Q: What's your opinion of the Fitbit fitness
A: I really didn't have one until my brother-in-law gave me a Fitbit Surge for
Christmas. The Surge is the top of the line. I'm finding that it informs
my physical activities.
Carol and I heard of the Fitbit about the time it was
invented in 2007. A
visitor told us how his wife's Fitbit updated automatically when she
was in the vicinity of
her computer. Sounded like a gimmick. We weren't inclined to buy one. A pedometer seemed more
than adequate. We were selling the Fitbit short. I've found a number of
Perhaps the most useful surprise is sleep tracking. I
generally spend about nine hours in bed, but never know how much I
A wristwatch with a sensor on its underbelly,
the Fitbit determines your heart rate and movement during the day, and then
tells when you are asleep.
The Surge model tracks your sleep automatically. All you
to do is wear it to bed. It's fitted with sensors called accelerometers.
When the tracker detects that you haven't moved for about an hour, it
assumes that you are asleep. When you get up in the morning, you have a
chart showing your sleep pattern: when you fell asleep, when you were up or restless during the night,
and when you awakened for the day.
Sleep efficiency is calculated based on how restless you
are. If you don't move all night, your sleep efficiency is 100%. (My
score has always been over 90%.)
You can see at
a glance the total time you slept over the last 7 or 30 days. My sleep
has varied from as little as four
hours to as long as 9.8 hours (depends on what's on my mind or how tired
I am) with an average of about 6.5 hours. That's less and more irregular than I
would like. I've had a few unexpected developments lately that may account
for the irregularity. The Fitbit should encourage me to get back over seven
The face of the device also swipes back and forth to show time of
day, steps walked, heart rate, miles walked, calories burned, and floors
climbed. (Floors climbed is the surprise of the lot. I'm up and down all
day in our house; 21 floors is my best--without trying.) You can see at a glance where you stand on all of
these measures over the last 7 or 30 days. It makes you more
aware of your daily activity pattern.
The step count is more accurate than my pedometer, which
can be a little stingy in counting when I'm moving around in the
Calorie count is also interesting, averaging a little
2800 a day; about 3100 on workout days and 2700 on recovery days.
Pretty good for someone my age and size. Suggests a purring metabolism. Shows why I can eat well over 2500
calories a day without gaining weight. I don't count calories, but the
nutritionist at the Cooper Clinic came up with that estimate years ago.
The Fitbit also breaks down various types of workouts, but
I'm not really into that yet.
I still have a lot to learn, but I feel comfortable
recommending the Fitbit Surge to people who want to track their activity
Single- or Multi-Joint Exercises?
Q: I am wondering about exercise selection. Should
I include minor muscle groups such as biceps and triceps or focus on
compound movements? Does adding single-joint exercises produce more
muscle size and strength?
A: Your timing is perfect. We have a recent
review study on this topic.
Researchers from the UK and Brazil searched and reviewed 23
studies. With one exception, they found that
adding single-joint exercise to multi-joint exercise alone had little or no
benefit and may actually have a downside. Paulo Gentil, James Fisher,
and James Steele published their findings online on September 27, 2016, in
the journal Sports Medicine.
Multi-joint or compound movements work muscle groups,
while single-joint movements isolate muscles. The
question is whether doing both produces more muscle size and strength. If you are doing squats and
deadlifts, does adding knee extensions and leg curls increase adaptation? Do isolated
movements for the arms and shoulders add anything to pushing and pulling
This study says probably not, based on several key
Gentil et al found that single-joint exercise does not
stimulate muscle fiber activation more than multi-joint exercise alone.
Moreover, the addition of single-joint exercise does not appear to increase
gains in muscle size and strength. While fatigue, perceived effort, and
soreness seem to be greater for single joint exercise, this does not
appear to be accompanied by greater adaptation--and may be detrimental
since it induces more discomfort and delays recovery. The one exception is that isolation
exercise for the spinal
erectors has been found to increase gains in muscle strength when compared to multi-joint
"Based on these findings, we suggest that persons
performing resistance training may not need to include single joint
exercise in their program to obtain equivalent results in terms of
muscle activation and long-term adaptation such as hypertrophy and
strength," the researchers concluded.
