Archive for February, 2011

When we were driving across the country last summer on our way to Tennessee, a fitness trainer named Josef Brandenburg wrote a guest post for me on how (and how not) to exercise to lose fat and build muscle. If you happen live somewhere near Washington, DC, you can earn a free training session with Josef by donating to a low-carb food bank. Here’s a post from Josef explaining how and why:

Thanksgiving and Christmas are well behind us and, unfortunately that means that Food Banks and soup kitchens are once again low on food and volunteers.  Additionally most of what gets donated to Food Banks and the like is just straight up junk — high fructose corn syrup this, hydrogenated that. 

Donated food is often the worst quality food because it is the cheapest and has the longest shelf life.  We don’t really need to be helping the poor people in this country get any fatter or more diabetic!  Protein sources are almost always the items least likely to be donated, yet they are probably the most important items for families short on food.

With all of this in mind we’re doing a food drive of a different color — a low-carb food drive.  Well, not a low-carb “food” drive — please do not show up with sugar alcohol packed “low carb” bars.  It’s a Food Bank, not a diarrhea and gas bank.

Please do donate non-perishable protein: canned tuna, canned salmon, canned chicken, natural peanut butter, and any other canned meat that is not brimming with preservatives and stuff you can’t pronounce or recognize.

Here is my bribe to you

It’s February, so most of you all have probably set some sort of New Year’s resolutions having to do with weight loss or fitness.  I’d like to help you get in better shape at the same time that you give back:

We at The Body You Want are going to be giving away a free, fun and very effective group metabolic acceleration class (intervals) every single Sunday in February 2011.  All you need to do to join us is bring a pound of non-perishable protein with you.  A single class would be $20 normally, and you can get a pound of tuna fish for a lot less, so this is a good deal for you.

Who can participate in class safely?

Pretty much anyone within reason can come to class and get a safe, effective and relatively fun workout.  (Its also a non-intimidating environment.) 

If you just had a bypass surgery, you should wait.  If you just had a hip replacement, you should hold off until your complete your rehab. 

However, everyone else:  people who are out of shape, weak, have no coordination, can’t touch your toes (by the way, you can fix that in 10 minutes), or whose knees bother them during running, etc. will be totally fine with our class.  The class is minimal impact, while still getting high intensity (intensity is a relative term) and good results.

We even made this cool video.  Well, if you think it’s a cool video, then I will take all of the credit, but if you think it sucks, then my wife did it.

Summary of details

Bring one pound (or more) of non-perishable protein (canned tuna, canned salmon, canned chicken, natural peanut butter, and any other canned meat that is not brimming with preservatives and stuff you can’t pronounce or recognize) to

The Body You Want
1070 Thomas Jefferson St., NW
Washington, DC 20007

Sundays in February 2011, 10 am  (you can donate any other time the doors are unlocked, but we’re only having the free classes to fuel the food drive Sundays at 10am)

RSVP with Natillie: or call 202-316-1457

If you need more details click here.

What if you’re not in the DC-metro area?

Start your own.  (You could also donate to ours, but I think it’d be better to run your own in your own community.)  Just find your local food bank, set a date for the food drive, set a goal for what you will raise, and then tell everyone you possibly can.

Yet Another Bribe!

Oh, and if the 4 classes weren’t enough for you, then local fitness celebrity Joe-Billy will be there mullet and all signing autographs.  Well, Joe-Billy can’t read or write, but he’ll make an “X” for you.  His sister/wife might be there too.  So exciting.


Josef Brandenburg and Natillie Rauch are the co-owners of The Body You Want™ Fitness Training Systems, a personal fitness  training and weight loss company in Washington, DC.  Help up reach our goal of 400lbs of non perishable protein.


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I heard from a fellow blogger recently who enjoyed Fat Head and wanted to help get the word out.  So we conducted an interview and arranged for a little giveway contest.  The prize (there will be five winners) is the international version of the Fat Head DVD, which includes the Big Fat Fiasco speech.

The blogger is Matt Madeiro of Three New Leaves.  I’ve been reading his blog lately because he’s a good writer with some good thoughts.  Here’s his brief profile:

I’m Matt Madeiro, a writer/traveler/nerd who made three big changes in the last two years: I lost weight, started to travel, and embraced minimalism, finally selling all the clutter and crap in my life.

How’d I do it? I simplified.

Now I write about all three changes — all three leaves — to help you live a simpler, more mindful life, and to have all the health and happiness you need to enjoy it.

