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Disclaimer --- Yes, I'm one of the Nefarious Low Carb people here on Spark. Yes, that's right, I dare say it out loud!! Us Low Carbers, we are people too! Do we not bleed red like the rest of you supposedly normal yet self confessed Raging Carb-A-Holics? Lol.

I wonder if all you 'high carb diet' people are secretly honors graduates from the Jim Davis School of Balanced Nutrition?

�Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot CAKE, zucchini BREAD, and pumpkin PIE.� - Jim Davis

Note to self --- FAIL!

Seriously, my only concern is for what I choose to eat. Forgoing sugar, bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes, yes I know it's utter blasphemy to some of you. But trust, it actually works for me, plain and simple. My proof is in the mirror. Thank you and now back to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.....

Quotes I need on the wall at my gym:

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu

"He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still" - Lao Tzu


Q-1: So for real, why the artificial sweeteners??? What's wrong with good old fashioned REAL sugar???

There's plenty WRONG with real sugar, ask any diabetic! But that medical condition aside, let's look at REAL sugar and it's effects in the body.

a) One teaspoon of "real" sugar shuts down your immune system, the germ killing ability of your white blood cells, for three hours (up to five hours) leaving you vulnerable to getting sick, etc.

b) Sugar increases body fat storage, period! - It's not the stone age anymore people. We now know that insulin is probably the most important hormone in the body when it comes to weight loss and health. Yet, insulin is the main hormone that we have FULL CONTROL over daily through our diet and lifestyle (except for diabetics). When we eat sugar, we have a spike in our blood sugar. In response to high blood sugar, the body produces insulin to get rid of the excess sugar (because high blood sugar is toxic to the body, imagine that). Insulin tells the body to take excess blood sugar and find somewhere to store it, in that process it tells the fat cells, "Stop with any fat burning that you might be doing and help store some of this excess sugar!!!".

c) Sugar disrupts normal brain function. - Mood swings, energy highs/lows, ADD, hyperactivity issues in kids, sound familiar? Read some of the LATEST studies on what researchers have found focusing on sugar as the culprit of some of these.

d) Sugar decreases your overall health and make you age faster - Sugar increases destructive inflammation in the body and feeds bacteria growth in the gut.

Q0: When we lose weight, where does the fat go? What actually happens to it, does it just melt way getting absorbed into the body?

Excellent question!

So without all the fancy names and scientific mumbo jumbo......

When you intake LESS calories from food than the calories that your body burns daily, somehow your body needs to make up the difference to keep you going.

Yes, your body has fat cells that act as storage places for "actual fat", i.e. triglycerides. Our fat cells being full of "actual fat", that's what makes for all our love handles, fat rolls and such, all the stored triglycerides in various places in our body.

Now when your body needs that extra energy (because of dieting/exercise), it starts it's own little "fat burning process", known as lipolysis. During lipolysis, the body calls upon triglycerides to be transported from the fat cells to be used as energy in the body.

As I said, skipping all the "big scientific words", suffice it to say that the fat from our fat cells is first broken down into glycerol and free fatty acids.

The glycerol portion is then broken down/converted by the liver into glucose (sugar), which can then be used by the body for energy! The sugar is consumed/spent/burned up when our muscles move and fire: Mass/Energy converted into Motion, Physics 101, right?

With the "fatty acids" portion, that's where it get's a bit interesting. Again, keeping it simple (as if the human body is): Once our body has used up all the sugar it can find for energy, and it still needs MORE...the body then turns to using "fatty acids" directly for energy.

How? Well, our bodies are smart .... it switches from "burning sugar" (glucose) for energy to "burning fat" (fatty acids) for energy, entering into a process known as ketosis. This is a natural process that happens during long cardio workout sessions.

This is the reason that if you are looking to burn FAT during your cardio sessions (instead of sugar) it's recommended that you work out at LEAST 20+ minutes. Why? Because it usually takes about 20 minutes (give or take) of strenuous exercise to deplete the body's "sugar" energy reserves and force the body to enter into "fat burning mode".

The body can also be manually switched into Ketosis (fat burning mode) by following a low carb diet. People following a low carb diet are purposely limiting their intake of carbs (sugar) to force the body to find and use an alternate source of energy, i.e. burning body fat.

Mind you, the fat cells that we have in our body, they never go away, they are just emptied out when we lose weight. No worries, when they are empty they don't take up much space at all.

But if you DID want to get rid of the fat cells too'd undergo a surgical procedure like liposuction...which sucks from your body all the fully loaded fat cells in one fail swoop.

Q1: Nah, nah, nah�being Low Carb does not work LONG-TERM! Won�t you just gain all that weight back when you go back to �eating normal�!?!?!

Now see, right there�people that ask that question are only telling on themselves. They really DON�T get it, I finally figured it out! They ask the question because in THEIR head, what THEY are doing is only temporary? They are already counting down the days to them being able to �go back to eating normal�? Where exactly is this �lifestyle change� they love to talk about? Also they are telling on themselves that they have not stopped for half a second to see (and think about) what I�m actually meaning when I�m saying �low carb� --- before they shoot off at the mouth about it being totally unhealthy and unsustainable long-term.

