Category Archives: fat

Move Your Set Point and Lose Weight

set point diet When it comes to weight, let’s take a look at what exactly is a biological set point. Simply put, the set point is the range (usually within a 10% fluctuation) our body was genetically programmed to weigh. Much like our height was determined by genetic factors, so is our body weight…mostly.  It is also governed by our hormones and environmental factors which all influence how the hypothalamus affects energy output and intake (eating and metabolism).  The amount of food we eat, how much body fat we store and the calories we burn are all regulated by our hormones, neurotransmitters and microbiome.  Set point theory states our “set point weight” is automatically controlled.  Our bodies want to maintain the status-quo, also known as homeostasis.  It explains why certain people, no matter what they eat remain rail thin (don’t be a hater!) and others stay obese on a normal diet of 1500-2000 calories per day. Continue reading

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Fit and Fat


michelle-carterTo the left is Sarah Elizabeth Robles. She won the bronze medal in the Rio 2016 Olympics for weightlifting. She is fat.  About 300 lbs on the scale.  She can clean and jerk 350lbs and snatch 278lbs – a lot more than me.  She is a powerhouse.

On the right is Michelle Carter. Gold medal winner in the 2016 Rio Olympics for shot put.  She can throw the shot almost 68 feet!  She is also fat, tipping the scale at about 265lbs.  Michelle was the first American woman to ever win a gold in this event.  Brilliant. Continue reading

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9 Evidence Based Ways To Cut Up For Summer

NYC in home trainer

‘Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty…..’

That means beach weather, bikinis, bare-feet and lots of unwanted sand following you home. Worst part: finding that sand stuck in your fat rolls. So let’s prevent that from happening, right?! If you want a shredded 6 pack and super defined muscles you’ll have to work very, very hard. Most people are not willing to commit to such an endeavor, so let’s keep our expectations in check. Nevertheless, you can achieve your best body following these 9 simple steps without having to live at the gym nor eat like a monk.

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Get Lean in 20 Seconds

tabatas uncle samAre you too busy to workout?  Do you have 4 minutes? Sure you do. The Tabata training method, a 4-minute high-intensity workout, was created in 1996 by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Working with the Japanese Olympic speed skating team, Tabata was looking for ways to improve their performance. He had a group of college athletes ride stationary bikes 4 days a week, 4 minutes per session, using his brand of high-intensity interval training (HITT).  A control group trained at a moderate pace 5 days a week, 60 minutes per session. The results were unreal: after following the respective routines for 6 weeks, the experimental group boosted their aerobic fitness by 14% and anaerobic capacity by 28%. By comparison, the control group increased their aerobic fitness by only about 10%.  Since this landmark study was performed there have been many similar studies completed, all confirming analogous findings (not only with bikes but also sprints, body weight exercises and plyometrics).  Less time, more results – it’s the American way! Continue reading

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Fructose = Fat

best trainer nyc It turns out all carbohydrate sugars are not created equally.  Fructose seems to be especially evil for modern man. Fructose is the primary sugar found in most plants (especially starchy vegetables and  fruits). It is a cheap sweetener, usually derived from our heavily subsidized corn industry and is abundant in most processed foods including all juices and most sodas and baked goods.  Excessive fructose consumption has been repeatedly linked to:

Dr. Lewis Cantley, director of the new Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital and a professor in the Departments of Systems Biology and Medicine at Harvard Medical School was recently interviewed for BMC Biology about his thoughts and experiences in an article titled “Cancer, Metabolism, Fructose, Artificial Sweeteners, and Going Cold Turkey on Sugar.”  Some interesting excerpts: Continue reading

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The Don’t Diet

best trainer nyc Diets simply don’t work. Let me rephrase: diets don’t work long-term. Sure, short term crash diets succeed but they are unsustainable. Eventually, you will fall off the wagon, adding a few more pounds in the process.  No one agrees on the true failure rates of diets but it is somewhere north of 60% and may be as high as 95% according to several studies.  Why are diets so unsuccessful? Could it be good old lack of self-control and discipline? That is certainly one possibility but not the whole picture. There is so much more to the story. Chemistry, physics, biology, physiology and psychology are all vital factors when determining a long term winning food plan. Instead of fad diets and crash diets try “The Don’t Diet”. Continue reading

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6 Health Foods that Are Not Healthy

personal training nyc Just because something is sold at the health food store or is listed as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it is wholesome. Organic, minimally proceeded Oreo-like cookies are only marginally better for you than their conventional counterpart.  The ‘healthier’ alternative may even contain more sugar than the original, newfangled ingredients, or obscenely high doses of vitamins that turn out to be downright nocuous.  Oh my.  Here is a list of 6 foods that will worsen your health and lighten your wallet: Continue reading

