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The Top Ten Diet Fallacies

By Ori Hofmekler

Diet Fallacy #1. BREAKFAST is The Most Important Meal of The Day

Contrary to what you may be told, morning is the worst time to eat. When you wake-up, your body is already in an intense detox mode, clearing itself from endotoxins and digestive waste of the past evening meal. During the morning hours, when digestion is fully completed (while you are on empty stomach), a primal survival mechanism, known as fight or flight reaction to stress, is triggered maximizing your body’s capacity to generate energy, be alert, resist fatigue and resist stress. This highly geared survival mode is primarily dominated by part of the autonomic nervous system known as the SNS (sympathetic nervous system). At that state, the body is in its most energy producing phase and that’s when most energy comes from fat burning. All that happens when you do not eat the typical morning meal.

If however you follow what “normal guys” do and eat your morning bagel and cereal and egg & bacon, you’ll most likely shut down the above energy producing system. The SNS and its fight or flight mechanism will be substantially suppressed. Instead, your morning meal will trigger an antagonistic part of the automatic nervous system known as the PSNS (Para sympathetic nervous system), which makes you sleepy, slow and less resilient to fatigue and stress. Instead of spending energy and burning fat, your body will be more geared towards storing energy and gaining fat. Under this state, detox would be inhibited. The overall metabolic stress would increase with toxins accumulating in the liver, giving the body another substantial reason to gain fat. (Fat tissues serve a biological storage for toxins)

The overall suppressing effects of morning meals, often lead into energy crushes during the daily (working) hours, often with chronic cravings for pick-up foods such as sweets, coffee and tobacco. Eating at the wrong time, would severely interrupt the body’s ability to be in tuned with the circadian clock. The human body has never adapted to such interruptions. We are primarily pre-programmed to rotate between the two autonomic nervous system parts: the daily SNS and the nightly PSNS. The SNS regulates alertness and action during the day, while PSNS regulates relaxation, digestion and sleep during the nightly hours. Any interruption in this primal daily cycle, may lead into sleepiness during the day followed by sleeping disorders at night. Morning meals must be carefully designed not to suppress the SNS and its highly energetic state. Minimizing morning food intake to fruits, veggie soup or small amounts of fresh light protein foods, such as poached or boiled eggs, plain yogurt, or white cheese, will maintain the body in an under eating phase, while promoting the SNS with its energy producing properties.

*Note: Athletes, who exercise in the morning, should turn breakfast into a post-exercise recovery meal. Such meals should consist of small amounts of fresh protein food plus carbohydrates such as, yogurt and banana, eggs plus a bowl of oatmeal, or cottage cheese with berries. Insulin spike is necessary for affectively finalizing the anabolic actions of GH and IGF1 after exercise. Nonetheless, after the initial recovery meal, it’s highly recommended to maintain the body in an under eating phase by minimizing daily carb intake in the followering meals. Applying small protein meals (minimum carbohydrates) every couple of hours will keep sustaining the SNS during the daily hours while providing amino acids for protein synthesis in the muscle tissues, promoting a long lasting anabolic effect after exercise.

In conclusion, breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day. The most important meals are post-exercise recovery meals. Saying that, for a WARRIOR every meal is a recovery meal helping to recuperate from either nutritional stress (under eating) or physical stress (exercise). It’s when you eat that makes what you eat matter.

Diet Fallacy #2: EATING BEFORE EXERCISING Will Provide Your Muscles with Instant Energy

It has been generally assumed that the human body operates like a machine and therefore in order to work, it needs to be fueled like a machine. Eating before exercise seems to make sense. But does it really? The idea that pre-exercise meals provide the muscle with instant energy is literally wrong, often misleading and counter effective.

In order to provide the muscle with nutrients and energy, food must be first fully digested. During digestion food is broken down into smaller compounds, yielding molecules of amino acids, fatty acids and glucose which are transferred to the body’s tissues through the circulatory system. The digestion elimination process, that occurs in the stomach, intestines, liver and kidneys, respectively, requires substantial amounts of energy. During digestion, blood flow shifts from the brain and muscles to the inside organs (responsible for digestion and elimination). That shift in the blood flow profoundly affects the brain and muscle tissues, lowering their capacity to perform and resist fatigue.

The question remains: “What about meals that require almost no digestion?” such as those made from fast assimilating nutrients. One may say that the idea of consuming a pre-exercise meal made from a blend of fast releasing proteins and carbohydrates (such as whey and sugar) initially looks quite appealing. In theory such meals would nourish the muscle tissues with amino acids and glucose to inhabit muscle break down, while providing instant energy. It all makes sense, but even so, in real life, things often work differently than in theory.

Recent studies demonstrated that eating fast releasing foods before or during exercise could be counter effective, to say the least. Investigators in the school of sport and exercise science, University of Birmingham, Edgbastion, England found that ingestion of carbohydrates before exercise adversely elevated plasma cortisol level. Interestingly enough, there was a significant reduction in post exercise cortisol when carbohydrates were not ingested before exercise. Furthermore, there was a faster shift from carbohydrate to fat fueling during exercise, when a pre-exercise meal was not applied.