As usual, I have simplified the findings. If you're
up for a maze of anatomical detail, you can read the entire study
* * *
Here's an example of a whole body routine made up almost
entirely of compound exercises:
There's really no other way to train your calf muscles. My
favorite is the leg-press calf raise, which takes the stress off the
I've included triceps and biceps exercises, because most
people enjoy working their arms.
My first two decades of
training were devoted almost entirely to the three Olympic lifts:
clean and press, two arm snatch, and the clean and jerk. The only
other exercise I did regularly was the barbell squat. I did the bench
press from time to time; mainly when training for a power lift contest. I tried doing
curls at times, but didn't really feel it.
The below photos show
me at 27. As you can see, I
developed my entire body almost exclusively with compound movements. I was also very strong.
Photos by Wayne Gardner
I added isolation movements when I turned to bodybuilding
in my late 30s. Along with more attention to diet, that
made my physique contest ready. But it didn't make me any stronger or add
substantially to my muscle mass.
Hope that helps you with exercise selection. Do what you
enjoy--and keep training.
What About Your Neck?
Q: I just
caught your interview by Coste Vlad Ionut. Your neck looks incredible.
To what do you attribute it?
A: Thanks for noticing. The neck is
often the only exposed part of a person you see--and tells a lot about
The key is to not let your body fat get out of
control, which causes fat to accumulate under the chin. Pretty
soon you've got a double chin and saggy skin on your neck.
To reverse the process, reduce the fat all over the
body--and move your neck regularly. Fat is systemic; spot reducing doesn't
The December, 2016, issue of the UC Berkley Wellness
Letter says the shape of the human chin may have developed
to signal the quality of a mate--with broad chins on males
attracting females and narrow ones on females attracting
males. In modern times, the turn off is more likely to be
a double chin, which refers to a specific layer of fat under
the chin called "submental fat." It's more common in older and
overweight people. With aging, neck skin loses elasticity and
fat accumulates--and droops. Muscle tone is also a factor.
Genetics can also be a problem.
The Wellness Letter says that exercise can help to
tighten the muscles, but it won't get rid of the fat deposits.
As noted, there is no such thing as spot reduction--you have to
lose fat throughout your body.
I've never done strength training for my neck, but I do move my
neck through a full range of motion every day as part of my Morning
I hope this helps. Healthy eating and regular exercise is the
key staying healthy and looking good--all over.
To see my neck on the Vlad interviews:
http://www.cbass.com/News10.htm (Please scroll down)
January 1, 2017
Heavy Weights or Light Weights?
Q: I'm confused about whether high- or low-load
resistance training is best for building strength and muscle. What's the latest on this issue?
A: Your confusion is justified.
Exercise scientists are still debating the interpretation and
application of recent research findings. UK researchers James
Fisher, James Steele, and Dave Smith address this topic in a paper published online in Sports Medicine
on August 1, 2016. Here are the key details without getting too
far into the weeds.
So we know what we're talking about, heavy is generally defined as more than 65% of 1
repetition maximum, and light is less than 60% of 1 RM. For someone who
can lift 100 pounds, heavy would be more than 65 pounds and light would
be less than 60 pounds. Some authors
suggest that it makes little difference as long as lifting is continued to
momentary failure; until the weight can no longer be lifted in in proper
form. Others suggest that specific loads may be necessary in order to
achieve a specific adaptation. While there's truth in both positions, it
makes little or no difference for most trainers. The exception is for
competitive lifters. Power lifters and Olympic lifters must practice
with heavy weights in order to lift heavy--specific adaptation to
imposed demand (SAID). CrossFit competitors who seek to lift weights for many
reps must practice doing just that. For general fitness or health a
variety of loads may be best. The vast majority will probably be best
served by lifting according to personal preference or circumstances.
