Sceptically Fit


A month of links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 14:38

Its been a busy month (and a half) for me – more on that in another post – but its been a busy time in the world of health and fitness.

The Meat will kill you Study: I’d jump straight in with a comment from Gary Taubes and  Silverhydra’s interpretation   before rounding it out with a post from Mark Sisson. And a heart surgeon speaks out – what really causes heart disease.

More on the use it or lose it

“We control 70 per cent of how we age,” she says. “The other 30 per cent is genetic, and we can blame our mothers for that. But 70 per cent is in our hands.”

Omega 3 supplementation is recommended for a lot of people – but you can over do it. And more reasons to supplement with vitamin d.

Do you remember to use the foam roller on your upper body?

Wheat – more ways it damages you. And a look at the spectrum of gluten sensitivity disorders.

Given my diet for the last month or so, I’m not surprised that evidence keeps emerging that lack of sleep causes you to overeat.

A study suggests women are more susceptible to hormonally induced hunger after exercise. And another study looks at the effect of resistance training on overall energy expenditure.

Its disappointing to watch my country’s educational institution’s reputations ruined by pseudoscience.

When will my gym start offering Kitty-robics?



The wonderful web – a week of links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 20:54

What a week of interesting stories:

As a long time user of lip balms and lipstick, I’ve heard the complaints – lip balm is addictive. Its seems the answer is maybe psychologically.

Opt for a plain balm with a petrolatum, beeswax, or oil-based lubricating cream, and avoid lip products that contain chemicals such as menthol, camphor, or phenol (they may irritate skin more!). One final piece of advice: Be sure to apply balm only when lips are chapped— normal lips don’t necessarily need extra moisture! One study found that when moisturizers were used on normal (a.k.a. not dry) skin, it increased skin susceptibility to irritants [3] [4]. If lips aren’t normally chapped, it may be better not to start applying lip balm at all

Conditioning Research posts on the increasing evidence linking sleep deprivation and obesity:

Observational studies have observed cross-sectional associations between short sleep duration (generally <6 h per night) and increased body mass index or obesity, prevalent diabetes, and prevalent hypertension. Some studies also reported an association between self-reported long sleep duration (generally >8 h per night) and cardiometabolic disease. A few prospective studies have found a significant increased risk of weight gain, incident diabetes, and incident hypertension associated with inadequate sleep.

While this is still to be understood, the assumption is that lack of sleep causes stress, and high cortisol levels are a cause of obesity. As some who has both struggled with insomnia and weight in the past, this is concerning – as it can become a vicious cycle. Part of my insomnia is related to restless leg syndrome and night cramps – something a paleo diet with magnesium supplements has helped alleviate. But then there are nights that you can’t turn your mind off. Seth’s blog has been running an ongoing look at the effects of Vitamin D3 supplementation and its role on sleep.

A month ago I blogged about a “stunning discovery”: Primal Girl’s sleep got much better when she took Vitamin D3 in the early morning instead of much later (afternoon or evening). Others pointed out a similar observation: Taking Vitamin D3 in the evening caused insomnia. These observations suggest that Vitamin D3 resembles sunlight in its effect on sleep: morning exposure good, evening exposure bad. Sunlight, of course, is hard to control and sometimes hard to get (which is why Primal Girl tried Vitamin D3). Sunlight is also time-consuming: it takes an hour to get one hour of sunlight. The timing and dosage of Vitamin D3 is much easier to control.

And its starting to look like the need for Vitamin D is becoming part of mainstream health attitudes (or re-becoming).

When I started looking into being healthy agave nectar featured as a healthy natural sweetener. From a vegan perspective, its also considered a good one (though it falls under the we ignore the damage it causes being harvested/grown as long as it doesn’t come directly from an animal). Food renegade looks at how unnatural, processed and unhealthy agave nectar is.

Native Mexican peoples do make a sort of sweetener out of the agave plant. It’s called miel de agave, and it’s made by boiling the agave sap for a couple of hours. Think of it as the Mexican version of authentic Canadian maple syrup. … Agave nectar is not traditional, is highly refined, and actually has more concentrated fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. It is not a “natural” sweetener. … Concentrated fructose is not found in fruit, or anywhere else in nature. When the sugar occurs in nature, it is often called “levulose” and is accompanied by naturally-occurring enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin.  Concentrated fructose, on the other hand, is a man-made sugar created by the refining process.

The importance of removing gluten from the diet is hitting mainstream awareness even if there still is a sense that we should  be eating grains so the real problem with avoiding gluten is missing out. There’s no scientific reason to say people have to eat grains. I realise this is still a new area of study and we don’t have proof of non-coelieac gluten intolerance.

Improvements to a person’s health without gluten can be explained several ways, by placebo effect or by the fact a gluten-free diet removes other agents from the body – most importantly the poorly absorbed carbohydrates known as fructans, which may cause illness or discomfit.

Penny Dellsperger, a dietitian at Coeliac NSW, said there were significant medical risks to people adopting gluten free diets without first ascertaining whether they suffered coeliac disease. She said the symptoms could easily relate to other illnesses.

That’s the only real risk – that people get enough improvement from removing grains that they assume that’s it rather than continuing to investigate the problem and miss another issue. But that doesn’t redeem gluten.

Of course, the anti-anti-gluten argument comes from the assumption that a low-carb diet is unhealthy. We need carbohydrates, yes but even the ketosis fans eat their vegetables. But compared to the pasta and bread folks, we’re all generally much lower carb. Stumptuous reports on studies showing the importance of eating quality protein sources. While Robert Paterson asks us to look at the whole animal before saying meat is too expensive.

