How Lack of Sleep is making us Fat, Diabetic, and also quite Sleepy.

Every year hundreds of new books are published about how to lose weight and get healthy. New gyms open. More and more research is done on the ideal diet and exercise program. Well-meaning medical doctors write life-changing, meme-filled, snarky blogs. Despite all these efforts, America’s waistline continues to increase. Why are these diets and exercise programs failing? Could it be that we are missing a huge piece of the health and weight loss equation? Yeah, we are missing something really big and I’m not just talking about fasting.  America is chronically underslept. This lack of sleep is making us overweight, diabetic, and also quite sleepy. I will explain…

Below are obesity rates in the U.S. by year as compared to our average sleep amount. As we get less sleep, our weight increases. Why does this happen? There are lots of reasons, but first, a couple disclaimers. First, I don’t believe that sleep deprivation is the only cause of our obesity epidemic. Second, the graph below only shows a correlation which doesn’t prove that insufficient sleep causes obesity. In the next few paragraphs, I will make the case that sleep plays a much bigger role in our health and fitness than most of us think, in the hopes of motivating you to stay in bed longer. I know “stay in bed longer to lose weight” sounds like clickbait, but just keep reading. That also sounds like clickbait.

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While the above graph shows a strong correlation between sleep and obesity, it’s still just a correlation, and better studies are needed to show if poor sleep is actually causing obesity. The fictitious lower graph shows that as pirate prevalence goes down, global population goes up. This is also a correlation, but probably mostly coincidental. So, we shouldn’t be fooled by statements solely based on a correlation, that’s bad science.

Fortunately, in recent years there have been many scientific studies showing a causal relationship between lack of sleep and obesity even after adjusting for factors like exercise, age, sex, and proximity to a Cinnabon. Here is the link. Why does insufficient sleep causes weight gain? Great question. One important and often overlooked cause is hormonal. When we don’t get the proper amount of quality sleep, a stress hormone called cortisol goes up. High cortisol causes us to lose muscle and gain fat, regardless of what we eat!  Cushing’s syndrome is a disease characterized by too much cortisol and the effects (shown on the right) are devastating and very similar to persistent lack of sleep. High cortisol from lack of sleep or Cushing’s syndrome makes getting healthy as f**k impossible.

Incidentally, Addison’s disease is when cortisol levels are too low (opposite of Cushing’s syndrome). JFK had this disease. The symptoms are tan skin, thin appearance, extra confidence, and frequent, aggressive episodes of coitus.*

Sleep loss just doesn’t cause obesity, but it can also lead to type 2 diabetes. Rates of type 2 diabetes are much higher in under-slept adults, but like the pirates and global population, this was just a correlation, until one study took a group of healthy fit young people and limited half of them to just four hours of sleep per night. The researchers fed both groups the same healthful food. After just one week, the under-slept group’s blood sugar levels were so high, they qualified as “pre-diabetic”! WTF? I’ve been taking care of diabetics and pre-diabetics for years. Why am I just learning this? This has been repeated in different studies with even less severe sleep disruptions. Type 2 diabetes will take an average of 10 years off of your life, but even just having slightly high blood sugar triggers high insulin, increased body fat, and a host of other bad stuff. Here’s my article about insulin and blood sugar.

Lack of sleep makes us hungry as f**k. Pro-satiety hormones (leptin) and pro-hunger hormones (ghrelin and endocannabinoids) all go in the wrong direction after just two nights of poor sleep (6 hours or less). This is a double or even triple whammy for weight gain, because these hormones cause us to be persistently hungry but also not fully satisfied by eating. In one well controlled experiment done at a sleep study hotel, patients ate an average of 340 calories more per day when they were restricted to six hours sleep as compared to when they were allowed 8 hours sleep. Additionally, those sleep deprived subjects tended to choose more junk food (cookies, pretzels, chips, Chili Lime Cheetos, etc) and they reported excessive cravings for high carb foods. Basically, not sleeping enough gives us the munchies.

Poor sleep crushes dieting efforts and causes muscle loss. One study took a group of dieters and let half of the subjects sleep normally and sleep restricted the other half to just 5.5 hours per night. While both groups lost weight, the low sleep group lost mostly muscle while the group that got good sleep, lost mostly fat. Losing muscle while retaining fat lowers our metabolism and makes us less sexified, technically speaking. This is the opposite of bueno, I might even dare to say it’s no bueno. If you haven’t noticed, the theme of this article is that good sleep helps us lose weight.

How did one group or researchers turn a group of virile, strapping men in their 20’s (think shirtless Abercrombie and Fitch models spraying each other with water from a hose) into a bunch of middle aged dad-bods with jean shorts on riding lawnmowers? They limited their sleep to only 5.5 hours. This sleep restriction aged these young men by 15 years in terms of their testosterone levels. Testosterone is important for weight because it promotes muscle building while simultaneously decreasing body fat and low testosterone in men is linked to truncal obesity. Sufficient, restorative sleep boosts testosterone and also growth hormone which is responsible for injury repair, muscle growth, resurfacing the lining of blood vessels, and essential for healthy cardiac function and blood pressure. Growth hormone is also the number one reason NFL players visit doctors in Mexico, so you know it must be good.

While there is some evidence that exercise improves sleep, more research is needed in this area. What has been repeatedly shown is that great sleep boosts your exercise performance and poor sleep greatly decreases your ability and likelihood of exercising. Shawn Stevenson’s book, Sleep Smarter recommends morning exercise as a key for better sleep at night.  Don’t worry, I’ll go into my recommendations for getting great sleep in my next post.

Many of us are trying so hard to get thin and healthy that we are waking up at 4 AM to go to the gym, spending tons of money on powders, pills, food scales, and Lululemon apparel and not getting the results we could get from simply staying in bed and getting a great night’s sleep. This should come as great news because sleep is free and it feels amazing.

In conclusion, poor sleep makes us gain weight by screwing up our hormones, spiking blood sugar, lowering our metabolism, shrinking our muscles, holding onto body fat, increasing our cravings, and sabotaging our workouts. Clearly, getting sufficient quality sleep should be a priority of anyone who is trying to get healthy as f**k or maintain their healthy as f**k status. It’s ridiculous that this is not more emphasized by the health community. It’s clear from my research that not getting enough quality sleep is the perfect activity, if your goal is to become obese, diabetic, and sleepy. I will put out my best sleep improvement tips in the next few days. Thanks for reading.

Go to bed bro

*Addison’s disease is a rare autoimmune disease that is characterized by low cortisol. Symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, low blood sugar, hyperpigmentation of the skin, and depression. JFK had this disease. I’m not kidding. I was kidding about the coitus part.

One of the primary resources for this article was the amazing book, Why We Sleep by Dr. Mathew Walker. I highly recommend it.

 

 

 


The Life Changing Benefits of Fasting and Cliff Clavin’s Buffalo Theory

Fasting is the forgotten pillar of great health. Everyone talks about diet and exercise because there’s money to be made there. We don’t talk about fasting because it’s free and you can’t sell free things and expect to make money. Fasting is actually better than free because you save both time and money on food when you fast. Fasting is far more effective than any pill, health shake, or wart-removing cream and the only side effect is a little hunger and looser fitting pants. Effective at what you ask? All the things, more to come on this. I’ve written about time restricted eating, AKA short fasts of 12-24 hours. This is the why and the how of a longer fast (48-96 hours). The good news is that we don’t have to do these fasts very often (monthly or quarterly is sufficient) and the benefits of such fasts are long lasting, miraculous, and sometimes weird. Before we get to the details, here is Cliff Clavin (from the 80’s Sitcom Cheers) and his buffalo theory…

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“Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers“.
-Cliff Claven (John Ratzenberger)

Cliff Claven’s buffalo theory is actually a metaphor for fasting and autophagy (pronounced “uh tof Oh Gee.”) Autophagy is when the body intentionally kills off its own cells that are damaged, too old, or no longer working properly. What does this have to do with fasting? I’ll tell you. Ideally we would be cleaning house at the cellular level constantly (with autophagy) but unfortunately our bodies don’t really do much autophagy in our normal fed state. So these useless cells just hang around in a state called “senescence”. They get in the way, they turn into cancer, and are a major reason why our organs don’t work as well as we get older. It’s only when our bodies sense fasting or an extreme caloric restriction, do we start to get rid of these old, useless cells, AKA the slow buffalo. This herd thinning improves our body’s function, appearance, and efficiency. But wait, here’s the best part, after getting rid of the old saggy cells, the body generates new taught, sexy cells. This happens all over the body including our liver, brain, kidneys, skin, and muscles. Fasting induced autophagy and cell regeneration literally reverses the aging process on the cellular level. Scientifically speaking, that is fucking awesome.

Our bodies were meant to fast. Our ancestors lived for 7 million years without reliable food sources. For almost all of human history; fasting was a regular occurrence. Only recently, have we had refrigerators stocked with food and drive-thru’s open 24 hours per day. And while continuous access to Crunch Wrap Supremes and Seven Layer Burritos is convenient, it’s not what nature intended. On an unrelated note, I have woken up and found a Taco Bell receipt for 90 dollars. I was in college.

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The effects of fasting last a long time. One study involving diabetics showed greatly improved glucose control in the subjects who did a 72 hour fast in the days following the experiment. What fascinated researchers, was how these effects lasted more than three months after the fast, despite no other dietary changes. Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist and author of the Obesity Code (great book), is literally curing type 2 diabetes in a matter of weeks with these longer fasts.

Fasting is simple. I have written over 70 thousand words about what to eat. Clearly, the ideal diet is kind of complicated, nuanced, and controversial. Fasting is simple. Just don’t fucking eat. That’s it. I will give some more details in a bit. I used to get frustrated after explaining my dietary theories to a patient only for them to come back two weeks later and happily report that they switched to whole grain pasta and margarine because that’s what they thought I recommended. To be clear, whole grain pasta and margarine go against everything I believe in. Just seeing it in the store hurts my soul, but my communication skills weren’t strong enough to overcome my patient’s 65 years of whole grain/saturated fat brainwashing. So, I tried the new approach of recommending fasting to my patient, and I was totally understood. Of course, there were the obligatory questions like, Can I have tea? Yes. Can I drink diet coke? No. Can I have fat free fig Newtons? Fuck No.