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(Staw Man) Arguments Against The Paleo Diet

caveman junk food

The “Paleo Diet” sometimes called the “Cave-man Diet” or “Warrior Diet” has become very popular in the last few years.  As you know, popular doesn’t necessarily mean good.  The science of biochemistry and nutrition is in its infancy.  There is no scientific consensus on what exactly constitutes healthy eating.  But the Paleo factions would have you believe our caveman ancestors got it all right.   There are books, videos, and workouts dedicated to this stone age way of life.  Like any diet, it works. Like most diets, it only works temporarily.  The important key questions are:  Is it healthy?  Is it sustainable? Is it backed with reams of scientific evidence?  Is it contraindicated with any pre-existing conditions?  Below are the  two major tenants of the Paleo Diet:

  • We should eat the types of food our ancestors ate before agricultural times (10,000 years ago and before). 
  • We should eliminate foods (both processed and natural) which were introduced to the human diet through agriculture and civilization because our bodies may have trouble properly digesting and absorbing these foods. 

The contemporary “Paleo diet” consists mainly of wild fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, pastured raised eggs, lots of vegetables (although no corn), some fruit, fungi, and nuts.  It typically excludes grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, processed vegetable oils and most anything else that is packaged and boxed up.  On the surface, it may seem like a sensible and logical diet.  And for most people, it is a healthier way of eating than the alternative – the standard American diet.  However, there are some major issues with the absolutist interpretation of this eating plan.  Here are some straw-man and cogent arguments against the “Paleo Diet”: Continue reading

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The Mob Stole Your Virginity: Olive Oil and Health

olive oil baby funny

You may have been unwittingly deflowered by the mob. Specifically, they may have corrupted the virginity of your extra virgin olive oil.  Chances are the olive oil in your pantry is not the real McCoy and more likely a phony imposter.  A report in 2010 from UC Davis noted 69% of all imported extra virgin olive oils are not what they claim to be.  I hate to break it to you but if you buy your olive oil on the cheap, the prospects of getting duped are even greater.  Even more frustrating is the fact that spending an arm and a leg on organic “extra virgin first press olive oil (EVOO)” imported from Italy doesn’t guarantee authenticity.

Why should you care?  EVOO is very good for you and what the thieves are replacing it with is not. In some cases, it may contain other ingredients that are toxic like banned food colorings or industrial lubricants not made for human consumption.  Less healthy cheaper oils like soy and corn oils are the most commonly used adulterants. Move over Scarface, because experts believe the fake olive oil business is as profitable and considerably less dangerous than the cocaine trade.

If you do find the right stuff, don’t bother with anything less than organic extra virgin first/cold press olive oil.  It is abundantly healthier and better tasting than the promiscuous chemically manipulated counterpart. By law, EVOO cannot be treated with chemicals and/or other types of processing like what conventional olive oil is subjected to. Continue reading

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30 Strange Fitness Facts & Myths Debunked

