notion that specific foods will raise and lower your insulin (glycemic index) has been called into question, and can in large part be dismissed because we all react differently even when given the same foods (2).
Pretty much anything that you eat will cause inflammation/bloating (3).
High-fat diets won’t make you burn more calories (4).
Sugar isn’t stored more easily as fat when compared to other calorie sources (5), and the adverse effects of a high-glycemic diet are likely due to increased energy consumption rather than to increased fat storage (6).
Consuming fat before a meal won’t make you eat any less, however, consuming carbs or protein will (7).
Eating meals that are energy dense is a bad idea whether it’s fat or sugar that we are talking about (8).
Fat is the LEAST satiating (filling) macronutrient (9).
How It Can Work For You
Keto isn’t all nonsense and fairy tails. It can, and will, actually work for many people who use it. However, it works because it restricts a number of calories your taking in which can be done just as easily by reducing calories from your fat intake (10). In the long term, going the Keto route seems to work great because it in part forces you to avoid calorie dense foods (11). And while similar high-fat diet fads such as Paleo/bullet proof are bad for your blood lipid/cholesterol levels (12), Keto does not encourage consumption of large amounts of saturated fat (13). In fact, Keto seems to increase the amount of HDL (good cholesterol) and other hormones (14).

Much of the Ketogenic diet mythology revolves around false claims and over exaggeration of the truth. However, it works. As long as you can handle the restrictions, Keto works the same as every other successful diet. You burn more calories than you consume. It’s also safe and comes with other health benefits like a better blood lipid profile. So if it sounds doable for you, give it a shot and let me know how it works for you!
1. Hall, K. D., Chen, K. Y., Guo, J., Lam, Y. Y., Leibel, R. L., Mayer, L. E., … & Ravussin, E. (2016). Energy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 104(2), 324-333.
2. Zeevi, D., Korem, T., Zmora, N., Israeli, D., Rothschild, D., Weinberger, A., … & Suez, J. (2015). Personalized nutrition by prediction of glycemic responses. Cell, 163(5), 1079-1094.
3. Dror, E., Dalmas, E., Meier, D. T., Wueest, S., Thévenet, J., Thienel, C., … & Vallois, D. (2017). Postprandial macrophage-derived IL-1 [beta] stimulates insulin, and both synergistically promote glucose disposal and inflammation. Nature immunology.
4. Thomas, C. D., Peters, J. C., Reed, G. W., Abumrad, N. N., Sun, M. I. N. G., & Hill, J. O. (1992). Nutrient balance and energy expenditure during ad libitum feeding of high-fat and high-carbohydrate diets in humans. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 55(5), 934-942.
5. Veum, V. L., Laupsa-Borge, J., Eng, Ø., Rostrup, E., Larsen, T. H., Nordrehaug, J. E., … & Mellgren, G. (2017). Visceral adiposity and metabolic syndrome after very high–fat and low-fat isocaloric diets: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105(1), 85-99.
6. Bosy-Westphal, A., Hägele, F., & Nas, A. (2016). Impact of dietary glycemic challenge on fuel partitioning. European journal of clinical nutrition.
7. Stubbs, R. J., Harbron, C. G., Murgatroyd, P. R., & Prentice, A. M. (1995). Covert manipulation of dietary fat and energy density: effect on substrate flux and food intake in men eating ad libitum. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 62(2), 316-329.
8. Rolls, B. J. (2000). The role of energy density in the overconsumption of fat. The Journal of nutrition, 130(2), 268S-271S.
9. Weight, L. (1995). A satiety index of common foods. European journal of clinical nutrition, 49(9), 675-690.
10. Sacks, F. M., Bray, G. A., Carey, V. J., Smith, S. R., Ryan, D. H., Anton, S. D., … & Leboff, M. S. (2009). Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med, 2009(360), 859-873.
11. Bueno, N. B., de Melo, I. S. V., de Oliveira, S. L., & da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(07), 1178-1187.
12. Smith, M., Trexler, E., Sommer, A., Starkoff, B., & Devor, S. (2014). Unrestricted Paleolithic diet is associated with unfavorable changes to blood lipids in healthy subjects. International Journal of Exercise Science, 7(2), 4.
13. Zong, G., Li, Y., Wanders, A. J., Alssema, M., Zock, P. L., Willett, W. C., … & Sun, Q. (2016). Intake of individual saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: two prospective longitudinal cohort studies. bmj, 355, i5796.
14. Silva, J. (2014). The effects of very high fat, very low carbohydrate diets on safety, blood lipid profile, and anabolic hormone status. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), P39.

