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Fat, Fat, Wherefore Art Thou Fat

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Posted by David H under Nutrition on 13 October 2013 at 11:00 PM

“Fat, fat, wherefore art thou fat” The one word, simple solution to the world’s flab problem.

OK, first some credentials - because if in one small(ish) post I am going to solve the world’s appalling adipose problem you need know I am not just some crackpot.

David Hickson - CSO TribesportsI am co-founder/Chief Strategic Officer of Tribesports which, as we know, hosts a thriving community of sports and fitness nuts. I’m therefore exposed to a lot of the most recent thoughts on optimum health. I am also in my (very) early forties, have 15% body fat (and falling) and a 30 inch waist. 

Ah, you say, but you’re one of those sporty-fitty types. In which case you don’t count. You’re not exactly an average Joe. But that’s just it. I am an average Joe. I do not have a gym membership (can’t even remember last time I went to the gym), I haven’t played a team sport where you have to raise your heartbeat above 100 for more than fifteen years and, although I do run a little (two to three days a week), it’s no more than 25-40 minutes at a time. And, oh yeah, for the last few weeks I have been teaching myself to swim. In other words, a very average level of activity.

Eight months ago I was over 25% body fat, was 20lbs heavier and a size 34 inch waist.

So, you starved yourself? Did the 5:2 diet? Went on Weightwatchers? Only drank milkshakes?

Nope, nope, nope.

Well, not quite nope. I certainly started the process of losing weight by going on a calorie-controlled diet: and not for the first time in my life. And not for the first time I lost weight. And then, not for the first time, as soon as an ‘event’ happened in my life: holidays, a weekend away, my baby-boy was up all night with croup, marriage (I got married!), I fell off the wagon and put on in a week what I’d taken a month to get off.

And then I discovered what the problem was.

The problem was fat.

OK, so far nothing earth-shatteringly radical about this post, then. Of course the problem was fat. That’s the stuff that gets stored over the top of your swimming shorts and, with your shirt off, makes you look like a melting ice-cream. Well, yes  - and no. And that’s just the point. So, I’ll rephrase:

The problem was fat. I needed to eat more of it.

Fat makes you fat, right?

‘Fat makes you fat.’ — It seems so blindingly obvious it’s on the verge of being a tautology. But, and it’s a big but, we are being swindled by semantics. Our brains are being hoodwinked by its proclivity, often to the detriment of accuracy, to categorise.

Because, actually, fat does not necessarily make you fat.

Some biology

In an attempt to keep it simple:

Our body is just an aggregate of many billions of cells. Each individual cell generates energy from sources it pulls from the blood. The chief source of energy is food. Specifically, the macro-nutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fat.

The macro-nutrients can be further described as follows:

  • Carbohydrates: primarily used as a source of energy. Following digestion, carbohydrates circulate in the blood as glucose. Although glucose can’t penetrate cells on its own (cells are protected by an insoluble fatty acid membrane) it is transported through the membrane by the protein insulin. When in the cell, glucose is further broken down so that it can enter the electron transfer chain in the cell’s mitochondria before being converted into ATP. ATP is the energy-form all cells use. Glucose is also stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen in limited amounts. When glucose from foods has run out - often during periods of exercise - the body will turn to its glycogen stores for more glucose. Although the glycogen in muscle cells has to stay local, the glycogen in the liver cells can be delivered, via the blood, to where its needed.

  • Proteins: simple to remember when you think that each of your genes codes for a protein. And a protein is a sequence of amino acids. And, interestingly, your body can’t synthesise ten (yes ten!) of the twenty-two amino acids it needs to create all of your proteins. So where does your body get the rest of these amino acids? The proteins it eats. In other words, the body needs proteins (of which there are many) from dietary sources for a huge number of processes — so that you know, when you eat protein, it is in large part put to very very good use. Only if the body is starved of other sources of energy will it break down protein into ATP.

  • Fat:  similar to protein, in that certain essential fatty acids are both required by the body, yet can’t be synthesised by the body (Omega-3 & Omega-6 fatty acids). And similar to carbohydrates in that fat can be used as a source of energy. But different from carbohydrates in that even non-essential dietary fatty acids (as opposed to the same fatty acid synthesised within the body) are a preferred source for certain important jobs  -  insulation and protection of organs, transport of certain fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals.

And simplifying even further:

  • The body’s cells welcome carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) as a quick and easy form of energy. But carbohydrates are used for little else. If there is more glucose in the blood than the body requires for energy it is converted into triglycerides (fat) and stored in the body as fat tissue.

  • Proteins are a hugely important for important functions. Although they can be used for energy, it is not optimal and the body would rather not.

  • Dietary fat is a hybrid, it is required to be used for certain important functions but it can also be used as an easy source of energy.

And the point is…

Why then, given the above, has dietary fat been demonised? Why do we obsess over ‘fat-free’ foodstuffs when it is pretty clear that dietary fat is not only important, but, almost certainly preferred by the body to carbohydrates? In my opinion, there are two reasons for this:

1. Health - Everyone knows that fat is bad for us  -  it clogs our arteries and raises our cholesterol  - right?

Well, yes certain man-made trans fats probably are. But what about the rest of the dietary fats out there? If we make the assumption that the fats our body require must, at least in moderation, be good for us (Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids), then that leaves us with monunosaturated and saturated fats. Monunosaturates include the ever-loved Olive Oil and there is good evidence that diets which contain a high percentage of it, such as the Mediterranean diets, have good overall health outcomes. 

The evil saturated fat. The fat that has forced us to steer away from cream, cheese, red meats and all manner of lovely stuff.

“Saturated fats cause heart disease because they raise cholesterol.”  - That’s a fact, right?