But speaking of carbs – just how many do you need to fuel your endurance exercise? And Strength Running offers more guidance on protecting yourself while building endurance.

But before we finish, lets take a look at the charlatans out there. Vaccines are for prostitutes, according to one acupuncturist. I suppose when your entire field is based on magical thinking, things like cancer only happen to people you think deserve it. And more evidence that the cure is worse than the disease – at least when your cure is made up without evidence as is chiropractic treatments and yoga. Sure there’s a couple of thousand years between their invention, but they both still come from a far from scientific understanding of how the body works.


Day 23/24/25 of the Primal Challenge with cheats!

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 23:23

The last few days have been a little up and down. Thursday, I felt pretty rundown – work, lack of sleep, personal problems… I pushed myself to get to the gym, but did a fairly reduced workout. I didn’t drop any weight from my lifts but I didn’t do any of the extra lifts. Took refuge in a slightly indulgent sweet potato oven chips, and accidentally at all the lamb steaks instead of leaving one for breakfast.

Friday, a friend hosted Burns Night. So this was my first proper planned to cheat evening. The actual meal itself isn’t too bad from a paleo perspective:  Haggis,  mashed turnips and mashed potato (or neeps and tatties if you will). The haggis contains oats but that’s still gluten free, and since I’ve gotten over my fear of the interesting parts of the animals, it really suits my ecological sustainability concerns to eat all the animal.

We had homemade apple pie which was deliciously tart rather than overly sweet, with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream. Well it was only supposed to be once scoop, but mine went flying across the room so I got to have another one (I didn’t know ice cream could roll…). And as well as a few crisps that I helped myself to, we all had two macaroons each that another friend had brought from a French bakery in town. Oh and too much wine.

I felt pretty decent come Saturday morning. Considering I had to sit up for a bit when I got home until the world was still enough to lie down and sleep, I certainly can’t make any guess as to whether the slightly less than optimal stomach feeling was due to alcohol consumption or the small amount of grains/gluten I’d consumed. I don’t think the problem I have with gluten/grain is that dramatic – unlike my friend who was complaining about stomach pains after he cheated on Thursday with a pizza. If it just means I have to avoid wheat as much as possible but can enjoy rice/oats etc at a less than regular basis, I’ll be happy.

As I’ve started my training for the half-marathon in April, Saturday is my long run day. What I learnt today is that while an egg and bacon frittata is a lovely meal to start the day, not if you’re planning on using it to run 14km. I had assumed that all the carbs from the night before (potato, turnips, icecream, pie, booze, biscuits) would have been enough but apparently not. It was a very slow run and I didn’t feel good except for the fact that I finished it (technically 13.95km but as I was aiming for 13km, I’m fine with that).

I had forgotten to pick up any immediate after work out food so decided to experiment with a coconut milk smoothie. Coconut milk blended with frozen berries and a tablespoon of cocoa. Taste-wise it was good, not sure it even needs the cocoa. Problem was it was so very cold that it chilled me too much. By the time I finished drinking it I was shivering uncontrollably. I don’t believe I was in any actual danger, of course, my freezer is not that cold. But after seriously exerting myself my body does tend to lose its ability to keep itself warm (all those years in Australia – I had no idea this could be an issue). So instead of stretching and cooling down properly, I spent about half an hour standing under a hot shower.

After last night’s cheat dessert-wise, I decided dinner was going to have cheese! I hadn’t eaten cheese for almost a month. Taco salad: beef mince with taco flavouring, lettuce, tomato, spring onions, cheese, homemade guacamole (avocado, sour cream and jalapeños blended together). Incredibly tasty – too tasty! I ended up going back for a second dinner and eating all the leftovers that were supposed to be Sunday’s dinner. I know eating protein is good after an extended run to help prevent muscle loss, but I don’t think you need to eat so much your body temperature raises enough to stop you sleeping properly. Though I assume that effect was partly due to the messed up homoeostasis caused by the super chilled smoothie. Oh well, what’s a Saturday without a little overeating…

So my 30 day challenge hasn’t been very pure but its definitely been convincing me this is the way to go. And my reasoning is that by not limiting everything its more like a lifestyle I can keep following. Maybe I’m adding too many elements but I’d been reading so much on the effects of Vitamin d3 on sleep that I’ve purchased a bottle myself. Had my first d3 Friday morning – but my actions haven’t really made this a good test. I figure I’ll have a better idea come Monday.




Lots of Links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 01:28

So in the first week of January’s  articles of achieving the new you – Australian dieticians have voted the lemon detox as the worst diet fad The Perfect Health Diet expounds a theory of obesity. Mark looks at how to tell if you’re inflamed. Do we really need to pornify exercise?

A high protein diet helps promote lean tissue, while its calories that boost body fat. A new study looks at the role of exercise on skeletal muscle glycogen breakdown for regulating insulin sensitivity. Another study is released linking low vitamin d and depression.

Another study showing marijuana is less harmful than tobacco. One day we may have a drug to protect against heat sensitivity (Australia here I come!). Sweet, Sour, Salty and Bitter are as outdated as the basic humours when it comes to human taste.

What better than the start of a new year to think of apocalyptic signs – India has reported cases of completely drug-resistant tuberculosis.

After reports that marathon running damages your heart, it looks like the risk may be overstated. On the opposite end of the activity scale, more evidence that even minor increases in activity can decrease the risk of heart attack.

Create a free website or blog at