Weird benefits from fasting. If you’ve lost weight in the past, you may have some extra loose skin and connective tissue hanging about causing such conditions as “Lunch Lady Arms” or in my case “Old man Butt”. When we fast, these conditions improve, not just because we lose weight, but the process of autophagy, takes in those useless cells that are just hurting our self-esteem, slowing our buffalo herd, and not serving any other purpose. When morbidly obese people lose massive amounts of weight using conventional means, they usually have to get surgery to get rid of that extra skin, but those who fast to lose massive amounts of weight have no such issues, because of autophagy.

Another weird thing that happens when you do a long fast, is that you keep pooping. You can be two days since your last meal, but still having poops! Who knew? This can be very beneficial for cleaning out your digestive plumbing and will help your digestive health for months after your fast.

Fasting can lower total body inflammation and is a tool used in combating autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and many others. Fasting has shown to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and greatly reduce its terrible side effects, specifically fatigue, hair loss, and nausea. Finally and most notably, fasting induced autophagy can help get rid of some of the pre-cancerous cells that could lead to tumors down the road. Fasting is free, simple, natural, and an amazing tool for living longer and better. So now that you’re onboard, here are some tips for completing a long fast.

  1. The first rule of fasting is that we don’t talk about fasting.
  2. The second rule of fasting is that we don’t talk about fasting. It’s annoying when people go into great detail about their diets (I’m looking at you vegans), their pets, or their bowel movements. Refer them to my website and be done.
  3. Eat a high fat, low carb meal in the evening prior to starting a fast. This will help keep your insulin low and allow you to go immediately into ketosis (fat burning) and avoid a metabolic slowdown. If you ignore this advice and binge on pizza and cookies, you will have elevated insulin (from eating carbs) and are therefore unable to access your fat stores for several hours. Your body’s only option is to slow down it’s burn rate, plus you will get crazy hungry. All of this is bad.
  4. Avoid strenuous workouts during a long fast, but brisk walking, yoga, and aggressive hanky-panks are all encouraged.
  5. Stay hydrated and replace electrolytes. Eating normally covers your electrolyte needs, but since you aren’t doing that, replacing your sodium, magnesium, and potassium are important for keeping you feeling good. If you get a headache, it’s probably because your electrolytes are off. Drink some tea with salt and lemon added.
  6. Prioritize Sleep. If you are sleep deprived, fasting is not a good idea. We will actually hold onto fat and burn muscle in a fasted and sleep deprived state. This is obviously bad. Get sleep. Sometimes, fasting can make sleep more difficult. If this is the case for you, add more magnesium (400mg) and melatonin (5-10mg) at bedtime.
  7. Avoid Temptation. Try not to schedule barbecues, parties, or fancy dinners whilst fasting. I even avoid cooking for my kids because just being around food can be difficult. Instead, I reheat some frozen food for them. Don’t judge. They love it. Getting buy-in from your partner and friends can be a big help as well.
  8. Have Some Rescue Foods. I allow myself up to 5 tablespoons of MCT oil or coconut oil (per day) that I mix with coffee or tea if I’m getting hangry. Sometimes I also have a cup or two of bone broth to keep me happy if I have to see patients during my fasts. Coffee and tea can be satiating, and I add a little salt in my tea and coffee when fasting. While the MCT oil and bone broth are technically not allowed on a strict fast, for my purposes it still counts as a fast. I try to keep this type of thing to the minimum, however. Lemon water, sparkling water, pickle juice, apple cider vinegar, plain tea, and coffee can all help, and are fasting approved beverages.
  9. Schedule Non-Eating Activities, especially during meal times. A Netflix marathon, video games, extra naps, or other distractions can help get you through a long fast. Be self-indulgent. You’ve earned it.
  10. Break your Fast. Weigh yourself later. As long as it’s not an excessively long fast (more than five days), it’s not dangerous to eat whatever. I recommend eating a smallish meal at first to avoid having an upset tum-tum and/or bum-bum. You will probably notice a pretty substantial weight loss after allowing for a day to normalize. I find that this weight stays off too. I often do a long fast following a weeklong vacation of overeating and debauchery to lose whatever weight I gained whilst being bad.

I use the free app “Zero” to keep track and to help me stay motivated during my long fasts, that I do once or twice a quarter. I get hungry initially during the fast but after the first 14 hours or so, I generally feel good. I feel a lot better in the days and weeks following the fast. It’s actually very empowering to know that you can go without food whenever you choose. My patients are super proud of themselves after finishing their first long fast and I bet you will be too.

In conclusion, the occasional long fast can be an empowering tool for weight loss, longevity, and to keep your buffalo herd moving at healthy pace.


10 Reasons Why Counting Calories is Pointless. Plus Bonus Topics: Shrinkage and Hanky.

Pointless I say, like a pencil with a broken tip #Dadjokes. Counting calories keeps us in an unhealthy dieting cycle that is making us fat and corporations rich. Here are 10 reasons why calorie counts are 60% irrelevant, 40% misleading, and 100% bullshit.

10. Calorie counts are inaccurate. According to one study, restaurant calorie counts can vary from reality by as much as 35%, but as you will read, calories are pretty much useless anyway. If you choose to ignore my advice and make food decisions based on calorie counts, know that a lot of your calorie data is inaccurate. This is like having a scale that gives you your weight in some useless archaic measurement like cubits, hands, or furlongs but is also randomly inaccurate by 1.21 gigawatts.

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9. Whole foods get screwed and processed foods win. I literally just mentioned how inaccurate calorie counts are, but wait there’s more. The calorie counts we get from nutritionists and food companies is biased against whole foods. This is because processed foods are generally 100% digestible while whole foods are not. When we eat foods whole like carrots, corn, and peanuts, we only fully digest some of the food and the rest is not metabolized but instead passes through our digestive system to help clean things out. This means that a lot of the “calories” in whole foods do not count but rather just contribute to the digestion of other foods and help clean us out. You know what I mean. This is how food is intended to work.

When foods like carrots, corn, and peanuts are processed, the foods become much more digestible, which means we will absorb all of the calories they contain. This is a huge win for processed food manufacturers because if the true absorption was accounted for, their healthier whole food counterparts would have lower counts by comparison. Check your toilet following a meal of whole corn vs corn flakes to note the difference in absorption. Actually don’t, just take my word for it. FYI, when I say “whole corn” I don’t mean the cob too. Also, apparently Michael Bublé doesn’t know how to eat corn on the cob.

Whole foods’ calories are more difficult to track and this encourages calorie counters to eat more labeled, pre-packaged, pre-made, processed garbage.  You can’t accurately measure the calories in my Tuscan bean soup, not even with a food scale, but if you buy a “Healthy Choice” or “Lean Cuisine” meal you can very easily enter this into your food journal, add up the day’s calories, and in all likelihood cry yourself to sleep. This is what happens. We stop cooking because cooking takes time and messes with our calorie math, and we eat low cal processed junk and that is literally the worst thing we can do for our health and waistline. P.S. My Tuscan bean soup with kale and sausage is fucking delicious and super good for you.  Recipe to follow.

The bomb calorimeter. This state of the art device precisely mimics the inner workings of the human body.

8. Calories are Outdated Science. The Bomb Calorimeter (pictured below) was invented to measure calories** and it’s so last semester. It’s a high tech device straight out of the 1870’s when its use in nutrition was pioneered by a guy named Wilbur Atwater, who was later convicted of donkey molestation and mail fraud.  The bomb calorimeter actually burns things to assign a calorie count based on how much heat it puts out.  Our bodies don’t actually ever “burn” things, it’s a figure of speech, unless we are physically on fire. This fact makes the bomb calorimeter somewhat irrelevant in my expert opinion.   My lazy boy recliner is probably around 170,000 calories in the bomb calorimeter but if I eat it, I won’t gain weight because my recliner isn’t super digestible, it’s not even food. Just like I won’t gain weight if I eat 10,000 calories worth of wood, feathers, or broccoli (see what I just did there?) So why do we use this outdated technique for selecting food choices? It is super helpful in selling garbage foods to the public. See reasons 9 and 6.  Also, don’t eat your couch or any other non-food items, unless someone cooler than you dares you to do so.

7. Weight Gain and Loss is largely a Hormonal Process. There are many hormones in play here but two of the biggest are insulin and ghrelin. I’ve written a bit about insulin before. Here is a link. To summarize, insulin is released from our pancreas when blood sugar is elevated. Insulin does a lot of things in our bodies but here are two big ones. Insulin takes glucose in the blood and stores it as fat, and insulin stops us from using our stored (belly and ass) fat as fuel, even if we are eating a low calorie diet. It actually does other things too, but that’s another article. If I took two groups of people and gave half of them extra insulin, the half that got insulin will gain way more weight, regardless of calories. Also, some would die of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which is why we can’t actually do this study, but it works on mice. Diabetics will gain weight after starting or increasing their insulin dosing.  Conversely, diabetics who stop or dramatically cut their insulin dosing will lose weight (don’t do this without a doctor’s supervision). All these super eloquently made points seem to make calories irrelevant and insulin reduction the key to weight loss.

Metformin is a drug that I recommend for lots of people***. It causes a safe lowering of blood sugar which then lowers insulin, which causes you us to lose weight and also live longer, independent of calories consumed. I’ll talk about metformin and a couple of other drugs in an anti-aging post next month. Full disclosure, I take metformin (1000mg daily) when I remember, which is about half the time.

Insulin also makes us hungry because it causes our blood glucose to crash. Eating a low calorie/low fat diet keeps our insulin high and blocks access to your fat stores. To put this in common financial terms, having fat stores in our body is like having money in a savings account. It’s a reserve. Some have more reserves than others, but we all have some. When we have high insulin levels, it’s like cutting up your bank card and checkbook because you’ve got so much money in your pockets that you don’t need the reserve. If we are dieting and eat even small amounts of food that increase insulin we cut the bank card and our bodies have no choice but to cut spending by slowing metabolism.  This is the dreaded starvation mode. It’s only when insulin is turned off, can we get access to our bank account and “burn” all that stored energy on our love handles.