Well, no. Recently that view has been taking a battering, with countless experts raising concerns over both the science and the agendas (Big Food?) of those seeking to maintain the view. The feeding frenzy of experts and bloggers poring over decades-old studies to unearth a different truth suggests there is sufficient capital here to warrant strong scepticism of the prevailing view.

And, think about this for a minute, and about the way your brain is categorising things again: the fat that congeals in your kitchen sink’s plug-hole is not nearly the same thing that causes arterial plaque. Now, tell me you haven’t used one as a metaphor for the other! In fact, arterial plaque is, in the first place, a normal immune response to damage to the arteries probably caused by Advanced Glycated End-products (AGEs), and guess what causes those pernicious little things? Glucose. It is true that the macrophages that make up the plaque react (badly) with oxidising LDL particles that are transporting cholesterol, but, by blaming cholesterol for the problem is like blaming an innocent for being caught in a fire. It’s there — but it’s not the cause of the problem.

So, if we make the assumption that saturated fats do not cause heart disease — then what are we left with? We are left with a nutrient vastly available in nature: in animal meats, in coconut oil, in nuts, in dairy; foods upon which our ancestors survived and thrived on (by the way, this sounds like a retreat into the narrative of the Paleo Diet — but it’s not really. I don’t think we need a narrative, we need the truth). We are left with a nutrient craved by the body for it to optimally perform.

2. Weight - The stuff that sits under my skin is called fat. The stuff that I eat is called fat. Everywhere I look in the supermarket they are selling me low-fat options. Two plus two is five.

Dietary Fat has a brand problem. It is too easy for the brain to equate it with the stuff that makes me frown when I look in the mirror or disgusts me when I see it hanging below a builder’s shirt. But it’s not really the same thing  -  or, at least, the route from dietary fat to hips is not a highway, it’s more like the path to Kafka’s Castle.

For me, the solution to losing weight, and, more importantly, to re-constitute my entire physique, was to eat more high quality fat  - yes, that means cream, cheese, full fat milk, nuts, steaks, 100% beef burgers and all that good stuff, but, at the same time to stop eating a predominantly carbohydrate diet, so out (or at least substantially reduced) goes bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruits (yes, fruits  - AKA sugar in a pretty ball) etc. What that of course means is that my body now uses the energy potential of dietary fat rather than carbs. I also make sure I have plenty of green leafy, sulphur and colourful veg but otherwise I’ve stopped counting calories. I’m almost never hungry. 

The result? Not only have I lost weight, but I have much improved lean muscle mass and (and this is a big and) have stopped suffering from the low-level facial eczema and dandruff I’ve suffered since a kid. (I believe this was due to my immune system constantly having to de-prioritise battling the eczema while it dealt with another evil, gluten  — but that is another post altogether) and got loads and loads more energy. 

Why? Because I started to feed my body what it needs not just to survive but to optimize. Carbohydrates are energy, but little else. ‘Empty calories’ they are often called. So here is another thought, if our fats and protein are being used for functions other than simply the production of energy then surely fewer of those nutrients will be available to be stored as fat?

Fat is not the enemy, sugar is.

Fat is not the enemy, carbohydrates (particularly refined carbohydrates) are.

So yes, dietary fat needs a rebrand. We need to stop associating the good stuff we should be sticking in our mouths with the unsightly stuff that lives under our skin.

Fat, fat wherefore art thou fat. Deny thy father and refuse thy name.

Refuse thy name, fat. 

I propose we call you…

 “Delishafuel”

Now that should see a solution to flab.

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    Comments

    20140309065737-danielh4

    YES. Refined sugars is why people are obese, not their fat consumption. During the 80's and 90s there was a huge low fat diet fat, but obesity numbers and the people with cholesterol based problems are still rising. There's nothing wrong with fat, hell I even consume trans fat in burgers or pizza a couple of times a week, and my daily consumption of fat would be 50-80 grams. As long as it fits in your macros it's fine

    20140423194241-jessicai

    LMAO - "Delishafuel" has a very truthful ring to it! I did a Paleo diet for June and can definitely vouch for the benefits of a protein and fat filled nutrition plan that cuts carbs down to the more complex and natural stuff found in vegetables and fruits. Great explanation in this article - I hope more people discover that fat is not a "4 letter word"

    encouraged this.

    20120628093801-eoin

    Good article. Check out the research of Prof Tim Noakes, he has done over 70 marathons and ultras (including Comrades) and is a fierce advocate of Low Carb, High Fat. I've be using fat as a fuel source since Feb this year and have not eaten potatoes, rice, pasta, grains bread etc since then. I've done a couple of half marathons and two adventure races and still felt full of energy at the end. It is a better way to fuel.

    20140423194241-jessicai

    @eoin O Glad to hear someone else has had success at running with low carbs. I'm training for my first full marathon and have maintained a lower carb diet than most runners. I typically still eat around 100-150g per day but my run coach and even Hal Higdon have looked down on the theory of long distance running in ketosis. The theory seems logical. If you're body is conditioned to burn body fat then it shouldn't hit that wall where glucose stores reach depletion. I'm stuck in a world of runners who still gravitate to the old carbs = fuel.

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    20130414103523-shropshire

    Love it ... But (there is always a Butt .. often a large one!!).... There are several sides to this story (and more cropping up all the time as new experts come along) ...... Matt Frazier, (the No Meat Athlete) and a lot of other Ultra-Athletes - claim a lot of success with Vegie/vegan diets .... So, can both side be right? Sure that can, the answer (I guess) is in BALANCE - Stay away from the CR*P (mass processed non-food stuffs) and eat REAL FOOD. Is there A right answer ... NO - there are MANY of them.

    20120628093801-eoin

    Just finished listening to a podcast that featured Prof. Tim Noakes talking on this subject: http://tinyurl.com/l4gv8e6 @tony, I agree. People like Scott Jurek (vegan), Rich Roll (plant powered) and Tim Olsen (low carb) all successful ultra distance folk and all eating real food and staying off the C**P processed "food".

