Monday, July 31, 2006

Monday mixed Grill - July 31st 2006

Monday mixed Grill - July 31st 2006

Here's a quick summary of events and blogs for the last week.

  • The Australian Census should have been delivered to your home by now. Don't forget to mark your religion as Jedi.

  • I've managed to get delivery of a few books over the last few days. Life without Bread, is one, Colpo's book is another.

  • Sam Neill is still busy getting the good word out.

  • Here's how to calculate you BMI (Body Mass Index).

  • *********************************
    The monday funny.......

    Low carb Sandwich !

    This is my kind of sandwich!


    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Sam Neill is at it again

    Adding to his good work here, Sam Neill has starred in another TV commercial for red meat. Check out this new ad titled "Library".

    His first one was called "Evolution" and can be seen here.

    Both ads are part of an ad campaign, for Meat and Livestock, Australia. The aim of it, according to general manager of marketing, David Thomason, is to encourage people to have red meat as part of their everyday diet. The idea is to move red meat from a “feel good” to “foundation food.”

    Ministers push for junk food ad ban

    From this article in today's Melbourne Age....

    Health ministers meeting in Brisbane today are expected to ask Prime Minister John Howard for a partial ban on junk food television advertising to try to curb growing rates of obesity.

    Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson said health ministers had already unsuccessfully raised the matter with his federal counterpart Tony Abbott, because Mr Abbott believes it would lead to a "nanny state".

    Is this what a catholic education gives us as a Health minister? Nothing short of a total ban on junk food advertising in primetime is only the first step in curbing childhood obesity!

    Mr Robertson said the next step was to take the matter to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) when it next meets in Canberra.

    But the Queensland proposal would stop short of the New South Wales plan for a total ban on junk food ads until after 8.30pm.

    This is an excellent start. For N.S.W. kids of course. It seems the Quensland Health minister, Stephen Robertson, hasn't quite got the spine to demand/request a total ban. Pity.

    "We want to restrict advertising of so-called junk food to about 20 per cent of the overall advertising content," Mr Robertson told ABC Radio today.

    "This is now the fourth time health ministers, I think, around Australia have debated this issue and on each occasion, Tony Abbott has been the stumbling block.

    "I would like to see it elevated onto the COAG agenda, the national agenda.

    "I think we will get a better hearing out of the Prime Minister than we will out of Tony Abbott."

    A large proportion of Australian children were now overweight and obese and this set them up for health problems in later life, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

    Mr Robertson said he and Mr Abbott had just returned from a visit to the Torres Strait where 30 per cent of the population suffered from diabetes.

    What do you think our chances are of getting even a slight ban on junk food advertising? Personally, I think none, nada, zip. It's a real shame because we're killing our kids (and ourselves) slowly with this highly processed crap.


    Update: I just noticed a link on Tony Abbott's webpage that links to th department of health and ageing. Their recommended diet for a male aged 31 to 50 is as follows:

    Healthy Eating Guidelines for Men aged 31-50 years
    The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends the following servings per day:
  • 6 - 12 servings from the bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles group.

  • An example of one serve is 2 slices of bread; 1 medium bread roll; 1 cup of cooked rice, pasta or noodles; or 1 1/3 cup of breakfast cereal flakes.

  • There is an allowance of about 30g a day for poly or monounsaturated fats and oils that can be used to spread on breads or rolls or used elsewhere in the diet.

  • 5 servings from the vegetables, legumes group.

  • An example of one serve is 75 grams or 1/2 cup cooked vegetables; 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, peas, lentils or canned beans; 1 cup of salad vegetables; or 1 small potato.

  • 2 servings of fruit.

  • An example of one serve is 1 medium apple; 2 small pieces (150g) of fruit (apricots, kiwi fruit, plums); 1 cup of diced fruit pieces or canned fruit; 1/2 cup of fruit juice; or 1 1/2 tablespoons of sultanas.

  • 2 servings from the milk, yoghurt, cheese group.

  • An example of one serve is 250 ml of milk; 250ml of soy beverage; 40 grams (2 slices) of cheese; or 200g (1 small carton of yoghurt).

  • 1 serving from the lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and legumes group.

  • An example of one serve is 65-100 grams cooked meat or chicken; 2 small chops; 2 slices of roast meat; 1/2 cup of cooked (dried beans); 80-120 grams of fish fillet; 1/2 cup of peanuts (almonds); or 2 small eggs.

    Have you heard of Little Becky?

    According to ABC radio in Perth (720Hz AM), Little Becky is a 12 year old girl that works for an Irish radio station in Dublin (98FM).

    She makes prank calls to various people and with her accent and attitude, she's very funny.

    Have a listen to these:
    Advance Pitstop: Little Becky has an issue with a spare tyre
    Dublin Zoo: Little Becky has a strange request
    Des Bishop: Comedian Des Bishop finds the joke’s on him!
    Driving Test: Little Becky wants to hit the road!
    Channel 4: Big Brother’s got a new star!
    Peter Mark: Little Becky considers her career options
    Harvey Norman: Little Becky tackles “those” ads
    Orange Order: Little Becky works on Cross-Border Relations
    Mariah: Little Becky lives the life of Mariah Carey!
    Crane Hire: Little Becky sorts out her lazy dad!

    Or you can listen to or download 6 of the files from Gold 104 in Melbourne, or you can get the full collection from Dublin 98FM.

    To this philistine in the colonies, she sounds more Welsh to me but I guess I wouldn't know. Have a listen and enjoy ......


    Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    Popular diets linked to heart risks

    Another gem from The Age in Melbourne by Chantal Rumble.

    Popular high-protein diets may be increasing the risk of heart disease while reducing waistlines. (Here we go again. I understood Atkins et al. to be adequate protein, low Carbohydrate, medium (good) fat diets.) Who ever said they were "High protein? (except for dubious reporters and authors trying to sell more books?))

    An Australian study of four weight-loss regimes has found that protein-based diets including foods with a high glycaemic index raise cholesterol levels, thereby increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    The glycaemic index measures the impact of carbohydrates on blood-sugar levels. Foods with a high index rapidly boost blood sugars, leading to sharp peaks and troughs in energy, triggering hunger and making it difficult to burn fat. Foods low in the index give a more steady energy supply.

    The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney, is published this week in US journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

    Author Joanna McMillan-Price said the results were particularly concerning given the popularity of high-protein, meat-based diets. "We are making a grave error if we encourage Australians to eat more and more lean meat if they are not eating more plant materials," she said.

    The CSIRO's total wellbeing diet - and a best-selling book of recipes based on it - is among such diets.

    The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet

    Ms McMillan-Price called for an increased focus on glycaemic index rather than carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the battle against obesity. "Low GI is essentially a return to traditional foods instead of the processed foods that are on our supermarket shelves," she said.
    (Is it any wonder she said this? She has written at least two books about Low GI nutrition.)

    For 12 weeks almost 130 overweight or obese young adults followed one of four reduced-calorie, low-fat diets. 12 weeks. Gee, that seems like ages to test a fat (sorry I mean weight) loss diet.
    The diet variations were:

    · High carbohydrate, high GI.
    · High carbohydrate, low GI.
    · High protein, lower carbohydrate and high GI.
    · High protein, lower carbohydrate, low GI.

    The second and third diets were the best for weight loss overall. Participants on these diets, and particularly women, lost up to 80 per cent more than those on the first plan.

    However, the third diet, based on high protein and high GI foods, dramatically increased cholesterol levels, raising participants' long-term health risks.
    Do you think we should give Ms McMillan-Price a copy of Anthony Colpo's book for some desperatly needed education?

    Ms McMillan-Price, who has published low-GI diet books, said the most effective regime was the high carbohydrate diet based on foods with a low GI, such as legumes, pasta, vegetables (except potatoes), sushi and basmati rice, and some wholegrain - but not wholemeal - breads. "And if you are going to follow a high-protein, high-meat diet, you need to make sure you have low-GI carbohydrates as well for good heart health," Ms McMillan-Price said.