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Take a look at what we know and don’t know about recognizing and treating the enigmatic epidemic.

Are you tired all the time? Feeling mentally foggy all the time? Sleep just doesn’t feel as good as it used to? Well, you’re not alone. Up to 2.5 million Americans have similar symptoms, and as many as 1/4 are homebound or bedridden (1). These symptoms are some of the few that describe systemic exertion intolerance disease (chronic fatigue syndrome); however, little is understood about the issue. Several individuals have asked me about this topic recently, so I thought I would do my best to shed light on this tired topic. So let’s take a look at what we know and don’t know about recognizing and treating the enigmatic epidemic.
What Is It Exactly?
Let’s start out with talking about what a syndrome is. It is a set of medical signs and symptoms that are correlated with each other. This is different from a disease which is a health condition that has a clearly defined reason behind it. So, to be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, you need to meet the following criteria (2):
Diagnosis requires that the patient have the following 3 symptoms:
1. A substantial reduction or impairment in the ability to engage in pre-illness levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities that persists for more than 6 months and is accompanied by fatigue, which is often profound, is of new or definite onset (not lifelong), is not the result of ongoing excessive exertion, and is not substantially alleviated by rest AND
2. Postexertional malaise(aAND
3. Unrefreshing sleep(a)
At least 1 of the 2 following manifestations is also required:
1. Cognitive impairment(a) OR
2. Orthostatic intolerance
 a. Frequency and severity of symptoms should be assessed. The diagnosis of systemic exertion intolerance disease (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) should be questioned if patients do not have these symptoms at least half of the time with moderate, substantial, or severe intensity.
In other words, substantial reductions or impairments in the ability to engage in pre-illness activities, unrefreshing sleep, post-exertional malaise (general feeling of not being healthy or happy), and either cognitive impairment or orthostatic intolerance.
Orthostatic intolerance: hypotension, and symptoms, such as lightheadedness, that occur when upright and are relieved by sitting down (3).
What It’s Not
Chronic fatigue syndrome is not just the feeling of being tired all the time. If sleep is an issue because you drink a gallon of coffee a day, well then the problem is your nutrition. See the article Woman Who Drinks 6 Cups Of Coffee Per Day Trying To Cut Down On Blue Light At Bedtime for more details. The fact that you’re tired all the time is more than likely self-sabotage in one form or another. You could be anxious about work, nervous that your newborn isn’t breathing because she hasn’t made a noise in over 2 minutes, or jacked up on Mountain Dew. So, don’t go rushing to your doctor because you read this and realized that you’re tired during your work days after you eat lunch!
Chronic fatigue syndrome also is not adrenal fatigue syndrome. Although the reported symptoms are similar, the fact of the matter is that adrenal fatigue DOES NOT EXIST (4)!!! It is a made up disease, developed by quacks, that’s used to sell people supplements/treatments that they don’t need. The real issue probably has more to do with cortisol control, and by trying to treat adrenal fatigue, you are simply prolonging the diagnosis of the real problem. 