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    20130414103523-shropshire

    @eoin- Off to listen to that one now ...... I think that we have our answer. There is no "once size fits all" solution BUT for all solutions to work - you MUST "Cut the CR*P". ... oh and do a bit of exercise :-)

    Susan S and Heather J encouraged this.

    20140811112945-cags

    @scoop The argument is not to cut out all carbs, it is centered around how dietary fat has been villianised and how organic fats are actually awesome. Cutting down sugar is a quick and easy way for someone to begin to lose weight or get healthier, the fact is the majority of our modern diets exceed the RDA of sugar in our diets.

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    20130318103242-david

    @scoop just a quick glance at your activities shows me why you have lost your weight, you put a lot of work into your endurance and fitness - and credit to you for that. but, before you declaim anything I write as 'total horseshit' I recommend you have another glance at my activity levels, my level of body fat a few months ago (compared to now) and, perhaps most importantly, you try to grab the point of the article. It was not to demonise carbs necessarily, nor was it even to recommend a VLC/LC/Ketogenic diet for athletes, but to stop the demonising of dietary fat by simply changing its name. of course, you perhaps lost some credibility when you claim that 3% is a good indicator of being in optimum health - it's not, and if you think it is then you are bordering on deluded. also, omega-3 *is* a fat - regardless of its source - and that is (I'm afraid) fact.

    20131126112258-adrian

    @scoop I think you got a bit carried away with the "Elite Athletes" argument. @david mentions in his post that he considers himself the average Joe, so I don't see how a comparison with elite athletes in a very specific sport is relevant?

    Steve R and Heather J encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    I know, because he kept on telling everyone :-)

    Heather J encouraged this.

    20130718100342-jack

    So not only are you recommending people to pour sugar all over their meals you're now saying any successful athlete is on PED's?

    20131126112258-adrian

    @scoop - I actually agree with you for the need of some transparency relating to PED's - I'm sure there are so many more athletes than people are aware of that are using them - in crossfit you only get tested during the on season! But PED's are a whole different story. It's hard to say who is clean and who isn't and I agree that people in general are very naive about the industry - until someone is caught then made a scapegoat "He was the only one" etc.. Back to the diet issue - I know why you used the example of elite athletes, but I think you are just neglecting the massive different in demands on the body between a sedentary or relatively inactive average person and an elite endurance athlete. The two cannot eat in the same way and expect the same results. I also have to disagree on meat, in power / strength / speed sports anyway - almost all of the top athletes are meat eaters.

    Sam P and Ramon F encouraged this.

    20131110142922-karind3

    I was worried when I opened this blog. What would be written. What dietary dogma were we going to be exposed to? I was pleasantly surprised. We do need our fats, our carbs our proteins. We need sufficient calories to fuel our machines. So, thank you for this blog post.

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    20130414103523-shropshire

    Oh no... the calorie word :-( they are pretty much acknowledged as a useless measure nutritionally speaking.

    Sam P and Rachel H encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    tracking calories and macros together actually works very well if you can stick to it. I have a couple of mates who got totally shredded (sub 10% bodyfat) simply by hitting a calculated calorie intake and high protein levels whilst strength training.

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    20130414103523-shropshire

    But does a 100Cals of white sugar have the same effect on our body as 100Cals or beef or rice or cabbage? I know that we don't have a better mechanism but when we are comparing the Calorific value (ie burnt) we're not realistically modeling what the body does with the food .. are we?

    Jack A encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    correction for Sam ..... imHo :-p

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    You are kind of right @shropshire. Remember that 100cals of chicken will look very different to 100cals of chocolate, and you will be able to eat more chicken (in grams) before you eat 100cals of it. Either way - if you consume excessive calories versus how much you need for energy / muscle growth, you will put on weight in the form of fat storage. How many calories you eat l will depend on the macronutrient profile of your diet, and how much food you eat overall.

    Tony G and Sam P encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    Cheers Adrian ... it's an interesting side subject and deserves it's own Blog .. I'll not hi-jack Davids any more. cheers folks.

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20130718100342-jack

    @scoop - how can you possibly justify that "its hard for the body to convert sugar to fat"!?

    20131027053507-dredwerkz

    @scoop is correct in the sense that our bodies are not efficient at synthesizing fat from sugar, unlike cows for instance who need to store their energy as fat from the simple carbohydrates that they eat (grass).

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20131027053507-dredwerkz

    I should have refreshed the page.. didn't see Sam's post above before posting

    Sam P and Tony G encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    Sam ... have you been to Aldi (other super markets are available) recently .. some folks 'appear' to be growing those extra stomachs :-p