As for protein, what failed to reach main stream nutrition knowledge is the already established fact that protein rich foods raise cortisol level if applied incorrectly. Studies at the University of Lubeck, in Germany, found that oral administration of fast releasing protein foods such as hydrolyzed (pre-digested) proteins, have an even more profound cortisol elevating effect, compared to whole protein foods. Note that, chronic elevated cortisol has been associated with muscle waist and fat gain (in particular abdominal fat).

In summary, pre-exercise meals may rob the brain and muscle from energy (due to digestion). Eliminating the digestion effect of pre-exercise meals may only make things worse. Eating meals made from fast releasing proteins and cabs, before exercise, can cause a profound cortisol elevating effect during and after exercise. This may severely compromise ones ability to build muscle and burn fat.

In conclusion, DO NOT EAT before exercise, instead eat right after exercise.

Ironically, the same meal that would be counter effective before exercise can turn to be most effective and beneficial when applied after exercise.

Numerous studies demonstrated the critical positive effects of post-exercise recovery meals on total muscle recuperation (i.e. replenishment of energy reserves and increased protein synthesis). Recent studies at the University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston, TX, revealed that applying fast releasing proteins and carbohydrates after exercise had substantial anabolic effect on stimulating net muscle protein synthesis, even in cases of elevated cortisol.

Consequently we are not preprogrammed to be fueled like machines. Our biological machine is based on survival mechanisms that when triggered, increase our capacity to utilize fuel, generate energy and better survive. We trigger these mechanisms, when we follow cycles that rotate between under eating while in an action followed by eating while in rest. For the human body, timing affects everything. “It is when you eat that makes what you eat matter.”

Diet Fallacy #3: EATING LATE Will Make You Fat

It has been commonly assumed that night is the worst time to eat. The logic: night is when the body typically slows down and therefore is more prone to gain fat. Makes sense, but is it true?

There are no conclusive studies or any evidence to prove the assumption that eating late meals causes fat gain more than eating early meals. Studies reveal that other variables such as the frequency of meals, the glycemic index of food, calorie intake and hormonal balance are the real “power brokers” in the body’s capacity to burn or gain fat.

Even so the notion that eating late causes fat gain is deep rooted. The reason: for most people, who typically eat several meals during the day, any additional meal including a late meal maybe “one too many”. The result is an overwhelming overloading effect on the body often involving fat gain. Does it mean that eating late is a bad idea? Quite the opposite. If daily food intake is planned properly and the evening meal turns to be the main meal, then eating late could be highly rewarding.

There is a substantial evidence that as humans we have well adapted to nightly eating. We carry the same genes of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who were primarily busy gathering or hunting during the daily hours and eating during the nightly hours, while at rest. Indeed, our body is biologically preprogrammed to work around the circadian clock (i.e. active during the day and relaxing at night). Our inner clock is controlled by two antagonistic autonomic nervous system; the SNS, with its highly alert “fight or flight” state, responsible for action and reaction to stress during the day, and the PSNS, responsible for relaxation, digestion and sleep during the night. For that matter, our body digests and utilizes nutrients better at night while at rest, than during the highly stressful hours of the day.

Furthermore, night is the time when growth hormone (GH) reaches a peak level. (Peak secretion during non REM, SWS deep sleep). GH is known to be a potent muscle and bone builder and a fat burner. Late meals, if applied correctly could be most anabolic. Note that GH actions can not be effectively finalized without the interference of insulin. Late meals, may well take advantage of max GH spike during the night, providing the nutrients required for actually facilitating GH actions, thus promoting protein synthesis in the muscle tissues and fat burning (in particular abdominal fat).

In conclusion, do not betray your biological destiny. Don’t deny yourself from eating late meals. If you do, your body may come back with a vengeance, to reclaim what was taken away from it, often inducing chronic cravings for food at night, which may result in nocturnal bingeing. Finally, late meals often have a relaxing effect on the body, preparing you for sleep. If nothing else, late meals can help bring a happy end for a tough day.

Diet Fallacy #4: FAT Makes You Fat

The claim “Fat is a fat is a fat … and therefore makes you fat”, is wrong and literally misleading.

Fat isn’t a fat isn’t a fat, and can’t be regarded as such. Dietary fat consists of a huge variety of fat molecules divided into groups and subgroups; each plays a different role in the body. Numerous studies demonstrated the critical functions of essential fatty acids (EFA’s), phospholipids and cholesterol compounds, in regulating blood pressure, inflammation, lipid metabolism, stress reaction, build up of cell membranes, nerves functions, immune actions and steroid hormone production, respectively. It’s evidently clear, that the role of dietary fat goes far beyond just being a fuel for energy or storage.

The real question is does dietary fat convert efficiently into energy? And for that matter, is the human body primarily well adapted to utilize fat as an immediate fuel for energy? As you’re about to read the answer isn’t simple, but even so it is yes and yes.

Studies at the department of clinical biochemistry and medicine, Addenbrooke’s hospital, Cambridge, UK, revealed that different people respond differently to high fat intake. An excess fat calorie was predominately stored in some individuals and in contrast, it increased total energy expenditure and fat oxidation with no fat gain, in others. The question remains: why are some individuals more prone to gain fat from fat calories than others?

