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Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Does eating more frequently help you lose weight?

One day you hear one thing, the next day you hear something completely different.  It got to the point that I didn´t even know what to say to my clients when they asked. So, I decided to do a little investigation to find out for myself what the ¨truth¨ is.

Usually, people who defend that you should have more meals during the day, base their claims on that the ¨furnace is always on¨.  If the furnace is always on it releases more heat. The more heat you release, the more calories you burn. And what do you do to keep the ¨fire¨ on, you put more wood (meals) more frequently. But, the body is not like a furnace and it works kind of differently.

 This ¨furnace¨ is called dietary thermogenesis ( DT) and is the process of energy production in the body caused directly by the metabolizing of food consumed. Dietary thermogenesis is influenced by factors relating to the composition of the food and the physical state of the individual.  So, in simple words, dietary thermogenesis is the energy expended as heat resulting from the digestion of food sources. A 2004 analysis published in “Nutrition and Metabolism” on dietary thermogenesis showed that macronutrients have different thermic effects, with protein causing the greatest energy expenditure and fat the least (interesting). It also showed that the dietary thermogenesis of a typical mixed meal (carbs-fat-proteins) is around 10%(1-2).

So let´s use an example. Imagine you consume per day 1800 calories, if one day you ate 3 meals and each meal contained 600 calories, you would burn 60 calories (10%) per meal due to the DT. 60 x 3 meals equals 180 calories – that would be the total calories burned during the day due to DT. Now let´s say you ate 6 meals instead of 3. Each meal contains 300 calories, 30 would be the calories burned due to DT per meal, we multiply that by 6 and we get 180 calories. In other words, there is no difference and this is what has been demonstrated in different studies(1).

But, what about controlling hunger? It´s said that if you eat more frequently you will have less hunger and eat less. However, research doesn´t support that claim either. I do have to admit there have been a couple of studies that have said it helps but there have been more that have said that it doesn´t (3-6!!

So with all this said, you may be asking what do I do. And the only thing that I can say is, experiment for yourself and see what works best for you. From what I have read, there really isn´t a big difference between eating 3 or 6 meals per day. If you prefer to eat 6 meals per day and it works for you then go right ahead with it!!

Hoped you have enjoyed it.


  1.  Westerterp KB. Diet induced thermogenesis. Nutr Metab (Lond),2004 Aug 18;1(1):5
  2. Verboeket-van de Venne Wp, Westerterp KR. Influence of the feeding frequency on nutrien utilization in man. Consequences for energy metabolism. Eur J Clin Nutr 1991 Mar; 45(3):161-9.
  3. Ohkawara K, Cornier MA, Kohrt WM, Melanson EL. Effects of increas meal frequency on fat oxidation and perceived hunger. Obesity ( silver Spring). 2013 Feb;21(2):336-43
  4. Stote KS, Baer DJ, Spears K, Paul DR, Harris GK, Rumpler WV, et al. A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):981-8.
  5. Speechly DP, Rogers GG, Buffenstein R. Acute appetive reduction associated with an increased frequency of eating in obese males. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord.100 Nov;23(11):1151-9
  6. Cameron JD, Cyr MJ, Doucet E. Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. Br J Nutr. 2010 Apr;103(8):1098-101.

Proteins and Carbohydrates – When to eat them, before or after the workout?

This has to be up there with the questions I get asked more often. Everyone always wants to know, what they should be eating before a training or what they should be eating after a training?  It´s an important question because, as we are about to see, it could influence your objective. What I am going to talk about in this blog regards all those that are looking to build up muscle. Aerobic exercise is different from resistance exercise and the intake of protein- carbohydrate is also different. Let´s first explain some certain things.

Glycogen- Glucose is stored in the  muscles and liver as glycogen. Glycogen is what gives you the energy when you do resistance training. One study even said that as much as 80% of ATP production during such training is derived from glycolisis (1). And different studies have shown that, after high volume bodybuilding workouts involving multiple exercises and sets for the same muscle (2-3), there is a depletion of glycogen in those muscles. Also, various studies have proven that a low muscle glycogen level impairs anabolic (building) signaling and muscle protein synthesis (3-4). And to top that off, another study has shown that glycogen availability also has been seen to slow muscle protein breakdown (5). So, it is pretty safe to recommend a high intramuscular glycogen content at the beginning of the training.

But what about after the training? Well, according to a recent study (6) it depends. They say that ¨consuming post-exercise carbohydrate does not meaningfully enhance anabolism. Moreover, unless you are performing two-a-day workouts involving the same muscle group(s), glycogen replenishment will not be a limiting factor in those who consume sufficient carbohydrate over the course of a given day¨. In other words, it is recommend to eat carbohydrates 2-3 hours before the training, if you do this then you should not worry about eating carbohydrates right after training, you still have a 3-4 hour window. If you train on a empty stomac (which I don´t recommend), it would be wise to eat  something as soon as you are done with your training.

Proteins- The building blocks of our muscles. Whenever we train we ¨damage¨ our muscle, so there is a breakdown in proteins. Studies have shown that muscle protein breakdown is only slightly elevated after the post exercise but rapidly rises after that. On an empty stomac this increase is even bigger. When we are building muscles, we don´t want this, we want the opposite, that is why training on a empty stomac is horrible for muscle building.

