Archive for November, 2012

News from my inbox …

Meat Eaters Are Bad People

We all know meat-eating is frowned upon by Hindus in India, but apparently some Indian textbook publishers have opted for brainwashing over mere persuasion when it comes to kids:

Meat-eaters “easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes”, according to a controversial school textbook available in India.  New Healthway, a book on hygiene and health aimed at 11 and 12 year-olds, is printed by one of India’s leading publishers.

Well, I know the cure for this criminal tendency:  eat more meat.  Then in addition to forgetting promises, you’ll forget to cheat, lie and commit sex crimes.

“The strongest argument that meat is not essential food is the fact that the Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables,” reads a chapter entitled Do We Need Flesh Food?

Yeah, and look what happened when Adam and Eve ate some of that fruit:  they realized they were naked and felt ashamed.  That’s why I never ate apples after a long night of drinking.

The textbook may sound ridiculous to us, but keep in mind textbooks in America tell students that meat and animal fats cause cancer, heart disease and diabetes.  At least people in India aren’t taking their textbook seriously.

Silliness In La-La Land

I’ve never regretted leaving the Los Angeles area, but news stories like this certainly confirm my decision:

Los Angeles is hoping to persuade people to become vegetarian – at least one day per week. Under a resolution unanimously approved by the city council this week, all future Mondays in the City of Angels have been declared “Meatless Mondays.”

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who introduced the motion with Councilman Ed Reyes, noted the environmental impacts of meat production, and she emphasized that a high-meat diet has been linked to health problems such as colon, prostate, kidney and breast cancers, as well as heart disease.

“Eating less meat can prevent and even reverse some of our nation’s most common illnesses,” Perry said.

Well, that’s strange … we already eat less meat than previous generations of Americans, especially red meat.  I guess that explains the astounding reversal of obesity and common illnesses we’ve witnessed since the 1970s.

Reyes said it is easy for individuals to feel helpless in the face of issues as big as global warming or the obesity epidemic, “but the small changes we make every day can have a tremendous impact. That’s why this ‘Meatless Monday’ resolution is important. Together we can better our health, the animals and the environment, one plate at a time.”

Not only that, Meatless Mondays in Los Angeles will no doubt produce a decline in lies, cheating, forgotten promises and sex crimes — but the politicians will find other pursuits.

Sanity Emerges in Denmark

Remember when the Danish government instituted a “fat tax”?  Well, they’ve changed their minds:

Denmark has said it will scrap a fat tax it introduced a little over a year ago in a world first, saying the measure was costly and failed to change Danes’ eating habits.

“The fat tax and the extension of the chocolate tax, the so-called sugar tax, has been criticised for increasing prices for consumers, increasing companies’ administrative costs and putting Danish jobs at risk,” the Danish tax ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

“At the same time it is believed that the fat tax has, to a lesser extent, contributed to Danes travelling across the border to make purchases,” it added.

“Against this background, the government and the (far-left) Red Green Party have agreed to abolish the fat tax and cancel the planned sugar tax,” the ministry said.

This is of course good news, but here’s what I don’t understand:  the tax was burdensome, drove business to other countries, created an administrative nightmare, and failed to solve the problem it targeted …  so why the heck is a government canceling it?  The Danes should take a page from our government’s playbook and declare that the lousy results only prove the program wasn’t big enough.

Billions and Billions, Minus A Few

When Fat Head was released, I heard from die-hard fans of Super Size Me who accused me of being funded by McDonald’s (if only that were true) and insisted that Super Size Me had hurt McDonald’s sales.  I replied that the people who loved Super Size Me are the same people who already hated McDonald’s and didn’t eat there anyway.  I also replied that I’d spoken to a guy who owns six McDonald’s restaurants, and he told me sales went up after Super Size Me, not down.

Well, Ronald McDonald’s sales are finally down:

McDonald’s posted its first monthly drop in global sales in the month of October, the first time it’s done so in (wait for it) nine years.

Now, with all the news about the obesity crisis in America (a whopping one-third of the country is now considered obese), it might seem logical to conclude that a suddenly health-conscious citizenry in the U.S. is eschewing fast food for more wholesome fare. Alas, no one appears to think that’s the case.

To wit, although monthly sales were down 2.4 percent at McDonald’s in the U.S. and Europe, sales at Wendy’s rose 2.7 percent in the third quarter. You might say, then, that plenty of people just swapped out their Quarter Pounders for a Dave’s Hot ’N Juicy.