Chronic fatigue also is not leaky gut syndrome. Because leaky gut syndrome also DOES NOT EXIST (5)!!! Yes, the permeability of the intestines can be altered. However, there is a complex but dynamic association between mucosal permeability and immune system homeostasis. In other words, things in the gut happen for a reason, they’re not always good or bad, and we don’t know enough one way or another to say what exactly is going on. To be clear, leaky gut syndrome also doesn’t not exist either. But there is no use treating a sick leprechaun with fairy dust in the real world. 
It has been brought to my attention that the research I cited in this portion of the blog post has been called into question. It seems that the use of cognitive behavioral therapy is not a valid treatment. Instead of deleting this portion of the post, I am striking it out for transparency.
As of right now, there seems to be no gold standard for the treatment of chronic fatigue. However, if you suspect that you have some of the signs or symptoms, please speak with your doctor. You could be mistaking your symptoms ask chronic fatigue when they could be symptoms of a more serious issue such as thyroid dysfunction. Should a treatment become available, I will be sure to update this blog post.
To date, the only real treatment that seems to work is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) (6). CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. The fact that CBT works as well as it does, and other physical treatments like exercise don’t seem to work well, leads me to believe that chronic fatigue syndrome does not stem from a physical ailment (7). However, I am no expert on the subject of psychotherapy vs. physical medicines so I will leave it at that. I will say, that if you feel as if you are a prime candidate for a chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis, see your doctor and discuss the possibility of seeing a mental health professional. 
1. Marshall, R., Paul, L., & Wood, L. (2011). The search for pain relief in people with chronic fatigue syndrome: a descriptive study. Physiotherapy theory and practice, 27(5), 373-383.
2. Clayton, E. W. (2015). Beyond myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: an IOM report on redefining an illness. Jama, 313(11), 1101-1102.
3. Stewart, J. M. (2013). Common syndromes of orthostatic intolerance. Pediatrics, 131(5), 968-980.
4. Cadegiani, F. A., & Kater, C. E. (2016). Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review. BMC endocrine disorders, 16(1), 48.
5. Ahmad, R., Sorrell, M. F., Batra, S. K., Dhawan, P., & Singh, A. B. (2017). Gut permeability and mucosal inflammation: bad, good or context dependent. Mucosal Immunology, 10(2), 307-317.
6. Gluckman, S. J., Aronson, M. D., & Mitty, J. Treatment of systemic exertion intolerance disease (chronic fatigue syndrome).
7. White, P. D., Goldsmith, K. A., Johnson, A. L., Potts, L., Walwyn, R., DeCesare, J. C., … & Bavinton, J. (2011). Comparison of adaptive pacing therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, graded exercise therapy, and specialist medical care for chronic fatigue syndrome (PACE): a randomised trial. The Lancet, 377(9768), 823-836.

