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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Promising the earth?

 They promised you'd be stunned by the results!

Today I'm going to talk about people making promises.  To be more precise I'm going to talk about coaches, trainers & nutritional advisers making you promises.  Here's a few of the sort of claims I see:

Lose 25 pounds in 10 days
Add 2 inches to your arms in 28 days
Eat this food & get the strength of a superman
You will make PRs (personal records) every time you are in the gym
This training will suit everyone
This diet will suit everyone
One simple trick that will give you the body of a bodybuilder
This product gives you "steroid like" results
The 'secret' is finally revealed here

I haven't covered them all of them by any means, but you get the idea.  I see it all the time in the magazines, on the internet.  I even get emails about it.  It might be a supplement that it supposed to work like a steroid, a diet that is supposed to be a guaranteed method to loss 'x' amount of bodyweight (often it's not fat, but bodyweight that goes when a person diets).  I can tell you now, before you even email me.  I can say with 99% certainty that if you have just read a claim & it seems amazing, say 2 inches on your arms in 10 days, then it is a lie!  That's right, I am not saying they are mistaken, nor are they just uninformed (although it is possible they could be both), but whether knowingly or not these people are lying to you!  That fantastic diet that loses you 50 pounds of fat in a month - no it doesn't!  You may get 50 pounds lighter in a month if you are very large...but if you crash diet like that the chances are that you lose a load of water weight & more muscle than fat, you could well also develop hanging folds of loose skin if you shrink quickly enough.  In truth you will not look how you wanted to - it is a lie!
There are a couple of things that work 'like steroids', one is steroids, two is related products like growth hormone, SARMS & other drugs & lastly pro-hormones which are designer steroids really.  If you hear about an amino acid that works like a steroid it's a lie.
Diet pills are pointless.  Some pills that had 'speed' in them did make you lose your appetite & there are a few related pills that do the same, but all of these are very addictive & you end up like Lemme (who when he was in the band hawkwind got the name motorhead due to the amount of speed he ingested!) , all fat burners are useless except for maybe the competitive bodybuilder to help with the very last % of their diet.  Again, for the average person this is again a lie.

 PR every session - not that likely really is it?