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20130318103242-david

    OK, hopefully we can wrap up this little debate here. @scoop it strikes me that you are making your point using strawmen, viz: "If they enjoy eating barbecues, drinking heavily and smoking then fair enough... Enjoy your training everyone! If anyone wants to chat they can do it via my profile and I can recommend some books or online references that are credible, either results based or medical studies, not steroid junkie neanderthals on YouTube telling you to buy their protein powders or fat cutting pills / fad diets" - I'm really don't understand why any of this is relevant to this discussion. "You dont need to buy any magic products. The meat & dairy industry is a powerful influence. No-one telling you to eat more fruits or vegetables has an agenda or trying to make money out of you." Where was anyone selling 'magic' products? Indeed, where was anyone saying 'eat fewer vegetables' -- again I refer you to the OP. Fruits, we can debate - and I do below. To be honest, in using strawmen in this way you seem to be raging against an argument that hasn't been made. On the subject of fruit, I think all berries are fine, I think fruits are more than fine for an athlete with your level of activity: you clearly burn tonnes of calories, probably more than you can eat - but, and let's be clear, you are an outlier. Being an outlier and at the same time being so bombastic while claiming to protect the 'vulnerable' is probably doing precisely the opposite. I think fruits in moderation are fine. I also think that too many fruits, coupled with the unheard-of levels of sugars the typical Western Diet consumes are not healthy. Pick 10 people off the street and ask them what they ate today, I predict: Muesli (mostly carbs), Low-fat sandwich for lunch (mostly carbs) & crisps (check the carbs), Tea with two sugars, an apple, an orange, a banana (sucrose & fructose), low-fat Pizza, low-fat beans and 5% oven chips for tea (feel free to check the carbs in that lot too). What do we come up with? A massively imbalanced diet - a massive carb/sugar imbalance - because people are petrified of fat. And - and you simply can't deny this - we are heading into Diabetes/Obesity epidemic. If you think that overeating carbs/sugars doesn't contribute significantly to the fat problem then you must have missed the whole High Fructose Corn Syrup thing that - at least to some degree - woke up parts of the US. And, tell me, what additional benefits does the body get from the sucrose that you freely pour onto your cereal over HFCS? None, because carbs/sugars are used for only one thing - energy. Nothing else. Nyet. Nada. I think that last point is worth making again - although it is in the OP - carbs are used for one thing only by the body. In starving the body of the other macro-nutrients (and 10s of micro-nutrients) you are being malnourished. This is not a binary decision between putting on or losing weight, or, indeed getting your fat mass down to low-single numbers - but what is optimal for health. Oh, and you are asking for my blood tests. I guess because you are drawing analogy between, what high LDL cholesterol and heart disease? Tell me, have you any idea what causes the inflammation in the arteries, the oxidation of the arterial endothelia, than mandates the macrophages to be laid down in the first place? If you do, then you'll be aware of why it is that 'thin' people have heart attacks too. The truth is to retain a balance. The point is that presently the Western Diet is not in balance. It is heavily skewed towards the macro-nutrient that is walking us all into Obesity - and, to agree with the guys at the top of the comments - that is primarily to do with the processed-food-chain & misguided advice (based on debunked 60s&70s science) that fat is the enemy.

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    20130219085852-ingridr

    Demonising sugar and carbs is treading on slightly dangerous ground and can cause health problems in some when taken to the extreme and many that work in obesity research would not agree with you that this is THE solution to the epidemic (too many other factors involved)... Although agree with you on the importance of fats in the diet. The mediteranean diet, while mostly known for it´s olive oil, emphasises complex carbs (cereals and lots of it) and does advise lots of fruit (every meal in Andalucia), which is contrary to many modern nutritionist and fad diet advice (and yours by the sounds of it). The NEJM and BMJ have some good studies comparing results of mediteranean, low carb and low fat diets. Glad this diet is working for you and keep up the good work with your weight loss and health improvement! :) I´m sticking to complex carbs, vegetables/fruit, little sugar, plenty of fish and moderate amounts of olive oil. It´s the diet I´ve naturally gravitated towards over the years, I feel great on it and keeps my stomach fat in check. As Tony said - there is no "one size fits all" solution.

    Sam P and Tony G encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    @david to start with, you have no idea what you are talking about "Glucose is also stored in the liver for use when there is no oxygen available (anaerobic respiration)." that's just not true cite that for me as glucose can only find out can only be used in krebs cycle which oxygen is required for! You say that you have become efficient as you have drop 9kg, that means that you need to lose that same again before you are slim lined. I don't contest that having a good diet is bad, that's why we could evolve away from the large apes. but you say that having a high intake of carbs is bad, well find me some one that can a 4min/mile who dose not take in huge amounts of carbs, you say sugar is bad Froome, took in one go 700kcals of energy gels which is basic cards and sugar, on his first break away in yellow. he can do that as he can use that energy to fuel his body. you say why the west is getting fat simple, as there energy output has dropped and the easy of piling in fuel is easer, but why are people living longer? why are less people dyeing per person. the storage of fat is simple it boils down to the basic off shoot of the first law of thermodynamics; energy can not be created or destroyed, it can only be transferred or stored. this means that. energy in = energy out + any stored energy . if you eat to much you get fat, if you need to loose the stored energy (fat), you need to increase the out put or reduce the input. it dose not matter how you do it.

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    Also how do your credentials make you 'qualified' and 'knowledgeable' on this subject "I am co-founder/Chief Strategic Officer of Tribesports" that just shows that you can plan, not know how the human body works!

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    So James, the bottom line is probably... weight (!!) for it ...... Eat too much of ANY THING and you will get fat... ??

    Susan S encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    Folks .. Let's play the Ball not the player aye

    Ingrid R encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    that's not what I said, you take on more energy than your body can burn that will make you fat

    Jack A encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    ok there is so much bullshit being said here it's no longer funny. Fat is essential. That's is why there are essential fatty acids. because they're essential! carbs are not essential, they're just a convenient source of energy on the go. SUGAR does turn to fat in large doses. Anything not used as energy is going to be stored as fat, DUH. regardless of if it's fat, carbs, or protein. Intake over expenditure. That's how you put on weight, regardless of when the macro is made up of. Ofcourse by making up your macros with meat and vege is more efficient then sugars, because it keeps you fuller for longer, meaning you don't have to consume as many calories to hit your daily energy requirements to sustain the current level of BF. Someone mentioned nadal being on drugs because he has a muscly physique.. WHAT THE HELL?? Also questioned many other athletes. Um well I know for a fact rugby is a clean sport, and these guys are all mostly over 100 kg with low bf %.. it's because they consume enough protein that they don't become catabolic, and the lift heavy. End of story. Also assuming any body builder is on steroids to gain the physique I also find extremely offense. You obviously have never set foot in a gym, and people on youtube aren't trying to sell us protein shakes or supps. You obviously haven't watched many. Blind assumptions from an ill-informed person