Organic Food: My Current Stance

Part of my job is to stay up to date with the latest trends in the health and fitness world and vet the information for quality. From shake weights, ketogenic diets, and fasted cardio to magic weight loss wraps, diet pills, and green coffee beans, I need to know what it is and why it does or does not work. My stance always comes from that of a skeptic, especially if the claims made about a particular trend are extraordinary. And because science is always pushing forward, my opinions can change over time. The topic of organic food vs. conventional food has been a real SOB to tackle. However, today I wanted to go over where I currently stand. So, is organic food really worth all the extra $$$, or are you buying a Ferrari when a Honda Civic is really all you need?
What Makes It Organic?
Let’s first take a quick look at what goes into making a particular food organic. Being certified organic is really a matter of farmers adhering to USDA guidelines. There’s way too much info for me to go over in this post, but check out this link for the specifics. For something to be deemed organic, it needs to be in the condition of being ordered as a living being, or of any chemical that contains the element carbon, regardless of its source. So that means there are chemicals that are allowed in organic farming other than cow poop, such as copper sulfate, boric acid, elemental sulfur, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), ammonium carbonate, and magnesium sulfate. But don’t be worried about all those chemicals. For you to feel any negative side effects of eating conventional herbicide, you would need to eat tons of it per day. I’m sure it’s the same for the organic stuff too. 
Organic Food Health Implications
So I’m going to dive right into the heart of the matter and start off by talking about what’s good for your health. And I’m sad to say that there really is no evidence to say that eating organic has any positive, or negative, health outcomes (1). However, there are a bunch of indicators that suggest there may be benefits. For instance, organic food has been shown to have:
 – More Antioxidants (between 18% and 69%)
 – Less cadmium (on average, about 48 % lower)
 – Four-times less likely to contain detectable pesticide residues 
 – Slightly more omega-3 fatty acids (good for the heart)
 – Slightly less saturated fatty acids (good for the heart)
 However, conventional foods have been shown to have;
 – higher concentrations of iodine and selenium (iodine deficiency can lead to impaired fetal brain development)
 – higher concentrations of protein, nitrogen, nitrate, nitrite, respectively (these can have both positive and negative health impacts)
At the end of the day, organic foods are not really any more nutritious on a meaningful level but do have some small advantages (2). For instance, it may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria (3). Although pesticide residues for both conventional and organic crops are negligible compared to the safe minimum daily dosage, these are a small but meaningful difference for some individuals.
The Cost Of Organic
While everyone knows that the price of organic is greater than conventional foods (by about 47% in fact), what are the other costs of eating organic? Well, the thought of paying more to help out your local farmer is certainly noble, and I highly recommend buying from a farm that you trust and want to support. However, simply buying organic from the supermarket does not help out the little guy despite all the advertising. Organic farming is also bad for the environment
environmental impact
Growing organic means you get 35% less food per acre when compared to conventional methods (4). It also means greater ammonia emissions (eye & lung irritant), nitrogen leaching (gets into our water), and nitrous oxide emissions (greenhouse gas) (5). Organic farming can be better for soil health, however. 
Final Thoughts
At this point, it may seem like I have been bashing organic foods, but I want to be clear that I am laying out the facts and not making this about one ideology vs. another. The reality is that everyone should be eating more fruits and vegetables regardless of where they come from. No one should feel ashamed because they can’t afford to eat organic foods. Making the choice to eat organic should be about preferences. Although “organic” doesn’t mean it’s any healthier or tastes better if you prefer it over food stuff then go for it (6,7). Don’t let the PR firms fool you; you won’t have any worse health outcomes by eating non-organic foods. Just choose whole food sources from the produce section, and if you want to ensure the highest quality, grow it yourself and/or get to know your local farmers. 
1. Barański, M., Rempelos, L., Iversen, P. O., & Leifert, C. (2017). Effects of organic food consumption on human health; the jury is still out!. Food & Nutrition Research, 61(1), 1287333.
2. Dangour, A. D., Dodhia, S. K., Hayter, A., Allen, E., Lock, K., & Uauy, R. (2009). Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 90(3), 680-685.
3. Smith-Spangler, C., Brandeau, M. L., Hunter, G. E., Bavinger, J. C., Pearson, M., Eschbach, P. J., … & Olkin, I. (2012). Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review. Annals of internal medicine, 157(5), 348-366.
4. Seufert, V., Ramankutty, N., & Foley, J. A. (2012). Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture. Nature, 485(7397), 229-232.
5. Tuomisto, H. L., Hodge, I. D., Riordan, P., & Macdonald, D. W. (2012). Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts?–A meta-analysis of European research. Journal of environmental management, 112, 309-320.
6. Fillion, L., & Arazi, S. (2002). Does organic food taste better? A claim substantiation approach. Nutrition & Food Science, 32(4), 153-157.
7. Johansson, L., Haglund, Å., Berglund, L., Lea, P., & Risvik, E. (1999). Preference for tomatoes, affected by sensory attributes and information about growth conditions. Food quality and preference, 10(4), 289-298.

Double The Metabolism Mayhem!

Today’s post is a follow up to last weeks discussion where I went over the basics of metabolism science.