Starvation mode not only screws your weight loss but also leads to muscle loss, and keeps you tired, hungry, and cranky. Hungry, tired, and cranky, which I abbreviate as “Hanky” is the feared triad that leads to grocery store meltdowns in children and angry Facebook posts in adults. We can avoid all this hankiness by eating healthy, fatty, filling food that doesn’t increase insulin.

Ghrelin is another important hormone that causes us to be hungry. Ghrelin (hunger) is turned off when we eat fat, but not with carbohydrates. So when we consume 300 calories of soda, we stay hungry, but 300 calories of bacon and eggs, turns off our hunger signals (ghrelin), and we feel good. Also, insulin isn’t stimulated with the bacon and eggs, so it’s a two-fer. So why do we even talk about the 300 calories? Probably because, we’ve been programmed to do so.

6. Calories allow Kellogs and Kraft to compare Poptarts, ricecakes, and margarine to salmon, carrots, and coconut oil. The Poptarts, Ricecakes, and margarine are terrible for us and the salmon, carrots, and coconut oil will nourish your body and provide much better mouthfeel. When calories and cost are the primary yardsticks, the foods appear comparable and because the foods in the second group are more expensive and lack catchy logos, cartoon spokespeople, and Heart Healthy labels, the good whole foods often lose out.

5 Counting Calories leads to low fat eating and that’s bad.  The easiest and most logical way to cut calories is to cut fat because fat has 9 calories per gram, which is more than protein (4 calories per gram) and carbs (4 calories per gram).  Unfortunately, we have a lot of data (see reason #1) that shows this approach to be wrong.

To make matters worse, low fat diets are often processed, chemical rich, and nutrient poor. These low fat/low cal diets put the focus on arbitrary numbers. Our focus should be on quality ingredients, micronutrients, keeping blood sugar stable, and taste. Counting calories encourages purchases like food scales, food journals, and takes the fun out of eating.

I’ll give you an example of the terrible decisions calories encourage. Let’s say you’re a calorie counter and it’s dinner time on a Wednesday evening. You have 400 calories left for the day before you reach your predetermined calorie max of 1600. You decide to eat a salad, but avoid putting olive oil on the salad to save the 220 calories that the olive oil contains, so that you can have a Twinkie (220 calories) while you watch The Golden Girls followed by Sex and the City, which is essentially the same show as far as I can tell. An hour after eating the Twinkie, you feel hungry and crappy and can barely even enjoy the hilarious quips of those delightful old ladies (Sarah Jessica Parker is my favorite) but you are at your max calories for the day and don’t want to break your diet, because it’s almost beach season. So to cheer yourself up, you go out and score some crack instead. You end up blacking out, and wake up three days later soaked in your own urine and vomit in an abandoned building about 35 minutes southeast of Houston. When you get back home, you are pleased to find that you have lost 8 pounds but your doctor informs you that you have contracted hepatitis C. This is what counting calories does to thousands of people every day.

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I was in the pool!

4. Shrinkage. Do you know about shrinkage? It’s a real thing. It can shrink like a frightened turtle. I’m talking about your stomach of course and when it shrinks, it’s a good thing. Unfortunately, a low fat, low calorie, high carb diet encourages stomach stretching. When we eat low fat carbs, our only trigger to stop eating is the stretch receptors in the stomach because as we discussed above, ghrelin (hunger) is not turned off by carbs. It’s this repetitive stretching that causes the stomach to grow. As our stomachs grow, we often need larger and larger volumes of food in order to feel full. Folks who have gastric bypasses lose a lot of weight initially because they have their stomachs surgically shrunk to the size of an egg. Unfortunately, a lot of gastric bypass patients regain the weight over a period of 5-10 years, because they overeat and eat too many carbs, which causes the stomach to stretch back out to a much larger size, which is the opposite of shrinkage, and this is bad. So shrinkage is a good thing, in this case.

When we eat fat and to a lesser extent protein, we stop ghrelin (hunger), and trigger satiety hormones, most notably something called cholecystokinin (CCK) before our stomachs get so full that they stretch. CCK slows our stomach from emptying and keeps us feeling full sooner and longer. So our stomachs shrink over time and we feel full with much lower volumes of food, which is a good thing. This is one way we can train our bodies to eat less by eating higher calorie and higher fat foods. I know it’s counter intuitive, but the obvious and intuitive choice of cutting calories and reducing fat has been one of the greatest public health failures of the past 100 years and one of the food industry’s greatest victories, so let’s try something else.

3. Biochemistry I took biology at the University of Washington, biochemistry from Cal Berkeley*, and also in medical school at Florida State University. No big deal. I was forced to learn countless metabolic pathways and at one point, I was able to regurgitate them by memory. I can tell you that not once in any of my biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physiology, or biochemistry classes was the term “calorie” ever referenced or found on any metabolic pathway(see below).  This is because calories are units of heat in physics, not biochemistry and our metabolism is way more complicated than what nutritionists tell us (3500 calories = 1 pound of fat). I truly wish it was that simple, but it’s painfully more complicated than that.  I admit that in general, people who consume way too many calories, generally gain weight, but that weight gain is usually in the presence of high carb consumption which drives insulin up.  So the cure for obesity isn’t less calories, it’s better healthier food.  For instance, if we were all to drink 29 tablespoons of olive oil today, which equals around 3500 calories, would we all gain a pound of fat on our bodies tomorrow, like we are supposed to by that silly math equation? Of course we wouldn’t. This point and many others makes counting calories a moo point. It’s what a cow thinks. It’s moo.

No calories listed anywhere here.
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2. Life isn’t that fair. There isn’t some little man in your belly with an abacus and tally, adding up your calories and putting fat on your body like some dickish bean counter accountant (pictured below). You know how some people eat whatever they want and never gain weight and others glance at a burrito and gain five pounds?  Weight gain and loss is not always fair and not always simple, if it were, would over half of Americans be overweight?

And while your milkshake may bring all the boys to the yard differences in gut microbiome, genetics, cortisol (stress), age, insulin sensitivity, the rate of digestion (AKA gastric emptying time), intestinal absorption, drugs, sleep (more to come on this soon), meal timing, white and brown fat distribution, glycogen levels, testosterone, estrogen, exercise patterns, basal metabolic rate (calories you burn through living) and the macronutrient makeup (fats, protein, or carbs) of your meal all play a role in how your food is digested and metabolized into energy, turned into muscle, and/or packed onto your lovely lady lumps.

1. The Biggest Loser and other examples of calorie counting failures. We have many large scientific studies that have tried to show the benefit of eating a low calorie and low fat diet, all of which have failed in the long run. Even ethically questionable starvation studies from the 1940’s show that extremely low calorie diets cause our metabolism to dramatically slow over time which leads to weight regain. The best and largest study to date was the women’s health initiative that involved 48,000 women over 8 years. Half of the participants engaged in frequent health counseling, dietary fat reduction, calorie cutting, and exercise. The other half (the control group) continued eating their regular (unhealthy) diet and not exercising.  After 8 years of dieting and exercising and going to what I assume were terribly boring counseling sessions with dieticians, both groups gained the exact same amount of weight, and had the same health outcomes (heart attacks, strokes etc).  This and many other studies hoped to show the benefit of a low calorie diet and exercise, but failed to show any long term benefit. Please don’t take this as a reason to stop exercising, by the way.

A more public example of this is the show the Biggest Loser. But Jimmy, I loved that show and people lose a shit-ton of weight on their low calorie/ low fat diet. Yeah, I loved that show too, but the contestants start out morbidly obese, workout 23 and a half hours per day, take stimulants that Jillian and Bob hand out like sugar free Extra gum and Jenny-O turkey (this reference doesn’t make sense if you don’t watch the show.) What’s worse is that a recent follow up study conducted six years after the show had finished, revealed that nearly all of the contestants regained most, if not all of the weight. This isn’t because these people fell off the diet wagon or lack of will power, but instead the study shows how this type of weight loss slowed their metabolism down to such a degree that regaining the weight was a forgone conclusion. Countless other lowfat diet studies show the same thing, including The Women’s Health Initiative Study mentioned above.

In conclusion, it’s not that I don’t believe in calories as a concept.  I just don’t think counting them is helpful and I think carbs and sugar are way more important things to watch.  Furthermore, we’ve tried counting and cutting calories for a long time. We’ve all had similar results. We lose some weight. We gain it back. We feel guilty about it. We should try something different. The first step is to realize that a lot of what the food and diet industry is telling us to do is wrong and that in order not to look, feel, and age like a normal American, we may have to do some things that aren’t considered normal. More to follow on this. If this article intrigues or amuses you, be sure to sign up for my newsletter where I will be discussing things I am researching and learning about. Thanks.

In doing research for this article I read a couple books on the subject, no big deal. They’re both pretty dry and technical, but full of useful information. The Poor Misunderstood Calorie and Fat For Fuel.

*Biochemistry from Cal was an online course, but still.
**Calories are a unit of heat and are a common term for the scientific term “kilocalories” abbreviated “Kcal”.  I use the term “calories” instead of “Kcal” because it’s easier.
***Talk to you doctor to see if metformin is right for you.


cholesterol explained

Cholesterol Explained. Also the Curious Case of Mr. Max Powers and Tijuana’s Finest Gentlemen’s Clubs.

   Patients, friends, and guys I meet online often ask me how they can lower their cholesterol levels.  Most the time they say that they’ve been watching their cholesterol intake, or cutting back on their saturated fat, or they send me an inappropriate picture of themselves.  In all cases, they are wrong to do so.  I will now take a minute to explain how cholesterol works.  As a side note, I encourage all my patients to get their cholesterol levels checked before starting a high fat diet, so that they can see for themselves that their numbers really do get better.  Also, if possible get a “particle size” included in your cholesterol test.  Also, get a hemoglobin A1c, testosterone (for males), chemistry panel, CBC, vitamin D, and an iron level while you are at it.

Just to show you that I’m not that far out on a limb here, as of 2015, even the U.S. Dietary Guideline association (DGAC) agrees with me in the belief that the cholesterol that is in your bacon and eggs does not affect the cholesterol levels in your blood.  In their most recent recommendations The DGAC said that cholesterol “is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption” and eliminated their 2010 guideline recommending less than 300 mg daily.  When the Federal Government reverses its dietary stance on something, it’s usually 10 years too late and after there is way more evidence than needed to support it, and this U turn on cholesterol is no exception.  I predict that fats and even saturated fats will be officially exonerated in the near future, the way that cholesterol was in 2015.