There is a substantial amount of evidence that certain variables profoundly affect the capacity to utilize fat fuel. These variables include gender, exercise intensity, source of dietary fat and diet composition. Recent studies at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark, discovered that women have higher levels of lipid binding proteins, with a higher capacity to utilize fat fuel in the muscle tissue, than men. Interestingly, same studies found that men’s capacity to utilize fat in the muscles significantly increases with application of intense exercise.

The effect of exercise intensity on fat burning was further investigated at the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands. Studies revealed that fat serves as a most efficient fuel in the form of intramuscular fat (IMT). IMT stores function as an important and most effective substrate source of energy, in particular during intense prolonged exercise.

As noted, it has been suggested that fat mobilization and utilization seems to be also determined by other variables such as diet composition (ratio of fat/carbohydrates), glycemic index, source of dietary fat as well as the frequency and intensity of exercise.

According to the thrifty genes theory (Journal of Applied Physiology 96:3-10, 2004) humans have primarily adapted to better survive when following cycles of famine and feast (under eating and overeating); exercise and rest. It has also been suggested that we, humans have adapted better to primal foods on the bottom of the food chain evolution (late Paleolithic period).

It has been suggested that following a lifestyle that mimics primal feeding cycles and physical activity, would most likely trigger genes (thrifty genes) that help us better survive; making us more efficient in utilizing fat and carb fuel with an increased resistance to fatigue, stress and disease.

From that aspect, we humans generally do better on primal fat rich foods (bottom of the food chain), such as nuts, seeds and fertile eggs than later fatty foods (top of the food chain), derived from farm animals or processing, i.e. lard, butter or margarine, respectively. (Ed: May we include some vital ‘bottom of the food chain’, nutrient-dense foods our ancestors enjoyed - organ meats, insects and fish. May we also add that margarine is in fact NOT food.)

Primal fat foods such as nuts and seeds are also good sources of amino acids and fat soluble vitamins. In their raw state, they contain phytosterols (cholesterol- like plant compounds), which predominately support the production of sex steroid hormones. (Ed: may we suggest nuts and seeds be prepared by soaking and drying to eliminate toxins - this was done by numerous ancient populations.)

To take advantage of nuts and seeds, eat them alone or with veggies and protein. Do not combine these fat foods with sugar or grains. Nuts and seeds are naturally low glycemic. Generally our body is better adapted to food with a low glycemic index. (Slow releasing nutrients)

In summary, fat is primarily a superior fuel. Muscle is the largest fat utilizing organ. Exercise intensity positively affects the body’s capacity to utilize fat for energy. We, humans, have adapted to better survive on primal high fat foods that belong to the bottom of the food chain, such as nuts and seeds or fertile eggs. These primal high fat foods should maintain their natural low glycemic character and therefore should not be combined with later high glycemic foods such as grains or sugar. Evidently, the same fat foods that may cause fat gain could instead convert to energy and promote fat burning if combined properly.

In conclusion, “fat makes you fat” is a fallacy that completely disregards the complexity and critical functions of dietary fat.

If taken seriously, such fallacy often causes fat phobias which typically lead into extreme low fat diets, with severe consequences including malnutrition, chronic fatigue, eating disorders, impotency, compromised immunity and fat gain.

Diet Fallacy #5: CARBS Are Your Enemy

Carbohydrates are currently regarded as the culprit for the on going epidemic of overweight, obesity and their related disease. It has been commonly assumed that carbs are not essential nutrients and therefore could be severely restricted or even spared. Low carbohydrate diet advocates argue that insulin is a fat gain promoting hormone and therefore should be tightly controlled by chronically restricting carbohydrates. Due to the current popularity of low carb diets, it seems as if carbohydrates are the enemy. But are they? As you’ll soon see, nothing could be so far from the truth.

Let’s examine the assumption that carbohydrates are not essential nutrients. This assumption literally fails to recognize the two most critical biological functions of carbs (besides being a fuel):

  1. The activation of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP)
  2. The finalization of growth hormone (GH) and insulin like growth factor (IGF1) actions, as well as the enhancement of androgens actions.

Let’s cover briefly the importance of the above functions. The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is a critical process that is responsible for the synthesis of DNA, RNA and all energy molecules including ATP and NADPH, needed for all metabolic functions in particular, recuperation (healing of tissues), immunity and growth. In addition, the PPP is a precursor for another metabolic pathway-(i.e. the uronic acid pathway) responsible for steroid hormones transport, production of proteoglycans (essential for connective tissue and cellular signaling), synthesis of spingolipids (lipids that are necessary for neural protection) and over all detoxification. The pentose phosphate pathway, which occurs mostly in the liver, is derived from glucose (i.e. carb metabolism). Now, here is the problem…

In times of a desperate need for energy, such as during prolonged starvation or due to chronic severe restriction of carbs, the PPP would shut down its main function and instead switch into sheer energy production. It is likely that energy demand is a top priority for the body and therefore, in times of a desperate need for energy, the body would suppress certain important metabolic function (such as the PPP) to accelerate immediate energy production. Note that 30% of glucose oxidation in the liver can occur via the PPP.

One may argue that glucose can be synthesized from fat or protein. Yes, but not enough! Since the synthesis of glucose from fat or protein (gluconeogenesis) is actually a very limited metabolic process that occurs mostly in the liver, any severe restriction of carbs, in particular for active individuals, may adversely suppress the PPP critical functions; due to insufficient glucose supply during an increased energy demand.

