Monthly Archives: January 2011

Low fat or high fat? Squat or not? Volume or intensity?

The Devil:

Fruit = Natural vitamins and minerals! Eat as much as you want!

Eating fat will cause heart problems.

Carbs are harmless. Get as much whole grains as you can.

Calorie counting is a must to maintain a healthy weight.

Low carb diets don’t work. They’re a fad!

Vegetables are the most important ingredient.

A lot of centenarians ate only vegetables.

Fasting results in muscle wastage. You should eat 6-8 small meals everyday.

Crossfit sucks!

(Distance) Running is the best exercise there is.

Squatting causes knee problems.

Yoga is just stretching. Lame!

Cardio is the most important part of training.

Never strength train to failure.

Volume training is the only way to get strong and muscular.

The Deep Blue Sea:

Fruit (fructose) is poison. Never ever eat fruit.

Eating mostly fat will save you from everything.

Carbs are the sole cause of heart diseases, obesity and every other disease!

Never count calories! Let hunger dictate how much you eat.

Low carb diets are the only way to stay healthy.

Vegetables are worthless.

A lot of centenarians survived on eggs and fatty meat.

Crossfit is the best training program ever created!

(Distance) Running is detrimental to health.

Squatting can cure cancer. You have to squat 3 days a week!

Fasting is beneficial to health. You should eat only 1-2 times a day.

Yoga is all that is required for anyone to get fit irrespective of his/her goals.

Cardio is unnecessary.

Training to failure is the only way to make strength gains.

Volume training results in joint abuse. Keep the volume low. Intensity FTW.

Somewhere Between:

Fruits are nature’s candy. Eat them in moderation.

Fats are absolutely essential to the body. Eat much but be sure to get enough protein and carbs too.

Carbs are beneficial when consumed based on activity level.

Don’t count calories. Don’t binge eat. Practice portion control.

Overweight? Want to lean out? Try low carb. If it works that’s great, else add in some carbs.

Eat a lot of vegetables but don’t eat only vegetables.

All centenarians ate less, lived active, fasted frequently and did not stress much!

There are things about Crossfit which are exceptional and parts that are plain ridiculous. Choose wisely.

Enjoy running? Go out and run. Hate it? Don’t worry about it.

Can’t squat? Try harder. Still can’t? Hop on the leg press.

Prefer big meals? Eat 1-3 times a day. Prefer small meals? Eat 4-6 times a day.

Yoga is great and is one of the many tools that need to be a part of your fitness toolkit. Practice it often.

Eat clean. Strength train. Do cardio that doesn’t affect recovery.

Work with sub-maximal loads during most phases of the year. Plan your workouts such that you go to failure once every few weeks.

High volume works. Low volume works. Try both. Find what works for you. Train smart.

For the most part, I seem to happily hover around somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea.  Where do you want to chill?

Get your mind right people! Find what works for you. Self-experimentation is what it all comes down to!

Enjoy the weekend!

Peace out.

The Deadlift – What? Why? How?

It’s been stated enough times that the Deadlift is pretty much the king of all lifts and has tremendous benefits. But unfortunately not many folks do it. I understand that it is a complicated lift and most people can’t really afford or don’t care enough to hire a trainer to teach them the lift.

I searched far and wide but most websites, though they took at stab at describing the deadlift, fail to “teach the lift” to a novice. So I decided to pay homage to the king by talking about his greatness and introducing him to the masses. Here we go.

What is the deadlift?

Well, it is the king of all lifts!

OK smart-ass… how can the deadlift be described?

Ah! The deadlift is the action of lifting a dead weight off the floor. Typically, a loaded bar is lifted from it’s “dead” position on the ground to a complete lock-out around thigh level (varies depending on length of lifters limbs).

Why should I train the deadlift?

– Because if exercise = food then deadlift = bacon.

– Because it develops amazing core (erector spinae, glutes, abs, back) strength and without core strength you will be as fragile as a 75 yr old granny.

– Because it helps keep the spinal extensors/erectors in good health.