Insulin- When we eat, the insulin level rises in our blood. Insulin has been demonstrated to reduce protein breakdown (8). And consuming a combination of carbohydrates and proteins has been shown to elevate insulin levels more than just eating carbohydrates alone. So it would make sense to eat (or drink) carbohydrates-protein after the workout. But, if we had eaten something 2-3 hours before our workout those insulin levels would still be high and there wouldn´t be such a rush to eat something right away after the training. You see, when we eat something, insulin concentrations rise up over time. So, for example, if you ate a 45g dose of whey protein it would take approximately 50 minutes to cause blood amino acid levels to peak (9). If you would add carbohydrates to that, the insulin leves would even stay elevated longer.

So to summarize this in plain English: It is recommend for muscle building to eat carbohydrates and proteins 2-3 hours before the training. If you do this then you don´t have to worry about eating (protein-carbs) right after the training!!! You still have a 3-4 hour window space to eat those proteins and carbohydrates. If for whatever reason you train on a empty stomac (which you shouldn´t for muscle building), then it is recommended to eat those carbohydrates-protein right after the training, waiting would just cause more protein breakdown!!!

Hoped you enjoyed it. Until next time.


  1. Lampbert CP, Flynn MG. Fatigue during high-intensity intermittent exercise:application to bodybuilding. SPorts Med 2002,32(8):511-22.
  2. MacDougall JD,  Ray S,  Sale DG,  McCartney N,  Lee P,  Garner S.  Muscle substrate utilization and lactate production. Can J Appl Physiol 1999,  24(3):209-15.
  3. Robergs RA,  Pearson DR,  Costill DL,  Fink WJ,  Pascoe DD,  Benedict MA,  Lambert CP,  Zachweija JJ. Muscle glycogenolysis during differing intensities of weight-resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol 1991,  70(4):1700-6
  4. Churchley EG,  Coffey VG,  Pedersen DJ,  Shield A,  Carey KA,  Cameron-Smith D,  Hawley JA.  Influence of preexercise muscle glycogen content on transcriptional activity of metabolic and myogenic genes in well-trained humans. J Appl Physiol 2007,  102(4):1604-11.
  5.  Dennis PB,  Jaeschke A,  Saitoh M,  Fowler B,  Kozma SC,  Thomas G. Mammalian TOR: a homeostatic ATP sensor. Science 2001,  294(5544):1102-5.
  6. Lemon PW,  Mullin JP.  Effect of initial muscle glycogen levels on protein catabolism during exercise. J Appl Physiol 1980,  48(4):624-9
  7. Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? Journal of the international society of sports nutrition 2013,10:5
  8. Greenhaff PL,  Karagounis LG,  Peirce N,  Simpson EJ,  Hazell M,  Layfield R,  Wackerhage H,  Smith K,  Atherton P,  Selby A,  Rennie MJ: Disassociation between the effects of amino acids and insulin on signaling, ubiquitin   ligases, and protein turnover in human muscle. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2008,  295(3):E595-604.
  9. Power O,  Hallihan A,  Jakeman P: Human insulinotropic response to oral ingestion of native and hydrolysed whey protein. Amino Acids. 2009,  37(2):333-9.

Is saturated fat and cholesterol really that bad – part 2?

In my last blog I talked a little about saturated fat and cholesterol, and how they became our number 1 enemy. I also mentioned that there is now new evidence that suggests that they aren´t really that bad and that maybe we have been fighting the wrong ¨war¨ for the last 50-60 years. But, any doctor will tell you that saturated fat leads to cholesterol and that cholesterol is a mayor indicator of a cardio vascular disease, so what do we do??

If you go into PubMed and search for scientific articles that talk about risks of cardio-vascular disease you will find a lot of studies that say that saturated fat increases cholesterol, and that elevated blood cholesterol increases the risk of having a heart attack (1,2). But most of these studies are usually short termed controlled diet trials, or studies from more than a half a century ago. However, more recent and higher quality trials do not support that idea (3-6). Meaning, saturated fats don´t lead to higher levels of cholesterol in the blood. So it seems that, after all, saturated fat and cholesterol weren´t that bad. But if they are not the cause of this cardio-vascular epidemic  then was is??.

In the 1970´s after Ancel Keys study came out and he become member of American Heart Association, the US government and the Heart Association started waging  their war on saturated fat and people started listening. Saturated fat consumption went down over the next 30 years but Cardio-vascular diseases did not, instead there was even more. What happened is that when you take fat out of the food, the food tastes like crap, it really doesn´t taste like anything. So what manufactures did was take the fat out of the food but add on ¨sugar¨, especially high  fructose corn syrup sugar to give it some taste.  In 1978 High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) entered the sweetener market and we changed drastically the way we ate. We started eating a diet high in carbohydrates and low on fat, which leads to a greater insulin production and insulin resistance at the same time. Insulin is the number one indicator for inducing inflammation of blood vessels.

Now, try to stick with me because it´s going to get a little complicated. Cancer, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis,diabetes, osteoporosis, are examples of conditions that develop and exist as a consequence of chronic inflamation (7-10). Dietary imbalances are responsible for creating a diet-induced, pro-inflammatory state that leads to chronic inflamation. So, when the American Heart Association and the USA government recommended to reduce our intake of fat and increase our intake of carbohydrate to 60%, well they probably weren´t doing us a favor. Instead, the Mediterranean Diet, that consist of more saturated fat and less intake of sugar has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of heart disease (11-12).  So, yes, saturated fat is not that bad and nearly every high-quality observational study ever conducted found that saturated fat intake is not associated with heart risk.  So, in conclusion, I wouldn´t be so worried about saturated fat and cholesterol, but instead I would be fearful of all the ¨sugar- high corn fructose syrup¨ we are consuming.

