Friday 28 February 2014

The Maasai, Genetics, Eggs and Cholesterol

We are told that high intakes of dietary cholesterol raise plasma levels of cholesterol carrying lipoproteins. In turn this is said to cause atherosclerosis which causes cardiovascular disease. This cholesterol theory of cardiovascular disease is widely believed to be true, by laymen and experts alike. However, evidence does not support the contention that dietary cholesterol is the cause of cardiovascular disease.

What Is A Theory?

A scientific theory can be thought of as a supposition with a chain of supporting evidence. In order for the theory to be valid, observations must fit with that theory. If any observations contradict the theory, then the theory is invalid and must be rejected. When we attempt to gather a chain of evidence for the cholesterol theory of cardiovascular disease, we find that much of the evidence actually contradicts the theory.

The Maasai

The Maasai are a group of tribal shepherd who live in Kenya and Northern Tanzania. They herd sheep and goats which are their main sources of food. They eat the flesh, and drink the milk and the blood of the animals. This gives them a very high dietary cholesterol intake. However, the plasma cholesterol levels of the Maasai are quite normal and they do not suffer from cardiovascular disease. Despite eating little but flesh and milk, they are quite healthy.


Studies have tried to raise plasma cholesterol levels by feeding eggs to healthy subjects. However, as with the Maasai, such high cholesterol diets do not raise plasma levels of cholesterol. Eating up to six eggs per day has no effect on the plasma cholesterol levels of healthy people because as dietary intake increases, liver synthesis rates fall. Therefore the body is able to regulate plasma cholesterol levels perfectly in healthy individuals.

Familial Hypercholesterolaemia

Some studies have shown that eating higher intakes of dietary cholesterol does cause increases in plasma cholesterol. However, such studies have often made methodological errors. For example, large scale epidemiological studies often include subjects with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolaemia. This defect allows dietary cholesterol to influence plasma cholesterol levels. Including such subjects biases the results and is of questionable value.

Healthy People And Cholesterol

The studies investigating egg consumption and the observations of the Maasai show that in normal healthy individuals, dietary cholesterol does not influence plasma cholesterol. Only those with genetic defects are affected. In fact, early research deliberately used individuals with familial hypercholesterolaemia to assess the effects of dietary treatments. While interesting, such studies are completely irrelevant to people without the genetic defect.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Cholesterol Testing

Eggs are a rich source of cholesterol but do not raise plasma levels of cholesterol in healthy people. 

Cholesterol testing involves measuring the amount of various plasma lipoproteins in the blood that are used for carrying cholesterol. Cholesterol testing in a research setting is valid because studies often use detailed analysis to identify individuals lipoprotein subgroups. Cholesterol testing in the clinical setting for the general population is however a scam because it is simplified to a level that makes the results of no real clinical prognostic value.

Total Cholesterol: Meaningless

Cholesterol tests will often report on your total cholesterol levels in blood. Forty years ago when less was understood about plasma cholesterol, it was believed that high levels of total cholesterol were bad. However, total cholesterol is actually a general catch all term for a number of different cholesterol lipoproteins that are known to have different effects. As some of these cholesterol carrying lipoproteins are beneficial, total cholesterol is a pointless measurement.

Low Density Lipoprotein

The low density lipoprotein carries cholesterol from the liver to the tissues. There are two types of LDL particle. These are the small dense and large buoyant particles. Only elevated levels of the small dense LDL is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Elevated levels of the large buoyant LDL particle are not. Tests that report on total LDL without doing a subgroup analysis are therefore a waste of time because they are not a true reflection of risk.

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

The high density lipoprotein particle transports cholesterol from the tissues to the liver for metabolism and excretion. There are two HDL particles named the HDL2 and HDL3 particles. High levels of HDL are protective of cardiovascular. The fact that elevated levels of HDL are protective highlights the absurdity of measuring total cholesterol levels. In addition, a high levels of LDL is not detrimental if the HDL levels is also elevated similarly.


Lipoprotein(a) is a lipoprotein particle identical to the LDL particle but with an additional protein. Lipoprotein(a) is highly atherogenic which means it is strongly associated with atherosclotic plaques. It has been suggested by some that because of its similarity to the LDL particle, the normal testing procedure lumps lipoprotein(a) in with the normal LDL fraction of lipoproteins. This further calls into question the value of the LDL measurement.

Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL)

The VLDL lipoprotein particle transports newly synthesised triglycerides from the liver to the tissues, including the adipose tissue. High levels of triglycerides are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease because they are associated with insulin resistance. Of all the tests this is possibly the most relevant to health as it reflects the presence of the metabolic syndrome and blood sugar disorders such as glucose intolerance and diabetes.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Homocysteine and Cardiovascular Disease

Plasma homocysteine can be lowered effectively by talking B vitamin supplements. 

