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The 4 Pillar Plan – Rangan Chatterjee

small pillers photo
Posted on by Steve Henderson

Dr Rangan Chatterjee – the U.K. based G.P. who features in the BBC’s health show Doctor In The House – has just released a great book called The 4 Pillar Plan. Its central message is that even just small, everyday changes in how people live make a huge difference in the health and happiness they enjoy, and can even reverse chronic lifestyle driven diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Chatterjee focuses improving 4 key areas of our lifestyle (Relax, Eat, Move, Sleep), and his book offers easy to understand explanations of some of the latest scientific evidence about the impact these aspects of our lifestyle have on our health. Just as importantly, it also offers a host of simple, practical but powerful suggestions for making any changes that may be needed.

There are many reasons why we highly recommend this book. It’s not just that his 4 pillars concept echoes our own “Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well, Stay Well” philosophy of health, but that his information is presented in a clear, uncomplicated way that is understandable to us all. What’s more, we love the fact that this book is not based on faddish hype, but rather represents a clear and honest synthesis of common sense and good quality scientific evidence.

In a world where we’re all time pressed and overloaded with information this book cuts through much of the “noise” that constantly clamours for our attention, and we believe that its message is relevant to everyone, be they someone who is struggling with poor health in some way, or someone who already understands the foundations of good health but simply wants to stay up to date with the latest thinking on how to live in ways that leave people better nourished, less harassed, leaner, stronger, and better rested.

You can leaf through a copy of the book in our reception – and you might also like to check out the Feel Better, Live More podcast program Rangan has just started (especially the interview with cardiologist Aseem Malhotra in episode 3), but we certainly encourage you to check this book out and consider implementing some of the lifestyle suggestions it makes.

Posted in Latest News |

New Study Shows Vitamin D has a Dramatic Preventative Power Over Cancer.

vitamin d bones
Posted on by Steve Henderson

A powerful new 2016 study[1] by McDonnell et al has shown that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with significantly increased overall risk of cancer, whereas Vitamin D sufficiency (defined as blood Vitamin D levels of > 100mmol/l) is associated with a 77% lower incidence rate of cancer.*

This most recent research makes a significant contribution to the science of Vitamin D and cancer, which also includes:

  • A 2005 study by Lowe et al that reported an 83% reduction in breast cancer risk in women with high vs low vitamin D levels – European Journal of Cancer
  •  2014 study by Mohr et al that showed breast cancer patients with the highest levels of Vitamin D had approximately half the fatality rate of those with the lowest levels of vitamin D – Anticancer ResearchA 2007 study by Lappe et al that reported a 77% reduction in all invasive breast cancers in women who supplemented with vitamin D vs those who did not – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  • A 2007 study by Lappe et al that reported a 77% reduction in all invasive breast cancers in women who supplemented with vitamin D vs those who did not – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

How is this Relevant to You?nutri d3
You need to make sure that your body has sufficient levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplementation is the easiest way to do this and can help lower your cancer risk.

Posted in Latest News |

Want a Healthy Heart?

heart small
Posted on by Steve Henderson

A new 2017 study[1] by Alexander et al offers further proof that omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart disease.

  • This study – the most comprehensive to date investigating the relationship between omega 3 fatty acid supplementation and heart disease risk – cites known benefits of omega-3 supplementation such as reduced triglyceride levels, improved LDL and HDL cholesterol profiles, and improved blood pressure.
  • These benefits had real effects as “participants with elevated triglycerides and LDL cholesterol experienced statistically significant reductions in coronary heart disease” as a result of the omega-3 supplementation.
  •  Higher doses (>1g/day of EPA + DHA) had a stronger impact on CHD than lower doses (<1g/day), explaining why studies using lower doses of omega 3 fats sometimes fail to show benefits (i.e. humans require more than the dosages used in those trials!).EPA omega oil

How is this Relevant to You?

Heart health is just one benefit of omega 3 fish oil supplements – there are many others as well, but the reality is that an adult aiming to get 1g of EPA/DHA per day would have to eat a lot of fish!

This is why a high quality, natural triglyceride, contaminant-free, unconcentrated omega-3nordic oil 1 fish oil supplement is so useful, and  the best we have found is the Nordic oil brand available here in the clinic, which provides over 1390 mg of EPA/DHA per adult serving (one teaspoon per day!).


Posted in Latest News |

Fast Diet, Fast Exercise, & The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet: Our Review

mosley books
Posted on by Steve Henderson

Michael Mosley and colleagues have been busy in recent years. They’ve been looking for strategies that ordinary, time pressed people like you and I can use to control our weight, become fitter, and enjoy a better quality of life, whilst at the same time minimising our risk of joining the ever growing numbers of people being diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes, obesity, or other associated lifestyle diseases.

Along the way, they’ve exposed many counter-productive and potentially harmful flaws in the prevailing “conventional wisdom” on healthy nutrition and exercise, and they’ve summarised their findings in their books The Fast Diet, Fast Exercise, Fast Life, and The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet.

These books contain a lot of really helpful information, so what follows is our quick review of each of them (excluding Fast Life, as it is just Fast Diet and Fast Exercise combined as one book), and we encourage you to check them out for yourself if our reviews happen to pique your interest.

mosley books

Posted in Latest News |

Fast Exercise

mosley books
Posted on by Steve Henderson

book testWhen it comes to good health exercise and nutrition go hand in hand, but with our hectic, time pressed lifestyles many people ask: “What type of exercise should I be doing to get the greatest possible benefit in the time available to me?”

Against this backdrop you may remember the spate of headlines a couple of years ago suggesting that just a few minutes of high intensity exercise a day was all you needed to achieve major improvements in your health and fitness, and that all those hours spent grinding it out in the gym or out on the running trails as dictated by conventional health and fitness wisdom were unnecessary.