Today’s post is a follow up to last weeks discussion where I went over the basics of metabolism science. As we know, our metabolism is complex and there isn’t much we can do to greatly change it. However, today I wanted to talk about how gaining and losing fat can change the way your brain regulates your body weight. This is a complex area because our body composition can be influenced by a myriad of factors including sex hormone levels, macronutrient intake (especially protein), exercise style / frequency / intensity, age, medication use, genetic predisposition, and more. No ones body defies the laws of physics. So if the calories in calories out equation isn’t working for you, it’s because the equation is more complicated than it sounds.
Calories In
This part is easy. You eat food, so you gain calories from that food… right? Well not exactly. For starters we aren’t very accurate at guessing how many calories are in foods. In fact, food labels can be off by up to 20-25%! Secondly, the amount of energy we absorb, store, and/or use isn’t even close to being uniform! For instance, processed foods (cooked, chopped, soaked, blended, etc.) are broken down plant and animal cells, which means we absorb more energy from them. Have a gut feeling that there’s something more to it? Well you’re right! The bacteria in your gut can also influence the amount of energy we take in from foods. In the end, don’t count on counting calories to correctly calculate the quantity of calories converted to energy. Say that three times fast and receive a free high five!
Calories Out
I would first like to make a correction to last weeks post where I stated “with digestion we use a maximum of 43% of energy from the foods we eat.” Although it is true that the thermic effect of eating consists of burning 0–3% from fat, 5–10% from carbs, and 20–30% from protein, these numbers actually only represent roughly 5-10% energy out. The point here remains that meat sweats are real. Protein requires a lot of energy to digest!
As a refresher, our resting metabolic rate (RMR) accounts for about 60% of our calories out per day. But guess what… that figure can be off by about 15%! That means while I’m a 200-pound guy with an RMR of 1905 calories, another guy just like me might burn 286 more (or fewer) calories each day with no more (or less) effort. Tack on variable from the last two sources of energy out (physical activity and NEAT), and now have a 50% disparity between what can be calculated to calories in and out vs. reality. Ultimately the Energy Balance Equation will look like this.
Damage Done
Because our bodies enjoy consistency (homeostasis), it will respond negatively when you restrict your calorie intake. So what happens when you go on a restrictive diet? The thermic effect of eating goes down because you’re eating less. Resting metabolic rate goes down because you weigh less. Calories burned through physical activity go down since you weigh less. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis goes down as you eat less. Calories not absorbed goes down and you absorb more of what you eat. Hunger signals increase, causing us to crave (and maybe eat) more. A rise in cortisol from the stress of dieting can cause our bodies to hold onto more water. Bad things also happen when you over exercise as well. For instance, over exercising can cause an increased appetite and more calories eaten, absorbing more of what we eat, decreased RMR, and decreased NEAT. YIKES! The good new is that losing weight won’t “damage” your metabolism. Your body simply makes adaptations in response to fat loss (to prevent that fat loss, in fact).
The Bottom Line
 – How your metabolism reacts to changes in energy balance will be unique to you.
 – Food labels are way off, so 1,600 calories eaten daily could really be 1,200… or 2,000.
 – By eating a diet rich in whole, minimally processed foods, the number of calories you absorb can be significantly decreased and require more calories to digest.
 – Eating lots of highly processed foods will increase the calories absorbed, burn fewer calories in the digestive process, be less filling, more energy dense, and more likely to cause overeating.
 – Energy out for those who have lost significant weight will always be lower than for people who were always lean, so keep in mind that exercise provides tremendous health benefits and should be done for more than just weight loss purposes.
 – Losing weight, and keeping it off, is accompanied by adaptive metabolic, neuroendocrine, autonomic, and other changes.
 – Even if your body might defend against weight loss, you can still lose weight, gain muscle, and dramatically change your body.
 – TAKE ACTION by eating plenty of protein, eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, quality carbs, and healthy fats, adjust portions as you plateau, or to prevent plateaus, create an environment that encourages good food choices, do a mixture ofresistanceHIITcardiovascular, and recovery activities, find ways to increase NEAT, create a nightly sleep routine and manage your stress, and eat slowly to enjoy your meals and decrease the total amount of calories consumed.

