- Increased total cholesterol level
- Increased LDL (the "bad" cholesterol)
- Decreased HDL (the "good" cholesterol)
- Increased triglyceride level
- Increased inflammation (the source of a host of diseases)
- Increased blood viscosity (increases the risk of blood clots and stroke)
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of Alzheimer's disease
- Increased risk of breast cancer
- Increased risk of kidney disease
- Increased risk of type-2 diabetes
- Increased risk of Multiple Sclerosis
- Increased risk of prostate cancer
- Increased risk of lymphoma
The typical American tends to eat a diet characterized by excessive saturated and trans fats due to an overconsumption of fast foods and red meat. Foods high in saturated fat include beef, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil, butter, cheese, and milk. Foods high in trans fat include crisco oil, margarine, butter, shortening, crackers, candies, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, fried foods, baked goods, nondairy creamers, and meats. This is a recipe for a health disaster! The health consequences of eating this way day after day after day will become apparent soon enough when you go get a medical checkup. Here are just some of the health scares:
Should you try one of the trendy liquid "cleanse" or detox diets to get rid of "toxins" within your body?
This is marketing madness! There is NO evidence whatsoever that any of these diets are beneficial for your digestive system. In fact, they may actually be harmful in that the good bacteria within your colon is removed along with the bad bacteria. The good bacteria is needed to maintain a healthy digestive tract. The reality is that your body is designed to rid itself of foreign bacteria all on its own--it does NOT need help in this regard. Your kidneys, liver, lungs as well as your colon are the filtering organs of your body and they work fine on their own without help. No need to fast or purge yourself to rid your gut of bad bacteria. By the way, any weight that's lost from fasting within one to two days is mostly due to water loss, not fat loss. Prolonged fasting is not healthy because of the risk of malnutrition.
An analysis in the journal Stroke looked at the combined data from several observational studies to determine a correlation between increased fiber intake and lower incidence of stroke. Fiber may lessen the risk of stroke by controlling blood pressure and reducing blood cholesterol and blood sugar. So eat your fruits and vegetables!
This particular blog does NOT pertain to middle-aged men or older who may require testosterone supplementation due to low blood levels of the hormone. It is well known that natural testosterone levels decrease with age. Rather, I want to focus on the worrisome trend of young men in their twenties and thirties opting for testosterone supplementation. Why should this be of concern? Because in most cases these young men do NOT need testosterone supplementation.
The real issue is the supplement industry marketing test supplement products as anabolic boosters (remnants of "energy" supps come to mind for those who feel they need an energy boost) as the means to build muscle mass. My question is why take any supplemental testosterone when there's no clinical evidence that you're deficient in this hormone. Have you taken a blood test to verify that your testosterone level is low? If not, then why would you consider taking a supplement that has unwanted side effects? It makes no sense to me.
More concerning is the possibility that your natural test levels will be compromised from taking the supps and as a result, testicular shrinkage may occur (your testicles produce most of the testosterone in your body). You might as well inject yourself with steroids while you're at it. Do you see my point? Taking artificial hormones is not something to be trifled with as the side effects can be very undesirable. In other words, the risks will undoubtedly outweigh the benefits. Let me count the ways: infertility due to low sperm count, liver problems, male breast growth, increased male pattern baldness, possible harm to prostate health, increased risk of blood clots, congestive heart failure, and worsening of urinary symptoms (JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013).
There are legitimate reasons for low T. Lifestyle is primarily the reason why many men are low in test. Regular exercise is known to boost test along with having enough saturated fat (i.e., lean red meat, egg yolks, etc.) and certain micronutrients (e.g., zinc, magnesium, etc.) within the diet. Endurance training (e.g., marathon running) can compromise test levels as well as overtraining (i.e., high intensity level, lack of recovery time, etc.). Lack of sleep, daily stress, medication usage, as well as overindulgence in alcohol may also lower testosterone levels.
BOTTOM LINE: Testosterone supplements are being oversold to consumers who, for the most part, should NOT be taking them. Simply exercising will boost your natural testosterone level. So instead of relying on potentially dangerous supplements, you should get adequate exercise, eat healthier foods, reduce medication usage if possible, and lose bodyweight (there is a correlation between obesity and lower testosterone levels in men).