Were those headlines really telling the whole story?

Well…er….no, there’s a bit more to it than that, but high intensity training does have its place within a well structured approach to exercise, and Fast Exercise looks into the effects that short bursts of high intensity training (HIT) can have on your body irrespective of your age or level of fitness, and claims to reveal the simple secret that will help you get fitter, stronger, leaner and better toned with just a few minutes exercise a day.

books mosley runnersHere are the key points that we took from the book:

1. The principles behind HIT are not new – in fact, they’re ancient, and echo the kinds of selection pressures our hunter gatherer paleolithic ancestors faced over many thousands of years of evolutionary progress.

Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint book and podcast series explains this better than anyone else we have come across to date, but Michael also makes the point that we evolved with “exercise” patterns that involved a lot of light background activity (such as walking) interspersed with short burst of moderate to high intensity activity (as we strove to catch our lunch, or avoid becoming the lunch of something else), and that our bodies are well adapted to this type of exercise pattern.

2. There is high quality science that shows that HIT delivers significant improvements in aerobic fitness and endurance, reduces body fat levels, increases upper and lower body strength, and improves insulin sensitivity.

If you want to lose fat then intensity is the key, and the “long and slow” (or low intensity/high duration) is not the way to go for weight loss.

What’s more, improvements in aerobic  fitness (as measured in VO2 max improvements) and blood sugar control are two of the most important predictors for a long and healthy life, and these are more powerfully influenced by HIT exercise patterns than lower intensity workouts.

However – and this is where the headlines can be misleading – other authors point out that whilst the benefits of HIT are very significant, lower intensity exercise still has an important role in a well structured exercise plan in that it helps build a strong and supple body, and an aerobic base from which higher intensity efforts can be safely launched. Building this foundation of strength and suppleness in a gradual way matters, as the premature and unrealistic launch into high intensity exercise patterns is a common cause of many of the injuries we see in our patients!

books mosley swimmer3. HIT exercise produces greater numbers of more active mitochondria in skeletal and heart muscles than does lower intensity training.

Mitochondria are the site of energy production within cells, so the more you have and the better they work makes for a fitter, stronger, healthier you.

So how should HIT training fit into an overall approach to exercise? Well, page 56 offers the following guidelines (which are remarkably similar to those advocated by Mark Sisson of The Primal Blueprint fame):

  • Do a lot of light background activity such as walking.
  • Have hard days followed by easy days. You need rest, relaxation and sleep.
  • Include interval training: short intermittent bursts of moderate to high intensity exercise interspersed with rest and recovery, 2-3 times a week.
  • Make sure you do regular sessions of strength and flexibility building (hunter gatherers have to chop wood, climb trees or carry a child around).
  • Ideally do all exercise outdoors, where your skin gets exposed to sunlight and your body has a chance to manufacture vitally important vitamin D.
  • Try to do as much exercise as possible in a social setting…we’re social animals, after all.

books mosley walking familyIn conclusion, Fast Exercise contains many other fascinating insights on the benefits of high intensity exercise, and provides practical suggestions for how to go about safely incorporating it into our lifestyle, but perhaps its greatest feature is that it shows how just a few minutes exercise a day can make a huge difference to our health in a relatively short period of time, and that when this information is coupled with a reasonable understanding of nutrition we have the most powerful tools we require to stay healthy and lead long and active lives.

Posted in Move Well |

The Fast Diet

mosley books
Posted on by Steve Henderson

books diet apple tape meaureFirst released back in 2013, this book focuses on the health benefits of intermittent fasting (IF). It offers a practical guide to implementing IF into your lifestyle, built around the idea of eating normally for 5 days a week, but limiting your calorie intake to only 500-600 calories per day on the other 2 days (i.e. the 5:2 model).

Motivated as much by his own personal need to take action to control his weight, blood sugar and familial risk of developing diabetes as he was by the broader question of how we combat the obesity and diabetes epidemics that plague people all over the world, Michael explores the science behind how IF helps to regulate our body’s metabolic functioning, and shares the dramatic improvements in weight loss and blood sugar control that he experienced as a result of intermittent fasting.

Here are the key “take home” messages that we have pulled from the book:

books mosley salad1. 
Reputable scientific studies suggest that intermittent fasting (IF) promotes health and longevity because it stimulates the natural “repair and maintenance” processes that take place within the cells of our body.

There are a number of mechanisms by which this happens: IF reduces the levels of an insulin like growth factor called IGF-1 circulating in your body (which has been implicated in accelerated ageing and increased cellular turnover/cancers), it reduces oxidative damage and inflammation within the body, it helps to optimise energy metabolism, it switches on some of the body’s “repair” genes, it helps to keep your immune system functioning properly, and it bolsters cellular protection.

Thus, IF has the potential to delay ageing, and to help prevent or treat many kinds of disease including cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, asthma, obesity and others.

books mosley healthy food2. Intermittent fasting helps people lose weight in a safe and sustainable way.

Importantly, this weight loss stems from reductions in body fat levels (which is exactly what you want) as opposed to the loss of lean muscle tissue (which is exactly what you don’t want).

Just as importantly, Michael suggests that this weight loss is not merely the result of ingesting fewer overall calories as a result of the reduced caloric intake on the two fasting days, but by improving the body’s sensitivity to the energy storage hormone insulin.

Put simply, insulin inhibits your body’s ability to burn fat for energy, but because IF can help to improve insulin sensitivity within the body there tends to be less of it floating around in the bloodstream all the time, thus making it easier for your body to burn stored body fat for energy and helping to ensure that the weight loss you experience is due to fat loss rather than muscle loss.