Will I ever use the deadlift in real life? Is it functional?

If you ever plan on lifting anything off the ground… be it grocery bags or a suitcase or a dying earthquake victim… you will be thankful for having trained the deadlift.

What muscles does the deadlift work?

In short – everything except your pectoralis (chest) muscles. To be specific…

  • Erector Spinae/Sacrospinalis (Spine)
  • Flexor Digitorum Profundus (Forearm)
  • Gluteus Maximus (Butt)
  • Adductor Magnus (Thigh – Medial)
  • Quadriceps (Thigh – Anterior)
  • Soleus (Calves)
  • Hamstrings (Thigh – Posterior)
  • Gastrocnemius (Calves)
  • Trapezius, Middle (Posterior Shoulder & Back)
  • Trapezius, Upper (Posterior Shoulder & Back)
  • Levator Scapulae (Neck)
  • Rhomboids (Back)
  • Rectus Abdominis (Abs)
  • Obliques (Abs)

I hear that the deadlift is very dangerous. Is that true?

Did you know texting is dangerous?

I know that some people hurt their back because they deadlifted excessively. But did you know that way too many people messed up their backs for life because they did not deadlift? Dont believe me? When was the last time you heard someone say “Oh I hurt my back deadlifting?” and when was the last time you hard someone say “Oh I hurt my back lifting my 5yr old/suitcase/couch”?? Ha!

Deadlifing, like anything else, is safe (and again, extremely beneficial) as long as it is done with good form and that’s exactly the point of this post – to teach you good form.

What is your experience with the deadlift?

Once I completed p90x, I thought I was super strong. I tried deadlifting. I pulled an awesome 120 lbs off the ground for 1 rep.This was about 0.8 x bodyweight.

Since then I have been teaching myself the deadlift and been training it religiously. Though not elite, I now deadlift 2 x bodyweight for 4-6 reps and 2.5 x bodyweight for 1 rep. As a result my overall athleticism has improved drastically, I’ve packed in a lot of muscle and have literally eliminated any and all kinds of lower back pain.

OK how do I perform the lift?

In layman’s caveman’s terms… grab the weight and stand up. To get a little more descriptive and technical…

Click on image for larger clearer version

Phase 1: The Set-Up

– Stand with feet hip about width apart such that your feet are under the bar with your shins as close as possible to the bar but not touching the bar. See picture below.

– Bend at the hip and grip the bar such that your palms are a thumbs width away from the side of your legs/shins.

– Bend at the knee and go low till you feel your hamstrings. At this point the bar should be in contact with your shins.

– Get your chest up and straighten your back.

– Look up and focus on an object that’s about 5-7 ft from you. If there is a mirror in front of you then look the other way.

– Retract your shoulders and pull them down. This means you need to bring your shoulder blades as close to each other as possible. You should be able to hold a pen between your shoulder blades.

– Ensure that your shoulder blades are directly above the bar.

– Take a deep breath.

– Tighten your abs. Squeeze your glutes (butt).

– Grip the bar as hard as you can. Think you want to deform the bar!

Phase 2: The Pull Off The Ground

– Lift weight smoothly without any  jerking motion. Push the ground beneath you and pull the bar while it scrapes your shins.

– During this phase, the only joint that opens is your knee joint.

– The hip joint is locked and does not open. In other words, the angle of hip flexion i.e the angle between your straight back and ground, should be maintained and not increased.

– One way to check if you’re doing this right is to ensure that your shoulders move ONLY upwards and together with the hips. If your shoulder moves up and back, you’re opening up at your hip. If your shoulder moves down and front, your bending more at the hip and placing unnecessary load on your lower back.

Phase 3:  Knee Extension

– Continue lifting the bar higher by opening the knees more.

– Your hips are still locked, the bar is still scraping your shins and everything else mentioned in Phases 1 and 2 still apply.

Phase 4: The Hip Drive

– Once the bar is at knee height, start opening your hip and drive your hip in front in a thrusting motion.

– You are now opening your knees and your hips  and the angle of hip flexion increases (from a to b as in the figure).