That's essentially where the UK researchers come down.
"Our opinion is that the practical implications of being
able to self-select external load include reducing the need for specific
facility memberships, motivating older persons or those who might be
less confident using heavy loads, and allowing people to undertake home-
or field-based resistance training intervention strategies that might
ultimately improve exercise adherence."
A final caveat added by Fisher et al is that there is
probably a threshold load below which true momentary failure can not be
achieved. "However, this has not been identified empirically in any
literature and is likely very individual, and possibly based on
individual mechanics and muscle fiber type," they write. A safe bet for
most people would probably be to stay within a rep range of 3 to 30.
Those primarily interested in the bottom line can stop
For those who don't mind getting technical, we'll delve into some
of the areas
were the experts part company.
Some authors suggest that high loads activate more motor
units than low loads. Fisher's team counter, citing the "muscle wisdom
hypothesis," that low loads may activate just as many MUs, but do it
sequentially. As the smaller and weaker fibers fatigue from rep to rep, the
bigger and stronger fibers take over. Makes sense, but we apparently don't
know for sure. "Whether MU recruitment is ultimately similar between HLs
and LLs remains a hypothesis to be tested empirically," they add.
It's a stand off at this point in time.
Another confounding factor is how muscle hypertrophy is
measured, in vivo (computed tomography [CT], magnetic resonance imaging
[MRI], and ultrasound) or in vitro (muscle biopsy). Both provide useful
but different information. Biopsies tell more about individual
components, such as fiber type, individual fiber area, mitochondrial
content, enzyme expression, and capillarisation. The in vivo methods
tell more about whole-muscle change. Some studies use one method or the other,
while other studies combine the two methods. The result is a mishmash of
information, some favoring HL and others LL. Some trainers, of course,
are more interested in whole muscle changes irrespective of whether
contractile or non-contractile components increase, while others have
more performance-specific goals.
"In our opinion, the confounding factors discussed limit
the integrity of any outcome data where analyses have combined these
methods of measurement of hypertrophy," Fisher et al write.
"Furthermore, from a practical perspective, different outcomes may hold
different value for persons with different goals." In short, the
stalemate continues for HL and LL proponents.
A final factor is perceived exertion or discomfort.
"Studies comparing HL and LL training where participants are said to
have trained to momentary failure, might be limited by high discomfort
in the LL group, preventing participants from reaching true momentary
failure," the Fisher team speculates. That might come as a surprise to the
casual observer, but experienced trainers will be quick to tell you that
an all-out set of 20 reps, especially in whole body movements such as the squat or deadlift,
is perhaps the most
dreaded move in the gym--and
the most productive for those who are up for the effort required. Low loads to the point of
momentary failure are anything but the easy road to muscle and strength.
Counter intuitive as it may seem, for most trainers,
lifting heavy weights or light weights is more a matter of personal
preference than results.
High reps to failure require tremendous effort.
Photo by Pat Berrett
December 1, 2016
Is Butter Back?
A: Yes, butter is back. A little in moderation
probably won't hurt you. But it's not likely to help you either.
Your puzzlement is understandable. For over
40 years we were told to eat as little fat as possible, especially the
saturated fat found in meat, eggs, and butter.
And then a massive international study came along in 2014 and upset
the apple cart. It found no link between heart
disease and saturated fat.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans followed up by lifting the limit on
dietary fat. They, however, recommend limiting the consumption of
saturated fat to less than 10% of total calories!
on saturated fat continues, but we now have an impressive new study which gives butter a pass. A systematic review and meta-analysis of
butter consumption and the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and total
mortality. Led by Tufts University researcher Laura Pimpin and overseen
by nutrition heavyweight Dariush Mozaffarian (also from Tufts), the study
was published June 29, 2016, in the online journal PLOS ONE.
from nine large studies involving 600,000 people, the study found that a
daily serving of butter (about one tablespoon) was associated with no
effect on cardiovascular risk, a small (4 percent) reduction in diabetes
risk, and a tiny (1 percent) increase in all-cause mortality-rate.