Or they’re eating Whoppers. Reuters also reports Burger King sales rose 1.4 percent during the last quarter. Unfortunately, fast food clearly isn’t going anywhere soon.

So here’s what I think happened:  The rabid Super Size Me fans were right.  Morgan Spurlock did harm McDonald’s … it just took eight years for people who liked his film to get the point.

Hair Loss And Heart Attacks

In my Big Fat Fiasco speech, I demonstrated the weakness of associations found in observational studies by explaining that we could find a statistical link between baldness and heart disease – because men are more likely to lose hair and suffer heart attacks as they age.

Now some Danish researchers are citing baldness as a heart-disease risk factor:

A bald patch on the top of your head or a small vertical crease in your earlobe may seem like relatively harmless signs of aging, but a new study says signs like these may signal an increased risk of heart disease.

Danish researchers found that people were 39 percent more likely to have heart disease, and 57 percent more likely to have a heart attack, if they had at least three of these four signs: baldness on top of the head, receded hairline, a crease in the earlobe, and fatty deposits on the eyelids known as xanthelasmata.  The researchers accounted for people’s ages in their results.

Thank goodness my earlobes aren’t creased.

Therefore, the study shows “looking old for your age, by [having] these aging signs, marks poor cardiovascular health,” said study researcher Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, a professor and chief physician in the department of clinical biochemistry at Copenhagen University Hospital.

While the exact reason for the links between these signs and heart disease risk remains unclear, the study “validates the common clinical practice that the clinician examines the patient, and often looks at whether a person looks older or younger for her age,” Tybjaerg-Hansen said.

I’m frequently told I look young for my age, so I may yet survive the hair loss.

Tybjaerg-Hansen said the four signs identified in the new study should give clinicians greater incentive to treat patients who have them. “The suggestion is that lifestyle changes and lipid-lowering therapies should be intensified, because their risk is higher,” she said.

Well, if baldness is a risk factor for heart disease and medical treatment is the answer, I already came up with the next pharmaceutical blockbuster:

Want Better Grades?  Take Drugs!

As if we weren’t already medicating too many kids labeled as ADHD, a doctor is apparently prescribing drugs to boost academic performance:

When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall.

The pills boost focus and impulse control in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools.

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

Yup, that’ll modify the kid, all right.  You can read about the long-term effects of those modifications in the book Anatomy of an Epidemic. Let’s give it 20 years and see how many of the good doctor’s patients end up diagnosed as bipolar in their 20s.

Dr. Anderson’s instinct, he said, is that of a “social justice thinker” who is “evening the scales a little bit.”

Oh, no … not another “social justice thinker.”

He said that the children he sees with academic problems are essentially “mismatched with their environment” — square pegs chafing the round holes of public education. Because their families can rarely afford behavior-based therapies like tutoring and family counseling, he said, medication becomes the most reliable and pragmatic way to redirect the student toward success.

Hey, doctor, have you tried prescribing replacing cereal and toast with bacon and eggs in the morning?  Dr. Ann Childers told me that’s worked wonders for her little patients.

“People who are getting A’s and B’s, I won’t give it to them,” he said.

So the doctor believes these drugs improve school performance, but he wouldn’t use them to turn B students into A students … uh … because he doesn’t want the B students getting too far ahead of the D students? He’d rather see everyone become more equal than see good students become great students?

A socialist armed with a prescription pad.  Now that’s scary.

Shaving With Bacon

If I’m feeling courageous and indulgent someday, I may try the bacon-flavored sundae a restaurant here in Nashville started selling.  But I’m pretty sure I’ll never try this:

Just when you think every bit of bacon innovation has been cooked up, another seemingly unbelievable creation is unveiled for the world to enjoy.

But today’s new bacon offering is not to be eaten. Rather, it’s to be used as part of the distinguished gentleman’s grooming routine: bacon shaving cream.

For $14.99, you can purchase a limited-edition can of what creator J&D’s Foods suggests “is best used after a hot shower or before an important date with someone you may want to spend the rest of your life with.”

I can see how bacon shaving cream could benefit those still flailing in the dating pool.  When I first met Chareva, she struck me as a bit of a hippie-dippie chick … just home from the Peace Corps, a yin-yang nose stud, colorful clothes she brought home from her time in Africa, etc.  I have nothing against hippie-dippie chicks, but a lot of them are vegetarians or vegans.  So you can imagine my relief when she tore into an Italian sausage on our first date.