In my next post I will change topics and start talking about ¨pain¨.  Most of us have at one point or another gone to the chiropratic or osteopath, when they ¨manipulate¨ us, what exactly are they doing? Is there really a subluxations (bone out of its place) and are they really putting the bone back in its place? We will find out.

P.S Here is a link to an interesting article


  1. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB. Effects of dietary fatty acidas and carbohydrates on the ration of seum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr,2003 May;77(5):1146-55.
  2. Iso H, Jacobs DR Jr, Wentworth D, Neaton ID, Cohen ID. Serum Cholesterol levels and six-year mortality from strok in 350,977 men screened for the multiple risk factor intervention trial. N Engl Med. 1989 Apr 6;320(14):904-10-
  3. Kahn HA, Medlie JH, Neufeld NH, Riss E, Balogh M, Groen IJ. Serum cholestero: its distruibution and association with dietary and other variables in a survey of 10,000 men. Isr J Med Sci. 1969 Nov-Dec;5(6) 1117-27.
  4. Djousse L, Gaziano IM. Dietary cholesterol and coronary artery disease: a systematic review. Curr Atheroscler Rep,2009 Nov;11(6):418-22.
  5. Santos FL, Esteves SS, da Costa Pereira A, Yancy WS, JR, Nune JP. Systematic reviw and meta-analysis of clincal trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors. Obes Rev 2012 Nov; 13(11):1048-66.
  6. Yamagishi K, Iso H, Yatsuya H,, Tanabe N, Date C, Kikuchi S, Yamamoto A, Inaba Y, Tamakosi A, Dietary intake of saturated fatty acids and mortality from cardiovascular diseae in Japanese: the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study for Evaluation of Cancer Risk. Am J Clin Nutr, 2010 Oct;92(4):759-65.
  7. Balkwill F, Mantovani A. Inflammation and cancer back to Virchow? Lancert.2001;357:539-45.
  8. Ban WA, Man SF, Senthilselvan A, Sinn DD. Association between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and systemic inflammation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Thorax 2004;59:574-80.
  9. Fernandez-Real JM, Ricart W. Insulin resitance and chronic cardiovascualr inflammatory syndrome. Endo Rev 2003;24:278-301.
  10. Ross R. Atherosclerosis-an inflammatory disease. N Engl J Med 1999;340:115-26.
  11. Mackenbach JP. 2007. The Mediterranean diet story illustrates that ‘‘why’’ questions are as important as ‘‘how’’ questions in disease explanation. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 60(2): 105-109.
  12. Serra-Majem Ll, Roman B y Estruch R. 2006. Scientific evidence of Interventions using the mediterranean diet: A systematic review. Nutrition Reviews 64 (Supl 1): S27-S47

Is Saturated Fat and Cholesterol really that bad?

We have always heard and even been taught that saturated fat leads to cholesterol, and that cholesterol leads to heart disease but is this really true?

This all started in the 1950´s when a doctor by the name of Ancel Keys did a study in which he compared the rate of Heart Disease and Fat consumption in 6 countries: USA, Canada, Australia, England-Wales, Italy and Japan, and found a perfect correlation, meaning the more fat the countries ate, the higher the risk of heart disease. Except, there was one problem, he withheld data from other 16 countries. Later, when scientists plotted all 22 countries, the correlation wasn´t so perfect. In other words, he used only the data that would demonstrate his hypothesis, but you could show just the opposite with all the data, that the more saturated fat people ate, the less heart disease they had.

In between 1960-1975, there were probably a half a dozen of studies that failed to confirm that saturated fat was the cause of heart problems(1), but Ancel Key was in the American Heart Association and his idea prevailed. So, from then on, the number one enemy was saturated fat and cholesterol. The funny thing with this is that most people don´t even know what cholesterol is, they just think it is a bad thing but is it really?

Cholesterol is actually essential for life. It is a mayor component of brain and nerve tissue, and central for the production of hormones. In fact, it is so important that almost every single cell in the body makes it!!! 80 % to 90 % of your cholesterol is made by your body, and it is basically genetic, meaning most people are always going to stay in a range. So even if you cut all the cholesterol out of your diet, your body will simply start making a bit more to bring it backup into ¨its range¨ (2). But we have always heard that cholesterol is produced by saturated fats, although the literature regarding this is highly inconsistent and there are even many long-term studies that disagree with this idea (3,4,5). One study in particular is the one going on in Framingham Massachusetts, where they are studying the potential causes of heart disease(6). This study started in 1948 and is still going on!! And so far, they have seen that certain habits like cigarette smoking or emotional stress do lead in the direction of heart disease. Also, cholesterol correlates with heart disease but only until the late 40´s. In fact, after the age of 47 high cholesterol seems to be protective, meaning that the people who had the highest cholesterol lived the longest……. so could cholesterol actually be a good thing? And, if saturated fats and cholesterol aren´t a ¨bad thing¨ then what´s behind the epidemic of cardio-vascular diseases?? That and more in my next ¨blog¨ ;).


  1. Mann G. DIet-Heart end of an era. NEJM 1977 297;644-50.
  2. Curtis N E. The Cholesterol Delusion
  3. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr, 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46.
  4. Stamler J, Neaton D J. The Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT)- Importance Then and Now. JAMA.2008:300(11);1343-45.
  5.  Mann V G. Coronary Heart Disease Doing the Wrong Thing. Nutrition today 1984
  6. Kannel WB. RIsk stratification in hypertension: new insights from the Framingham Study. Am J Ypertens, 2000 Jan;13(1 Pt2):3S-10S.

