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Core Fitness Training

Diet & Nutrition for Strength, Energy & Health

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Wow, there is a lot of information on diet out there. Diet is critical to your health, immunity, and energy-level, but unfortunately, there are no simple answers. There are tons and tons of books on diet, each claiming to be THE definitive source of information, and each one seeming to contradict the next.

Let me share with you my own philosophy on diet, and then I'll go over what are (hopefully) a few irrefutable principles shared by everyone who ever wrote a book on diet.

My philosophy: No one has all the answers. Everyone needs a different diet to be healthy, and there are just a few principles that apply universally. To find your own optimal diet is going to require some patience and experimentation.

Here are 9 general prinicpals that I believe apply to everyone. Beyond these, you must bear in mind that what is healthy for one person may not be healthy for another -- you will likely have to try adding and removing specific foods from your diet, and assessing how each one affects you, before finding the diet that suits you best. Still, everyone can benefit from these principles:

  1. Stay well-hydrated by drinking lots and lots and lots of water (and possibly fresh fruit juices for some people - do not drink juice from concentrate, which has been over-processed). Staying well-hydrated will increase your energy-level, help your digestion, protect you from illness, and even slow aging. Your body is made primarily of water, and the benefits to drinking lots and lots of it are ENDLESS!!! Conversely, if you suffer from chronic dehydration, you are opening yourself up for a world of problems...
  2. Increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly at breakfast and lunch. These foods provide a lot of nutrients, including protein, and are easy to digest so they give you a lot of energy. The human body is specifically designed to take in and process large quantities of complex carbohydrates, so you can't go wrong by eating more and more raw foods. If you decide to try the Atkins diet, which I generally do NOT recommend, remember that the idea is to give up simple, processed carbohydrates like sugar, cereal, and bread. You absolutely MUST continue to eat complex carbs -- fresh fruits and vegetables. If you don't, you will surely lose muscle and compromise your metabolism and your overall health.
  3. Decrease consumption of dairy products – milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. These foods are hard to digest and pack a lot of bad fat. Once weaned, even cows don’t drink cow’s milk! Also bear in mind the damaging effects of the hormones given to both non-organic dairy and beef cattle -- these hormones are passed on to you and me, and can have very negative effects on our own bodies.
  4. Eat meats and other heavy foods late in the day. The quantity and types of meat that you should eat depends upon your blood type (see below).
  5. Eat sweets in moderation and only after a meal or snack of fruits, vegetables, or meat, and preferably late in the day. Don’t eat sweets on an empty stomach, and avoid them early in the day. That means that pancakes with syrup and sugar cereals are out for breakfast! The reason is that consuming the refined sugar contained in sweets causes an insulin-spike in your system -- very damaging in and of itslef, and then ultimately, the excess insulin is converted directly into fat which is then stored in your body. Don't be fooled by the myth of Low Fat Foods -- foods that are labeled as low fat usually contain more sugar, it's sugar that makes you fat, not fat itself.
  6. Try to add more alkaline foods into your diet. Consuming a highly acidic diet like most of us do (sugar, soda, and even some "healthy" foods are acidic) is very detrimental to overall health. Carrot juice is one example of an alkaline food that tastes good, costs very little, and goes a long way to counteracting acidity. Given that carrots are the 2nd most nutritious food in the world, it sure beats taking antacid tablets!
  7. Supplements are really important. In order, I believe that the most important dietary supplements to take are fatty acids (omega-3 and -6 which the body cannot produce), multivitamins and minerals, extra vitamin C, and some kind of grape-seed extract (a powerful antioxidant). Some people need extra iron and some need extra calcium/magnesium, but that's on an individual basis. Kerry and I get very high quality supplements at wholesale prices from a company called Usana. To learn more about their products or to become a preferred customer and get wholesale prices yourself, click here. See below for more information on supplements in general.
  8. Don’t try to change everything at once, just try to move in the right direction, one step at a time. If you love pizza, for example, don’t give it up. Instead, increase your consumption of fresh fruit by 1-2 servings every day, and start drinking water instead of milk. Overall, just be aware of these guidelines and remember that diet can be used to your advantage!!!
  9. The human body is not meant to consume or process the major grains that are so ubiquitous in our diets including wheat, corn, and soybeans. There is no longer any doubt. More than 50% of people tested show an increased immune response (i.e. an allergic reaction) to wheat gluten. And that number increases to over 90% among people of norther-European ancestry. Wow. This is heavy stuff. How does one get off gluten given that it's a primary ingredient in bread, pasta and pizza crust? It's a pretty tall order, but what I suggest is that you eliminate these things from your diet for 2 weeks and see how you feel. Just go on a fresh fruit and veggie diet for that long, and you'll be feeling so much better that you'll find a way to make the changes you need.