How Cholesterol Works

Our body’s cholesterol is made by our liver.  Our liver makes cholesterol when it senses high blood glucose levels, and not as a result of how much fat or cholesterol we eat.   Some cholesterol is good which is called HDL(high density lipoprotein) and some cholesterol is not good like LDL (low density lipoprotein).

Essentially, all cholesterol is the combination of a protein (which are dense and hard) and a lipid (fat), which is light, think fat floating to the top of gravy, which is why it is called a “lipo-protein”.  The role of cholesterol is to take fats to the parts of your body that need them.  Where is fat needed you ask.  All sorts of things in your body require fats to function correctly, and cholesterol are the Uber drivers who take the fats to and from their intended destinations.  LDL or bad cholesterol Ubers have a passenger (fat) and HDL’s are empty Ubers looking for fat particles to pick up.

Fat is needed almost everywhere in your body, but there are some places it shouldn’t be like our bellies and stuck to the walls of our arteries.  Almost all of our cells need fats to coat their outer shells.  Our hormones like testosterone, estrogen and the nerves and neurotransmitters responsible for our happy thoughts and feelings require fats.   When there is an overproduction of bad LDL cholesterol because of persistently elevated blood glucose, and all of the body’s fat needs have been met, these Uber drivers don’t have any place useful to bring the fats and end up taking them to your body’s version of a dirty Tijuana strip club*.  When deposited at these inappropriate places, your body pays the price, and not just for the cover charge and the watered down drinks, but for some really shady stuff. I think this analogy has run its course,  but one of the shadiest places LDL cholesterol gets dropped off is into the tiny coronary arteries, which are tasked with providing the muscles of the heart with proper blood flow.  To make matters worse, the LDL cholesterol are also dropped off in the even smaller arteries responsible for the blood flow to your favorite male reproductive organ.  If my innuendo wasn’t clear enough, I’m talking about the penis.  These deposits can result in decreased flow and eventually no flow at all #frownyface emoji, and when all blood flow is suddenly stopped to an area of the heart, this is called a heart attack or in medical speak, a myocardial infarction (MI).

Recently, we are starting to learn that a myocardial infarction seems to be also related to inflammation that can make cholesterol deposits, (cardiologists call them plaques) unstable.  These unstable plaques leave the walls of your larger arteries and travel downstream to smaller arteries where they create a blockage or a myocardial infarction (MI), AKA heart attack.

How do we positively affect the plaques characteristics, so they don’t cause MI’s?  The answer is two-fold and leads us to the definition of High Density Lipoprotein or good cholesterol.  Good cholesterol (HDL) is almost all protein and no fat, which is why it is very dense, hence the name “high density lipoprotein”.  Think of this guy as the Uber driver, riding around in an empty Prius, looking to pick up fats from places they shouldn’t be, like the Tijuana Strip club (coronary arteries) and take them to be recycled in the liver.  Obviously, the more of these good Samaritans you have driving around in your blood the better, because they are cleaning up the streets, AKA your arteries.  Now what does that have to do with plaques?  It seems that if you have a plaque that is soft and fluffy and full of squishy soft fats AKA LDL (bad cholesterol) it is more likely for part of that plaque to fall off and end up causing a heart attack than if it is a hard “stable” plaque.  The way plaques get hard (I’m skipping the obligatory erection joke here) is by HDL Uber drivers showing up and pulling some of those fluffy fats out of the plaques, thus firming up and shrinking that plaque and making that plaque unlikely to break off and cause any troubles. 

In the light of this information, it is no wonder that, recent research has shown that HDL (Good Uber drivers) to be a much more important predictor of heart health than LDL.  A recent study involving 135K patients who had recently had a heart attack showed that over 75% of these heart attack patients had normal LDL (bad cholesterol) but less than 5% of them had achieved a recommended level of good HDL cholesterol.  So why do we care so much about bad cholesterol and talk so little about good cholesterol?  I’ll get there but first I’ll give you another example.  

Case Study
I had a patient a few years ago, 52 year old male let’s call him Max Powers.  Using my diet he lost 20 pounds in 10 months and was able to go off of his blood pressure meds but was disappointed that his cholesterol went up.  Here are his numbers before and after starting his journey to get Healthy As F**k.  

Before   Total Cholesterol 192  HDL 38  LDL 146 **

After      Total Cholesterol 195  HDL 60  LDL 148 **

When Max told me his cholesterol numbers went up, I was disappointed too, and my initial reaction was to blame him, I certainly can’t blame myself, but I had him come to the office and take a closer look anyway.  First of all, he looked great.  He had a fun summer cut and was wearing a tasteful cardigan with sassy lobster print pants.  When I put his numbers into the ASCVD risk calculator (a tool doctors use to determine your risk of a heart attack or stroke) he was looking even better.  I found that his 10 year risk went from 9.2% to 3%!  This was an incredible improvement.  I had to check my math and as always, it was correct.  Part of the reason his risk went down so much was because he had better control of his blood pressure, so I put the numbers in again, but this time not accounting for his blood pressure improvements and his risk still went down by more than 50% from 9.2% to 4.5%.  He was shocked that even though his bad cholesterol and total cholesterol went up, he was way less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.  

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So why do we always focus on lowering cholesterol?  Because the things that raise HDL effectively are not drugs but lifestyle stuff.   A colleague recently reminded me that niacin helped HDL a little but didn’t change heart attacks significantly, so that’s out.  We have many expensive drugs that can lower your LDL.  Drug companies make billions of dollars per year lowering your LDL without a huge impact on your overall health.  While I on the other hand, am trying to get you to raise your HDL, and I am doing it for free, so would it kill you to sign up for email updates?  

In conclusion, bad cholesterol is predominantly made as a result of too much sugar and not too much fat.  So, never order an egg white omelet, eat the yolks too.  They are full of healthy fats, nutrients, and according to my daughters are home to the “dippy part” of the egg.  Keep your blood sugar low, by avoiding most fast and processed carbohydrates and your cholesterol will get better without medications and your risk of MI will go down, but please also listen to your doctor.

Good cholesterol (HDL) can be increased with exercise, healthy saturated fats like coconut oil and grass fed beef, and some alcohol consumption, specifically red wine.  I recommend all of these things, especially exercise.  The complicated part is that sometimes the bad LDL is raised a little by healthy saturated fats as well, but the good HDL is raised more, creating a net positive effect, just like we saw in Mr. Max Powers.  My cholesterol numbers were poor in my 20’s but have been exceptional since starting this diet and have gotten better every year.  Many patients are afraid of all the butter, eggs, bacon, and butter that I recommend, but are elated when their cholesterol improves dramatically.  When you get your numbers back, feel free to share them with me on the site.  Mine will be measured next month and I will be sure to post them as well. 

*Also, you should know that there are no clean or classy Tijuana strip clubs, I checked.  Some references are listed below. 

** There is a third cholesterol component known as VLDL that wasn’t mentioned in Mr. Max Powers’ lipid report but it can be calculated by subtracting the LDL and HLD from the total.  

   

REFERENCES:
Our findings suggest that reduction in serum cholesterol does not prevent the risk of AMI. There was a significant increase in systemic inflammation in AMI patients, inversely correlated with HDL levels, suggesting an important role of inflammatory mediators in AMI. Thus, a decrease in serum HDL and increase in hs-CRP strongly predispose the risky individuals to the event of AMI. We emphasize the importance of HDL and hs-CRP measurements in the assessment of a combined lipido-inflammatory risk factor for the screening of high risk individuals and the prognosis of AMI.
Lipid Profile of Patients with Acute Myocardial Infarction and its Correlation with Systemic Inflammation
Haseeb A. Khan,1 Abdullah S. Alhomida,1 and Samia H. Sobki2


The well-known “HDL hypothesis” suggests that therapies aimed at raising HDL-C concentrations will lower the risk of CAD and MI. In a widely cited meta-analysis of four large studies (total number of individuals studied: 15,252), a 1 mg/dL increase of HDL-C levels was reported to be associated with a 2%–3% decreased CVD risk

http://www.cvriskcalculator.com/calculated?age=52&gender=1&race=0&total-chol=195&hdl=62&sbp=140&dbp=90&treated=1&diabetes=0&smoker=0
http://epadruginitiative.com/files/Get_With_The_Guidelines_2009.pdf


Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: An analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in Get With The Guidelines
ArticleinAmerican heart journal 157(1):111-117.e2 · January 2009 with 350 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.ahj.2008.08.010 · Source: PubMed


Unhealthy Foods that Aren’t (Part One)

These aren’t all “health foods” in the traditional sense. The point of this article is that these foods are better than most people think, and that’s really good news because all of the foods on the list are delicious. These write ups ran a bit long, so I will only post the first five now and then another five in a few days. I hope you like it.

1. Bacon. I love bacon and it’s statistically likely that you do too. I know there’s been some bad bacon press recently, and a lot of people, namely my unpaid editor/website designer/mom are concerned about the reports of increased cancer risk associated with smoked and/or processed meats. As a side note, I recommend and eat organic and/or humanely raised and sustainable pork because it’s healthier, tastier, and better for the environment. I like Niman Ranch or small locally farmed pork products for this reason https://www.nimanranch.com/. I also avoid turkey bacon because it doesn’t taste as good as regular bacon, also it looks weird, like cartoon bacon but in real life.

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While there are a lot of high quality studies that show that eating meat is not harmful to your health, there are two recent studies that show increased risk of stomach cancer and colon cancer associated with eating smoked and processed meats like bacon. These recent reports regarding bacon are reasonably well done but the media reporting of these studies are examples of how easily we are misled by scientific data, special interest groups, and the media.

