In this week’s digest:
- Use intermittent fasting for weight loss and numerous health benefits
- Use cocoa to accelerate muscle recovery after exercise (among other benefits)
- Sugar-free sports and diet drinks heavily damage teeth
- Use Ashwagandha for a strong boost in cardiovascular fitness
- New research shows massive impact of sugar irrespective of the rest of the diet
- Eat nuts for improvements in cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides
- Replace diet soda with water for significantly more weight loss
Use intermittent fasting for weight loss and numerous health benefits
Intermittent fasting (eating only within a certain “window” during the day) is something I practice on a regular basis for health and weight management reasons. It’s a practice that has existed for millennia (we’ve only started to eat regularly throughout the day in the past century or so). Countless studies over the years have demonstrated the benefits of intermittent fasting, which include: weight management, reducing cardiovascular disease risk, reducing inflammation, improving brain function, reducing neural inflammation, restoring digestive health and much more. I would recommend that you gradually ease into this fasting routine, building up towards 2 fasts per week lasting between 16 and 24 hours. In fact, I use it with clients to test their ability to burn fat, as I explain in this post.
Use cocoa to accelerate muscle recovery after exercise (among other benefits)
Organic cocoa nibs are a staple in my diet, featuring almost daily in my breakfast. I’ve often advocated the antioxidant and good fats benefits of cocoa, and this new study provides even more concrete evidence of its benefits for athletes (and presumably non-athletes): the study revealed that athletes consuming cocoa in parallel with heavy training witnessed a significant (up to 39%) reduction in muscle damage, a reduction in oxidative stress, increased antioxidant capacity, and most importantly: a 4% increase in physical performance vs. the group that did not consume cocoa. Recommended intake: I typically include 1tbsp of cocoa nibs with my breakfast, bumping it up to 2tbsp after very hard workouts. You could also use raw organic dark cocoa powder as an alternative to nibs.
Sugar-free sports and diet drinks heavily damage teeth
Did you ever notice that many professional athletes have bad teeth? We’ve known for a long time that sugary drinks cause tooth erosion. New research coming out of Australia has revealed that even sugar-free sports drinks, soft drinks and candy cause significant tooth erosion as well, and when I say significant, I mean it: 30% to 50% softening of tooth enamel after consumption of sugar-free sports drinks and soft drinks. Go Gatorade!
Use Ashwagandha for a strong boost in cardiovascular fitness
What if Lance Armstrong had used this herb instead of EPO and testosterone? The benefits of the ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha have been well documented for years, including reduction of inflammation, stress markets, and overall health benefits. A new study conducted on elite cyclists showed that 2x500mg taken daily contributed to significant improvements in cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory fitness & performance.
New research shows massive impact of sugar irrespective of the rest of the diet
"Every aspect of their metabolic health got better, with no change in calories". That’s what the lead researcher in this new study said after analyzing the results. In the study, they took a group of kids and eliminated sugar in their diet, but kept total calories and (more importantly) total carbs the same. The kids who no longer consumed sugar witnessed an immediate and significant reduction in high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. "This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight. Rather, sugar is metabolically harmful because it's sugar." I’ve talked a lot about this in the past: sugar is a pro-inflammatory molecule (it increases inflammation throughout the body). By the way, did you know that the vast majority of cancer cells can ONLY survive on sugar? They die without sugar, which is why ketogenic diets are very effective at reversing difficult-to-cure cancer.
Eat nuts for improvements in cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides
Another staple in my daily diet are tree nuts (walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts), the benefits of which I’ve often advocated for cardiovascular and overall health. This new metastudy from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involving more than 2,500 subjects clearly demonstrates some of those benefits: subjects who consumed tree nuts over a period ranging from 3 weeks to 24 weeks saw a significant reduction in Total Cholesterol, LDL-C, ApoB and Triglycerides. 1 additional point of interest from this study: the studies were “interventional” and not “observational” – most anti-nut studies are observational. Tip: only eat raw nuts, buy fresh, and keep them in the fridge. And remember: peanuts are NOT tree nuts and are actually pro-inflammatory, so avoid them.
Replace diet soda with water for significantly more weight loss
I’ll keep the outcome of this recent study short and simple: 62 women split into 2 groups: water vs. diet beverages (diet soda) for 24 weeks. The outcome: the “water” group had greater weight loss, lower insulin, lower insulin resistance, and lower post-prandial blood glucose (post-meal blood sugar). So there, water trumps diet drinks on all fronts.