So let�s set the record straight: If what YOU call �eating normal�, is eating donuts, cookies, cakes, ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, potato chips, white bread, brown bread, loaf bread, banana bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, fried rice, steamed rice, brown rice, rice pilaf, rice-a-roni, spaghetti, fettuccini alfredo, french fries, hash browns, loaded baked potatoes, potato wedges, etc, etc, etc --- then yes, as my kid would say, �No Dip Sherlock ?!?!?�, of course anyone that goes BACK to eating all that garbage will �gain the weight back�.

I, on the other hand, have made a lifestyle change. I don�t eat that garbage anymore, period.

Q2: Don't we need carbs for energy??? Someone else told me to load up on carbs before doing cardio??? How do you have energy for working out so long and hard if you�re eating so few carbs, do you carb load???

Ok my fellow Sparkers, it�s not the Stone Age anymore! You know people actually used to drink moonshine because they thought it had vitamins in it??? My uncle Frank was blind as a bat but strong as an ox!!! Were both effect from the same brew??? Those were also the days when turpentine had magical medicinal properties; really the stuff could heal anything that ailed you: Got a sore throat or a chest cold??? Put some turpentine on it!!! Broke your leg??? Put some turpentine on it!!! Stomach bothering you??? Drink some turpentine!!! Oh-Em-Gee, I can still taste that stuff.......dangit Grandma!!!

But time, knowledge and wisdom has saved us from such folly, true. Same with �carb loading�, it�s a thing of the past, on the same relic pile with CDs and black-and-white TVs.

First thing, every one of you has heard rumor of a mysterious body function/process called �fat burning�, true? It�s heralded as �the zone� to be in when doing cardio? Seems that �fat burning� is all the rage now-a-days, true? All the boys and girls are doing it!

Then if �fat burning� during cardio is your goal, why dump a ton of sugar (I'm sorry, carbs) into your body before said cardio for it to run on? Does it not stand to reason that if you DO load your body up on carbs before cardio, then �burning carbs for energy (burning sugar)� is just what your body will do? Does this not defeat the purpose, or am I missing something? You gotta be a little street smart in the game people, otherwise you go home from NY City the first day with your pockets picked!

News Flash: You body will NOT burn fat if there are ample reserves of quick fire SUGAR on tap, period, end of story.

So my pre cardio workout fuel of choice: A protein shake w. 50g of protein, 0g of carbs and 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil added (yes, good fats for energy). Why eat fat before going to a fat burning workout? Because your body burns what you eat!

But I would be remiss not to explain further --- the notion of carb loading does have �some� merits as it relates to extreme endurance cardio, i.e. marathon running. But I would dare say that our most extreme cardio sessions at the gym pale in comparison to running a 26 mile marathon, right? I know we may "feel like" we are truly gassing ourselves in that 30 minutes at the gym, but seriously, no. And THERE is the big difference.

So with actual carb loading before THAT type of event, you have to understand a) the purpose of carb loading and b) a few key elements to the process.

The purpose? To fill the muscle glycogen stores before the extreme event. Most of us already walk around with our muscle glycogen stores filled to capacity anyway. How do I know? Because a) most people eat tons of carbs, b) they do relatively LITTLE exercise compared to the carbs that they are eating and c) thus they are gaining or have gained weight �. This bringing them to Spark!

News Flash: If your muscle glycogen stores are not ALREADY completely full, then the excess �carb� (sugar) calories that you eat will not make you gain weight, they will NOT be stored as fat, instead they will replenish your muscle glycogen stores.

The procedure for actually doing �carb loading�? (3 methods stolen from Wikipedia)

�Original Regimen - 7 days before the event, perform an exhaustive exercise to all but deplete your energy stores. Then for the next 2-3 days cut back on carbs and do low exercise to keep the carb level very low. Then 3-4 days before the event, eat a very high carb diet. This will initiate a response from the muscles to take in as much glycogen from the carbs as possible, over compensating for the starvation from the previous days.�

�Without Depletion - In the 1980s, research led to a modified carbo-loading regimen that eliminates the depletion phase, instead calling for increased carbohydrate intake (to about 70% of total calories) and decreased training for three days prior to the event. Most athletes now follow this modified regimen,it is recommended by many coaches, although there are some athletes who still follow the original carbo-loading regimen�

�New Short workout - A new carbo-loading regimen developed by scientists at the University of Western Australia calls for a normal diet with light training until the day before the race. On the day before the race, the athlete performs a very short, extremely high-intensity workout (such as a few minutes of sprinting) then consumes 12 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of lean mass over the next 24 hours. The regimen reportedly resulted in a 90% increase in glycogen storage.�

The bottom line: These type extreme athletes NEED to load their body with glycogen in order to run 26+ miles at a high rate of speed without taking a break, yes. But even they don�t �carb load� using Ben and Jerry�s Chubby Hubby

So no, you don't need to "carb load" before your 20 min extreme cardio burn session on the stepper!!!

Q3: How do I get more willpower? How can I resist that box of Pop Tarts calling to me from the cupboard? Or that gallon of Ben and Jerry�s ice cream whispering sweet nothings to me every time I open my freezer? The Ring Ding�s, Ho Ho�s and Doritos, all calling to me in perfect three part harmony, how do I keep from eating all that stuff when I get a bad craving?