No human can set a PR every session for very long.  If you could why do you think there isn't a 2,000 pound deadlift yet?  All you'd need to do is lift often enough, setting a PR each time & 2,000 pounds is only a few years of training away, right?....Think about it, a persons strength varies day by day.  Have you noticed that some times you can do a lot & others you can't do much at all.  Of course you have, stress, hormones, life & illness all play a part in the amount of strength you can display on the day.  Also the mental aspect & the focus you can develop also affect the lift, so forget a PR everyday.  I'd say that after you pass the beginner stage 60-80% of you workouts are actually 'punching the clock', simply going in & getting it done, you then have 10% or so of exceptional workouts (the PR-type days) & 10% or so of rubbish workouts (just grind it out as best you can).  Unless they explain points like that then they really don't know what they are talking about & should be avoided.  Also think about the following statement in terms of strength "Beside every peak there are 2 valleys".  This means that you start off below your maximum, you work up to a maximum lift for that cycle, then you back off again (if you don't your body will soon make you!), so build this in to your training, if PRs are your goal start well below your maximum, take anything up to 12-16 weeks to hit a peak & then back off to a much lower weight (maybe do a week or 2 of 'pumping'), if you want to repeat simply start at a slightly higher amount that you started last time & then repeat using a small % higher than the last cycle.  You could also do undulating cycles that go for 3 or 4 weeks & ease their way up to a peak.  This works pretty well for intermediate lifters as they are still some way off their genetic peak.  For beginners a linear 'just add weight every week & change stuff if you get bored' works pretty well.
Next there is the claims that one particular form of diet will allow you to achieve almost magical results.  Again, this is a lie.  There are general rules.  Eat a lot of fresh fruit & vegetables, vary the foods you eat as much as possible.  Eat enough calories for your goals.  These are all general rules you can apply, but claiming that a particular diet will work for every situation is a lie.  These diets are usually touted by a guru of some kind - they are most often spotted by having the name of a person, but not always.  Often if you say "But what about the marathon runner & the powerlifter?" they answer something like "It's just the amounts they eat, not the foods they choose" & this is the lie.  A powerlifter will actually very often make different food choices to a marathon runner.   Not only that, but a dieting bodybuilder can have a different diet to another dieting bodybuilder (as you get people who are what I call fat-sensitive & others that are more carb-sensitive), so even trying to do the same thing often means a different diet.  Also some people are sensitive to certain foods & so need to avoid them (thereby changing the diet again), people have different metabolisms - we don't hear 'gurus' talking about this much, but metabolism isn't just 'how many calories you burn', but everyone uses different amounts of carbs, proteins & fats.  Think about that for a second, if you & me both need 2,000 cal everyday I may need more protein than you & you may need more fat.  Also training & the type of training can change things up even more!  One diet won't even work for a single person throughout their lives, as they age, train differently, develop different goals etc.  So, the diet for all people, sadly does not exist.  If lower fat works for you, then great, if it's lower carbs great, if it's very high amounts of raw vegetables then wonderful, if it's plenty of whole foods then marvellous.  I don't usually think that junk food has any place in a diet.  Sure you can add in cheat meals if there is something you enjoy, but this is not vital.  For dieters you do need to have 'strategic refeeds', but this can be healthy foods with high calories if you prefer, but having the odd bit of junk won't hurt you too much unless you are contest dieting for a bodybuilding show or similar event where tight control has to be kept on your diet.  So, do not become a slave to any narrow dietary view.  Note here, that I am NOT saying do not use them if they work for you!  If they work feel free to use them, but do not become a disciple.  Be aware of other options & if the method you are using stops working, feel free to try another one for a while & see how that works.  You should feel ok about slipping from one eating style to another if it fits your goals better.  There are dozens, possibly hundreds of different styles of eating that will fit your life as a vegan, but can vary the amounts, types & methods of preparation.  You can even mix & match a few versions & see if that works for you?  Basically if you stick to mainly whole foods, have fruits & veggies everyday, then you really won't go too far wrong.  For example I am a fan of beans.  They may not suit everybody as some people lack the enzyme to digest them without excessive gas, you could use digestive enzymes they might help, or you might find something like a tofu works better than a less processed beans, or you might focus more on seeds & grains for example.  I like kale, you might not care to even sniff it as you hate it so much.  We all need to find the diets we enjoy most that will also get us to our goals.  There are so many variations in possible diet even within the context of a vegan lifestyle that I suspect that nearly every person could find a diet they enjoyed & got them to their goals if they just looked around enough.
3 months to get this body...I don't think so!
So, use common sense when you read adverts, or see claims that seen too good to be true...they are!  Even if something appears to work for you, that does not make it universally the correct thing to do, so many gurus fall into this trap, yes, it may work for you, but it may not work for me.  When you work with anyone whether it is training or diet they are all individuals & what someone can do, someone else cannot, what works for one, will not work for another.  This is true in all facets of training & diet.  That is one reason I prefer to explain why I do things to people, so they can become their own trainers.  Yes, you can hire trainers, I think sometimes that is a good idea, but the 'final' trainer has to be you.  If you are working out & something hurts, stop & tell them, if they say push on through he pain find another trainer (I'm not talking lactate build up or anything like that, I mean pain of injury), if you start a diet & food x causes you issues, then drop food x.  So, what if it's a super food that will guarantee your results, if it makes you sick to your stomach then dump it (& if the nutritional adviser says otherwise find another one of those as well).

