Friday, May 21, 2010

Sweet but dangerous

The three enemies of our health have traditionally been the following:
1. Fat (causes cholesterol)
2. Salt (causes hypertension)
3. Sugar (causes diabetes)

Of the three, the first has begun to take less heat. The second continues to be a threat, but we now know that it’s not so serious. And the third (sugar) is indeed very dangerous to our well-being.

We must understand that all carbohydrates (cereal, pasta, potatoes, rice, fruit, candy, soda, honey, sugar) get converted to glucose in the body.

Glucose is a major fuel, but it’s toxic in high amounts. When large glucose concentrations are detected, the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin, which removes the extra glucose from the bloodstream. Insulin’s job is to store glucose in the liver and in muscles (as glycogen) and in fat cells (in the form of saturated fat).

However, if these storages get full, they become less receptive to further storage. That’s exactly what the term “insulin resistance” means, and it’s the first stage of diabetes. Unfortunately, fat cells are excluded. These can grow forever, as we all know too well.

Anyway, the body detects that the extra glucose was not removed, and thus more insulin is secreted – but this measure isn’t effective either. The result is that both glucose and insulin increase continuously, and both substances are toxic in high amounts. This causes inflammation, triglycerides, heart disease and other problems.

Finally, the pancreas gets depleted and can’t produce any more insulin. Thus, external insulin is required (by injection). The rest is history.

Don’t get fooled, glucose is essential for the body, but this doesn’t hold true for carbs. That’s why we have four mechanisms to create glucose (glycogenolysis in muscles and the liver, and gluconeogenesis in the liver and kidneys). On the other hand, there is only one mechanism to remove the extra glucose (insulin).

What you have to do is very simple:
1. Reduce all carbohydrates
2. Increase your activity levels, in order to constantly use up your glucose reserves

That's all there is to it!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The paralysis of analysis

The title is stolen from a favorite writer, who deals with a whole different subject. However, I believe that this issue occurs very frequently in fitness too.

In plain terms, it means that too much analysis leads mostly to inactivity. How many people spend countless hours reading about training/nutrition and constructing the perfect program, down to the finest detail, and in the end don’t do a single thing. As a matter of fact, the usual victims of this phenomenon are intelligent people. They are certain (rightfully to some extend) that before starting anything they should know everything about it. And in the end they don’t get past the theory.

Then we have another close relative, the “all or nothing” mentality. We believe that we must do everything perfect, or else there is no reason to do anything. Since we sidetracked from our precious program by missing yesterday’s workout, we can skip today too. Since we had a bagel for breakfast, it’s ok if we go to MacDonald’s for lunch.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Everything counts. And especially in fitness, it’s better to do anything than do nothing.

Both of these mentalities are part of human nature. I am also a frequent victim. For example, I don’t post on the blog unless I have the “perfect” subject. And as a result, I don’t write anything.

Consciously try to fight them.

When all is said and done, the basis of both is laziness. As soon as you are finished reading this article, stand up and do something for your body. Because no matter how much you read, in the end you must act.