    - High-fibre flaky cereal and wholemeal toast
    - Sandwich on wholemeal bread
    - Rice crackers and fruit
    - Jasmine rice and stir-fried vegetables
    Worst in weight loss, little change in cholesterol

    - Natural muesli or porridge
    - Sandwich on low-GI wholegrain bread
    - Fruit
    - Pasta, legumes and vegetables
    Best in weight loss, best in cholesterol

    - Wholemeal toast and poached eggs
    - Meat with salad and one slice of bread
    - Nuts or fruit
    - Big portion of red meat and vegetables
    Equal best in weight loss, worst in cholesterol

    - Natural muesli or porridge
    - Meat, salad and one slice of low-GI bread
    - Nuts or fruit
    - Meat with small serve of lentils and vegetables
    Fair weight loss, small reduction in cholesterol, but hard to follow.

    It seems to me that no matter what diet she mentions, it has to include grains of some description! With information like this going out in the mainstream media, how are we going to survive as a species?

    At least me and a couple of friends will still be around I guess.


    Jedi 'religion' grows in Australia

    From this article from BBC news in August 2001.

    More than 70,000 people in Australia have declared that they are followers of the Jedi faith, the religion created by the Star Wars films.

    A recent census found that one in 270 respondents - or 0.37% of the population - say they believe in "the force", an energy field that gives Jedi Knights like Luke Skywalker their power in the films.

    Most of the 70,509 people who wrote Jedi on their census forms were suspected to have done so in response to an e-mail encouraging all Star Wars fans to get it recognised as an official religion. But the Australian Bureau of Statistics said it would be categorised as "not defined".

    "When you look at it you probably have got about 5,000 people in that 70,000 that were true hard-core people that would believe the Jedi religion carte blanche," Chris Brennan from the Australian Star Wars Appreciation Society told ABC Radio.

    "Then you would have 50,000 fans that said 'oh yeah we'll just put down Jedi for fun, we don't actually have a religion of our own'.

    "Then you probably have 15,000 people who did it just to give the government a bit of curry," he said.

    Once again, it's census time in Australia. This year, you can to choose to do it online as well. I strongly encourage you, if you're an Aussie, that when you fill in the census this year, put "Jedi" as your religion.

    Let's try and beat the 70,000 (0.37% of the population) we got in 2001.

    May the force be with you.....

    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    Increase in Lipitor memory loss claims

    Reports of memory loss in people taking Australia's most popular prescription drug have increased over the past 18 months.

    The Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee has received 52 reports of amnesia from patients taking the cholesterol-fighting drug Lipitor - 32 in the past year-and-a-half.

    In New York, two lawsuits were recently launched against Pfizer, Lipitor's maker, by plaintiffs claiming a range of side-effects, including memory loss. Pfizer is fighting the claims, which it says have no scientific basis.

    Lipitor, which protects against heart problems, is the Federal Government's single biggest expense on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. In 2004-05, it cost taxpayers $508 million for 7.6 million prescriptions.

    Associate Professor Duncan Topliss, chairman of the committee, said amnesia was mentioned in the product information but there was no proven link between memory loss and Lipitor. However, he said the committee would continue to monitor the side-effect.

    "We are not saying that this is something to be completely discounted, but we don't think this is a particularly crucial or major problem," said Dr Topliss, director of The Alfred's department of endocrinology and diabetes.

    He said the increase in reports might be linked to a visit to Australia by US doctor Duane Graveline, who was promoting his book Lipitor: Thief of Memory. "The most important thing about these drugs is that they do save lives," Dr Topliss said. "But if people are concerned they have a side-effect, they should tell their GP."


    Monday, July 24, 2006

    Monday mixed Grill - July 24th 2006


    Here's a quick summary of events and blogs for the last week. Thanks to LCDave for the idea!

  • This is just about the last chance to enrol in Health Schools Australia's last seminar for this year. The last one is titled "Breast to the Prostate: Hormonally Dependent Cancer Solutions" it will be held on Saturday the 07/OCT/06 in Melbourne and the following day in Sydney. Please contact Health Schools Australia for enrolment information.

  • Jimmy Moore at Livin' La Vida Low-Carb has been very busyas usual and keeping us well informed.

  • LC Dave has been busy too, with plenty of informative posts on his Blog.

  • The Mandatory Food supplement debate rages in Europe and Australia.

  • *********************************
    The monday funny.......

    I am NOT a morning person


    Food alone not to blame for fatter kids

    After deciding to "survey" a bunch of kids about obesity and their lifestyle, we get this gem from The Department of Bleedin' Obvious.

    Kids are getting fatter, but what they eat may not be to blame, according to an Australian authored historical analysis of children's diets and activity patterns.

    A report in the latest edition of Australasian Science magazine says a 12-year-old Australian boy in 2006 is, on average, seven kilograms heavier and 25 per cent fatter than his counterpart from 1970.

    The changes are due to increasing overweight caused by an energy imbalance brought about by either an increase in energy intake or a decrease in energy expenditure, or both, according to the report.

    The article brings together 1,600 studies on more than 257,000 children and their diets from 25 developed countries.

    Children's diets have changed dramatically over the past century due to the effect of technologies such as improved transport, canning and refrigeration, the report says.

    The fat content of diets appears to have reached a peak in about
    1965, when it accounted for about 40 per cent of total daily kilojoules.
    But the report says the contribution of fat has been falling since then and in most developed countries it is now about 35 per cent.

    Between 1955 and 1985 reported energy intake fell by four per cent per decade and there was a further flattening out in energy intake between 1985 and 1995, according to Australasian Science.

    "These results are very surprising given that these apparent decreases in energy intake were occurring at a time when childhood overweight and obesity were increasing rapidly," the report says.

    "If energy intakes really were declining, there must have been drastic declines in energy expenditure."

    The average Australian child now spends about four hours a day in front of a screen of some sort, a finding which the report says suggests massive energy expenditure decreases over the past decades are conceivable.

    The report also found that recent data indicates that energy intake may be on the rise again.

    "If these trends are confirmed, children face the double impact of reduced energy expenditure and increased energy intake."

    You gonna eat that?


    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    The 7 myths about low carb diets

    Laura Dolson

    I was browsing the web today and came across this article by Laura Dolson on her website.

    The Most Common Low Carb Misconceptions
    There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about low carb diets. Anti-low carb information often draws an image of people eating very unhealthy diets, with no vegetables or fruits, guzzling cream and eating bacon dipped in butter all day. We are courting heart disease, and are on a dangerous road to poor health. The truth is that low carb diets focus on nutritious, healthy food, and research into reducing carbs continues to show more and more positive results. Here are the myths about low carb diets I hear most often.

    1. Low Carb=No Carb
    This misconception is the idea that a “low” carb diet must be really really low in carbohydrates. You will read that low carb diets attempt to “eliminate carbohydrates”, for example.

    Fact: Not one low carb diet author advocates this. Even Atkins Induction, which is very low in carbohydrates, is not “no carb”, is only meant to last two weeks, and actually can be skipped altogether, according to the Atkins Web site.

    Fact: Diet authors who recommend reducing carbs have all sorts of different ideas about carb levels.

    Fact: The carbohydrate level should be adjusted to the individual.

    Fact: Over the years, the “nutritional establishment” has been gradually lowering the range of recommended carbohydrate in the diet, at the same time condemning reduced-carb diets, some of which may be recommending the lower end of the new “accepted range”, or close to it. Example: Dr. Dean Edell, a prominent media physician, once stated that the Zone Diet, a 40% carbohydrate low saturated fat diet, “could be dangerous” because it is too low in carbohydrates. Recently, the National Academy of Sciences began recommending a range of 45%-65% of the diet to be carbohydrate, depending upon the individual.

    What is a Low Carb Diet?
    What is a “No Carb” Diet?
    Finding the Right Carb Level

    (I think that the good people amongst us that are writing about, talking about and indeed living this sort of lifestyle, need to change the name from "low" carb to "controlled" carb. Clearly "low" or "no" carb is too controversial for many in the mainstream media.)

    2. Low Carb Diets Discourage Eating Vegetables and Fruits
    Because vegetables and fruits are mainly carbohydrate, people believe that they are not allowed on low carb diets.