Back in the 1960’s a doctor was treating some young patients who had a congenital defect called homocystinuria. These children were missing the enzyme responsible for converting homocysteine to cysteine. As a result, homocysteine accumulated in their cells and then spilled over into their blood. The high levels of homocysteine in their blood caused damage to their artery walls and lead to premature death from cardiovascular disease.

Dr Kilmer McCully

The doctor was called Kilmer McCully. He noticed that the physiological changes that the children experienced were similar to those of atherosclerosis. He published his findings and suggested that cardiovascular disease in the population at large was also caused by elevated levels of homocysteine. However, whereas homocystinuria was caused by a genetic defect, in the general population it was caused by a deficiency of B vitamins vitamin.

Ridicule and Dismissal

McCully was ridiculed for his research and his funding was withdrawn. Unable to continue researching, he disbanded his investigation of homocysteine and cardiovascular disease. It is unclear why these events occurred, but likely that his theory threatened the then popular cholesterol theory of cardiovascular disease, a theory upon which drug companies were about to make billions of dollars in revenue.

He Who Laughs Last…

McCully was eventually vindicated when other research supported his hypothesis. Elevated homocysteine is now known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Deficiencies of vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and folic acid cause elevations in plasma homocysteine because they are required a cofactors in enzymes that metabolise homocysteine to other substances. As intakes of the vitamins fall, the enzyme activity drops and homocysteine accumulates in tissues.

How Does Homocysteine Cause Cardiovascular Disease

Originally it was thought that homocysteine damaged the lining of arteries causing atherosclerotic plaques. This may be partially true, but more recent evidence suggest that homocysteine may cause an increase in free radicals that inhibit nitric oxide production. This may then cause endothelial dysfunction which over time decreases the elasticity of arteries. As this inelasticity becomes permanent the normal response of arteries to blood flow is impaired.

Get Your B Vitamins

Elevated level of plasma homocysteine cause cardiovascular disease. The reason that the pharmaceutical industry and the medical establishment have completely ignored homocysteine is because it is easily treatable with cheap B vitamins. An optimal intake of B vitamins lowers homocysteine levels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease significantly. Elevated plasma homocysteine is also now linked to dementia.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

A New Paradigm For Cardiovascular Disease

The new paradigm for cardiovascular disease suggests that endothelial dysfunction plays a major role in its development. 

The traditional view is that cardiovascular disease is caused by the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques that are in turn caused by high levels of plasma cholesterol resulting from dietary cholesterol. These atherosclerotic plaques are said to restrict the flow of blood, ‘clogging’ the arteries. Over time, part of the atherosclerotic plaque is said to break off, forming a clot, which gets trapped in the narrower arteries, thus inhibiting the flow of blood and causing a heart attack.

The Science

The problem with this theory is that atherosclerosis is not associated with cardiovascular disease. The Japanese have high rates of atherosclerosis, and are just as atheroslcerotic as Americans, but their rates of cardiovascular disease are much lower. Secondly, high levels of cholesterol do not cause cardiovascular disease in the majority of people. Many sub-groups of people such as the elderly, young and women show no link between plasma cholesterol and cardiovascular death.

Cholesterol Confusion

So raised plasma cholesterol does not lead to atherosclerosis, and atherosclerosis does not lead to cardiovascular disease. However, it is worse because dietary cholesterol is not able to cause elevations in plasma cholesterol. The whole of the cholesterol theory of cardiovascular disease is actually pseudoscience based little more than propaganda. To explain cardiovascular disease we therefore need a new paradigm that is supported by evidence.

Free Radical

Plants are known to be protective of cardiovascular disease. However it is not know why this protection occurs. It is suspected that plants protect from cardiovascular disease because they inhibit free radicals. The new paradigm in cardiovascular disease suggests that it is not cholesterol that causes cardiovascular disease, but free radicals. Free radicals are generated in the body from poor diet, pollution and stress where they interfere with artery function.

Endothelial Dysfunction, NOT Atherosclerosis

The new paradigm suggests that it is not atherosclerosis that causes cardiovascular disease but free radical induced endothelial dysfunction. When free radicals are formed they interact with the endothelial lining of arteries and inhibit the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is required for the elastic relaxation of arteries when blood flows through them. Over time lack of nitric oxide causes endothelial dysfunction and the lack of elasticity in the arteries is permanently lost.

Plants Protect From Endothelial Dysfunction

Plants prevent cardiovascular disease because they protect the endothelial tissues from free radicals and maintain high levels of nitric oxide. As a result the elasticity of arteries is maintained and the arteries deform in response to blood flow as intended. Study after study attests to the beneficial effects of antioxidants of this endothelial flow mediated dilation that facilitates blood flow. Reducing the free radical damage is therefore pivotal in preventing cardiovascular disease.

Monday 24 February 2014

Cholesterol Is Not The Cause Of Cardiovascular Disease

Despite being high in cholesterol, eggs do not raise plasma levels of cholesterol.

