Sceptically Fit


Lots of Links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:32

Can running help with skin conditions? And more evidence of the less is more approach to running.

The mainstream media is picking up on the increasing evidence that its the increase of sugar in our diet that has caused the obesity crisis. Its been posted everywhere, so I won’t comment much – low-carb diet came out best for longterm weight loss. But before you get too concerned, being skinny is more of a health risk than being moderately overweight.

Keep exercising! The evidence is mounting up that regular intensive exercise can keep your body performing like a much younger person (maybe not the fittest younger person, but still!). And if you’re afraid of the chronic cardio argument (or using it as an excuse) Jason Fitzgerald takes on the arguments against running. If you can – run outside. Running outside offers mental health benefits that running in a gym doesn’t. Don’t forget to strengthen as well as stretch to prevent ITB.

A comprehensive look at the dangers of phytoestrogens and why you should limit your soy intake.

Eating lowfat salad dressing decreases your ability to absorb nutrients from your salad.

It seems getting people to reduce their meat consumptions isn’t the ecological saviour to the planet that some people have (ardently) proposed. On the subject of unverified claims – it seems the danger of drinking while pregnant has been overstated. Fetal alcohol syndrome is real, but there’s no evidence that light or moderate drinking is implicated.

And the biggest news for all those interested in scientifically verified health news – British scientific research is to be made publically available within five years!


An Unpleasant Reminder

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:28

This December has been particularly unhealthy for me. I have managed a few short weights sessions (about once a week) which has probably helped save me a little. But in general, my diet has been terrible. December is a time when people generally eat and drink too much. And there’s been a lot of that. But aside from eating too much good food, I’ve also eaten way too much bad food.

On three separate occasions in about a week and a half, I ate  two family sized cadbury dairy milk blocks (230gm each – Caramello and Whole Nut for those keeping track). That’s not about fun – that’s binge eating. That’s the kind of eating that you get to the last few pieces and you feel relieved that its almost gone. You don’t feel physically good after eating that much mid-range chocolate, and you don’t feel emotionally good after compulsively guzzling down piece after piece.

This is not to say I’m against a good fun indulgent binge. What I think started this was a night I really just wanted to snuggle up on the sofa, while the unseasonably cold and stormy weather raged outside, watching tv and eating chocolate. My parents sent my a lovely Australian care package with a bag of Darryl Lea liquorice – and I happily scoffed most of the bag in one sitting. That wasn’t compulsive eating –  that was fun over-the-top indulgence that can’t be repeated easily as nowhere in the UK seems to stock that delicious liquorice! Oops getting off-topic…

Sugar is addictive. This is pretty well known – and this is a personal post so I’m not citing sources. It has been suggested its more addictive than cocaine. After my month of sugar highs and lows, I’d suggest its more akin to crack or meth. Its addictive, makes your body and emotions crave it up to and including the levels of opening a second block of chocolate while you are still finishing the last piece of the previous one.

Sugar, like the previously mentioned drug, also has an increasingly level of tolerance, something I’ve been reminded of. My regular chocolate treat is dark chocolate – 85% cocoa solids. I decided to start cutting back on the sugary chocolate but thought a cold-turkey approach might be too much. So I tried to have a small bar Monday – I couldn’t eat it! It was so bitter and I couldn’t taste any sweetness. The seemingly lack of sweetness meant I couldn’t appreciate the richness of the chocolate, it just wasn’t what I was now used to. Fortunately, I didn’t have any more sweet chocolate left so managed to keep the sugar out for the evening.

Of course, there must have been an emotional component to this. I have come off several busy and stressful months. And my desire to indulge the comfort eating aspect of nesting against the cold winter was a lot to do with how worn out I was. Was there more going on then I realised that comfort eating turning into compulsive binging was possible? I try to remember what I used to be like – did this kind of thing happen semi-regularly anyway? I know I have turned to food to feel good (even though we all know it doesn’t even work as temporarily as you’d hope) most of my life. Is the reason it feels like such a sudden drop into compulsiveness more to do with me normally feeling good over the last few years and less to do with this being such a severe depature from my entire life’s eating habits?