Unfortunately, Pimpin et al found no randomized, controlled
trials regarding butter, which means that no cause and effect connection
could be established.
That's likely where the issue will stand. Controlled trials of
butter consumption would be expensive and impractical. Can you
imagine policing the butter consumption of a large number of people for
an extended period of time? Observational
studies are probably the best we are going to see.
that leave us?
Swartzberg, chairman of the editorial board at the UC Berkley
Wellness Letter, is not convinced by the findings in the study.
While we have studies showing that some forms of saturated fat have
positive effects, butter is not one of them.
http://www.cbass.com/benefits_dietaryfat.htm Dr. Swartzberg
says that butter, "pretty much just milk fat," can hardly be considered a "health food." Acknowledging that sugar and white
bread may be worse, Swartzberg says that he'll continue to "usually opt
for olive oil" on his whole-grain bread. Still, if you love butter, he
says to go ahead and enjoy it. "In moderation, of course."
Carol and I
won't hesitate to put butter on dinner rolls when we eat out, but you
won't find butter on our table at home.
where things stand. Now, it's up to you and your taste buds.
Black Hole of Exercise?
Q: I've been hearing that it's not good to train
in the "black hole." It would seem to include jogging and most of my fitness friends are joggers. What's the problem?
A: The black hole is a place that slows recovery
and stalls progress.
You are correct that jogging is popular with recreational trainers.
It's fine for people who want to develop and maintain a fitness
base, but not for those serious about improving.
The label "black hole" in new to me, but the concept is
In Challenge Yourself, I recommended "barbell aerobics" to avoid the problem. The idea is that mid-range exercise disrupts recovery
from high-intensity exercise. On the other hand, low-intensity exercise such as walking
recovery and burns fat. Barbell aerobics says to train hard
and easy--and avoid the "black hole" in between.
The term black hole comes from Stephen Seiler, an
American exercise scientist teaching at the University of Agder in
Kristiansand, Norway. Kudos to him for coming up with a very apt
term. Black holes are scary places.
Carl Foster, a professor of exercise and sport science at
the University of Wisconsin--LaCross and co-author with Seiler of two research
studies on the topic, calls the black hole "poison."
Foster says the danger zone is just above the intensity
where your body shifts from fat to glycogen (muscle sugar), a tipping
point known as your lactic threshold. If you train
well above it, you'll put enough stress on your body to make it adapt
and become stronger. Training too close to your threshold, says Foster,
"won't get you as strong as intervals but will leave you just as
fatigued." Simply put, you won't recover from workout to workout. Your hole becomes deeper and darker--and
your training flat-lines or worse.
"It's simple. If you want to be your best, go hard and go
easy," says Foster, "and don't go in the middle."
Keep in mind, of course, that effort is relative. Jogging
would be a piece of cake for Galen Rupp, while your neighbor might be
You'll find these and many more interesting details in a piece called "Beware the Black Hole" in Outside Online:
For more about hard-easy training see my Barbell Aerobics
As luck would have it, we have a new study from Duke
University School of Medicine highlighting the benefits of walking.
Walking More Effective Than Jogging Combatting Pre-Diabetes
Cris A. Slentz, PhD, and colleagues reported July 15,
2016, in the journal Diabetologia that six months of brisk walking was more
effective than the same period of jogging in improving blood sugar control in
pre-diabetic participants. Importantly, brisk walking alone was only slightly
less effective than a three-pronged program of diet, exercise, and
weight loss, the gold standard Diabetes Prevention Program
On average, participants in the DPP group had the
greatest benefit, with a 9 percent improvement in oral glucose tolerance--a key measure of how readily the body processes sugar and an
indicator used to predict progression to diabetes.
One of the exercise-only groups came in a close second.