Now, here are some more details on various principles:

 

Water

Drink more water. Period.

- Your body is composed of more than 70% water, your brain more than 90%

- Water is essential to digestion, no matter what you eat

- Water is essential to fat-burning

- Water is essential to waste removal in the body

- Water is essential to nervous function, and thus to alertness and energy-level

Drink less soda, coffee, and alcohol. Period.

- These beverages are diuretics - they flush water out of the body. This is insane.

- Non-diet soda contains excessive amounts of sugar and phosphorous. Sugar spikes your insulin, causes diabetes and coronary heart disease and makes you fat. Excessive phosphorous flushes calcium out of the body, thus decreasing bone density and impeding nervous function. Crazy?

- Diet soda contains the same phosphorours as non-diet soda, and it also contains aspartame. Aspartame is a neuro-toxin. That is, it damages brain cells and other nerve cells throughout the body. Again, this is insane.

- Alcohol, in most cases, contains excessive amounts of sugar. You know what that does?

Sugar Makes You Fat, Not Fat

Reduce your intake of simple carbohydrates (sugars)

- Candy is pure sugar. Pure sugar spikes your insulin production. Excessive insulin in your blood stream is damaging to your arteries, thus leading to Coronary Artery Disease. And if that's not scary enough, execss insulin is stored in your body as fat. The right amount of body fat is necessary for survival, but excess body fat suppresses your immune system, and makes you further prone to disease.

- Juice from concentrate is extremely sugar-rich.

- Even fresh fruit juice can contain too much sugar for people who are insulin-resistant.

- If you want to eat dessert-type foods, eat them late in the day after a meal of complex carbohydrates (vegetables) and/or proteins

- Do not consume simple carbohydrates early in the day. Do not ever eat sugar cereals, pancakes with syrup, or donuts for breakfast. Even non-sugar cereals are so processed that they'll likely spike your insulin.

- Your body needs saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and superunsaturated fats to survive and to be healthy. Your body can handle fats much better than it can handle sugars.

Concentrate on eating complex carbs and protein

- This means fresh fruits and vegetables, plus protein. These are the things your body was meant to consume. As you'll read below, some people need to focus more on fruits, vegetables, and soy, whereas others need to focus more on vegetables and meat. Period.

 

More Basic Principles

 

I have read and tried many, many of the diets and recommedations that are out there, and I've gotten the most use and the best results out of four books: The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler, Eat Right for your Type by Dr. Peter J D'Adamo, Natural Hormonal Enhancement by Rob Faigan, and The New Nutrition by Dr. Michael Colgan. I certainly encourage you to read these books as well. Below is a list of critical dietary facts contained in these books, but be advised that even within these books, there are some striking contradictions:

- TIMING MATTERS: Don't spend your time counting calories or grams of this or that. You can eat essentially as much as you want, it's more the timing and order of what you eat that matters. Obviously, if you're on a junk-food diet, however, then nothing matters because you are in trouble no matter what schedule you keep.

- The human body is designed to consume copious amounts of fresh foods. That means fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and nuts. Eat them. Period. If you are insulin-resistant, you need to emphasize vegetables more than fruits.

- Early in the day, every day, you should consume relatively little food, and what you do consume should emphasize fresh fruits and fruit or vegetable juices (again, if you are insulin-resistant, you may need protein in the morning). Cereal is out. Pancakes are out. Drink a LOT of water.

- For lunch and in the afternoon, more fresh fruit, or a salad of fresh vegetables and some protein.

- Later in the day, you can eat essentially anything you want, and lots of it. Of course, that doesn't mean junk food, although a little is OK. It does mean meat, potatoes, grains, dairy, etc.. If you choose to eat dessert-type foods, make sure you save them for late in the day after your main meal of protein.

- Among other things, your blood type is one thing that influences the mix of foods that you should consume. I will not go into detail here, but suffice it to say that those with Type A should lean more toward a vegetarian and soy diet, and any meat they eat should be fish (particularly salmon) or poultry, while Type O and B+ should emphasize more red meat. Other types fall somewhere in between those two extremes, and note that the B- types are really the only ones who should consume dairy products -- organic and free-range, of course.

- Everybody knows that junk food will make you fatter and more disease-prone. Don't worry about eating LIMITED quantities of these foods, including chips, fries, pancakes with syrup, desserts, soda, etc., just worry about the timing. Don't eat them in the morning, and don't eat them on an empty stomach later in the day. They are never good for you, but if you work the timing properly and eat them in moderation, they aren't much to be concerned about.