I am not a big fan of hot dogs, corndogs, bologna, and other processed commercialized cold cuts and mass produced meats, partially because almost all of these animals came from CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operations) which pose many health and environmental risks to America. I could go on and on. But high quality bacon, yeah I like that. So these studies concerned me. https://www.sciencealert.com/yes-bacon-has-been-linked-to-cancer-again-here-s-how-bad-processed-meats-really-are-for-you So I looked a little deeper and applied some of the principles I learned in medical school with a little bit of 5th grade math. Here’s the truth. First off, even if these studies are completely true and these meats really do cause an 18% increase in stomach and colon cancer, as they claim, what does that really mean? I know 18% increase sounds like a lot. Also, I’m a doctor and I know stomach cancer is very bad.


Uhh, Dr. Jimmy, I thought this article was going to be good news.  WTF?… I’m getting there.  Also you are coming off a bit aggressive.  In the U.S. you have a 0.8% lifetime risk of getting stomach cancer.  If you’re math challenged, that’s less than one in 100.  This study finds that eating bacon raises your risk by 18%. What’s confusing is that this study doesn’t mean your new risk is 18.8% (that would be bad) because an 18% increase on 0.8% is 18.8%. Actually, your lifetime risk becomes 0.94% (0.8 X 1.18= 0.94). So

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your risk was less than one in 100 with no bacon in your life, add some bacon, and it’s still less than 1 in 100, in fact it barely goes up at all, less than two tenths of one percent. Uh, I can live with that if it means I get bacon too.   The longer you live, the higher your risk of stomach cancer, perhaps the reason bacon eaters stomach cancer risk is slightly higher is because bacon is healthy and making them live longer, thus increasing their risk for stomach cancer.  I think I just broke the matrix.  Actually, this is not how statistics work, but I almost had you buying that circular logic.  “Your risk of cancer goes up less than two tenths of one percent” is not an exciting headline, so the media and special interest groups try to fool us with statistical terms like relative risk and tell us that our cancer risk goes up 18%.  If you were single in the 90’s and early 2000’s, every sexual encounter put you at risk for HIV/AIDS which was a death sentence back then (unless you played point guard for the Lakers). What’s worse, those encounters, unlike real bacon, were probably devoid of any smoky baconey goodness, unless you were having sex with Emeril Lagasse.

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Incidentally, I found a way to increase your chances of winning the lottery by 100%! All you have to do is buy 1 more ticket. Unfortunately, your odds remain low at 0.000000006% but it’s up from 0.000000003%!  This is an example of how deceiving relative risk statistics can be.

One thing that people lose sight of, is that when we decide not to eat a food for health reasons we have to eat something in its place. So you don’t eat bacon because of the 0.14% absolute increase in risk of stomach cancer. What do you eat in it’s place? If your choice is kale or low carb pancakes/ fine, you right, good choice. If the answer is cereal, pop-tarts, waffles, or bagels you just spiked your glucose, increased insulin, worsened your cholesterol profile, and gained weight. These foods can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity, all of which are much more likely to cause harm than that statistically insignificant bump in your stomach cancer risk, also all of those foods aren’t nearly as tasting or filling as bacon.

So, when your publicist/unpaid editor/website designer/Mom tells you to stop eating bacon because it’s bad for you, you should stop eating bacon in front of her because she’s your mother, but then later you can enjoy some secret bacon, because it’s actually fine for you health-wise.  I think “Secret Bacon” would be a great name for a band.  So go forth and enjoy your bacon without guilt or regret, just don’t go nuts.

2. Nuts. Many people read food labels, or listen to incorrect diet advice and conclude that things like chips, crackers, and pretzels are healthier than nuts because they contain less fat and calories and they are all found in the junk food aisles of the grocery store. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nuts have healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. They help promote healthy gut bacteria and help fight diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even breast cancer. While many of you know of the virtue of eating almonds and walnuts, you probably don’t know that there are a pair of even tastier, healthier, and sometimes saltier nuts. The amazing pair of nuts I’m referring to are pistachio and macadamia nuts. These two tasty nuts have more healthy fat, less carbs, and a lot more nutty flavor for your mouth.

americanpistachios.org/

I know macadamia nuts are pricey but if you get them from the bulk bin at the supermarket or from Costco, you get more nut for your buck. Did I mention how good these nuts taste in your mouth? So good. 

In Sicily, pistachios are sacred like potatoes in Idaho, vodka in Russia, or meth in Reno. They’re not just delicious, but they contain a magical compound called nitric oxide that helps improve blood flow to our nether regions making for better and more robust erections which is probably why the Sicilians put pistachios on everything.

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Interestingly, French men note a significant but temporary increase in height when they eat pistachios, other foods containing nitric oxide and Viagra. This allows them to look even farther down their noses on us Americans when we struggle with their ridiculous language on vacation in France.  If you make it to France, be sure to include a visit to the graves of our fallen soldiers who died liberating their overrated country. I propose that if we have to go in there again, we keep the Southern half of their country and turn it into a redneck vacation paradise, just to piss them off.   I apologize for this rant.  I’m a little cranky.  I need some coffee.

3. Coffee.  You may have heard that you shouldn’t drink too much coffee but the overwhelming majority of new evidence supports coffee as a health drink.   The Finnish people drink more coffee than anyone else on earth. The average adult male in Finland averages a ridiculous nine cups of coffee per day (their cups are a little smaller than ours, but still). They are also a super healthy group of people.

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I know what you are thinking. You are going to say that it’s because of their cross country skiing, their saunas, their fatty fish intake, polar bear plunging and their rampant inbreeding. You may be right, but one of the things you can do when you are measuring the effect of a variable is to measure the “dose dependent response” by that I mean, you can ascertain if people who drink 12 cups are healthier than those who drink 8. You can then find out if those people are healthier than those who drink 4, all the way down to the one Finnish guy who only drinks Monster Energy Drink and Blue Mountain Dew. P.S. He’s super unhealthy. It turns out, that in the Finnish study there is a dose dependent response and the heavier coffee drinkers were the on average the healthier people. So assuming you don’t have any negative side effects, coffee can be considered very healthy.

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Because of a sub-par national diet, coffee is the major source of anti-oxidants for a lot of Americans but studying coffee in the U.S. population is tough because we don’t drink that much when compared to those cousin loving Fins. Also, we mix in all sorts of unhealthy shit like sweetened creamers, caramel syrup, and whiskey. Whiskey being the most healthful of the three unless you fly commercial airliners for a living. Also, our serving sizes are so variable, a serving of coffee to some Americans is a 72 ounce trucker sized plastic mug and to others it’s a tall latte, which is Starbuckian for small.  Incidentally, if you go to Italy and order a “latte”, they will give you milk.  If you order a cappuccino, you will get a Starbucksesque latte, and if you order a machiatto, you will get a Starbucks-like cappuccino, but I digress.   Lucky for us, the Finnish people have pretty much standardized their coffee cup serving size, thus making studying them a lot easier.

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Anderson Family

The bottom line is that as long as you don’t put a bunch of unhealthy crap in your coffee, you can expect to experience better glucose control, more energy, better mood, better athletic performance, lower risk of parkinson’s, alzheimer’s, many forms of cancer especially colon cancer, stroke, heart disease, also it really helps your poop come out smooth and easy like butter.

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4. Butter. I’ve been told that butter makes you fat. Butter gives you heart disease. Butter should be replaced with vegetable oils and unsaturated fats like margarine. Butter doesn’t taste good. False, false, false, and sofa king false. Sofa King Healthy was one of the proposed titles of our book, by the way. I thought it was funny but misleading, and by that I mean perfect. Back to butter, it is obviously delicious and if you read my previous posts, you know that margarine and most refined vegetable oils are processed poison https://drjimmywestbrook.com/2019/01/08/food-rants-the-10-health-foods-that-are-making-us-fat-and-memes/.

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A recent study showed that people with higher butter fat levels in their blood had huge reductions in their risk of type 2 diabetes (30-40% which is a real difference because type 2 diabetes is super common these days) and there has never been a well documented link between butter and heart disease. In fact, the countries that consume the most butter seem to have some of the lowest rates of heart disease, France being first on the list, despite high rates of smoking and the fact that French gyms are reserved for tourists use only.

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Organic grass fed butter has almost no carbs and is environmentally sustainable. It’s delicious, and high in very healthy omega-3’s, and rich in buttery goodness. If that’s wrong I don’t want to be right. So start finding ways to get more healthy butter into your meals and get rid of the processed vegetable oils.  I’ve mentioned how much I love vegetables and how healthy they are for us.  This isn’t news but you should still check out my top ten reasons to eat more veggies for more information.  One thing I left out is how there are a lot of vegetable eaters who don’t absorb many of the healthy vitamins that are in their veggies.   Vegetables contain fat soluble vitamins and if you are eating your veggies without fat then you are likely just pooping out those important nutrients.  If we cook veggies with fats like clarified butter, our bodies are more able to absorb the fat soluble vitamins the veggies contain and we are also much more likely to go back for seconds.  Please stop steaming your veggies. 

Bonus cooking tip:  You can make clarified butter by melting and filtering butter, thus removing any milk protein that can burn and smoke.  Clarified butter has a very high smoke point, around 460 degrees, which means you can use it to cook vegetables, seafood, and meats at high temps.  When you use oils with lower smoke points like olive oil, high temperatures can cause the oil to break down and create unhealthy byproducts that can cause increased inflammation.   To be clear, it’s OK to cook vegetables with olive oil, just not at those high temperatures.  Clarified butter is also safe for people with lactose intolerance, and dairy sensitivity because the lactose and problematic proteins have been removed.  You can make clarified butter in advance and keep it in the refrigerator in a jar.  If you don’t have a jar, just use whatever you have lying around the house.  

I average eating a little less than a stick of butter per day, usually I cook with it but if I am hungry and lazy I will salt it a bit and eat it straight like cheese. Don’t judge me until you try it.  It goes great with red wine.

5. Red Wine. Red wine has been one of the most controversial topics in nutrition for many years. There are many reasons for this controversy. First, doctors and nutritionists are really scared to recommend any alcohol because of all the potential hazards associated with it’s use. I don’t blame them.  Second, there is a strong association between red wine and other healthy lifestyles like eating vegetables, yoga, and McDonald’s avoidance which can make the data less conclusive whereas things like Busch Light, Sailor’s Choice Vodka, and Four Loko are associated with unhealthy lifestyles, specifically high rates of sexually transmitted Diseases, truck related accidents, and truck related Sexually transmitted diseases. So, many experts dismiss red wine health claims as hype and association bias. I respectfully think these experts have their heads up their asses because there’s a mountain of evidence to support red wine’s many health claims. 
Longevity data shows that moderate drinkers live longer than non-drinkers, and alcoholics don’t live that long at all.  Of all the alcoholic drinks, red wine shows the most benefit by a wide margin.