Participants in the moderate-intensity exercise (brisk walking), 11.5-mile group saw a 7 percent
improvement in glucose tolerance on average. The moderate-intensity,
7.5-mile group had a 5 percent improvement on average.
The lowest improvement was seen among those in the vigorous-intensity
11.5-mile group, with only a 2 percent average improvement.
“High-intensity exercise tends to burn glucose more than
fat, while moderate-intensity exercise tends to burn fat more than
glucose,” senior researcher William E. Kraus, MD, told Duke Medicine.
“We believe that one benefit of moderate-intensity exercise [brisk
walking] is that it
burns off fat in the muscles, which relieves the block of glucose uptake
by the muscles. That’s important because muscle is the major place to
store glucose after a meal,” Kraus added.
“When faced with the decision of trying to do weight
loss, diet, and exercise versus exercise alone, the study indicates you
can achieve nearly 80 percent of the effect of doing all three with just
a high amount of moderate-intensity exercise,” Kraus continued. “I was
heartened by the fact that I found out that I can give patients one
message and they can get nearly the same effect as when required to
exercise, diet and lose weight all at the same time.”
For more details and a video comment by Dr. Kraus visit
Studies such as this may help alleviate concerns of
committed joggers, rowers, and others that their fitness and health will
suffer from giving up moderate steady-state exercise in favor of the
September 1, 2016
Support Below for Fasting--Clarence Responds)
I’ve been hearing a lot about intermittent fasting. How does it work and
what are the benefits—and the downside, if any?
I’ve been asked about intermittent fasting a number of times, but I didn’t know enough about it to comment. That has
changed. We are now flooded with information. Like so many hot topics in
the diet area, there are two sides, an upside and a downside. I’ve tell
you what I’ve learned. You can take it from there and decide what’s best
The two types of fasting commonly used are
the 5:2 plan and the overnight approach. On the 5:2 plan, you cut food
down to one fourth of your normal intake on two non-consecutive fasting
days (about 600 calories for men and 500 for women). On the other five
days of the week you eat normally. The overnight method, the 16-8
protocol, calls for you to stop eating early evening (perhaps 6pm) and
not start again until mid-morning the next day (around 10am).
Some believe that fasting reboots the immune
system by clearing out damaged cells and regenerating new ones. Others
say that fasting protects against or reverses diabetes and other related
diseases. Many of the claimed benefits are similar to the proven
benefits of exercise.
Probably the best known proponent of the 5:2
approach is the BBC’s Dr. Michael Mosley, who has written several books
telling how it reversed his diabetes, high cholesterol, and other
problems associated with his obesity. Mosley’s book The Fast Diet,
published January 6, 2015, is a #1 New York Times best seller. The
Daily Mail called it “The biggest diet revolution since Atkins.” The
book promo on Amazon claims that “Scientific trials have shown that
intermittent fasting will help the pounds fly off and reduce your risk
of diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even
cancer, offering a dietary program you can incorporate into your busy
A regular visitor to our website tells us
that overnight fasting (the 16-8 system) has worked well for him, but
that he doesn’t know anyone else who would find it comfortable.
On a perhaps more authoritative note, Dr.
Mark Mattson (Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National
Institute on Aging and a Professor of neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins
University) and his team have published several papers that discuss how
fasting twice a week could significantly lower the risk of developing
both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease (sometimes thought of as a form
of diet-induced diabetes or type 3 diabetes). He believes that fasting
does good things for the brain, “which improve cognitive function,
increases neurotropic factors, increases stress resistance, and reduces
Mattson acknowledges that this is his opinion
and has yet to be borne out in the medical literature. He blames the
dearth of evidence on “big pharma” and the food industry.
You can read and
listen to his entire presentation on intermittent fasting:
Google “Benefits of intermittent fasting”
for more claims and some research support, especially in the areas of
insulin resistance and blood sugar control.