    Fact: The opposite is true – non-starchy vegetables are usually at the bottom of the “low carb pyramids” meaning they are the “staff of life” of the diet (replacing grains in that role) and people who follow a low carb way of eating almost always eat more vegetables than the general population. For the most part, vegetables and fruits ARE the carbs eaten when following a low carb way of eating.

    See: The Most Common Low Carb Misconception: Vegetables – includes suggestions for working veggies into your diet.

    (Since going Against the grain, I have never eaten more vegetables or fruit in my life! The choices you have are absoulutly stunning!. For more information you need to purchase and read some of the books in my "Recommended reading" section, on your right.)

    3. Low Carb Diets Have Inadequate Fibre
    The reasoning goes that since fibre IS carbohydrate, a low carb diet MUST be low in fiber.

    Fact: Since fibre remains undigested (in fact, it lessens the impact of other carbohydrates on blood sugar), it is encouraged on low carb diets. Lots of low carb foods are high in fibre, and on diets that encourage carb counting, fibre does not enter into the calculation.

    See: Low Carb, High Fiber.

    4. People Eating Low Carb Are Courting Heart Disease
    Fact: In study after study, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and other markers for heart disease risk decline on low carb diets.

    20 Benefits of Low Carb Diets
    FAQ: Low Carb Diets and Cholesterol
    Study: Low Carb Diets Improve Cholesterol Even Without Weight Loss

    5. Low Carb Diets Will Damage the Kidneys
    The reasoning here is that because people with kidney disease are usually encouraged to eat LOW protein diets, a diet that is higher in protein will CAUSE kidney disease.

    Fact: This has never been shown to be the case, and, in fact, a low carb diet is often not higher in protein than the latest recommended levels.

    (I beleive that the confusion here stems from simple phoenetics. When on a controlled carb way of life like Against the grain, you can go into a state called Ketosis. This is a natural occurance and in fact, everyone produces ketones all the time - just at very small levels. As you restrict your carb intake, there is less carbs available for your body to burn as fuel, so it switches to burning fat as fuel - your fat! I believe that the confusion about kidney disease comes from a condition called ketoacidosis. Quoting directly from Wikipedia, "Some diets (such as the Atkins diet) are reported to induce a mild-to-moderate state of ketosis, but this does not result in ketoacidosis if the dieter drinks an appropriate amount of water. Any diet which burns fat molecules at a significant rate results in an increased production of ketone bodies. (My emphasis))

    6. Low Carb Diets Will “Suck the Calcium Out of Your Bones”
    Again, this is based on the idea that low carb diets are always high in protein. People on higher protein diets tend to have more calcium in their urine. But this turns out to be a red herring.

    Fact: it turns out that protein, rather than cause bone loss, actually protects our bones.

    See: FAQ: Low Carb Diets and Bone Loss

    7. Atkins "Died of His Own Diet"
    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this one – and I am STILL hearing it.

    Fact: Robert Atkins, originator of the Atkins Diet, died from head injuries resulting from a fall. See his death certificate. Also, he was not fat when he died, but took on a lot of fluid in the hospital while in Intensive Care after his injury.

    Laura Dolson is a health and science writer and longtime follower of a low-carbohydrate way of eating. She holds a B.S. in physical therapy, an M.A. in clinical psychology, and she completed the coursework and training for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Kids to be measured in obesity survey

    Thousands of Australian children will reportedly be measured, weighed and interviewed as part of an obesity epidemic-busting plan to be announced by the federal government.

    Fairfax newspapers report existing government programs promoting after-school sports and physical activity could be expanded as part of the scheme.

    Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, Communications Minister Helen Coonan and Education Minister Julie Bishop are launching a package of anti-obesity measures, including a $3 million national nutrition survey.

    A spokesman for the prime minister's office said a proposal to cut rising obesity levels, put forward by Tasmanian Liberal senator Guy Barnett, was now being examined, The Age newspaper said.

    The national nutrition survey will be the most comprehensive stock-taking in more than 10 years
    (the last one was in 1995) of what Australian kids eat and their levels of physical activity, the government says.

    Four thousand children aged between two and 16 will be measured and interviewed next year, and the survey results used to formulate policies to fight obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, The Age said.

    I personally don't know what information they expect to get from 2 year olds but maybe they are worried about vitamin and mineral levels, plasma blood sugar and folate supplementation as well.

    If they want to get rid of childhood obesity (which would hopefully follow on to adult fitness as well) then as far as I can see, it can be done in 8 easy steps.

    If both Government legislation and parents contribute to this epidemic it would be quite easy.

    1- Remove ALL vending machines from schools and shopping centres.
    2- Make sporting activities MANDATORY for all children between 5 and 17. 1 hour per week (including dressing and showering etc) at school is not enough. It should be government policy (enforcable by fines) that all kids participate in a weekly sporting activity.
    3- No "junk food" advertisments for or by fast food vendors until after 8pm.
    4- A ban on "junk food" sponsorship for sporting events (at any level).
    5- MASSIVE taxes on takeaway type foods that will undoubtedly get passed on to the consumer.

    1- Prepare more meals (including school lunches) at home.
    2- Eat more at home. The more you "eat out", the more ingredients you don't know what you are eating.
    3- Follow the "Zone pyramid" (or similar) as best as you can.

    Draconian? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.


    Update: This article in the Age goes on to say that the survey will be ongoing, so once children have been measured other groups such as adults will be targeted.

    International Diabetes Institute CEO Paul Zimmet said the nutrition survey would be "a very important study … It would have been nice if it had been done five or 10 years ago, because now we have to wait for the results to see what action might come."

    There had been a study on children that began about 15 years ago, Professor Zimmet said, but at that time "they didn't have good measures for, say, the risk of diabetes and heart disease … in terms of diabetes outcomes it didn't even do blood sugars."


    Health risk fears as fortified flour faces acid test

    A follow up article in the Age the other day about the addition of folic acid (folate) to flour.

    Mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid will prevent only a small percentage of birth defects but could pose long-term health risks, it has been claimed.

    Mark Lawrence, an expert on folate fortification, believes a proposal by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to add folic acid to all bread-making flour, is premature and constitutes a "population-wide experiment".

    Dr Lawrence, a senior lecturer in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Science at Deakin University, said it was well documented that folic acid supplementation reduced the rate of birth defects such as spina bifida.

    But the level of fortification proposed by the food regulator (approximately 200 micrograms of folic acid per 100 grams of flour) would reduce neural tube defects by an average of only 8 per cent - or 26 conceptions - a year.
    Meanwhile, an entire population, not just women of child-bearing age who were the target of the proposal, could be exposed to potential health risks, he said.

    Dr Lawrence, who wrote his PhD thesis on folate fortification, said two recent research papers had suggested potential links between raised folate levels and an increased risk of certain cancers, including colorectal and breast cancer.

    One paper, published in the British medical journal Gut, concluded that the "possibility of a detrimental component to the role of folate in carcinogenesis (the formation of cancers) could have implications in the ongoing debate in Europe concerning folate fortification of foods".

    Dr Lawrence said there were also concerns that high levels of folic acid could mask vitamin B12 deficiency, particularly in the elderly - leading to neurological damage.

    The food regulator's own assessment of the safety of the proposal acknowledges that "it cannot be concluded that mandatory fortification is completely without health risks".

    In a paper released this week, FSANZ noted there were "uncertainties associated with mandatory fortification, particularly chronic exposure to increased folic acid intakes beginning in childhood".

    However, the regulator's chief scientist, Marion Healy, said the benefits of adding folic acid to bread far outweighed any potential risks. Dr Healy said there was no conclusive evidence linking raised folate levels with an increased risk of cancer, indeed many studies had suggested it might be protective.

    "Certainly, it's not possible to say that there is an established link between folate intake and cancer," she said.

    Nevertheless, the food regulator had taken a cautious approach and proposed a very low level of fortification, she said. Women planning a pregnancy would still need to take a folic acid supplement. Any potential adverse health effects of fortification would be closely monitored.

