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Learn How to Read Fitness and Health Research

I must be the last person alive who should be writing about training or nutrition research, but because of that, I’ve been collecting resources. My daily work involves typesetting, editing, coding or graphics (actually, it’s mostly email), so the studying I do is of software tech manuals. That makes my excuse for science inadequacy better than yours.

I never trained my brain to stay focused when reading about research. This works for me, but for those of you who work with clients and patients on health, fitness and strength issues, you don’t really get that freedom. These days, if you don’t stay aware of the latest science and can’t explain to your clients why you’re using the exercises you choose or how the news media got the latest research wrong, your clients are likely to trust you less. Unless your personality is the most contagious one in the gym, if you continue to let your eyes glaze over when science comes into play, as a personal trainer or strength coach you’re probably going to need a new retirement plan.

Jonathan Fass is working on a research lecture for us on the movementlectures.com site, and I’m sure the topic will get a mention often in future lectures. In the meantime I have a couple of suggestions for you… even as I sit here at my desk practicing audio editing techniques with no science involved at the level I work with the waveforms.

From PubMed: How to Read Health News:

Your first concern should be the research behind the news article. If an article touts a treatment or some aspect of your lifestyle that is supposed to prevent or cause a disease, but doesn’t give any information about the scientific research behind it, then treat it with a lot of caution. The same applies to research that has yet to be published.

From Bret Contreras: Evidence-Based Coaching:

Some types of articles are better than others. A meta-analysis showing strong results or a review paper citing multiple studies leading to the same conclusion would hold a lot of weight. In contrast, an in vitro study or an animal study might not. A specific study that carefully examines the topic at hand is ideal, but many times specific studies are lacking, causing us to extrapolate or piece information together, which isn’t quite as sound of a practice.

From Tim Huntley’s Scientific Research 101: Bad Science, Common Problems in Research Articles:

This problem typically occurs when the results of a study from a specific sample are extrapolated to what is believed to be a similar group.  An example would be research where a new cholesterol drug was tested on females aged 30-50.  Can we, or should we make assumptions on what the drug might do for males or 65 year old women?  Absolutely not.

From Mark Young’s How to Read Fitness Research:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL9ThuPk3Ro]

Here’s a tutorial on how to get full text articles for PubMed citations, both free and for a fee.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0NYKFSphKY]

Bret explains here:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saPE6ARzIjY]

And, of course, like me you can stick your head in the sand, because as Dr. Ferric Fang discovered, researchers doctor papers. Whatever you do, ignore mainstream headlines and double-check the wording. Oh, and be sure to sort out the quality from the flawed studies.

Late addition—Chris Kresser: How to Read and Understand Scientific Research

 

 


Which movementlectures.com audio lectures do I like?

Boris Bachmann, the guy who recorded the squat techniques lecture (he’s also the Squat Rx guy from YouTube), asked me the other day, “Are there some sleeper lectures you think are absolutely fantastic that might have gotten overlooked so far? Let me know and I will do some impulse buying.”

Boy that’s a real hard one because for me, I’m more into the talking than the learning, if you know what I mean. So while trainers might really go for one and coaches might really go for another and therapists yet another, I get a kick out of just listening to the talking… Dan John’s (goal setting), Dick Tyler’s (storytelling), Chip Conrad’s Sweet Chant and Lou Shuler’s Hero’s Journey. People like me who like bio stories will enjoy listening to Ric Drasin tell his tale.

Mike Mahler’s discussion of hormone optimization was fabulous (hold on to your wallet — I ended up buying four new supplements to try!), as was Jerry Brainum’s on supplements and Robert Yang’s on gluten. Brooks Kubik’s talk is on training for senior lifters, learning how to plan recovery, real good for some of this crowd. Tom Furman’s was excellent, especially as we get a little older and lose mobility.

Charlie Weingroff’s is a real big learning circle, very nice, and Evan Osar kicks in there on the human movement side as well. I really enjoyed Robb Rogers’ and also Tim Anderson’s; those were both a little different and off the mainstream.. stuff you probably haven’t heard before.

Oh, jeez, I can’t believe Boris got me doing this.

Anybody with trigger point curiosity, Perry Nickelston’s is super; there are a couple lectures on back pain (Eric Beard and Sam Visnic, and Eric also has one on shoulders), and one by Tom Patrick about his journey through back pain and back to golf.

Locked up t-spine? Sue Falsone is her usual wonderful self. Foot pain? Ron Jones has you covered. Wondering if all this fascia science is real, or important? Paul Ingraham dives into that one.

Want to learn something unexpected? Stacy Barrows and Martha Peterson. Need a Gray Cook fix? Self-limiting exercise, plus a discussion with Craig Liebenson and one with Joe Heiler. Lee Burton’s work with the core is unmatched, as is Brett Jones on corrective exercise and strength… short but complete overviews there, then you’d just get to work, right?

Brian Bott works with football players, Brijesh Patel with college athletes. Dave Whitley teaches breathing drills, Jim Schmitz has been coaching O lifting since the ’60s. Chiropractic literally saved Keith Wassung’s life — Keith Norris, Skyler Tanner and Mark Alexander are physical culture slash paleo crusaders; Mark Snow works group and bootcamp trainees using the FMS, and Pat Rigsby knows the business side of bootcamps like nobody else.

Michael Boyle’s talk on fat loss — well, Mike’s just great at everything, really — and Mike Roussell talks fat loss like a lean guy, too.

The Nicks — Winkelman and Tumminello– are superb coaches and know how to teach (the Winkelman talk is pretty cutting-edge, coaches should check that out), ditto Vince McConnell, who talks about privately coaching athletes in season in their sports. Zach EvenEsh is an extremely successful high school athlete coach, and in his lecture he tells how he trains them.

Galina Denzel is a specialist in training pregnant women, and tell us not only how the body changes during pregnancy, but how to train a woman to get her ready for delivery and baby rearing. If you train women, or if you’re pregnant, this one’s a must.

Oh! And there’s this Boris Bachmann guy who really knows squat.

Here’s your link to the Movementlectures.com Full Lecture Listing.

 


Downloadable Audio Lectures for Exercise and Rehabilitation Professionals & Fitness Enthusiasts

The movementlectures.com site launch last week went super smooth and we didn’t crash the server, not even once! Nearly a year in the making, we now have 45 lectures available for immediate download, ranging from exercise technique to physical rehab, from physical culture to goal setting — there’s something for everyone, and inexpensively, with instant access. There are another 17 lectures nearly ready for publication, and a dozen recorders jetting around the country collecting new material. Which of these is your new favorite lecture?