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    @scoop the use of pseudoscience is great; it makes me smile. when a something conatins the use of the words such as 'opinion' with out the use of expert elicitation it just has to be true, and you should not point out this is conpleate trash as people dont like this, and they get stubborn and put there figers in thiers ears and go la la la la la la

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    well I think you may find that may want carbs to do thinks like give your body fuel to stay alive, as the engery source most used in the body it very essential. ever heard of bonking? where you run out of carbs. Any excces protein is exscreated in your urine, well please tell me how a rugby player will be able to use his lactic acid system for the full 80mins, as that is truely wonderfull if they can. I don't often go in to gyms as i find them boring, but people come to see about how they can inprove there sporting performance, have you tried opening a book, as they may tell point out that in the case of an overdose of glyocese such as sugur will triger physical and phyocloghical responses that make it hard for you not to use the engery, eat 2 big bags of haribo and tell me that you feal the same before and after exsulding that you feel sick and your teath and tummy hurt.

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    I said nothing about mega-dosing protein. 2 grams per kg of body weight is all you need to put on muscle.. Have I ever tried opening a book? Considering I have a master degree, yes. Anyone who knows me around here will tell you I know my shit. Use his lactic acid system for 80 minutes? What? The body is suitably fuelled with carbs and fats 2 hours prior to the match, fuelled with simple sugars throughout the match, and straight after the match simple sugar and protein consumed for recovery. Done. I never said big macs are a requirements. But people on a very strict diet such as myself - I maintain under 10% bf year around. So when I am bulking I find it hard to eat enough to hit my target calories because I eat very clean naturally, so I will have burgers or pizza to help me hit target calories in order to put on muscle mass. Because we all know you need to be in a calorie surplus to put on muscle. Some guys are genetically gifted and will be ripped no matter what - like nadal. Like a bunch of female tennis players last 20 years have looked anything but feminine. Also research shows that cheat meals have a psychological benefit for people on very strict diets. AND for a body builder 55 carbs 30 protein and 15 fat is the perfect nutrition ratio to put on muscle mass. researched. so maybe to every day je 3% is fine, but to athletes 15% is much more likely

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    well, that's really to do with bio mechanics of running but, sprinting has a very dirty history, like all sports, but when they really start looking for the people doping in the big team sports they will find them, but there is to much money in the sport to dirty the brand but we are so advanced now what would it still be cheating if we genetically made sprinters, cross bolt with Jeter?

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    whey is a by-product. not a waste product. It is massively researched and I know this for a fact. Most of the world's whey is sourced from my homeland so don't give me that shit about it being a waste product. that's why 95% of athletes use it huh? because we're all sheep?? The fact it's high protein content, low fat and carb content, the speed and efficiency of which it is absorbed into the body means nothing?? You just sound like someone who looks for excuses to hate on people from the body building community. Everyone can look like that if they apply themselves, don't hate

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    and sprinters have big arms because they lift heavy weights because sprinting is an explosive movement. Compound lifts are going to bulk the whole body, not just the legs!! a lot of a sprinters strength needs to be in the upper body because the arms swinging helps with a consistent stride and exerting the whole body's strength into the run

    James R and Dave W encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    well sugar like any carbohydrate molecule is broken down to the same product to be used in the same in energy system to using the same proses. its just the rate that the energy is available to be utilised that differs, you know you shit so you know that you can't pick and choose the energy system like lights, its far more complex than that, it relies on things like out put intensity,

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    that's why 95% of athletes use please cite

    20140309065737-danielh4

    well I have no idea if that's the case in NZ, but I doubt it. Plus there are tons of off the shelf test products available that are pretty decent. In any case, athletes no matter what the sport are going to try and gain an advantage, and the dishonest ones will turn to illegal measures. I prefer not to let this get in my way of my enjoyment of sport. I don't want to blindly assume everybody is on drugs. So I'd prefer to be seen as naïve or ignorant in people's eyes such of your own and give sport and athletes the benefit of the doubt. The fact of the matter is, all these athletes are going to have a diet consisting of 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight, and 10-15% fat :)

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    well no shit james. Complex carbs consumed 2 hours before, simple carbs throughout game and after to restore glycogen levels in the blood as quickly as possible.

    Sam P and Dave W encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    Daniel I agree that doping in sport is a terrible, the body builds do it less than the endurance athletes but you are only looking at one type of athlete.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    well obviously I won't find any credible studies, but I have read in numerous articles before it's popularity. And being involved in sem-professional sport in NZ for years I can speak from experience we received no sponsorship or advice on nutritional supplements, but pretty much every guy on any team I have been on has protein shakes in their diet

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    any could you cite me 5 studies that prove the body can only utilise x amount of protein, and the rest is pissed out. We all should know maximum protein synthesis is 20-25 grams, so any protein consumed more than the one recommended scoop yeah I might believe you. But the kidneys are going to consume the macronutrients of the shake, no matter what its original source is. Making protein shakes a cheap and convenient option

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    well that's not what you said the main carbo loading meal should be 8h in advance but some times that is no practical, if you cant cite it is true, read harry potter once. but the all blacks are sponceded by one of the largest provider of sports drinks and other bits and bobs, Coca-Cola

    20140309065737-danielh4

    what do the all blacks have to do with anything?

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    carbo loading 8 hours in advance?? well that's a shit excuse for carbo loading. Carb loading is done 48-24 hours in advance. And that's for endurance. Rugby players don't carb load. Don't need to. 100 grams of complex carbs 2 hours before the game is optimal. And that's not what I said?? what?