Metabolism Mayhem!

Almost everyone has heard that our metabolism does… something.

Almost everyone has heard that our metabolism does… something. If you have a high metabolism, you can eat a lot and stay lean. Or maybe, you put on weight just looking at a piece of cake because you have a slow metabolism. But what the heck is the metabolism anyways?!?!?! Well that’s what I’ll be answering today, and I will go over some common misconceptions that I hear all too frequently.
Calories enter your body one way (om nom nom!), but there’s many ways for them to leave it. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) accounts for 60–70% of daily calories burned and included doing things like breathing, thinking, filtering waste. You know… bodily functions required for living. However, your BMR can be subject to many things including your size, composition (body fat%), age, genetics, hormones, and health status. This means even the most accurate way of calculating your metabolic rate (Mifflin-St Jeor equation), can still be about 10% off! Other ways we burn calories include food thermogenesis (digestion) which accounts for 10% of daily calories burned, and physical activity which accounts for 20% of daily calories burned.
Magic Bullets
For health “Guru’s” each area of metabolism is a way to sell a particular magic bullet for fitness or weight loss. But magic bullets don’t exist, so here are a few common myths that have cropped up over the years.
More Meals = More Metabolic Burn – The thought behind this is that if we burn calories by eating, then eating more frequently will burn more calories. While this, in part, is true, it is also very far off point. This is because to help with digestion we use a maximum of 43% of energy from the foods we eat (0–3% from fat, 5–10% from carbs, and 20–30% from protein). In short, eating more frequently means we are doing nothing more that increasing the total amount of calories we eat throughout the day. So if your goal is weight loss, this myth is busted.
I Moved More = I Eat More –  This may be the worst myth because it creates a bad habit! While movement is about 20% of our metabolic demand, only a small portion of that (7-9% daily) comes from the gym! This means if you reward yourself for going to the gym you are doing nothing more than consuming more calories than burned. Most of the calories burned from moving are from doing NEAT things like walking, doing chores, and even fidgeting.
More Muscles = More Food – Another common myth is that as you grow more muscles you burn significantly more calories. Again, a partial truth that has been blown out of proportion by the likes of Dr. Oz, fitness magazines, and other nonsense peddlers. They have claimed that 1 pound of muscle burns an extra 50 calories a day. In reality, a pound of muscle burns 6 calories a day at rest and a pound of fat burns about 2 calories a day. So getting shredded doesn’t mean you have the luxury of eating everything in sight!
Fat Burning Exercise = Weight Loss – As we exercise our body metabolizes fuels like carbohydrates and fats. Someone had the great idea to start burning fat instead of carbs to lose weight! But that’s not how it works. Our fuel source for exercise doesn’t matter at all if you are eating more calories than you are using on a daily basis. So don’t pay any attention to the “fat burn” settings on the cardio machines or fat burning supplements. Just make sure you are working hard to burn as many calories as you can while exercising!
Taking Metabolic Actions
Before you get too down on yourself and think there is nothing that you can do to help stay metabolically fired up, there are a few simple ways to “boost” metabolism. The first thing you can do is simply move more. Take the stairs, park far away, exercise regularly, even standing more will boost your metabolism throughout the day. My second tip is to eat more protein. This simple action will increase thermogenesis as well as muscle mass which are two small things that when put together will have enhanced results. But more importantly, increasing total amounts of protein will make you feel fuller more quickly/longer which will decrease your total caloric intake! Finally, having the perspective of “you lose weight in the kitchen, you gain health in the gym” will help you avoid scams and place focus on the things that are most important.

I Know Less Now Than I Did a Year Ago & Why That’s A Good Thing

The more you learn, the less you know.