Boris Bachmann: Squat Talk | Brett Jones: Corrective Exercise Essentials | Brett Jones: Key Concepts in Corrective Exercise | Brett Jones: Strength for Success | Brian Bott: Building a Bulletproof Program | Brian Bott: Training the Trenches, Football | Brijesh Patel: It’s Not All About the Sets and Reps | Brooks Kubik: Strength Training for Older Adults | Charlie Weingroff: Trainable Human System | Chip Conrad: Why On Earth? Excerpts from Our Sweet Chant of Frantic Power | Craig Liebensen and Gray Cook: Dialogue on Function | Dan John: Intervention

Dan John: Goal Setting, Second Millennium, Plus a Decade | Eric Beard: Anatomy of Shoulder Impingement and Beyond | Eric Beard: Understanding Lower Back Pain: Functional Anatomy Interventions and Prevention | Evan Osar: Strategies and Techniques to Improve Human Movement | Gray Cook: Applying the Functional Movement Screen Model | Gray Cook: Self-Limiting Exercise | Jerry Brainum: Supplements: Those that Work vs Those that Don’t | Jim Schmitz: Olympic Style Weightlifting for Strength, Health, Physique, Fitness and Sport

Joe Heiler and Gray Cook: Meaningful Impairments | Keith Norris, Skyler Tanner and Mark Alexander: Paleo Discussion | Keith Wassung: Introduction to Chiropractic | Lee Burton: Core Testing and Assessment | Lou Schuler: Hero’s Journey into Fitness | Mark Snow: Using the FMS in a Group or Bootcamp Setting | Martha Peterson: Relieving Chronic Muscle Pain With Somatic Education | Michael Boyle: Fat Loss Secrets | Mike Mahler: Importance of Optimizing Hormones Naturally | Mike Roussell: 21 Ways to Lose More Weight

Nick Tumminello: Practical Program Design | Nick Winkelman: Coaching Science: Theory into Practice | Pat Rigsby: Boot Camp Financials | Paul Ingraham: Fascia Science: Does it Even Matter? | Perry Nickelston: Triggerpoints for Pain | Ric Drasin: The Golden Years | Robb Rogers: Functional Training vs Performance Training | Robert Yang: Nothing Wholesome in Eating Whole Grains | Ron Jones: Health from the Ground Up: A Practical Guide to Understanding Feet, Ankles and Shoes

Stacy Barrows: Foam Roller Methods for Optimal Posture and Movement Organization | Sue Falsone: Thoracic Spine: The Missing Link to Core Stability | Tim Anderson: Miracle of Crawling | Tom Furman: Ability to Move | Vince McConnell: Role of a Personal Strength Conditioning Coach | Zach EvenEsh: Training and Development of the High School Athlete


Gary Taubes: Why We Get Fat

It’s fascinating to watch the turbulence around Gary Taubes’ new book, Why We Get Fat. The low-fat community is furious over his encouragement of fats in the diet; those on the science side are looking for a knock-out over his anti-calories in vs calories out stance, and even his old fans are put off by his switch from science writer to casual diet author.

Why We Get Fat

In this new book, Taubes sets out to overview his work from Good Calories, Bad Calories, a monstrosity of a 640-page text that covered nutrition science front to back. While I appreciated the work, I didn’t make it past the quarter mark, and even though I meant to get back to it, so far that hasn’t happened. I’m probably not the only one, and for us, there’s Why We Get Fat.

It won’t surprise anyone to learn his main argument is that carbohydrates are the biggest issue in our fattening society, primarily because of the hormone insulin. We’re both genetically and conditionally acclimated to insulin, both on the production and the resistance side, and he believes regulating that single factor will make the difference between storing fat or not. Not how many calories we eat, but how we relate to insulin, and for the most part, that means using a low-carb diet.

I first did a low-carb diet when I was about 14, 1970, I guess, when the grapefruit diet was popular and most of my meals were a 33-cent packet of lunchmeat and a half-can of V-8. It worked, and I got lean. Six or eight years later, Atkins was gaining steam, right along with Jim Fixx, and both became a staple in my life. Much later, around 1990, the Zone—before there was a book, there were handouts, and I was right there to soak up the diet buzz, this time from Greg Glassman, a long, long time before Crossfit. All of these low-carb, insulin-regulating diets worked for me (long-term adherence is an entirely different issue, and no, Taubes doesn’t help with that part).

The one that worked the best? Adkins-style high fat, low carb. The higher fat is satiating, and most people are never hungry on it, and even with the extra fat, they accidentally go lower calorie without intention. Many people believe that’s why low-carb diets work. Taubes believes otherwise. His bottom line: Fat storage is regulated by insulin. Thus, a low-carb menu is the way to go.

Hey! Didn’t Dave and his group experiment and tell us this back in the ‘60s? Why, yes, I think they did!

In Taubes’ own words, here’s his overview of this new work: The Inanity of Overeating. And here’s a lengthly “Why We Get Fat” webinar, part one of eight:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WWCCUPmZcQ]


Dan John: Mass Made Simple

This is Dan John’s new bulking guidebook for those who need to build strength and size. This is a 7×9 inch, spiral-bound lay-flat book consisting of 119 pages of text, followed by a 42-page, 6-week training log.

Tried and true, Dan describes exactly what’s to be done to add mass — what, when and why. Each week’s workout plan is laid out, and each day’s workout is preplanned, every rep scheduled, later to be documented in the fill-in-the-blanks log pages. Here’s an example of one of the log pages:

Dan has adjusted menu and supplement tweaks weekly to match the needs of the week. Once you read this short, clear manual, you’ll know exactly what to do and when to do it. All that’s left is for you to faithfully fill in the blanks of the log sheets and watch the scale climb.

Carefully priced at $19.95, this new guidebook is just what you need to pack an extra ten pounds of muscle on your meaty or not-so-meaty physique. Click here to order Dan John’s Mass Made Simple today.


How to decide on a supplement program

Which supplements should I buy? That’s one of the most common questions simmering in the IOL discussion forum. The confusion caused by over-the-top advertising combined with a petrol-powered shrinking wallet size will mess with a new trainee’s head, so let’s boil it down to something simple.

Start with this: Rarely is taking a supplement short term valuable. Occasionally we’ll have an issue such as a bladder problem that can be addressed with a short course of D-Mannose for example, but generally speaking, if you can’t afford to continue a supplement over the long-term, a single bottle of a $50 product “just to test it” is not worth your money, and even less worth the concern.

We want to select supplements that will help us over the lifetime, not the newest fancy-label ingredient popular this month with the gym floor gossip crowd.

But first, before anyone starts with the specifics, set a budget. That’s right… a budget. That credit card you’re using for your internet buys is not a magic money maker; you need to decide in advance exactly how much you can afford to spend on supplements each and every month. How much is it? $75? Less? More?

We’ll use the seventy-five number and see where that takes us. Not too far, I think you can guess, so get serious from the outset: Those testosterone boosters are flat out on this budget. If you get all eager-beaver and press the Buy button without thinking it through, you’re either going to forego your multi-vitamin and protein powder, or you’re going to eat into your evaporating retirement fund.

Before you can begin to choose the supplements that are right for you, you’ll next have to take stock of your circumstances. Look here:

Regular food consumption: Do you eat a variety of whole foods daily, or do you flake off on the vegetables or run yourself through the local drive-through at lunch?