On the other hand, U.S. News & World Report
ranked intermittent fasting 28 out of 31 in its Overall Best Diets
category. The “pros” were that all food groups are allowed and that
exercise is promoted, while a major “con” is that the scientific
evidence is “controversial.” Other cons are that fasting may create
nutritional deficiencies and can result in uncomfortable side effects
such as “headaches, irritability and hunger.”
Cynthia Sass, a nutritionist and registered
dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public
health, offered “4 Reasons NOT to Try Intermittent Fasting” on
Health.com. They reflect her experience with women clients.
“For many women I’ve counseled, any type of
fasting—whether it be overnight for 16 hours every night, or capping
calories at 500 two day a week—has seriously backfired,” she begins.
Rebound overeating, poor sleep, fewer
nutrients, and muscle loss make up her list of potential problems.
With both the 5:2 and the overnight approach,
the women often wound up eating more than they would have otherwise. “If
it leaves you in a food frenzy, it’s not the best approach for you,” she
“Some clients have told me they got out of
bed at 3am after waking up, and…wound up either eating, drinking
alcohol, or both, in order to fall asleep—not a good recipe for weight
loss or wellness,” she reported.
Another major problem has been focusing on
calorie count rather than food quality. “If you do decide to try
intermittent fasting, or even a modified version, make every morsel
count by sticking with naturally nutrient rich and fresh foods rather
than processed ‘diet’ products,” she urges.
Finally, she warns that “many women tell me
that when they fast they crave carbs, which may lead to a loss of muscle
while maintaining body fat—the opposite of their intended goal.” That,
of course, means a slower metabolism and more body fat.
Her bottom line advice is to keep in mind
your body’s needs, and remember that “sustainability is key!”
To read the entire Sass report:
One wonders whether intermittent fasting may
be cutting off your nose to spite your face. Could it be that
quality eating will do everything claimed for fasting—and more?
Benefits of Fasting Without Fasting
The brain responds to dieting—or fasting—by
sending out hunger signals and
slowing metabolism, Harvard professor David Ludwig, MD, PhD, explained in his 2016 book
Always Hungry? This sets off a vicious cycle that makes us eat more
and grow fatter. Low-calorie (and low-fat) diets work against us by
triggering fat cells to hoard more calories. “As the body begins to
enjoy better access to fuel, metabolism runs better, hunger and craving
subside, and weight loss occurs naturally” he tells readers. “It’s diet
without deprivation.” And without fasting.
As noted above, one of the key benefits of
intermittent fasting is said to be less insulin resistance and better
control of blood sugar—and lower rates of diabetes. Dr. Ludwig
references two key studies showing how diet can either contribute to or
reverse diabetes and other chronic diseases. Taken together, the two
studies (reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013)
suggest a paradigm shift.
We’ve long been told that a low-fat diet
would protect us against chronic disease. Unfortunately, it has not
worked out that way.
The “Look Ahead” study assigned about five
thousand adults with type 2 diabetes to either a low-fat diet with
intensive lifestyle modification or to usual care. Ludwig relates that
the study was terminated prematurely for “futility.” Analysis showed
no reduction of heart disease among participants assigned to the
intensive low-fat diet, and no prospects of ever seeing benefits.
The second study, called PREDIMED, assigned
about 7,500 Spanish adults with heart disease risk factors to one of
three diets: Mediterranean (more vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole
grains, nuts, and fish--and less red and processed meat)
with lots of olive oil, Mediterranean with
lots of nuts, or the conventional low-fat diet.
Calorie restriction was
not part of the study. PREDIMED was also terminated early, but this time
because effectiveness exceeded expectations. Both higher fat
groups had such significant reductions in cardiovascular disease (about
30 percent) that continuation of the trial would have been unethical for
those in the conventional group.
(Another study, from the Mayo Clinic,
reported 2012 in Pub Med, reinforced the growing belief that Alzheimer’s
disease is a diet-induced form of diabetes. The risk of cognitive
decline and dementia was found to be elevated in subjects consuming a
high percent of carbohydrate, but reduced in those with a high% fat and
high% protein intake.)