For most people, the word “maybe”  often indicates a lack of confidence in the answer to a question. For me, it’s become the standard answer to just about any health and fitness question. Because I have learned, time and time again, that there is no such thing as an absolute certainty anymore. When I first came out of school with my undergraduate degree in Athletic Training, I was very confident in myself and my skills. Like most young professionals, I thought I was the best and brightest wherever I went. Of course, now I know that what I learned then was only the tip of the iceberg. During graduate school, I became a lot less certain of how much I knew. And as I sit here and write this today, I realize that I am John Snow. Because the age-old saying is absolutely true… “the more you learn, the less you know.
Inline image 1
It’s Not Me, It’s You
I have a love-hate relationship with learning. I love to find out the right answers to questions, but I hate that the process inevitably adds more questions that need to be answered! It’s a positive feedback loop that drives some people to do crazy things like getting PhD’s. But what’s even more frustrating, is the fact that there are so many bad sources of information which are not always easy to sniff out. By now, most of us know some basic red flags to look out for such as:
🚩 If it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is.
 🚩 Specific results promised within a specific time frame.
🚩You must do THIS exact thing to see results.
 🚩 A magic pill, shake, supplement, etc without changing anything else in your life.
🚩 Using the phrase long and lean.
 🚩 And the classic standby nonsense word Detox (1).
In academic research, there are no guarantees as well. One major issue in research is that people don’t like to change. So if you have been doing something for years, you don’t want to be proven wrong. This can lead to instances where studies may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias (2). This can be done by the misuse of statistics sometimes called “p hacking” (3). This is especially true when a study is funded by an industry, such as a food or supplement company (4). Study participants can also throw things off as well. For instance, we suck at reporting how much and what kind of food we eat (5). This makes it extremely difficult to accurately determine what dietary guidelines are appropriate (6). It’s why cholesterol was the worst thing for us a few years ago, but now it’s no big deal. Not to mention how the media will take a study and blow it way out of proportion. Remember when resveratrol found in red wine was said to be as good for you as exercise? Well, it turns out not to be true because humans react differently than animals do when it comes to that particular compound (7).
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What I’m trying to say, is that we are all responsible for the quality of information out there. From the researchers to the study participants, to us the consumers of information, we can all do better at getting and creating quality information. Fortunately, there are organizations out there who are keeping track of the poor studies that should never see the light of day. And there are high-quality organizations who just want to help and aren’t looking to sell you anything.
The Upside
Don’t get all bummed out about what you just read. The whole point of writing this is to tell you YOU’RE AWESOME! Taking time out of your day to read this means you’re willing to do what it takes to better yourself. You have a thirst for knowledge which is ultimately going to make you better! This leads me to my last point, we all need to be willing to change our minds instead of digging in. Recognizing the error of our ways can be difficult. However, admitting we were wrong about something and changing our ways is how we change for the better. Because as Ben Franklin put it, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” I don’t want to be done with discovering and growing as a person. I’m not finished with my pursuit of education. I don’t know as much as I did a year ago because I spent so much time learning.


  1. Klein, A. V., & Kiat, H. (2015). Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: A critical review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 28(6), 675-686. doi:10.1111/jhn.12286
  2. Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2005). Why most published research findings are false. PLoS Medicine, 2(8), e124. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124
  3. Misinterpretations of the ‘p value’: a brief primer for academic sports medicine Steven D Stovitz, Evert Verhagen, Ian Shrier Br J Sports Med bjsports-2016-097072Published Online First: 24 November 2016 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-097072
  4. Colquhoun, D. (2014). An investigation of the false discovery rate and the misinterpretation of p-values. Royal Society Open Science, 1(3), 140216-140216. doi:10.1098/rsos.140216
  5. Schoeller, D. A., Thomas, D., Archer, E., Heymsfield, S. B., Blair, S. N., Goran, M. I., . . . Allison, D. B. (2013). Self-report-based estimates of energy intake offer an inadequate basis for scientific conclusions. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(6), 1413.
  6. Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2013). Implausible results in human nutrition research. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 347, f6698.
  7. Fernández-Quintela A, Carpéné C, Fernández M, Aguirre L, Milton-Laskibar I, Contreras J, Portillo MP. (2016). Anti-obesity effects of resveratrol: comparison between animal models and humans. J Physiol Biochem.[Epub ahead of print]PMID: 27981508 DOI: 10.1007/s13105-016-0544-y

What Keeps Me Up At Night

To maximize my sleep, I need to stay motivated. So today I am sharing some thoughts on how to stay motivated, and keep things in perspective.