    Sam P and Dave W encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    top flight rugby in New Zealand, big part of sport in NZ, do I have to point this out "we received no sponsorship or advice on nutritional supplements"

    Sam P encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    we didn't..?? still don't see your point. So every football player is going to research the English football team's nutrition and copy this?? that's what you seem to be alluding too... yeah all blacks are sponsored by coke, but they only endorse the powerade brand. doesn't mean I buy powerade drinks. doesn't mean any other guy in my team does... I don't even know who supplies the all blacks nutritional supplements - it obviously aint coke. and I don't give a shit who sponsors them. Means nothing to me

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    well yes carbo loading is done in the pearode of 5 days before but when you are playing every week or twice a week you cant do that, but if have eaten a big meal to close to event your performance will drop, is that 100g for every size of person from 11stone to 20stone, any type of carbs now that be for one person

    20140309065737-danielh4

    there's more running in rugby than league funnily enough. a lot of league is just standing around, for most the players. Just one player hitting the ball up at a time, and there's 12 interchanges available for the fatties to come off for a rest :) whereas rugby the forwards need to follow the ball up constantly and don't get any real rest apart from stoppages in play. From my experiences a lot of the time the forwards are fitter than the backs [the fast flashy guys) which is incredible seeing the have to carry around 100 kg + frames for 80 minutes

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    20130507190604-jedders

    well then where are your figers from, we have dietitians , but elite sport is just an branding campaign, and it works,

    20140309065737-danielh4

    carbo load every week? that's crazy. You don't need to carbo load! should only be done for endurance races more than 2-3 hours in length.

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    no anything over 90mins (length of your glycogen) of activity which rugby is if you warm up properly, well its no truly carbo loading, and on some people it dose not work any way. have a good session, turn on the beast, I am going to get some sleep aswell. I think we should right a book, with the comments, thanks chat guys

    Sam P and Daniel H encouraged this.

    20130318103242-david

    @jedders I agree, that sentence is clunky, have asked for it to be changed. Thanks for pointing it out. Although not sure why you felt the need for the troll-like aggression. I won't bore everyone on this thread again about the use of unsophisticated strawman arguments such as your references to the 4 min mile or Chris Froome, but just read my response to Sam P. Equally, where in my piece was I proposing that you can eat as much as you want? Where in my piece was I suggesting the first law of thermodynamics doesn't hold? As with Sam P, you seem to be raging against a point I haven't made: which when made in the style you made it simply serves to work against you. The piece was about the unfair demonising of dietary fat. It was about trying to understand that simply eating for energy (which is all carbs offer) - and not for the 10s of other macro & micro nutrients your body needs - is not optimal: worse, the blind-stepping of many of us through a diet that is chronically sugar based is bad for us. I'm not saying throw out carbs, I'm saying address the balance properly to avoid malnutrition.

    encouraged this.

    20140801172625-jezb

    Well I thought this was a good article until I read the comments above. Now I'm totally bamboozzeled. As a squash player can someone tell me what the heck I should be eating before I play for an hour or 90min?

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    20140309065737-danielh4

    I disagree somewhat. Sugar is going on only give short term energy pre workout. Useless. I lift for nearly 2 hours. Oats or wholewheat is where it's at, however, fats are more nutrients dense, they have more energy per calorie than carbs, in effect meaning you don't have to consume as much to receive the same amount of 'energy'. I also eat nuts or eggs as a source of energy pre workout, but about 30 mins before my carbs meal. There has also been research in a university here in NZ comparing fat to carbs as an energy source. ill see f I can find it

    James R encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    I have around 100 grams of carbs post workout w/25 grams protein, half n half simple and complex. and then an hour later another 50 grams or so complex carbs with 40 grams protein, and 30 grams of fat. Yes this is the anabolic window

    Sam P and Dave W encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    well it's benefit is the repairing and rebuilding of damage muscle tissue. so if you don't wish to increase strength or build muscle there's no real need

    Sam P and Dave W encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    Shame to see that he had deactivated his account? Hope it wasn't due to this thread - some of the things he mentioned have made me very curious about looking into it more.

    Tony G and Daniel H encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    Sign of a bad diet mate :-p need to balance out the micro nutrients.

    Daniel H encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    I take micros in a container haha so always get those daily!

    Tony G encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    @david I am contesting this line "Fat is not the enemy, sugar is. Fat is not the enemy, carbohydrates (particularly refined carbohydrates) are." as that's not true in a huge number of cases, I tried to use examples which I chose to use as I always look at the top end of performance, as that is where the best research is done, you understand about 'trickle down' knowledge, kit etc. where you have taken an argument which is baised on just you and said that as its worked on me exuding all other things, this must be true which is one hell of an assumption. you have taken something in the micro and said it must be true in the macro. What I was trying to say with the use of thermo is that you can't say, my state is changed ( I now have the mass of x) this must be due to the inputs only ( the food you eat), that's simply not true its like saying that a plane fly's as it has wings. your scope was to small, you where looking with tunnel vision. if you look at the discussion with Daniel H you can see that we did not just talk about fat we really pressed each other for knowledge, and I think it is fair to say that we and the other people who read all the information there would have got a lot out of it. As Dan really knows his stuff, and I think a bit of healthy compation to try and out smart each other, really drew a huge amount out, do you not think so? I would say that saying that I was intending to 'troll' the page is slanderous, but if you only want us to say what nice things and not challenge concepts, that are posed, why is there a comment box?

    Daniel H encouraged this.

    20140423194241-jessicai

    First of all - @ruth LMAO!!! That was a great way to derail the thread!!! :) Second - all nutritional opinions aside I am completely thrilled to see so many so passionate for what they believe in for their fitness lifestyle! I personally do my thing: I count my total calories, watch my carb intake along with fat, sugar and protein and adjust accordingly to accommodate the event I'm training for (Spartan = more protein, less carbs to fuel strength progression and muscle growth while I increase my carb intake for half marathon and what's soon to be my first full marathon). I think we can all agree that no one is the same and people have to made educated guesses to account for their training, genetics, lifestyle, and physical condition. I, for one, have a family trait of craving refined carbs/sugars which leads to type 2 diabetes. I've cut my carbs drastically and the carbs I do eat are complex (with the exception of occasional "cheats" or the energy chews on long runs - which I seriously doubt are complex carbs). Either way, there are studies and arguments for all sides and the important thing (in my eyes at least) is that we are all passionate about living healthier. Now....back to your debate....or better yet, some challenges. :)

    encouraged this.