Indeed, it is insidious that the human body loves fast food and packaged, processed foods. Unfortunately, highly processed foods (i.e., fast food) may severely compromise your body's metabolism. How does this happen? Since processed foods typically lack the nutrients that whole foods contain, your body craves more fast food in order to get the nutrients it needs to remain healthy. Thus, your appetite for unhealthy food tends to increase in order for your body to get as much of the nutrients it needs even if the food in general is not healthy.
A diet of mostly processed foods (most people get the majority of their sodium intake from processed foods) and high-calorie beverages essentially causes an imbalance in metabolic rate. Foods high in sodium, beverages high in sugar, and processed foods with a high calorie density but low nutrient density do not trigger appetite sensors to signal satiety. Instead, these foods tend to stimulate the release of periodic surges of insulin to deal with high blood sugar levels. As a result, the tendency is to scarf down more and more of these foods and drink more and more of these sodas (can you say 40 oz, please). In the meantime, more and more empty (read: nutrition-less) calories are consumed. Guess where these extra calories get stored. In a word: bodyfat! Combine this tendency to overindulge with sedentary behavior and you have a recipe for obesity.
The solution to break this never-ending cycle of gluttonous behavior in order to fulfill your appetite is to learn to eat more whole, nutritious foods. These are the low-glycemic index foods which are the unrefined, complex carbs which take longer for your body to digest and absorb. The benefits of eating these foods: increased micronutrients (vitamins and minerals); increased fiber content which contributes to increased satiety; increased thermic effect of food (TEF) in which your body burns more calories to digest compared to simple carbs; and increased insulin sensitivity. Your body will adapt gradually to feeling full much sooner when healthier foods are eaten. More importantly, your body will have a steady energy balance due to more regulated insulin levels.
In order to obtain "6-pack abs", you need to get your bodyfat down into the single digits (i.e., under 10%). In theory, that's all there is to developing a well-defined midsection. Of course, for most, what is simple in concept is hard in practice. The challenge is being able to get your bodyfat below 10%. It may be difficult but NOT impossible to achieve. The key is to NOT perform endless sit-ups or crunches but rather to eat a low-carb diet in conjunction with your strength and interval cardio training.
Tracking your carbohydrate intake is the key to getting well-defined abs. Carbs (sugars), being the body's fuel source for short-term energy, need to be carefully monitored. Why? Because excessive consumption of carbs gets converted to glycogen and fat for storage in muscles/liver and fat cells, respectively. Being that your body can only store a limited amount of glycogen (up to 100g), this means the remaining is stored as fat in your adipose tissue. This is why it's important to monitor your carb consumption relative to your energy needs (i.e., your exercise level).
The recommended manner in which to lean out and develop "6-pack" abs is to steadily reduce your carb intake to allow your body to resort to fat as its primary energy source. You should decrease your carb intake to an amount in which gluconeogenesis occurs. This occurs when your glycogen (stored carbs in your muscles and liver) has been depleted and your body is forced to resort to fat (glycerol) and some protein (amino acids) for its energy needs. The conversion of glycerol and amino acids to glucose for energy occurs within your liver.
Here's a recommended process for reducing your carb intake over an 12-week period:
The foods you eat prior to exercising can impact your workout. If you eat the wrong foods, the quality of your training will suffer because you'll feel lethargic. With that being said, here are some foods you should definitely not eat before your workout:
So what should you eat before your workouts? Go for the low-glycemic foods which won't cause an energy dip during your workout and are relatively easy to digest. Try a piece of fruit (e.g., apple, orange, banana, grapefruit, etc.), a whey protein shake, black beans, brown rice, quinoa, raisins, oatmeal, sweet potato, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat tortilla or whole-wheat pasta. You should eat these kinds of foods within an hour of your workout. Keep in mind that the most readily available macronutrient within your body will be used for energy during your workout. This means that the macronutrient content of your most recent meal before your workout will affect what substrates are used during exercise. For example, if you ate mostly carbs before your workout, than more carbs will be burned as fuel for energy during your workout. This is important because if you're someone who wants to lose bodyfat it would be better to avoid consuming a pre-workout drink containing simple carbs. The reason for this is because the simple carbs would be preferentially used by your body for energy rather than your stored bodyfat.