That was 15 years ago.  Now I’d just shave with bacon and see if she licked my face when I kissed her goodnight.

“You’re going to feel good, you’re going to smell good and you’re probably going to taste good,” J&D’s Dave Lefkow tells KIRO. “This is something that every bacon-loving American male needs.”

I love bacon, but I’ll pass.  Chareva doesn’t lick my face, but my Rottweilers do, and I’m afraid a bacon scent would inspire one of them to take a bite.  Besides, I’ve never had to bear the burden of being irresistible to women, and I don’t want to start now.  I might be able to learn the self-defense moves demonstrated in these old Hai Karate ads, but I don’t think they’d work against tough paleo gals who smell bacon.

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A friend of mine recently had a VAP test done, and a reader happened to pick up a brochure on the VAP test around the same time.  Both sent me scans of one page that explains what a VAP test measures, and a separate Diagnosis/Lifestyle Therapy page offering advice on how to improve less-than-stellar lab scores.  (If you don’t already know, a VAP test is much more detailed than a standard lipid panel, measuring specific particle counts and sizes.)

Below, I’ve matched up some of the explanations with the advice.

VLDL Cholesterol
VLDL is the main carrier for triglycerides and, if elevated, can be an independent risk factor for heart disease.
Diagnosis: Elevated triglycerides and VLDL
Lifestyle Therapy: Low carbohydrate diet, exercise.

IDL Cholesterol
IDL cholesterol is a strongly inherited independent risk factor for heart disease and is elevated in patients with a family history of diabetes.
Diagnosis: Elevated IDL
Lifestyle Therapy: Low carbohydrate diet, exercise.

LDL Cholesterol Pattern
LDL exists in a range of sizes from small, dense “Pattern B” to large, buoyant “Pattern A.”  The smaller LDL cholesterol sizes are associated with an increased risk for heart disease.  Small, dense LDL is prevalent in patients with insulin resistance or diabetes.
Diagnosis: Small, dense LDL Pattern B
Lifestyle Therapy: Low carbohydrate diet, exercise.

Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is characterized by the combination of several metabolic risk factors, including elevated triglycerides, low HDL, and small, dense “Pattern B” LDL that increase the overall risk for heart disease.
Diagnosis: Metabolic Syndrome
Lifestyle Therapy: Low carbohydrate diet, increased good fats in diet, exercise.

Lp(a)
The “heart attack” cholesterol, Lp(a) is a strongly inherited risk factor for heart disease.  This does not respond to traditional LPL-lowering drugs.
Diagnosis: Elevated Lp(a)
Lifestyle Therapy: No direct effect.  Control other coronary risk factors.

So here’s the picture so far:  We have all these bad subfractions of cholesterol that may cause heart disease.  The advice for reducing them includes a low-carb diet.  Lp(a), the “heart attack” cholesterol, doesn’t respond to diet or LDL-lowering drugs, so the advice is to focus on lowering the other bad subfractions – again, with a low-carb diet.  We also want more good fats in the diet to raise HDL.

Now look at this explanation and advice:

Real LDL Cholesterol
The real LDL Cholesterol that circulates in your body.  Total LDL = Lp(a) + IDL + Real LDL.
Diagnosis: Elevated Real LDL
Lifestyle Therapy: Low fat diet, exercise.

So there you have it.  You can reduce the most damaging LDL subfractions with a low-carb diet (except for Lp(a), which doesn’t respond to diet), you can raise your HDL by eating more fat, but to reduce your total LDL and thus save yourself from a heart attack, you need a low-fat diet.

Right.  And here’s my advice for getting clean:  To clean your arms and legs, use soap and water.  To clean your chest and back, use soap and water.  To clean your face, use soap and water. But to clean your entire body, use dirt.

Head.  Bang.  On.  Desk.

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I like Thanksgiving in Tennessee because it looks like this:

You’ll notice Sara decided to dress up as a Pilgrim.  The girls rode one of my buddy Jim Taylor’s horses after dinner, but I didn’t know that until they were done, so no pictures.

I spent Thanksgiving doing my duty as a patriotic American male – eating turkey and watching football – then spent the next three days finishing my assault on the briar jungle.  Here’s another before picture from last weekend, when I was just getting started.

Did I mention the briar was incredibly dense?

I’ve hated the stuff ever since we moved in.  Something about briar attracts discs when I play disc golf.  Even when I try to be careful reaching into the stuff, the thorns grab ahold of me and shred my skin.  Here’s what they did to me this weekend — and I was wearing sleeves.  The thorns poked right through my denim shirt.