We are dogmatically told that dietary cholesterol is the cause of cardiovascular disease. This is believed to be a ‘fact’ by many, including many medically trained professionals. However, the scientific evidence does not support this viewpoint. In fact the idea that cholesterol is the cause of cardiovascular disease is absurd and no more than pseudoscience. So what evidence is there that dietary cholesterol is not the cause of cardiovascular disease?

1. Early Studies Have Been Discredited

Much of the theory of cholesterol causing cardiovascular disease was based on scientific studies by Ancel Keys. In these studies he showed an association between dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease in a number of countries. However, Keys chose to include only countries that fitted his hypothesis and left out data that would have nullified the association. His studies are now discredited, but the lie from it lives on in anti-cholesterol propaganda.

2. Dietary Cholesterol Propaganda

The simple truth is that feeding subject high cholesterol diets does not cause elevations in plasma cholesterol concentrations. The Maasai eat almost exclusively high cholesterol foods and have low plasma cholesterol concentrations. This is because most of the cholesterol in the plasma is synthesised endogenously in the liver. As intakes go up, liver synthesis falls to maintain normal plasma cholesterol concentrations.

3. Dietary Fibre Lowers Plasma Cholesterol

Some studies have reported that increases in dietary cholesterol cause increases in plasma cholesterol. However, these studies have methodological problems. The main problem is that high cholesterol diets are also low fibre diets. This is problematic because fibre is known to lower plasma cholesterol levels by increasing bile excretion. Studies that claim to have shown that high cholesterol intakes raise plasma levels of cholesterol are therefore poorly designed.

4. However, Fructose DOES Raise Plasma Cholesterol

Fructose is a metabolic poison that when eaten to excess causes fatty liver disease, hepatic insulin resistance and abdominal obesity. This cluster of conditions is now termed the metabolic syndrome, the development of which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. As the metabolic syndrome develops changes to cholesterol metabolism in the liver occur. This leads to increases in the plasma cholesterol concentrations.

5. The Plasma Cholesterol Association

Raised levels of plasma cholesterol are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. As plasma cholesterol levels increase, cardiovascular disease risk also increases. However, this is an association. It cannot be said that plasma cholesterol is the cause of cardiovascular disease. In fact, raised plasma cholesterol and cardiovascular disease are both caused by another factor. This factor is likely the free radicals and inflammation generated by the metabolic syndrome.

6. Low Carbohydrate Diets

Low carbohydrate diets cause weight loss without calorie restriction. As weight loss occurs on such diets, improvements in plasma cholesterol are seen. This is because low carbohydrate diets reverse the severity of the metabolic syndrome, and as the insulin resistance, abdominal obesity and fatty liver rescind in severity, the plasma cholesterol levels concomitantly also drop. Eating high cholesterol foods in such diets does not diminish their benefits.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Protein Leverage

The protein leverage theory suggest that each animal has a minimum requirement for protein and eating food continues until that requirement is met. High protein foods satisfy the requirement sooner an therefore cause appetite suppression earlier.

The main problem with forced calorie restriction diets is the fact that after a while, you feel hungry. It may take a week, a month or a year, but sooner or later most people who cut calories get hungry. This causes an increase in food intake which ultimately causes weight regain. Controlling appetite is therefore paramount if weight loss is to occur. The protein leverage theory states that protein might offer some assistance in this regard.

The Protein Leverage Theory

The protein leverage theory suggests that each animals has a requirement for amino acids. Amino acids are found in protein, and therefore dietary protein provides the necessary amino acids. If lower protein foods are eaten, then compensatory increases in food intake occurs to maintain the minimum amino acid intake. Higher protein foods satisfy the requirement for amino acids more quickly and so less total food in consumed.

High Protein Foods Cause Weight Loss

The protein leverage hypothesis might explain why high protein diets cause weight loss. Increasing the protein intake causes satisfaction of the protein requirements at a lower total calorie load, and as a result appetite is down regulated to prevent additional food intake. Supplementing the diet with protein powder would have the same effect as eating high protein foods in that it would provide the protein requirements at a lower total load of energy.

Most Foods Are Devoid Of Protein

When you are out and about, finding high protein foods is difficult. It is only when you try to find such foods that you realise that most Western food is carbohydrate based. If the protein leverage hypothesis is correct, people eating such foods will not satisfy their protein requirements and so appetite will be stimulated to increase protein intake. Under such conditions, only at very high calorie intakes with protein requirements be met, thus facilitating weight gain.

Exercise Increases Protein Requirement

If the protein leverage hypothesis is true, then protein requirement is likely not fixed. Exercise, particularly resistance training is known to increase the requirement for dietary protein. Therefore undertaking resistance training would create a higher set point for protein compared to the untrained state. Protein supplements are probably necessary under such conditions so as not to facilitate the consumption of too many calories to satisfy amino acid requirements.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Obesity Disease: Metabolic Dysfunction

High quality foods like oats and vegetables do not cause obesity disease because they do not cause metabolic dysfunction.