3. Intermittent fasting can dramatically lower blood glucose levels.

books mosley fried-food-meal-unhealthy-162702Elevated blood glucose levels is one of the key features of type 2 diabetes, and this “sugary” blood is quite damaging  to the cells of your body tissues, and in particular to your blood vessels. The consequences of this damage include an increased propensity for stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, visual loss, cognitive decline, and many other serious health disorders.

Michael describes his own improvements in blood glucose levels as “spectacular”, and relates how his doctor – who had been preparing to put Michael on medication to try and control his blood sugar levels – was astonished at the dramatic improvement. Needless to say, the medication wasn’t necessary.

There are many other important messages contained within this book, and it also offers practical ideas about meals that can be used on those days when one is fasting, but perhaps its greatest strength is that it has shown that not only is there good science behind the concept of intermittent fasting, but that it is a safe and sustainable way that most people can use to make to make significant improvements in their health and longevity. We happily recommend the book to everybody.

Posted in Eat Well |

The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet

mosley books
Posted on by Steve Henderson

book mosley sugerThere was a time when comments such as “lose weight fast and reprogram your body” or “how to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes and stay off medication” would have decried as being gimmicky and unrealistic.

However, as Michael Mosley shows in the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet there is very good science to back these claims up, and he does a great job of explaining some of it in a way that makes totally good sense and is easy to follow.

This book explains how calorie dense foods high in refined carbohydrates and low in fibre wreak havoc with our body’s ability to maintain healthy control of our blood insulin levels and general metabolism, and how this is contributing to epidemic levels of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia and many other illnesses, and the chronic dependency on medication that goes with them.

But – inspired by the work of Professor Roy Taylor, who is a Professor of Medicine and Metabolism at Newcastle University and runs the Diabetes Research Group there – it also shows that there is strong evidence that practical changes in our food choices and general lifestyle are the most effective means by which we can turn many of these negative health trends around.

Like his earlier books Fast Diet and Fast Exercise, the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet is full of fascinating insights, and debunks a number of nutritional myths that have ultimately contributed to many of the health challenges we are facing here in the U.K.

books mosley sugerUnfortunately, the book’s title might suggest that it is primarily aimed at those who have already developed type 2 diabetes, but this is most definitely not the case – its true audience is anybody who wants to understand the fundamental role that nutrition plays in helping us avoid the lifestyle diseases that plague so many of the people around us, and who wants to eat in a way that will help them sustain good health throughout their life. We highly recommend the book.

insert link to his website, and maybe to the two radio interviews.

Posted in Eat Well |

Sugar: UK Cardiologist Explains Why We Need To Cut Back

Posted on by Steve Henderson

sugerUK cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra explains his strong opinions on the deleterious health effects of too much sugar in this 10 minute interview filmed in April 2016 .

His comments on the sugar issue are well worth noting, but so are the comments he makes on the ever present problem of research bias.

It is widely acknowledged that when those funding the research have a vested interest in its outcomes (as is often the case in the research climate of the modern era) it is very difficult – and sometimes even dangerous – to take the findings of that research at face value.

Unfortunately, this situation is unlikely to change any time soon, so until it does: caveat emptor.

Posted in Eat Well, Latest News |

Top 14 Ways To Increase Your Metabolism

books mosley runners
Posted on by Steve Henderson

Feeling sluggish, tired or struggling to lose weight? Here’s another great article & podcast from the Marks Daily Apple team suggesting great ways to rev up your metabolism. 

This article and the links it contains are entirely Mark’s, but we’re happy to spread the word because he provides high quality information and makes a lot of sense. Over to you Mark…

“On a literal level, your metabolic rate describes how much energy you expend to conduct daily physiological functions. This has many practical ramifications, however, because your metabolic rate also influences how you feel, how many calories you burn, how many calories you can eat without gaining weight, your libido, your fertility, your cold tolerance, how much subjective energy you have, how you recover from injuries and stress, how specific foods affect you, and how you perform in the gym. In short, it’s usually a good thing to have a higher metabolic rate.

Here are a few ways to increase your metabolism in a healthy, productive manner.

1. Optimize your thyroid health.

The thyroid is the primary regulator of metabolic rate. To increase the latter, we must support the former.

  • Certain nutrients play huge roles in thyroid function, like iodine (to create thyroid hormone) and selenium (to convert it to the active form). Make sure to eat your seaweed and Brazil nuts.
  • Many thyroid conditions are autoimmune in nature, so focus on avoiding common autoimmune triggers like wheat and other grainsstrengthening your gut barrier, and keeping your gut healthy with prebiotics and probiotics.
  • An excessive intake of cruciferous vegetables may have goitrogenic (thyroid-suppressing) effects. Don’t be afraid of broccoli and kale, but don’t eat several pounds a day.
  • If you’re low-carb, note that going too low in calories can depress thyroid function. There’s some evidence this may be adaptive and have beneficial effects on longevity to a point, but you don’t want to depress it so much that you’re cold all the time, constantly exhausted, and can’t seem to lose any weight. If you’re feeling that way on low-carb, up the calories (whether they come from carbs, protein, or fat).

If you’re legitimately hypothyroid, don’t be afraid to treat it. Sometimes supplemental thyroid is the right answer, and it’s less “modern” than you might think; traditional cultures used to supplement with animal thyroid gland.

2. Eat enough calories.

Inadequate calorie intake sends a signal of famine to your body. There are varying degrees, of course—400 calories a day sends a very different signal than 1200 calories a day—but any deficit will be perceived as a stressor, however minor. That’s okay. Stressors are important and part of the benefit comes from our response to them. But in the face of continued and constant low calorie intake the bodytends to depress the metabolic rate to match the amount of energy coming in. This slows weight loss, if not halts it altogether, and explains why many people feel tired, cold, and miserable on extended dieting.