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If you don’t drink, good for you.  I’m not trying to get anyone to start drinking, but if you already drink alcohol, then you owe it to your health to make sure that you are drinking some red wine. 
Red wine or “Mommy Juice” as it was known in my house as a child has been associated with preventing diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, certain cancers, inflammatory diseases, and gut health.  The most important benefit is seen in your heart.  Red wine seems to be one of the few things that will raise your good cholesterol HDL and lower your bad LDL.  Red Wine also lowers blood pressure and lowers total body inflammation which is important for heart health and preventing myocardial infarction AKA heart attacks.

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thechive.com


Red wine may help us achieve a healthy weight if we switch from a different higher carb drink like Rum and Coke, Gin and Tonic, or Red Bull Vodka Slushy’s.  As a side note, many people do not know these fun facts about tonic water: It has as much sugar and calories as a Coke.  It was invented as a way to get British Soldiers to take their malaria prevention medication (quinine) by mixing it with gin.  It glows very bright when exposed to black light, like the remote controls at a Motel 6.  

All alcohol is high in calories but red wine is fairly low in carbs (usually between 2-3 carbs per serving).  Red wine has been shown to help your good gut bacteria flourish which is helpful for your metabolism.  It has also shown to help convert your white fat cells into brown fat.  White fat is the stuff we are all trying to get rid of while brown fat is the kind we all want, or at least we will want after reading this paragraph.  Brown fat was previously thought to be only found in babies and functioned to help them keep their body temperature stable in cold because babies can’t shiver and are too lazy to clothe themselves.   We recently found that adults have brown fat and it serves as a little furnace where we can burn excess calories without working out or storing them.  More research is needed in this area but if scientists could get better at isolating this brown fat thing, we would all have a much easier time maintaining our ideal weight.

So if you’re drinking beer, Jaeger bombs, Vegas Bombs, Irish Car Bombs, or anything thing that has booze and comes out of a slurpy machine, do your heart, waistline and self-respect a favor and switch to a nice oaky cabernet or jammy zinfandel.  

I’ll post five more Unhealthy Foods that aren’t, in the next week or so.








The Processed Foods Manifesto (with memes)

The processed foods we eat in this country are killing Americans, literally, and killing me, but only figuratively. The issue has cost me a lot of sleep, literally. The manifesto below is a call to arms, figuratively.

Definition of Processed foods: Foods that have been refined or broken down into various isolated substances and then reconstituted to make other “foods” using chemical, industrial, or demonic processes.  These foods are generally low in nutrients, shelf stable, cheap, unhealthy, and are the cash cow of the American food industry.                                      -Dr. Jimmy Westbrook

Did I just quote myself? Anywho, big food companies have been getting rich off of processed foods for decades.  Like Kaiser Soze from “The Usual Suspects” these products are protected from up on high by the prince of darkness himself.

Corporations, politicians, and lobbyists, use food pyramids, heart healthy labels, nutrition misinformation, and biased scientific studies to protect their processed food profits.  They’ve got teams of scientists, doctors, and nutritionists in their pockets and on their payrolls. They don’t need to get everyone to buy into their lies, instead they can pump out bad information, and leave the public unsure about what to believe, then they win.   Useless nutritional claims like “no sugar added*”, “fortified”, “low sodium”, and “fat free” confuse an already lost pubic into buying their poison.  Do you know what else is low in sodium, fat free, fortified, and has no sugar added? My couch, and it smells like Febreeze and dog farts.  By “fortified” I mean we use it for making forts.  

Various civilizations have thrived on a multitude of diets throughout human history without developing the epidemic obesity, diabetes, and heart disease we have in our society since the advent of processed foods.  People have maintained high levels of health on plant based diets, hunter gatherer diets, and meat based diets (like the Inuits of Alaska).  When these groups start to eat a processed Western diet, collective health is utterly destroyed.   One could argue that it doesn’t matter what diet we eat, as long as we avoid processed foods.  Unfortunately, today processed foods are so engrained (do you see what I did there?) in our society that they are very difficult to avoid.  100 years ago, a loaf of bread wasn’t a processed food, but sadly it is today.  Even if you make your own bread at home, the wheat you are using is far from bueno.  I’d even say it’s no bueno.  

Wheat is the Benjamin Button of the food world. Original wheat is on the left. Source

It is the processing, refining, and genetic modification of the grains that cause them to have such an undesirable inflammatory and pro insulin response in our bodies.  Dr. William Davis author of “Wheat Belly” calls wheat the perfect obesogenic food because wheat spikes your blood sugar and make you hungry very quickly after eating it.  The other grains (corn, rice, etc) aren’t much better and completely different from the grains of 70 years ago. Can you picture a field of wheat in your mind?  Is the wheat waist high and beautifully amber with a child running through it?  If that is the case, you are not picturing wheat in its current form.  Wheat today is 13 inches tall at maturity (see above) and children would likely be choked by pesticides fumes or the petroleum based fertilizers used on the crops. 

Dr. Davis hates wheat and you should too. Source.

100 years ago if you picked corn and then planted the corn kernels in the soil, corn would grow.  Today, not so much.  Companies like Monsanto have altered industrial corn to be almost incapable of reproduction. That’s weird. What’s even more ridiculous, is the fact that it takes years to get a lifesaving cancer drug approved for a small group of people who are literally doomed without it, but food corporations can make a new plant and feed it to every human being in America without even testing the food out on prisoners, lab rats, or college students.  Back in the good ol’ days, grains like wheat and corn were not genetically modified or processed and did not cause the obesity, allergy, diabetes, and inflammation that corn and wheat cause today.  This is probably why there were so few obese people 70 years ago and yet there was no such thing as cross fit, 24 hour fitness, gastric bypass surgery, GNC, or gluten sensitivity. 

This guy could quit jogging and take up golf, if he’d get off processed foods. Source.

Many processed foods also use shelf stable vegetable fats like: partially hydrogenated soybean oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and other very pro-inflammatory processed cheap fats.  To be clear, these are “trans fats” which are the only fats that are truly harmful.  They cause heart disease and have also been linked to stroke, diabetes, and other things you don’t want. Fats like these should be avoided at all costs. To be clear, I am pro-fat with the exception of trans fats. **

Processed foods, like most poisons, have a dose dependent response and therefor the more processed foods we eat; the sicker, the fatter, and more reliant on doctors and the pharmaceutical industry we become.  Furthermore, the more processed foods we consume, the more addicted we become to their artificial flavors, chemical additives, convenience, and the hilarious catch phrases of their animated mascots.  Even worse, when we allow corporations to do the cooking for us, in the form of fast and easy processed foods, we collectively forget our traditional recipes, the joys of cooking, and where we stored our Dutch oven.  This is just what the food industry wants to happen, and spoiler alert, it is happening, all of it.  And it is not about to stop anytime soon.

This bear sums up how my kids feel about the processed crap at McDonald’s. P.S. They almost never get McDonald’s.

 

  • *”No sugar added” or “naturally sweetened” are labels make moms and dads feel good about the food choices they are making, but in reality these labels hide the fact that the manufacturer has figured out a sneaky way to sweeten the food without using plain sugar.  Usually they add a sweet juice like pear or peach that has been refined to the point that the only thing left in it is fructose (a potent sugar), which turns out to be worse than table sugar and if people knew what fructose did to their bodies, they would be begging for the sugar to be added back into their foods.  My high fructose corn syrup manifesto is coming soon.
  • ** The US government banned trans fats in 2018 but many products have been granted extensions until July 2019 and are still prevalent in many processed foods.

 


You Should Start Here…

Derek Zoolander said, “Water is the essence of moisture.”  The 10 keys discussed below are the essence of how to get Healthy as F%$#!

These are the most fundamental points.  I will discuss each one in length elsewhere on the site.  This isn’t the why.  This isn’t the how.  This isn’t the who.  You are the who.  This is the 10,000 foot view of what are the most important things for your health.

1.       Eat lots of fats.  Fats are the best fuel your body can use.  Fats will keep you full, keep your blood sugar low, taste good in your mouth, and help you look and feel your best.  Eat more fats, and then eat some more.  If you want ten good reasons why, click here: Top Ten Reasons to Eat More Fat

2.       Eat lots of vegetables.  They are full of micronutrients, low in calories, and high in fiber.  Vegetables are healthy as F%$#!  Here is why… Top Ten Reasons to eat More Veggies

3.       Don’t eat sugar.  Don’t eat fake sugar, high fructose corn syrup, grains, whole grains, or starches.   These foods create blood sugar spikes, insulin release, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes. For more information on this, here you go.  Cut the BS*!

4.       Take breaks from eating.  Doing a fast every couple of weeks or daily time restricted eating has many health benefits and can help regulate blood sugar, lower cancer risk, and lower inflammation. The “No Food Diet” or an idiot’s guide for easy fasting

5.       Don’t eat processed foods.  These foods are loaded in anti-nutrients, chemicals, and toxic mass-produced grains, sugar, and soy.  My processed foods manifesto is complete. Here it is.

6.       Eat protein, but not too much.  Protein helps us maintain our muscle and other body structures, but too much can elevate your cancer risk and cause weight gain.

7.       Stop counting calories, food measuring, and stressing out.  Start buying, cooking, and eating real whole food, and eat until you are satisfied, using these rules as a guide.  Here’s Why.

8.       Exercise regularly but not to lose weight.  Exercise is amazing for your body but don’t try and out-exercise a shitty diet.  Working out is most effective when it’s done using weights and with short periods of intense unpleasant activity. * The Stoops easy, no jogging, workout plan

9.       Start cooking your own food.  If you need recipes, checkout my recipe section or follow me on Pinterest I’m at https://www.pinterest.com/drjimmywestbrook/.  It’s OK if you aren’t a great cook at first.  Keep trying. Easy Recipes to Get Started

10.    Don’t try to eat perfectly all the time.  Follow the 80/20 rule that states, what you do 80% of the time is what really counts.  So, have some pizza, tacos, wine, and tequila every now and then.  Here’s your cheat day guide. F*** Moderation. How to overdo it.