    About 300 to 350 pregnancies in Australia each year are affected by neural tube defects, and about 70 per cent of these are terminated. Women of child-bearing age can reduce their risk of conceiving a baby with a neural tube defect by taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily before and during the first three months of pregnancy. But it is estimated that as few as one in three women do so.

    Dr Lawrence said that as 92 per cent of neural tube defect conceptions would not be prevented by fortification at the levels proposed, more effort should be made to ensure women of child-bearing age took folic acid supplements.

    "When you start thinking that the effectiveness is only going to be 8 per cent and FSANZ acknowledge we're going to have to promote supplements anyway, and there are all these potential risks," he said.

    "I just struggle to see how we can support mandatory fortification as an approach. Why don't we invest in a supplementation program (instead)?"

    But Professor Fiona Stanley, a strong advocate of the proposal, said that programs to promote folate supplementation had failed. Voluntary fortification of some foods, in place since 1995, had not gone far enough.

    She said the women most at risk of having a baby with a birth defect - Aboriginal women, women who smoke, young women and those whose pregnancies were unplanned - were the ones not getting enough folate.

    "If you don't now mandatorily fortify, you're denying those women who are the most vulnerable in our community the opportunity to reduce their risk of having a baby with a major birth defect," she said.

    Professor Stanley, the director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia, said it was a question of human rights.

    I have sent Dr. Mark Lawrence the following e-mail. I wonder if I get a response?

    I read an article in the Age the other day that quotes you as saying: "folic acid supplementation reduced the rate of birth defects such as spina bifida." and "two recent research papers had suggested potential links between raised folate levels and an increased risk of certain cancers, including colorectal and breast cancer."

    Can you please point me in the direction of these papers? Both my partner and I are planning on pregnancy in the near future and we BOTH take a 5mg Megafol tablet each morning, She to decrease the risk of neural tube defects and I take it to keep my homocysteine levels in check.

    Should I be concerned about the alleged increased risk of various cancers?

    UPDATE 1: I received an "out of office" response to my e-mail. Dr. Lawrence will be back at work on Tuesday the 25th of July. Hopefully I'll get a response then.

    UPDATE 2: I received a reply from Dr. Lawrence. It seems the good doctor is still at work, even though he's not in his office.

    Dear Steve

    The references for the two papers that you ask about are:

    Guelpen, B. Hultdin, J. Johansson, I. Hallmans, G. et al. Low folate levels may protect against colorectal cancer. Gut, 2006,

    Stolzenberg-Solomon, R. Z. Chang, S. C. Leitzmann, M. F. Johnson, K. A, et al. Folate intake, alcohol use, and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2006, 83: 895-904.
    (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Unfortunatly, I'm not a member so I can't read the paper.)

    Please speak with your doctor for their advice on using folic acid supplements - certainly there is strong evidence that folic acid supplements are associated with reduced risk of neural tube defects.


    From the above paper .....

    "Conclusions: Our findings suggest a decreased CRC (colorectal cancer) risk in subjects with low folate status. This possibility of a detrimental component to the role of folate in carcinogenesis could have implications in the ongoing debate in Europe concerning mandatory folate fortification of foods."

    The debate is happening in Australia too!


    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Monday mixed Grill - July 17th 2006

    Monday mixed Grill - July 17th 2006

    Here's a quick summary of events and blogs for the last week. Thanks to LCDave for the idea!

  • The list of 2007 seminars from Health Schools Australia are only just around the corner now.

  • Jimmy Moore at Livin' La Vida Low-Carb has done an excellent review on Anthony Colpo's new book "The Great Cholesterol Con".

  • LC_Dave gives us quick biology lesson about Insulin and Low GI foods.

  • Contributing author to "Against the Grain", Stephen Eddey has written his first article for us.

  • *********************************
    The monday funny.......


    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Folic acid may be added to bread

    Bakers could soon play a major role in the prevention of devastating birth defects under plans to add folic acid to all bread.

    The trans-Tasman regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, has revealed a draft food standard to make folic acid mandatory in all bread-making flour to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

    The proposed standard is expected to reduce the number of Australian children conceived with neural tube defects by between 14 and 49 a year. Up to 350 unborn children are affected with such defects every year and about 70 per cent of these pregnancies are terminated. It would cost AUS$1 million to implement but save the nation AUS$124.5 million, according to the proposal.

    Melanie Fisher, general manager of FSANZ, said bread was the most suitable option for increased folic acid as it was regularly eaten by women of child-bearing age. The risk of conceiving a baby with a neural tube defect can be significantly reduced by consuming extra folic acid a day before conception and during the first three months of pregnancy. However, safety concerns mean the new measure would deliver only half the recommended dose of folate for pregnant women.

    Australian Food and Grocery Council chief executive Dick Wells called the move premature. Folate would be better added to a range of products, he said.

    Surely, pregnant women (and those planning to become one), should avoid all grain and flour products and concentrate on dark, leafy, green vegetables such as spinach, watercress, silverbeet, kale and broccoli? Apart from having higher levels of folic acid (a B vitamin also known as Folate), there are also countless other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that simply are NOT in grain products - even those fortified with folate!

    Just between you and I, my partner and I are planning to become pregnant in the near future. As I do most of the cooking at home, I'm pumping her full of -- you guessed it! Some of the vegetables mentioned above. She doesn't like them all so I don't make her eat them. But she's happy to take this as well.........

    ......... that's 5mg a day more than what she's getting from vegetables alone.

    And do you know what? I take one a day too. I used to lie to the chemist and tell them that it's for my partner, but these days, I make a point of telling them who it's for and why. I take it to help lower my homocysteine levels, one of the key clinical indicators for heart attack, peripheral vascular disease and stroke.


    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Against the Grain…

    I really feel for the average consumer when they are bombarded with mixed messages about what is healthy for them. I also believe most people who are overweight and trying to lose weight are not ‘slack’ or ‘lazy’. I know this because I see these people sweating it out at the gym on a cold, dark July morning or pacing the pavements. So why are they over weight? They work out and get plenty of activity, they watch what they eat. They even adhere to the expert nutritional guidance administered from associations such as the Heart Association and the Diabetes Association. Unfortunately, such advice is often outdated, not for them, or, in some cases, just plain wrong.

    The Good, Bad and the Ugly

    Everyone I speak to about their health knows sugar is bad for you. They also know that processed foods and most take away foods are bad. They also know they should be eating more vegies, salads and fruits. I will not insult your intelligence by reciting this ‘party line’ information. What I will tell you is that some of the so called ‘healthy food’ is making you sick and even killing thousands.

    The Good Oil

    Don’t put oil in your petrol tank! Why? It is not designed for it. So why put foods in your body that your body is not designed to eat? Ask your vet what your dog or cat should eat. He or she should say that animals need to eat what they find in the wild (hunting and gathering etc.). Humans are the same. For 3-5 million years we evolved to become the dominant species on earth by doing just that, hunting and gathering. We NEVER ate from a ‘pasta plant’, a ‘bread tree’, nor did we hunt down and kill a bowl of wheat. So why should grains make up so much of our diet (6-11 serves a day according to the associations mentioned earlier.)

    The Fad Grain Diet

    There are people who will say that ‘we have eaten grains for thousands of years’. Yes we have, but even 10,000 years is still less than 1% of our evolution. Grains are a very new addition to our diets. In my opinion, grains are a ‘fad’ food. It really makes me wonder how people can say that cutting grain from your diet is a ‘fad’ diet??? It is in fact the total opposite.

    Whole Grain?

    There is simply no such thing as ‘whole’ grain bread, pasta or breakfast cereal. These foods are all processed in some way. Most are rolled, toasted, baked etc. Don’t kid yourself and say ‘it’s healthy because it’s brown bread’. It’s still just flour! I dare you to go to a paddock of wheat and eat the ‘whole grain’. I think you would chip a tooth!

    The Science

    Repeatedly, scientific literature supports the consumption of whole foods such as vegies, fruits, salads, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat, legumes etc. No one dies of a bread deficiency. We do not need flour in our diets. They are dead foods that contribute nothing more than empty calories and soaring obesity (and all its related conditions such as cancer and heart disease.). Compared head to head in the scientific literature, low carbohydrates do much better that high carbohydrate diets.