– Your shoulders, which were moving only up, should now move up and back.

– The bar should now be above knee height and scraping your thighs.

Phase 5: The lock-out

– Continue to open your knees and hips and squeeze your glutes (butt) to reach lock-out position.

– It is acceptable to extend your hips slightly during lockout.  The lock-out serves no other purpose than completing the lift and an exaggerated extension is unnecessary and dangerous.

The Return:

– Slowly lower the bar sliding it on your thighs. At this point hip flexion occurs but the knee is still straight.

– When the bar reaches the knee, initiate knee flexion (bend the knee) and continue to lower the bar, sliding it on your shins, till the plates touch the ground.

– Note that your abs and glutes are still tight, your grip is still solid, your eyes are still focusing on the same object, your back is still straight, your chest is still up and your shoulders are still in place.

The Next Rep:

– Now you loosen your grip for a fraction of a second. Re-grip and lift again. The reason for this brief loosening is because this is a “dead”lift and hence each rep should be performed on a dead weight.

– Bouncing the weight off the ground is not legit.

Videos exhibiting good form

Here’s a heavy one…

And here are some fast ones…

And here is some Mark Rippeto…

– providing an intro to the deadlift.

– coaching the deadlift set-up.

– explaining the deadlift anatomy

And here is an article from Stronglifts talking about how to lower the bar.

Hope this post gives you enough reason, information and confidence to start deadlifting. I’ll follow this post up with some other types of deadlifts and grips, common errors and fixes during deadlifting and some sample workouts.

Peace out.

Success Story – Man vs Diabetes

I’ve known this person for a long time really and here are some things about him you need to know about his diet and activity level…

  • He was always health conscious.
  • He ate per the guidelines he was provided i.e. high carb with lots of whole grains, low fat, low protein
  • He is and always was vegetarian (no meat, no seafood, no eggs, milk OK).
  • He had his blood lipids and blood sugar tested very frequently and monitored it closely.

Then this happened…

  • In 1990, at the age of 36,  he started feeling tired for no reason. Slowly but steadily the tiredness crept up on him and it became a daily occurrence. It affected his work life to a point that everyday after lunch he had to drive away from work and crash for about 2 hours in his car (in some random alley) before he started work post-lunch.
  • In 2002 his tiredness was termed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and he was prescribed testosterone injections in order to balance out his hormones. When he learnt that the side effects of this was cancer he quit taking the injections. Though there was some improvement the syndrome continued to exist.
  • In 2002 he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In spite of his following the ‘diabetes diet’ and walking regularly, in 2004 he was prescribed 1 diabetes medicine a day which was increased to 2 tablets by 2009.

I had heard about this a few times but didn’t know it was affecting his life to this extent. Mid 2010 I came to know that this was taking over his life and I thought it was time. I spoke to him and his wife and explained to them the perils of such an unhealthy life and how his life may end much earlier than it should if he continues to live like this. By Sept ’10, we agreed to change his diet. I designed a completely customized nutrition plan for him and put him on a real food, high fat, high veggie, no grain, moderate protein diet.

Just to keep this very real, this post will mostly be a compilation of email exchanges between me and him. Note: Anything that is red colored italicized and within parenthesis was added by me.

His first email after starting the diet…

Great and thank you…. today I started with your diet…. for dinner say a bowl of boiled veg with cheese… some curd… that is all… may take a cup of milk later…

What is Whey protein…

A couple of days later…

Today I am extremely tired… dont know why… just for your info…

Two more days later…

Today also I felt very tired… bought Whey Protein… had a scoop with cold milk.. tell me what amount of sugar it contains.. as am a diabetic…

Consuming only veg,nuts and curd does not excite my appetite… boring and bland.. any advise to make it tasty?????

Sleep is good… sleeping for more than 9hrs..may be due to tiredness???

A day later…

My blood glucose level as of today (with medication) has no change compared to before the no grain diet..  fasting 108 and PP 141…. FYI. But the tiredness persists.

