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Why do people love cleanse diets?

So recently I’ve had a few of my female clients ask me about cleanse diets.

I personally would NEVER ever do one…or for that matter recommend that any of my clients do one.

This is what I think of when I think of cleanse diets (although many of them aren’t low carb).

I know they are the popular thing, but honestly, they are stupid.

Really? Drink juice for a week and your body will be cleansed?!?

Sounds like a week of feeling crappy and overloaded with sugar!

And when I tell most people that I think cleanses are stupid, they say to me, “Well then how do you rid your body of all the toxins that accumulate?”

UHM…I DON’T EAT CRAP FOOD MOST OF THE TIME!

You shouldn’t need to do a cleanse if you are eating a healthy diet 80% of the time. That healthy eating will, itself, make your body healthier and remove all of the “toxins.”

And really you think that one week on a “cleanse” is going to remove all the toxins from your body that you’ve been consuming for months and months and months eating a poor diet!?!

HA!

If you want to make your body healthy, you need to eat healthily most of the time…not for one week!

And the funniest thing is, when I say they should eat healthy 80% of the time if they really want a clean, healthy body, they tell me that only cleanses TRULY remove all of the gunk. That eating healthy doesn’t get it all out.

REALLY!?!

Some cleanse diet is going to remove some hidden gunk that eating only whole natural foods won’t remove!?!

UHM…NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

Sometimes I want to ask people obsessed with cleanse diets what this supposed hidden gunk is? I mean really what is so supposedly stuck in us that only a cleanse diet can rid of us?

Also, I would just like to point out that most of these cleanse diets really AREN’T THAT HEALTHY OR GOOD FOR YOU!

You really thinking drinking juice for a week is that great for you? All you are consuming is a ton of carbs in the form of SUGAR!

That isn’t healthy!

But when I tell people that cleanse diets AREN’T healthy, I usually get a response like, “Well I saw a cleanse diet by Dr. Oz!”

Dr. Oz….Usually I would have a rant against him, but in this case…Well I actually kind of like him.

When they say that to me, I usually say, “Have you looked at the difference between your FAD cleanse and Dr. Oz’s?”

The Dr. Oz cleanse is basically like eating just a super clean all natural diet!

It isn’t juice with cayenne pepper! It is chicken and veggies. It is just SUPER CLEAN NATURAL FOODS!

If you want a TRUE cleanse, you don’t need to do some crazy diet that cuts out all but one food group! Just eat whole natural foods that aren’t processed at all!

Or you know what…maybe even add in some intermittent fasting…Now fasting a bit…that IS truly good for your body!

Oh but wait….you aren’t doing a cleanse to be healthy? No…you are doing the cleanse because your friend supposedly lost 10lbs in one week?!?

Oh well then of course do the cleanse! It must be the magic pill for weight loss!

NOT!

Cleanse diets might help you lose a bit of weight, but the second you stop the cleanse, do you really think you are going to maintain the weight loss?

You haven’t changed your normal daily eating habits so how do you think you are going to keep that lost weight off?

YOU AREN’T GOING TO!

So why waste a week of your life on a completely miserable diet only to lose weight that you will probably gain back in less than two days when you return to your old eating habits?

DON’T!

There is no quick weight loss solution. If you want to lose weight, eat clean whole, natural foods. Eat a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and meat. (Shoot I would even say a well-balanced diet of vegetables and meat, which is completely the opposite of some of those fruit and sugar-laden cleanses!)

If you want to truly lose weight, you need to start a diet you can maintain for more than a week.

And if you are completely and utterly set on doing some sort of “cleanse” go super strict the first couple of weeks on your diet. Eat only vegetables and meat.

Then maybe after those two weeks of super clean eating, add back in a few healthy treats…like fruits or maybe a glass of wine or some dark chocolate or a little full-fat dairy here and there.

The point is that these fad cleanses aren’t healthy AND they don’t truly help you lose weight. If you want to be “clean” and lose weight, your only solution is to eat whole natural foods.

Even Dr. Oz says so!

You starve yourself!?!

This is the common reaction I get when people find out that I occasionally fast.

Sometimes I fast for 16 hours. Sometimes I fast for 24.

But either way…I’M NOT STARVING MYSELF!

Actually there are lots of good things associated with fasting, including looking super sexy!

I mean have you SEEN Leangains!?! Or the author of Eat Stop Eat, Brad Pilon?!?

Leangains – Before fasting…and after fasting. I’ll give you one guess which is which!