Protein intake: Do you get protein several times a day, or just at dinner?

Fish as food: Do you eat fish regularly, particularly oily fish such as salmon?

Fiber intake: Is there plenty of fibrous vegetables, fruits or bran in your menu?

Training goals: Are you striving hard but not making the gains you hope for?

Access to the sun: Do you get outside daily, and does the sun hit your skin?

Vitamin C intake: Do you eat red bell peppers or citrus fruits?

Dairy intake: Do you get enough calcium?

Age: Are your joints beginning to ache; are you beginning to have trouble with digestion; do you sleep well?

Genetics: Does osteoporosis run in your family? Heart disease?

Given your personal answers to the above considerations, you can begin to hone down your list of priority supplements. Starting with our budget of $75, you’ll discover we don’t get very far down the list. Heck, we barely get a protein powder with our multi-vitamins!

Hint: Dave’s big idea… move the protein powder out of the supplement category and over to the food budget. That works pretty good, but it might be cheating some. On the other hand, a protein shake is probably replacing a meal, so I guess it’s fair; let’s do it.

1.    Quality vitamin/mineral
2.    Fish oil
3.    Protein powder
4.    Metamucil
5.    Creatine
6.    Vitamin D
7.    Vitamin C
8.    Vitamin E
9.    Vitamin B-complex
10.   Calcium, magnesium and zinc
11.   Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM

A sharp shopper who moves the protein powder and Metamucil over to her food budget, and if she tosses the creatine off the list (which I can do because I’ve switched our shopper over to the female gender, and women for the most part don’t like the water weight gain of creatine), can probably get that list done on budget. Nice work!

Past the basics most everyone should use, we begin to get to the specifics an individual might need, stuff like L-Glutamine for gut health and muscle repair, ZMA and melatonin for sleep issues, iodine to boost a sluggish metabolism, enzymes for an aging digestive system, or 5-HTP for a serotonin lift.

Those with an eye toward the most current nutrient science are already taking a second look at Vitamin K, a vitamin the rest haven’t yet heard about in the nightly news.

A hard-striving athlete will probably try to widen the wallet for some branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) or a handful of liver tablets, and would find no quarrel here. He also might spring for a bottle of NO2 for a test run; most of the reports around the forum have been less than stellar, as was Dave’s experience (a dud is what he called it), but there are definitely some who keep rolling with it, so it’s worth a try if it fits in the budget.
The same athlete getting a little long in the tooth and stuffing a bigger bank account will be extremely pleased with Ageless Growth, no stretching the truth there. But again, none of those are on the month here-month there plan; if you don’t have the budget for them, don’t try a bottle to check ‘em out. No gains from BCAAs or Ageless Growth will hold after the initial supply runs out.

Digging a little deeper brings us to the serious issues of hormonal imbalance and heart health. Supplementation can absolutely help in some cases, but first we need to dedicate some time and finances to a doctor’s visit and a list of blood tests.

Buying all the latest forum rage of testosterone boosters and heart strengthening supplements is both expensive and stupid. If you need these, you need a baseline test and a real specific supplement plan, not a fancy ad-itorial or a synopsis of the newest research that may or may not suggest hope for some off-beat herbal preparation.

And you need to move those ingredients — worthy stuff like CoQ10, policosanol, an estrogen blocker like DIM or 6-OXO (quick tip: try daily broccoli first) — out of your supplement budget and over to your medical one. There’s no room left in your supplement category, particularly for some of these expensive items.

A long conversation spanning the past four years takes place here in the forum. Feel free to join in the discussion with your current thinking.


IOL Training Forum Best of the Best

In a couple of blog posts earlier this fall, I listed the results of our server log reports showing the top 20 pages of our health and fitness database, and the most notable forum threads this past summer. That search uncovered some really fine forum discussions long since forgotten, and as I thought about how often I use some of the guidance and recommendations, I knew we’d have to find a way to bring them to the forefront. Hence, our new Must Reads Topic Archive, 20 of our Very Best.

What I did in many cases was dig out a selection of our best conversations on a topic, and merge the strings together into one long archive. In this way, you’ll be able to see how our learning developed as the science developed, or as we tried and tested the philosophies and training techniques.

By the time you get to the end of the topic, you’ll have a broad base of knowledge along with all the links we used to compile it. Looking for a quick way to learn what you need to know about a topic you saw mentioned in an article or forum? We gotcha covered.

Check this:

Amazing stuff, huh? And you know what? There’s a whole lot more where that came from.

It came from right here: Must Reads Topic Archive.

Once you’re done there (this is going to be awhile), try this one for your Sunday afternoon hangout: Links to other must-read archived topics. Actually, that should be our IOL forum first stop for most new visitors. Great, great stuff.


Acid Reflux, IBS : Gut Things I’ve Learned

If you have a sensitive gut (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Acid Reflux, allergies or things more serious), you know that it’s difficult if not impossible to train when you are in the middle of an episode or outbreak or suffering symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation can really take the heat out of your fire.

Here are some things that I’ve learned over the past two or three years as I’ve struggled to get a handle on my IBS. Your mileage may vary.

Talk to your doctor. This probably should be the first item on the list. If your doctor’s approach isn’t working, if you are still experiencing symptoms regardless of the doctor’s approach, request (demand) a referral to a gastroenterologist. I was very ill for several months (sick every single day and at the end I was subsisting on saltine crackers and a little cheese), before I finally got in to see my gastro. He immediately put me on several meds that controlled my symptoms and I began to see some relief. Then he ran me through tests, none of which was enjoyable or pretty, but they were necessary to eliminate other more serious conditions. Do the tests.

Get on a gut-healing protocol including daily glutamine supplementation and a probiotic like Primadophilus.

I take Prevacid twice a day for my acid reflux. I train after work but before dinner. On normal days, I take the evening Prevacid right after the workout so that a full 30 minutes pass before dinner. But if I’m suffering pains, indigestion, or burping during the afternoon, I’ll pop that Prevacid 30 minutes before my workout. Symptoms clear, workout is good, and I’m still good for dinner later.

Keep a written list on the refrigerator of things that bother you. If it’s something you really like, stop eating it for 30 days and then slowly start adding back a small amount and watch for symptoms. Only add back one bothersome food at a time. If it still bothers you, try dropping it for 60 or 90 days. You might just have to drop it entirely.

Preservatives are evil. I’ve talked to other IBS sufferers and this seems to be a commonality. Preservatives in canned and bottled foods can cause severe digestive stress. Canned soup is a huge no-no for me.

You might not be able to adhere to the latest, greatest diet or nutrition mandates. Personally, after two painful experiments, I had to admit that I cannot do very low carb. My gut requires the soft, yielding density of bread, rice, and pasta in order to do what it’s supposed to do without me spending hours every day in the toilet or bent double with cramps. I try to make good choices with my carbs, however, by choosing fresh baked bakery whole wheat bread without preservatives, and brown rice. I limit pasta to once every couple of weeks.