Say what? Really Really? You can�t seriously be serious, can you asking a question like that?

Because when I heard those questions, I think --- the same thing that the others of us that truly �get it� think --- I think to myself ,�What the hell is all that junk doing in your house in the first place??? Did someone break into your house and drop off a load of junk food when you were away at work???"

Discipline and Willpower (for me) starts at the grocery store! Strange thought, huh? Yes, all my �food� shopping occurs only on the edges of the grocery store --- fresh veggies, fresh produce and fresh fruits first. Then the dairy section for eggs, bacon, cheese, soy milk, etc. Finally the fresh meats section, fish, shrimp, chicken, pork, and beef. Maybe swing through the frozen veggies section for a few items, frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen lima beans? And that�s it for food, I�m done yippie!

I often look at the aisles and aisles of non-food stuff in the middle of the store, wondering really, what is that stuff even there for? The entire baking aisle with cake mixes, pancake mixes, waffle mixes, the cold cereals and breakfast bars aisle (they need a whole aisle for that mess?), the prepackaged foods like hamburger helper and suddenly salad, the snacks aisle with the cookies, chips, donuts (plus more of the same in the bakery section, but that stuff is at least �fresh� , huh?) and candy, even the rice, processed potatoes and pasta section� ..I wonder to myself, who in the world is eating all this stuff?

Of course, I get to the check-out counter and see shopping basket after shopping basket, all that look drastically different than mine --- oh well, each to their own.

Yes, there are many a night that I might sit on my couch watching TV, thinking to myself that a great snack would be 3-4 Hostess Cupcakes and a tall ice cold glass of milk. Or better yet, two King sized Baby Ruth candy bars, again with the tumbler (or two) of ice cold milk on the side. But guess what, none of this garbage is anywhere to be found in my kitchen! And it ain�t never that serious enough of a craving to make a special trip out to Quick Trip at 9pm just for some junk.

What do I find instead to satisfy my sweet tooth? Oranges, honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon galore --- cause I�m fully stocked on those at all times.

I don�t think any of us are in the business of throwing money away, so realize, if you buy something from the store --- that family size bag of Oreo�s --- you�re buying it because you plan on eating it� someday, one day� it�s premeditated, plain and simple. No amount of willpower will save you.

So it�s really not willpower and dedication at all that keeps me on track when the craving for junk hits at 8pm --- I�m just stuck eating what�s already in arms reach, lol.

Q4: Why is �junk� food so much cheaper than �healthy� food?

Does it not stand to reason that you get what you pay for, even at the grocery store??? Not surprisingly, some of it boils down to simple economics.

Food producers want to find the cheapest way to feed the masses, while making the most money (profit) on their products. Plus they want to find a way to make THEIR product stand out on the grocery store shelves from the competition.

Simple concept, but you really have to stop and think about how that works and what it all really means.

Just one example, highly refined grain products are super easy and cheap to produce...think about everything that you eat that is based on "enriched white flour". You can then add some sugar/HFCS (not fat, cause fat is bad, right?) to these products, both for added taste and calories, again this is super cheap. And Ta Da!, like magic, you've got a product you can sell on the shelf.

Compare the costs of that with the costs of mass producing and distributing real foods, i.e. fresh meats, fresh veggies, fresh whole fruits, etc....basically all the other stuff that we should be eating. You think it costs more to grow an orange and get it to your grocery store in pristine condition -OR- to ground up some flour and make a bag of Doritos out of it? Does it cost more to catch a salmon in Alaska and get it to your local grocery store, pink, fresh and ready to cook -OR- to turn some flour into a bag of pasta (with an indeterminate shelf life)?

More importantly, in a competitive environment, it's much harder to differentiate YOUR products from your competitor's products when you're only dealing with "real food".

Really, an apple is an apple, period. An orange is an orange. Brocolli is brocolli, chicken is chicken, steak is steak. Do any of us have a particular "brand" of red delicious apple that we prefer (not brand of 'apple juice' mind you)? Do you have a brand of fresh spinach, or fresh broccoli that you stick to? What brand are your fresh cucumbers, fresh green peppers, or tomatos? And even when these foods are branded, are Bird's Eye frozen peas really all that much different than Green Giant's frozen peas?

But think about all the branding that goes into pastries, breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies, potato chips, pre-packaged box dinners (Rice-a-Roni, Suddenly Pasta), juices, sodas, etc. A perfect example, Hamburger Helper.....add you own hamburger right, any ole hamburger will do (because it's just hamburger, really it's all the same)...but then buy and throw OUR product in with it.

Note that even the grocery store is setup following this same logic. Usually the "real food" is relegated to the edges of the stores......fresh fruits&veggies, the dairy section (milk, cheese, eggs, etc), the fresh meats (seafood, beef, chicken, pork, etc).....all those sections in my grocery store are out of the way. In the middle of the store, rows and rows, aisles and aisles of the stuff that you're REALLY supposed to be there to buy, right?

So yeah, you get what you pay for even with food ... REAL food costs money, because it's real, it's healthy, it's nutritious. Junk food should thus be cheaper because hey, actually you said it best .... it's JUNK.