- Low fat foods will not necessarily help you lose weight. Sugar is what makes people fat because it is converted and stored as fat once it is consumed. Low fat foods are often very high in sugar, and thus work against you. This simple fact probably causes more heartache (and more weight gain) than any other. AVOID SUGAR, NOT NECESSARILY FAT.

- Change your diet one step at a time. Never try to change everything overnight, and never start making changes by trying to give up your favorite things. Trying to change too fast is simply too difficult and there's no way to stick to it. Choose something such as breakfast cereal that's a habit but that you're not too attached to, and replace it with fresh fruit. You'll immediately begin feeling better, and you'll want to make more changes, one by one.

 

You Must Experiment

 

Again, the same diet will not work for everyone. Everyone needs to reduce simple carbs and drink more water, but beyond that, there are many, many factors that will dictate what you should be eating. I've touched on some of them, but there are many, many more. You must realize that you're going to have to try various approaches to your diet in order to find what works.

 

Protein

 

Let's cut right through the crap. Everywhere you read about various trainers recommending that you increase your protein intake, and they'll even go so far as to argue over which kind of protein is better -- whey, soy, animal, complete, incomplete, on and on.

The reality is that many Americans already get more protein than they need. That's a simple fact. What you're probably lacking is sufficient amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Still, there are no absolutes here. People with blood type O, for example, simply have to have meat every day, or they suffer from lack of energy and other problems.

 

Supplements

 

In general, I neither encourage nor discourage people from taking supplements.

I do take them myself -- every day I take multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplements, as well as extra vitamin C, a grapeseed extract, and essential fatty acids (omegas 3, 6, and 9). I believe in them, but they can be expensive, especially if they are of good quality, and even then the specific benefits are difficult to assess.

Here are the things you should bear in mind when considering supplementation:

- The main rule to bear in mind is that you get what you pay for in most cases. The so-called "nutrients" in vitamin supplements are not particularly expensive in and of themselves. What can make them expensive in general, is the process of making them bioavailable. In short, if minerals are not chelated properly, they cannot be absorbed by your body. Thus, you can take all the calcium or multi-mineral supplements you want, and you'll get very little, if any benefit from them if they are put together cheaply. The same applies to vitamins.

- Watch out for this common trick used by supplement manufacturers: Loading a multivitamin supplement with excessive amounts of vitamin B-12. This particular vitamin can serve as a natural stiumulant, like caffeine, and big doses of it can give you a "buzz," making you think that the supplemnt is "really doing something," when in reality you might as well spend 50 cents on a cup of coffee. In addition, overdosing on B-12 causes your body to fail to use the other B-vitamins properly. Having the correct balance between nutrients is critical. I don't think anyone knows the exact right proportions, but the manufacturers of cheap supplements don't even care!

- That's not to say that big doses of vitamins are bad -- the RDA of various nutrients is only enough to guarantee survival, not health. You definitely want more than the RDA, but you don't want to overload on one particular nutrient or group of nutrients at the expense of all others. All nutrients work together and enhance the effectiveness of one another, so you must have them all.

- The only case in which it makes sense to take excessive amounts of one nutrient is with vitamin C. As a water-soluble vitamin, you must replenish your supply every day. Vitamin C is relatively inexpensive, it operates fine independently, no toxic level has ever been found, and the anti-oxidant, and anti-cold/ allergy benefits have been well documented. Take as much as you want. I've read about people taking up to 18 grams per day. Shoot for 5, and you'll really be doing yourself a favor, but I do warn you to start slow and build up. Otherwise you may find yourself running for the bathroom every 10 minutes!

- For all other nutrients, it really never makes sense to use single-nutrient supplements unless your doctor tells you you have a deficienty, as is sometimes the case with iron or calcium. Most nutrients work in teams with other nutrients -- as an example, calcium cannot be absorbed by your body without the presence of Vitamin D, and calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous form a trifecta of minerals that must be present in certain proportions to each other, or they lose much of their effectiveness.

- The essential fatty acids are critical for healthy skin and for optimal brain and nervous function, and there's even a body of evidence suggesting that the fatty acids kill breast cancer cells. Excema/dry skin/skalp can be good indicators of a fatty-acid deficiency. Fish oil has Omega-3, flax oil has Omega-6, and I recommend a supplement that has them all -- 3, 6, and 9.

- It's best to take your supplements with your evening meal. If a supplement is any good, then taking it on an empty stomach should give you a stomach ache. So, take them at night with food.

Please contact me at corefitnesstrainer@yahoo.com if you have other questions, and I'll do my best to answer or at least to steer you toward the information you need.

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