Only you know your body.

If you are having an outbreak or episode, be gentle to yourself.

Check out HelpforIBS.com. Heather has a wonderful site, full of information that will help you figure out what foods to avoid as well as what foods to eat during a flare-up to soothe your gut and get you back in the gym.


Food Allergies, Food Sensitivities and a Rotation Diet

Food allergies and sensitivities can wreak havoc with your body. The symptoms can run the gamut from nausea, hives, diarrhea, bloating, weight gain, and mood swings up to and including death. If you are allergic to shellfish or peanuts, you already know about it and know how serious exposure can be. But what if your allergy or sensitivity isn’t that obvious? What if you’ve never had a problem before and now you do?

You might begin to suspect a food sensitivity if you notice that after eating a certain food, you have indigestion, belch more often, have diarrhea or just don’t feel quite right. Fatigue, irritability and congestion can also be symptoms of food sensitivity.

If this happens, the best course of action is to remove the offending food from your diet for 30 days. Monitor yourself to see if you have those symptoms once you remove the food. Then try adding the food back to your diet, in a small amount, after 30 days. Do the symptoms re-appear? If so, you’ll need to eliminate the food again. If it’s something you’d like to be able to eat again, extend the removal period to 90 days and try again. If it’s something you don’t care that much about, drop it permanently.

For example, if you’ve been eating eggs every morning and suddenly you start noticing gastro distress or other symptoms every morning after breakfast, you should eliminate eggs from your diet. If you no longer have symptoms after dropping the eggs, you’ve likely pinpointed the problem. You might be able to add them back to your diet after 30 days, but only if you rotate them with other morning protein. Of course, if after a few days of eliminating eggs from your diet you still have the same symptoms, you should investigate further as there might be another offending food.

It is possible to develop a food sensitivity due to over-exposure. Chicken breasts day in and day out can cause a sensitivity to all things chicken including eggs and soup. I personally have to watch my powdered protein exposure as I will develop a sensitivity. If I continue to drink the protein shakes in spite of the symptoms, I can possibly push that protein powder into the never again column.

As with most things in life, not all people will develop sensitivities and some will develop them to such an extent that going on a rotation diet is the only alternative. A rotation diet is one where you divide foods into families and only eat from each family once every four or seven days.

The websites below go into great detail about rotation diets including offering a sample four-day rotation.

Description of Rotation Diet

4-Day Rotation Diet Example

Principles of a Rotation Diet
Food Allergy Rotation Diet


Chromium Picolinate, Cinnamon and the effects on Blood Chemistry

In the late ‘80s, chromium picolinate was touted as an exciting new fat burning product, sure to melt away bodyfat like magic. When it didn’t work out that way, the product faded into the background, yet there’s still something of value here and we should probably take another look.

Many know of its use in regulating insulin and maintaining optimal blood sugar levels, making it a useful supplement for overweight folks who hoped it would help them shed fat, but instead might keep diabetes at bay if the weight doesn’t come off another way.

Chromium is found in cinnamon, and breakfasters who add a half-teaspoon of cinnamon to their daily oatmeal may get a double dose of cholesterol-lowering goodness. Triglyceride levels have also been shown to decrease by about 20% in overweight people who supplement with 200-400 micrograms on a regular basis.

According to Jim Komorowski, head of the R&D unit at Nutrition 21 (makers of chromium picolinate) and a reader of Dave’s columns,

“Our research has shown that chromium picolinate not only enhances glucose uptake by muscle, but also amino acid uptake. The initial increase in muscle update occurs 30 to 90 minutes after taking CrPic. Getting that extra boost of glucose can lead to increases in muscle glycogen, leading to muscle recovery and growth. The extra amino acids uptake will also help muscle growth and recovery.”

Jerry Brainum, IronMan magazine’s science writer, believes chromium is a valuable nutrient to athletes and fitness trainees, because the body can only store 4-6 micrograms of chromium per day.

“Considering that both exercise and increased carbohydrate intake lead to chromium being excreted from the body, it’s difficult to imagine any active person who wouldn’t need some extra chromium. That’s particularly true for dieting athletes. A study of dieting female bodybuilders found the average chromium intake was only 21 micrograms a day. Another study, this one involving male bodybuilders, found that the average chromium intake was 143 micrograms.”

More on point for weight trainers is the insulin resistance factor that occurs shortly post-workout.

Komorowski again,

“By taking chromium picolinate you can enhance muscle insulin sensitivity while keeping circulating insulin levels low. This may provide the added benefit of keeping the window for glucose and amino acid uptake open longer, and reduce peak insulin levels.”

The average intake of supplemental chromium picolinate is 200 micrograms, although some recommendations for high level athletes and aging or overweight adults go as high as 400 micrograms. The US “Adequate Intake” level was lowered after a test tube study indicated cancer in hamster cells.

Brainum comments,

“That study involved hamster ovarian cells and used amounts of chromium that were 3,000 times the suggested dose. Further, subsequent studies found no such effect.”

We’ll close with Komorowki as he discusses the ongoing research,

“More current research with chromium picolinate has been conducted in people with diabetes since they tend to have long-term muscle insulin resistance (instead of just post-exercise). Though there are fewer studies coming out on chromium and body composition these days, there are many more coming out about glucose metabolism.”

Interested readers will find more information on chromium and how it enhances insulin sensitivity at the Chromax.com web site, where you can also launch a nice animation on chromium’s mechanism of action.

Finally, two official reports to keep you busy:


Top 20 Exercise and Workout Database Pages

We’ve got a bit of an anniversary to celebrate this week: Our blog rolled over its one-year calendar. It’s clearly been a lot of fun and has provided an outstanding and wide-ranging collection of material; still, without a specific purpose in mind at the outset, it’s hard to say we met any goals here. Next year we simply promise more of the same un-planned randomness to educate and entertain.

Snooping around the thousands of pages of the forum looking for the highlights to point out in a blog post a couple weeks ago reminded me of the kazillion other pages in this 3,000-page website you’re unlikely to have accidentally stumbled upon. A quick glance at our server logs gives a picture of our wiki health and fitness database, and I thought you might like a look at what pages are drawing the most reader attention, see what you’re missing.

Exercises and Workout Routines

  1. Exercise Descriptions
  2. Bodypart Exercise Suggestions
  3. Workout Routines
  4. Overhead Squat Instruction
  5. Bench Press Instruction
  6. Byron’s 5×5 Workout Guide
  7. Bentover Barbell Row
  8. Abdominals

Training Styles and Home Gyms

  1. Powerlifting
  2. Cardiovascular Fitness
  3. Homemade Gym Equipment Ideas
  4. Home Gym Set-up
  5. Kettlebells
  6. Sandbag Training

Health and Wellness

  1. Dealing with Back Pain
  2. Male and Female Hormones
  3. Menopause
  4. Cholesterol

Food and Diet

  1. Intermittent Fasting
  2. Protein Shake Recipes
  3. Weight Gain

I was surprised to discover the weight loss page wasn’t even in the top 20. Who *are* you guys?