Eat Stop Eat’s Brad Pilon…He looks pretty darn good too!

I mean shoot! Do you really need any more reasons to try fasting than those pictures!?!

I DON’T!

But if looking good isn’t enough, can I also say that I got stronger and WON a powerlifting competition while doing intermittent fasting?!?

Yep that’s right! I did intermittent fasting the couple of months before the competition and increased my maxes enough to win not only my weight class but also Overall Best Female Raw Lifter.

Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Still not enough to convince you to try “starving yourself?”

How about all of these benefits of fasting, which include:

  1. Weight loss! Yes this is kind of the same thing as those guys looking good, but it is also the reason most people first go on a diet! For most people, fasting is actually easier to stick to than calorie restriction. Plus you preserve more lean muscle mass by fasting than through calorie restriction!
  2. Fight cancer!?! Yep fasting may actually help our bodies not only resist but also fight off cancer. More rats who fasted remained alive when injected with cancer – 16 of the rats who fasted survived while only 5 who didn’t survived. In a human study, patients also felt better when undergoing chemo if they fasted before and after. They suffered fewer side-effects when fasting than when they didn’t prior to chemo.
  3. Live longer. We’ve all heard that calorie restriction can help us live longer. Well if that is the case than fasting will make us live longer too! Of course, fasting doesn’t have the same “side-effects” that calorie restriction does. With fasting you will prevent the loss of lean muscle mass and bone mineral density. Sounds like two great benefits of fasting besides just a longevity!
  4. Brain health. Mark Mattson, Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program National Institute on Aging and a professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, has released a number of papers  that suggest fasting can induce neurogenesis and protect against brain injury and disease. There are also studies showing that fasting may reduce the trauma to the brain caused by stroke and may also help improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  5. Improved workouts. Ok I sort of already said this when I mentioned that I fasted to improve my performance for competition, but here are some studies to back it up! (Improved recovery and Leangains take on fasted training to just site a few!)

Here are some other great studies about the benefits of fasting that you should check out!

Fasting good for your health and your heart!

Fasting for longevity!

Fasting improved the long-term survival of patients who suffered chronic heart failure.

Fasting may even improve cholesterol?!?

Travel

I have lots of clients that travel often and have used it as an excuse to either not eat well or not exercise.

But traveling is no excuse.

Some of my clients who have long plane rides to different countries claim that the problems all start because of jet lag.

Can I just say…”THAT IS A FREAKING LAME EXCUSE!”

Just because your body is tired and a bit out of whack doesn’t give you the excuse to eat crap and not move. AND your body doesn’t have to feel like crap when you travel if you FAST.

Yep! Studies have proven that fasting may help with cancer, weight loss and even JET LAG!

An article called “A “Fast” Solution to Jet Lag” states:

Dr. Clifford B. Saper and colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston now think that food — or, more specifically, the lack of it — may resynchronize body rhythms faster than light and dark. They have studied a second “master clock” in mice, located in a cluster of brain cells called the dorsomedial nucleus, that can take over when food is scarce. Sure, humans aren’t mice, but both have a dorsomedial nucleus that responds to hunger. The researchers reason that because food is as essential for survival as sleep is, hunger can influence circadian rhythms as much as changes in light/dark patterns do.

So maybe if you fast to help reset your “master clock” you won’t suffer from jet lag…aka you have no excuse to eat crappy and not workout!! Here are suggestions from the article about how to make fasting work to prevent jet lag:

So, why not manipulate your feeding clock, rather than your sleep clock, the next time you try to fend off jet lag? Specifically, as Saper has discussed in the press, you can try fasting both before and during your long flight, then eating in a pattern that puts you in sync with local time. For instance, if you’re taking a 14-hour flight from New York to Beijing, it would work like this:

  • Avoid all food from the time you get to the airport (i.e., about two hours before departure)
  • Don’t eat during the flight — but still drink plenty of water
  • Eat soon after you land, as close to a local meal time as possible
But if being “off” from jet lag isn’t an excuse…Why don’t people workout when they travel?

Because it is hard to workout when you are staying in a hotel, right?

WRONG!

There are exercises and workouts that you can do anywhere…including a hotel room, office or even outside. I even wrote a post about the 10 Best Exercise to do ANYWHERE!

You can even bring your own resistance equipment with you if you don’t want to miss a strength training workout. Resistance bands are easy to pack in any piece of luggage and weigh next to nothing. And they aren’t expensive. It is about $30 for a set.

Shoot you don’t even have to do strength training when you travel to remain active and healthy. You can even just go out for a walk around the hotel and get in some nice slow cardio!