Don't become a slave to one dietary idea, however healthy it appears

Hopefully reading this some of you will rethink some of your fixed ideas about diet & training.  Again, I'm not saying you have to change anything, just accept that if you meet a person who swears the avocado diet works for them, then it just might work for them, even if you follow a low fat diet & have been getting good results.  The same with training.  If you are a HIT jedi (does anyone still call themselves that or am I painfully behind the times?), this does not mean that someone doing the German volume system & getting the results they want are wrong, it just means you may be different.
 Some basic ideas can be used as a start for most 
people to plan their diet & training, don't become a disciple

So, do not believe the hype, keep your mind firmly open to other options, even if you don't use them.  If it sounds too good to be true then it is too good to be true.  The best way is the way you will actually stick to.  If you look hard enough & don't expect miracle-like results you will find exactly what you need 99% of the time (occasionally you may need to compromise a little).  Final point is the tougher the goal, usually the tougher the choices - so if you just want to look fab naked that will be easier than if you plan to hit the bodybuilding stage at 4% body fat, anyone says different, you know what your answer to that should be!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

New profile: Dean Howell vegan footballer

Just put up a new article about Dean Howell who is a professional footballer (sorry people in the US, but to everyone else on the planet a football is round :-).  See his profile here
He also runs a vegan supplement company, check that out here

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ladders: An easy way to increase volume

Here is a quick way if you feel a need for more volume in your training, it is fairly easy to do.  It can work with either a person on their own or a pair as long as they are similar strengths, it is quick & easy to include (although it is slightly long winded to describe).
First let's look at some ways to increase volume in your workout.  The easiest ways are to either increase the amount of sets you do or increase the repetitions in each set.  The draw-backs are that if you increase a workout by an extra set, then volume goes up quite a bit as a set can be 5-10 or more repetitions & so that is a big jump in reps in one go (ladders also increase reps, but the set ranges are very, very different & so it kind of dodges the issue a bit in my view).  If you increase the repetitions per set then you usually have to lower the weight, so you get less intensity in a workout & so less adaptation (ladders can dodge this one as 'sets' in this case is of a different design).  You can also do things like cut down on time between sets (ladders does this, as you will see). There are other ways to increase volume, such as a 'finisher' set, that is doing as many as physically possible (while still keeping good form), drop sets, & many other ways to increase volume, so ladders are another variation to stick into your toolbox.
So, now you what ladders are NOT, just what are they?  Let's start with an easy example.  In this example you are a relative beginner, you can do let's say 6 chin-ups if you go to failure (failure in this case is failure in form, not the total inability to move yourself by heaving & swinging as many people do when doing chin-ups).  So, we want you to do 16 reps, that would be a hard slog & you would probably be exhausted by using a normal rep-set scheme.  But here is the rep scheme using ladders:

Basic ladders

(If you are doing this with a partner, simply take turns  -you go, they go etc...if you are on your own imagine a friend is going & simply rest for that long then go again - be honest, do not loaf!).

first you do 1 rep, then the friend does 1 rep
next you do 2 reps, then the friend does 2 reps
then you 3 reps, then the friend does 3 reps
You then do 4 reps, then your friend does 4 reps
Next you do 3 reps, then your friend does 3 reps
Then you do 2 reps, then the friend does 2 reps
& finally you do 1 rep, then your friend does 1 rep

There you go you have stayed 2 below your absolute max ability & still managed an easy 16 reps.  Can you see why it is called "Ladders"?   First you go up, then you come down the ladder, each time you are either one step up or one step down the ladder.  It's an easy way to increase volume.