Many believe excessive weight gain to be due to laziness and greed. This is based on a propaganda model created by the food industry. In order to convince the public that their food is safe, the food industry must claim that any food eaten to excess causes weight gain. This hides the fact that it is their low quality poisonous junk foods that are the real cause of obesity. So what evidence is there that obesity (obesity disease) is actually a metabolic disorder caused by low quality foods?

1. Overfeeding Doesn’t Cause Obesity Disease

When you overfeed healthy individuals high quality foods they do not become fat. Many overfeeding studies have been performed, and only those that feed sugary foods are able to cause excess fat accumulation. Ad libitum access to normal healthy food results in a natural energy homeostasis, that balances energy expenditure and intake based on fluctuations in daily activity and feeding patterns. Try to get fat on tuna fish and beans. You won’t be able to.

2. Obesity Disease Is Characterised By Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is the insensitivity of the insulin receptor to the hormone insulin. In the obesity disease, despite insulin being released to the blood, it is ineffective at causing the cellular uptake of glucose. Reversing this insulin resistance through high quality nutrition causes body composition improvements. However, calorie restriction does not. Feeding fructose or sugar to animals and humans causes insulin resistance within a few weeks.

3. Dieting Damages Metabolism

If laziness and greed were the causes of obesity, then dieting and exercise would reverse the condition. However, this is not the case. Obese individuals who undergo exercise or dieting lose weight, but a large proportion of this is muscle. This lowers the metabolic rate and possibly causes permanent damage to thyroid hormone metabolism. The obesity disease does not respond to exercise and diet because it is caused by factors other than excess energy intake.

4. Abdominal Obesity Disease

Abdominal fat is not normal fat. It is fat lain down around the vital organs especially the liver. This fat is not available as a source of energy because it does not result from normal metabolic energy storage pathways. Instead it is caused by fructose induced hepatic insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction. The development of non-alcoholic fatty liver therefore is a characteristic of obesity and strongly implicates poor diet in the formation of the obesity disease.

5. Leptin Resistance And The Obesity Disease

Obesity and excess weight gain is associated with leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that normally signals the hypothalamus to provide information regarding the degree of adiposity. When the hypothalamus becomes leptin resistant the fat stores are believed to be low. Exercise and calorie restriction under these circumstances causes countermeasures aimed at decreasing energy expenditure. High quality food reverse the insensitivity of the hypothalamus to leptin.

Friday 21 February 2014

Lifting Heavy Weights For Fat Loss

Lifting heavy weights can improve body composition because it causes muscle growth. More muscle means a higher metabolic rate which means more fat loss.

Aerobic exercise is not efficient at burning fat. Convincing people of this is difficult. People believe that exercise is a calorie burning procedure and that the longer they exercise the more energy they will use. However, this is not true. In fact the longer people perform aerobic exercise the less fat they are likely to burn. This is because aerobic exercise decreases the likelihood of gaining muscle mass, and it is this muscle that burns fat and improves body composition.

Resting Metabolic Rate

The trick to losing body fat is to increase the resting metabolic rate. The resting metabolic rate is in turn directly proportional to the amount of muscle you have. The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn at rest. Any exercise that increases muscle therefore causes fat loss. Aerobic exercise doesn’t do this because it only burns fat while exercising. It is therefore necessary to find exercises that build muscle, which means lifting heavy weights.

Lift Heavy Or Go Home

Even if you can persuade dieters to abandon aerobic exercise and pick up some weights, it’s even harder to convince them to lift heavy weights. Most fail to grasp the fact that it's not the action of performing the lift that causes muscle growth, but the resistance you apply to the muscle. Lifting light weight multiple times is not better than aerobic exercise, because it is aerobic exercise. Lifting heavy weight for between 6 and 20 reps is where muscle gains are made.

Use Big Lifts

Barbell curls are a favourite exercise of gym goers. But to be honest, they are probably fairly useless in the grand scheme of things. Your biceps are tiny in comparison to the quadriceps muscle in your legs or the latissimus dorsi muscle in your back. To gain the most muscle in the least time, lifting heavy weights for a low number of repetitions with simple weightlifting movements is the way to go. If you avoid lifting heavy weights you are probably harming your fat loss efforts.

But I Don’t Want to Get ‘Muscley’

Firstly, ‘muscley’ is not a word. The word is muscular. Secondly, if you don’t want to add muscle to your frame to lose weight you will never improve your body composition. Please don’t think that because you’re lifting heavy weights twice a week you will turn into a pro-bodybuilder, because you won’t. Building a muscular physique takes years of dedication, and often requires steroids. The muscle you gain from a few gym sessions a week will hardly be noticed visually.

Don’t Forget The Post-Workout Window

When you’ve finished lifting heavy weights you need sugar and protein. Your muscles will be primed ready to soak up nutrients like a sponge. It’s during this two hour window where you can eat the foods you would normally avoid. Sugary foods along with a high protein meal is necessary to stimulate protein synthesis and glycogen reformation. If you must eat chocolate or other sugary foods, do it in this two hour window guilt free.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Exercise Intensity: Burn Fat While You Sleep

Increasing exercise intensity can cause muscle hypertrophy. Adding protein to the diet will enhance the muscle stimulating effects of intense exercise.