Q5: How can I stop obsessing about these numbers on the scale?!?! Up one day!!! Down the next!!!

What may ultimately save your remaining sanity is investing in a "Body Fat" scale, surely you can guess why?

Pick any day here on Spark, the titles of blog after blog after blog after blog read something like this:

"Yippie, I lost 2lbs!!!"

"Oh no, I gained 3 lbs---Help, Help, HELP!!!"

"The scale is FINALLY moving, Yea!!!"

"I'm so depressed!! The scale is moving in the WRONG direction!!!"

Yes, we all know that when it comes to losing weight, losing "body fat" is the tried and true way to do it---both for long term health benefits and long term success in keeping the weight off. Definitely on this point, I should be preaching to the choir, right?

But no, no, a thousand times NO----it's NOT true that "....there's no way for you to know if you are gaining muscle, or losing muscle, or gaining fat, or gaining water weight, etc. etc. etc.". If I see one more person post that in a blog, I'm gonna have a breakdown and go somewhere and eat a box of Girl Scout cookies myself!!!!

Sparkers, a good "Body Fat" scale will give you this exact information ---- A reading on a) your percentage of body fat, b) your lean muscle mass, and c) how well hydrated you are keeping yourself. Using such a scale will let you see exactly the results of your nutritional and fitness plans, allowing you to track LOSSES in body fat, GAINS in lean muscle mass and your maintaining CONSISTENT hydration levels, celebrating all those successes with renewed vigor!

Imagine being able to feel GOOD about sticking to your sorely needed strength training program while seeing an INCREASE on the scale of 1/2 lb of lean muscle mass?

Imagine being able to see your "body fat percentage" decreasing consistently and slowly over a period of time, while the "pounds" number jumps around like a Mexican Jumping Bean (and it doesn't bother you)?

Imagine being able to determine exactly how much of that 7lbs you gained during your weekend chocolate binge was actually, in fact, water weight?

And all this can be yours for a mere $29 or less!!! (Guess work not included)

Q6: Don�t those �zero calorie� artificial sweeteners, like Spenda, actually make you fat?

WOW! That�s gotta be like the biggest �Wow� question I�ve ever gotten here on Spark, seriously!

The other related questions:

�I heard they�re bad for you because they mess up your metabolism?�
�Don�t they trigger an insulin rush?�
�They�re not safe for you to eat anyway, real sugar is better cause there is nothing wrong with real sugar�
�Don�t they make you crave more carbs?�

But before I begin with an answer, first, most definitely I am NOT the FDA nor do I oversee their activities. That being said, it�s THEIR job to determine if there is enough scientific evidence to conclude if something, natural or otherwise, is SAFE for us to eat (or unsafe).

Second, if there are some people out there that can�t handle sweet stuff on the tongue without having a craving for MORE sweet tasting stuff later, then yes, regular coke or coke zero, it�s gonna be the same thing in your head, cause yeah, they do taste the same.

Third, yes God made �real sugar� �God also made marijuana. So they are thus healthy choices? To that I say, it all depends on what your GOALS are.

Last, well yes, *if* your body tries to treat anything that you are putting into your mouth as "a meal" then yes, I suppose sitting around all day drinking Diet Cokes may have some other effects, but that's a big *IF* in my book. Plus since I don't do it, I don't have a clue about it. I usually do have at least "something food" even with my protein shakes (a piece of fruit, etc) for this among other reasons.

But, back to the�Is it the zero calorie stuff that�s making me fat???�. My answer, I�m not sure how in the heck your body could be able to make something out of nothing, plain and simple.

Now, it all reminds me of a previous co-worker of mine who at a time was complaining to me about having trouble losing weight. Me being the office health food nut/gym rat (of course), he thought that I might have some ideas. Him being a particularly stout fellow (5�8� and 300+lbs), I initially asked only one question, �Well, how often do you eat bread, rice, pasta or potatoes?� He laughed a big laugh and responded, �Hell, everyday, every meal dude!!! What else is there to eat???� So, I told him that I wasn�t sure exactly what his problem was, that I would have to think about it a little bit more.

Now, shortly after that, I had the chance to go to lunch with my friend, he chose Wendy�s that day, ugh. Getting up to the counter, I placed my order: Grilled chicken sandwich combo (yes with the dreaded bread) BUT could I please substitute the fries for a fruit cup (this was the time before doing that was fashionable, you had to pay extra) and water to drink.

My friend placed his order after me: Two Wendy�s Triples (hold the tomato), a �Biggie� Fry and a �Great Biggie� Diet Coke (Yes, that�s how long ago it was, we still had the �biggie� options at the Wendy�s counter). I had to speak up of course, �Dude?!? You�re gonna eat all that??? What the hell?? You�re supposed to be on a diet??�. He responded,�Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I�m having a Diet Coke with it�, and on that point, I dropped it. But, while we were eating our lunch he proceeded to tell me that he was trying to start off his diet �slowly�, by first giving up regular soda/pop for diet versions, in order to cut calories. A noble effort, but I was nonetheless unimpressed.

Now probably two months after that my friend again came to my office, this time with news about his diet. He was actually gonna have to stop drinking all those diet drinks because he had started gaining weight when he started drinking Diet Coke all the time, so he had read somewhere that those artificial sweeteners actually are bad for you because they trick your body into getting fat. Say what???