3. Mind your leptin.

Leptin is a major determinant of metabolic rate and energy expenditure. Since it’s secreted by body fat and responds to a lesser degree to your carb intake, using a low-carb diet to lose body fat may eventually, paradoxically, work against your metabolism. You can fix this by incorporating carb refeeds once or twice a week where you keep the fat low and carbs high to give lagging leptin levels a boost. Other potential fixes include avoiding grains, whose lectins may interfere with leptin receptors.

4. Sprint.

I always say that sprinting is the single best exercise for leaning out. Compared to resistance training and traditional cardio, sprint intervals increase resting energy expenditure the most. Most of the increased expenditure appears to come from fat oxidation. Best of all, the increased expenditure following sprinting does not lead to increased food intake.

Furthermore, sprinting turns your muscles into glycogen sponges, so the carbs you eat to increase leptin and metabolism will be shunted toward the muscles.

5. Lift heavy things.

Strength training is essential for increasing your metabolic rate for three primary reasons:

  • Lifting heavy things builds muscle. Muscle is costly. It craves energy. It needs energy. It burns energy. It upregulates metabolism simply by virtue of its existence.
  • The immediate act of lifting heavy things is metabolically intensive. Hoisting heavy objects, whether barbell, rock, or bodyweight, requires energy in the moment.
  • Strength training increases resting metabolic rate over the short and long term. A good strength session even upregulates metabolic rate for hours afterward.

6. Eat spicy food.

Capsaicin, the spicy compound in chiles, has thermogenic qualities. It activates metabolically-active brown fat, which could reduce body fat. Combined with exercise, it increases energy expenditure. Combined with food, capsaicin increases the thermic effect of a meal (the amount of energy burnt during digestion). Don’t expect a miracle here. But little changes add up. Besides, spicy food—if you’ve got the taste for it—is delicious.

7. Eat at regular times.

Some people thrive on an erratic eating schedule. For some people, an erratic eating schedule depresses metabolism bccause their bodies “expect” food at specific times. In one study, healthy lean adults experienced a lower thermic effect of food—the extra burst of energy required to process and digest the food we eat—when they ate according to a disordered, erratic schedule. The same effect happened in overweight women trying to lose weight. Reduced thermic effect of food means lower energy expenditure and lower metabolism.

8. Expose yourself to cold.

To stay warm in cold environments, humans do several things that all involve increasing one’s metabolism. We shiver, which burns calories to maintain body temperature. We activate brown fat, a type of body fat that burns energy and increases metabolism rather than stores and blunts it. The more cold adapted you are, the more you rely on brown fat to stay warm.

It’s not necessary to take ice baths. Simply leaving the heat off in the house and going outside in short sleeves during cold weather will increase your energy expenditure.

9. Eat the carbs you earn.

If you have “earned the carbs” through heavy training, choose not to eat them, and continue to perform demanding work in the gym, your metabolic rate will suffer. A CrossFitter isn’t doing him or herself any favors by failing to restock glycogen stores after heavy WODs; this will exacerbate the energy deficit and introduce a metabolism-depressing starvation response.

10. Eat more protein.

Protein has the highest thermic effect of all the macronutrients, meaning it takes the most calories to digest and results in an higher energy expenditure. That it helps build thermogenic tissue—muscle—doesn’t hurt, either.

11. Manage stress.

Acute stress seems to incease metabolic rate, probably by increasing adrenaline and cortisol. But in the context of chronic stress, where cortisol is chronically elevated and less stimulating, metabolic rate may drop. That could explain why women who report experiencing more “stress events” have a lower thermic response to food they eat. That’s chronic stress, and it’s far more damaging than acute stress, which we can and do recover and even benefit from.

12. Stand more than you sit.

Direct comparisons find that people who use standing desks have higher energy expenditures than people who sit.

13. Move frequently throughout the day (fidgeting counts).

Non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is an undervalued path to increased metabolism. That guy in your office who rocks back and forth in his chair, constantly cranes his neck around to look at everyone else, chews gum incessantly, takes frequent trips to the bathroom, and never seems to sit still may be nursing a crystal meth habit, or he could just be a high-energy guy with an elevated metabolic rate.

14. Drink coffee or tea.

Whether you’re obese or of normal weight, drinking coffee increases your metabolic rate. The increase, mediated primarily by a boost to fat metabolism, is transient, but before you know it’s morning again and you’re ready for another cup (or three).

Tea works, too. It’s got caffeine (albeit not as much as coffee) and, if you’re drinking green tea, specific compounds that promote energy expenditure independent of caffeine.

Those are 14 tried and true ways to increase your metabolism over both the short term and the long term. I’m sure there are others, too. What have you guys got?

Thanks for reading, everyone!”

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

Posted in Latest News |

115 Things Endurance Athletes Need To Know

primal blueprint podcast
Posted on by Steve Henderson

primal blueprint podcastIf one of your goals for 2016 is to get fitter then exercise and good nutrition are going to be essential parts of your overall plan. However, it all needs to be done in a safe and effective way so that you don’t end up wasting your time – or even worse – give yourself an injury!

115 Things Endurance Athletes Need To Know is a fantastic podcast from Brad Kearns (of the Marks Daily Apple team) that will help you exercise and eat in a safe, intelligent and effective way, and we highly recommend it to anybody aiming to get fitter, drop some weight or just become generally healthier this year.

Don’t worry – the podcast is not as heavy as the title suggests, and it covers information that is relevant to both casual exercisers and those who may be training for something bigger (like the Great North Run!).

In fact, we think the podcast is so good that in addition to providing a link to the audio recording we’ve also taken the time to reproduce the text of the podcast below, so check it (and the other great information available on the MDA site) out.

Happy reading, listening, exercising and eating!