 OK so we have the basic ladder sorted in our minds, how do you progress using this model.  This looks complex, but once you have it in your mind it makes perfect sense.  Let's stick with the ladder that goes up to 4 reps.  We want to add volume to this system.  If we just go up to 5 reps on the way up we go from 16 reps to 25 reps!  A BIG leap in reps.  Doing an easy movement that may actually be possible, but something like chinning, this usually won't happen, so this is the method I use:

So, week 1 you get
a/1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1
the next session go
b/1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1
the session after
c/1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 2, 1
the one after
d/1, 2 , 3, 4, 3, 3, 2, 1
the one after that
e/1, 2 , 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1
next you go
f/1, 2 , 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1
g/1, 2 , 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 2, 1
h/1, 2 , 3, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, 1
i/1, 2 , 3, 4, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1
j/1, 2 , 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

You see how you first work up to a set of 2 at the highest number, then 3 at the highest number, then go up a number & start the whole process again.  This is for exercises you can only add a single rep to each session, so you can add more &  if that is the case simply use the every other one in the list (so go a, c, e, g, i for example, or a, d, then h whatever works for you). 
There is a simple way to work out how many reps each ladder is, you just times the top number by itself, that's how you know a ladder going up to 4 has 16 reps (4x4), a ladder going up to 6 has 36 reps (6x6) & a ladder going up to 10 has 100 reps (10x10). See how if you can get say 12-14 reps of a movement, you could build up to a frightening amount of reps very quickly using this method, your 'tonnage' (the amount of weight lifted per session) could sky rocket!

So there we have basic ladders, with a progression you can use.  Let's look at some progressions & variations you could use if you wanted to.

Ascending ladders

Simply a ladder but only going up, so with our example you would do 1, 2, 3, 4 & stop , notice you get a lot less you get 11 reps rather than 16, so it could be used to get you started on using ladders if you are used to very low volume.

Descending ladders

I thing you've guessed this one, it is simply 4, 3, 2, 1 again it's 11 reps rather than 16reps, so has less volume than a full ladder, but might be of use.

Even ladder

Use only the even numbers.  So, 2,4,2 so in this case 8 reps would get done.

Odd ladder

Use only the odd numbers.  So, 1,3,3,1, so 8 is the same in this case.

Inverted ladder

This is like starting at the top, going down, then back up.  So, you would go 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4.  This is the hardest variation as you start & end on the highest reps you can do.  I don't usually do this variation, but as I thought of it, I will add it in as you never know in some specific circumstances it might be of use to someone?

Summing up

Really the variations are limited to your imagination.  I could continue to imagine an endless variety of variations for you, but you get the idea.  This method has been used by the military in some countries, who use it to keep up there pull-up numbers (in some cases being able to do 20 pull-ups at any time is required in some branches of the service in some countries).  If you trained doing set after set of 20 rep pull-ups you would find that when you needed it, you could be so fatigued that you were unable to complete the task.  So, the introduction of ladders allowed the military personnel to still keep the ability they needed without over-training or fatiguing themselves too much.  At least that is the version of how they came about that I have heard, I don't promise that it is true, but I thought you might be interested.
As a final note ladder do not have to be only used on chin-ups or pull-ups.  You can use them on dips, shoulder pressing, bench pressing, squats (ouch!), deadlift (if you feel the urge for high volume deadlifting!), I've not used them on curls, dumbbell kickbacks (to be honest I haven't even done a dumbbell kickback in years), or many other things, but they should work with anything that isn't designed for single rep work (so do NOT use them on the Olympic lifts) & most kettlebell work is designed better for reps under time rather than this method in my view [NOTE:  If you are interested I can do you a quick how to on kettlebells using density training which is a great way to increase your kettlebell volume (& to prepare for the RKC or HKC if that is your goal), again post below & ask & I'll be happy to do it for you.]