    20140423194241-jessicai

    I should add that what I do works for ME. I can run long distance with no impact to my endurance or speed. I am (albeit) slowly losing body fat while building lean muscle. This is my choice and it is working long term for ME but it would not be right for someone that doesn't have my body type, family health issues, and training schedule.

    Maria G and Daniel H encouraged this.

    20130318103242-david

    @jedders James, we can agree to disagree on the style of your first responses, but it's worth noting that Tony thought he needed to step in to tell you to play the ball not the player. The broader point is that it's not to your credit for you to be so belligerent when you seem to have missed the point. Of course there are distinctions to be made, but here's the most obvious one: those at the 'top end of performance' don't have a fat problem. In fact, most people that have a decent level of sports activity don't have a problem. I was talking about the average Joes - fortunately nearly everyone else was able to see that. And - and I'm sure when you are not being disingenuous you know this - of course I wasn't taking an n=1 anecdote and making a general point, I suspect you are being so passionate in your defence because you have come across the vast body of knowledge that has re-appraised dietary fats - and the evidence against a predominantly carb-based diet (for the average Joe on a Western Diet!). I specifically did not recommend VLC/Ketogenic diets for athletes because I agree - I don't think the evidence is there to support them. And please, stop making assumptions about my knowledge - or what I know - based on what you perceive my job to be.

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    20130913143353-susans3

    Wow this blog has sparked a heated debate! My opinion (and it is an opinion) is that our bodies need balance and too much of anything is not good for it, moderation is the key, and eating WHOLE FOOD not processed c**p. I am an average joe not an athlete and I read all food/exercise/heath articles because I am interested BUT the bottom line is I do what feels right for me, my body, my mind and I respect other people's opinions by not trying to force my opinions on them, keeping an open mind is the way to go and practicing Yoga is the way to live (but I wouldn't try to force that on anyone, it is just what I do). Peace (Om Shanti)

    encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    I think at the end of the day people need to know that 90% of the time the most important thing in your diet is calories in vs energy output. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you are consuming fat, carbs, or protein, if you are consuming more than your body needs energy wise to sustain it's current weight, then you will gain weight. And the opposite applies for weight loss. There is so much debate in the industry about the 10%. intermittent fasting, nutrient timing, nutrient rations, carb cycling, high fat, low fat, low carb etc etc. If we all focused on total calories instead of buying into fad diets, then we would all look like me :P

    Tony G and James R encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    Good point Daniel ... but where do people get the 'correct' information from (the back of packets? .. probably not). Are all 'Calories' created equal (do they affect the body in the same way .)?.... How is the Calorific value of food stuffs determined (is this true for everything we eat?). When people try to calculate Energy in .vs. Energy Out . Even if they are getting 'reasonable' numbers going in, are they getting anywhere near the right numbers out (Bare in mind you need to define ALL energy out parts of the equation . some we like to talk about and some we don't!!!) ....... It's a Mine Field topic f'sure .. with LOTS of variables.

    Daniel H encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    its pretty easy to work out your energy needs. write down everything you eat for a week, go on google and find out what macros are in the foods you eat. But nutrition labels are fine for processed products (these are tested before going to shelf so are correct. Work out how many calories your diet is worth, average it out over 7 days and that's your daily macro target. average it out over 4-6 meals a day. then eat what ever the hell you want, as long as it fits in your macros. A calorie is basically a calorie. if you want to build muscle, you need 2 grams protein per kg of body weight. where the rest of your calories come from is meaningless. really. yeah you get more micros from fruit n vege, but that is besides the point. just eat what you like to eat, if you feel better on low fat diet then do that. if you like eggs and pizza and burgers like me, eat them. your body doesn't know the difference

    Adrian K and Tony G encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    I know a 100 kg guy at my gym, isn't on roids or anything, about 12% body fat. impressive looking guy. today he told me ate 6 litres of ice cream the other night. because he's a large guy, he is on about 4000 calories. he had a couple of low carb days, so he could pig out Saturday night. he loves ice cream. and it fits in his calories

    20140309065737-danielh4

    and I'm glad no one has taken my debate personally... aside from some people not actually involved directly possibly. so thanks :) even at my laziness for correct grammar sometimes lol

    Tony G encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    haha sometimes those keyboard warriors will find any excuse to have a go

    Tony G encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    O.K let's get (a little) silly (extreme) by way of examining some data and arguments.... ... How many calories in (say) Grass (apparently about 4 per ounce - who knows, it's a number) - What would happen if we ate those calories - baring in mind that we only have once stomach and can not digest Grass. I presume that those calories (That Energy) would simply pass through our system....... How many other 'food stuffs' that have their calories 'counted' actually .. just pass through the system with zero to little effect? ... In other words (and excuse me if you are eating dinner) ... What is the Energy in Poo (how many Calories)? ...... We actually know that it's quite High because it's used (or can be) as fuel... .... Bottom (titter) Line is : How accurate is the Calories In .vs. Calories Out equation that a lot of people seem to be using if they are NOT counting Everything?

    David H encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    I don't know about you Tony.. but I don't tend to eat much grass ;) .... Although it's an interesting point, I assume stuff like that has been accounted for by the people who devised the calorie scheme? Do you know whether or not it's true that we eat calories that we can't digest or are you just thinking out loud?

    Tony G and Ingrid R encouraged this.

    20140210014824-mariag1

    Thanks a lot Tony. I was so enjoying my rice pudding until the Poo : P Actually, that is quite interesting.