I had originally planned to just say fuck it and enjoy the rest of December with all the Christmassy treats and New Year indulgences. Then, after returning to work (not the first week – don’t be crazy!), go on a strict thirty day paleo/primal challenge to clean myself up. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like my body will let me. Aside from just the almost daily chocolate consumption, there’s also been an unusually excessive amount of pizza, white bread, pasta, cakes, desserts, crisps, icecream and other such foods. There has been a decent amount of good meals in amongst all thats – its not like I wake up and eat cheetos for breakfast! But this weekened I went to an all day event that included a good amount of drinking.  It seems drinking wine for about eleven hours – even though I consumed probably about the glass for glass of water too – was a tipping point. Since sometime Saturday evening, I have now joined the wonderful world of GERD symptoms.

I know it was the alcohol that caused this – I used to get a stomach cramps after drinking more than a little years ago. But that stopped after I started following a more paleo/low-carb style diet. The only other time I’ve had stomach cramps in conjunction with alcohol has been in the middle of a not-healthy-diet. This time I’m not so much on the agonising cramps, and more the chronic heartburn for three days. Since Monday I’ve been trying to clean up my diet. I think the symptoms have abated a little but not quite there yet. Hopefully I can get this to settle down enough before Christmas arrives – and hopefully it will give me the willpower to choose my Christmassy food indulgences a little more carefully: indulge – don’t suffer!


Lots of Links

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 19:44

Some stories that caught my eye this last week (and slightly longer…)

Richelle McCulloch from Skeptic North takes a look at the importance of vaccinating your children and questions what it means to be making an informed choice.

Another quack practice attempts to intimidate critical examination of their services and serve to bring attention to their dodgy practices.

Oh the embarrassing body – Mark Sisson looks at the causes and solutions to the not-always-hilarious problem of flatulence.

Pharyngula points to a comic outlining the effectiveness of acupuncture.

It seems guidelines to avoid alcohol during pregnancy were drawn up without actual evidence of safe or unsafe levels. New studies are suggesting light and moderate drinking is not a problem.



Its not my fault, its my brain chemistry…

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:14

As I’ve spent most of the day feeling a little less than vibrant after celebrating a friend’s birthday last night, it seems timely to come across this study – Rose-colored beer goggles. Its not as though I ever actually say ‘never again’, I can’t lie to myself that much. But I certainly do say ‘not for a while’, which is vague enough it might hold true.

But each any time I end the night lying on the cold bathroom floor wanting the world to stop spinning or leaning over the toilet bowl; or waking up feeling like light physically huts, or that headachey, stomach seediness, that doesn’t go away well into the night, I do try and feel like I’ll remember to be better next time. Not drink as much, drink more water, don’t accept a joint when the world is already spinning…

Does it work? Sometimes. I’m usually pretty good at drinking water throughout the night. But after a few drinks you lose track of time, and if its not convenient to get to (some bars and clubs are bad for getting water) you can not get round to it. And as I’m sure most people are aware – once you are aware you really need water, its a bit late…


Make Mine a Martini

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:52

Unfortunately no – delicious, but my budget doesn’t generally stretch that far.

Is alcohol healthy – the best collation of our current understanding of alcohol on the body is here: The Truth about Alcohol, Fat Loss and Muscle Growth .

What are some of the points to consider:

The fattening question – alcohol is a sugar, but sugar alcohols are processed differently by the body. It will use them first so anything you eat on top of the alcohol is more likely to be unused and therefore stored as fat (which is why the article above recommends eating protein when drinking). Interestingly – if you are going for a ketogenic diet, the sugar alcohols do not kick you out of ketosis the way normal sugars will.

Moderate alcohol appears to be healthy.

Moderate alcohol consumption improves insulin sensitivity, lowers triglyceride concentrations and improves glycemic control. Not only in healthy folks, but also in type 2 diabetes. There is no clear consensus on the insulin sensitizing mechanism of alcohol, but one viable explanation may be that alcohol promotes leanness by stimulating AMPK in skeletal muscle. It’s not a stretch to assume that this might have favorable effects on nutrient partitioning in the longer term.

If the effect of alcohol consumption on insulin sensitivity doesn’t impress you, then consider the fact that studies have consistently shown that moderate drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. This can be mainly attributed to a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. However, alcohol also contributes to a healthier and disease-free life by protecting against Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, the common cold, different types of cancers, depression and many other Western diseases.


In terms of what to drink  the lower calorie per alcohol content is your best bet: Get Drunk Not Fat

I recommend a Gin, Soda Water, and two slices of lime.


Create a free website or blog at