The PPP actions also decreases with age, a fact that may contribute to the decline in steroid hormone production and the typical muscle waste, that is associated with aging.

To sum up this part, dietary carbohydrates are necessary for the full activation of the PPP and its critical functions. Severe chronic carb restriction (below 70g-100g for an active individual) may lead to an adverse suppression of PPP, with an overall decline in sex hormones, compromised immunity, impaired growth and accelerated aging.

As noted, besides playing a vital role in the activation of the PPP actions, dietary carbs also help finalize the actions of the most anabolic agents including growth hormone, IGF1 and the sex steroid hormones.

Studies at Stanford University in CA and Helsinki University in Finland revealed that insulin is a potent promoter of IGF1 and the sex hormones action. Researcher found that insulin help finalize the anabolic actions of GH, IGHF1 and androgens by down regulating certain proteins that suppress both IGF1 and androgens action, in particular in the muscle tissue, (i.e. IGHFBP-1 and SHBP, respectively). A recent study at the University of Texas, indeed proved that post exercise carb supplementation together with essential amino acids profoundly stimulates net muscle protein synthesis.

Interestingly, simple carbohydrates had a more profound effect on enhancing anabolic actions after exercise than complex carbohydrates. Nonetheless, as a general rule, our body is better adapted to utilize complex carbs than simple carbs. Again, it is when you eat that makes what you eat matter.

In conclusion, dietary carbohydrates biological functions go far beyond just sheer energy production. Chronic carb restrictions may lead in the long run to total metabolic decline with severe consequences on survival (i.e. capacity to regenerate tissues and procreate). Carbohydrates are not the enemy, ignorance is.

Diet Fallacy #6: COUNT YOUR CALORIE INTAKE to Control Your Weight

Calorie counting has been widely regarded as a reliable method for weight management. Some of the most established diets today, including Weight Watchers and the calorie-restriction diet (CR), use calorie counting as a principle way of controlling energy intake. It has also been used by researchers and vets as a standard measurement for feeding. Yet, in spite of its reputation and wide appeal, calorie counting fails to provide the long term benefit of staying lean and healthy.

The reason: Real life involves dynamic changes that aren’t included in the typical calculation of calories counting. One cannot over look the profound effects of life changes on our body. For that matter, the human body (like other animals), carry survival mechanisms which regulate utilization of fuel and generation of energy, in response to changes in environmental conditions. Our basal (basic) metabolic rate (BMR) fluctuates according to changes in physical activity, food availability and overall calorie intake. For instance, low calorie intake generally promotes a BMR decline whereas high calorie intake generally promotes an overall increase in BMR. Since calorie counting is based on a fixed BMR (many health clubs provide machines that check BMR), it often fails to provide a real life measurement of energy balance (surplus or deficit of calories).

Athletes and body builders, who use calorie counting to improve body composition, should be aware of the downside of this method.

The Hidden Costs of Calorie Restriction

A calorie isn’t a calorie. Calories coming from sugar cause more fat gain than calories coming from grains or nuts. The human body has adapted to utilize calories derived from certain food combinations better than calories derived from others. The same calories that cause fat gain in one food combination can induce fat loss in another.

Timing is another factor which is often overlooked by calorie counter. The same carb calories that could be very beneficial when consumed right after exercise, (increasing protein synthesis in the muscle) may be harmful if consumed before exercise.

Are You Dieting at the Expense of Your Sex Drive?

One of the most controversial diets today is the calorie restriction diet (CR). CR is based on the assumption that chronic calorie restriction increases life span. This dietary approach has been endorsed by anti-aging advocates who are adamantly convinced that CR reduces the overall metabolic stress and thereby increases life span. There are however a few concerns regarding CR.

  1. CR may often lower the body temperature, which may be a sign of lower thyroid activity and a total metabolic decline.
  2. CR may cause a substantial loss of libido. CR is often associated with declining sex hormone levels and an impaired ability to maintain vigor, potency or fertility.
  3. CR compromises one’s ability to endure intense exercise and for that matter, build muscles.

Recent studies on intermittent fasting (one day fasting followed by one day overeating twice as much calories) at the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, found that feeding cycles based on periodic fasting and overeating, provided superior benefits than CR. According to Dr. Mark Mattson, professor of neuroscience and head of the research team at Johns Hopkins University, intermittent fasting increases mice resistance to degenerative diseases (Diabetes, Parkinson, Alzheimer and Strokes) while improving body composition (lean mass/fat) and increasing life span more than the calorie restricted mice. Note that the above studies were done on mice and rats. More studies are required to fully understand the effects of similar feeding cycles on humans.

Saying all that, calorie counting can still be used as an accurate way to evaluate food energy intake. If used correctly, calorie counting can help measure the effect of calorie intake on nutrient utilization. Indeed, studies by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have established that overall calorie intake positively affects protein utilization. High calorie intake (about 20% surplus) maximizes protein utilization and vice versa, low calorie intake decreases protein utilization. Active individuals should take advantage of this knowledge by incorporating a specially designed high calorie meal, preferably at night.

Calorie counting can be used as a standard measurement of food energy intake. However, it should not be applied as a principle dietary approach to avoid consequent adverse metabolic set backs and impaired performance.