I then responded �jokingly� that maybe we could solve the world�s hunger problems that way, start shipping Diet Coke around the world. People would at least put on weight and be fat (while still malnourished of course) just from drinking more Diet Coke? He gave me a curious look, like he was thinking, �Now why does it sound so damn stupid�, that drinking Diet Coke (alone) can make you fat, when you put it that way?�, and he walked away.

But it got me to thinking, what the heck is going on with this idea. I had to explore it more, and that�s just what I did. So, in a nutshell, here�s what actually happened. There were lots of studies but most of them followed this general outline.

Some white lab coat science people took a bunch of rats and divided them up into groups. They then fed one set of these rats some (actually a ton) of these zero-calorie artificial sweeteners, presumably by itself or maybe dissolved in water, who knows, in any case, it had to be pretty controlled that it was ALL they were getting. At the same time, they fed the other group of rats some (another ton)�regular sugar�. They then waited for awhile, and the waiting WAS important you see. After the waiting period, they turned both groups of rats loose on their normal �food� (which was high in fat mind you) to see what they would do. Then after a pre-determined �feeding time�, they then took the food away from both groups of rats.

Now, a funny thing happened (well it was funny to them): Seems that the rats that were juiced up on the zero-calorie stuff prior to their real meal, strangely they ended up eating more of their actual �food� food when it was presented to them (shocking, right?). And by eating more of their �food� food, they consumed more calories and gained more weight, compared to the other �regular sugar� rats that is.

The white coat guys then loosely concluded that maybe the zero-calorie stuff was playing tricks on the rats brains, maybe somehow throwing off the metabolism of the rats, in some way messing with their insulin production/receptors, yadda yadda yadda they used a bunch of big words, but they definitely knew that for some reason the �zero calorie rats� ended up being more hungry and eating more actual food. But, of course, more study was obviously needed to determine exactly why, what mechanism is at work.


Now to me, this is a more than just a little bit silly, my momma always told me that �book smarts� will get you a long way through life, but �street smarts� will keep you from getting your pocket picked along the way.

I have kids and I know for a fact, if I let them both have a sleeve of Oreo�s for their �snack�, say 45-60 minutes BEFORE dinner-time, then at dinner-time, they�re not gonna be the least bit interested in their actual food. Why? Cause the sugar they ate ruined their appetite, duh!

But I also know, it�s all a matter of �timing�. The good thing about appetite is that right behind the first one that was ruined, there�s another one coming (even stronger off a sugar rush). So, those same kids that turned their nose up at dinner (�I�m not hungry!!!), are gonna be �starving� again like 90-120 minutes AFTER finishing the Oreo�s, of course by now dinner has been cleared from the table and the kitchen, cleaned and closed� for the night, feel me?

Now, yes the same thing holds true for drinks. I know for a fact that if I let ONE of my kids have a�great biggie� glass of apple juice before dinner (which she loves to do), while the OTHER one drinks 0 calorie Life Water, then the one that had the apple juice is gonna be less interested in actual food when dinner is actually served, whereas the one that had the Life Water is gonna still be hungry for dinner. Mind you, the �apple juice kid� is gonna be starving like crazy just as the dishwasher kicks in on the dirty dishes. Yes, I�ve got my own little test lab at home, but no animals were harmed.


So back to the lab rats, the zero calorie rats ate more food because their appetite for food was not ruined with actual sugar, maybe, huh?

And back to my Wendy�s friend, I eventually had to ask him about his assessment that Diet Coke was making him fat, as opposed to the TWO Wendy�s Triple�s and the Biggie Fry he was eating? His answer: He was previously only having one of those Wendy�s Triples, the Biggie Fry and the regular Coke (with refills of course). He noticed that when he switched to Diet Coke, he was hungrier later in the day. I told him, yes, he would be hungrier later in the day because yes, he had eaten 1200+ less calories at lunch time without the 4-5 Coke refills. Funny thing, at that time he was actually losing weight, and to lose weight, yes we have to walk around a little bit hungry. But because he was hungrier, he thought �something was wrong�, so he started having the TWO Triples to hold himself over until dinner time.

So I pointed out to him that when he started just drinking the Diet Coke, he was losing weight. When he then added more food, the extra sandwich, he started gaining weight. Maybe it was the extra sandwich that was the issue, not the Diet Coke?

He then had the thought out loud, �Well I wonder why drinking Diet Coke would make me more hungry then???�

Q7: What's your problem with Carbs anyway?

For any questions or rants from the Spark ANTI Low-Carb Goon Squad, please let's call a truce, cool?

You folks continue to do what you do and eat what you eat, but everyone else in the world is starting to realize the insidious and nefarious effects of SUGAR and highly processed SIMPLE Carbs and Starches.

It's not the Stone Age anymore people. Though, I dare say we did eat BETTER during the Stone Age, the days before bread, pasta, twinkies and Mountain Dew. Think about it, when it came to food: If you couldn't get off your solid stone lazy boy, chase around behind something tasty looking for an hour and then kill it with a stick, cook it and eat it -OR- pick something up off the ground and eat it, you didn't eat period. Aside from dying because you couldn't outrun Mr. Sabertoothed Tiger one more time, I really don't see Mr. Caveman Man suffering from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other food related ailments. Then again, I wasn't around then to see for myself.