Importantly, calorie restriction was not part
of these studies.
Here’s what Dr. Ludwig wrote:
These two recent studies should seal the coffin on the standard low-fat
diet. More broadly, they show that modest improvement in
diet—specifically, more fat and less processed carbohydrates—can prevent
obesity related disease at any body weight. A high quality diet seems to
calm down “angry fat” even without weight loss. With weight loss, the
health benefits could be huge.
Neither calorie restriction
nor fasting were necessary. The key is what you eat, not
whether you eat. If you eat more good fat and less processed
carbohydrates, your body will control the intake; you'll be healthy and
you won’t overeat.
Best results for weight control and health come from
Full details on quality eating are in Dr.
Ludwig’s book. My commentary would be a good place to begin:
* * *
steer clear of intermittent fasting for the same reason I
the low-carb diet three decades ago: for me, neither is sustainable.
Photo by Pat Berrett (age 60)
One thing is beyond dispute. No diet regimen
is feasible if you can’t live with it comfortably. As Cynthia Sass
wrote: Sustainability is key!
If you decide to try intermittent fasting, be
sure to check with your doctor and drink plenty of water during the
fasting periods. You’ll soon know whether it’s for you. Good luck with
whatever you decide.
More Support for Fasting--Clarence Responds
number of visitors weighed in on this topic. We've chosen one that's
loaded with interesting commentary from around the world. We've edited
it for readability and deleted the visitor's name.)
I believe you and your readers
will be interested in other fasting methods and experts who report
excellent results. I'll take them
one at a time.
Dr. Krista Varady from the
University of Illinois, who invented the every-other-day diet, has been
doing research for the past ten years, including more than 800 people.
She has scientifically proven that her system is easy to follow,
subjects lost fat weight and maintained most of their lean mass and
their health markers improved. For details on Dr. Varady's diet:
As explained above, Harvard
David Ludwig, MD,
has found that fasting sets off a vicious cycle that
makes us eat more and grow fatter.
In Ripped 2, I related two occasions where under-water weighing
showed that I lost weight and gained fat after severe calorie reduction;
see "The Famine Phenomenon," page 137. See also "Starve And Get Fat," in
The Lean Advantage 2.
solution (and mine) is to eat high quality foods that keep you satisfied without
setting off survival mechanisms in the body. Energy in and energy out comes into balance.
Our fat cells relax and slowly burn off their excess, putting you on the
path to leanness. That has worked for me over decades and I believe it
is by far the most sustainable way to lose fat and stay lean. For more
* * *
Jason Fung, MD, has a practice in
Toronto, Canada, where he not only has had his patients effectively lose
weight via fasting, he has cured type 2 diabetes without drugs. For Dr. Fung's
findings and conclusions:
references to fasting have little relevance in the age of gene
tomography, and statins. "To eat when you are sick, is
to feed your illness," as Hippocrates and
other ancient medical
practitioners advised, doesn't carry much weight in modern times. Like
blood letting, it is no longer in vogue.
Fasting preached by ancient
religious leaders was primarily for reasons other than health,
improving discipline and demonstrating devotion.
Exercise and sensible
eating--and drugs when necessary--are far more widely prescribed than fasting.
Dr. Ludwig writes that the
low-fat, low calorie-diet has contributed to the epidemic of T2
diabetes. Again, he recommends a quality diet with high levels of good fat as a front
line way to overcome insulin resistance. Fasting is doubling down on a
discredited and perhaps risky approach.
An article by Harriet Hall
on intermittent fasting in
Science Based Medicine (December 15, 2015)
concluded that "Fasting
might help, maybe," based on the following findings:
1.People who can tolerate
periods of hunger might find intermittent fasting helpful for weight
loss; it is simpler to not eat than to try to decide what to eat.
2.Although some of the evidence for intermittent fasting sounds
promising, we don’t yet know whether it will prolong life or improve
3.It may be OK to skip breakfast.
