How Sugar is Killing Us Slowly

Approximately 420 million people in the world have Type 2 diabetes.

In the United States alone,

It is believed that in the next few decades, as many as one out of three Americans will develop the disease.

You have heard it before,

And you’re about to hear it again: Much of this blame can be placed on sugar (and refined carbs, for that matter).

A crazy stat about sugar: The processed food industry is a $1.5 trillion industry!

Some of the biggest problems with the industry are…

That many of these foods are being marketed as “healthy,”

Fooling people into consuming even more sugar than they realize.

Gummy vitamins are gummy bears, folks, and there’s no such thing as a “healthy breakfast muffin.” It’s cake. And fruit juice? Sugar and water.

Why is sugar so bad?

It’s time for a quick science lesson:

I’m paraphrasing this information from a super informative TED TALK by Dr. Jody Stanislaw. You can watch the full talk here if you’re interested.

Her basic message is that sugar is killing us slowly,

And we have all been brainwashed to think it’s OK to consume sugar on a daily basis.

Or, “Sugar is not a treat. …Sugar has become a gradual death sentence,” was how Stanislaw put it.

According to her,

More people die from diabetes and diabetes-related complications than car accidents,

And this number is only going up.

So back to the science lesson: Basically, it comes down to the pancreas.

Inside your pancreas are beta cells. Beta cells are crazy important. Without them, you’d wither away and die within a few weeks.

Any time you eat sugar,

Or highly-refined carbohydrates,

Sugar enters your blood and beta cells act as security guards for the blood.

They do this by releasing insulin, whose job it is to either pick up the sugar and use it or store it as fat.

The problem is you can overwork your beta cells by eating too much sugar,

Or things like cereal, bread, pasta, alcohol.

Any time you eat these types of good, your beta cells make more insulin.

But there’s a limit.

Eventually, you’ll wear out your beta cells:

Beta-cell burn out is essentially pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

At this point, you start to have to shoot yourself up with insulin because your body is too tired to make it.

The good news is, it actually is reversible by some simple diet changes.

Namely by reducing your sugar intake.

According to Stanislaw, it really IS that simple. Less sugar and refined carbs (and processed foods) = A healthier, non-diabetic, you!

Here are three tips Stanislaw gave for helping you combat your sugar addiction:

1. Protein for breakfast

You don’t need orange juice or yogurt for breakfast!

Start the day instead with protein,

Which will put you on track to have balanced blood sugar levels through the morning.

It also puts you on track to avoid sugar cravings later in the day when you feel tired.

2. Drink more water

Stanislaw explained that when you’re feeling hungry and/or are craving sugar, down a glass of water first.
Dehydration can feel like hunger,
She said, and even a 5 percent decrease in hydration can feel like a 20 percent decrease in energy,
Which might be what’s triggering your sugar addiction in the first place.

3. Low-Carb replacements

Get creative in the kitchen with your cooking.
And start looking into healthier low-carb replacements
For traditional carbs that you and your kids crave.
Cauliflower rice instead of rice, spaghetti squash instead of noodles, zucchini lasagne,
The list goes on.

Check out our recent blog on the topic that goes into other types of replacements for foods you grew up eating and turned out to be super unhealthy, like pancakes!

If you’re not interested in being one of the 420 million people with Type 2 diabetes, why not make those changes?


Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s effective

One of the biggest misconceptions I have witnessed,
A concept people often embrace about what is helping their fitness is that you need you to feel crushed and destroyed…
And sore all over from a workout for it to have been an effective day at the gym.


I often hear the panic in people’s voices when the conditioning of the day
“doesn’t look hard enough,”
Or complaints when it doesn’t appear as though the training session will get them huffing and puffing,
Sufficiently enough to leave them in a pool of sweat, unable to drive for 30 minutes.
On a similar note, I often hear people ask questions, such as:
“What is this doing? Where am I supposed to feel this?”
When, for example,
We’re putting them through a new movement—
Often things like a warm-up or activation drill
And they don’t feel every fibrous tissue in their body fighting for its life.
“Can we just workout already? I’m already warm. I ran three miles to get here,”
They complain as they go through the motions,
All the while not bothering to listen to the coach’s instructions…
About squeezing their butt cheeks together as hard as they can for two minutes.
Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly,
These same people are the ones who don’t ever seem to adhere to the lifting percentages
(cough, cough, you know who you are).
“50 percent of my 3 RM? But that’s so light!” they can be heard chirping from their squat rack before piling on an additional 20 lb.