Top IOL Weight Training Forum Threads for August

I don’t have to tell you my favorite part of the day is a morning cup of Leo’s java and an hour clicking around our forum for a visit with my great friends there. Still, for those who haven’t been around since the beginning and don’t know the players, sometimes it’s a little daunting to jump right in. Who’s who, and do they really know what they’re talking about? Is that guy joking or is this a serious argument? Once in a while it’s hard to tell, especially for newcomers.

So how about a sweet little intro to show you around? These are a few of the notable threads from August.

In the Main Flight Deck:

  • Let’s begin with our memory thread of Arthur Jones, who, as you already know, died yesterday. Perhaps you have a memory of your own, something he wrote that triggered your training evolution back in the ’70s? Give us the scoop!
  • Do you wake up with a numb arm sometimes? What’s causing that and how do you fix it? Michelle gets us going here in “Nighttime Numbness.”
  • Up next: Quitting Smoking. Time for you to get onboard? Here’s some encouragement you can print out and tape to your carton of cigs. Getcha goin’.
Kyle and the Volkslauf
  • We talked about this last week, still it’s a notable thread going strong. Whether you’re interested in fasting or not, the discussion is intriguing: Intermittent Fasting.

In the Bodybuilding Hangar:

  • Well, heck, let’s tackle the toughest one first: Is Bodybuilding Healthy? If not, and we’re aging yet in it for the long haul, what can we change to be strong all the way into our longevity?

In the Training Logs Forum:

Now here in the training log section, I couldn’t begin to select a few favored links for you. Some of the logs have been going strong since we brought the email discussion group over to the forum board back in spring of 2004. Other people started a new log each January, or when changing training focus for a variety of reasons. What began as an exercise in accountability became, I think for nearly everyone, a private place for group camaraderie. This is where individual attention is given when times are tough, PRs are abundant — or sparse — and consistency in training is paramount.

Pick a few training logs to read through; you’re sure to find one you can either learn from or contribute to, and perhaps you’ll get the bug to start a report of your own. You’re welcome here.

In the IOL APO/FPO Military Barracks:

  • Over in the APO/FPO Barracks forum we’re happy to welcome a couple of Afghanistan-based troops to our military support space. From his plastic tent, Sgt. Clifton expands on his questions of diet and exercise; we welcome your Q&A assistance, our way of supporting these guys and gals (actually, so far it’s just gal, our Army Mom, who’s on her way home to the kids in slightly less than a month).

In the Kettlebell Training Forum:

  • In the kettlebell forum, Stella, a veteran gymrat new to kettlebell training, requests our favorite kettlebell workouts in a thread that ranges from a simple swings ladder to a Tabata-style kettlebell snatch workout on video.

In the Vince Gironda Wild Physique Forum:

  • Jack triggers a hearty discussion in, “Gironda Bench Press to Neck,” wherein, as you might expect, not too many are in favor of the exercise. The discussion, however, is illuminating, as was the rest of the study of Vince Gironda and his Wild Physique.
Sig Klein

And now, I bid you adieu. Dave is finished with his part of the newsletter, so I’m up to bat in the clean-up position. There are countless more terrific threads in the forum, so many in fact, I think I’ll dig you out more treasures next month.


Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss, Wellness and Longevity

There’s a growing army of people who fast during the day, or part of the day, depending on their goals and personal circumstances. Calorie restriction and fasting are thought to contribute to wellness and longevity, weight loss, beneficial blood lipids, decreased inflammatory markers, diabetes control, arthritis, possibly even lowered incidence of deadly illnesses like cancer. Short-term, intermittent fasting is a simple, almost enjoyable way to achieve this.

I thought fasting was done for spiritual purposes, or, honestly, something the outer wing of wellness seekers did for a sort of beyond-reasonable self-denial. I’m all for self-discipline and its practice, wish I were even better at it, but consideration of muscle wasting or even accidental anorexia caused a nearly automatic mental shutdown when the topic of fasting arose.

Today I’m solidly in the opposite camp: It sounds more radical than it is. From the physical and mental point of view, there’s something to emptying the stomach and the associated blood chemistry changes, and from what we’ve been able to find, muscle wasting simply doesn’t happen under short, intermittent fasts. Just another entry in the “tall gym tales” book, apparently.

While I’m only today finishing week two of a limited version of daytime fasting, beginning by extending the overnight fast from about 10 hours to 15, the report so far is extremely positive. I feel terrific, energetic, clear-thinking and absolutely enjoy the lighter feeling of an empty stomach. The weight loss has slipped into place, even just a little, at about a pound-and-a-half, but it’s notable since the past two months at 1,350 daily calories really made no budge in the scale weight.

Not yet prepared to file a report, but since Dave wrote about it this week left me needing an overview spot to drop you off, I’ll recap a bit from our recent forum thread, and leave you with a link to the wiki page where you’ll find material for your own research.

About the idea dieters will burn off muscle tissue by fasting, Byron Chandler helps us get over some issues:

“If you are ever going to lose any fat, you’re going to have to burn some stored energy! So you have to get over the muscle mag mentality that running off stored energy is a bad thing because you’ll burn muscle. Also, you have to believe that what muscle gets used for energy is rapidly replenished; it is only a very temporary loss. I have spoken to a fair number of people and really there just doesn’t seem to be a problem losing muscle when eating this way. I personally am convinced that burning stored energy sources is a good thing. I think it will lower blood sugar (even on the non-fasting regular-diet days), improve insulin sensitivity, lower triglycerides, lower LDL and improve HDL, and burn bodyfat. This to me says that fasting would improve the use of fat as an energy source, improve insulin sensitivity, and prevent spare protein from gluconeogenisis, which would all be good.”

To the question of improved cholesterol blood lipids, he goes on to explain:

“Crude version of cholesterol metabolism: You make LDL out of excess calories. You make HDL to bring the LDL back to the liver and use it. This is normally a slow process, takes like maybe five DAYS. Probably because if you’re already feeding your face, your body never really needs to get around to burning off LDL — it is never a priority. LDL is associated with feast and rest; HDL is associated with work and fast. If you make yourself hungry, your body will get after that LDL, make some HDL and burn it.”

More links and further information (scroll down a bit for the new stuff; the wiki page was written for those who hadn’t necessarily seen this blog post): Intermittent Fasting


Diet Logging, Fitday Status Report

We last talked about diet in this post on logging daily food intake, July 19th, approximately a month into my own food journaling. From June 21 to August 8, the resulting Fitday journal reports an average calorie intake of 1,336; the scale tells a tale of a single pound lost. Average daily maintenance caloric burn of this 137-pound bod, based on several 45-minute weight workouts a week plus several additional 30-minute cardio sessions, is in the neighborhood of 1,350 calories. There’s nothing fancy about it, just simple recordkeeping and my imbecile-level math.