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

REVIEW: Sportique range of bodycare products

Every now & again you come across a product you never even knew existed before.  Long time readers will know that we have been fans of v-pure a DHA/EPA pill made from algae (NOT from fish - in fact the fish eat this algae to get the oil in the first place).  Anyway, a company called nuique have taken over distributing v-pure & this company also do the sportique range of body care products.
Anyway, to cut a long story short I looked about on their site & found that they had some 'weird stuff', stuff I'd never heard of like 'Warming up cream', so I thought to myself "What the hell is warming up cream & why would I need it?  I warm up- hell before I workout these days I foam roll, stretch, then do activation/mobility before I even touch a weight!"  So, as I had some contact with the people producing v-pure I decided to see what the whole deal was?
It turns out that nuique make a whole range of creams & oils that are suitable for vegans & all barre one is suitable for drug-tested athletes (the 'Get Going – Warming Up Cream' contains geranium which can give a false positive in a drugs test- thanks to Pat from the BDFPA for pointing that one out).  So, I got a few different products to try out & I will go through all the one's I have tried.  I will have to get a non-drug tested athlete to test out the 'Get Going – Warming Up Cream' as I can't test that one myself.  Although I haven't got a review of that product yet, I have been able to review several of the products that I thought would be directly related to anyone interested in training or exercise of any sort.

Warming up cream

This was the first one I tested.  I have used chilli style creams before, but never really thought of them as a pre-workout product.  In the past I have used them to aid muscle soreness & recovery.  This cream does all that.  In fact if you want to REALLY heat an area I accidentally discovered the benefit of applying warming up cream to yourself then going to bed on an electric blanket - talk about warming!  By the next day my muscle soreness was totally gone, but it was a weird feeling as it felt pretty hot!  One thing I found about this is that it is a slow building heat.  As I said I've used other chilli based warming products before & this one acts more slowly than some I've tried before, so do not make the mistake of my partner & slap on another layer or two, it will work, just not as fast as you expect.  Now let's talk about what it is named  after warming-up, I'd never thought to use anything like this as part of my warm-up.  So, anyway, during this recent cold weather I've been slapping it on & then starting my warm-up & by the time I'm ready to hit the weights I can feel the very first hints of warming on the joints.  For me I used it where it was needed so if I was doing a lower body session, the knees got some & the hips, if I was really going to hammer the upper body, then it would be applied to elbows, shoulders & if necessary wrists got a rub of the cream. Using it as a pre-work out warm-up cream I didn't use it on pecs, or much of the upper back (I did use it on the lower back-especially before a squat or deadlift session).  I actually found it pretty good - this could all be in my head, but the muscles & especially the joints feeling warm, made the workout really go well.  I wasn't on my first set thinking, "Hell, that joint still doesn't feel ready", the blood was there!  I have only used this in colder weather so far.  I will give it a go as temperatures go up, but I'm betting that it works a lot better in the colder weather as a pre-workout muscles & especially joint warmer.
This product does have another use.  I found it useful for muscle soreness, DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness - also called PEMS by some people), tired achy muscles & some forms of joint issues (I'm thinking the more arthritic type of joint pain); some over-use injuries are actually better served by another of their products in my view the 'Cooling cream'.

Cooling cream

This is about the opposite of the 'warming up cream".  It does what it says on the packet really.  It cools an area down.  If you suffer from overuse issues, sprains etc, the quick application of a cooling product can help.  If you use ice, for some areas applying this after your ice treatment can improve the effect I've found.  My partner also used it on some localised swelling when she wore stupid shoes, it worked wonders with the swelling vanishing really quickly (obviously I can't guarantee it will work on every type of swelling & any cuts should be avoided as should any personal or delicate places - that goes for the warming-up cream as well).  I use this less often than the warming up cream myself, but if you suffer from overuse issues, or related issues then this could become your good friend!  Also as the temperature goes up I might actually find myself using this a bit more after training on those tired out muscles, but we'll have to wait for some warm weather to test that one out!

Foot gel

This is supposed to be anti-fungal & anti-bacterial, but as I am fungus-free & my feet do not smell too bad (which implies not too many stinky bacteria), but sometimes I am on my feet for some time & so having a foot cream is ace.  It is supposed to be 'calming of the nerves', I can't vouch for that, but I can say that especially if you have someone to apply this cream for you, it is an ace way to renew those tired old feet.  I actually found that it works two ways. 1/ It relaxes tired feet, but 2/ If you come home after a long day, but need to go out in the evening, it can actually energise those feet & let you go out for an evening so you can dance, walk or generally have a good time on newly refreshed feet.