And if it is too cold outside to walk or run, most hotels either have a pool or a small gym with a treadmill. Why not go for a swim or walk on the treadmill and enjoy a nice light magazine?

Honestly, there is no excuse to be a huge lump when you are traveling. I mean just even walk around and go sight-seeing for goodness sake!

Now…eating when you travel…

This section isn’t for the person planning a family vacation or taking a nice relaxing vacation. If you are going on vacation, of course indulge and enjoy. IT’S A VACATION.

This section is for the person that travels often and uses this as an excuse as to why they can’t be healthy/in shape/lose weight or WHATEVER.

For one, you don’t have to buy a crap snack at the airport. You can bring your own healthy snacks with you. You don’t even have to put your snacks in a separate bag when you go through security.

Second, almost every little snack shop in the airport at least has nuts – you don’t have to grab those Reese’s no matter how tempting.

Third, almost all restaurants have at least ONE thing you can eat.

Take Cheesecake Factory for instance. They have steaks, which aren’t breaded or fried. Yes, some come with french fries, but how hard is it to sub in mashed potatoes, veggies or a side salad?

NOT HARD.

And trust me, most people WON’T realize you are on a diet if you are eating a steak because most of society still follows the low-fat mantra.

And if you’re not feeling a steak? Try a Cobb Salad with Vinaigrette dressing!

There are a ton of different options at most restaurants. Yes, some restaurants, like Italian restaurants, are harder to find things at, but trust me it is possible.

Just take a look at the menu BEFORE you go out. This way you will be prepared for the options and know what you can and cannot eat. You will also be less likely to cheat once you get there and are hungry if you know ahead of time what you can order.

And with all of this I’m not saying you can’t try some “local” cuisine. I’m just saying, you CAN eat well when you travel. You CAN be healthy.

If you want to make something work, you will find a way.

So stop making excuses and try some of this advice. It might make traveling more fun since you’ll be energized from eating well and relaxed from working out!

Gain Muscle AND Lose Fat

Conventional wisdom will tell you that it is almost impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.

But we all know that conventional wisdom is wrong 99% of the time.

Conventional wisdom states:

  • To lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit.
  • To gain muscle, you must be in a calorie surplus.
While both are correct, conventional wisdom would have you believe that you can’t accomplish both at the same time.

But actually, there is a way that you can!

Through calorie cycling, fasting, eating whole, natural foods, and doing strength training , you will be able to accomplish both goals at once – gaining muscle and losing fat.

Calorie Cycling:

Calorie cycling means eating more calories on the days when you workout (calorie surplus) and eating fewer calories on the days when you don’t workout (calorie deficit). By cycling days of higher and lower calorie intake, you will be able to lose fat without catabolizing your muscle or slowing down your metabolism.

Lean Gains has a great post called “Maintaining Low Body Fat.” In it he states the importance of calorie cycling to be both muscled and lean. He also states that, unlike with calorie restriction, calorie cycling will not only help you accomplish your fitness goals but will also have behavioral benefits as well!

Surplus calories should not be consumed each and every day, but in conjunction with training – when they are likely to be used for repair of damaged muscle tissues and recovery of glycogen stores. Conversely, slight underfeeding on rest days may have benefits mediated via mechanisms that kick in during calorie restriction (on top of the independent and positive effects of intermittent fasting), such as improvement in blood lipids and other health markers.

And then there’s the fact that people simply get more productive with a lessened focus on food on rest days – they get stuff done. But this effect is unique for the short-term. It’s certainly not something that occurs with prolonged dieting, where thoughts of food may become overwhelming and obsessive. I actually prefer to have a few dieting days now and then. I’ve noticed I am at my most productive during those days and I certainly don’t experience “dieting” symptoms such as increases in hunger.

So, cycling between overfeeding (training days) and slight underfeeding (rest days) is another excellent strategy to remain lean regardless of your goal. The benefits are not only physiological, but also behavioral.

So to sum it up – calorie cycling helps you get the calories you need on training days to build muscle while calorie restriction on non-training days helps you create a calorie deficit so that you can lose fat.

Fasting:

Fasting is a great way to create a calorie deficit while also maintaining your lean muscle mass and even increasing it! Mark’s Daily Apple actually had a post about fasting the other day in which Mark states:

[Fasting] increases fat oxidation while sparing lean mass. Since what we’re trying to do is lose fat (rather than just “weight”), the fact that fasting increases hormones that preferentially burn fat and decreases hormones that inhibit fat burning is extremely desirable.