It is believed by many that it is necessary to perform hours of aerobic exercise to lose weight. However, looking at the physiological response to aerobic exercise we see this is a very poor strategy. Aerobic exercise is not beneficial because it is a highly inefficient way to cause fat loss. In fact being asleep for eight hours burns more calories than low intensity cycling for one hour. Increasing exercise intensity is therefore vital if exercise is to be an effective fat burner.

Exercise Can’t Burns Belly Fat

Firstly, it should be made clear that belly fat is a symptom of a metabolic dysfunction. Belly fat is an outward manifestation of fatty liver and insulin resistance. Poor quality diet is the cause of this dysfunction and the cure is therefore a reversal of this situation. Eating high quality foods is therefore necessary to reverse fatty liver, and exercise, even high intensity exercise, has little benefit. If you are performing exercise to burn the fat on your belly, forget it. Just eat better food.

Exercise Can Burn Other Fat

Exercise is effective at burning other body fat. Subcutaneous peripheral fat responds well to exercise. However, it is important to change the way you think about exercise to efficiently use this strategy. Most think of exercise as a calorie burning exercise. This is conceptually wrong because it blinds the individual to performing aerobic exercise for hours on end. Instead exercise should be thought of as a muscle building exercise. It is the muscle gains that are the key to fat burning.

Exercise Intensity is Key

High intensity exercise causes metabolic changes in muscle tissue that are not present following low intensity exercise. In particular high intensity exercise causes adaptation of the muscle fibres causing hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is muscle growth, and it is this aspect of exercise that causes fat loss. As muscle mass increases, resting metabolic rate increases too. This increases the calories being consumed during the course of the day during everyday activities, even during sleep.

How To Increase Exercise Intensity

Exercise intensity is increased by raising the force output of the muscle. In layman’s terms this means providing more resistance to the muscle, or asking it to work with the same resistance but faster. Strength and power movements are therefore of high intensity. Sprinting, throwing, jumping and lifting are all high intensity exercises. Because high intensity exercise fatigues the muscle quickly, there is no need to spend hours training. Thirty minutes three times and week is all that is needed.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Gamma Linolenic Acid Aids Weight Loss

Gamma linolenic acid may aid fat loss because it can improve insulin sensitivity.

Most ‘dieters’ avoid fats because they are a rich source of energy. However, this is a mistake because many fats are beneficial at causing weight loss. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is a fatty acid found in a number of plants including evening primrose and starflower. Gamma linolenic acid can also be synthesised from linoleic acid, a common fatty acid found in most vegetable oils. High intakes of gamma linolenic acid may have beneficial effects on body composition.

GLA Improves Insulin Sensitivity

One study assessed the use of gamma linolenic acid in preventing weight regain in dieters. Following a low calorie diets, those individuals who consumed gamma linolenic acid regained less weight than those given olive oil. The authors of the study suggested that the gamma linolenic acid prevented weight regain because it changed the way that fat was stored. In particular, they suggested it improved insulin sensitivity, which caused less energy to be sequestered as fat.

GLA Acid Reduces Inflammation

Weight gain, obesity and excess body fat is associated with inflammation. However, the cause and effects of this association is not fully understood. Obesity may cause inflammation in the body. Alternatively, inflammation may cause increased accumulation of belly fat. If the latter is true, gamma linolenic acid might be beneficial because it has important anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, these effects may in turn be the way that gamma linolenic acid improves insulin sensitivity.

GLA Supplements

Although gamma linolenic acid can be synthesised in humans, this process is inefficient. This is likely because humans have a genetic defect in the necessary enzyme. So while gamma linolenic acid can be synthesised from the linoleic acid in most vegetables oils, the reality is that this does not happen. In order to benefit from the weight loss effects of gamma linolenic acid, supplemental forms of the fatty acid must be used.

Don’t Forget The Fish Oils Too

Supplemental gamma linolenic acid may have anti-inflammatory effects. It may also improve insulin sensitivity. These effects are likely enhanced by simultaneous supplementation with fish oils. Fish oils compliment gamma linolenic acid because they have very similar anti-inflammatory and insulin sensitising effects. However, because they work in a slightly different ways, when combined their effect are synergistic.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Do Oats Cause Weight Loss?

Oats cause weight loss, possibly because of the soluble fibre they contains.

Oats to most means porridge. And porridge is very nice too. But few stop to think about the benefits to eating oats compared to other breakfast cereals. Historically oats have been revered for their health promoting properties. Modern science has analysed oats and found them to contain a number of substances that can explain their benefits. In particular oats are high in soluble fibre containing beta glucans. The fibre content may be why oats cause weight loss.