Warming up oil

I must confess I haven't used this one pre-workout even though it's a warming-up oil.  One of my hats is I'm a massage therapist & I have used it to massage a few people.  The oil has a nice texture & you will need to use less than you expect when you massage (either yourself or others). It is a warming oil, so it can be used on the joints of arthritic clients & the warming effect & increased blood supply can be very beneficial.  It can also be used by athletes to aid recovery as increased site specific blood flow does appear to aid recovery (that's personal, anecdotal evidence I haven't actually researched that, it just seems to be the case).  Also for really tired people this will really knock them out if you give them a softer massage.  They will often fall asleep on the couch or make it home & really sleep soundly with the benefit of the massage & the warming oil.  I wouldn't use this & gentle massage if you've had a long day & plan to go out, but if you have specific arthritic or muscular pain areas, then rubbing some on before you go out could help relieve the pain enough to enjoy the evening (just remember to wash your hands well as there is few things worse than rubbing chilli into your eyes or if male using the bathroom & getting chilli where you REALLY don't want it!)

There were some things that looked really good, but have bee products in, so they are ok for vegetarians but not us vegans.  They are all obvious as they have stuff like beeswax in them, so a quick read will tell you if they are ok for you to use.  I have got some 'Get Going – Warming Up Cream', but the review on that will have to wait until I can find a non-drug tested athlete to give it a go.  But those are the products I've tried so far - I'm guessing it is going to be similar to the warming-up cream?  There are a whole load of things in the sportique range from aftershave balm to deodorant so it is certainly worth checking out if you are after any body care products, as I said a few aren't vegan, so check the ingredient (& if you would like the look of a product, but it isn't vegan then let them know, if they get enough communication they may well be able to reformulate if the demand is there?).  The stuff I have tried though I definitely like & I have found with the warming up cream a new way to improve my warm up especially on colder days & the cooling product seems ace for swelling, sprains & overuse issues where cooling down is the best approach.

For the full sportique range of body care check them out here

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Vitamin D - a growing consensus

There does seem to be a growing consensus within the scientific community that not only are many in both the UK & US suffering from chronically low vitamin D levels1,2,3, but that vitamin D also could affect muscular performance4,5.  Bear in mind that 'vitamin' D is actually a hormone & the term vitamin is actually inaccurate.  There also appears to be receptors both in muscles & the genes themselves for vitamin D, this could have an effect on injury & training6,7,8.  It has also been noted that low vitamin D levels affects the infiltration of fat into muscle tissue (how that could affect performance isn't really understood at all yet!)9. As well as the fat in muscles at least one study has found an inverse relationship to various bodyfat measurements (as well as BMI), so the lower the vitamin D levels, the higher the fat in at several ethnic groups10.  One thing that may affect this fat level association with vitamin D is the apparent concordant levels of vitamin D & androgenic hormones in the body11, that is as vitamin D levels go up in the summer, so do a persons androgen levels, at least in males (in females I'm not sure this has been tested?).  It is not totally proven that it is vitamin D or some other factor that raises androgenic levels in the males tested, so it's not a totally proven theory, but not worth dismissing either.  There is also yet another interesting use of vitamin D for the athlete.  Vitamin D is an anti-inflammatory12 & so can aid in recovery (all exercise causes inflammation, to recover from exercise the inflammation must be allowed to recover & the tissue has to have time to rebuild just a little more strongly than before, that is the basic idea of how it is thought we build muscle).  So, having a high level of vitamin D may speed up the recovery process?

We are not going into the beneficial effects outside of athletic performance here, but it should be noted that high vitamin D levels have been linked to lessening the chances of autoimmune disease, lessening the chances of cancer, lessening the chances of disease generally & improved overall health (avoiding all of the aforementioned is probably a good idea for any athlete I would have thought)
So, when you take an overview of vitamin D & it's possible effects on muscular performance, injury reduction, effects on hormone levels,body composition effects & general overall health benefits, I'd say that you don't really have any reason not to take some precautions to make sure you are getting enough.  If you feel you are getting enough I would suggest that you get a vitamin D test, these days they are cheap (get the 25 OH Vitamin D test there are others that don't show how much active vitamin D you have in you).