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  1. Cholesterol is not a good indicator of future hearth disease.  A large waist size (over 40 inches for men and 35 for women) is a much better indicator of future cardiovascular disease risk then cholesterol levels.
  2. Pound for pound your tongue is the strongest muscle in your body and your glutes (butt muscles) are the strongest in absolute terms.
  3. There are 10 bacteria cells in your body for every 1 human cell you have.  Meaning you are more bacteria then human! Furthermore, most of this bacteria in and on your body is not yet classified by science.  Click here for more.
  4. “It takes on average 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown” is not rooted in science and is untrue. Actually, it takes about the same amount of muscles to frown as it does to smile.   
  5. Every day an adult body produces 300 billion new cells. To make those cells your body uses the food you take in…you are what you eat so think about what you put into your body.
  6. Most of us are about a half inch taller in the morning.  Click here for why.
  7. Your body uses almost half of its 650 muscles to balance you out while standing still.
  8. Lean muscles do all their growing on your rest days.  Without proper recovery times in between workouts (about 48 hours) you will negate your efforts and possibly lose ground by over-training.  Fix your sleep. This is the most vital part of your rest, your body is at very high recovery when you are having good sleep.
  9. Most of our human cells (not all) will be completely replaced every 10 years.  Different tissues in the body replace cells at different rates, and some tissues never replace cells.
  10. The “cracking” or “popping” sound you hear (crepitus) when moving your appendages is gas being released….not bone rubbing on bone.
  11. Muscle fibers are thinner than human hair yet each can support 1000x its own weight.
  12. During the first 2 months as an embryo we start to develop a tail and by the 9th week it disappears, leaving the coccyx (the last segment of the backbone).
  13. No other mammal has as such a large a proportion of fat around the buttocks as humans…no one seems to know why this is true, although theories are abound.
  14. The penis contains no muscle tissue.
  15. An infant’s foot has about 20x the toe grasping capacity as a shoe-wearing adult.  However, in shoeless societies adults retain this pre-hensile ability. Click here for more.
  16. Your liver and skeletal muscles store about 12-24 hours supply of glycogen (sugar)….but once they are filled up, any extra carbs eaten will be converted to fat for long term-storage.  Daily exercise prevents your muscles and liver from being filled up.
  17. Science is not sure why we yawn or sleep.  However, most humans will die after 11 days without sleep.
  18. Tight calves can give you headaches by tightening your fascia (tissue covering your muscles) which run in continous bands from your heels all the way up to the back of your skull.
  19. Static stretching before an exercise or event will “turn-off” the muscles you are stretching and make it less active during movement.  In fact, runners who stretch before running burn 5 percent fewer calories than runners who don’t stretch.
  20. Hanging in a pullup position does not stretch most of your muscles (it contracts them) but will temporarily make you up to 1/2 inch taller.   Click here for more.
  21. Exercise works just as good (and in some cases better) at alleviating depression as anti-depression medication.
  22. People who want to quit smoking are twice as likely to succeed in quitting if they lift weights than if they don’t lift weights.
  23. There is a common myth that we use only 10% of our brains yet fMRI’s and PET scans show we use 100%!
  24. Exercise has been show to increase brain volume and  grows new brain cells. The latest neuroscience suggests exercise does more to bolster thinking than thinking does!
  25. Snot from sneezes do not travel 100mph…The science based TV show Myth Busters, clocked snot at a slow 35-39 mph.
  26. Swimming workouts tend to make people hungrier then similar intensity running or biking workouts.
  27. Eating eggs does not increase your cholesterol level and in fact may prolong your life.  Click here for more.
  28. Conventionally grown peaches have the highest pesticide load of any fruit or vegetable (according to Environmental Working Group). Buy organic foods to limit your exposure to agricultural chemicals.
  29. Science has never shown breakfast to be the most important meal of the day.  Click here for more.
  30. Muscle soreness the day after your workout is not lactic acid build up and stretching will not alleviate the ‘pain’.
Doug Joachim – NYC
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Spend Less Time In the Gym and Be More Fit

sprinting vs. cheetah

Here is a thought experiment: Imagine spending less time working out and getting more fit.  How would that make you feel? Of course this would be great, right? Unless, you’re one of those rare humans who enjoy spending hours toiling away in the gym reading gossip magazines as you go through your daily calisthenics.  I, on the other hand, want more bang for my buck wasting no time in the gym. In two well done scientific studies published in the 2013 February issue of The Journal of Physiology, the researchers describe their recent discoveries “that three sessions of sprint interval training (SIT), taking just 90 min per week, are as effective as five sessions of traditional endurance exercise, taking five hours per week, in increasing whole body insulin sensitivity via two independent mechanisms”.  Sprint interval training has also been shown to produce superior cardiovascular and weight loss effects when compared to long steady state cardio training (SST).  The really amazing thing is SIT provokes these advantages in less half the time.  Additionally, sprinting, not jogging, has shown to decrease belly fat faster and utilizes glucose more efficiently preventing it from being stored as fat. Continue reading

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Embrace the Cold Weather: It Helps You Burn Fat!

japenese men working out in snow


Fact: Cold weather forces your body to burn more fat than hot weather.

Some evolutionary biologists have posited a correlation between our widespread climate controlled atmospheres and obesity.  Many of us spend the majority of our days indoors and are rarely overwhelmed by outside temperatures. This is especially so in frigid locales. Year round warmth is a modern luxury. When was the last time you shivered? Being cold is no fun.  Arctic like weather burns lots of calories and fat from our bodies. It may seem counter intuitive but it is true, we burn a lot more calories in the cold than in the heat. The majority of our daily metabolic rate is used up by our body attempting to maintain 98.6 degrees (this is called thermoregulation).  Sweating is your body’s natural air conditioner.  Conversely, shivering is our own little internal heater.  Stoking your internal thermostat will force your body to shift its fat storage capabilities into heat generation. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not recommending your start freezing yourself. There is a term called “non-shivering thermogenesis” you experience in times of mild cold. It is here you will reap benefits and minimize risks (frostbite, hypothermia, ice burn etc).  There are many little frosty tweaks you can make to burn some extra fat so by summertime you are ready for the beach.