Diet Fallacy #7: It’s OK To Eat Everything But in Moderation.

The term “being moderate” typically refers to being subtle, not outstanding & the opposite of being extreme.

Moderation is currently used as a key word in perusing a balanced lifestyle. Many health experts use the “moderation-mantra” to convey a simple massage. Everything is allowed in moderation.

The Result: Millions of people who fail to manage their weight or sustain health are asking themselves “What went wrong”!

As you’re about to see, the notion that it is ok to eat everything in moderation is wrong and in particular misleading to athletes and bodybuilders.

Moderation does not go hand in hand with scoring and achieving. Real life superiority requires extreme outtakes. Greatest figures in history including Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Beethoven, Mozart, Albert Einstein and George Patton were all extreme in personality.

All classical training methods since the Roman Army and until modern army training are based on one master principle: Adaptation to extreme conditions.

Ancient warriors were aware of the fact that moderate training may not be sufficient enough to force adaptation and thus would most likely fail to prepare soldiers to react swiftly and resist stress in real life extreme conditions.

It has been established that the human body can adapt to environmental changes as well as to physical and nutritional changes. The more intense the change (stimulant) is the more likely it would trigger genes that force the body to adapt and better survive.

The most important actions of our survival genes (thrifty genes) are those that induce improvement in fuel utilization. The capacity to generate energy from dietary fat or carbohydrates is critically important for our survival. Studies at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed that the human body does better on food combination then on a single food source. Researchers believe that humans have adapted to changes in food availability due to the necessity to survive periods of famine, seasonal or climate changes. In other words, our body responds better to extreme feeding cycles that somewhat mimic the cycle of famine and feast (under eating and overeating), rotating between fat fuel and carb fuel.

Similar to physical exercise, such feeding cycles force the body to survive on either fat or carbohydrate fuel and thus improve the utilization of both, respectively.

The idea that everything is ok in moderation typically refers to bad stuff (i.e. junk food or alcohol) Is it indeed? Not really.

What seems as a moderate serving by Betty Crocker or Aunt Jemima does not translate into anything moderate by our body. Recent studies at the University of Wollongong, Australia, reveal that even small (moderate) changes in the macronutrient content of the diet affect skeletal muscle performance. Small dietary changes in fat intake exacted a major influence on muscle cell membrane fatty acid composition. For instance, imbalanced high fat diet such as due to consumption of a large amount of N-6 and a moderate amount of hydrogenated fats (abundant in junk protein bars and candy bars), can lead into severe deficiencies in muscle N-3 fatty acids. Such deficiency is often associated with chronic inflammation, impaired recuperation and muscle waist.

Moderation doesn’t apply to real life sport nutrition. An athlete who wishes to excel can not afford “taking prisoners”. Eating even a small amount of junk before exercise may adversely affect post exercise cortisol level. Insulin sensitivity is necessary for the maximum anabolic impact of meals. Note that even a single bout of a sugar binge can decrease insulin sensitivity, compromising the body’s ability to recuperate and build tissues.

In conclusion, do not fall into the trap of tricky words such as moderation. Exercise intensely, apply proper recovery meals, and keep your diet clean. Even moderate amounts of junk food can adversely affect your capacity to exercise, recuperate and excel.

Diet Fallacy #8: Low Carb Products Will Help You Lose weight

We’re living now in an era which may be remembered as the dark ages of human diets. Even though more people today are on a diet than ever before, the rate of overweight obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are at an all time high. Ironically the worst time in human diet history, involves the greatest production of health products, among them are the most popular low carb product.

Low carb products appeal to the low carb consumers who desperately try to minimize carb consumption assuming that carbohydrates are the culprit for fat gain. Yet, in spite of the widely advertised low carb diet and the massive production of low carb products, most low carb dieters fail to maintain a lean body. Statistically in the long run a low carb dieter would most likely suffer from a fat gain rebound, gaining more weight then he/she initially lost. There are two major reasons for the failure of low carb products to promote fat loses.

One- Low carb diets adversely affect human capacity to generate energy, build tissue and maintain optimum health.

Two- Low carb products are often made with low grade carb substitute chemical additives, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohol and often hydrogenated oil.

Low carb products in particular protein bars, typically have a funky aftertaste not withstanding severe adverse side effects such as indigestion, bloating and nausea.

Due to their often inferior nutrition composition and high content of chemicals, low carb products may increase the overall metabolic stress on the liver. That may lead to accumulation of metabolites such as co-enzyme A and acetate as well as estrogen chemicals in the liver, which cause insulin resistance and accumulation of stubborn fat/abdominal fat respectively.

Furthermore, for many overweight people, who suffer from Dismetabolic-Syndrome following an uncontrollable low carb, high fat diet may be the worst thing to do. Researchers at Wallenberg lab, Lund University, Malmo, Sweden published recently an essay stating that individuals who suffer from Dismetabolic-Syndrome generally have the typical symptoms such as obesity/abdominal obesity as well as dyslipidemia - impaired fat metabolism with high level of serum lipids. For that matter any application of uncontrolled high fat low carb diet in these cases may unfortunately accelerate the damage by increasing the levels of serum lipids which makes a patient more insulin resistant and prone to gain more fat, in particular abdominal fat.