I particularly enjoyed his recent post titled Close the Laptop (and change your life).  As much as I enjoy blogging, reading blogs, tweeting and twitting and Facebooking and everything else online, I agree with Matt:  sometimes we need to step away and get back to real life.

You can read our interview here.  Heck, you can even enter the contest to win one of the DVDs.  And then if you’d like step away from your computer and all other digital gizmos for a few days, Matt and I would both approve.


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Someone recently sent me a link to an online article titled 8 reasons carbs help you lose weight. There’s no author named, but the source of the article is Based on other anonymous articles I’ve read from the same source, I’m guessing is funded by the producers of grain products and is dedicated to scaring people away from low-carb diets.

If you read this article carefully — heck, even if you read it casually — you’ll soon realize the anonymous author is attempting some journalistic sleight-of-hand, taking the supposed benefits of a type of fiber and applying them to carbohydrates in general. Here’s the opening of the article:

Eating a diet packed with the right kind of carbs is the little-known secret to getting and staying slim for life.

When we talk about the right kind of carbs, we mean Resistant Starch. Hundreds of studies conducted at respected universities and research centers have shown Resistant Starch-such as grains, beans, and legumes-helps you eat less, burn more calories, feel more energized and less stressed, and lower cholesterol.

Hundreds of studies have been conducted on resistant starch? Boy, I’d sure like to see a list of references. The few studies I’ve seen were designed pretty much like the studies that concluded whole grains prevent diabetes: that is, they replaced white flour products with products made from resistant starch, which is a type of fiber. Then when the subjects who consumed resistant starch showed better glucose control, they credited the resistant starch.

They could just as easily credit the better glucose control to giving up white flour. But of course, that’s not the message this article wants to convey. Quite the opposite, in fact:

Sound too good to be true? Here are eight evidence-based reasons you must get carbs back in your life if you are ever to achieve that coveted sleek, slim look.

Got that, people? No way you’ll ever be sleek and slim if you don’t get carbs back into your life. (You can almost picture Paul McCartney singing to a muffin:  “Got to you get you into my life…”)

That’s what I mean by sleight-of-hand. Resistant starch was magically transformed into the generic word carbs. And in case you’re tempted to chalk it up to verbal carelessness, here’s the next paragraph:

Eating carbs makes you thin for life. A recent multi-center study found that the slimmest people also ate the most carbs, and the chubbiest ate the least. The researchers concluded that your odds of getting and staying slim are best when carbs make up to 64% of your total daily caloric intake, or 361 grams.

Here we go again … yes, studies have shown that people who restrict carbs are fatter than the population as a whole. People who go to Weight Watchers are also fatter than the population as a whole. People who drink diet sodas are fatter than the population as a whole. That’s because people who go on diets of any kind are (surprise!) fatter than the population as a whole. If the unnamed researchers really believe the key to staying slim is to consume two-thirds of our calories from carbohydrates, I’d like them to explain why we saw a significant rise in obesity during the past three decades, when the only macronutrient we increased in our diets was carbohydrates.

Carbs fill you up. Many carb-filled foods act as powerful appetite suppressants. They’re even more filling than protein or fat. These special carbs fill you up because they are digested more slowly than other types of foods, triggering a sensation of fullness in both your brain and your belly. Research done at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom found that consuming Resistant Starch in one meal caused study participants to consume 10% fewer calories.

Amazing … once again, our anonymous author takes a benefit of fiber and simply applies it to the generic word carbs. Fiber may actually provide extra satiety, by the way. Farther down in the article, we even get an explanation as to why:

Carbs high in Resistant Starch speed up your metabolism and your body’s other natural fat burners. As Resistant Starch moves though your digestive system, it releases fatty acids that encourage fat burning, especially in your belly.

Yup … fiber turns to fat in your digestive system, and fat is satiating. That’s why I eat plenty of fat in my meals.

These fatty acids help preserve muscle mass-and that stokes your metabolism, helping you lose weight faster.

Hmmm … sounds to me like I could derive those same benefits from a few strips of bacon and some eggs fried in butter.

Researchers set out to fatten up two groups of rats, feeding one group food that was low in Resistant Starch. A second group was fed Resistant Starch-packed food. The rats fed the low Resistant Starch chow gained fat while losing muscle mass. Rats that ate the high Resistant Starch meals preserved their muscle mass, keeping their metabolism moving.

Okay, let me get this straight:  If you feed rats a diet that replaces their high-carb rat chow with a type of fiber that turns to fat in the digestive tract, they preserve their muscle mass.  If you feed rats regular ol’ high-carb rat chow, they get fatter and lose muscle mass. So this proves you must get carbs back in your life if you are ever to achieve that coveted sleek, slim look.