Sugar, the hidden enemy – part 2

In the last blog I talked about what sugar is, what it consist of, and how it is broken down in the body. I also mentioned that High Fructose Corn Syrup and sugar are basically the same thing, and that the difference between these two things and other carbohydrates is the molecule fructose. This fructose molecule and the way the body metabolizes it, may make it singularly harmful, at least if consumed in sufficient quantities(1-3).

They have done different studies on animals and have seen that if the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat(4). This, according to the studies, will lead to a condition know as Insulin Resistance. So what is Insulin Resistance?

  • INSULIN RESISTANCE – When you eat something ( particular carbohydrates) your body responds by secreting insulin, to keep blood sugar in control after a meal. When your cell´s become resistant to insulin, your pancreas responds to rising blood sugar by pumping out more and more insulin. At the end your pancreas will no longer be able to keep up, this will lead to your blood sugar to rise out of control, and eventually you will probably get type 2 diabetes. Some people who are insulin resistance may NOT get diabetes, as somehow their body will continue to secrete enough insulin to overcome their cell´s resistance. But having elevated insulin levels is also quite bad, as it can lead to heart disease.

So basically the theory goes like this, accumulation of fat in the liver will lead to insulin resistance. You may ask yourself that maybe simply getting fatter leads to a fatty liver? But, this does not explain fatty liver in lean (skinny) people. According to Prof Lustig, the fat in the liver is caused by the fructose found in the SUGAR (5)!! Because the fructose component of sugar is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar is metabolized by every cell in the body. So consuming sugar means more work for the liver. And this has been demonstrated in laboratory rats (6).  Whenever they wanted to create insulin resistance on them, they would just simply feed them diets consisting of pure fructose or sugar.

Now, I don´t want people to panic and think that fructose is horrible. Fructose is horrible if eaten in abundance. The dosages of fructose required to produce negative effects are quite high. Not impossible to reach through dietary means but almost impossible through fruit alone!!  I say this because, as most of us, know fruit is made up of fructose, and some people may think this is bad and the reason why they aren´t losing weight. But this is FALSE. What´s bad for you is the regular consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and all that sugary food we are always eating. Plus, fruit contains a lot of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients, as well as fiber (7,8). Fiber helps slow your absorption of fructose. The slow absorption minimizes any surge in blood sugar(9).

So how much Fructose should you be eating? According to different clinical trials, 25-40 grams of fructose per day is totally safe. That´s 3-6 bananas, 6-10 cups of strawberries, or 2-3 apples per day(11). But for all those who drink a lot of sugar sweetened beverages or other ¨ junk food¨, I want to give an example so that you guys understand where the problem is really coming from(11).

  • A 20- ounce bottle of soda contains 35 grams of fructose (10,11)!!
  • If you eat a dessert with 50 grams of sugar – remember sugar is made up of 50% glucose, 50 % fructose – you are getting about 25 grams of fructose(11).
  • And let us not forget that HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP is about 55% fructose, 45 % glucose, and this is found in many processed foods, fruit juices, sports-drinks, energy drinks and so on(11).

So now you tell me, where is the problem coming from? Why is sugar the hidden enemy? And how can we stop this obesity and diabetes epidemic?

Here is a link to a great video done by Prof. Lustig it has gotten 4 million views., it´s 1 hour and 20 minutes but it´s worth it.


  1. Wiernsperger N. Hepatic function and the cardiometabolic syndrome. Diabetes Metab Syndro Obes, 2013 Oct 10;6:379-88.
  2. Song M, Schuschke DA, Zhou Z, Chen T, Shi X Zhang J, Zhang X, Pierce WM jr, Johnson WT, Vos MB, McClain CJ. Modest fructose beverage intake causes liver injury and fat accumulation in marginal cooper deficient rats. Obesity (silver Spring). 2013 Aug:21(8):1669-75.
  3. Botezelli JD, Cambri LT, Ghezzi AC, Dalia RA, Voltarelli FA, de Mello Ma. Fructose-rich diet lead to reduced aerobic capacity and to liver injury in rats. Lipids Health Dis. 2012 Jun 19;11:78
  4. de Castro UG, Dos Santos RA, Silva ME, de LIma WG, Campagnole-Santos MJ, Alzamora AC. Age-dependent effects of high-fructose and hig-fat diets on lipid metabolism and lipid accumulation in liver and kidney of rats. Lipids Health Dis.2013 Sep18;12(1):136.
  5. Lustig RH. Fructose: It´s ¨alcohol without the buzz¨. Adv Nutr, 2013 Mar 1; 4(2):226-35.
  6. Lanaspa MA, Ishimoto T, Li N, Cicerchi C, Orlicky DJ, Ruzicky P, Rivard C, Inaba S, Roncal-Jimenez CA, Bales ES, Diggle CP, Asipu A, Petrash JM, Kosugi T, Maruyama S, Sanchez-Lozada LG, McManaman JL, Bonthron DT, Sautin YY, Johnson RJ. Endogenous fructose production and metabolism in the liver contributes to the developmetn of metabolic syndrome. Nat Commun.2013;4:2434
  7. Larsson SC, Virtamo J, Wolk A. Total and specific fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of strok3: a prospective study. Atherosclerosis, 2013 Mar; 227(1):147-52.
  8. Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: a review. J Am Diet Assoc.1996 Oct;96(10):1027-39.
  9. Ulrich IH, Albrin MJ. The effect of dietary fiber and other factors on insulin response: role in obesity. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol.1985 Jul;5(6):137-55.
  10. Bray GA, Popkin BM. Calorie-sweetened beverages and fructose: what have we learned 10 years later. Pediatt Obes 2013 Aug;8(4):242-8.
  11. Matthew M. Do Fructose and Fruit Make You Fat and Unhealthy? www.muscleforlife. com April 15,2013.