Beta Glucan

Beta glucans are a soluble fibre found in the bran of cereal grains. Oats are a good sources of beta glucans. If oats cause weight loss, beta glucans are a likely reason for this effects. Beta glucans are long chains of glucose molecules similar to starch. Many different beta glucans are known. Beta glucans are bioactive compounds, which means they are known to affect human physiology. Eating oats can supply high concentrations of beta glucans.

Weight Loss And Oats

Eating oats is associated with weight loss. This effects may result from the high concentrations of soluble fibre, including beta glucans. Soluble fibre can cause weight loss because it forms a viscous gel in the gut. This forms a physical barrier to nutrient absorption, slowing the absorption of glucose. The result of this is a slow trickle of glucose into the blood, which prevents the liver becoming overloaded with nutrients.

Other Health Effects of Oats

Oats cause weight loss, but they have other health effects as well. In particular, oats can lower cholesterol concentrations. In the gut, beta glucans bind to bile acids and prevent their reabsorption. Because bile acids contain cholesterol, this causes a net excretion of cholesterol, lowering plasma levels. Beta glucans are absorbed from the gut to the lymph and here they enter circulation. In the blood, beta glucans interact with immune cells and stimulate immunity.

Breakfast Cereals Promote Weight Gain

Breakfast cereal and milk is popular only in a handful of countries. This is because 70 to 100 % of the World’s population is lactose intolerant and cannot drink milk. Most commercial breakfast cereals contain lots of sugar which promotes weight gain. The same countries that eat sugary breakfast cereals also have problems with obesity. Oats cause weight loss, are tasty and can improve your health. Swapping to porridge seems like a simple decision to me.

Monday 17 February 2014

Tea Varieties and their Weight Loss Effects

There are many tea varieties. Some teas have fat burning effects.

Buying tea these days can be confusing. There are many tea varieties and a lot of misinformation surrounding them. Some teas are good for weight loss and some aren't. Knowing your tea varieties can therefore help save time and money and keep your fat burning efforts moving in the right direction.  Many teas also promote health and can significantly reduce the risk of disease. This beneficial health effect may reflect their high antioxidant levels.

Black Tea

Tea is a drink made from the Camellia sinensis plant. This plant is rich in antioxidants called catechins. Black tea is made by fermenting the leaves of the tea plant. This converts some of the catechins to tannins, producing the distinctive taste. Black tea contains caffeine which has fat burning effects. Black tea also contains theanine. Theanine in tea is also beneficial in weight loss, and black tea is the richest source.

Green Tea

Green tea is the king of fat burners. Studies attest to the fat burning effects of green tea. Green tea is made from the same plant as black tea, but the leaves are steamed rather than fermented. Like black tea, green tea contains caffeine which has a fat burning effect. However, green tea also contains catechins that can enhance the fat burning effects of caffeine. The theanine in green tea may also contribute to the weight loss effects of green tea.

White Tea

To the Chinese white tea is a special variety of tea harvested only from the Fujian province. To other countries white tea is made only from the bulbs and young leaves of tea plants. Either way, white tea has as much caffeine as both black and green tea. However its higher concentrations of catechin make it a superior fat burner compared to black tea. Theanine is also present as with black and green tea, and this contributes to the fat burning reputation of white tea.

Oolong Tea

Chances are you may not have heard of oolong tea unless you live in Asia. Oolong tea is halfway between black tea and green tea. This is because oolong tea is only partially fermented. It retains some of the catechins of green tea but has some of the tannins of black tea. Oolong tea has a similar caffeine and theanine content to both black and green tea. Because oolong tea retains some of the catechins of green tea it has better fat burning properties than black tea.

Red Bush Tea

Red bush tea is also called rooibos tea. Red bush tea is not made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Instead it is made from the Aspalathus linearis plant, and is naturally caffeine free. The tea comes from South Africa and is a good source of antioxidants. Because of this it has a number of health benefits. However, fat burning is not one of them. Feel free to drink rooibos for its antioxidants, but don't expect any weight loss effects.

Dandelion Tea

Dandelion tea has some very interesting weight loss properties. Drinking dandelion tea causes rapid weight loss in most people. However, the reason for this has nothing to do with fat burning. Dandelion is a diuretic, and so regular consumption causes a loss of body water. This is the reason that dandelion appears in many weight loss products. If you see a fat burner with dandelion in it, walk away as it is nothing but snakeoil.

Sunday 16 February 2014

Fast Food, Weight Loss Style

Beans, eggs, tinned mackerel and oats are high quality foods that are easy to prepare. This makes them healthy fast foods.

Forget calorie counting and hamster wheel training. Burning fat and losing weight is all about eating high quality foods. This is because weight gain and belly fat are caused by poor quality foods that act as metabolic poisons. To get lean we need to replace the unhealthy foods with healthy foods. Its easy to be put off eating healthy foods if you are used to the convenience of fast foods. But some healthy food are fast foods which means eating healthy can be easy.