Fasting increases hormones such as the growth hormone, which is not only one of the “premier” fat burning hormones, but is also involved in muscle growth!

How does growth hormone promote both?

Growth hormone promotes lipolysis, which is the breakdown of lipids and involves the hydrolysis of triglycerides into free fatty acids followed by further degradation. This process produces Ketones, which are found in large quantities in ketosis, a metabolic state that occurs when the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, which can be used by the body for energy. AKA…the body starts using fat for fuel!

So during fasting more growth hormone is released which promotes lipolysis and the body begins to burn fast for fuel so that you lose fat!

The growth hormone increase during fasting also means increases in muscle mass.  It stimulates both the differentiation and proliferation of myoblasts, which are a type of embryonic progenitor cell that gives rise to muscle cells. Growth hormone also stimulates amino acid uptake and protein synthesis in muscle and other tissues.

What all this means is that growth hormone helps your muscles absorb what they need to repair and grow while also helping your body use fat for fuel!…AKA fasting helps you gain muscle and lose fat!!!!

Whole, Natural Foods:

So when people tell you it’s all about calories in vs. calories out to lose weight, they are to some extent right. If you just want to lose weight on a scale, yes…you just need to eat fewer calories. BUT if you want to lose fat and retain lean muscle mass, the type of calories you consume DO MATTER.

There have been numerous studies proving that eating more protein helps people looking to lose body fat retain lean muscle mass.

After 12 weeks, our study found that the group of women who followed a reduced-calorie eating plan while consuming a higher level of protein was more effective in maintaining lean body mass during weight loss compared to those who consumed the same amount of calories with less protein.

So if you are in a calorie deficit, eating protein will help you spare your lean muscle mass so that all you are losing is fat.

Protein is also essential for muscle growth. The amino acids that make up protein are needed to help repair muscles after a strength training workout so that they grow.

And guess what more muscle means? More fat burning! When you gain muscle, your body has the ability to burn more fat.

So by consuming protein you aid your body in the preservation and ADDITION of lean muscle mass, which, in turn, will help you burn more fat!

Strength training:

How do you build muscle? Through strength training! What can help you lose fat? Strength training!

So what can intense workouts help you do? Gain muscle and lose fat all at the same time! Don’t believe me? Have you ever seen one of the top Crossfitters? Enough said.

Anyway, lifting heavy weights for fewer than 12 reps will help you gain strength and add muscle. The ideal rep range for muscle growth or muscle hypertrophy is usually considered to be between 8-12 reps. I however believe that if you use challenging weights no matter how many reps, will gain strength and therefore gain muscle.

No matter what rep range you believe to be ideal, stressing the muscles through strength training will cause trama to the muscles which will cause them to repair themselves and grow bigger and stronger in the process (especially if you eat the right type of calories!).

And not only does strength training help you gain muscle but it is better for fat loss than spending hours on a piece of cardio equipment. Even Women’s Health Magazine says so!

When you skip the weight room, you lose out on the ultimate flab melter. Those two sessions a week can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don’t cut a single calorie. That translates to as much as three inches total off your waist and hips. Even better, all that new muscle pays off in a long-term boost to your metabolism, which helps keep your body lean and sculpted. Suddenly, dumbbells sound like a smart idea.

So start lifting those heavy weights! Strength training will help you build muscle AND burn fat!

See? Conventional wisdom is wrong again. You can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I know I did!

HA!

So these were a few random and interesting things from the past week. Some of the links to articles and research just provide more evidence that what I’ve been saying is RIGHT!

  • Interval Training – Small time commitment, great results! Look there is even an article in the NY Times about it!
  • There is no sacrificing on Primal!!! Have a sweet tooth? Than indulge in a little bit of HEALTHY dark chocolate!
  • Is a gluten-free diet good for you?  I think it is. But there are researchers that say a gluten-free diet is a waste of money for most people. Is it really? Or is it just that people fill the gluten void with other crap which is equally as bad?
  • Now you can relieve stress through exercise even at the airport!
  • People usually suggest that you don’t eat close to when you are going to go to bed if you want to lose weight. BUT consuming protein right before you go to sleep may actually help with post workout recovery, which means more muscle synthesis. So maybe you want to eat before bed!
  • Ever had someone tell you that skipping meals, especially breakfast, is bad for you? Well, skipping meals may actually help protect against brain diseases.
  • Want better sex? Lift and eat meat!

Everyone wants to show off their man biceps!

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