For you thinking people do a quick google search on 'What if It's All Been a Big Fat LIE'---read it if you dare. Yes, it's long, but it's informative to say the least.

Having said all that, YES, as a matter of fact --- I DO have a serious problem with CARBS. No, not *ALL* carbs, because not all carbs are created equal (I might have been born at night but it wasn't last night, I do read and consider myself somewhat 'edjumicated').

That said, there are really only a few major players on my Deadly Carbs - Deck of Cards Hit List:

Ace of Spades - Liquid Sugar : Any drink/beverage with a) high amounts of "natural" sugar, e.g. apple juice (want some apple juice, eat an apple instead), b) "added" sugar, or c) high fructose corn syrup. Yes, Splenda saved my life, and those Coke guys might be onto something with Coke Zero stealing Coke's taste.

Ace of Hearts - Anything made from Enriched White Flour : Bread, pasta, chips, tortilla shells, etc.

Ace of Diamonds - White Rice

Ace of Clubs - Potatoes (especially without the skin)

Simple, huh? People look at me like I'm absolutely nuts when they ask me my diet "secrets" and I say, "Really, I just don't eat bread, pasta, rice or potatoes, or drink anything with sugar in it". Usually, with a completely stunned look, they then ask me, "Well??? What else it there to eat???" And therein lies the problem, does it not??? Yes, they like most other people can not imagine a single meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) where they don't have at least 2-3 of those items AND where those items do not make up the vast majority of calories they intake.

My meals in terms of portion size: Mostly Meats/Proteins (lean or otherwise), Green Veggies and Healthy Fats. Following that, reasonable portions of "non-green" veggies, beans, etc. Lastly, rounding out the meal, whole fruits (taking it a little easy on stuff like pineapples and peaches - we all know the high sugar fruits) , nuts, and finally, yes small amounts of WHOLE GRAIN products (whole grain breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc).

Now seriously, the Anti Low-Carb Police, do tell me this is NOT sound nutritional sense?!? Yes, of course, I do still eat all my fruits, veggies and legumes (in proper moderation were applicable), so all your threats about me being on a crash course to developing scurvy fall on deaf ears.

No, my meals are not bland, lifeless, tasteless and boring all because I don't eat bread, pasta, rice or potatoes---and even you folks have to admit these are the "empty calorie kings" that make up the staple of most people's meals. I dare any of you to compare the nutritional content of one serving of white rice, one baked potato (without the skin), or one serving of enriched flour pasta -TO- a Ribeye steak and then tell me which one is more balanced and nutritionally dense.

Q8: Where do you get so much energy? How do you keep your energy level high?

Hey, you want to know a tried-and-true, soon-to-be patented, money-back guaranteed way to sap your energy super, duper fast? Load yourself up on generous portions of your choice carbohydrates, and check back in an hour (if you're not napping).

It's 2010 my people, and even marathon runners have come into the light of knowledge and dropped their pre-race carb loading routines. So what should that tell the rest of us mere mortals, worried about 'having enough energy' to get through our 30-45 minute cardio sessions at the gym; where we are lucky to burn 500+ calories (does anybody but me actually track that?)

When it comes to nutrition, I've noticed a funny thing about myself: When I keep my carb intake LOW, my energy level actually goes up, up, UP and I can workout for days on end.

But please, before you start ranting on me about simple carbs, complex carbs, fructose, glucose, glycogen stores and all that other mumbo jumbo---all in a desperate bid to convince me that I "..... surely do need carbs for energy for my workouts"--- let me reassure you in advance, I most definitely DO NOT!

Yes, before some of my marathon Krav workout sessions, spanning oh say 3 hrs - where I've lost 7-9 lbs of body weight in sweat alone (should say something about my calories burned?) - guess what I have for a pre-workout ENERGY BOOST: A tall protein shake, a couple or three handfuls of almonds, and a shot glass of olive oil (two shots on Krav Boot Camp days). I think that shot glass of olive oil must somehow be factoring into my energy needs during my long workouts, most definitely!

Why? Well, I read something absolutely crazy one day - about the body being able to do something called "fat burning". Where the body uses fat (body fat or otherwise) for energy instead of doing what's called "sugar burning". Mind you, there were two keys to the fat burning puzzle though - 1) If there is ample sugar in your system, then your body will burn that first 2) there needs to actually be sufficient fat readily available in your body for bursty, energy intensive workouts - in order for your body to "burn" said fat.

In that article they also talked about how absurdly counterproductive it was for people to go on "low fat" diets, thereby increasing their intake of carbs (energy has to come from somewhere, right?) and leaving their protein intake decidedly low. All this in an effort to try and lose weight (body fat) - while at the same time increasing/retaining muscle mass. Only to find, of course, that their energy level seems to drop off a cliff when it comes time to actually hit that treadmill? And subsequent to the diet, to their amazement, their percentage of lean muscle mass has in fact decreased along with their weight (if they bother to check) - losing muscle wasn't the intent, was it? But hey, maybe all that was science fiction and not actual science? Lol.

Q9: What keeps you interested? What keeps it from getting boring???