In conclusion, don’t attempt to fool your body, stay away from products loaded with chemicals or cheap carb substitutes. If you suffer from abdominal obesity or dyslipidemia, high fat low carb products would be your worst choice.

Diet Fallacy #9: To Build Muscles, You Need To Consume A Fixed Amount of Protein/Pound Body Weight

One of the trickiest fallacies is the notion that there is a fixed amount of protein/pounds of lean body weight required for actual muscle gain. Indeed dietary protein is required for the build up of muscle tissues and that is exactly when it becomes tricky; protein intake is only one out of several major variables that affect the body’s capacity to grow. In fact, it isn’t even the most important one. The amount of protein intake required for actual muscle gain clearly depends on critical variables such as hormonal balance, intensity and frequency of exercise, timing of meals and the overall nutritional state including protein biological value (BV). Since protein intake requirements can change according to the above variables, the idea of a fixed amount of protein intake is wrong and often misleading. Let’s briefly review the major variables that directly relate to protein intake.

Hormonal balance

Certain hormonal balance is required in our body to be able to effectively build tissues. A low ratio of androgens/cortisol or a low ratio of IGF-1/bound IGF-1 may adversely lead to improper ability to induce an effective anabolic state required for actual muscle gain. If untreated, hormonal imbalance may jeopardize any chance of gaining muscle mass, even if protein intake is high.

Exercise intensity and frequency

Muscular development relates to the intensity and frequency of exercise. Numerous studies reveal that a high level of intensity such as with resistance training or sprint intervals increases levels of GH as well as androgens and maximize muscle capacity to adapt, gain mass and perform. A recent study at the University of Western Ontario Canada reveals that intense pre-fatigue exercise (and not a moderate warm up) boosts VO2 max in older individuals to as almost young adult levels. Moderate aerobics just won’t do it. Long distance runners would fail to gain total body strength and muscle mass even if high protein intake is applied. Furthermore, when the frequency of training is too high and not enough rest applied, the body may be prone to muscle waist. Resent studies at the University of Alabama found that a certain hormone like metabolite, called IL-6 may be chronically elevated due to over training. That can lead into a long lasting inflammatory process which may result in waist a of muscle tissue.

Timing of meals

Protein reaches maximum utilization when ingested in the first 30 minutes after exercise. Any delay beyond that, would gradually slow down the rate of protein synthesis in the muscle. A 30g of protein consumed right after exercise would utilize almost the same amount of protein as a 60g protein consumed five hours later. Timing of a meal is critically important. The same protein meal that is most beneficial after exercise, may instead cause adverse affects, if consumed before exercise.

Overall nutritional state

To be fully utilized protein must not be ingested alone, in large amounts. Studies by the food and agriculture organization (FAO) reveals that high calorie intake positively increases protein BV and vice versa. The higher the fat or carb intake (the higher the calorie intake) the less protein is required for effective muscle gain. Besides being a source of energy, carbs and fat play additional important roles. Carbs are necessary for critical anabolic actions (enhancing GH and IGF-1 impact) in particular after exercise.

There is no fixed amount of protein required for actual muscle gain. Nevertheless, protein intake is important and should be adjusted according to other variables. For instance, young individuals with a superior hormonal balance require less protein intake then older individuals with inferior hormonal balance. Higher protein BV requires less amount of protein intake than lower protein BV. If applied correctly small protein meals after exercise can yield same net protein utilization as double size protein meals which were applied either too early or too late. Use your common sense. Through trial and error you’ll find what works best for you.

Diet Fallacy #10: Your Diet Should Consist of A Certain Fixed Ratio of Protein / Fat / Carbs

The suggestion that there is one nutritional ratio of protein/fat/carbs that fits all humans is ludicrous. So is the notion that there is an ideal “Zone” upon which all humans reach peak performance. There isn’t yet a substantiated scientific evidence to the above. Quite the opposite, there is a substantial amount of evidence to the fact that humans have primarily adapted to strive while rotating between different seasonal foods and thus different ratios of macronutrients. Furthermore, due to primal necessity to survive on different accessible food sources (i.e. vegetarian of animal food) humans were forces to cycle their diet and adapt to different ratios of protein/fat/carbs. There is no “one ratio that fits all”. It has been established that people in different climates differ in their capacity to utilize foods. By virtue of adaptation to arctic climate, Inuits do better on raw fish and blubber than native Africans who better survive on grains or fruits due to adaptation to warm tropical climate.

The notion of a fixed ratio of protein/fat/carbs is an attempt to apply an oversimplistic theory to a desperate demand by the dieters’ society for a simple and quick fix. When it comes down to nutrition there is no quick fix and for that matter not any fixed ratios. As far as the ongoing debate between the original 30/30/60 versus the 40/30/30 or the 45/25/30 etc. regardless, it’s all marketing, same old same old… scientists believe that we carry the same genes as our ancestors, the cavemen. Our body is primarily adapted to better survive on food and exercise that somewhat mimic the way we ate and lived about 10,000 years ago. Finally, does it make sense that while fighting for survival in hard primal conditions, the caveman had the time and means to carefully measure the ratio between protein fat and carbs in his meals so that he would be in the “Zone”?

