Tag Archives: exercise

Nutrition, Environment and Epigenetics

Take a look at the ‘About this blog‘ page: you will see that I close out my intro by saying that Genetics is Not Destiny.

I truly believe that. I have to believe that.

As a kid, I was always ‘husky’.

Through research, discipline and hard work, I was able to transform my body from fat to fit.

During the past 19 years, I have given my knowledge and perhaps more importantly, my confidence in that knowledge to the people that came to me and asked me to help them re-shape their bodies.

While most of them already knew what they had to do to become physically fit; they just couldn’t do it.

But they had seen their friends / my clients sculpt lean, strong, fit bodies out of the over-sized lumps of clay that they had previously called home.

So they came to me for the secret. Even after I told them there was no secret, and even after I had helped them transform their own bodies, most of them believed that I was responsible for their transformations.

Years of being fat and out of shape had become normal for them. They were fat. Even when they had lost the weight, there was still this little voice in the back of their heads telling them that this was just temporary. If they stopped working with me, they would re-gain their original shape.

It was their genetics.

How wrong they may have been.

Ever since Darwin‘s Survival of the Fittest theory of evolution became accepted as truth, genetics and in particular our DNA has shaped the progress of human biology.

Science searched for a genetic answer to every human ailment. It even spawned a genetic ‘gold rush’ called the Human Genome Project.

But recently, that absolute faith in genetics as fate has been shaken. So


Epigenetics looks at the impact our environment has upon our genetic coding.

How is it that one identical twin can develop cancer while the other twin does not?

Was the life-long smoking habit of one of the identical twins responsible for their diagnosis of cancer? Did the healthy lifestyle of the second twin prevent their potential diagnosis of cancer?

While the science is still new, I think down deep, we all know that how we live our lives has a strong impact on our health.

Where we live. Our friendships, or lack thereof. The air we breathe. The water we drink. The amount and type of exercise we perform. The food we eat.

Nature v.s. Nurture.

Bruce Lipton is currently the biggest ‘name’ in Epigenetics. The following two video clips serve as an introduction to Lipton and the science behind Epigenetics.

Like most scientific endeavours, epigentics seems to result in more questions being raised rather than answering the ones that we already have.

For those interested, I will report back with new & interesting research into this field of science and how it applies to health & nutrition.

Remember, genetics is not destiny

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Dieting – what a tangled web – pt.2

In 2007, North Americans spent an estimated $64 billion on weight-loss products & services. This works out to an average of $810 per dieter.

2007 North American population = 334,000,000 x Approx 25% of the population participating in the weight-loss industry = 79,000,000 dieters in North America.
$64,000,000,000 spent in 2007 / 79,000,000 dieters = $810 per person

So what did the typical North American dieter get for their $810?

Not a whole lot of success considering that obesity rates keep increasing year after year.

So keep your $810 in your pocket and pay attention.

In Part 1 of this post, I began by dividing all of the different methods of weight-loss into two camps

Eat Less and Burn More

I then gave an introductory explanation of the methods that fell into the Eat Less camp

Today I will cover the Burn More camp.

Burn More

By itself or in conjunction with one or more of the Eat Less methods, burning extra calories can be an effective way to lose weight. In addition, some of the Burn More methods will do more for your health than just melting away body-fat.

One of the most obvious and time tested ways of burning more calories is exercise.


Along with eating less food, exercise is the original cure for excess body-fat. Get outside, move around and you WILL lose body-fat.

Simple, right?

Not in 2008. Weight-loss is a huge business. If you owned a business that earned just 1% of the weight-loss industry sales, you would have grossed $580 million dollars last year. Sounds pretty good to me.

However, if you are going to earn $580 mill, you had better be offering something more complicated than:

  • Walk 30 minutes per day at a brisk pace
  • Stretch every night before bed for 20 minutes
  • Perform 30 minutes of body weight exercises / calisthenics 3 times per week
  • 15 minutes of deep breathing exercises or guided meditation per day

This plan, when combined with a meal plan focused around fresh vegetables, fruit, lean protein (animal or vegetable) and minimal grains will result in a leaner, fitter, healthier & more relaxed you…GUARANTEED

This plan is simple and effective. However, simple and effective will not achieve $580 million in sales.