Just some food for thought:

I could throw some bricks at you and you’d probably be pretty sore the next day, yet no more fit.
And on the flip side,
A two-minute deadbug or glute bridge might not make you feel like you just did Murph,
And certainly won’t result in DOMS the next day,
But it sure can go a long way in helping you prepare for a heavy squat session.
Both by getting you bracing properly and getting your glutes firing on all cylinders.

Here’s another analogy:

Let’s say you’re having chicken for dinner.
There are many ways to eat chicken,
But it’s safe to say plain chicken breast without any kind of seasoning or sauce is fairly boring…
And bland and probably isn’t going to get you all that stoked for dinner.

The point is,

I think it’s fair to suggest that it’s how you cook or season or spice or sauce-up the chicken…
That’s going to make or break the meal.
The same is true of your training program:
It’s the small things
  • The warm-up drills
  • The activation or mobility pieces,
  • The accessory work
  • And the technical and skill sessions
That are going to make all the difference to your main event.
They’re like the seasonings and sauces that will make your “chicken”
Aka your clean or snatch or muscle-up—shine brighter than before.
If that’s still not resonating with you, how about this one:
If you want to be successful, don’t confuse being busy with getting the right things done.
Have you ever worked for a boss who always seemed to focus on the wrong things?
Sure he may have logged long hours, but he never did seem to be prioritizing the right things.
Same goes for your fitness:
There might be a temptation to jack your heart rate up to a 190 bpm every day,
Or a desire to test yourself and max out whatever lift you’re doing any chance you get
Or blow off the percentages of the day because they seem too easy.

Trust me, I understand the urge.

Struggling is somehow rewarding emotionally.
But, often times the more effective session for your fitness and long-term development
Might just be a low-intensity skill session,
Where you fix a small technical flaw, which will then allow you to lift heavier when you do max out in three weeks.
So the next time you’re tempted to add 20 lb. to the barbell because the percentage seems too low,
Or you purposely show up late to avoid the boring warm-up,
Or you skip the cooldown because you can’t figure out what part of your body is supposed to be aching, reconsider!

In other words, take the time to season your chicken, folks!


The Downfall to Organic Food

I don’t know about you, but I almost feel guilty buying non-organic vegetables.

As if the ethically-sound, environmentally-conscious shopper next to me is looking down on the non-organic carrots in my cart.

We have been told that organic is healthier for us and for the planet, and the message is obviously being heard loud and clear:

The organic food industry in the US was estimated to be worth $29 billion in 2010 and has grown about 10 percent per year since then.

On average, consumer report analyses say organic is about 47 percent more expensive than non-organic food.

Other than organic being expensive, is there anything else problematic about it?

Have we been brainwashed into thinking it’s something it’s not?

Possibly, maybe, arguably this might be the case.

Here are a few things to consider before you blindly believe organic is automatically better for your health and the planet:

1. A little substance called carrageenan

What is carrageenan?

It’s a substance extracted from some seaweeds that contain a mix of polysaccharides and is used to thicken foods, especially organic foods, such as almond milk and coconut milk.

It is also found in some organic infant formulas and soy products. Sometimes it’s used as a substitute for gelatin in many vegan foods.

Why is it bad?

Though a debatable subject, it has been shown to cause chronic inflammation, diabetes, and cancer.

And in fact, in 2016, the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) even voted to remove carrageenan from the list of substances allowed in organic food out of fear/evidence that it’s harmful to our health.

Some evidence of health concerns can be found in Dr. Joanne K. Tobacman’s research on the substance.

Her studies suggest that carrageenan can cause gastrointestinal inflammation, impaired glucose intolerance, and insulin function.

Meanwhile, a more recent study published in 2012 also shows a link between carrageenan and diabetes.

2. More Waste!

Often times organic food, especially produce, doesn’t last as long in your fridge before going bad.

This means you either end up with more waste, or have to go shopping more often.

Or get really good at making soup with old, wrinkly vegetables.

3. Is it really healthier?

A few things that might be misleading:

• While we have often assumed organic means no chemicals are used at all, this isn’t always the case.