Section 1 – Aerobic Training

  1. Endurance athletes on the whole carry too much body fat – a consequence of carbohydrate dependency eating, and overly stressful training patterns.
  2. The fundamental elements of the Primal Endurance approach are to slow down and emphasise aerobic workouts, balance stress and rest, and adopt an intuitive, flexible approach to training.
  3. The conventional approach to endurance training is deeply flawed, resulting in widespread burnout and excess body fat among even the most dedicated athletes.runners
  4. The flawed conventional approach can be characterised as “Chronic Cardio” – too many moderate to difficult intensity workouts with insufficient rest and recovery.
  5. Chronic cardio can cause permanent damage to the heart by promoting chronic inflammation and scarring the heart lining from repeated microtears.
  6. Moderate exercise – for example running 10 minute miles for only 1-2.5 hours per week  – can dramatically increase longevity in comparison to more arduous and time consuming training schedules.
  7. The critical distinction for endurance workout intensity is aerobic versus anaerobic. Aerobic workouts emphasise fat burning and are energising and minimally stressful. Anaerobic workouts emphasise glucose burning, and elicit a significant stress response.
  8. Emphasising aerobic workouts delivers the best return on investment for endurance athletes because endurance competitions – even as short as one hour – are fuelled almost entirely by aerobic energy systems.
  9. Developing an efficient aerobic system is like building a powerful clean burning Tesla engine. Excess anaerobic training, with an insufficient aerobic base, is like fine tuning a small, inefficient, dirty burning car engine.
  10. Aerobic development is best accomplished by training exclusively at aerobic heart rates for a sustained period of time. This enables a steady progression in fat burning efficiency without interruption from stressful high intensity workouts.
  11. The cut off point for aerobic training is the Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate, defined as being the point at which maximum aerobic benefits occur with a minimum amount of anaerobic stimulation. To calculate your maximum aerobic heart rate use Dr Phil Maffetone’s formula of 180- your age.
  12. Endurance athletes have extreme difficulty slowing down into what feels like a disturbingly slow aerobic heart rate zone, but massive improvements can occur over time by becoming more efficient – that is faster – at a comfortable conversational aerobic pace at the same heart rate.
  13. Aerobic improvement can be tracked by conducting Dr Maffetone’s Maximum Aerobic Function test (MAF test). You complete a fixed course such as running 8 laps around a running track at a fixed heart rate as close as you can to your maximum aerobic heart rate (180-your age) and the track your time and improvements over several tests, which indicates an improvement in your aerobic fitness.
  14. Improvement in MAF test results means that your training is working – you are becoming more efficient at burning fat at aerobic heart rates. Regression in MAF test results suggest that you are overtraining, and/or overstressed.
  15. High intensity workouts are not advised until a strong aerobic base is built as evidenced by steady improvement in MAF test results.
  16. Even a slight stimulation in anaerobic metabolism during a workout can accelerate sugar burning for up to 72 hours after the workout.
  17. Besides exceeding maximum aerobic heart rate with chronic cardio endurance athletes are often guilty of an overly regimented, overly consistent approach, which brings a high risk of over stress and burnout.
  18. Aerobic and anaerobic workouts, as well as primal aligned eating, all help improve mitochondrial function, protecting you from stress induced oxidative damage, and delaying the aging process.
  19. Mitochondria burn fat and ketones more cleanly than they do glucose. Glucose burning generates free radicals, causing oxidative damage and accelerated aging.
  20. Nose breathing during exercise ensures the most efficient exchange of oxygen on each breath, and helps you maintain an aerobic pace.
  21. The “Black Hole” designates an exercise intensity that is slightly too strenuous to be aerobic, but not difficult enough to qualify as a peak performance speed workout. Unfortunately, this intensity level or range is the default landing area for many exercisers, from novice all the way up to competitive athletes.
  22. A wireless heart rate monitor is essential to conducting proper aerobic workouts, because intensity at aerobic maximum is so comfortable that it is easy to drift beyond that and into the black hole.
  23. Slowing down to perform better in endurance competition has been proven effective by the world’s leading athletes for over 50 years, but it is still difficult to convince many casual enthusiasts about its effectiveness.
  24. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Primal Endurance Athletes are: Sleep, Stress/Rest balance, Intuitive and personalised schedule, Aerobic emphasis, Structured intensity, Complementary movement and lifestyle practices, and Periodisation.

Section 2 – Periodisation  

  1. Periodisation entails focusing on different types of training during specific blocks of time over a calendar year. The broad annual schedule looks like this: aerobic base period to begin the season, mini periods of intensity and competition followed by mini rest and aerobic periods, and finally a lengthy rest period to end the season.
  2. Consistency in the context of endurance training is ill advised. You are better off being intuitive, varied and flexible in your workout patterns. The process of fitness progress is dynamic and unpredictable, not linear.
  3. A good strategy for intuitive training is to align workout difficulty with subjective evaluations of your daily levels of energy, motivation and health. blog-fitnovatives-04062012
  4. The aerobic base period to commence the season should last at least 8 weeks, and possibly much longer if progress with aerobic function stalls or over stress symptoms are present (illness, injury, fatigue, etc.).
  5. Intensity should be introduced only after a successful aerobic period, and last a maximum of 4 weeks, with greatly reduced total training volume during that time before a mini rest period is observed.
  6. Mini periods of high intensity during the season should be followed by a period of nearly equal duration composed of rest and aerobic base building.
  7. The season ending rest period should be diligent an comprehensive – no training, no thinking about training, and extra attention to rest, sleep, and neglected hobbies and social connections.
  8. Tapering with a huge reduction in training volume and intensity promotes peak performance – it’s very difficult to lose fitness if you maintain even a fraction of normal training.
  9. True de – training from illness or inactivity causes rapid fitness losses, but you can regain fitness at approximately a 1:1 exchange of time off to time returning to training.
  10. The specific nature of high intensity workouts is of minimal importance. All anaerobic exercise whether its intervals, time trials, hill repeats, tabata, whatever, has a similar effect on the body.
  11. Heart rate variability measures the fluctuation in your beat to beat intervals. Surprisingly, more variation in beat to beat intervals represents a fit healthy recovered cardio vascular system as indicated as a higher HRV score on a 1-100 scale.
  12. HRV is a sophisticated and sensitive indicator of cardio vascular stress, and is a great complement monitoring to resting heart rate for tracking recovery and making optimal training decisions.