$580 million in sales requires that the exercise gurus make things complicated. For example, one of the major fitness centres in the U.S. is offering 341 different fitness classes. Three Hundred and Forty One.


Let’s simplify.

Even with 341 fitness classes, fitness training actually has very few goals.

  1. Make your heart & lungs work better
  2. Make your muscles stronger
  3. Keep your joints & muscles at optimum flexibility/stability
  4. Improve your co-ordination – balance, agility, etc…

These 4 four fitness goals are designed to help you live longer & live better.

I will cover this topic in more detail @ Synergy Mind and Body.

Fat Burners / Thermogenics

Fat Burners or Thermogenics are dietary supplements or synthetic drugs designed to speed up the metabolism of body-fat. Take a pill and see the fat melt away.

Thermogenics have been around in one form or another for a long time. In the 1800s, digitalis was used as a fat-burner due to the assumption that its ability to increase the heart rate would result in fat loss. At that time, digitalis was also known as Dead Man’s Bells and Witches’ Gloves due to its toxicity.

In the 1900s, thyroid pills became popular.

In the 1960s & 1970s, amphetamines were all the rage. This continues today with Phentermine et al. Amphetamines are supposed to work by speeding up the metabolism & suppressing appetite. Sounds great until you get to their contraindications. Dependence, increased blood pressure & heart rate, insomnia…

In the 1980s/1990s, the Ephedrine/Caffeine/Aspirin (E.C.A) fat burner stack was very popular.

A distinct thermogenic effect was noticed by most who tried this fat burner. However, in most people, the effect was short lived and the product had to be cycled on and off as the effects wore off. People would lose weight while on, and then gain it back while off the stack. As well, there were numerous potential side effects.

The legal status of Ephedrine is currently up in the air. Supplement companies are currently unable to market ephedrine products as weight loss or bodybuilding supplements. The connection of pseudoephedrine to crystal meth makes further clouds the status of ephedrine as a marketable thermogenic.

When supplement manufacturers were banned from using ephedrine for their thermogenic products, they turned to other “natural” compounds such as citrus aurantium, guarana and yerba mate.

Hormonal Supplements

Another method of achieving weight loss involves the control of the body’s storage hormones. In particular, insulin and cortisol.

Insulin resistance, which may be caused / accelerated by the typical North American diet of fast acting carbohydrates, has numerous symptoms. One of those is weight gain; particularly fat around the abdominal region.

In the 1800s, Lord Byron popularized the use of apple cider vinegar as a method of controlling insulin and keeping body-fat at bay. Strangely enough, apple cider vinegar is currently experiencing a re-birth as a weight-loss supplement.

More recently, supplements such as chromium, alpha lipoic acid, vanadium, magnesium, taurine, zinc, gymnema sylvestre and banaba leaf extract/ colosolic acid have been promoted as insulin controlling weight-loss supplements.

Another hormonal approach to weight loss involves cortisol. It is cortisol’s ability to elevate blood sugar levels that has made it a target of dieters and supplement companies.

Phosphatidylserine found in white kidney bean extract as well as various adaptogenic herbs are being marketed as cortisol blockers effective at fighting stress induced weight gain.

Like the insulin focused supplements, the effectiveness ofcortisol focused products is still up for debate.

Liposuction / Abdominoplasty

While I may be stretching things a bit by including surgical methods of weight loss in the “Burn More” category; it fits here better than the “Eat Less” category, and I didn’t want to write a separate post. So there. Sue me.

Abdominoplasty is also known as a “tummy tuck”. Excess fat and skin is cut away from the body, the abdominal wall tightened and like Humpty Dumpty, is all put back together again.

Another method of surgically removing body-fat is liposuction. While there are various different methods of liposuction, the basic concept is the removal of body-fat by the insertion of a hollow narrow tube (think of a drinking straw) which is connected to a vacuum or suction machine. The fat is sucked out of your body through the tube.

It must be noted that like any surgery, both procedures involve risk.

Well, that’s it for today. In future posts, I will be looking at individual methods of weight loss. While I will focus mainly on the “eating less” side of the equation, I would be happy to answer anyone’s questions concerning any of the other methods. If I don’t know the answer, I will find someone who will.


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