4.We don’t yet know what the optimum meal frequency and timing are in
health or in disease.
5.More research is needed, particularly well-designed human trials
comparing various fasting regimens to the traditional three meals a day.
has this to say about "Fasting and Weight Loss:"
If you weed through all the controversy, you'll find that most
medical experts agree on one thing: fasting is not a healthy weight loss
* * *
Dr. Valter Longo, PhD, Professor
of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of
the USC Longevity Institute--who created the fast mimicking diet--has
established through his research that not only will fasting improve
health markers, it makes cancer cells easier to kill with chemotherapy
and mitigates patient's side effects from the chemo.
Integrative Medicine Journal (December 2013) interviewed Dr. Longo:
The interview is very
interesting; maybe not rocket science, but complicated multi-stage
research involving both animals and humans. The methods described are not to
be undertaken without a deep understanding--or Dr. Longo at your side.
Longo warns that both
calorie restriction and fasting can be difficult and dangerous. He
says that maybe one in a
thousand people are able to do long-term calorie restriction. Fasting to
lose weight or for health can also be difficult--and risky. He says the 24-hour fast
is "too extreme for most people." Even
cutting back to 2 meals a day should only be done under medical
supervision, to avoid malnourishment.
"If you are eating all the
time you are probably not missing anything," Longo told the journal. "If
you only eat twice, and are not followed by a dietitian, or a doctor who
knows what they are doing, you could become malnourished."
Those who are interested in
pursuing Dr. Longo's findings would be well advised to talk it over with their
primary care physician or oncologist.)
* * *
Ms. Sass, referenced in your
FAQ, makes anti-fasting
claims. However, Kris Gunnars, BSc, from Iceland, who hosts
the evidence backed website authoritynutrition.com, clearly debunks all
her claims, with 10 benefits of intermittent fasting:
(Clarence: An excellent
presentation--with many of the benefits admittedly unproven or based on animal studies.
Practically all of the benefits listed can be achieved in a more sustainable way
with regular exercise and a quality diet of whole or minimally
processed foods, such as that recommended by Dr. Ludwig.
addresses the benefits of exercise and sensible eating on virtually all of the benefits listed; the top 10
articles in each of our 10 categories are a good place to start.)
and 11 related myths:
excellent presentation. The bottom line is that some do well with
intermittent fasting and others don't. It comes down to personal
preference. As they say, different strokes for different folks. My
experience is that eating regular meals makes it easier to stay ahead of
your hunger curve and balance energy in and energy out. It helps
tremendously to eat unprocessed or minimally processed foods that fill
you up without overshooting your calorie needs. See our FAQ on
distinguishing between processed and unprocessed foods:
http://www.cbass.com/FAQ(10).htm (scroll down)
If intermittent fasting appeals to you, give it a try. But don't expect
benefits that can't be achieved eating regular meals of quality
foods--and regular exercise. Sustainability is the key. No diet or
exercise regimen will work if you can't stick to it. Don't defeat yourself by making it harder than it needs to be. Find a plan that you enjoy
and are comfortable doing as far as you can see, hopefully for life.
* * *
Clarence, let me affirm that I am not trying to pick a fight with you
or show you up or antagonize you in any way, shape or form.
To me, you are
the world's best personal trainer, you are a national treasure and a
source of inspiration for many. I want you to have all the information
available on this much discussed topic.
Clarence: Thank you very much
for the very kind words--and for taking the time to round up this information
for our readers. I enjoyed reading and commenting on it. Doing so makes me more convinced than ever that I've
been on the right track for a very long time.
Still, I don't expect anyone
to blindly follow my advice. I always try to explain "how" I
eat or train, and "why" as well. That's so readers can understand and
evaluate my methods, weigh my advice. I expect them to take what rings
true, makes sense--most of it, hopefully--and adapt it to their special
situation. Leave the rest.
Addition posted May 1, 2016
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