BOTTOM LINE: If you're trying to lose bodyfat, the worst thing for you to do is to drink an energy drink before your workout. The sugar in the drink will be used for energy rather than any stored fat from your body. Instead, drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. If you're trying to gain muscle mass, then it is okay to consume an energy drink before your workout for the quick energy source but be sure to eat a low-glycemic food beforehand to avoid "crashing" during your workout.
Many clients I assess state that they lack the energy to be active. This is when I edify them on the science of metabolism and how the cells within the body adapt to exercise. Many are amazed when they find they have more energy after participating in training sessions. How can this be? How is it possible for a person who feels they have very little energy suddenly feel more energized after exercising?
The answer to why and how we are able to feel more energized after being active is dependent on your anatomy as well as physiology. To be more precise, the organelles (e.g., mitochondria, nucleus, etc.) within your cells adapt to the training stimulus. In this case with regard to energy, it is the mitochondria (known as the "energy storehouses") of your cells which increase in number when your body becomes more active. Take, for example, weight training. As you perform more and more weight training exercises, the mitochondria within your muscle cells begin to multiply. This causes an increase in mitochondria density which creates more potential for energy to exist. It is the mitochondria that is responsible for up to 95% of your body's energy level.
So, to summarize, as you exercise regularly, your body reacts by increasing its storage of cellular mitochondria which creates more energy. In effect, you need to exercise to feel more energy. If you don't exercise, there's no need for you body to increase its mitochondria supply and as a result, you'll fell lethargic and weak. It's a classic case of "if you don't use it, you'll lose it". If you don't exercise, you'll lose your energy capacity (less mitochondria density). What irony there is in that to feel more energized, you need to begin exercising rather than relaxing. The more active you are, the more energized you'll feel. It's that simple. Of course your energy levels also hinder on your nutrition so be sure to eat healthy to complement your training. Nutrient deficiencies can disrupt cellular function and impact your energy as well as performance.
The answer is simple and complex at the same time. Let me explain. It's simple because the best diet for you is the one you can maintain and enjoy for the long term. But being that we are each individuals who have particular preferences when it comes to the foods we like to eat, the best diet varies for each and every one of us. This is what makes determining the best diet for you a complex determination.
The reality is that there is no particular diet that's best to lean out or gain muscle. The reason for this is that there are so many factors that go into determining the best diet for you and you alone. Factors such as your body type (i.e., ectomorphic, mesomorphic, endomorphic), your dietary preferences (i.e., meat, vegetarian), your budget, organic or conventional, your nutritional knowledge, environmental influences (i.e., family, friends, etc.), climate conditions, environmental pollutants, food availability, cooking experience and knowledge, time availability, physical activity level, etc. With all of these factors, how is it ever possible to determine the best diet for anyone? Well, careful nutritional assessment and counseling can help but the important concept here is that there really is no best diet. This is because the human body is amazingly adaptable to any diet. You can be healthy and fit whether you eat lots of meats, eat a low-carb diet, eat dairy-free foods, or prefer a vegetarian diet. It really doesn't matter.
In the long run, what really matters is:
BOTTOM LINE: There is no such thing as the one universal "best" diet. Go with the diet that works best for you and you alone and that you can follow the rest of your life. Don't blindly follow the latest trendy diet plan (e.g., gluten-free diet, etc.) that excludes particular foods thinking that this is the best way to eat. There is no magic diet plan. Eat the foods you enjoy and most of all, eat for pleasure!
More and more research has shown that the Mediterranean diet seems to be the best nutrition plan to reduce cholesterol, particularly LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), whether or not weight loss occurs. The Mediterranean diet has the characteristics of being low in saturated fat and refined sugar while being high in fiber and whole grains. These qualities make the Mediterranean diet more likely to be effective at managing cholesterol levels and associated cardiovascular disease.