*Stop jogging. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, but don’t tell him or her about the above rules, as they will likely disagree.


You up?

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You up for getting healthier, losing weight, and silently chuckling to yourself while reading? Then you may like my website. I’ve been doing research on health, wellness, and weight loss for a long time. I know what works. If you are checking out my site, it’s likely that you want to improve an area of your health. Martin Hall, a famous golf instructor says, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you are getting”. The same is true with your health, except worse because as we age, maintaining great health can get more and more difficult, but not impossible. Americans keep trying the same things like jogging and low fat starvation diets to get healthy and Americans keep getting fatter, sicker, and less sexually appealing. I am asking you to try something different. Give it three months, it’s a third of an NBA season, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll give you your money back. Except, there is no money. It’s free, so even better. You already know what doesn’t work, it’s what you have been doing. Put your health in my hands and I promise to get you looking, feeling, and looking better than you thought possible. Did I mention “looking” twice? That was a typo.

Every night before I tuck my daughters into their sleep treadmills, I say the same thing, “Kim and Khloe, remember girls, it’s what’s on the outside that counts”. We have a strict “no smiling” policy in my house, as it only leads to premature wrinkles, and ice chips are considered an entrée and a dessert. But seriously, sometimes what we see on the outside is a reflection of what’s going on inside, so we endeavor to improve both. As a disclaimer, if you have been offended by this article or anything you have ever seen on cable television, it’s best you stop reading now, because it’s only going to get worse, and my writing style is not for everyone, specifically you. I’m sure there’s a vegan website or a Jenny Craig somewhere near you that would be more your speed, in fact, here’s a link https://www.jennycraig.com/. They’ve got plans starting as low as 29 dollars and the first week of food is free. You can’t beat that.

Back to me. I am an active Dad who’s over 40 and balancing raising two daughters, a busy career as a physician, a wife who thinks a bottle of wine is a single serving, and a bookie who is best described as “leg breaky”. Despite my hectic schedule, I am feeling and looking better than I have in 15 years. I have lost over 30 pounds, improved all aspects of my well being, and stopped needing medications for my high blood pressure, knee pain, psoriasis, acid reflux, and for occasionally feeling not so fresh, you know, down there. The changes I recommend are simple, life-saving, but totally free.  This is the link to my bio A Bit About Me…More content is coming to the site soon. I am also in the process of writing a book with professional author and physician Dr. Jason Valadao. Check him out and get your copy of his new book at Jasonvaladao.com. Some of this website’s content will be featured in our book.
Above all else, we believe that food is the world’s most powerful medicine. It should nourish the body and soul, and it should be shared with the most important people in our lives. It shouldn’t be ordered from a clown’s mouth, purchased at a gas station, or worst of all, eaten at The Olive Garden.

The book and website are funny and sometimes ridiculous reads that just happens to contain life-changing new information based on the most up to date nutritional science. That’s what we call a teaser in the publishing game. I hope you keep reading. This is the best place to start. You Should Start Here… START HERE: The Basics. 10 Keys to Getting Healthy as F%$#!


A Bit About Me

While the prospective graduates of my medical school class were in the midst of selecting a specialty to pursue, a professor gave us a piece of advice. She said, “Select the area of medicine where you see the greatest injustice, and focus your efforts there.” For some members of my class this was pediatrics because of the number of children without access to healthcare and to give a voice to those who can’t yet speak. Others selected psychiatry because of the often forgotten plight of the mentally ill. Still others chose plastic surgery because of the unfair disparity in breast size in America and because they yearned to own a yacht that is much larger than their father’s very large yacht. I have my own ideas about what the greatest injustice in health care is. Mine is rooted in the belief that the most important factor in your overall health is what you choose to eat. Most people don’t know that food is this important, but it truly is. Also, most people (and this probably includes you) do not know which foods are good and which foods are bad. This speaks to the injustice we see. Americans are fat, chronically ill, and dying because of wrong information and lies. Who is putting out this wrong information, and what are the right and wrong foods to eat? I think you will be surprised by the answers. We will get there, just keep reading.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I’m Jimmy Westbrook, a board certified family medicine physician.  I attended medical school at Florida State University College of Medicine, but originally I am from Seattle.  Before getting my M.D., I spent 9 years as a pilot in the U.S. Navy.  I have been writing recreationally all of my life to include serving as a film critic to a small newspaper in Key West, researching and writing an article on the Mediterranean Diet published in a semi-prestigious medical journal, and the primary author of my family’s R rated Christmas letter.  Most notably, I am in the throws of writing a book on my style of healthy eating.  It is co-authored by my good friend Dr. Jason Valadao.  Jason also has a new book out and you can read up about him at his website, https://jasonvaladao.com/.    I give medical talks in the arena of health, nutrition, longevity, diabetes, physician leadership, and various other medical subjects.  I have a comedic, down to earth, and snarky tone to my writing that is not often found in the world of medicine, nutrition, and health.   I have a dirty sailor’s mouth and sometimes this spills into my writing on this webpage.  If you are offended by this, I apologize…for nothing.

My last flight in the mighty SH60

Because I wasn’t always in medicine (did I mention that I spent the first 9 years of my post-college life as a Navy Pilot, see the above picture), I am able to better gauge what an intelligent but non-medical audience needs or wants to know about these subjects.  I try to explain things in a way that makes people laugh, is easily understandable, and believable.  On a personal level, I enjoy red wine, scotch, golf, watching football, cooking, and gambling.  I love pop music, fantasy football, and am terrified of rats and clowns, also I overshare.  Because I  came to medicine later in life, I have the perspective of being able to speak in a relatable way without being condescending to the reader and without using a bunch of words that require a textbook to decipher.  In medical school, I was frustrated by unnecessary medical terminology.  For instance, why do doctors have to use the word “epistaxis” for nosebleed or “hematochezia” for bleeding from your butt?  Why can’t we just call it a nosebleed or rectal bleeding? Then patients and doctors could be on the same page about what substance is coming out of which of the patient’s holes.  I think doctors use this terminology to help us sound smarter than non-doctors.  I will try to avoid using these types of words and explain things as if we are talking to very smart people who did not attend medical school, that’s you.  This site does not have a political or ideological slant.  And I promise that I won’t try to get you to go vegan, get a food scale, or buy any meal replacement shakes.  I will try and get you to purchase my upcoming book for all of your friends, family, work related acquaintances, and Tinder hookups.   Thanks again for visiting my site. Read More


How to Get Healthy As F**k. A Shopping Guide.

Below are a few amazing products that I use and some commentary on how and why I use them.  I will continue to update this buying guide for your journey to get healthy as f**k.  If you haven’t read my own very very personal journey, feel free to read and laugh at my pain.  Some of these products are a bit spendy, but this is important stuff, and miracles aren’t cheap.  You obviously don’t have to use these exact products.  In some cases I will explain why I chose this brand over others, but often it doesn’t really matter.   

Cali’flour pizza is amazing.  If you don’t use the link below, make sure you use the correct spelling because the cali’flower website is mostly cannabis, not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not healthy as f**k or “HAF” for short.  There are lots of cauliflower pizzas on the market that aren’t that healthy.  They are full of BS ingredients like brown rice flour and tons of carbs.  These pizza skins only have cauliflower, eggs, cheese, and salt.  They take longer than they advertise to get crispy in the oven, but they’re delicious and healthy as f**k. 

Cali’flour Foods Gluten Free, Low Carb Cauliflower Original Italian Pizza Crusts – 1 Box – (2 Total Crusts Per Box)

Quest MCT Oil Powder. This MCT oil powder is the secret to a great cup of morning coffee. Adding this with some Bulletproof Octane Oil (listed below), grass fed organic butter, or coconut oil is the perfect energizing way to start your day.


Broccoli Sprouts. I wrote about broccoli sprouts in my Top Ten Reasons to eat more Veggies article. Here is what I said: A number of studies show the greatest health benefits from vegetables may be derived from the cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli sprouts).  The micronutrient that seems to be the most active in terms of cancer fighting is sulfurophane and this stuff is in highest concentration in broccoli sprouts, 50 times higher than any of its closest competitors.  What are broccoli sprouts you may be asking?  They look like the little microgreen sprouts that go on your turkey sandwich when you buy them premade from that organic deli near your work.  I can hear your wheels turning, “so more turkey sandwiches for lunch then? Got it.”  Not so fast my friend, those are alfalfa sprouts stuck to the Havarti on your sandy and while they are reasonably good, and nutritionally speaking your sandwich is far superior to Eric’s microwave burrito, they aren’t broccoli sprouts and therefore you are not enjoying the amazing health benefits from what very may be the healthiest food on earth.  Broccoli sprouts are not bad tasting either, they are a little spicy with a nice bite to them and may actually be the healthiest food on earth.  Did I mention that?  If there is a weird nutritional thing I do, besides eating my children’s hair, it’s growing my own broccoli sprouts and I’ve taken to buying the sprout growing kits for my friends and family as gifts.  They are fun to grow and reach maturity in about a week.  I add them to salads, or whatever I happen to be eating that day.  If I have more than I can eat fresh, then I freeze them and add them to smoothies.  The supposed benefits of broccoli sprouts seem to be ever-growing as more and more research is conducted.  To date broccoli sprouts have been shown to help with depression, hair loss, and preventing cancer, specifically breast and prostate cancer.  Current research suggests that it is active against all cancers, but more studies are needed to confirm this.  The more I read about these things, the more I want to move out to the country and start growing broccoli sprouts full time.  I grow by broccoli sprouts in my kitchen window and no soil or fertilizer is required.  Just a little bit of sunlight, some municipally sourced tap water, and love.  I actually task my children with spraying them with water every day as a chore, but they usually forget and so I end up doing it myself.  I tell them that in my day, I had to carry the water from a well to water my father’s tobacco plants, which he turned into cigarettes.  Then, he would make me smoke all of the cigarettes, to teach me a lesson, about hard work, farming, and smoking.  At what age should we stop lying to our children? My vote is for right after never.  This reminds me, a recent study showed some of the greatest benefits of vegetables and sulfurophanes was seen in smokers, but this probably applies to anyone who regularly exposes themselves to cancer causing substances like coal miners, tanning salon workers, and coal miner smokers who regularly use tanning beds.  It makes sense that those at highest risk of cancer would then derive the greatest benefit from a cancer fighting food, but try telling that to those tanned, chain-smoking coal miners, they’re just so cool, tanned, and living in flavor country, they don’t listen.   I am trying to avoid telling you exactly what and when to eat things, but I think it’s in your best interests to start eating broccoli sprouts now, if not sooner.  Here’s the link.