Eggs are a highly nutritious foods. They contain vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and high amounts of protein. Eggs are also very versatile as a food, and are fast to prepare. Eggs on whole grain toast, scrambled eggs and boiled eggs all take a few minutes to make but provide high quality nutrition. At pnce per gram of protein, eggs are also fairly cheap (or should that be cheep cheep?). Make sure you get free range though, they have better nutrition profiles.

Beans Beans Beans

Legumes are known to improve blood sugar levels and this probably explains their weight loss effects. Their beneficial effects on blood sugar results from their particularly slow release carbohydrates. Frozen beans such as baby broad beans take a few minutes to boil and are then ready to serve. Canned baked beans are not as beneficial as frozen or fresh beans, but even studies using canned baked beans in tomato sauce show weight loss effect without calorie restriction.

Make A Fish

Long chain fatty acids and protein are weight loss nutrients. Studies confirm that those that eat high protein diets and have healthy intakes of long chain fatty acids are leaner than those who don’t. This is good news if you like fish are a great source of protein and some contain high amounts of long chain fatty acids. Tinned mackerel is therefore a fast food, because preparation is as simple as toasting some whole grain bread and opening a can.

Oats So Simple

Oats are a traditional Scottish food that are known for their health giving effects. They are high in protein, fibre, micronutrients and contain antioxidants. Eating oats is associated with improved body composition. Preparation of oats is as simple as adding milk and cooking for a few minutes on the stove. Eating oats for breakfast is a great way to dull the appetite for the rest of the day, and their warmth provides comfort on cold winters days.

Make It Quick

Fast food doesn't have to mean junk food. Listed here are four high nutritious food that can be cooked in less time than it takes to order a pizza. Eating nutritious high quality foods doesn't have to be a bind. If you don't like eggs, tinned mackerel, oats or beans, find your own nutritious fast foods. Just makes sure you stay away from the salt and sugar laden junks fast foods made by the major food manufacturers. Their fast food may taste nice, but it will also make you fat.

Saturday 15 February 2014

Meal Preparation Aids Weight Loss

Tinned mackerel is a good source of protein and long chain fatty acids.

Meal preparation is a vital aspect of weight loss. However, it’s a forgotten tool. Controlling what you put in your mouth is imperative if your fat burning efforts are not to be in vain. If you're out and about and don't have access to your own food supply, you fall at the mercy of the food industry and their salty sugary junk foods. Snacking on the food that you can buy in convenience stores, cafes and restaurants means you will end up fat and unhappy.

Junk Food, Junk Body

Most mainstream shops sell junk foods only. Sure there is the odd speciality shop that caters for the healthier individual, but generally shops sell to the masses. Most convenience foods are filled with sugar and salt and have little in the way of nutritional value. If you rely on foods you can buy when out and about you will seriously hamper your fat burning efforts. To get lean you must prepare your own foods and by-pass the food manufacturers junk.

Failing to Prepare Is Preparing to Fail

The forgotten art of meal preparation is a key aspect of successful weight loss. By taking control of your own food supply, you not only control when you eat, you control what you eat. This prevents addictive disease causing foods entering your food supply and helps maintain correct metabolic function. It also provides a supply of food to eat BEFORE you get hungry, because as we know very well, hunger should be avoided at all costs if fat burning is a priority.

What Meals Preparation Involves

Meal preparation can be as simple or as complex as you requires. If you wish to pre cook meals and take them with you, this is perfectly acceptable. However, meal preparation can be as simple as buying some nuts and fruit and packing them in your bag. There are many foods such as nuts, seeds and dried fruit that can be easily carried and used as required. Certain tinned foods such as fish, and supplements such as whey protein can also be prepared in advance.

Don’t Forget Your Supplements

Many people buy supplements and never take them. I might be wrong, but I am pretty certain that supplements don't have an effect unless you actually take them. Going away for the weekend and leaving your supplements at home will do you no favours, and is pretty lame. Some supplements such as vitamin C are water soluble and this means then must be consumed everyday. Packing your supplements is therefore important if you want to stay healthy.

Meal Replacement Powders

Meal replacement powders (MRPs) can be a great way to get good quality nutrition on the go. Although aimed at athletes, MRPs contain high levels of proteins and are usually supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Just make sure you get a brand that doesn't contain simple sugars, but which has polysaccharides as the carbohydrate source. Throwing a couple of sachets of Met-Rx in your bag the night before a trip can really take the sting out of meal preparation.

Friday 14 February 2014

Methylxanthines In Tea And Coffee

Green tea is an effective fat burner. This may result from a combination of its methylxanthine, catechin and theanine content.

Both tea and coffee are associated with improved body composition. The exact reasons for this effect are said by many to be due to the methylxanthine content of the drinks. Methylxanthines include caffeine, theophylline and theobromine, and all have been shown to increase metabolic rate and cause fat burning effects. The three methylxanthines have different effects in humans, and they are also present in different concentrations in tea and coffee.