    Tony G and Lisa M encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    Thinking aloud really, but 'suspect' that there are because we often hear about so called 'Empty Calories' (not sure if that's the same thing)??????

    20130414103523-shropshire

    TeHe ... I just used Grass as an Extreme End point to explore the subject Adrian :-p

    20131126112258-adrian

    "empty calories" is usually used to refer to things that increase your calorie intake but have no real nutritional value. Like coca cola. (sorry @cags but it's true)

    Maria G and Tony G encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    You are NEVER going to see that in any Sports Mag' thhough @cags!!

    20130414103523-shropshire

    Sorry @david - we have 'expanded' your topic some what ... my bad

    20130414103523-shropshire

    Bwhaaaaa .. I await it with oh so much enthusiasm mate.

    Lisa M encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    Debate (good natured debate) is very healthy .. we shouldn't just swallow everything that we are told. Question Everything :-)

    David H encouraged this.

    20130219085852-ingridr

    :) Love the your argument Tony. The energy balance equation is fundamental physics, if only was so easy to use in practice. So many factors are at play, just to mention a few:(1) metabolism (which is not static and is affected by the amount of calories we eat, the composition of our diet etc, and a certain amount of genetics in how much it can increase or slow down in response to food, exercise, hormones, etc); (2) like you pointed out not all calories are "absorbed" (again this is affected by diet composition, how much calories we eat, gastric emptying - also influenced by diet composition, gut microbiome...); (3) gut microbiome (more and more stuff coming out on this - affected by diet composition, antibiotics etc and appears to have some affect on calories absorbed/food digestion). There is also a genetic component to how we respond to different types of exercise... Dont want to get technical or write too much. I love this research área... (trying to keep it simple, so apologies to those that like a technical/sciency argument). PS. David has written the most commented on blog post :) It´s awesome and the discussion it´s provoked has been (mostly) great.

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    20130219085852-ingridr

    lol - seems I took too long writing that and there were a lot of posts in between :)

    Tony G and Maria G encouraged this.

    20130414103523-shropshire

    But well worth the wait Ingrid - thanks.

    Maria G encouraged this.

    20130318103242-david

    OK, now this *is* a nuance worth talking about. Here's a question everyone is welcome to answer (because I haven't been able to find anything definitive about it), but lets say your body breaks down the proteins it ingests to synthesise the 10 amino acids that our bodies can't synthesise in order to do everything our genes require, and our body breaks down dietary fats to synthesise the essential fatty acids as well as to provide insulation for our organs & to transfer fat-soluble vitamins etc etc doesn't all this activity take energy, even in a sedentary host? And, if the foods are broken down in this way, doesn't it leave less of it available to be stored as triglycerides (stored fat)? In other words, it's not really about (just) counting the calories of the food mass going in (which I think it Tony's poo point) - but what happens to the food when it gets inside? Unfortunately the beleaguered carb appears to have only one use - it either gets used as energy or (in the sedentary host) it gets stored as the evil stuff. Now, before anyone gets personal on me again (;)) please note this is a question, not a statement, I'd be happy for clarity...

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    20140309065737-danielh4

    david there are 11 essential amino acids ;)

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20140309065737-danielh4

    and yes you're right about carbs. they're purely an energy source. the body has no other use foe them

    Dave W encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    well @david when you change state, e.g. the ATP and PC are used in the mussel cells to produce heat to generate movement, this is exothermic reaction it is giving out energy, but say if your body you body is making the 11 amino acids your body has to put energy in the form of heat for this to happen. This is called a endothermic reaction. as well as this your body needs to in the correct state such as tempture so in summary just to stay alive you body will have to take in energy to stay alive, that's why they have to feed people who are in commures, only a little, it may just something like 200kcal (that's a guess). the next thing is that anything that you poo out has 0 value to body (on a very basic level) as anything that has already been taken out of food in the digestive system, but say if you take in way to much of something say vit D your body will balance its self and this will be expelled in you urine. (apart from I think vit C or one of the vitamins will be stored and it will be stored, and can turn you skin yellow but you have to take a huge amount like (500%RDA) over a long time to do that, it is very rare. so from a purely analytical note, and on simple terms the body's intake is the energy in food eaten take away the energy's in the poo, then you need to know what your body has put in to poo such as bile etc, and exclude that as that is energy used in the bile, and also you have to look at any state changes, or chemical reactions that happen in the body to see how that effects the body's outputs and adjust for that, that would calculate the energy that has been taken in. I don't know but I would guess that this could be done, but only in a lab. The think is the only way to calculate what energy is in a food with out doing stupid high level test is to use a bomb calorimetry, which basically you burn the food (with a real flame), which then you measure the heat that is produced, its more fun with something like petrel, its a simple calk but if you want how they do it http://www.chem.hope.edu/~polik/Chem345-2000/bombcalorimetry.htm seams to be an ok source. so in summary; 1. its very hard to work out exactly what going in and going out so ball park numbers are really the best you are going to get. 2. Its even more hard to work out how the body uses energy, you are a very cool peace of kit. 3. at current, and as far as I know the engery of food is found by exsperimenatly so you have to be careful how you use it, 4. I was way to tired when I typed this so if you makes no sense I will try and answer the your questions for you

    David H and Tony G encouraged this.

    20130318103242-david

    Cool - btw, this was my source for 10 essential amino-acids http://www.healthknot.com/essential_amino_acids.html but it was just a heuristic. Wikipedia probably explains the complexity best http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_amino_acid . @jedders , thanks for taking the time to provide your full answer, it was really very interesting. I 100% agree with you, energy (regardless of source ) is the body's primary requirement of food. After all, without it, it couldn't synthesise even the non-essential amino acids & fatty acids it requires to operate. Thanks for all for contributing. Onwards and upwards. Best of luck with your trainin

    Tony G encouraged this.

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