Section 3 – Primal Eating

  1. The standard American diet is based on excessive intake of grains and sugar which stimulates excess insulin production leading to lifelong insidious weight gain, chronic inflammation, and elevated disease risk factors.
  2. A high carb grain based diet leaves endurance athletes nutrient deficient, inflamed, and more susceptible to oxidative damage from the stress of training, general life and poor nutrition.   
  3. Grains – aka beige glop – are a cheap source of calories that are immediately a iStock_000022428842Large FRUITconverted to glucose upon ingestion and offer minimal nutritional value. There is no good reason for humans to consume grains, and many good reasons not to, especially for those sensitive to gluten and other anti-nutrients present in grains.
  4. Everyone is sensitive to the health compromising effects of grains at some level, especially the pro-inflammatory effects of gluten and the propensity of the leptin proteins in grains to cause leaky gut syndrome.
  5. Carrying excess body fat despite careful attention to diet and a high volume of training hours is largely due to carbohydrate dependency caused by a grain based diet and chronic training patterns.
  6. Endurance athletes can dial in optimal carb intake by first asking the question: Do you carry excess body fat? Any excess in body fat calls for a reduction in carbohydrate intake to accelerate fat burning.
  7. Weight loss through portion control and devoted calorie burning is ineffective. Calories burned through exercise stimulate a corresponding increase in appetite.  The secret to weight loss is hormone optimisation, primarily through moderating excess insulin production.
  8. Endurance athletes with optimal body composition looking to improve performance and recovery should choose high nutrient value carbs like abundant vegetables, sensible fruit intake, sweet potatoes, wild rice, quinoa, and dark chocolate.
  9. High calorie burning endurance athletes with optimal body composition can enjoy occasional treats, but the habit of unbridled intake of nutrient deficient refined carbohydrates should be eliminated in the interests of health and performance.
  10. Even lean people suffer from the negative health consequences of carbohydrate dependency, such as chronic inflammation, oxidative damage and accelerated aging and disease risk factors.
  11. Carbohydrate dependency leads to burnout because the body perceives fluctuating blood sugar as stressful vent every time, leading to an overstimulation of the fight or flight response, and eventual burnout.
  12. The carbohydrate dependency cycle looks like this: Consume a high carb meal, elevate your blood sugar, stimulate an insulin response, shut off fat metabolism and promote fat storage, experience fatigue and sugar cravings from that dropped blood sugar, consume more carbohydrates, stimulate the fight or flight response to regulate blood sugar, dys regulate and exhaust assorted hormonal processes, and finally end up in burnout and lifelong insidious weight gain patterns.
  13. Primal style eating is fractal and intuitive. When escaping carbohydrate dependency and becoming fat adapted you don’t have to rely on ingested carbs for energy. Eating patterns can be driven by hunger, pleasure and maximal nutritional benefit.
  14. Once fat adapted, intermittent fasting (IF) can be used to accelerate fat loss, fine tune insulin sensitivity, and improve cellular repair for anti-aging, immune boosting effect.
  15. A suggested entry strategy for intermittent fasting is to simply wait until you experience hunger before eating in the morning. This enhances your appreciation for food, and provides feedback on your progress for fat adaptation.
  16. Any excess body fat you have is a function of your genetic predisposition to store fat combined with the amount of insulin you produce in your diet. Losing excess body fat involves moderating insulin production by ditching sugars and grains.
  17. Primal style eating minimises the importance of genetic pre-dispositions and enables you to achieve your personal ideal body composition.
  18. Escaping sugar dependency and becoming fat adapted gives you a cleaner burning engine, since glucose burning promotes inflammation and oxidative stress.
  19. Ketones are an internally manufactured energy rich by product of fat metabolism in the liver when blood glucose and insulin levels are low due to carbohydrate restriction. Ketones are burnt efficiently by the brain, heart and skeletal muscles in he same manner as glucose.
  20. Ketogenic endurance training represents an exciting new frontier for peak endurance performance. Ultra-low carb athletes can perform amazing feats and literally become “bonk” proof by remaining in a fat and ketone burning state.
  21. Ketogenic endurance training is an advanced strategy that requires a strict devotion to very low dietary carbohydrate intake. However, its acceptable to waver in and out of this fragile state and still enjoy the overall performance benefits of being fat adapted instead of carb dependent.
  22. A bonk proof ketogenic athlete is preserving ketones for use by the brain, relieving it of glucose dependency, and prioritising fat for muscular fuel.
  23. Ketones burn cleaner than carbohydrates, minimising free radical damage and delivering a potent anti-inflammatory effect. Ketogenic endurance athletes recover faster from stressful training, improve cognitive function, and minimise the disease risk factors associated with a pro inflammatory high carb diet.
  24. The new “fat burning beast” paradigm offers great promise to endurance athletes, and can have a even more profound effect on the global obesity epidemic. Reduce carb intake in favour of fat, and you reduce excess body fat, period.
  25. Dr Jeff Voleks vaunted “Faster” study, and Dr Peter Ateya’s personal experiments prove unequivocally that any endurance athlete can quickly become fat adapted and deliver performances superior to carb fuelled efforts all the way up to anaerobic threshold intensity.
  26. Being carb dependent sucks on several levels. Our performance hinges on the tenuous ability to assimilate additional carbs during exercise, you produce more inflammation and oxidative damage from burning a dirty fuel source, you risk muscle catabolism via gluconeogenesis, and you have difficulty reducing excess body fat.
  27. Step 1 in eating primally is to ditch sugars, grains, and industrial vegetable and seed oils for 21 days. Step 2 is to emphasise highly nutritious primal food such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and supplemental carbs like sweet potatoes, the natural plant and animal foods that fuelled human evolution.
  28. While transitioning to primal involves eating rich, satisfying meals some can expect to struggle initially due to lifelong carbohydrate dependency and the drug like addictive properties of sugar and wheat.
  29. Eating primally and losing excess body fat does not involve any suffering, struggling or sacrifice. The high satiety factor of primal meals will prevent the cravings and binges that derail calorie restriction dieters.
  30. Primal eating can improve endurance performance by improving fat metabolism, moderating the overstimulation of fight or flight hormones, improving immune function, improving digestion and reducing inflammation and oxidative damage from muscle breakdown and training.
  31. You can accelerate the process of fat adaptation in a depleted post workout state when your appetite hormones are most sensitive to re-wiring. Instead of habitually pounding sugary treats fast for a stretch if you can, and/or choose high fat, low insulin producing foods. You will rewire your brain to become less dependent on carbohydrates at all times.
  32. The Primal Blueprint carbohydrate curve predicts the results of body composition goals based on different levels of carb intake. 100g of carbs a day or less promotes fat loss, 150g is the primal maintenance level, over 150g per day on average promotes lifelong insidious weight gain, and over 300g per day promotes metabolic disease patterns. 