So clearing the briar wasn’t a labor of love.  It was a labor of hate.  Here’s what the area looks like now that I’ve exacted my revenge.  I cleared the thorn bushes up to our property line.  The jungle continues on the other side, but that’s not my problem.

This picture was taken from what used to be the middle of the briar patch.

In addition to thorny bushes, we had thorny vines that wrapped themselves around the trees want to keep.  I cut the vines at the base and we pulled down the ones we could.  That’s Chareva in the picture below, yanking for all she’s worth to bring down a vine.  (I offered to help, but she had a personal vendetta against this particular vine and was determined to bring it down herself – which she did.)

Once when I pulled down a vine, it whipped me on the side of my head and a thorn caught my ear.  If I ever want to wear a diamond stud in my ear, the piercing job is at least halfway done.  I said a bad word and bled for awhile.

As I cleared the jungle, I found some dead trees.  We had no idea they were there … the briar was so thick, we never saw them before.  If they’re not rotten, we’ll cut those up for firewood.

We also collected quite a few dried sticks and branches for kindling.

I hacked away that jungle for three days (plus last weekend), working until dark.  It was tough and sometimes painful work, but worth it.  I am, as Charlie Daniels would put it, Dog Tired Satisfied.

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Someone sent me this infographic:

Wow, that’s a lot of cranberry sauce.  The bottom of the graphic encourages people to choose low-sugar and low-fat foods as part of their holiday fare.  We’re spending Thanksgiving with my work buddy Jim Taylor’s family (who hosted The Greatest Thanksgiving Ever last year, according to Alana), so I’ll eat whatever cranberry sauce they’re serving.  I don’t go low-carb on once-per-year holidays.

The infographic reminded me of Chareva’s first attempt to make her own cranberry sauce.  Sara was two years old, Alana was a baby.  We invited some friends over for Thanksgiving dinner because their son and Sara enjoyed playing together in Mommy & Me classes.

Boy, did they ever enjoy playing together on Thanksgiving.

We had a small dining room table back in those days, so the kids ate first.  A half-hour later, just the adult were sitting down to dinner, we noticed Sara and her playmate seemed unusually giggly.  Sara has been a happy child since birth – in my mental images of her, she’s always smiling or laughing – but now she and the boy were chasing each other around, banging into furniture without caring, giggling all the while.  Then they started hugging each other.  We parents were amused.  Awww, isn’t that cute?

I was slightly less amused after swallowing a few bites of Chareva’s cranberry sauce.

“Honey, does this cranberry sauce have vodka in it?”

“Yes, but the alcohol is supposed to cook away.”

“Uh-huh.  Well, that may be, but I’m pretty sure I’m copping a bit of buzz from it.”

She took a few bites of the cranberry sauce.

“Oh, my god!”

“Yup.  I think you got the kids a little drunk.  We’d better keep an eye on them before they decide to drive to Las Vegas and get married.”

Sara fell asleep quite early that night.

To our non-American readers, Happy Thursday.  To our American readers, Happy Thanksgiving. Remember to take a moment today to be grateful for something.  (We moved to the farm almost exactly a year ago, so that alone gives me a reason to be thankful.)  Enjoy the food, the family and friends, and the football games.

But whatever you do, try to keep the kids sober.

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I said I’d post pictures of the birthday presents I bought myself, so here’s one of them:  a Stihl weed-whacker with a rotating blade attachment.  I bought the blade so I can finally start attacking the briar-patch jungle near our creek.

I had already done a bit of cutting when Chareva snapped these pictures, but you can still get a sense of how thick the briar jungle is.

I wore protective chaps and a helmet partly because everyone said it’s a good idea and partly because I’m a bit of chicken it comes to power tools – a trait I blame on my upbringing.  My dad’s toolbox was a drawer in the kitchen.  It contained two screwdrivers and a wrench, none of which he ever personally handled.  There was also a rumor that he kept a hammer somewhere in the garage.  As far as I know, he never used a chainsaw, miter saw, power drill or socket wrench in his entire life.  He fixed things by picking up the phone and hiring people who knew how to fix things.