    Kangaroo cuts

    The Energy Myth

    Firstly, you don’t give up on carbohydrates when you give up grains. You will get your carbs from vegies, salads, nuts, legumes and fruits. Have you heard that you need ‘carbohydrates for energy’, and therefore pasta will give you that energy? Most people I know feel like sleeping after eating a big bowl of pasta. Most of us are already carrying too much ‘energy’ in the form of fat. If you restrict carbohydrate intake by eliminating grains and sugars, your body will begin to burn fat. This can be measured as when you burn fat; ketones are eliminated in your urine. I have even heard some colleges say this is a bad thing!!! I ask you as someone I am sure has common sense: How can burning fat be a bad thing??? Isn’t that the idea? Remember, ketones are being produced by everyone, all the time anyway. All we are doing is accelerating the fat loss. This occurs when you cut flour foods from your diet.

    Sugar is bad, right?

    Did you know that every carbohydrate you eat turns into sugar in your body? Don’t panic because most of the foods I recommend are low in carbohydrates and bursting with nutrients. However, if you do eat grains, begin to worry as grains are a concentrated form of carbohydrates not encountered by humans naturally. All of the rich carbohydrates are converted into sugar in your body. Would you eat 37 teaspoons of sugar for dinner? No? In fact, you already have if you have eaten a moderate serving of 200 grams of pasta. 200 grams of pasta = 37 teaspoons of sugar. Are you still wondering why so many Australians are becoming obese and diabetic?

    The Fibre Myth

    Who has also heard that we need ‘flour’ foods (bread, pasta etc.) for fibre? Now just imagine if you stop eating flour and swap it with loads of vegies, fruits, salads etc. This will provide you with more fibre than you could ever dream of.

    The Nutrient Bounty

    When you flick flour and consume more fresh whole foods, your nutrient level will be far higher than ever. Fresh is best, not toasted, rolled, packaged, processed grains.

    If I can’t eat flour foods, what can I eat?

    I have had countless patients say this to me over the years. It is like I have taken away their reason for living! What you can eat is what your body has evolved to eat. You are a hunter and gatherer. Eat vegies, nuts, seeds, fruits, legumes, meats, eggs, fish etc. The message is quite simple; if you are in a supermarket and you are reading a label on food, the chances are you shouldn’t be eating that food!

    Can I eat flour in ‘moderation’?

    This is one of my pet hates. Let me make this clear; moderate eating leads to moderate health. Aim for optimal health and total wellness. Don’t be sucked into the ‘I only eat this occasionally’ syndrome. Aim higher, you deserve the best.

    By contributing author Stephen Eddey M.H.Sc.; B.H.Sc(Comp.Med); Dip.App.Sc.(Nat.); Ass.Dip.App.Sc(Chem.); Cert.I.V. Director A.T.M.S.

    Stephen is Principal and Director of Health Schools Australia, one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious Natural Medicine Colleges.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Aussies love to meat and greet

    Here is a great man; Enlightened, intelligent and definitely worthy of listening to. His name is Dr. Lionel Tiger, and he's a Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University.

    His title reflects his pioneering role in introducing biosocial data into the social sciences. Since the mid-1960's he has been deeply involved in bridging the gap between the natural and social sciences. He has asserted that the words used appear to imply that human social behavior is somehow not natural. But of course it is. Exploring how and why is Tiger's central adventure. As a teacher, writer of books and articles which have been widely published and translated and as co-Research Director of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, he has been an influential figure in broadening our knowledge about why we do what we do.

    He combines his scientific expertise with a lively sense of humor to offer original, entertaining and informative lectures that challenge what is entrenched or fashionable, and move intellectually where others fear to tread. Currently he is focused on day care, young males, the pill, college demographics, the workforce, and the ways in which humans are becoming progressively more and more alienated from their biological roots.

    In this article in the Melbourne Herald-Sun newspaper, he states that Aussies love to meat and greet. You know gather 'round the barbie, chew on a chop or sit at the table and carve the Sunday roast. I couldn't agree more.

    In the article he said "meat cravings were as instinctive to the average Aussie as our desire for human touch."

    "It's sort of like sex," Dr Tiger said. Um, either he aint buying the right meat or he's doing something else wrong!!

    "Nobody when they're engaged in sexual activity says, 'This is good for the species', but the fact is that it's extremely pleasurable and it does carry on the species.

    Dr Tiger's comments came on the back of research that revealed almost eight in 10 Australians rated roast beef or lamb to be among their favourite meals.

    "Australians certainly seem to act as if meat is important to them, the Sunday roast and the leg of lamb, these are still punctuation points for family interaction," he said.

    Despite vegetarianism being fashionable in some circles, Dr Tiger said taste buds were designed to crave meat because humans needed omega 3, zinc, iron and vitamin B12.

    See my post here about Omega-3, zinc iron and V B-12.

    "If you're a vegetarian you still need to compensate for the lack of meat, and the simpler answer is to have a piece of meat sometimes," he said.

    The research also revealed 96 per cent of Australians loved the social experience of gathering together to carve up a roast.

    This simply meant Aussies had not evolved too far from our hunter-gatherer ancestry, where killings would be shared around a campfire, Dr Tiger said.

    While I don't do any actuall killing myself (no opportunity), I'm never happier than when my partner and I have people over for a BBQ dinner then sit around the fireplace and tell stories and talk until the wee small hours...


    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Fuelling Evolution

    (I always liked Sam Neill)

    From The Main Meal website (owned by Meat and Livestock Australia).

    The story of red meat and how we came to be.
    To understand the importance of red meat, you have to go back millions of years to the time when our ape ancestors came down from the trees and moved to open grasslands.

    During this time, only the fittest species of early man would survive. Those who adapted to the new surroundings lived on. The big leap came when our ancestors started to eat red meat.

    The nutrients in red meat helped our brains grow. Hunting forced us to think. We learnt how to shape tools, communicate and work together – we were turning into human beings.

    Over thousands of years, our bodies adapted to a diet high in red meat. In fact, our bodies and nutritional needs are very similar to our early ancestors.

    This is why your body instinctively desires red meat for health and wellbeing.

    Today, red meat still remains an important part of the diet. Lean red meat has an impressive bundle of nutrients:

    Omega 3s to help keep the heart in good shape and to support brain function
    Zinc to help maintain the immune system
    Vitamin B12 to help protect DNA and the nervous system
    Iron to carry oxygen in the blood for energy and vitality
    Protein to help satisfy the appetite for longer and help control hunger pangs.

    It’s no wonder the Australian Dietary Guidelines continue to recommend we enjoy lean red meat 3-4 times every week. After all, that’s the way nature intended it.

    More information:
    • Australian Dietary Guidelines go to the Australian Government's National Health and Medical Research Council's website
    Nutritional composition of lean beef and lamb
    • For diet and health information go to
    • Click here for some red meat recipes
    • View the new TV ad featuring Sam Neill by clicking on the link at the top of this post.


    Monday mixed Grill - July 10th 2006


    Here's a quick summary of events and blogs for the last week. Thanks to LCDave for the idea!

  • I'm still waiting for Health Schools Australia to send me their list of 2006 seminars. They are due out shortly.

  • Jimmy Moore at Livin' La Vida Low-Carb has been very busy

  • David Koch (no, the other one) has been busy too, and thanks Dave for showing me how to host videos on our blogs.

  • Socceroos Pain Eased With Aussie Win in Beer World Cup .

  • Stella Nicola has shed almost half her weight to be Victoria's slimmer of the year

  • Here's how to calculate you BMI (Body Mass Index).

  • *********************************
    The monday funny.......

    Is this how the different sexes see ourselves?


    How's Your Body Image?

    After reading posts on Livin' la vida low-Carb and Stumbling to Bethlehem, I thought I'd try the body image test for myself. Below is the result. It seems to be pretty accurate for me, except for the last line. But I'm working on that....

    Your Body Image is 40% Unhealthy, 60% Healthy

    You're body image is quite healthy, though you're sometimes a little bit too hard on yourself.
    Chances are you've got a rockin' body - so enjoy it!