Caffeine: Main Methylxanthine in Coffee

Coffee beans are a rich source of caffeine. It is therefore no surprise that coffee contains caffeine as well. Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant and known ergogenic aid. Not only can it increase motivation to exercise, it also delays fatigue and increases use of fat as a fuel. The weight loss effects of caffeine are well known and herbs containing caffeine, such as guarana, are used in many weight loss products.

Theophylline: Main Methylxanthine In Tea

While coffee contains mainly caffeine, tea contains mainly theophylline. Theophylline isn't as good as caffeine at stimulating the central nervous system and therefore theophylline isn't as good a fat burner as caffeine. Tea does contain caffeine, but generally not as much as coffee. Theophylline does relax smooth muscle better than caffeine, which is why it is often also found in cold remedies and drugs given to asthmatics.

Methylxanthines: Green Tea Paradox

Interestingly black tea contains more caffeine than green tea. But green tea is a better fat burner than black tea. therefore caffeine cannot be the only reason that tea causes fat loss. Compositional studies investigating the chemical makeup of green tea have shown a number of other substances that may enhance its fat burning effects. While methylxanthines are important, they clearly are not the whole story when it comes to the weight loss effects of tea and coffee.

Green Tea Contains Theanine

Theanine is an amino acid in tea that has some interesting effects. In particular it increases alpha brain wave patterns. Alpha brain waves are the waves that cause relaxation, focus and what athletes call the zone. Tea therefore has significant anti-stress effects that explain its relaxing properties. Because stress is associated with weight gain and belly fat, some of the weight loss effect of green tea may be explained by its theanine content.


Green tea is also a rich source of catechin. Catechin is flavonoid that may aid weight loss. While catechin appears to possess no fat burning effects of its own, it can enhance the fat burning effects of caffeine. In addition, evidence shown that catechin may inhibit glucose absorption because it competes for the same intestinal transporter as glucose. Therefore it may regulate blood sugar levels favourably, which is known to have weight loss effects.

Is Coffee A One Trick Pony?

Caffeine appears to be the primary mechanism of fat burning for coffee. However, tea appears to have multiple mechanisms to cause weight loss, and these may act synergistically. In this respect, while coffee contains high concentrations of the most favourable methylxanthine for fat burning, it is an inferior fat burner compared to green tea. People are also more prone to put sugar in coffee, which almost certainly attenuates any benefits it may have.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Dietary Fibre To Starch Ratio

Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble form of dietary fibre.

Carbohydrate foods are popular amongst dieters. This popularity stems from the perception that low fat foods are healthy. Many dieters spend time assessing the fat content of their carbohydrate foods and make selections based on this criteria. In fact most are happy to consume cakes and biscuits so long as the fat content is low. This is based on the erroneous assumption that foods without fat do not cause weight gain and are therefore able to cause weight loss.

But They Are Wrong Deluded

Carbohydrate can easily be converted to fat in the body. The process is called de novo lipogenesis, literally the synthesis of new fat (from carbohydrate). The process of converting carbohydrate to fat is actually what causes most people to get fat. This is especially true if large amounts of refined carbohydrates are eaten. Refined carbohydrates flood the liver with nutrients and lead to liver overload syndrome. This causes fatty liver and the development of belly fat.

Slow the Digestion Rate With Dietary Fibre

Slowing the rate of carbohydrate digestion goes some way to limiting the exposure of the liver to huge quantities of food. In nature, starch (digestible carbohydrate) is usually present with dietary fibre (indigestible carbohydrate). In plant foods, dietary fibre tends to encapsulate the starch, usually in a grain, seed or skin. The dietary fibre to starch ratio in your diet should therefore reflect this natural ratio of carbohydrate (starch) to dietary fibre.

How Does Dietary Fibre Slow Digestion?

Dietary fibre can slow the absorption of starch in two ways. Firstly, dietary fibre in cell walls, seed coats and skins prevents the digestive enzymes reaching the starch. Sequestering the starch in a tough outer coat is natures way of ensuring the plants food contained within (which is what starch is) is protected from the environment and predators. Secondly, soluble dietary fibre can form a gel within the intestine when mixed with water. This forms a physical barrier to absorption.

Dietary Fibre And Weight Loss

If you a serious about losing weight it is imperative that you look at the dietary fibre content of foods. If a carbohydrate food is low in fibre then put it back on the shelf and move on. Whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables all contain high amounts of dietary fibre and are healthy foods. Cakes, biscuits, white bread, most breakfast cereals, and pretty much any carbohydrate food you can buy as a snack will contain virtually no fibre and will therefore cause you to get fat.

Don’t Bother With Dietary Fibre Supplements

Studies show that dietary fibre in supplemental form is not as effective as the fibre present in foods. This is because for fibre to be effective it needs to surround the starch in a seed, grain or skin. Eating junk refined carbohydrates and taking a fibre supplement therefore doesn’t make the cut. The fibre in oats and legumes consistently shows beneficial effects as slowing starch digestion rates. This explains the weight loss effects of these foods as shown in many studies.