The Digest - Feb 8

It's been a while since my last digest, crazy week last week! Here are some of the interesting studies I came across:  

  • Studies supporting the idea that saturated fats do not increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) have been coming in thick and fast over the past few years. Another study was just published in the Journal of Nutrition providing further evidence: the study involved over 2,000 participants from Norway, all with existing coronary artery disease (CAD), and followed over a period of 5 years. The conclusion of the study was that there was no association between dietary intake of saturated fat and incidence of coronary events or mortality in patients with established CAD^


  • It's no secret that I'm not a fan of whole grains given that they tend to be highly inflammatory and that the evidence of whole grains reducing risk of heart disease is sketchy at best. A study was just published (and partially funded by Cereal Partners Worldwide, a JV between General Mills and Nestle) and which revealed that increasing intake of whole grains (while maintaining total Kcal intake and with no changes to macronutrient ratiosdid not result in any beneficial changes in blood lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides), blood pressure, BMI, gut microbiome, or other blood biochemistry markers. ^


  • I've been meaning to write a piece on why some people fail to achieve their body composition or performance objectives when adopting a Ketogenic diet (high fat, very low carb). I'm a big fan of that diet and it has done wonders for my physical and cognitive performances, including improved blood lipids, body composition, inflammation etc. It has also worked well for a number of athletes I work with. However, others have not been able to achieve their objectives on a "keto" diet. Intention is useless if you can't find the time to actually deliver on it (haven't had the time to write the piece yet), and so I was pleased to come across this "expert" article on the most common mistakes of low-carb or keto diets. Enjoy... ^


  • Endurance athletes are always looking for that "extra edge", and many eventually get in trouble when that extra edge is a little, well, too "extra". So don't be surprised if you start seeing scuba-like tanks being rolled into the trailers of Tour de France cyclists in between stages, because this study in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that breathing in Heliox (a mixture of Oxygen and Helium) significantly boosted cycling performance in trained male and female cyclists. Too late Lance! ^


  • Numerous health practitioners have been critical of baby delivery by C-section(except for critical circumstances), given that various adverse long-lasting effects on both mother and child. A recent study revealed that mothers undergoing C-sections continue to experience vaginal pain during intercourse for up to 1.5 years postpartum (while pain dissipates within days/weeks for normal deliveries). ^


  • I've said this often, so this should not come as a surprise to anyone: flash-frozen fruits and vegetables have much better nutrient profiles when compared with "supermarket fresh". Another study recently published revealed that frozen fruits and vegetables are richer in Vitamins C, B2 and E when compared with "supermarket fresh". I make the distinction of "supermarket fresh" to avoid confusion with "garden-picked fresh". Fruits and vegetables begin leaching (losing) nutrients as soon as they're plucked from the ground (or tree). Flash-freezing them helps preserve nutrients, which would otherwise be lost during transportation and while sitting in the cart in the supermarket. Make sure that they are "flash frozen" and that the "cold chain" has not been broken (i.e. they have not melted and been refrozen"). ^


  • A survey by in the US revealed that singles who regularly participate in Crossfit are much more sexually active (and go on more dates) when compared with singles partaking in other forms of exercise. Detailed stats were not published but based on what was, it seems that this is true when compared with yoga, running and Zumba. It's hard to interpret results without raw data, so take the following with a grain of salt: I believe this phenomenon may be due to a combination of physiological and psychological factors affecting Crossfit athletes: high-intensity training and lifting heavy weights both generate significant production of testosterone and human growth hormone in the human body (for both males and females), and as such would boost libido for both sexes. On the psychological side, Crossfit benefits from a combination of a strong sense of community and "tribe-like" atmosphere. In addition, the libido-enhancing effect of a  "display of strength and power" in front of members of the opposite sex is ingrained in our DNA since the dawn of time, as evidenced by countless tales of "games of strength and power" used to attract partners for conception throughout the planet and for thousands of years... ^