Lastly I will just add (putting on my nutritionist hat) to try to eat foods that contain vitamin K.  So eat your greens everyday for vitamin K1, but just as important think about finding a vitamin K2 source - natto is my choice for vitamin K2 as vitamin K2 works with vitamin D.  Also foods containing magnesium are vital for proper vitamin D usage & so are the things like boron, zinc & vitamin A (eat foods high in β-carotene to get all the vitamin A you need).  Lastly, there is some concern about whether to use vitamin D2 or vitamin D3, I did talk a little about that issue here, but it isn't a referenced piece as it was basically just reviewing a product, not the sort of piece to clog up with references.  I personally have moved over to the vegan form of vitamin D3 simply because some studies say vitamin D2 & vitamin D3 are the same, while others say vitamin D3 is superior, but none say that vitamin D2 is superior, so having vitamin D3 at the least is the same as having D2, while it 'could' have added benefits, so the choice is yours.  If you would like me to look into the whole vitamin D2 Vs vitamin D3 thing with a referenced piece covering all the whys & wherefores then post a quick reply below & I will do it for you.
So, if you are like me, in the western world & still in winter, then NOW is the time to get vitamin D if you have not been taking it as you have been out of the sun for months now & your levels will remain very low until summer comes & you get out in the rays (to get vitamin D though you need to be without sunscreen, so if you wear sunscreen or avoid the sun then vitamin D is doubly important for you!).
Two companies that sell vitamin D (& just to make the point I get nothing for saying this, I have just used both these companies at some point) are vitashine who sell the new vitamin D3 (made from algae & vegan society approved), you can get either a spray (5 squirts equal 1,000IUs of vitamin D) & a 5,000IU pill formulation, the other company is viridian vitamins  who make a vitamin D2 1,000IU pill formulation.  As I said both these companies are one's I have used & both make excellent products.
Last warning please check if getting vitamin D3 pills or sprays as vitashine is the only company I know making guaranteed vegan vitamin D3, every other company get their vitamin D3 from animal sources, so double check before buying vitamin D3 (saying 'vegetarian' will usually still mean the vitamin D3 comes from an animal source, so be warned!).


1/ Solar UV doses of adult Americans and vitamin D3 production

2/ Diet, environmental factors, and lifestyle underlie the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in healthy adults in Scotland, and supplementation reduces the proportion that are severely deficient.

3/ Recommended summer sunlight exposure amounts fail to produce sufficient vitamin D status in UK adults of South Asian origin.

4/  Vitamin d and athletic performance: the potential role of muscle.

5/  Athletic performance and vitamin D.

6/  Vitamin D and athletes.

7/  Vitamin D and its role in skeletal muscle.

8/  Vitamin D and Human Skeletal Muscle.

9/  Vitamin D Status and Its Relation to Muscle Mass and Muscle Fat in Young Women

10/ Association of Plasma Vitamin D Levels with Adiposity in Hispanic and African Americans

11/ Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men

12/ Vitamin D status, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, and the immune system

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Veggies diets, likelihood of death & longevity

This started as post on the messageboard, but it got so long I decided to post it on here....