Section 4 – Strength And Sprint Training

  1. Strength training is essential to success in endurance sports. Putting your muscles under loads by lifting heavy loads, whether it’s by weights, machines or just body weight resistance exercises stimulates positive hormonal adaptations and helps you preserve good technique and maximum power output as muscles fatigue during your endurance workouts.
  2. Strength training can help athletes identify functional weaknesses that lead to poor technique, overly stressful workouts and delayed recovery.  sprinter
  3. Any endurance athletes err by conducting quote “blended” workouts that deliver both a cardio vascular training effect – which is unnecessary in light of their extreme cardio vascular fitness already – and fall short of delivering absolute power that endurance athletes are deficient in.
  4. Endurance athletes with excellent cardio vascular endurance should focus on brief high intensity strength sessions that increase raw strength and explosiveness. Emphasis should
  5. be on maintaining excellent technique and workouts, and when fatigue inhibits reaching maximum power level.
  6. Endurance athletes over age 40 will particularly benefit from strength training since strength declines more steeply than endurance with aging. High intensity strength sessions will deliver a profound anti-aging effect by preserving muscle mass and optimising adaptive hormones.
  7. Primal essential movements represent a safe, simple, effective full body workout sequence consisting of push ups, planks, squats and pull ups. A series of progression exercises allow athletes of al fitness levels to perform an appropriate number of reps to increase competency over time.
  8. Maximum sustained power training (MSP) represents a cutting edge strategy to improve absolute power and explosiveness. These sessions involve popular functional movements like dead lifts, squats and leg presses, lifting heavy weights for few reps and taking frequent mini rest periods to sustain maximum power output throughout the workout.
  9. MSP sessions enable you to lift more total weight than the traditional light weight/high reps “multiple stations till exhaustion” blended workouts. The MSP strategy is to go maximum or go home. You never reduce weights, and you stop when you can’t lift the 5 rep max baseline MSP heavy bar due to accumulated fatigue.
  10. “All out” sprinting is widely disregarded by mileage obsessed endurance athletes who don’t see the connection between short sprints and endurance performance but becoming competent in sprinting will improve endurance performance in many ways including reduced perceived fatigue, enhanced fat metabolism, enhanced mitochondrial function and oxygen utilisation, improved muscle buffering capacity and strengthened muscles and connective tissue.
  11. Sprinting, like strength training, delivers a potent anti aging effect by flooding the bloodstream with adaptive hormones and actualising the anti aging maxim of “use it or lose it”.
  12. Maximum intensity sprinting significantly increases your resilience to physical and psychological fatigue at lower intensity levels. Your muscles regenerate energy faster through improved calcium/potassium pump function, and your central nervous system recalibrates so that slower paces feel easier.
  13. One of the most important benefits of sprinting is how it “cuts you up” like nothing else. Primal adapted eaters who experience stalled weight loss can send an intense message to the brain to rap up fat metabolism as n adaptive response to sprinting, an effect that continues for up to 24 hours after the workout. Ever seen a fat sprinter? Nope!
  14. Endurance athletes must adopt a different mindset for sprint workouts, rejecting the “suffering” ethos of endurance sessions in favour of striving for consistent quality performances, “perform at max or go home” workouts, and when your time gets slower, when your form becomes compromised or when effort increases to maintain the same times.
  15. Consistent quality sprinting means a similar time and similar perceived exertion each effort. If it becomes harder to deliver the same time, or if the time slows at the same perceived exertion the workout must end. As fitness progresses strive to increase speed before considering increasing the number or reps.
  16. Sprinting in a pre fatigued state is not only harmful for muscles, but also the central nervous system. Athletes should only sprint when 100% rested and energised to deliver a peak performance. Extensive warm up and technique drills should be performed before delivering maximum efforts.
  17. A proper warm up entails dynamic movements that elevate your temperature, lubricate your joints (no cracking or creaking), and gets you central nervous system focused on good technique with form drills. A deliberate cool down will minimise the stress impact of the session and facilitate faster recovery. No Abrupt endings!
  18. Running is the best sprinting choice due to the benefits of weight bearing intense activity. If you have joint or injury concerns or specific competitive goals you can sprint with low or no impact exercises (swimming, cycling, etc.). Ideal duration of sprints is between 10-30 seconds, and 4-6 reps of running is plenty. Since running is harder, shorter and fewer work efforts are advised.
  19. The rest interval between sprints should be sufficient to ensure respiration returns to near normal, muscles feel reinvigorated, and that mental energy is refreshed. This will probably be achieved in 30-60 seconds of rest consisting of slow movement.