Now, you may already know this, but perhaps you don’t: There isn’t a lot of margin in a 1,300-calorie diet. Which is to say, it’s easy to add a daily Starbucks latte and gain a few pounds a year — even a nonfat brew will do it. And it’s absolutely certain our limited margins decrease with age. We don’t like it; it’s not fair. But it’s still fact. And we get to live with it one way or another. Those lattes better get alternated with black coffee… no kidding around.

Hence, I’m entering month three and downshifting to 1,100 calories a day. In this range, food choices are more important because it gets harder to meet our daily nutrition needs; perhaps barely possible at all, so if you’re with me on this, let’s ensure necessary nutrients by using a top-quality vitamin-mineral, such as our favorite time-released Super Spectrim vitamins.

Another thing the logging highlighted: macronutrient balance. I was shooting for something in the neighborhood of thirds, fats, carbs and protein. What I got was 37% fat, 36% carbs and 26% protein. Fairly close for shooting from the hip, but still, the carbs are a little high and the protein a little low. More care in food choices is needed, especially given the new, lower-calorie intake.

Now, as long as we’re talking, let me blurt out something you don’t want to hear: I suspect most of us underestimate how much we’re eating. In fact, I’ll never forget when Len Kravitz told me how many calories were in the ribeye steaks regularly found on the Draper dinner table (a day’s calories in a single hunk of meat)… thought I was going to explode.

It is absolutely true that 20 or even 10 years ago, I ate close to double what I eat now, and that at a pretty stable bodyweight. That’s probably also true for you, and leads me to think of energy output… we’re less active as we age, or at least I am, and you probably are, too.

But still, there’s no way to out-run or out-walk or out-train a sloppy diet.

Another thing many forget: It’s how many calories in vs energy out over the course of a week or month, not just a few hours or a day. That is, if we have a perfect eating day, then splurge just a little every second or third day, has our total jumped to over maintenance levels for the week? Over the long term, perhaps that represents the two or three pounds that are padding and re-padding our thighs year after year.

Something else that will probably get me in trouble around here, but I have to say it anyway. Folks, we’re underestimating our bodyfat levels, and we’re underestimating how many calories we burn exercising.

Partly we’ve been sold a bill of goods (yes, I know the LifeCycle read-out clocked you at burning 400 calories over your 20-minute hillclimb, but it just didn’t happen — if it had, we wouldn’t be in the diet-weary mess we’re in); and secondly, we don’t want to believe we’re really 40-percent bodyfat.

But a whole lot of us are.

Look at this: I’m 5’3”. A supremely muscular woman at 5’3” with 16% bodyfat may weigh, what? 140? 150, tops? (I mean really, really muscular; that’s what supreme means.) So when I’m weighing 135 — or, as I was, even inching my way to 138 — could I still be 25% bodyfat?

No. No, I couldn’t. And most likely neither can you.

Finally, we’re in this for the long term. The quick-acting diets that worked for us in our younger years are not going to work for us now. The metabolism gets slower and weaker with age, yet at the same time more sensitive when we mess with it.

Why here’s an example of a complete mess up: Extreme Diet Thread.

Actually, now that I’ve taken another look at that 2004 thread, it appears I was practically at the forefront of Calorie Restriction with Adequate Nutrition (CRAN), a new fad in today’s high-science diet world.

I wish I had some magic, oh, very yes, I do.


Diet Tip — Lose Weight by Logging

I don’t usually write about fat loss, because, frankly, I’m not very good at it. Still, I do have close to 40 years of dieting experience (yes, watching my folks taught me the grapefruit diet at around age 12, maybe 13), so let’s try this again.

By the way, after the admission above, there can be no need to add the disclaimer of the “I” here being Laree and not Dave. And by-the-way part two: apologies in advance for the self-centeredness of this post, written only with the hope others may benefit from the experience it contains.

This go around I’m trying something a little different, something I’ve never tried and perhaps you haven’t either. You see, usually we set a weight goal… to weigh a certain amount or lose a specific number of pounds by a named future date. I can’t begin to guess the percentage rate of failure of these diets, my own and yours and most of our friends,’ but we all know it’s huge.

The game plan this time? Something I’m in control of, something I know I can do, and it’s this: 100 days logging everything I eat.

That’s it.

From there I can tweak the calorie counts, macronutrient ratios and food choices as guided by feeling, how clothes fit, scale weight and waist measurement. Still, the underlying goal – 100 days logging – stays the same and can be accomplished. Weight loss goals may or may not be successful, or easily controlled, but writing everything down is completely under our power. Similar to our training, we either did it or we didn’t.

Naturally, our food choices tighten up when we’re honestly writing them down. Expanding on that, when we use a tracking program like fitday.com (I use the faster $29 PC version), the percentages of fats, carbs and protein, the total protein and fiber grams per day and the in-your-face graphs do tend to straighten out a sloppy diet.

But that’s the bonus. The GOAL is straightforward and achievable. Log 100 days. There’s no failure here, unless it’s mine.

Bonus: A 100-day food habit is likely to stick.

Scale weight and tape measurements are emotional. Up or down, the results, which are often fluke numbers measuring water weight, or real numbers that are less in our control due to facts we haven’t begun to discuss, our days can be heavily influenced by a morning step on the scale. Logging your food intake is more simple, completely clear. I did, or I didn’t.

When I told Dave about this, his initial response was, “No offense, but.. counting calories? Haven’t people been dieting like this for centuries?”

Here’s the point: It’s not the calorie counting diet that’s the goal; it’s the 100 days of recordkeeping. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s important. Logging I can do every day, and there’s no failure.

Dieting usually involves a bit of failure or a feeling of failure every day or two as we choose to eat an extra bite or as water weight or colon volume causes an upswing on the scales. Small, unimportant failures when built in to the big picture, but the feeling of failure sets in, not allowing the possibility of the 100% success that logging offers. I’m at the 5-week mark and am fully satisfied with 100% success.

I haven’t lost much weight over that time, a bit over a pound total. As a weight-loss diet, it’s utter failure. If losing 10 pounds by the end of summer was the ultimate goal I’d probably give up after a month at 1,300 calories, good exercise effort and virtually no change in the bathroom scale marker.

Yet with complete success in the goal – logging – I’m still on track, happily and guiltless, and can continue on, tweaking the macronutrients (fat/carb/protein) or the food choices to see what happens next month.

Here’s one thing the experiment did over the course of the past month. It removed doubt, the nag that I might be fooling myself and eating too much fun food. Nope. What I thought was true was true. I don’t eat overmuch. Around 1,300 is my maintenance calorie intake. That’s what I’ve been doing and it’s not over-indulging.

One simple goal: Log the food intake for another month, review and adapt again. No guilt is a nice place to relax for the summer.