Sugar, the hidden enemy!

As I have mentioned in other posts(, there has been a huge increase in obesity and diabetes in the last 50-60 years. It is such a huge problem that obesity is now a World Wide Epidemic, and recent studies are suggesting that a reason for this is the increase in amount of sugar we are eating. First, let´s explain what sugar is.

Sugar is not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal -which by the way is called sucrose- but also high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup replaced sugar in sodas and other products in the early 1980s, in part because refined sugar then had the reputation as generally noxious nutrient (meaning a bad nutrient). High-fructose corn syrup was portrayed by the food industry as a healthful alternative, and that is how the public perceived it. But recently this has started to change, companies have realized that high-fructore corn syrup was getting a bad rap and have decided to start using sugar again, saying that it is healthier, but is this true?

Well, according to professor Robert Lustig -a specialist on pedriatic hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California- sugar and high fructose corn syrup are the same, meaning they are both bad, he even uses the word poisonous!

Refined sugar (that is sucrose) is made up of a molecule of the carbohydrate glucose, bonded to a molecule of the carbohydrate fructose, so it is 50-50. The fructose, which is almost twice as sweet as glucose, is what distinguishes sugar from other carbohydrate rich foods like bread or potatoes that break down upon digestion into glucose alone. High-fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. So you see, there isn´t really a big difference between sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Now let us get to the important  information and find out why both of them are quite bad.

  1. Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup don´t come with any protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants or fiber, in other words they are basically empty calories.
  2. According to Prof Lustig ¨sugar has unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it¨. So let me give an example to explain things better. Imagine we eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose). Those 100 calories which are the same will metabolize differently and have a different effect on the body, because the fructose component of sugar and high fructose corn syrup will primarily be metabolized by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and carbohydrates(potato, bread) will be metabolized by every cell in the body.
  3. They have done studies on animals and have seen that if the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. When you take sugar in liquid form (sodas), the fructose reaches the liver faster. This apparently induces a condition know as insulin resistance, which is considered the fundamental problem in obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Since I want you guys to stay with me I´m going to recap.

  • Sugar (sucrose) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is 45% glucose and 55% fructose.
  • Refined sugar and HFCS are basically empty calories.
  • The molecule of fructose found in sugar and HFCS is broken down by the liver. If the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. This apparently induces a condition know as INSULIN RESISTANCE.

I will leave it like that for the moment since there is a lot of information for you guys to absorb, but in my next post I will try to explain what insulin resistance is, why it leads to diabetes, and how all this is related to SUGAR.


Lustig RH. Fructose: It´s ¨alcohol without the buzz¨. Adv Nutr, 2013 Mar 1; 4(2):226-35.

BasuS, Yoffe P, Hills N, Lustig RH. The relationship of sugar to population-level diabetes prevalence: an econometri analysis of repeated cross sectional data. Plos One, 2013:8(2)

Weiss R, Bremer AA, Lustig RH. What is metabolic syndrome, and why are children getting it? Ann N Y Acad Scie, 2013 Apr; 1281:123-40.

How much water do we really need to drink?

I think we have all heard at one point or another in our life that drinking 2 liters of water per day does wonders to your mind and body. But is this really true? Let´s find out.

2 Liters per day is about drinking 8 glasses of water per day, and if you have ever tried doing that, you have realized that you spent a lot of time in the toilet. So, where did this mythical number come from? Why 2 liters and not for example 1.5 or 3 liters?  Well, it probably started from a study done in the 1940s, where researches calculated that 2 liters is how much water a person’s body consumes in 24 hours, so WALLAH, there you have it, that´s where the magical number comes from. But what also came out of that study, and what a lot of people don´t know, is that we get much of the water we need each day from our food, and this does not include the number of drinks like coffee and tea most of us consume every day. And NO, coffee and tea DON´T DEHYDRATE YOU. Although coffee and tea may act as diuretics, the amount of dehydration caused by these beverages is not equivocal to the volume of the fluid. Caffeine has been shown to cause one milliliter of fluid loss per milligram of caffeine. So let´s give an example to explain.

  • A normal cup of 260 milliliter of coffee has around 90 milligrams of caffeine, so if the caffeine causes one milliter of fluid loss per milligram you would still have 170 milliliter of liquid, So, in other words you gained 170 milliliter of liquid, that´s called hydration.

So we know half of our body is made up of water, we know water is vital to keep the important chemical reactions in our body functioning. But the idea that you should drink 2 liters of water per day has absolutely no evidence to back it up. So what should you ? Drink when you are thirsty, if you have to drink more than 8 glasses per day do it, if you have to drink less than that also do it. In other words, listen to your body and you will be perfectly fine.


Fink H, Burgoon L, Mikesky A. Practical Application in Sports Nutrition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc 2006.

Grandjean AC, Reimers KJ, Bannick KE, Haven MC. The effect of caffeinated, non-caffeinated, caloric and non-caloric beverages on hydration. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000;19:591–600.

Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate (2004). Accessed October 11, 2006.