For me, variety is a HUGE motivator. If I get bored, that saps my energy quick. I lift light weights about 2 times a week. My traditional gym cardio consists of a) the cybex total body b) the woodway treadmill, oh so smooth and c) swimming laps in the pool. Added to that, Krav Maga for "fight" conditioning: strength training, explosiveness, balance, flexibility, cardio endurance and capacity. Knowing a cool handgun defense/disarm is just bonus points, I'm still waiting for the chance to try out my skills putting someone in a rear naked choke - cant find any bullies to pick on me these days, oh well.

Q10: Where can I learn more about how carbs affect my diet/fitness plan? Where can I start to get information on the GOOD carbs vs. the BAD, UGLY carbs?

Here are some great Spark Articles:

Q11: What's your "real secret" to staying in shape and losing weight???

Believe it or not, I'd say 80% (if not more) of my results are based on what I'm eating: proper nutrition. Working out, I'd put that at the other 20%, roughly. That's it, plain and simple.

I call it the Garbage In, Garbage Out Theory : Put Garbage into your body in terms of what you are eating - Expect Garbage out of your body in terms of your results.

Why? Because I know for a fact that I can eat five Hostess Cup Cakes and drink half a gallon of milk in like 7-12 minutes, while sitting on my couch watching Jack Bauer do what he does on '24' (speaking from experience, yes). So that's about 1200 calories, I'm just guessing here. Now, how much time do I need to spend in "sheer exercise" at the gym to account for that Garbage I just ate? Roughly, 60-90 minutes of sweating like a pack mule, huh?

So for all us mere mortals out here that are NOT "working out" 3-5 hrs a day (all us non professional athletes), nothing we are doing at the gym (in 60 minutes) can overcome our reckless abandon with what we are putting in our mouths the other 23 hours in the day.

Having said that, there are tons of OTHER benefits to "working out" that go beyond losing weight - especially the psychological benefits of exercise, e.g. helping in the treatment of depression and anxiety; relieving tension, anger, and fatigue; improving energy level and vigor, even enhanced self-esteem. Start to tap into these as bonuses!!!

Q12: Do you ever eat junk food, garbage or just unhealthy food?

Hey to hear most people tell it, I drink Crystal Light in my water everyday instead of soda/pop, so that's unhealthy stuff right there, LOL. Personally, I don't believe in "diets" that eliminate any particular foods, more or less becoming a life long study in self-denial. So, I still allow McDonald's, Wendy's, etc into my life - just not to the extreme it used to be. I love my Girl Scout cookies - but the serving size is 4 cookies, so I stop there (or plan for extra miles on the treadmill as a consolation prize for eating extra cookies). What works for me is simple - Focus on eating mostly right the vast majority of days then allow myself ice cream or cupcakes on a regular schedule (along with the extra workout that comes with them).

So what works for me? Saturday and Sunday are my days to indulge---usually that ends up being carbs, carbs, CARBS. I have my share of guilty pleasures......Chicken Fettucini Alfredo from Olive Garden, IHOP Pancakes, Waffle House Waffles, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, anybody's Frozen Custard, White Powdered Donuts, Baby Ruth's galore. No, no, a thousand times NO, I don't gorge myself on this entire smorgasbord from Saturday morning to Sunday evening every week. But yes, I allow myself some indulgent foods on the weekend, of course, only to pay for it later in the form of severely reduced energy,intense carb cravings and a generally crappy disposition, LOL.

Q13: Any "Last Minute" Pointers on how to make all this work???

* Make it a Lifestyle and Own It! - Lasting results are found over a longer term, Consistency is the Key. Realize that your Lifestyle is YOURS, it's your choice, so Own it and Protect it from your friends!

Don't think of changes to your diet or exercise plan as something 'temporary', e.g. to get "in shape" for your 10-year class reunion coming up in 2 months, ooops!. Plan and approach what you are doing as picking up a new Lifestyle; One you'll live day to day, month to month, year to year. Also, ever feel like your friends or family sabotage your plans at getting fit and being more healthy? Keep alternate snacks at your desk, being prepared to combat "donuts day" at the office...telling the offering co-worker, "No thanks, I actually prefer Almonds" (tongue in cheek, of course). Schedule your gym time into your day like you would an important business meeting or doctor's appointment, and stick to it! The more you stay consistent with "your" plan, the more the people in your life will come to *expect* your routine and start to support it as well. If you don't demonstrate a real commitment to "your" plan, why should anyone else?

* Measure Beyond the Scale - Focus your new Lifestyle on improving your general health and fitness level, the numbers on the scale will reward you accordingly, promise.

Learn to measure your progress in tangible and measureable ways other than just the number on the scale, e.g. resting heart rate, blood pressure, HDL/LDL profile, blood sugar level, body fat percentage, even clothes fitting better. Besides, lots of the daily variations we experience in weight are due mainly to "water weight". Based on your diet, how much water you drink, how much you exercise, and even the last time you went to the bathroom, your body weight can fluctuate as much as 7-10lbs. I normally lose 3-5lbs of sweat during an intense 45 minute cardio session; Of course, I promptly drink it back in. 64 fl oz of water at the end of my workout adds a whopping 4 lbs back to my body weight!