    Stella sheds 62.5kg to be a winner

    Stella Nicola before WW where she lost 62.5 kg (137.5 lb)

    This is Stella Nicola. She has shed almost half her body weight to be Victoria's "Slimmer of the Year".

    Mrs Nicola, 37 and mother to three sons and three daughters, decided to lose some of her 129kg after one of her sons was involved in a fight defending his "fat mum".

    She joined Weight Watchers in March last year to slowly but surely lose 62.7kg. As well as her son's fight, she said her low self-esteem and declining health were responsible for her decision to diet.

    Stella has mentioned the three best reasons that I can think of for losing weight and becoming lean and healthy. Low self esteem, declining health and your own kids.

    Stella used to have a BMI of 43.7 which put her in a dangerously obese category.

    The Victoria and Tasmania winner of Weight Watchers' 2006 Slimmer of the Year said a family video at her youngest daughter's first birthday showed how far she had let herself go.

    All that I can do is congratulate Mrs. Nicola on a phenomenal job well done. Although she didn't go against the grain, she has put in a mammoth effort and it has paid of in spades.

    She now has a BMI of 23.2 which is in the "normal" range of 18.5 to 24.9

    Stella Nicola now, 62.5 kg lighter and looking great

    Stella, if you are reading this, my heartfelt congratulations.


    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Death risk rises in obese women

    Obesity is known to increase a person's risk of death and now, new findings from a study of more than 90,000 women indicate that the risk continues to increase as the severity of obesity worsens.

    "It's not good enough to consider obesity alone," principal investigator Dr. Kathleen McTigue of the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told Reuters Health. "You need to look at degree of obesity."

    In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, McTigue and colleagues evaluated the impact of body weight on death risk in 90,185 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study.

    On average, the patients were followed for 7 years.

    Body mass index (BMI), a measure of body weight for height, was used to classify the women as normal weight, overweight, or obese.

    Weight was defined as:

    underwieght is a BMI of less than 18.5
    normal is a BMI from 18.5 to 24.9,
    overweight is a BMI from 25 to 29.9,
    obesity 1 is a BMI of 30 to 34.9,
    obesity 2 is a BMI 35 to 39.9,
    and extreme obesity is a BMI 40 and higher.

    As weight increases, so does the risk of death, but the risk is not statistically significant until one becomes obese, McTigue said.

    Compared with normal-weight women, she continued, "the risk of dying was increased 12 per cent in all women in obesity category 1, while risk was increased 86 per cent over seven years in women in obesity category 3."

    In a University of Pittsburgh release, the researcher pointed out that "earlier studies, which tended to reflect lower degrees of obesity, may underestimate the risks of extremely obese individuals and overestimate the risk for mildly obese individuals in diverse groups."

    She concluded, "More accurately assessing weight-related health risk may both improve policy decisions about obesity and assist women in making informed decisions about their health."

    (Adult BMI calculator) This calculator provides BMI and the corresponding BMI weight status category. Use this calculator for adults, 20 years old and older.

    (Child and teen BMI calculator) This calculator provides BMI and the corresponding BMI-for-age percentile on a CDC BMI-for-age growth chart. Use this calculator for children and teens, aged 2 through 19 years old.


    The Low-Carb Roundtable, Part II

    The Low-Carb Roundtable, Part II
    Featuring Charles Poliquin, Cassandra Forsythe,
    Dan John, Dave Barr, and Joel Marion
    Moderated by Greg McGlone

    Note: Miss Part I? You can find it HERE.

    T-Nation: Okay, you guys gave us a lot to think about in Part I. Next topic: For competitive athletes, how do you feel about a long term low-carb approach?

    Charles Poliquin: If you're talking about energy system sports like kayak or speed skating, then I'd say that low-carb diets don't do well for these because of the demands on their glycogen stores, but those athletes tend to be insulin sensitive anyway.

    Though an extremely low-carb diet would probably not be the perfect way to go for Olympic quality athletes, it's interesting that the one study that was done with high performance athletes and a ketogenic diet (a very extreme form of low-carb diet) showed that their performance returned to "normal" (which for them was world class) within a month of being on the diet, showing that adaptation takes place.

    T-Nation: Interesting. What's your take, Dave?

    Dave Barr: Again, psychology plays a big role here. If you had asked me this question several months ago, I would've suggested that elite athletes need to maintain moderate carb diets for most of their training time — that is, until I began to see the results that John Berardi has been getting with his clients. Hard to argue with results like that.

    For people who are less "hardcore," it's not realistic to stick them on a low-carb diet. To be honest, if someone isn't going to make a living at their sport, it's best that they live life and enjoy a wide range of healthy food.

    T-Nation: What say you, Miss Forsythe?

    Cassandra Forsythe: No matter what diet an athlete follows, they have to eat enough energy to prevent their performance from suffering. A long-term LCD approach doesn't stop you from being a competitive athlete.

    Many sports nutritionists tell us that in order to be successful in sports, we have to top off muscle glycogen stores by eating loads of carb foods. However, when you limit carbs, you use intramuscular triglyceride and stored body fat for energy. Once this transition has occurred, athletic performance (even competitive athletic performance) is sustained.

    We just need to educate our athletes about the foods they can easily eat when following a lower-carb diet so that energy imbalances are avoided. Some believe that if an athlete follows a strict VLCKD, they also need extra electrolyte support (because of increase sodium and potassium losses in the first weeks of the diet change) and should give careful attention to fatty acid composition (ensure enough omega 3's to reduce inflammation).

    For athletes that can get away with eating slightly more carbs due to their high activity levels, they don't need to be so careful, but should ensure that the carbs they eat don't reduce their ability to use fat as a fuel. They can eat some "smart carbs" like sweet potatoes, extra fruit, and oatmeal, but they must keep fat and protein high. It's not necessary for them to consume 65% of their calories from carbs because they get more energy from the increased protein and extra fats.

    Overall, as long as they eat enough calories, any competitive athlete can perform just as well eating less calories from carbs and more calories from protein and fat as they would eating a high-carb diet.

    T-Nation: Bold statements! Let's let Joel chime in.

    Joel Marion: What would be the purpose of having athletes on a long-term low-carb diet? If you'd like to keep them lean, then there are certainly other, more enjoyable ways to achieve that goal, without the negative effects that a very low-carb approach will have on muscular strength and hypertrophy and overall performance.

    Carbs can still be consumed while maintaining low levels of body fat. The solution is timing them appropriately around exercise and other times of day in which insulin sensitivity is highest, not cutting them out completely.

    T-Nation: What do you think, Danny?

    Dan John: For my athletes, I think that diet is a long-term health issue. I'm not sure that a thrower or lifter really needs to worry about how diet will impact performance. Really, I've thrown far after having the flu and vomiting for a couple of days. I've also performed awful with perfect conditions.

    You could carb up and get to 70% body fat and still probably throw stuff far, but you'll have to account for that later in life. I've heard, though, that the great Kenyan distance guys eat a lot of meat and veggies and never drink those little carb drinks you see on TV that make your sweat change color.

    So, low-carb dieting will keep a handle on body fat and may help with food allergies. Not everyone agrees with the food allergy thing, but I don't know of an experienced athlete or coach who won't agree that this problem some level. It could be as bad as fatal (truly something that would hurt performance and you can quote me on this: "Dan John thinks death hurts performance!") to simply subtle like you find with distance runners who worry a lot about bowel movements on race days.

    Performance is an "iffy" thing. If low-carbing eliminates an "if," then I'd be crazy not to recommend it. It won't make you a gold medalist by itself, but it needs consideration.

    T-Nation: Okay, I'd like to hear all of your opinions on post-workout (PWO) nutrition. Charles, I know that you've advocated the use of glutamine among other things in PWO period, while Dave has spoken out against glutamine. There's also the debate about ketosis, which as Joel pointed out, may not be necessary at all to make progress. What are your thoughts on PWO nutrition for someone utilizing a low-carb approach?

    Dave Barr: I never really understood the whole glycogen repletion with glutamine theory, so I'm looking forward to hearing the other contributors' answers.