Ori Hofmekler's formative military experience in Israel prompted a life interest in survival science. As editor-in-chief of Mind and Muscle Power magazine, Ori introduced his diet approach to the public to immediate acclaim from readers and professionals. He has written several books: The Warrior Diet, on the benefits of intermittent fasting; Maximum Muscle Minimum Fat, which addresses the science principles behind muscle gain and fat loss; and The Anti-Estrogenic Diet - dedicated to providing solutions against health-shattering chemicals in the environment, food and water. Ori's "Take No Prisoners" newsletter exposes fallacies and dirty little secrets in the areas of diet and fitness and presents the true facts regarding human survival in today's world. For more about Ori, The Warrior Diet, The Anti-Estrogenic diet, and his popular radio show "The Warrior Within" visit his website at warriordiet.com.

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  1. Wow, thank you for that brilliant run down! I’ve been doing the Warrior Diet for nearly three weeks and have had good results so far. It’s so easy to follow, I don’t even feel like I’m dieting. I’ve lost 1-2cms from my waist, hips, bust and thighs, yet I weigh more, so I’m definitely putting on muscle. So far, this has been the only diet (apart from starvation) that has worked for me.

  2. Great Article!
    It explains why my breakfast is always very light. I’m just not hungry for the first couple of hours after getting up. Now I understand why. I also eat late at night, and directly after dancing. Never counted calories in my life. Just ate whatever I wanted whenever I was hungry. Bad foods started causing weight gain a few years ago, but since changing to the right fats and unprocessed foods, I’ve never had to worry about gaining weight since.
    Thank you. My body feels like someone understands it now!

  3. You said “When you wake-up, your body is already in an intense detox mode, clearing itself from endotoxins and digestive waste of the past evening meal. During the morning hours, when digestion is fully completed (while you are on empty stomach), a primal survival mechanism, known as fight or flight reaction to stress, is triggered maximizing your body’s capacity to generate energy, be alert, resist fatigue and resist stress. This highly geared survival mode is primarily dominated by part of the autonomic nervous system known as the SNS (sympathetic nervous system). At that state, the body is in its most energy producing phase and that’s when most energy comes from fat burning. All that happens when you do not eat the typical morning meal.”

    Now, if I am suffering from chronic stress, and elevated cortisol on a regular basis, and a really bad, unhealthy waist:hip ratio, WHY would I want to aggravate and ecourage this “fight or flight” reaction in the body? Wouldn’t that be a bit counterproductive? How is someone who is already suffering stress-related obesity supposed to react to the suggestion that they should try to keep that reaction going by skipping breakfast?

  4. Sympathetic dominance, has been proven to lead to disease. Adrenal exhaustion alone can cause a tidal wave of other health probelms to develop in the body. When one wakes up in the morning after a full night of restful peaceful sleep, the body would of naturally shifted in a parasympathetic state. Thus a healthy individual upon rising, after fasting for the last 8-10 hours prior to sleeping, will naturally want to refuel their system and eat a good breakfast.
    I am in total agreement that the average breakfast we consume today, full of unstable fats and highly processed carbohydrates is the perfect recipe for creating blood sugar crashes. Surges of insulin, followed by surges of adrenaline initially wake us up and help us get going. Yet our blood sugar levels become unstable and we crash soon after. The first thing we usually look for is another stimulant, like sugar or caffeine, which reactivates the whole insulin and adrenaline surge again, and digs a deeper hole into our adrenaline supplies.

    I personally eat breakfast as my largest meal of the day, and 60-80% of my caloric intake comes from organic sources of saturated fat. I eat dinner for breakfast and I have done so for the past 12 months. I have lost weight, built muscle & improved my training performance, balanced my menstrual cycle and cleared up acne that every professional I sought out assured me I would have for life.

    I train 6 days a week, in the earlier part of the day before 12pm. This means I’m helping my natural wake-sleep cycle regulate itself by stimulating my adrenal glands to produce their awakening hormones as they would naturally if we were living more in touch with mother nature’s natural rhythm. I never train on an empty stomach, as it stimulates my system to become overly catabolic, meaning tissue destructive and fat is not the tissue the body uses to break down first. Fat stores toxins, and shifts them away from our organs. It’s the last place a body under stress will want to burn fat from as we have a very strong inbuilt instinct to survive. I make sure I eat within the hour after training and I eat a good source of protein and fat, so my body will use that fat to detoxify and allow my body to burn the fat I have stored on my body. It’s a pretty simple system, and I feel pretty amazing following it.

    I was really excited about reading your article. Unfortunately it’s exactly this type of advice that is burning more people out there up, especially women.

  5. 5. cathy Pauley
    Jul 3rd, 2010 at 6:55 am

    I like learning about nutrition. How can I know what to believe. Even this article sound interesting, but how do I know if this information is correct? I am confused.

  6. 6. Michal R. Pijak, M.D.
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    The Fallacy of the Paleo/Caveman diet

    One of the more popular diets in the media is the Paleolithic diet, that our long ago ancestor’s ate, before the industrial revolution and well before pocket societies were established. This diet has received much attention as of late, following the release of Dr. Loren Cordain’s book ‘The Paleo Diet.’ Many readers use Dr. Cordain’s book as their justification to consume a high meat, high fat diet, despite a mountain of evidence indicating that meat dominate diets are actually the problem and result in premature aging and disease. ?