International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk part 2

Since my last blog was so popular and so many people liked it, I wanted to do a part 2 on it. But this part 2 is going to be a little different. It´s going to be only about facts and statistics. Most people seem to remember the information better when given only numbers. Remember, all this data was given by the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk.

  1. 1.5 Billion Adults are overweight – 500 million of them are OBESE. These numbers are projected to reach 2.3 Billion and 700 million, respectively, by 2015.
  2. The childhood prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity increased from 4.2% in 1990 to 6.7% in 2010, with 43 million children estimated as overweight or obese in 2010!!
  3. The International Diabetes Federation estimated that in 2012 there were over 366 million people worldwide with type 2 diabetes. By 2030 this is projected to reach 552 million.
  4. SSBs are sugar-sweetened beverages. They include the full spectrum of soft drinks, fruit drinks, and energy and vitamin water drinks containing added sugars. Beverages that do not contain added sugar, such as 100% fruit juice are not considered SSBs. SSBs offer only ¨empty¨ calories and provide almost no nutritional value. A typical 12-ounce (355mil) soda contains about 35-40g sugar and 140-160Kcal.
  5. Numerous studies have linked consumption of SSBs to weight gain and obesity in children and adults. In one study it was seen that for each additional serving of SSBs consumed each day, the odds of becoming obese increased by 60% after 1.5 years!!
  6. In another study individuals with the highest SSB intake (usually1-2servings/day) had a 26% greater risk of developing diabetes compared to those with the lowest intake (none or less than 1 serving per month).
  7. One serving (12oz) daily increment in SSB consumption was associated with a 22% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  8. Women who drank more than 2 servings of SSBs had a 40% higher risk of heart attack or death from heart disease than women who rarely drank sugary beverages.

Now I will give stats about different European countries. These stats are from the World Health Organization. According to the WHO, you are overweight if your BMI is equal or greater than 25, and you are obese if your BMI is equal or greater than 30. BMI stands for Body Mass Index. Remember in my last post that, although the BMI is important, it is more important where that fat is distributed.

  Overweight                                                 Obesity

  1. Turkey 63.6%                                         1. Turkey 29.3%
  2. Czech Republic 61.7%                            2. Czech Republic 28.7%
  3. Malta 61.6%                                           3. Malta 26.6%
  4. United Kingdom 61.5%                          4. Israel 25.5%
  5. Ireland 60.9%                                         5. United Kingdom 24.9%
  6. Israel 60.1%                                           5. Russian Federation 24.9%
  7. Spain 58.2%                                          6. Ireland 24.5%
  8. Russian Federation 57.8%                       7. Spain 24.1%
  9. Luxembourg 56.7%                                 8. Luxembourg 23.4%
  10. Poland 55.7%                                         9. Poland 23.2%
  11. Portugal 55.3%                                       10. Portugal 21.6 %
  12. Germany 54.8%                                   11. Germany 21.3%
  13. Finland 53%                                           12. Finland 19.9%
  14. Belgium 51.5%                                     13. Belgium 19.1%
  15. Sweden 50%                                          14. Austria 18.3 %
  16. Austria 49.6%                                         15. Greece 17.5%
  17. Italy 49.2%                                             16. Italy 17.2%
  18. Greece 49.1%                                        17. Sweden 16.6 %
  19. Denmark 48.4%                                     18. Denmark 16.2%
  20. Netherlands 47.8%                                 18. Netherlands 16.2%
  21. France 45.9%                                         19. France 15.6%
  22. Switzerland 44.3%                                  20. Switzerland 14.9%

And the last stats, and probably the most surprising, are the ones that talk about the prevalence of obesity and overweight children among 7 years old. I only have the stats for 12 countries but it is still pretty interesting. This study was done in 2008.


Boys                                                    Girls

  1. Italy- 50% are overweight.                                 42%
  2. Portugal- 41% are overweight                            37%
  3. Malta- 33% are overweight                                29.5%
  4. Ireland-32% are overweight                               28%
  5. Slovenia-32% are overweight                             29%
  6. Belgium-24.7% are overweight                           25.7%
  7. Norway- 22.% are overweight                            22.8%
  8. Sweden-  22.4% are overweight                         21.5%
  9. Czech Republic- 21% are overweight                 20.5%


  1. Italy- 27% boys,                                               17.5% girls
  2. Portugal-17% boys                                           12% girls
  3. Slovenia-16% boys                                           10.3% girls
  4. Malta-14.9% boys                                             12% girls
  5. Ireland-12%boys                                               7% girls
  6. Belgium- 9% boys                                              7.8% girls
  7. Czech Republic- 9% boys                                  6% girls
  8. Norway- 6% boys                                              5.5% girls
  9. Sweden- 6% boys                                              5.2% girls

It is amazing, looking at these stats, that 50% of the population of most European countries are overweight. And that in countries like Spain and Portugal, where the Mediterranean diet comes from, and experts say it´s the best, over 55% of the population are overweight!! But what is more scary and amazing are the stats about the kids. Kids are supposed to be running and playing around all day, but society is changing that. Kids spent more time watching TV, playing video games or at the computer, than actually being outside. They are fed junk food all the time and, what is more worrying, a lot of people consider that normal, they say ¨they are kids, they are supposed to eat those candy’s, chips and donuts¨. I have actually experienced that first hand with family members, where I refused to buy ¨junk food¨ for my nephew and gotten told that ¨I was being mean and that they are just kids¨. The ¨junk food companies¨ have done such a good job on advertisement that it´s ¨normal¨ to give your kid a 12 ounce soda with 35-40 grams of sugar, or candy, or chips, or frozen pizza., and that is exactly what parents are doing, not realizing the impacts that those foods have on kids and on society.