Whey Protein Prices on the Rise

Drought in California and Australia, plus the rise of fuel and transportation costs, higher demand from Chinese consumers and feed corn diverted to ethanol production have all combined into a sort of perfect storm, shooting a price rumble through the catalog of dairy products. Increasing dairy prices affect everything from milk, cheese and yogurt, to secondary markets that use dairy products, such as Starbucks espresso drinks, Hershey’s chocolate and Round Table pizzas.

Whey Protein Powder

And protein powders, all of them, everything using any form of whey or casein. As manufacturers take delivery of new shipments, we’ll begin to see price increases across the board. I’m guessing in that regard, of course, but I’d be *very* surprised if protein powder makers will be able to absorb a price increase this large and remain in business.

Today marked our second cost increase this year; we took a loss the first few months on the off-chance whey and dairy prices would return to normal this summer. That didn’t happen as hoped, and with receipt of our new shipment this week, we simply have no choice but to pass the price increase on, representing our first price increase since bringing Bomber Blend to market six years ago. The cost increase? $5.00 per jug.

No kidding. That’s how much *more* our whey and casein costs per jug this year over last. And that’s the amount we’re forced to pass on to the consumer. If we had a choice, we’d choose something different. In fact, we’ve had minor cost increases over the years and have chosen to hold our price steady. This time, unfortunately, it can’t happen that way.

One bright light in this otherwise gloomy picture: We’ve negotiated new UPS shipping rates that will decrease the shipping costs for most packages. We’ll continue to ship smaller one-pound parcels via the postal service’s priority mail service, and will shift the majority of our other US mainland orders over to USP delivery.

This switch enabled us to switch to flat-rate shipping costs.

I think you’re gonna like this part: Freight charges for a case of protein will now be a flat $10, down from $18-$25, depending on delivery location. Other packages with multiple items will all be cheaper to ship, and all with better online parcel tracking.

US Mainland Flat Rate Shipping
Order Total – Freight Cost
$1-$49 – $ 5.00
$50-$99 – $ 7.50
$100-$199 – $10.00
$200-$249 – $15.00
$250-$299 – $20.00
$300-349 – $25.00
$350-$399 – $30.00
$400-499 – $35.00
$500+ – $40.00

We’ll continue to ship USPS parcel post and priority mail to Alaska and Hawaii, and USPS Priority and Priority Flat Rate to international locations. Top Squats are shipped via DHL from the manufacturing plant in Indiana.

So it goes, a bit of good news mixed with the bad. But you know, all in all, things are pretty favorable when we can continue to feel healthy, train, eat right and share our experiences with the terrific friends of IronOnline.

Those arriving here from the online store Bomber Blend page can return by clicking here.


Vince Gironda: Iron Guru — Secrets of the Wild Physique

Love him or hate him, you can be certain a conversation about Vince Gironda and his training methods and nutrition philosophies will give voice to the wallflowers. So, what about it? Let’s talk! Here’s our jump off point: a book review discussion of Vince’s Unleashing the Wild Physique.

I do think we’ll be able to crank out a good discussion. There’s a lot of variety in this material, and should be something unusual for everyone. Grab the book and start reading — it’s an easy read, lots of pictures and commentary, and includes Vince’s thoughts that were at the time radical, but have now become mainstream. We’ll even try to sort out which of the Iron Guru’s principles failed completely over time, something that may save you some training time that could be used differently.

Gironda's Wild Physique

The original self-published The Wild Physique is available for $25 through IronGuru or at Vintage Muscle Mags, and the identical Unleashing the Wild Physique re-published by Robert Kennedy is available at Amazon, $27. Those who don’t want to buy the book will be able to find an interesting topic starter from the online articles at IronGuru, or from the generous guys over at the Vince’s Gym Forum, such as from pages like Vince Gironda’s Inside Tips or Vince Gironda’s training secrets.

Or simply respond to the threads that have been started earlier this week. You’re welcome to add your thoughts or ask the questions you’ve always wondered about Vince’s gym, the Iron Guru, his training and nutrition philosophies or the guys who trained at Vince’s. I’m unclear if any women trained there; we’ll ask the Gironda experts in the Wild Physique forum and find out.

Recently in the forum we discussed Bill Starr’s The Strongest Shall Survive and Rob Faigin’s Natural Hormonal Enhancement, and were happily able to get input via Q&A from both authors. Next up, the forthcoming revision of Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore’s Starting Strength, due out this summer.

Let’s head on over to the new Gironda’s Wild Physique review forum and stir up some dust.


Weight Vest Training and Sled Dragging

Two things stuck out this week. One an experience; one was a food investigations video clip from the BBC. Both had to do with bodyweight right here at summer’s opening weekend, wouldn’t you know it?

Let’s start with the experience: I took my first hill hike wearing a 12-pound weight vest a few days ago. That’s not much weight, a nudge under 10% of bodyweight, but the difference in effort output was significant. There are no flats on this initial one-mile trial; I was surprised to discover both the downhill and the uphill were noticeably harder.

More effort required was to be expected, of course, but what was notable was that both knees and ankles hurt during a walk that I’ve become fairly accustomed to doing without even dying at the top.

The second vest work was flat and measured, on a track at the local college, two miles in 38 minutes. The extra 12 pounds adds a couple minutes per mile, maybe a bit more, but more than time, that weight added mental effort. Pretty much every trip by the gate incurred thoughts of bagging it; carrying extra weight is hard work, and a major strain on the back.

It struck me how much of a toll on the body carrying an extra 10-15 pounds of bodyfat can be. Do your back, hips, knees and ankles hurt all the time? Are you exhausted after a day’s activity? These weight vests are too pricey to pick one up to test the theory, so you’ll have to just drop 10 pounds to see what it does for you.

One incident happened during the college workout that was kinda funny. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s outpost sits around the back turn of the track. On my third trip ‘round, heading right toward the modulars, a deputy drove up and parked, but instead of heading in to the station, she stopped and eyed me pretty closely. Aware I might have looked like a suicide bomber wearing that vest,  I started pumping my arms pretty good to show her I was really taking the workout seriously, really training hard. Eventually she went inside, leaving me to re-consider my idea of a daily weight vest hike to the post office to get the mail. Probably make a few people a little nervous.

Here’s an introduction to weight vest training; Xvest, Smartvest and WeightVest are the three manufacturers our forum members have sampled so far.

An alternative to weight vest work is sled dragging. It’s similar, but different in how the weight is carried, and how mobile you’ll feel. Sleds are also about as expensive as vests, although you can rig your own dragging implement, or you can even make yourself a sled. Byron made me a snazzy one, and offered to write up the instructions, so I’ll get after him about doing that next week.

When we start talking weight—fat weight, not vest weight—many of you probably share my thoughts about metabolism. We’re getting older, our metabolism is dropping and that’s why we can’t lose fat the same way we used to. Could be, but maybe it’s something else indeed.