My response…

Thats fine. It takes 2-3 weeks for the body to balance out and adapt to the change. That might explain the tiredness. Like I said my guess is that you need to eat more calories. Try that and see if you feel any better.

My advice would be to stick to the diet for 2-3 weeks atleast. There is generally a fall before the rise and this is due to the change in macro nutrient composition your body is dealing with.
A day later…
Today my fasting blood sugar has came down to 99 (PP 108) and random sugar at 2.30pm was 98 (PP 141).
Note I took 4 iddlies (indian rice cakes) last night.
My response…
I very strongly suggest that you do a grain free diet for at least 30 days. Your body is trying to balance things out and throw out all the unwanted toxins etc. Reintroducing rice (or wheat or any grain) will only make this task harder for your body.
His response to mine…
Will keep you posted on the progress…. actually day before I was so weak I could not even talk… and my legs were so weak I felt like I just recovered from Typhoid…
Considering his age, I had to make his transition more gradual.
I understand. A gradual change works better in some cases. Read this article below. It tells you how to gradually transition into eating clean. This should be very helpful.
This was approximately 2 weeks into the diet. Following this, the frequency of check-ins/updates reduced as he had gotten a good handle on what to eat, when to eat and how to make delicious recipes. Then on the 18th December ’10 I receive an email from him…
After adopting a near no grain diet for the last 95 days, I am happy to say that my energy level is increased so much. Now a days I don’t crave for rest in the afternoon. I really want to thank you for this. Hope more protein and good fat will  make me more energetic.
Now my diet is as follows… Breakfast – one cup of raw vegetables with cheese toping, one cup of fruits, one cup of boiled veggies with beans and nuts… milk… may be 2 iddlies… then for lunch mostly 2 cups of raw veggies… fruit.. tea and evening 2 vadas (indian lentil doughnuts) and may be coffee… for dinner… boiled/fried veggies, milk, ‘cottage cheese curd rice’, etc., now a days I dont like rice, sambar etc., only iddly I like with podi or chutney…I will stick to this diet…   A BIG THANK YOU FOR YOUR GREAT HELP IN MANAGING MY ENERGY LEVELS AND HEALTH.
Obviously this was awesome news and I was stoked! My diet program helped this person cure chronic fatigue syndrome from which he had been suffering for over 20 years! Better still he seemed to enjoy the diet and did not fear the inclusion of some grain based items. Awesome stuff!
In another 20 days (9th Jan ’11) I receive another email titled ‘Glucose Level’…
Accidentally I skipped my sugar tablet on 5th and felt very worn out in the evening… so I tested my glucose level with a expectation that it could have jumped to 200+… but to my great surprise the random sugar level was amazingly 95… night also I skipped tablets and the fasting sugar on 6th is slightly higher … 126…6th also I skipped the tab in the morning and the random sugar in the evening was 97. Today morning the fasting sugar level was 121… and PP was also 121… quite surprising… just to share am mailing this… I will continue my diet without medication for a week and will watch the sugar level.As am dropping the medication after say 5 years, the body’s response is violent… am very tired and sleepy as if the sugar level is 300+…will keep you posted…

A day later…
Today my fasting sugar level was 133….. but the tiredness has gone and the Random Glucose was 130… so tonight I reduced my dinner by 50% and will test the fasting sugar tomorrow… 4th day… no medication and my glucose level is amazingly very much under control and the tiredness also gone…Even if the fasting glucose does not come down tomorrow, I will take my dinner by 7pm and go for a walk at 8pm and test it day after. I got the confidence I can get rid of the medication and control my blood glucose level by diet and exercises(only emphasis added by me)Thank you da… mavane (means ‘son’)

Am now reading your blog regularly and have subscribed to it also… only one advice… mind your language…

with all the love

appa (means ‘dad’)

It’s one thing to prescribe a diet for a client… it’s a whole different thing to put your dad’s life on the line. And yes, I did stop dropping the F-bomb in my blog posts after this email!

