Posts Tagged ‘volume 2’

As promised, Tuesday is all about nutrition.  Here is the next installment of “A Question of Nutrition” by Jonny Bowden.  Some really interesting stuff in this one so read up!

Question of Nutrition: Vol 2
by Dr. Jonny Bowden

A noted nutrition guru tackles the topics of food allergies, fasting, bulking diets, and that crappy weight-loss supplement your wife wants to try.

Bulking Diets: Bashed!

Q: Most strength coaches agree that you need extra calories to build muscle. The question is, how much extra? On one side you have those who say to eat a few hundred calories per day over maintenance levels. Others say to just eat a ton and train hard. What do you think is best for the bodybuilding male?

A: “Train hard and eat a ton” sounds like a great philosophy … if you’re training to be a Sumo wrestler.

I think the “eat a ton and train hard” school is kind of like practicing skeet shooting with a blindfold on. You might hit the target, but you might also pull a Dick Cheney.

I think it’s way smarter to start with a controlled amount of extra calories and see if that’s enough to do the trick. Ask yourself how you’re performing, what your energy is like, and if you like the results in the mirror. If you’re not coming up with positive answers, adjust the calories some more until you do.

If you’re a bodybuilder, you’re going to train hard anyway, so all that’s on the table here is how much to eat so that most of that extra food goes into making muscle as opposed to fat. “Eating a ton” is way too unscientific for most bodybuilders these days.

huge man

‘Eat a ton and train hard” isn’t too scientific.

The Scoop on Fasting

Q: What do you think of intermittent fasting? I’ve read about some plans that involve fasting for 24 hours every so often. Some plans call for alternate-day fasting. It’s said to improve insulin sensitivity and increase longevity, among other benefits. Any thoughts?

A: Many, actually. Are you surprised?

Fasting as a strategy to enhance health has been around since the days of Hippocrates, the dude considered to be the father of modern medicine. It’s used by religious orders as a spiritual discipline, and many high-end spas have some form of a fast — often called a “detox” program — as part of their rejuvenation retreats.

“Fasting and detoxification is the missing link in Western nutrition,” says my pal Elson Haas, MD, author of The New Detox Diet. Haas has been running detox programs as part of his medical practice for more than 30 years.

“Fasting is the single greatest natural healing therapy I know,” he told me. “People need to take a break from their substances. A fast or detox can give the body a rest so it can rebalance.”

But a true fast — even for one day — can be really hard on the body. “A more common and liberal definition of fasting would include the juices of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as herbal teas,” says Haas. “Fresh juices are easily assimilated, require minimum digestion, and still supply many nutrients. They also stimulate our body to clear wastes. Juice fasting is safer than water fasting since it supports the body nutritionally while cleansing and maintains your energy level.”

fruit juice

You probably heard about the whole “alternate day” stuff because of some mice experiments done at the University of California at Berkeley. The researchers basically fasted (read: starved) the poor mice on alternate days, and then allowed them to eat whatever they wanted on the non-fast (“feast”) days.

“We found that fasting can reduce cell proliferation rates in skin and breast,” lead researcher Krista Varady told me. “That’s equivalent to a decrease in both breast and skin cancer risk.”

I won’t bore you with the details of the research, but they actually found out that you didn’t need to do a full-blown fast on the “fast” days to get measurable benefits. You could still consume about 25 percent of your normal food intake on those “fasting” days — about the equivalent of one meal — and still get value.

But don’t use fasting as a weight-loss strategy. It never works. Even in the mice experiments, the mice overcompensated for their fast days by overfeasting on the eating days, so that at the end of the week they had consumed the same amount of calories as they normally would.

Since the only strategy that’s ever worked to extend life in the lab is calorie restriction, and since some theorists reason that downregulating insulin signaling may be part of the reason, eating fewer calories within the context of a high-nutrient diet makes sense in general.

If you want to take a day off from regular eating every so often and give your digestive system a rest, it’s not a bad idea.