In this BBC video clip, researchers compared the metabolism of two women to determine if a fast metabolism helped one of the women stay slim, and a sluggish metabolism caused the other to retain fat. As it turned out, surprisingly, the heavier woman burned more calories at rest than the thinner one. It takes more work to maintain a heavier body.

Next they snuck a look at exactly how many calories each woman ate during a test day. You know what they found? Yep, you guessed it. Even though both women—two friends who spent a lot of time together, eating most likely—thought the thinner woman ate more than the heavier, in fact she ate about half that of her weight-challenged friend.

That reminded me of a real eye-opener during a weight-loss IDEA seminar by Len Kravitz. One of his examples was a comparison of beef cuts, and the steak I favored—a boneless ribeye—was about 1,100 calories for a steak that looked kinda normal size. That was the last time I ate a whole steak; a third is about it these days.

From the BBC website, here’s where you’ll find the rest of The Truth about Food video clips.

This weight thing, it could just be a case of decreasing activity. We get a little older, maybe we start sitting things out just a touch more often. Over the course of a week or a month, that can mean the difference between a pound removed or a pound saved.

I think I’ll go take a walk and think about this.


Iron poor blood? Possible, but not likely

Excessive iron intake from Dave’s higher-than-average beef consumption is one of the elements that keeps popping up in my continuing search for the cause of Dave’s arterial blockage. There’s some cause for concern, but the good news is the testing is easy and the fix simple. In fact, I almost hope this is the cause, because it means the search for the origin of his heart disease is over and the long-term solution at hand.

Here’s what I discovered. You’ll find variances here, and as with the other heart health markers we’ve discussed, you’ll need to uncover your own place in the findings.

First and what I consider most important: Don’t over-react to hyped-up media reports. Most of us are completely safe because our bodies absorb what’s needed and no more.

The problem arises when there are excessive amounts, over-absorption or a defective metabolism caused by a genetic disorder that affects approximately 10-15% of the population. Absorbed iron does not get excreted like most other vitamins and minerals, and is instead stored forever in body tissue and organs; the only way to get rid of a toxic amount of iron is through blood loss.

We’ve all heard of anemia, and who doesn’t remember Geritol, the old-guy treatment for “iron poor blood”? But the fact is, too much iron is more common than too little, and, amazingly enough, there are multiple types of anemia, most of which are caused not by too little iron, but by too much. Who’da thunk?

Too much iron causes fatigue and joint pain, and increases the risk of arthritis, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, cirrhosis of the liver and Type 2 diabetes.

The usual first symptom, fatigue, is the same whether too much iron is the cause or too little, a clear signal that we need a blood test before we self-treat.

Let’s add iron to the blood tests to request during your next physical, specifically, serum iron, TIBC (total iron binding capacity to check saturation) and serum ferritin. These results will tell you and your doc whether you have high iron absorption and need to be concerned with your dietary habits — or indeed need to get aggressive with your blood draws — or, on the other side of the spectrum, need to up your iron-rich foods.

Note: if you have high iron absorption, it’s likely your blood relatives do, too. Give ’em a clue.

Recommended dietary intake (RDA) of iron
, assuming no anemia and no excessive absorption, is 7-27 mgs per day, around 7 mg for children to a high of 27 mg for pregnant women, the average being 8-10 mg for men, and for women 18 mg for menstruating, down to 8 mg after menopause.

Now, if you take a look at that, you’ll see it’s pretty easy to get that in an average Western diet. For instance, nine ounces of beef about does it; your daily iron needs are met right there — everything else is excess.

For certain this means men and menopausal women do not need iron in our vitamin/mineral supplements, and we don’t need iron-fortified breakfast cereal, either.

A couple of people have asked about the iron in their beloved liver tablets, and I think the answer should be (you’re gonna hate this)… it depends. If your iron absorption is normal, there’s no cause for alarm — you get to keep your splendid supplement. However, if you happen to be one who over-absorbs iron or your iron level is high, this is seriously bad juju and I’m sorry to say you’ll be going off liver, fresh or tablets doesn’t matter, at least until you get the iron in your body reduced. Blood donations are in your future, and, in fact, you may need a doc’s prescription for blood-draw overkill to speed up the process.

Regular blood donations are allowed once every 56 days. This gives the body time to replace the red blood cells. However, in people with excess iron this process takes less time, and for them more frequent blood draws are in order because the iron will continue to accumulate with regular food intake. The idea is to draw often enough to deplete the iron, which may be as much as weekly for a few months in extreme cases. As long as the red blood cells replenish that quickly, the iron is still too high.

Let me say again, excessive iron accumulation is not rare. But it’s not altogether common either, and in any case, it’s easily fixed. The trick is discovery (through a simple blood test), followed by treatment (blood draw and attention to lowering iron-rich food intake).

Dave’s got an iron test coming up next week, and I’ll ask to get mine tested with the labwork for my next physical exam.

Take home message for you: Get a blood test; don’t use a vitamin/mineral with added iron unless you’re pregnant or menstruating; give blood a few times a year to reduce iron, mercury, pesticides and other toxic chemicals circulating in the bloodstream. Vitamin C increases absorption of iron — separate your Vitamin C from your meals unless you’re under-absorbing iron.
And, of course, if you’re diagnosed anemic, disregard all the above.


Online Personal Training — Quality Personal Trainers

The best online personal training program will

  • have personal trainers with decades of weight training experience in both commercial and home gyms
  • be structured to consider your personal goals and your unique life circumstances
  • create a workout routine perfectly designed to suit your training experience and equipment availability

When you put those elements together, you’ll find trainees living their dreams, and that is what makes a successful online personal training program.Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it? That’s what we thought after discussions with IOL’s Bill Keyes, Byron Chandler, Dan Martin, Bill Peel and Chris McClinch, and with high-fives and grins all around, we set out to create the best quality personal training available online.

Today we introduce our new Online Personal Training program.

The IOL forum is terrific; the education and camaraderie can’t be beat. But let’s face it, sometimes we need a little personal attention. There isn’t enough time in the day to search through the ins and outs of a new weight training program, the latest nutrition news… and goodness knows, most of us, left to our own devices, skip a few sets or secretly slide in some pizza.

Don’t you get tired of thinking sometimes? Wouldn’t you like someone to just tell you what to do?

As I see it, there are three main benefits to an online personal trainer, assuming it’s a quality trainer like one of these IOL guys.

  • Training Motivation

  • Accountability to Your Personal Coach

  • Confidence in Your Training Program

Once your personal goals and circumstances are considered and a good workout routine prepared, those are the three things that will make a personal training program work. And that’s what we offer.

A couple of the guys are hard at work preparing small group training, 4-10 weeks of attention from a coach, just you and a few of your closest online friends. Sessions will be priced individually, depending on the workload and timeframe, and will go online this spring.

Bill Keyes. Byron Chandler. Dan Martin. Bill Peel. Chris McClinch.

Ya can’t beat that lineup, can ya?

Read the details of our new online personal training program here.


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