Fitness Q & A:
Q) How do I lose body fat around my midsection?
A) I used to say that there's no such thing as "spot reduction", meaning, you can't lose body fat in just one area, but instead, will lose all over. While this is still partially true, I have learned that excessive body fat is simply a representation of our altered hormonal profiles. In other words, the fatter you are, the more hormonal imbalances exist. For example:
- the thickness of a person's umbilical skin fold (your gut) is a direct
reflection of prolonged cortisol (the stress hormone) output. A relatively fat
midsection indicates stress levels are high and/or the ability to handle
stress is low.
- the thickness of a person's suprailiac (love handle) is a direct reflection of the person's insulin sensitivity, and thus, the amount of carbohydrate they consume, and their ability to utilize it for fuel. Those with prominent love handles are eating too much carbohydrate and have insulin resistance.
- The thickness ratio of a man's pec (chest) to tricep (back of the arm) represent's testosterone production, or how "male" he is. If a man has a large pec skinfold, then he may very well squat to pee, as his testosterone is likely being converted to estrogen.
So, back to the original question, the best way to lose belly fat is to identify why you're overproducing cortisol and insulin: Typically Stress and sugar.
What To Do About It:
1) Sleep as much as you can without getting divorced or fired. There's nothing that humans can benefit more from, then getting 7-8+ hours of sleep/night. (See sleep article in Sept. newsletter)
2) Eat Real Food. That means read the featured grains article in the right column and stick to meat, veggies, nuts/seeds and some fruit. Also try and eat every 3-4 hours to avoid blood sugar crashes that can increase cortisol levels.
3) Exercise in a way that's appropriate for YOU! This means you need to be smart about when and how you exercise. if you don't exercise, then start, and if you workout intensely everyday, but aren't seeing results, then maybe back off and see how you feel.
How Do You Determine Your Hormonal Profile?
Locate a BioSignature Practitioner in your area. They will assess body fat in order to determine what your body fat priority is, and develop a nutritional, exercise and supplement program based on your individual hormonal needs.
Just over a year ago I was fortunate enough to meet a young man who was interested in losing weight and getting healthier. I gave him some nutritional recommendations, and turned him on to a few resources that outlined the importance of adequate nutrition and exercise. Now, he is 40lbs lighter and feeling better than ever. So much so, that he has created a blog about his "weight loss journey". His name is Reed Loustalot and he is an inspiration. Thank you Reed for sharing your story with us:
"Overall, I think the key to losing weight and getting
healthy is not having the mentality that it's a temporary thing, like most
diets are. You need to get it in your head that it is a thing you need to do for
the rest of your life. You need to make it a lifestyle change. That is what
will get you to your weight goal, and keep you there.
For all of you who read this, (If anyone reads this) Weight loss isn't this
complicated process that you may think that it is. I have had great success
over the past 4 months with 3 easy and simple steps.
1. Eat right
1. I think eating right is the thing that ties it all
together." Read more...
|1) BODY SYSTEMS HAS MOVED! We are now located in a brand new training facility in the Scottsdale Airpark. The address will be on my website. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by and check it out!
2) The website will be completed in the next 2-weeks as we have been working hard to add new articles, videos and health related information.
3) Included in the NEW WEBSITE will be our signature web-based, nutrition and fitness program. It includes:
- Personalized fitness programs
- Exercise videos
- Workout calendar
- Nutrition and lifestyle questionnaires
- Graphs charting progress and much more!
BEN BROWN / BODY SYSTEMS, LLC
Better late than never, right? There's so much valuable information in this month's newsletter, that it will have been well worth the wait. Since my newsletters started, I have received several questions about why I have such a distaste for grains (no pun intended), so I decided some elaboration was necessary. The topic of grains is one that is quite complex with several sub-issues, however, given the format, I've kept it brief. Remember, don't take my word for it, use the resources provided to find out for yourself. I strongly believe that eliminating grains from your diet can be the healthiest decision you have ever made.
Enjoy and as always, thanks for reading!
The "Whole" Grain Story
Whole grains are good
for you, right? It seems that grains, whole or otherwise, have several
potential problems that might just be causing more harm than good. For the
purposes of weight control and disease prevention, I suggest you read-on, to
find out exactly why grains aren't as beneficial as their cracked up to be.
Grains Contain Anti-nutrients:
There is ample evidence to suggest that an over-reliance on grains and sugar
products leads to numerous vitamin, mineral, and nutritional deficiencies. Most
grains contain substances called phytates,
which bind to important minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc in the
digestive tract, making them more difficult to absorb. Interestingly enough,
these grains, being plants, use these phytates as their natural defense
mechanism to keep predators from eating them and destroying their ability to
reproduce. The more unprocessed the grain, i.e. the more "whole", the
higher the phytate content. Therefore, it seems that whole grains aren't as
healthy as once believed due to their inability to be adequately digested and
deficiencies are extremely common in underdeveloped countries due to their
reliance on grain as a food staple (approximately 50% of their diet), while
Western civilization experiences many of the same malabsorption issues. High
grain consumption can also play a role in the interference with vitamin D
metabolism as well as deficiencies if vitamins A, C, and B12, which we know to
be necessary in adequate immune system function, energy production, among many
other homeostatic functions. Ironically enough, these nutrients are not
normally present in grains, unless they have been artificially
"fortified" by adding back the missing vitamins. A diet rich in
quality raised meats and fish, colorful vegetables, nuts/seeds and some fruit
will contain much greater (and bio-available) sources of vitamins, minerals
High Carbohydrate Content:
Grains, whole or otherwise, offer a great majority of their calories in the form
of carbohydrate. As we all know from school, media, etc., eating carbohydrate causes
blood sugar levels to elevate quickly (depending on how much fiber it contains) and "will make you fat".