 There are two things that can keep me up at night. The first being my cats who fight and sprint around like crazy as I’m lying in bed. I call it the “furry fury” hour. The second being the thought that I am not doing everything I can to help  my clients and those I interact with on a day to day basis. To be the very best professional and person I can be, I do a lot of reading. This is because I not only want to know the science behind my profession, but I want to know how I can best communicate my knowledge to those who need it. To maximize my sleep, I need to stay motivated. So today I am sharing some thoughts on how to stay motivated, and keep things in perspective.
 For me, productivity is only obtainable when I have a (relatively) clear mind. This means I can’t be bogged down by trivial nonsense or things I can’t control. Incorporating strength training, yoga, Pilates, and meditation are great ways to reduce stress and keep me productive. Just as important to me, is the concept of work life balance. Loving what I do comes with the burden of an immense time commitment to my place of work. To avoid burn out, I make time to do thing I love during the week. Whether it’s blocking out time to get lunch with my wife, or simply playing a round of disc golf in the middle of the day, I commit myself to loving life. In turn this allows me the will power to redouble my efforts while at work. Because everything you do is either going to raise your average or lower it.
Be Happy
 When it comes to achieving goals, being happy with you efforts is essential. This is particularly true when it comes to health and fitness goals. Motivation needs to come from within, and being able to sleep at night will be much easier if you know you did the best you can in pursuit of your goal. Fortunately, science shows that exercising makes us happy! Unfortunately, most of us know that it’s getting the courage to go to the gym that’s the hard part. So here are 10 excuses to not exercised squashed.
1. “I don’t have time” – Schedule it and make it a priority.it only takes 10 minutes to make a difference.
2. Too expensive – There are so many outlets for no-equipment workouts. And there are free services to take advantage of at O2 and almost any other gym.
3. “I don’t know what I’m doing  – You get two free sessions from a trainer at O2 so take advantage of our knowledge. If you don’t want to do that, just ask someone who knows what they’re doing for help. People a generally nice, and you may even make a new friend.
4. “I’m too out of shape” – We all need to start somewhere. And unless you’re grunting, no one will really judge you for what you’re doing at the gym.
5. “I can’t commit” – Paying for a service is a great way to commit and follow through. Here are some more ideas that don’t require financial commitment.
6. “I don’t like exercising” – There are so many forms of exercise that, trust me on this, you just haven’t found the one you enjoy yet. Keep trying new things!
7. “I lack motivation”Plan ahead. Schedule yourself to run a 5k or make plans with friends to meet at the gym consistently.
8. “I’m too tired” – Guess what… exercise releases endorphins, increases energy, and elevates your overall mood. So stop being lazy and get it done!
9. “I look good enough” – Loving yourself the way you are is indeed important. But exercise is more than that. It reduces stress, improve your cardiovascular health, improve your mood, sleep better, and feel better.
10. “I’m too old” – NOPE! As we age weight-bearing exercises become super important to maintain bone mass, making modified strength training ideal. Using low impact activities such as water aerobics, yoga, walking, or Pilates are also great ways to stay active.
 Being healthy and motivated means different thing to everyone. So my final thought on the matter is to find yourself a roll model. I look up to people like James Fell, Alan Aragon, and Spencer Nadolsky. But the best roll model I have in my life is my wife. She is the hardest working person I have have ever met, and she is incredibly intelligent. So you may not have to look too far to find the inspiration you need to find success and sleep sound at night.
Bonus picture of the two responsible for keeping me up at night 🙂