•In Europe, the UK Food Standards Agency, the French Food Safety Agency and the Swedish National Food Administration, have all released research that claims organic food is neither safer nor more nutritious than non-organic food.

• Similarly, a 2009 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said there’s no nutrient difference between organic and non-organic food. A 2012 study found similar results.

• Meanwhile, a 2012 study from Stanford University analyzed 240 studies. 223 of these studies compared nutrient, bacterial, fungal or pesticide levels on various organic and non-organic products, such as fruit, vegetables, grains, meats, milk, poultry, and eggs. The result: Little significant health benefits between organic and conventional foods, and also no difference in vitamin content. (One significant difference were the level of Omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk).

4. What about ethics and the environment?

(When it comes to ethics and the environment, it seems pretty evident that organic animal farming is the way to go:

Animals are clearly treated more humanely and live in better conditions on organic farms. BUT, when it comes to vegetables, this isn’t the case.

The common belief is that pesticides used on non-organic produce are bad for the environment, but a 2010 study found that some organic pesticides actually have worse environmental impacts than conventional ones.

And it goes beyond just pesticides: Organic milk, cereals, and pork often generate higher greenhouse gas emissions per product than non-organic ones (this comes from a study from Oxford University)

Not only, that more, but organic products often take up more land (an average of 85% more land) and produce fewer products in the process!

And finally, check out this article that talks about how organic agriculture today actually creates more pollution than conventional farming.

What do you think? Do you think it’s worth breaking your wallet and bank account on organic food? Why or why not?


Why Meal Plan Dieting isn’t the Answer

Time and time again, I watch clients embark on a new diet, where they’re given a specific meal plan to follow. Something like:

• Breakfast – 8 a.m.: 3 eggs, 1 cup sautéd spinach, 1 orange, 1/2 an avocado, 1 cup coffee, 1 glass of water

• Snack – 10 a.m.: 12 almonds, 5 carrot sticks with peanut butter

• Lunch – 1 p.m.: 6 oz of tuna, 2 cups salad, sugar-free smoothie, 2 glasses of water

You get the point.

Meal plan dieting is precise and organized and specific and rigid—all of the things you think you need to lose weight.

Specific meal plans are what many people come to me looking for:

“Just tell me exactly what to eat and when, and I’ll do it,” they promise.

But the truth is, most people follow the plan for a while—a few weeks to a couple months maximum—and then they fall off because most people aren’t wired to be that rigid all the time.

The real problem comes once they fall off, because then these people often have no idea what they should be eating, so all hell breaks loose in their lives.

Their only tool was to follow a temporary plan, but now they can’t tell you why they should avoid lectins, or why it’s important to have fat with every meal and they’re not sure what to eat anymore.

It comes down to memorizing versus understanding: Meal plan dieting is just memorization—meaning you’re doomed to fail. True understanding is where long-term success lies.

Now I’m not saying memorizing something is always wrong.

In fact, you don’t have to look beyond a 2-year-old to see that memory is a fundamental tool in the learning process.

Toddlers revel in reading the same book over and over. The same stories over and over.

The same songs over and over. Ad nauseam to parents far and wide…

In fact, we are taught from a young age that we need to develop our memorizing skills.

I know when I was in high school, I memorized my way through many histories and biology tests.

The problem was I didn’t retain half of the information I memorized for the test.

Had I been re-tested 6 months later, I likely wouldn’t have passed the test.

This is because real learning doesn’t happen until we understand the information and then apply it to a new situation or experience.

The more I learn about nutrition, the more I realize the importance of learning the science behind nutrition versus just memorizing what foods I should eat.

Learning allows you to truly understand the why behind what you’re eating, which will allow you to make better decisions at the moment and be more creative with your cooking, which will help you make healthier meals that still taste really good.

It will also help you be more critical in your thinking and realize there isn’t one way to do things; sometimes trial and error with your body and your diet is a good thing and the more educated you are the more you’ll be able to play around with what works for you and what doesn’t.

Ultimately, it will allow you to pass that diet and nutrition test 6 months, 1 year, 2 years later, so to speak.

A few ways to educate yourself if you don’t know where to begin:

• Your coach:

We’re always willing to sit down with you and give you all our nutrition secrets and information. So don’t be shy. Ask if you want help.