Hopefully by seeing these stats people will start to change the way they think and realize what a huge problem society is facing. So until next time: Eat well, drink better, and move more!

International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk

This will be a special blog, since it was not programmed. Yesterday, I went to a conference (A Lifestyle Disease) where they talked about the cardiometabolic risk we as a society are facing right now. It was very interesting, thanks in part to all the scientists at the conference, who talked about the latest scientifically research data available related to these diseases. First, let’s clear up what cardiometabolic risks are.

  • Cardiometabolic risks: Primary deal with obesity and type 2 diabetes. So all the problems that are associated with these diseases are related to having a cardiometabolic risk.

Before I start talking about what was said at the conference, I want to show some stats. Numbers are always easier for people to understand and to memorize. So I think this will have a bigger impact than anything else I say.

  1. Europe as of 2009 has 55.4 million people with diabetes.
  2. Half the people who have diabetes don´t even know it.
  3. In 2030 it is predicted that worldwide 430 million will have diabetes!!
  4. In Europe alone we spend 110 billion dollars annually.
  5. 400,000 kids in Europe are obese.
  6. 34.6% of adults are overweight.
  7. There are 5.1 million deaths from smoking, there are 5.3 million deaths related to inactivity!!
  8. Sugar Sweetened Beverages stand for SSB. People who consume 2 servings of SSB increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 25%.
  9. 2 servings of SSB a day and your chances of having a heart attack increase by 40%!!!

I could go on forever but I think these stats have made their point. Obesity is a worldwide epidemic and the consequences of it are horrible. Most people know that the more fat we accumulate the greater the chance of suffering some kind of cardiovascular disease. But what most people don´t know is that where we accumulate that fat is much more important than anything else. Recent studies have shown the importance of body fat distribution as a key determinant of the health risk. Imaging studies have revealed that excess visceral adipose (fat) tissue at undesired sites (such as the liver, the heart, the kidney, the pancreas) may have detrimental effects on the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In other words, the fat that is in your organs (visceral obesity), is much more important than the overall body fat.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. They have done studies that have shown that obese or overweight people who engage in physical activity on a regular basis, lose visceral fat and decrease their chance of getting a cardio vascular disease, although their overall weight has NOT gone down. Even more interesting and amazing, people who are overweight or obese and do 30 minutes of physical activity per day have a less chance of getting a cardiovascular disease or cancer, than a ¨normal¨ person who does nothing!!!  These recent studies are amazing and I want everyone really to understand the importance of this, so I will try to clarify it even a little bit more.

  • Your overall weight is not that important!! We have always been obsessed with our scale, but in terms of health, weight is not that important. What is important is the fat you accumulate under and around your organs. And by doing physical activity of at least 30 minutes a day, it has been shown that the fat under and around your organs goes away, although you may still weigh the same!!
  • So for all those people who have ever started in a physical activity and gave up because they never lost weight, these recent studies say DON´T STOP!!! Even if you are not losing weight on the scale, it doesn´t matter. You are doing more good to your body than you can imagine!
  • So if you do exercise and produce weight loss that is GREAT. If you exercise and you don´t lose weight that is also GREAT!!! ¨ We must look beyond weight loss as the only indicator of health.¨- attributed to Dr. Ross.

In conclusion. 5.3 million people will die because of inactivity. Meaning that instead of walking to their job, they will take their car. Instead of going up the stairs, they will take the elevator. Instead of going for a walk, they will sit home and watch a movie.

Throughout this blog I have said physical activity, not sports. They are completely different. You can be poor and do physical activity, you may have the busiest life on the planet and still engage in a physical activity. Physical activity is moving and no one in this world can have an excuse for not doing that.

So until next time, eat healthy, drink healthy and MOVE.

The academic evidence at the conference was giving by:

  1. Jean-Claude Coubard- He is the Directo of Research in Cardiology at Centre de recherche de L´institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec.
  2. Ulf Smith- Directo of the Lundberg Laboratory, Vice Chairman of the Departement of Molecular and Clinical Medicien, The Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University, Sweden and Vice President of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes
  3. Luc Van Gaal- A member of the Editorial Board of a series of scientific journals. He is borad member of the Belgian Association for the Study of Obesity (BASO) and Past-President of the Belgian Diabetic Society. He is the running secretary of the Belgian Endocrine Society
  4. Marja-Ritta Taskinen- Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Cardiology Division, University of Helsinki, Finald.
  5. Jean-Pierre Després- Director of Research in Cardiology at Centre de recherche de l´institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec. He is also the Scientific Director of the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.
  6. Frank B. Hu- He is Director of the Harvard Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer (TREC) Center, Harvard School of Public Health as well as CO-Director, Program in Obesity Epidemiology and Prevention, Harvard School of Publich Health, Boston, MA, United States.
  7. Robert Ross- Director of the Centre for Obesity Research and Education, Queen´s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Queen´s University Research Chair, and President of the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.
  8. Franco Sassi- Senior Health Economist at the Health Division of the OECD and a former lecture at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Is food addictive part 3?

Last week I did two blogs on how certain foods can be addictive and how we have a hereditary predisposition for wanting to eat foods with lots of calories. I also mentioned how we really don´t have strong instincts to engage in physical activity because, before in the past, physical activity used to occur automatically every time we needed to hunt. No one would just go for a run and waste precious calories, we needed all the calories we had. Now, everything has changed. It´s easy to get food and we barely move, and those are two of the reasons why obesity is a WORLD WIDE EPIDEMIC.