Section 5 – Complementary Movement And Lifestyle Practices

  1. Getting adequate sleep is not as simple as logging 8 hours per night. Sleep requirements vary by the seasons, training workload, overall life stress levels and genetic factors.
  2. Optimal sleep starts with mellow, dark, calming evenings that minimise artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. This allows for the circadian influenced “Dim Light Melatonin Onset” to happen on cue, making you feel sleepy soon after it gets dark.
  3. Awakening naturally, near sunrise, feeling refreshed and energised is indicative family-treatmentsof adequate sleep. Feeling less than perky in the morning suggests you must minimise artificial light and digital stimulation the previous evening.
  4. An ideal sleeping environment is quiet, clutter free, cool, and completely dark. Even tiny light emissions like from an LED alarm clock or something can disturb the highly sensitive release of melatonin into the blood stream.
  5. Napping is especially effective for catching up on evening sleep deficiencies, refreshing brain neurones after sustained periods of peak cognitive functioning, and generating a pulse of adaptive hormones into the blood stream.
  6. The “Active Couch Potato Syndrome” describes an actual medical phenomenon of devoted fitness enthusiasts nevertheless suffering from elevated disease risk factors due to predominantly sedentary lifestyle patterns outside of their workouts.
  7. Walking will improve many aspects of your general health, and also contribute to aerobic fitness by stimulating the complete range of aerobic muscle fibres and energy producing enzymes.
  8. Extended periods of sitting and stillness can compromise musculoskeletal function, cellular health, cardio vascular function, and fat metabolism, negating many of the benefits of endurance training.
  9. Taking frequent “movement breaks” throughout the day improves insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism, improves muscular balance, flexibility and bone density, and enhances cognitive function through improved circulation.
  10. The quote “athletes mind set” of being lazy in everyday life on account of compiling an impressive workout log must be re-framed to emphasise the importance of increased everyday movement. It’ll help speed recovery and optimise metabolic function.
  11. Cardiovascular fitness is the ability to challenge the heart and certain muscles to perform extreme athletic efforts. Cardiovascular health is the ability to efficiently deliver oxygen to 100 % of the cells in your body.
  12. Creating a stand up desk environment is great, but the primary goal should be to create more variation in your workplace position, switching back and forth from standing to sitting to sitting on the ground, and going mobile whenever possible with meetings, phone calls and the like.
  13. Brain science confirms that humans are incapable of focusing for longer than 20 minutes without a break. Taking a 5 minute break for every 20 minutes of peak cognitive focus, and longer breaks every few hours will improve metabolic health and cognitive performance.
  14. Complementary movement and mobility exercise like yoga and Pilates improve athletic performance by allowing you to preserve correct technique and optimal power output even as you fatigue during workouts.
  15. Neglecting complementary movement and mobility exercises can compromise athletic performance by allowing inefficiencies and imbalances to occur from narrowly focused training patterns. This leads to accelerated fatigue, diminished power output and increased injury risk.
  16. Deliberate movement practices also improve your ability to focus during challenging endurance efforts, and provide a calming balance to the high stress nature of endurance workouts.
  17. Play is a fundamental element of human health, and a key factor in the success of human evolution. Play is a critical stress release from the pressure, schedules and responsibilities of daily life, and promotes the development of a cognitively fluid mind.
  18. Play can take many forms, but ideally involves unstructured outdoor physical activity to balance the structured, confined and sedentary forces of modern life.
  19. Primal thrills can deliver a healthy burst of adrenaline to counter the mundane and predictable nature of modern life. Chose challenges that are well managed, and just outside of your comfort zone.
  20. The old injury treatment protocol of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is being replaced in the eyes of many experts in favour of E.C.M (elevate, compress and move).
  21. Cold therapy can speed recovery by delivering a refreshing psychological sensation, and recalibrating the central nervous system and muscle metabolic activity back to calm, cool resting levels.
  22. Full body immersion into water at 50-60 degrees farenheit (10 – 15 degrees Celsius) for 5-10 minutes is believed to be the optimal strategy for post exercise cold therapy.
  23. Compression wraps or garments act like pumps to squeeze blood vessels open with force, allowing more blood and oxygen into the area and improving removal of waste and excess fluid. Studies suggest educed muscle soreness and improved performance using compression garments.
  24. Post exercise hydration is essential to ensuring that assorted recovery mechanisms work without interference from the immediate urgency of needing to re-hydrate.
  25. Movement is also an important element of recovery. Athletes should refrain from prolonged stillness periods after workouts, and throughout the day. Over time, efforts to move more will result in improvements in the familiar morning stiffness that may athlete’s experience.
  26. For post workout refuelling, forget the synthetic bars, gels, beverages and sweets. Instead, focus on getting wholesome nutritious food, like a salad.
  27. Self myofascial release is an effective recovery technique. Using rollers or balls, you can apply deep pressure to trigger points that represent the origination of stiffness and mobility problems that possible refer pain elsewhere.
  28. Self myofascial release delivers the additional benefit of stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to truly unwind after workouts.
  29. Releasing your attachment to the outcome can alleviate the psychological stress of missing workouts or performing below expectations. Instead, relax, be patient, and focus on the enjoyment of the process of getting fit. Take what your body gives you each day and nothing more.

 Ok, that’s it, but all of these points are covered more completely in the book Primal Endurance by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns, so check it out if you’d like more information.

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