This is the latest from him…

Thanks and today the fasting level is still 127 …. but just now at 3.15pm I tested for Random .. it is only 105… my breakfast is one tumbler (cup) coffee, one bowl of fruits and 2 bowls of veggies and paneer and in the noon one tumbler of protein shake …

All day my glucose level is very much under control without medicine… today I will have my dinner at 7.30pm and go for a long walk and test it tomorrow…

Note that with medicine also the fasting glucose level was always between 110 to 125. So i wont say it is any higher now (without medication).

Sure these are not perfect numbers and he’s still a work in progress. But the man understands his body now and I’m confident we will figure out the rest! Words can’t express how proud I am of him!

And just so you understand the extent of awesomeness this is, let me summarize. About 4 months of eating right…

  • cured the chronic fatigue syndrome he was suffering from for the past 20 years!
  • helped him give up diabetes medication which has been controlling his life for the last 6 years!
  • helped improve his lipid profile – Triglycerides dropped significantly, HDL increased and LDL dropped minimally (still in work in progress)

Now your turn – Are your parents diabetic or obese or have high blood pressure or have cardiovascular complications? Are they following the ridiculous grain dominant ‘diabetes diet’ provided by their doctors and dietitians? Are they popping pills everyday to just stay alive?

Don’t you think its time to put an end to the madness? Don’t you think its time you, as their son/daughter, step up and help extend their lives? If this is not a priority I don’t know what is. Do it before its too late!

Real food rules!

Peace out.

The Missing Links – 21st Jan ’11

Some amazing articles/blog posts were up today and I just had to make this post though I hadn’t planned on it! Enjoy!

Why we get fat – Perfect Health Diet

Certain toxic foods seem to be very effective at causing obesity:  vegetable oils, fructose, and wheat.

The first step in any weight loss effort, therefore, ought to be removal of these toxic foods from the diet.
Read more.

Why go gluten free? – Whole Health Source

Here’s what I take away from this study:

  1. Wheat can cause symptoms in susceptible people who do not have celiac disease.
  2. People with mysterious digestive problems may want to try avoiding gluten for a while to see if it improves their symptoms**.
  3. People with mysterious fatigue may want to try avoiding gluten.

Read more.

Mike Boyle Talks! – Alwyn Cosgrove

• I might be the most criticized guy in this profession. If not, I’m certainly close.

• But I get results. We’ve had Olympians, national champions, professional athletes–you name it. All those guys come through our gym. And people think I don’t know what I’m talking about?

Read more.

It’s all about consistency! – Stronglifts

Before you alter a training program or even switch from your current program you should be thinking “why am I doing this?” You should have a really good reason for making changes. Now, a “good reason” is NOT that you simply don’t like the exercise or that it hurts or is hard.

Read more.

Coffee drinking inversely associated with Type 2 Diabetes

They found that women who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee each day had significantly higher levels of SHBG than did non-drinkers and were 56 percent less likely to develop diabetes than were non-drinkers

Read more.

Do take a moment to share the blog and these emails with friends & family. We’d all be happier in a healthier place.


I don’t freakin’ get it – Part 2

  • You don’t buy a cream that promises to enlarge your junk by 3 inches in 3 weeks… but you buy a product that promises 6 pack abs in 6 weeks.
  • You don’t fill your car with crude oil… but you fill your body with junk food.
  • You don’t buy a camera without reading reviews… but you buy foods without reading nutritional data on the back.
  • You don’t feed your dog sugar, dough and rancid oil every morning… but you load yourself up with donut/muffin/cereal bar and fruit juice/soda every morning.
  • You don’t dress like its your birthday everyday… but you eat like its your birthday everyday.
  • You don’t believe Santa Claus will bring you gifts… but you believe sit-ups will give you a flat stomach.
  • You don’t trust a medicine that was manufactured in your kitchen… but you trust a food that was made in a lab.
  • You don’t think apple flavored candy is better than a real apple… but you think ultra-processed sodium-loaded soy meat is better than real meat.
  • You understand 1+1 = 2… but you do not understand bad diet + sedentary lifestyle = early death.

Pretty sad state of affairs indeed!

Peace out.

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