My dad once nearly junked a big, expensive TV after lightning struck the house and the TV went dead.  He assumed something had exploded inside the TV and asked me to go with him to shop for a new one.  Even though I inherited his lack of interest in tools, it occurred to me to fish a screwdriver from the kitchen drawer and remove the back of the TV.  Yup, blown fuse.  I bought a replacement at the hardware store for something like 25 cents and brought the TV back to life.  My dad was awe-struck and considered me some kind of savant.  He treated me to 18 holes of golf to say thanks.

Sometimes inherited traits seem to either skip a generation or come out of nowhere.  Neither of my parents could play a musical instrument or sing on key (my mom has honored several requests not to sing at birthday parties), but I ended up playing in bands and writing songs.  In a similar mysterious development, the Older Brother took to engines, power tools, baseball, fishing, hunting, and other regular-guy pursuits that either mystified or bored my dad.  The first time the Older Brother rebuilt an engine as a teenager, my dad looked suspiciously at my mom until she pointed out which of the Older Brother’s features clearly came from dad’s side of the family.

Under the Older Brother’s tutelage, I learned to change the oil and spark-plugs on the Volkswagen I drove in college.  That was the peak of my tool-man career.  I spent most of my post-college life living in a small apartment in Chicago where, like my dad, I was satisfied with a hammer, screwdriver and wrench.  I used the hammer to hang pictures, the screwdriver to pry open jars of peanut butter, and the wrench to … actually, I don’t think I ever used the wrench.

So naturally, Chareva concluded that a guy with my background would be the ideal candidate to buy a small farm that needs lots of work — work that not only requires using tools, but dangerous tools.  Her dad’s a major power-tool guy who built his own working railroad around his property, so in her mind, these are just the kinds of things guys do.

I was able to mask my fear and ineptitude during our first year on the farm by claiming it would make more financial sense if I took on extra programming work and then paid other people to do the hacking and banging and sawing around our property … in other words, I adopted my dad’s method of fixing things by hiring people who know how to fix things.  To avoid suspicion that I was motivated more by fear than finance, I even volunteered to take on tasks that involved non-powered tools, such as pounding t-posts into the ground.  (I’d much rather risk smashing my thumb than, say, having to locate it somewhere in the front pasture.)

I probably would have gotten away with the subterfuge for years if I hadn’t gotten addicted to disc golf.  Chareva reached the logical conclusion that if I had time to play 72 holes on weekends, I clearly wasn’t loaded down with extra programming work.  She asked why on earth we’d pay someone else to clear the land when we had the time and the ability to do it ourselves.  So I finally confessed to a deep-seated fear of setting out to cut down some bushes and ending up with a well-deserved nickname like “Stumpy.”

Being the smart cookie she is, she figured out how to push me past my fear of using power tools:  she threatened to use them herself.  Now I was facing a fear bigger than cutting off my own toes:  having to explain to an emergency-room surgeon why my wife cut off her toes while I was in the kitchen cooking up a loaf of almond-butter bread.

“I see, Mr. Naughton.  So the root cause of your wife’s tragic condition is that you’re a big chicken.”

“I concur with your diagnosis, Doctor.”

“Your wife will need reconstructive surgery, and for you, I’m prescribing several weekends working with a chainsaw.  Real men aren’t afraid of power tools, Mr. Naughton.”

So this weekend, for the first time since I mowed lawns as a teenager, I fired up a tool with a gasoline-powered engine and enough cutting power to seriously hurt me.

It was awesome.

The week-whacker blade easily sliced through the thorn bushes, some with trunks as thick as my shins.  This of course means the blade could just as easily slice through my shins, so I was happy to wear the protective chaps.  I thought all the safety gear might be overkill, but I was soon proved wrong.  Several times, flying bits of thorny branches ricocheted off the facemask.  Several more ricocheted off the chaps.  I know from painful experience that jeans are no match for those thorns, some of which are an inch long.  A thorn-missile launched by a power tool could leave me with a punctured vein in my thigh or perhaps even a serious testosterone deficiency.

I hacked away at the briar jungle for about an hour and Saturday and another hour on Sunday.  I ended both sessions when the week-whacker ran out of gas.  That seems to be about the point where my hands are getting numb from the vibration, so it’s a good time to quit and start gathering up what I’ve cut.

In the picture below, you can see the progress I’ve made so far.  Three days ago, the briar patch was growing all the way up to the trees you see in the foreground.  I’m guessing I’ve cleared about a third of the entire briar jungle, at least on that side of the property.

Unfortunately, clearing the jungle means building up another one of these:  a thorny burn pile with an insatiable appetite for poorly-thrown discs.