 Bill Pearl veggie & certainly not paleo (despite the outfit :-) 
Also still alive & still training well into old age

Here's a few abstracts I've been looking at lately.  The question: Are you likely to live longer with or without meat?  I think you may have an idea of the answer to that one, so let's just look at a few I found interesting:

First one is a 7 year study of 10,943, this one is interesting because it is based on people who are 'into health food', so the usual rebuttal of it is clean living veggies V average meat eaters doesn't hold true.  It is likely the meat eaters are 'healthy eaters' too, so it's healthy eating meat eaters V healthy eating veggies.  There was a negative association between being veggie & ischemic heart disease, so the simple inclusion of meat appeared to clog your arteries, also the 'fibre card' that is sometimes played "Oh it's just that veggies eat more fibre" was shown NOT to be true, fibre was not a factor in this study.  There was also an interesting finding that showed regular wholemeal bread lowered mortality from cerebrovascular disease, which is an interesting finding which could be looked into further, lastly it confirmed veggies had lower mortality from heart disease than even health conscious meat eaters! Abstract here (from there you can read the full text for free)

This study compares the components of a veggie diet to beneficial effects - less chance of heart disease, less chance of stoke, reversal of angina & heart disease, less chance of cancer.  The negatives & I quote here "...There are few adverse effects, mainly increased intestinal gas production and a small risk of vitamin B12 deficiency...." So, there is a possibility you may fart a bit more (which can occur at the start but generally decreases as you adapt to the diet) & make sure you take a multi with B12, that was it really, in this study.  I'd also include maybe a focus on getting your omega 3 fatty acids (ground flax, walnuts or hemp seeds first thing & if you want an algae based DHA/EPA pill some other time during the day is an option for hard training athletes & older people).  Again here's the abstract (you can again find the full study for free from there)

Here's the third study that peaked my interest today - this one had a line that jumped out at me, here it is "...Studies have shown a lower than expected death rate in vegetarians with a significant association between meat eating and mortality from all causes in men...", it then goes on to list a whole pile of reasons why being veggie is better.  I could only view the abstract for this one, but that one line kind of says it all for me - you can eat meat, but you have to start facing up to the fact that you are doing yourself harm over the longer term. Here's the abstract for that one.
If it wasn't for the power of the meat & dairy industry I think scientists would be starting to reach a consensus that giving up meat is the way to go for maximum health, both of ourselves & for the planet generally, but so much of the eating of animal products seems to be tied into habit, tradition, money & people having to face up to the fact that not only have they been doing damage to themselves, but individuals from other species & even the planet itself.

Finally this was not a definitive review of the research out there, just a few studies I stumbled across today, there are many, many more that catalogue a plethora of benefits that giving up animal products can bring to a person, just searching through the literature & it jumps out at you the amount of positive research about people who give up animal products, it's kind of sad that the message is lost & people wander off down blind alleys like the whole paleo, Atkins & now those anti-fruit diets that are springing up - science is pretty clear that fruits, veggies & grains are all beneficial for virtually everyone (Ok there may be some people with issues with certain fruits, veggies or grains, but we're talking generally right now), but people still cling to these fad diets that have no basis in fact they use vague things like "Oh people 10,000 years ago ate like this, so it must be right!" - No, even if people did eat like that 10,000 years ago (which isn't proven), they also lived in caves, in extended family groups where the dominant male probably beat the weaker family members into compliance ,lived short, brutal lives & could only ate food they could walk to find.  Does that sound like you (yes, you sitting in front of your computer, having a green tea from India, munching on a pineapple from the tropics, digesting that stew you made with foods from many, many places that was delivered to your door after you ordered it on the internet yesterday).  I prefer research - that shows interesting stuff like a direct link between bean intake & longevity (see here for that one), so paleo-guy how come that bean your avoiding appears to be the best thing you can eat for a long life?  How come Mr Atkins (who died an obese man with heart issues) would have you swear off beans when they force upon you the 'side effect' of a longer life?  Why would you avoid fruit when it is shown to reduce inflammation, increase health, lower the chances of some cancers & have zero negative effects upon the body?  Sometimes you just want to scream "Wake up, you are making yourselves live short lives, hurting the planet & causing the death of other creatures!" the only benefit is a few seconds of a taste as it is chewed, that is it!  The rest is just negatives.  I'm off on one again so I'd better end it there, hopefully you get the idea though.