I’m holding my face right now with both hands, fighting myself like a blogger version of Dr. Strangelove, trying to avoid banging my head against my desk.

Carbs control blood sugar and diabetes. The right mix of carbs is the best way to control blood sugar and keep diabetes at bay. In one study at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Center at the USDA, participants who consumed a diet rich in high Resistant Starch foods were able to lower their post-meal blood sugar and insulin response by up to 38%.

Right … because they replaced white flour with resistant starch. Here’s an idea: replace white flour with sausage and avocadoes, then compare glucose levels.

Resistant starch may provide some minor metabolic benefits, just like other fibers. The jury’s out on that one, as far as I’m concerned. But here’s why I think this particular article was produced by someone in the grain industry: As I pointed out before, article gushes about the wonders of resistant starch and then attempts to transfer those wonders to carbs in general.  Now take a look at the photo that accompanied the article, which I copied and pasted. A slice of wheat bread with a heart — got to love your carbs, people!

So I looked it up. A slice of wheat bread provides exactly one-quarter of a gram of resistant starch … assuming you don’t cut out a heart shape from your bread, in which case it would be even less.

Enough said.


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I think this song pretty much says it all:


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I spent a good chunk of today dealing with computer issues — both PC and Mac, so while I agree that Macs are generally more stable, the belief that they’re trouble-free has more to do with good advertising than with reality. Anyway, because so much of my day was eaten up, this will be a brief post.

It was yet another bang-up Super Bowl. I love it when the game is in doubt until the very end … although as a Bears fan, I didn’t mind seeing them blow away the Patriots back in 1986. I like the pomp of the Super Bowl, the hype, the buzz, the commercials, the halftime shows, the whole experience. And of course I enjoy the game itself, watching athletes at the very top of their games giving it everything they’ve got.

As I was watching recaps of the game today, it occurred to me that I recently downloaded an article from the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology on how statins affect professional athletes. I think the title pretty much says it all:

Professional athletes suffering from familial hypercholesterolaemia rarely tolerate statin treatment because of muscular problems

The paper’s authors are from Austria and examined case histories of Austrian professional athletes who attempted to go on statin therapy to treat genetically high cholesterol. Out of 22 athletes, only three were able to tolerate the first statin they were prescribed. Three more were able to eventually tolerate a statin other than the first one prescribed. The remaining 16 — 72% of the total — ended up refusing statin therapy. You can probably guess what it was about statins that most of the athletes couldn’t tolerate: muscle pain and muscle weakness.

The authors noted that in reviews of multiple clinical trials, muscle problems were reported in 5% of those taking statins on average. They also noted that in a study of statin-takers who engage in strenuous exercise, muscle problems affected closer to 25%. Now in this study we’ve got 72% of professional athletes (in an admittedly small sample size) saying they can’t tolerate statins of any kind because of muscle problems, with 86% percent unable to tolerate the first statin prescribed.

So here’s what I think is happening: statins are probably causing at least some degree of muscle weakness in a large percentage of those taking them. But not everyone whose muscles are weakened will feel pain or even notice the damage, as Dr. Duane Graveline wrote in an article on his web site:

In the Journal of Pathology 210: 94-102, 2006, Draeger A and others of the University of Bern, Switzerland report: Statin therapy induces ultrastructural damage in skeletal muscle in patients without myalgia.

Draeger’s group did skeletal muscle biopsies from statin treated and non-statin treated patients and examined them using electron microscopy and biochemical approaches. They reported clear evidence of skeletal muscle damage in statin treated patients despite their being asymptomatic. Although the degree of overall damage was minimal, it was the characteristic pattern of damage, including rupture of critical structures that caught the attention of the investigators.

The more you depend on your muscles, the more likely you are to notice minor damage. Most people who sit for a living and aren’t dedicated to exercising could probably become a bit weaker without ever noticing, which would explain why only 5% percent of all statin-takers report muscle problems. But if you limit the study to people who engage in strenuous exercise — and are therefore more likely to track their speed or strength — the number goes up to 25%. Limit the study to professional athletes, and now you’re looking at 86% reporting muscle problems.

For professional athletes, an almost-imperceptible loss of muscular ability can mean the difference between winning and losing. Think about some of the key plays in last night’s Super Bowl, if you watched. A wide receiver catches a pass because he managed to outrun a cornerback by an extra six inches over the course of 30 yards. A linebacker misses a tackle because the tailback was a split-second quicker. “It’s a game of inches” is a cliché in sports, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. The professional athlete who loses a tiny fraction of his speed or strength can find himself sitting on the bench or looking for another job.