I’m not going to go through that again.  I’m suspending my disc-golf play until I’ve cleared the jungle, then I’m going to cover the burn pile with a giant net, the same kind we used to cover our chicken-yard to keep the hawks away.  We’ll let the pile dry out, then burn it up.

In the meantime, I’ll get over my fear of chainsaws and start cutting up that big pile of logs by the barn.  If I don’t do it, Chareva will … at least that’s what she told me.

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If you’re a long-time reader, you may remember a post in which I recounted how a YouTube commenter I nicknamed “Cliffy” kept insisting that kids get fat because their parents feed them too much, period.  No amount of evidence or reason would budge Cliffy from this position.  Cliffy was (according to Cliffy) a lean, muscular gym rat — and therefore knew everything there is to know about the biochemistry of body composition.

I didn’t mention it in that post, but in another series of exchanges, Cliffy also insisted I did not (contrary to what my mirror and scale were telling me) become both leaner and more muscular after I tightened up my diet and switched to Fred Hahn’s Slow Burn workout method.  Cliffy explained that it’s physiologically impossible to gain muscle mass while losing fat mass, and in fact pretty much everyone who loses weight loses some muscle mass.  He knew this because some body-building guru he worships said as much.

I tried telling him that I did indeed put on muscle even while losing weight, that my arms and chest and thighs had become noticeably thicker while my waist shrank, but Cliffy explained that I’m an idiot (and a fat, lazy old man) and only thought I’d gained muscle because the weight loss gave me more definition.

So I looked up a clinical study in which women lost body fat while gaining muscle mass and posted the reference.  (YouTube won’t take links in comments.)  Cliffy read the study and replied that it’s sometimes possible for people who’ve never worked out and are therefore “untrained” to gain muscle while losing weight, but not for anyone who’s been regularly lifting weights – which I had been.  When I asked how being “untrained” makes the physiologically impossible become possible, he explained that I’m an idiot (and a fat, lazy old man) and must not have been “trained” even though I’d been lifting weights regularly before switching to Slow Burn.

I thought about Cliffy when Jimmy Moore posted the results of his nutritional ketosis experiment earlier this week.  When Jimmy started losing weight again after cutting back on protein and adding more fat to his diet, I was happy he’d reversed the creeping weight gain that had baffled him, but I wondered if the lower protein intake would lead to muscle loss.  That fear was put to rest when Jimmy and Christine visited us last week.  His arms looked thicker than when I saw him in July, not thinner. But of course Cliffy would insist that was just better definition creating the illusion of extra muscle mass.

Wrong once again, Cliffy.

If haven’t read Jimmy’s post, here’s the quick summary:  Two months ago he underwent a very accurate body-composition test called a DXA scan.  He had another DXA scan on Monday before leaving for Australia.  The test showed that during those two months, Jimmy shed just over 16 pounds of additional body fat while gaining just over six pounds of muscle.  He gained two pounds of muscle in his arms alone.  If that doesn’t sound like much, try this little thought experiment:  picture a one-pound lean steak.  That’s how much meat Jimmy put on each arm.  So yes, his arms are definitely thicker, not just better defined.

Cliffy would jump in at this point to insist that Jimmy was clearly “untrained” until recently.  Hogwash.  Jimmy’s been lifting weights for at least a couple of years, maybe longer.  I worked out with him on the low-carb cruise in May.  He was impressively strong.  “Untrained” muscles don’t push that much weight.  He may have been training harder lately, but he wasn’t “untrained” in May.

One of the speakers on the same low-carb cruise was Dr. Jeff Volek, who has conducted much of his research on athletes.  (It was Dr. Volek , along with Dr. Steve Phinney, who convinced Jimmy to try getting into nutritional ketosis to reverse his weight gain.)  I mentioned Cliffy’s theories to Dr. Volek one night and asked if it’s physiologically impossible to get leaner and more muscular over the same time period.  It’s not impossible at all, Dr. Volek replied; we’ve seen it happen over and over, even in athletes.  (Here’s a study in which athletes lost fat and gained lean body mass.)

So the bottom line:  don’t believe the myth that if you lose weight, you’re inevitably going to lose both muscle and fat.  If you work out and eat right, you can actually gain muscle.  I lost fat and gained muscle.  Jimmy lost fat and gained muscle, despite eating less protein than he did previously.  Athletes have lost fat while gaining muscle.

And Cliffy’s still an idiot, even if he’s not a fat, lazy old man.

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