* Make Small Changes First; Set Realistic Goals - Make small changes to your fitness/nutritional plan and master those first; Rather than starting with sweeping changes across the board. When you take a longer term approach, it becomes easier to set more realistic goals for yourself.

Instead of going through extreme and possibly unhealthy measures to "lose 30 lbs in 2 months", only for the results to not last....set a more realistic goal, e.g. to lose 30 lbs in 5-7 months. Start out going to the gym 3x a week for 30 min each time, rather than 6x a week for 60 min. Start off just seeking to increase the amount of water you drink while reducing fruit juices, pop, and other sugar/HFCS laden drinks. Or start off just seeking to, at each meal, replace one serving of fast carb foods with either slow carb foods or better yet, green veggies. Start to pile these small changes on top of each other to build a rock solid nutritional/fitness plan over a longer period of time.

* Exercise? Forget About It! (Really? Well, yes and no.) Realize that your nutritional plan is a bigger determinant to your "weight loss" success, much more so than exercise. Some would say results are 75%+ nutrition.

Why? Because no amount of "sheer exercise" (by us non-professional athletes) can overcome "bad nutrition". It's way to easy to EAT extra calories compared to how hard it is to BURN OFF those same extra calories. I call it the Garbage In/Garbage Out Diet Plan: Put Garbage INTO your body in the form of 'junk food', expect Garbage OUT of your body in terms of the results that you see, or the results you don't see. Simple, huh?

* Enjoy the OTHER Benefits of Exercise - There are a host of psychological benefits of exercise, e.g. helping in the treatment of depression and anxiety; relieving tension, anger, and fatigue; improving energy level and vigor, even enhanced self-esteem.

Yes, when you are first getting started exercise can seem like a chore. Stick with it, other rewards come. Ask any avid athlete, Exercise is Good Therapy, period. Aside from the tangible and measurable health benefits mentioned earlier, strenuous exercise releases endorphins in the brain, "happy chemicals".

* Challenge Yourself to a Good Sweat - Kick up your speed, resistance and/or incline another 10%...15%...20%, etc. Best your own personal best from time to time, surely you can compete with y-o-u, if not with anyone else?

If you're going to take the time to actually go to the gym, why not make it count? I've known people that bragged to me about how they don't sweat when they are working out, as if that was a good thing? Maybe they are severely dehydrated! They then get the chance to work out with me, and have sweat dripping from their nose within the first 5 minutes, imagine that. No, definitely don't kill yourself. But, YES, do PUSH yourself, challenge yourself and your limits. If you are able to carry on so much casual conversation with the person next to you on the treadmill, you not being out of breath of course...then, guess what, you are not pushing yourself.

* Allow Yourself A Day Off - Plan your "off" days the same way you plan your "on" days; This makes it less likely to fall completely off your routine.

You miss a planned day at the gym, so what? Or you say "Oh Baby, Yes!" to the 'Death by Chocolate' offering at your favorite eatery, fine. Beating yourself up about it, dwelling on it, feeling guilty about it, don't engage in any of that. Of course, these Day's Off should NOT become your habit, i.e. 3 "off" days for every 5 "on" days. If you lose focus, one "off" day can turn into two "off" days in a row ... then three in a row. A better idea: PLAN to enjoy your 'Death by Chocolate' (or any other suitable and succulent Death), say once every two weeks. Then view your extra efforts leading up to your "off" day as really earning it?

* Find an Accountability Partner - Look for someone to partner with in you both holding each other accountable to each person's stated goals/plan.

But please, find someone already living their own 'model' Lifestyle...don't try to recruit one of your existing friends to also start a "new" Lifestyle with you. Someone already in the habit of going to the gym without excuses, is a better person to hold you accountable to doing the same.

Member Since: 1/15/2007

Fitness Minutes: 7,909

My Goals:
Challenge myself - Can I do anything I put my mind to?

Remind myself - If you only do what you've always done ... then you'll only get what you've always gotten.


My Program:
Nutritional Plan- There are only a few major players on my Deadly Carbs - Deck of Cards Hit List:

Ace of Spades - Liquid Sugar
Ace of Hearts - Anything made from Enriched White Flour: Bread, Pasta, etc.
Ace of Diamonds - White Rice
Ace of Clubs - Any Potatoes (Except Sweet Potatoes/Yams)

Daily Calorie Plan:
a) Non-Workout Days - 50-100 grams of Carbs; 1800-2200 Calories
b) 1x Workout Days - 100-150 grams of carbs;
2200-2600 calories total
c) 2x+ Workout Days -
150-200 grams of carbs;
2600-3000 calories total

FITNESS PLAN: Move and SWEAT doing it!!! With proper rest and nutrition, there is no such thing as "overtraining"!!!

Gym Cardio Training - Roughly 2-3x Per Week @ 6AM: My goal is 1000 kcal burned per 5omin session

Weight Training - Roughly 2x Per Week @ Noon: Mostly medium weight training to preserve muscle mass.

Krav Maga - Fight Conditioning/Training - 6 Days a Week in the Evenings

Personal Information:
28K+ Served Since 2007

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Other Information:
"He who controls others may be powerful ... but he who has mastered himself is mightier still" - Lao Tzu

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