    For the moment, let's ignore the possibility that glutamine does nothing to enhance glycogen storage, and simply assume that it occurs. Now, wouldn't this newly stored glycogen be used for energy at the expense of fat? Of course it would. So what's the concern here? Stimulating insulin?

    Well then, that raises the question of whether 40-80g of glutamine, along with your 40g of fast protein and amino acids, will elevate insulin. This isn't an unreasonable question because glutamine acts like glucose in so many respects. While glutamine isn't known as a powerful insulin secretagogue, the doses in question make this a whole new ball game.

    Even if insulin isn't secreted by the protein and mega-dose of glutamine, how would this compare to carbohydrate-induced glycogen repletion? Well, the insulin released due to the PWO carbs and protein would enhance protein synthesis and muscle recovery. This is not so with the glutamine.

    Would the insulin shut off fat loss? I don't think it would, compared to glutamine, especially considering that you're PWO and you're already on a low-carb diet. At this time, our body isn't concerned with storing fat, only recovering. Again, we're already assuming that we're storing glycogen with glutamine (for the sake of argument) which is an energy source to be used instead of body fat.

    So even if we give glutamine the benefit of the doubt with every question, and that's giving a lot, there's no advantage I can see from glutamine use in a low-carb situation.

    Charles Poliquin: Again, insulin management is the key. Glycogen stores are an issue. The right mixture of whey isolates, glutamine, and glycine does wonders for recovery while improving body composition. I've made many hockey players go from 20% to 8% in eight weeks using that post-workout formula. How research applies to the real world is another debate, but practical experience is what counts.

    I know that David "Candy" Barr doesn't believe in it, but strength coaches tend to be eight years ahead of exercise physiologists, who are in fact exercise historians. David is a strong believer in economics through volume, hence he sports a keg instead of six pack!

    Ketosis is overrated and not necessary for making progress. I agree with Joel on that matter.

    Cassandra Forsythe: PWO nutrition doesn't have to be about eating oodles of simple carbs just to quickly replenish glycogen. Most weightlifters don't even deplete glycogen, so why worry about trying to maximize this response by causing horrendous spikes in glucose and insulin?

    When you follow a low-carb approach, your body is using both fat and carbohydrate as a fuel, so there's even less glycogen depletion. Thus, ingesting a lot of high-glycemic simple carbs in the PWO period isn't as crucial. It's necessary though to eat something soon after your workout, but the foods chosen will depend on your level of carb restriction.

    If you're following a high-calorie LCD you can eat your choice of "smart carbs" in combination with some high quality protein (like oatmeal, fruit, and whey protein). Given that you've increased your insulin and glucose sensitivity by following a low-carb approach, you don't need to consume something like dextrose-maltodextrin to get a good insulin response.

    If you're following a VLCKD, you may just want to stick with a high-protein and fat meal so that you avoid knocking yourself out of ketosis. It all depends on your goals and how sensitive you are to carbohydrates. Some people don't feel that a high-carb drink after their workout gives them any benefits. These people do better eating some smaller quantity of carbs in conjunction with a high quality protein source.

    The most important issue is to just make sure you eat something within a half hour of your workout, and consume enough energy throughout the day so your next training session isn't ruined.

    Dan John: It depends on what day or what year it is for me to tell you my beliefs in post-workout nutrition, because it changes all the time. Every time I go to a workshop, I have a new opinion. With my athletes, dinner is often PWO, so they eat a variety of things, often from a place with a red and gold clown as nutritional advisor.

    I know it's the key to a lot of "this." But, outside of a camp situation, we just make do with what we can do. Listen, I'm still trying to get my athletes to eat breakfast, for God's sake!

    T-Nation: Dan always keeps us practical! What's your take, Joel?

    Joel Marion: Carbs should never be omitted around a resistance training session. There's just no good reason for it. If the reason is worry with regards to fat storage, that's a non-issue with properly timed carb intake during/post exercise.

    As David and I have stated, the body isn't concerned with storing fat at this time, only recovery. If the issue is remaining in ketosis, again, not a very good reason, as actually being in ketosis has very little to do with fat loss and progress.

    Basically, as I've been saying, there are no drawbacks to carbohydrate consumption at this highly sensitive time, only benefits to be had. So my PWO recommendations to someone utilizing low-carb approach: drop the low-carb approach and get on the nutrient timing wagon!

    But what if you couldn't consume carbs, what would the next best thing be? From the research, it's an EAA drink, but as I've mentioned before, I hate hypothetical, unrealistic questions like this. You have the option to consume carbs and there's no reason not to do so.

    T-Nation: Okay, some of you prefer a cyclical approach when it comes to carbs. I'd like to hear all of your thoughts on any aspect of cycling carb intake.

    Charles Poliquin: Compliance and results dictate how well you'll do in the strength coaching business. I've learned a lot from Mauro DiPasquale about how to cycle carbs. In a nutshell, for most (but not all) individuals, I like this approach:

    First phase (initiation): 14 days low-carb, one day off completely

    Second phase: As needed to reach goal

    I have the client use a 4:1 ratio for as long as needed. That is, four days low-carb, one day off. "Off" is a broad term. The leaner you are, the more you can eat carbs. At 6% you can go crazy.

    Every fifth day you should go back to eating more good carbs, as oxidation of branch-chain amino acids is compromised on low-carb diets. The amount of good carbs is inversely proportional to your percentage of body fat.

    If they're fat, the client only has the single cheat meal, at dinner, where he or she can eat as many carbs as they want — once they've eaten their protein. If their ass leaves the table, the carb intake is done for the day.

    Carbs at dinner doesn't mean that cookies and donuts can be eaten in front of the television all night long. It's important that the cheat meal is at the dinner table; people can eat far more carbs for a longer time in front of the TV. You may start to add a second cheat meal once you hit 8% body fat.

    Cassandra Forsythe: Most people probably will agree that if you want to eat certain carb foods, the best time to eat them would be in the hours after your workout. This thought comes from the fact that any increase in insulin elicited from the high-carb meal will be used to shove glucose into those previously worked muscles, rather than converting it to fat and sending it to adipose for storage.

    In terms of cyclical approaches, I don't think that's the best way to follow a LCD. If you want to gain the best results from a low-carb approach, just be consistent and keep your carb intake controlled.

    Dave Barr: Have I mentioned psychology yet? Using a Metabolic Diet with five days of low carbs and two days of higher carbs is more user friendly than similar diets with different parameters. The Metabolic Diet books go into detail about why the five on, two off system works well physiologically, but for the sake of simplicity, it's great for maintaining muscle and continuing fat loss, all in a nice neat package.

    "Low-carb during the week, more-carb on weekends" is relatively easy to follow, because so many people naturally function on a weekday vs. weekend schedule. This also enables you to enjoy your weekend, each and every one, without too much concern that you've blown your diet. Ease of use is the number one determinant of compliance, and coupled with the fact that it works physiologically, the Metabolic Diet is win-win.

    Dan John: I had great success on the "five day zero-carbs, two day carb-up plans" — CKD, Anabolic Diet, and the variations. I found that I quickly shrunk it to a 36 hour carb up because I felt awful. I stay fairly low-carb all the time and I have personal issues I think with the grain family, so I feel better just ignoring them completely.

    The upside of cycling carbs is that you can eat this or that. The downside is that, well, if you take a little poison, it's still poison. So, this is one of the great "YMMV" of the Atkins forums: Your Mileage May Vary. For me, I do best on meat, veggies, and fruit with a lot of water and fun in my training. When I ignore that advice, bad things happen over time. Which brings us back to "Why do I ignore this advice?"

    Joel Marion: I've used, with great success, a couple forms of cyclical carb type diets with clients. One form that I like to use for clients looking to "body comp" or achieve simultaneous fat loss and gains in muscle mass, is an alternating approach between moderate/lower carb days and higher carb days depending on activity.

    For example, clients are consuming carbs, and plenty of them, on training days both during and following intense weight training. On non-weight training days, carbs are consumed only in the beginning part of the day and are limited to low GI sources. Carb intake is substantially lower on these days, falling in the "lower carb" category. The amount of carbs that are allowed on each day is dependant on the client's level of body fat.