So I don’t think professional athletes are especially vulnerable to statin-induced muscle damage. I think they’re just far more likely to notice that damage is being done.


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Dear Members of the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee: 

I’m writing to thank you and all the members of the previous committees for your tireless work on the USDA’s dietary guidelines. You’ve made my job as a parent quite a bit easier.

I came to that conclusion yesterday when my wife and I joined our seven-year-old for lunch in her school cafeteria. My wife sends our girls to school with lunches she packs at home … usually some kind of meat or meaty stew accompanied by cheese sticks, carrots, apple slices, or olives. She also puts small bottles of water in their lunchboxes.

Most of the other kids eat lunches prepared in the cafeteria, which of course is required to follow the USDA guidelines. Yesterday’s government-approved lunch consisted of chicken nuggets (battered and deep-fried in vegetable oil), macaroni and cheese, mandarin oranges in some kind of syrup, and a drink. Some kids chose juice boxes for their drinks, others chose 1% or 2% milk, but the most popular choice was the 1% chocolate milk.

Naturally, I was horrified to see kids eating a meal consisting primarily of processed grains and sugar, and only slightly less horrified to realize that the meal was nearly devoid of natural fats. When I observed how many kids seemed to prefer the chocolate milk, my wife informed me that since the new USDA guidelines call for restricting fat even more, the school will soon limit its milk offerings to 1% white milk, skim white milk, and skim chocolate milk.

That’s when I realized what a huge favor you’ve done me.

Like any other father, I want my kids to succeed in life. I want them to win scholarships, attend the best colleges, and excel in whatever fields they choose to study. According to their teachers, they’re both bright girls. However, their school district is the highest-ranked in Tennessee and also one of the higher-ranked districts in the country, which means there are a lot of other bright kids in their classes. The competition to win scholarships some years from now ought to be fierce — but I don’t think it will be, at least not by the time my girls are in high school.

In an otherwise equal competition, there are two ways to gain an advantage: make yourself stronger, or find a way to weaken your opponents. We’re helping our daughters become as strong and as smart as we possibly can, but that may not be enough. Luckily for us, your dietary guidelines will simultaneously weaken the competition … sort of like a federally-funded Tonya Harding conspiring to give a whack to Nancy Kerrigan’s knees.

A growing human brain needs plenty of natural saturated fat and cholesterol, which is why Mother Nature was smart enough to put rather a lot of both in breast milk. Unlike their classmates, my girls have no idea what skim milk tastes like, because we never buy any. In fact, my daughters sometimes ask for extra cream in their whole milk, and we give it to them. They also eat lots of Kerry Gold butter, egg yolks, bacon fat, and marrow fat whenever my wife makes a stew.

Your committee and the previous committees have scared most parents away from serving kids these amazingly nutritious foods, which means my girls will have an advantage in cognitive development — especially now that you’ve instructed schools to remove what little natural fat was left in the milk. It may take some time for the difference in cognitive development to manifest, but the high concentrations of grains and fructose in the government-approved meals are already working to our benefit. While my girls are both alert and calm in class, other kids are already exhibiting signs of hyperactivity or difficulty concentrating.

When my seven-year-old was a toddler, she had occasional play dates with a boy her age who struck me as bright at the time. The boy’s mother served him fruit-spread sandwiches and juice for lunch and proudly informed us that she kept the boy on a low-fat diet. We learned recently that the boy — now a seven-year-old — is in a special class at school because he’s been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Multiply him by several million, and you can see why I’m confident your dietary guidelines are giving my daughters a leg up on the academic competition. I don’t expect all kids who follow your recommended diet to be quite so hampered, but frankly, even a minor deceleration in cognitive growth will push my girls that much higher on the curve.

And if for some reason my daughters don’t reach the top academically, I think it’s possible they’ll nonetheless surpass their peers physically and win some kind of athletic scholarship. The kids in my daughter’s second-grade class are all lean at this point, but when I looked over to where the fifth-graders were eating, I saw several examples of what just a few extra years of a government-approved diet can accomplish. It’s kind of depressing to see 11-year-old girls with pretty faces and protruding bellies, but when I reminded myself that young women with fatty livers aren’t going to beat my daughters out of starting positions on the college track or basketball teams, my spirits were lifted.

So again, my sincere thanks for all the work you put into the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. I don’t know how much interaction you have with similar committees in other countries, but I urge you to do whatever you can to promote these guidelines around the world. After all, my girls will someday need to compete in a global economy.


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