    Many people have come to the conclusion that our ancestors predominately lived on animal flesh because the bones of animals were discovered near campsites. The remains of plants do not survive in same way that bones do. It would be more plausible that, our ancestors, out of necessity, ate locally growing wild plants and moved about to locate them. They killed and ate animals when they could, but these opportunities were few and far between. ?

    These stone age peoples were not the carnivores that the proponents claim. The reason for this is; hunting and killing animals is not easy and those humans were bipedal beings who were considerably slower than the animals that they were seeking to eat and they had no technology to assist in hunting and killing prey (they had no means of storing food for any period of time either). Visualise yourself chasing down a beast with your bare feet/hands and flat blunt teeth- this would actually be quite amusing!

    The main problem with Cordain, one of the leading expert proponents in the use of low grain and natural meat diets, is that the basis of his theory has nothing with science to do as it is impossible to falsify. We will never learn what our ancestors ate in the caves or elsewhere, in particular not how much. Neither will we learn if their diet was beneficial or harmful to their health. Said that, I think it is a good idea to stick to natural food undisturbed by the food industry.

    One of her other arguments against Cordain is that paleolithic time was about 2 million years and that there (of course) was an immense variation in these people´s diet. This is also what has been observed among present days´ primitive people. Which of their diets should we choose? Throughout history humans have migrated all over the planet, at times enduring scarcity and famine, conversely experiencing much abundance. Just because humans consumed a particular diet (due to availability or lack thereof) does not mean that following these dietary patterns is optimal or consistent with health longevity. Therefore one cannot extrapolate from the ancestral diet to today’s circumstances.

    This is somewhat irrelevant in that we are not hunter/gatherers or cave dwellers anymore and humans are not dying of infectious disease or starvation, but of disease’s of dietary excess, body pollution and poor lifestyle choices. Cave dwellers didn’t live long enough to experience degenerative disease.??

    In my opinon the main argument against cavemen diet and anti-grain diets is the fact that some of the healthiest cultures around the world consume small amounts animal foods and always have (2-3 serves per week), but the majority of total weekly calories consist of wide variety of unrefined plant based material, with organic animal foods used as condiments. In John Robbins book Healthy at 100, he presents the research on the worlds longest living and healthiest peoples such as, the Hunzan’s, Abkhasians , Okinawans and Vilcabamban’s. The average individual in these cultures lives to 110 years of age, happy, vibrant, active and coherent. They consume low fat plant based diets, with little or no meat.?? For example, the Vilcabambans enjoy organically-grown fruits and vegetables along with whole grains for plenty of fiber. They eat meat only about once a month, and their diet is low in fat.

    In contrast, there is no successful population that lives or has lived on a meat-based diet!!!!!!! For example the Inuit Greenlanders have the worst longevity statistics in North America and this can be due to their high consumption of meat and low consumption of fresh whole foods. Legitimate research shows that these people have higher rates of cancer and die 10 years younger than the average general population of Canada.
    Similarly, the Maasai in Kenya are a tribe that hunt and eat a diet rich in meats and wild game and they have the worst life expectancy in the modern world. The average lifespan for a Masai women is 49 and for men it is 45 and if they reach the age of 60 they are considered to be very old. Adult mortality rates figures on the Masai, show that they have 50% chance of dying before the age of 59. Although the Masai’s short life spans is linked to their harsh living conditions, their diets high in meat and low in fresh whole foods still take their toll. Dr. George Mann, who once was an advocate of the Masai diet, went extremely quiet several decades ago when he conducted autopsies on 50 Masai men in their 40’s who had the atherosclerosis of men in their 90’s. If these men hadn’t died so young, they would have had the same degenerative disease that we do in Western countries!!!!!!!?

    Scientists have now been able to conclusively determine the best diet for ideal health by measuring the diet/lifestyle versus the disease rates of various populations world wide. We now know that greatly increasing the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, raw nuts, seeds and whole grains (and greatly decreasing the consumption of animal products) offers profound increased longevity potential. This is due in part to a broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients that a vegetable-based diet contains.

  7. The 2 biggest fallacies about this article:

    If you read everything he says, you won’t know WHAT to do except BUY his program. What a joke. He is guilty of the same crap he accuses everyone else of; lack of evidence, lack of scientifically validated studies, vague principles, marketing hype/motive. Note how he loves to quote scientific studies but then when it comes to protein intake, he tells you “. Use your common sense. Through trial and error you’ll find what works best for you.” Wow now that is some real enlightening junk. He tells you everything is wrong except HIS diet, which he will sell you, and I bet follows some kinds of measurements and ratios. Bodybuilders are clueless? Now that is REALLY laughable.

  8. Here is another silly– he likes to quote scientific bases for measurements yet falls on his face with that old standby 30 grams of protein after exercise; so 170 lb weightlifter at 12% bodyfat is the same as a 250 lb weightlifter at 12% bodyfat? An intense weight trainer vs. a casual trainee? And where are the urine based nitrogen retention studies he did to come up with is 30 grams of protein?

    By the way, warriors did not carry excess muscle. Simply not enough rest to caloric availability to achieve more than survival levels. C’mon dude, get real.

  1. 1 Top Fallacies People Believe About The Master Cleanse Diet » Florence Rogers Pingback on Mar 5th, 2011 at 6:29 am
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