    The leaner the individual, the more carbs they're generally allowed. If the goal is simply maintenance of body fat, more carbs are allowed (this obviously translates into potentially greater gains in lean body mass, although the trade-off is lessened fat loss).

    I'll also cycle in a couple of very low-carb days into a fat loss diet every so often after a day of overfeeding to help alleviate any water retention resulting from the previous day's high carbs and calories and quicken progress thereafter. Because leptin levels and other metabolic markers are elevated right after an overfeed, we can get away with a strict low-carb approach during this time.

    By using that dietary approach in conjunction with heightened activity (two or three cardio sessions the first day, one or two the next day), it's possible to lose a substantial amount of fat in the two-day period following the metabolic priming of an overfeed.

    Make no mistake, I'm still no fan of very low-carb dieting for anything even remotely long term, but I do believe it can be effectively used in extremely short bursts.

    T-Nation: Wow, lots of things to think about here! Any closing thoughts?

    Dave Barr: Although we've focused a lot on this particular diet, I prefer the idea of just eating a wide variety of healthy food, without any severe restrictions. Of course that's not sexy and won't sell, but food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, and is meant to be enjoyed.

    For those who want to use a low-carb diet, I suggest checking out Dr. DiPasquale's Metabolic Diet and The Anabolic Indexby yours truly, which will feature information on how best to increase muscle mass and subsequently lose fat while on both calorie- and carb-restricted diets.

    Charles Poliquin: A lot of people are kidding themselves about how many carbs they need. "Man, I need my carbs." Yeah, right! What you need to realize is that there's a difference between a mouth and a vacuum.

    It should be more "low-carb lifestyle" than "low-carb diet." Forty to fifty grams per day of good carbs is plenty for most of the population. That is why there are so many fat dieticians and personal trainers. I recently saw a former author of this site at a nutrition conference. He's a legend in his own mind for his dietary counseling prowess and a record holder of never healing weight training injuries.

    Look at him, and his physique will you tell that he has never met a carb he didn't like! In my usual diplomatic style, I put an end to his endless diatribe by asking Porky Pig the following three questions:

    1) "Enlightened grand master, if you're such a fine nutritionist, how come you have more chins than Chinatown and that you get harpooned when you go swimming?"

    2) "Have you ever considered that the number of never healing injuries you brag about are caused by the inflammatory response subsequent to your enormous carb intake?"

    3) "If you're never going to stop eating Doritos, could you please call TC and me the night before so we can shore up the supply?"

    In fact, the only way this pestering motor mouth will ever get lean is to limit his carb intake to ten licks of a dried prune... spread throughout the day.

    One needs to distinguish the difference between carbs and "neo-carbs." Neo-carbs were not accessible to cavemen. Did a caveman have access to donuts? No. Donuts are neo- carbs. Did a caveman have access to pasta? No. Did a caveman have access to raspberries? Yes, raspberries are allowable carbs, except in the initiation phase.

    Nutrient timing makes a difference, too. I think a lean 200-pound man can keep his leanness eating 250 grams of carbs a day, if 200 of them are taken post-workout and the other 50 grams spread throughout the day in low glycemic carbs. Remember, I said "stay lean," not getlean. Get lean first if you want to eat carbs. The leaner you are, the more carbs you can eat.

    Some more closing thoughts? Here you go:

    No one eats enough vegetables. Have you ever heard on anybody having a binge on brussel sprouts?

    I don't believe in counting calories. It's a waste of time.

    You can dramatically improve insulin sensitivity. Recently, in Toronto, I gave 16 hours of info on that topic alone. There are plenty of nutraceuticals (i.e. R-form stabilized alpha-lipoic acid, not the useless racemic form that everybody sells), and botanicals that will improve insulin sensitivity, and there are functional tests that can determine which ones would work best for you. Insulin sensitivity and the ability to hypertrophy while leaning out are strongly correlated, more so than androgen output.

    Finally, low-carb fats without a high intake of smart fats is suicidal. That's probably why many people fail to have results on low-carb programs.

    Cassandra Forsythe: The low-carb craze is definitely not dead. In fact, it's not even a craze, but rather a lifestyle modification. We've been fed lies about fat and protein too long. Fat doesn't make you fat, nor increase your risk for heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. Along the same lines, protein doesn't damage our kidneys or contribute to chronic disease.

    By now you've probably all heard about the results from the recent Women's Health Initiative, and if you haven't, you should really take a look at the data. Basically, low-fat diets failed to provide any of the health benefits that researchers have told us they would for the past 20 or 30 years.

    Researchers were backed into a corner when they tried to explain those results. They said "Oops! We lied and actually had no evidence that a low-fat diet was good, but we told everyone to follow it anyhow. Sorry about that." This gives us even more reason to consider the alternative.

    There's an abundance of good science backing up the beneficial application of low-carb approaches for prevention of several metabolic disorders and as a positive lifestyle improvement. We have to stop pretending that low-carb is just a fad.

    Dan John: Obviously, I'm still sifting through some of this stuff myself and I'd image others are, too. It's the great paradigm shift of many of our lives. For years, we thought jogging and eating pancakes dripping in syrup while stretching every joint to the brink of snapping was smart training. Well, "we" didn't...

    So, now the great glacier of thought in training is turning another direction and we really need to break out of a worldview that was not only wrong but hurtful. So, here we go.

    Joel Marion: With regards to carbs and nutrition, it's all about the two T's: timing and type. Yes, Americans are fat because they consume far too many highly processed carbohydrates, but heavy carb restriction is just an oversimplified way of dealing with the issue, and unfortunately the oversimplification carries along with it a lot of drawbacks.

    The answer isn't eliminating the macronutrient; it's learning how to make better carb choices and how to time carb intake appropriately during times of the day in which they'll be well accepted. When this is done, there's absolutely no good reason to heavily restrict carbohydrate consumption. Their ingestion during a diet phase is associated with many benefits, both physiological and psychological.

    That said, like most other things touted as the be all/end all (kettlebells, Swiss balls, low-fat dieting, etc.), its use on a much smaller scale can have benefit.

    Humour's a sweet pill...

    ...but why it works is a mystery.

    The scientific study of laughter as medicine was popularised by the 1970 publication of Norman Cousins's bestselling book, Anatomy of an Illness, which described the US journalist's use of laughter in recovery from ankylosing spondylitis, a painful disease causing inflammation of the spine.

    Cousins watched comic films and read joke books, and claimed 10 minutes of laughter reliably gave him two hours of pain-free sleep, leading to the popular notion that laughter reduces pain - perhaps by stimulating the release of painkilling hormones called endorphins.

    However, some scientists say Cousins's recovery could have been influenced by any number of factors, including the large doses of vitamin C he routinely took or certain personality traits. There has even been speculation the disease was misdiagnosed.

    Since Cousins's book, several laboratory studies have examined the analgesic effects of laughter. In 1987, Rosemary Cogan of Texas Tech University and her colleagues found pain thresholds of college students were higher after listening to a comic tape than after listening to a dull narrative.

    Other studies have shown similar results, but some have found pain thresholds also increase with negative emotional stimuli - a horror film or a Holocaust documentary - suggesting the analgesic effect might be due to general emotional arousal rather than laughter in particular.

    In 1971, Dr William Fry of Stanford University showed laughter increases heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen consumption, and that these levels drop soon afterwards, providing a short-term relaxation response. However, a 1989 US study by Sabina White and Phame Camarena found no longer-term changes in the heart rate and blood pressure of volunteers after six weeks of laughter sessions.

    By comparison, relaxation sessions over the same period lowered participants' heart rates and systolic blood pressure.

    In the most famous study of laughter and immunity, published in 1989, a group led by Lee Berk of Loma Linda University tested blood samples taken from volunteers before, during and after they watched a comic video. After viewing, they found lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol and enhanced levels of several immune system components.

    Some scientists have pointed out methodological problems in this study - and in many studies of the health benefits of laughter - including small sample size and the absence of controls for other potentially influential factors, such as distraction, general emotional arousal and the expectations of volunteers.

    Most importantly, laughter itself is rarely measured in these experiments - researchers simply assume it has occurred.

    Laughter is the best medicine