Well, in this third part of ´is food addictive´, I’m just going to mention some facts that most people don´t know and should, and that I consider pretty important. So let´s start off.

  1. Did you know that the last 10,000 years of our history only represents 1% of  human history? The body changes and adapts over time but it usually takes thousands of years for that to happen. Agriculture first arrived 9,000 years ago, if you think about it, in terms of human evolution, that´s not a long time ago.
  2. Before agriculture we were hunter-gatherers. Fossils records show that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers lifespan averaged 26 years, but with the invention of agriculture the lifespan went down to 19!!! (1)
  3. In Greece and Turkey, near the end of the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer era, men averaged 5´9 (175cm) and women 5´5 (166cm). By 3000 BC, with agriculture a way of life, the average height had dropped to 5´3 (161cm) for men and 5´ (152cm) feet for women (1,5). This could be because the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers ate hundreds of plants and animals, supplying lots of complete proteins and vitamins. Farmers ate mainly three crops, wheat, rice and corn, because they were the easiest to cultivate, harvest and store without spoiling.
  4. Human milk matches the exact proportions of amino acids and fats used for brain circuits and contains antibodies to prevent infections. Cows milk contains very different proportions of amino acid and much more fat. Babies fed on breast milk average 8.3IQ points higher by the age of 8 than those fed on milk-based formula.(3)
  5. Predators consistently have larger brains than herbivores. You require more cunning to catch prey than to find the next leaf. Omnivores, who must switch between these tasks, tend to have larger brains yet.
  6. Brains and nervous systems are for mobility; plants don´t have brains, animals do. Exercise especially generates neurons in the hippocampus, an organ associated with memory, and these new neurons have been demonstrated to enhance learning. What I´m basically stating here is: MOVE, it will make you smarter.
  7. Dieting, in the long run, almost never works! Maximal weight loss is typically achieved at around 6 months, followed by weight regain.(2)
  8. Evidence has been building up that if you consume less calories, far below that needed to maintain normal weight, but still consume vitamins, protein and other important nutrients, your lifespan could increased by up to 65 percent.. (8)
  9. They have done studies with a low-calorie diet on different animals such as rats, yeast, worms, flies, spiders, fish and several types of rodents, and have seen the lifespan of the animals increase from 25 to 65 percent.(6-7)
  10. The people who live the longest come from Okinawa, Japan. Their diet consists of a higher percentage of fresh vegetables than in most places, and fish and soy make up virtually all the protein. Okinawans consume 40 percent fewer calories than Americans and 17 percent fewer calories than the average Japanese.  (9)
  11. There have been studies that have demonstrated the effect of larger portions on consumption. Did you know that the standard serving portion size for almost everything is larger than it was a generation ago? We sometimes see this in restaurants, especially in the USA, were the servings are huge. The problem with huge serving sizes is that we eat more than we are supposed to. They did a experiment on people, where people were invited to a lab for a ¨taste test¨of soup. Some of  the participants got a bowl that had a tube connected to the bottom of the bowl, so that it was always full. The other participants ate from a normal bowl. All the participants thought they had a ¨normal¨ bowl. Those with the ¨bottomless¨ bowl ate 40 percent more!!


Certain foods are addictive, we have a hereditary predisposition for storing fat and we don´t have a strong instinct to engage in physical activity. On top of that we have changed drastically the way we eat, especially the last 80 years. Remember, and I know I have stated this a couple of times but it´s quite important, the last 10,000 years only represent 1% of the human evolution. Before agriculture we were hunter-gatherers and ate hundreds of plants and animals. The animals we ate were animals that were in the wild and had a high content of protein. The animals we eat now, are in farms, fed ¨shit¨ food, and given hormones to grow as fat and as quick as possible.  Another problem is that we eat much more than what we are supposed to. Just bear in mind that the people who live the longest on the planet are the Okinawans and they eat quite less than the average American or Japanese. Also, let´s not forget that the bigger the serving the more we eat (compare the dishes you have now with the ones your grandparents have).

So, with all this said, I think I found a solution to the problem. Instead of moving more, eating well and drinking better……… just buy smaller dishes !!! 😉

My next blog will finally be about sports. It will talk abou the myth of high repetitions. I think we have all heard that if you want to lose weight and tonify you have to do more repetitions, but is this true??  We will see in my next blog…. until then .

      1. Deirdre B. Waistland. The Evolutionary Science behind our weight and fitness crisis. W.W. Norton & Company. New York, 2007. pg 11.
      2. Mann T, Tomiyamas J, Westting E, Lew A-M, Chatman J. Medicare´s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments. American Psychologist, 2007;220-30.
      3.Lucas A. Breast Milk and Subsequent Intelligence Quotient in Children Born Preterm. Lancet 339,1992; 261-4.
      4. Reuters, ¨Researcher Links Obesity , Food Portions.
      5. Angel. Paleoecology, Paleodemography and Health.
      6. Lawler F-D. Influence of Lifetime Food Restriction on Causes, TIme and Predictores of Death in Dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 226, 2005; 225-31.
      7. Delaney M, Walford L. The Longevity Diet: Discover Calorie Restriction. Marlowe & CO. New York, 2005.

    9. Wilcox B. How Much Should We Eat? The Association Between Energy Intake and Mortality in a 36 Year Follow-Up Study of Japanese-American Men. Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences 59,2004; 789-95.

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