 Bulletproof Brain Octane MCT Oil.  This goes in my coffee most mornings with the powder, turmeric, and whatever else I have lying around.  It gives me a big jolt of energy from the fat and my brain seems to work on overdrive when I drink it.  With this brand, I don’t get such intense bouts of diarrhea as compared with other MCT oils, and while I miss the thrill of gastrointestinal urgency, I really enjoy the mental clarity this stuff gives me.  It can make the top of your coffee oily, which is why I pair it with the Quest MCT oil powder.  

Super Fat. This stuff is organic, high quality fat, nut butter that is delicious and filling.  It will tide you over if you get in a pinch between meals.  I eat these very often when I’m at work and I don’t have time to sit down to eat.  I can’t recommend these enough, also their name is pretty good. 

These Mushroom Elixers are great for either getting energized and creative or winding down.  The first one is the energizer and the second one is the relaxer.  They have other options but all have shown to boost brain power and increase cognition, and if you were paying attention, you would note that those two descriptors are exactly the same thing.  I need another mushroom coffee.  

This magnesium is amazing if you have trouble relaxing for bed without a bottle of wine.  Magnesium is a natural smooth muscle relaxant that is a twofer because it helps you sleep and also helps you poop when you wake up the next morning.  It’s kind of a miracle elixir.  I don’t have trouble with sleep or pooping but I’m in the minority on this.  Please get your hands on this stuff if either of these things are an issue for you.  Also, it tastes delicious and won’t cause diarrhea or accidentally pooping the bed. 

I cook a lot with coconut oil.  This stuff also goes in my coffee and most baked goods.  If you have another brand you prefer, no big deal.  I like Costco’s Kirkland brand for the price and because it’s organic.  If you are unsure about coconut oil, be sure to check out my article in its defense

I like this brand of almond flour but I’m not opposed to others.  I use almond flour instead of regular wheat flour and also for things like breadcrumbs.  I use it most of all in my low carb pancakes.  Here’s the recipe.  Full disclosure, my kids put Nutella all over my low carb pancakes, effectively defeating their purpose. 

I write in this as part of my morning and evening bed routines.  More to come on this later.  Tim Ferriss recommended it and I pretty much try whatever he suggests.  I’m a big fan of this.  

I put this in my morning coffee and also try to season as many dishes as possible with this stuff.  It’s not proven to be super anti-inflammatory like some people say, but I like the taste and am holding out hope for future research to show even more benefit.  

I always ask my back patients if they do yoga.  100% say no.  Most say, “but I stretch”.  Yoga is what you need.  Most guys have no idea how to stretch.  I ask the people who “stretch” to touch their toes and it’s like a rectal exam from Andre the Giant. Lots of moaning in what sounds like pain, but I can’t be entirely sure.  

I will add more products that I like, use, and trust in the future.  I used their Amazon links because I am an affiliate and get a small kickback if you use my links to buy these products and others.  If you find another product, brand, or site that is cheaper or better, I encourage you to go with that one.  My kickback is quite small and I’m a doctor, so I’ll be fine.   No matter what site you use, I encourage you to give these products a try.  Thanks. 


36,000 Seconds. An Exercise Call to Action. By Dr. Jason Valadao

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What happens when a Sports Medicine trained physician, motivational speaker, and published author Jason Valadao writes an article and posts it on drjimmywestbrook.com? Website credibility increases as does our collective wellness, and it just takes 36,000 Seconds.

I feel honored that Dr. Jimmy has asked me to stop by and make a contribution to his project. I want to praise you for taking 180 seconds of your precious time to read this today. My pal Dr. Jimmy has put together quite a website and nobody writes quite like him. Thanks for reading his stuff. This writing project has definitely slowed his progression towards full-blown alcoholism and while the number of corpses in his basement is still alarming, they seem to be accruing less rapidly and I think he’s doing better overall. I didn’t write this just to hype up Dr. Jimmy or to tell you to buy my new book. It’s called Exceptional Every Day, but I do think you should take a look at http://jasonvaladao.com. My book makes a great gift for kids starting college or really anybody who is trying to live their best life.

In the spirit of teamwork, I wanted to share a few thoughts on getting started with exercise – rather simple exercises that can get you started down a new path toward health and wellness – or rather this idea of just getting our collective butts in gear, and MOVING. And I specifically made it my intention to make it easy, and at the very least to make you curious. Not curious like Dr. Jimmy who should really mind his own business during our post-workout shower time, I’m a married man for goodness sakes. I mean curious like my 6-year-old who is curious about everything. She is so curious she wakes up most days around 0500 to workout with me. Before you start calling child protective services, I promise that I don’t wake her up, and I surely am not into having my little child workout because I am obsessed with her becoming an Olympian, pro-athlete or a fancy Chico’s model like Jimmy’s Mom. She is simply curious about the process.

Pre-ramble aside, this article is short and sweet. I am giving you just a few words of guidance to get you MOVING. Jimmy and I will provide you with plenty more along this journey, as it really is a PROCESS, and you will surely laugh, smirk and possibly even curse along the way. But you will be damn proud of yourself when you look in the mirror and wake up each morning with a renewed sense of purpose and feel good about life.

Only two more minutes left depending on how fast you read. On your mark, get set, MOVE!

You saw the title and you did one of two things: you either gave it a perplexing look or you rapidly pulled out the calculator function on your smartphone to figure out how many minutes those seconds add up to. I will tell you that 36,000 seconds is equal to less than half of the 86,400 seconds you are privileged to have during a single day. But why do I speak of such a number? I am simply asking you to commit to this amount of time over the next 4-weeks. Hold on. Don’t get stressed out. Before you give me a bunch of eye roll emojis or send hate mail my way, take a deep breath. Remember, this is Jimmy’s website, so send the hate mail his way and also remember that I am not asking you to commit to 36,000 seconds each day. Not even close. I want you to reach that total over a 26-day span. Another weird number for you. Not seven days, or a WHOLE 30, but just 26. If you do more that’s OK. Before you start, there are a couple of rules that you must follow:

  1. You need to commit to at least 1800 seconds each day, Monday through Friday (or any 5-day period in a row depending on your personal LIFE schedule)
  2. Saturdays and Sundays are free (or 2-days in a row as mentioned above)
  3. Based on the above rules you need to commit to 20 workout days out of the 26-day period, which means you get 6 days off to use any way you wish (don’t do what Jimmy does, it will only lead to group meetings and blindness).
  4. And here is the MOST IMPORTANT rule: you MUST do the workout within 5-minutes of waking up each morning, after drinking 8 to 16 ounces of water without consuming any food, caffeine, BCAAs or pre-workout (this is very important and why not save your money, at least for this 26-day period.) This will also really improve our sleep and stress level throughout the day.

If you are already immersed in your own routine and it is working for you, then keep going. Keep MOVING. Share this with someone you love, or anyone that you think needs a jumpstart on their health and wellness. Let’s keep this super simple. No APPLE watches, Fitbits, or pedometers required – the truth is many of them are quite inaccurate…a future article coming your way about this). 1800 seconds of pure MOVEMENT.

The following are a few exercises to help get you started. You are free to modify as needed. Pick just 3 or 4 – or all of them if you wish – and then create a routine. Be creative, mix up the order, focus on upper body one day, lower the next, or do them together, but remember to keep moving. 1800 seconds will pass you by before you even realize it. (By the way, if you don’t know already, you can Google any of the following if you are unsure of what they look like)

  1. Pushups (on your knees is okay)
  2. Jumping Jacks
  3. Air Squats
  4. Leg Lifts
  5. Walking up and down a staircase
  6. Jumping in place (use a mini trampoline if you have one), or with a jump rope
  7. Planks and Glute Bridges
  8. Step-ups on to a chair
  9. Back rows using an exercise band tied to doorknob
  10. Dumbbell overhead press (if you don’t have weights you can use a 1-gallon jug of water in each hand)
  11. Bicycle crunches
  12. Windmills
  13. Standing Calf Raises
  14. Turkish Get-Ups (my favorite; and you can do them with or without weight, diagram below)
  15. Irish Yoga (not a real exercise, but this is what happens when Jimmy edits my article)
Turkish Get-Ups
Not an approved exercise

And these are just 14 exercises that any of us can do at home.

The goal is to simply get us MOVING. To start building a new healthy habit into our lives that won’t empty our wallet, will keep us from over-eating at breakfast (you will actually feel full after the workout and might even decide to try out some intermittent fasting, which is something that Jimmy and I both love), and will give us energy for the day ahead. I know it looks very easy for some of you, perhaps a lot more difficult for others, and trust me, it is not all that bad once you start. Starting is the hard part. Take it upon yourself to believe in yourself. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. And as has been the case throughout the history of our individual lives, establishing just a single good habit will likely lead to several more. Thanks for giving us 3-minutes of your time today. Get some good sleep tonight because those 1800 seconds will be knocking on your door before you know it. Godspeed! -Dr. Jason Valadao

Thanks to Dr. Jason for stopping by my humble website. I’ve read Jason’s book (Exceptional Every Day) and it was amazing. I have definitely made some changes for the better in my life thanks to his book and guidance. Full disclosure, his book is low on memes but heavy on inspiration. When purchasing Jason’s book on Amazon, use the above link and if you enter the promo code “BigBoy” at purchase you will get two more copies free if you purchase three, at the price of five, and better still, 25% of your purchase will go to support Amazon stockholders. -Dr. Jimmy Westbrook

I have told Jimmy on numerous occasions, no such promo code exists. -Dr. Jason Valdao