• Precision Nutrition:

If you’re really serious, you could go so far as to take their Level 1 certification, but at the very least the Precision Nutrition website is a wealth of knowledge for you. Even their newsletters are helpful

• Robb Wolf:

The author of the Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf is one of the smartest, most critical thinkers out there on the topic of nutrition. He’s open-minded, critical and always considering new science.

• Whole30

The Whole30 posts some great blog posts worth reading. And I know tons of people who have had great success following the Whole30 diet.

• Dr. Barry Sears

The author of the Zone Diet, Dr. Barry Sears also writes a lot of information about inflammation and diet.


Sunscreen Sucks

What do oxybenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, octinoxate, and avobenzone have in common?

They’re all dangerous chemicals you have probably spread or sprayed all over your body more than once via your sunscreen!

We have been told to ALWAYS USE sunscreen to avoid burns, exposure to those dangerous UV rays, and to ultimately stop skin cancer.

But it could be a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, as chemicals like oxybenzone might be just as bad at causing skin cancer as the sun itself.

Here’s the thing about oxybenzone:

It penetrates your skin and then increases the production of DNA-damaging free radicals when they’re exposed to light, ultimately leading to cancer.

In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) calls this chemical and 8 out of 10 on the hazard scale and should be avoided.

The same is true of octocrylene, which is used in sunscreen to allegedly protect the skin while keeping it moist at the same time.

However, one of the concerns with this chemical is that it acts as a photosensitizer, meaning—like oxybenzone—it increases the production of free radicals when the skin is exposed to the sun.

If cancer isn’t the result, then at the very least it leads to premature aging of your skin.

As for octinoxate, when exposed to sunlight, its effectiveness to protect you against UV rays is rendered ineffective, which is ironic considering you’re probably going to be exposed to sunlight if you’re wearing sunscreen in the first place.

One study found that this chemical can actually damage your skin, and this damage can continue even after your skin is out of the sun.

OK, you probably get the point:

There are chemicals in most sunscreens that might be doing more damage than good.

In fact, when the EWG tested more than 1,400 sunscreens, only 5 percent of them met safety standards, and more than 40 percent of them were found to contribute to skin cancer.

So, what to do, what to do?

Avoiding the sun altogether seems like a bad idea, seeing as you know you need Vitamin D, and the best place to get that is from the sun.

As a side note,

There’s evidence that suggests that sunscreen can even act to block Vitamin D absorption.

So if you’re wearing it, you might not only be doing damage to your skin, you might even be preventing yourself from getting that Vitamin D.

Which is what you were after in the first place!

This study even suggests wearing sunscreen can lead to Vitamin D deficiency.

Another option is to go without sunscreen. But again, if you’re prone to bad sunburns you might find yourself in a lot of pain for a couple days.

And, of course, the whole cancer thing from not protecting yourself from the sun.

A potential solution:

Mineral Sunscreens Generally-speaking, mineral sunscreens are safer, but beware: Some of them still do contain many of the chemicals I outlined at the outset.

Here are some of the better ones I have come across:
• Raw Elements Sunscreen
• The Honest Company Sunscreen
• Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen
• Alba Botanical Mineral Sunscreen
• Badger Mineral Sunscreen
• Babyganics Sunscreen or spray sunscreen
• All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen
• Naked Turtle Mineral Sunscreen with Aloe
• Sunology Natural Sunscreen

And if you’re willing to be creative and experiment, here’s a recipe for a homemade sunscreen that has natural SPF (sun protecting factors) in it:


•1/2 almond or olive oil
•1/2 coconut oil (4 SPF)
•1/4 beeswax
•2 Tbsp. zinc oxide
•1 tsp Red Raspberry seed oil
•1 ts. Carrot seed oil
•2 Tbsp shea butter (natural 4-5 SPF)
•Optional: Essential oils, vanilla extract for smell

-Combine everything but the zinc oxide in a large glass jar.
-Fill a saucepan with two inches of water and put on medium heat.
-Put a lid in the jar and put it in the saucepan.
-When the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will melt and combine together. Shake it here and there to get it to mix better.

-Take it off the heat and add the zinc oxide and stir well.

-Store at room temperature.
There seems to be a lot we still don’t know about sunscreen and whether it’s worth it to wear or not, so hat do you have to lose by experimenting with a new way of trying to protect your skin?

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