These high glycemic foods are relatively new to the human food supply, that is,
a mere 10,000 years since agriculture (the Neolithic era) began, is but a flash
in the pan of human existence. These high carbohydrate grains, consumed in
large quantities, create extreme stress on our hormonal systems, which are
better suited to ingesting the lower glycemic foods that our ancestors ate,
such as meat, veggies, nuts and some fruit.
Heavy grain consumption as typical in the standard American breakfast of
cereal, pancakes, toast, scones, muffins, and a glass of juice, cause blood
sugar levels to soar, causing the pancreas to release large quantities of insulin to store the sugars in your
blood as fuel for the muscles and liver, and/or to be stored as body fat.
Repeat this process frequently enough, and your body loses its ability to
regulate the amount of insulin produced after a given meal. This eventually leads
to weight problems, behavior and cognitive problems, and eventually Metabolic
Syndrome (Coronary Artery Disease, Stroke, Type 2 Diabetes).
Foreign Grain Proteins:
Certain grains contain
a protein called gluten that has the
ability to mimic the proteins found in viruses and bacteria. When these
gluten-containing grains are ingested, it triggers an immune response in the
body. It's believed that up to 60% of the U.S. population has some degree of
gluten intolerance or sensitivity, while those with full blown gluten allergies
are diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Typically those of Irish, English, Scottish,
Scandinavian or Eastern European decent are the most sensitive. This happens at
the sub-clinical (or undiagnosable) level, in which sensitivity to
gluten-containing whole grains slowly erodes the gut lining over time,
eventually leading to a multitude of potential health related medical conditions,
such as: low blood pressure, heartburn, esophogeal reflux, vitamin/mineral
deficiencies (anemia), coughing, asthma, shortness of breath, allergies,
autoimmune disease, digestive issues, cancer, growth retardation, learning
disorders, neurological disorders, reproductive problems, seizures, lung
Disease, fatigue, anxiety, depression. "Anything
that damages the gut lining including bacterial, viral, and parasitic
infections, as well as alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy, can predispose one
to autoimmunity, multiple chemical sensitivities, and allergies to otherwise
benign foods." - Robb Wolf (Damn
Foods to Avoid:
Grain free/Gluten-free means avoiding all foods containing wheat, oats,
rye, barley, spelt, bulgar, semolina, couscous, quinoa, amaranth, triticale,
and durum flour. Rice and corn can be problematic for some people, but are
usually far less provocative than the gluten containing grains. Gluten can
be hidden, so read labels carefully. Be wary of modified food starch,
dextrin, flavorings and extracts, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, imitation
seafood, soy sauce and creamed or thickened products such as soups, stews,
What Can Be Done:
If you believe that you may be sensitive/intolerant to grains and gluten
containing grains, one of the best things you can do is eliminate the
aforementioned foods from your diet for a minimum of 60-90 days to allow the
healing process to occur within your digestive system. A mini-test can be done for 2-weeks to identify if any specific
symptoms diminish, however the full 2-3 months is an absolute must for true
healing to take place. This includes elimination of processed dairy products as
these too will cause inflammation and are best left out of the diet for the
duration of the healing process.
Resources for More Information:
Grains: Braly and Hoggan
Paleo Solution: Robb Wolf
Calories, Bad Calories: Gary Taubes
Primal Blueprint: Mark Sisson
Blueprint: Mark Sisson. 2009. p. 152-153.Damn Dirty
Grains. Robb Wolf. The Performance Menu.
Supplement Corner: Magnesium
Magnesium is a vital mineral that works synergistically in the body with calcium. We often hear about the necessity of calcium, however, rarely hear about the importance of magnesium as a major player in our human evolution.
What Does It Do?
Magnesium has an influence in blood clotting, energy production, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission. Magnesium deficiency appears to be player in:
- Insulin Resistance
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia
- High Blood Pressure
Where Do We Get It?
Fruits, vegetables; particularly the dark green vegetables
How Much Do We Need?
The RDA for magnesium is 300-400mg/day for adults, however, as compared to the diet of our ancestors, this amount is far from sufficient. More realistic is 1200-2000mg/day. The excessive consumption of grains and dairy for the "needed calcium" has displaced fruits and vegetables in our diet and left magnesium in the dust. Magnesium plays a crucial role in bone formation and actually helps the body increase calcium absorption.
Supplemental magnesium (400-600mg/day) can be very relaxing for most people and therefore, is best taken before bed. I recommend a popular over the counter product called Natural Calm mixed in water. Also, I have had excellent sleep success with a combination of oral and topical magnesium products such as UBER Mag (with dinner and before bed) and Topical Mag (2 squirts rubbed behind your knees before bed). If you get loose stools the following day, then decrease your dosage. Alternately, if you feel like the magnesium gives you energy, then you are extremely deficient, and should take it in the morning instead of at night.
The Paleo Solution. Robb Wolf. p. 279-280
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