How come people who reside in warm weather climates seem more fit than their northern counterparts? There are many reasons for this phenomenon (look at Bergmann’s rule). I think it is fair to say: in Miami and LA people wear less clothing all year round. Since there is basically only one season there, people are outdoors all the time and want to look good when they’re exposing more skin. In the colder winter cities, we tend to bundle up and layer, hence less self-conscious about our unseen bodies.  Many gain a few extra to keep them warm for the winter and when springs rolls around diligently jump back on the diets and hard training routines. It doesn’t have to be this way. Research suggests going outside and being a little cold may be the best time to potentate your fat burning abilities.  Don’t hide your body all winter.  You can still make your mom happy and put on a jacket (so you don’t catch a cold), just not such a heavy one.

There seem to be many benefits to cold thermogensis (non-shivering):

  • Lowering body fat
  • Lowering blood sugar
  • Cutting food cravings
  • Improving adrenal function
  • Improving deep sleep quality
  • Increasing pain tolerance
  • Reducing inflammation

We have 2 types of fat cells: white fat adipocyes which store calories and hang out around your waist, hips and butt; and brown adipose tissue (BAT) which are blessed with the superpower of burning up the white fat cells. Ironically, the fatter a person is the less brown fat they have, or the thinner they are the more they have.

Brown Adipose Tissue: primary role is to burn large amounts of chemical energy to produce heat in the body; it also plays a role in regulating body weight and insulin when one overeats (people who have large amounts of BAT have an easier time staying slim and diabetes free). It is primarily found in the upper chest and posterior neck and shoulder region.  

Adult humans don’t have a ton of brown adipocytes (newborns are flush with BAT).  Some research has shown that through regular bouts of exposure to cold temperature it is possible to increase the effectiveness and number of these cells. Another way to increase BAT population is to get adequate amounts of rest (7-9 hrs per night). Fat burning fat cells are also propagated by the release of melatonin – the sleep hormone. It is no coincidence hibernating animals like bears have a ton of BAT. Be like a bear and get your sleep.  Many people have resorted to taking 5 minute cold showers or wearing ice pads to increase their fat burning potential.  Although this may work, it is way too extreme for most of us (let Tim Ferriss – “The 4 Hour” hero freeze his ass off). Take control of your natural fat burning potential with these tips:

Cold Weather Fat Burning Tips:

1- Keep your bedroom cool. Studies suggest humans sleep better in a 65 degrees room that is very dark and quiet — which will also raise your human growth hormone output contributing to fat loss and lean muscle building. Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed (artificial light interrupts melatonin production) and get to bed as early as you can.  This will increase your BAT and help your burn more fat, not to mention eat less, reduce stress and improve your overall health.

2- Get outside during the winter!  Go sledding, snow shoeing, hiking, skiing and running.  Embrace the cold, it’ll raise your metabolic rate and perhaps produce some more fat burning cells. It takes a lot of energy for your body to maintain its temperature, especially when it has to heat up.  Most people blame the holidays for the extra pounds they put on when in actuality they walk less (pedometer studies in the Journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed people walk a lot less in the winter months than during the summer) and eat more treats.

3- At the end of your shower see if you can stand 30 seconds to a minute of cold water.  Not only will this refresh (or maybe shock) you, it will help your body produce a little more BAT and increase your body’s production of heat.

4- Drink ice water throughout the day.  In order for your body to heat up a glass of ice water you’ll burn 8-10 calories…not much but researchers from “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” believe you can burn up 95 calories a day drinking cold water.

5- Turn your home furnace down a few degrees.  This encourages your body to enter thermogenesis (body making more heat) and longer exposure to the cold will lead to the conversion of white fat into brown fat which in turn, leads to more calories burned.    Make Al Gore happy by lowering your carbon footprint.

6- Exercise in cold weather.  Both exercise and exposure to cold increase your thermogenesis and brown fat cell activation and conversion.  It is a win, win situation.  Put a T-shirt on and go for a run in the snow. Understanding how brown fat tissue works in humans is far from complete, in the meantime the evidence we have thus far is compelling.  Research suggest that people who work outdoors and/or live in cold climates have higher brown fat activity than average.  The next time you go out into the cold wear a little bit less and turn your body into a heat producing calorie burning, fat eating machine!

7-  Go for a swim in cool water (not freezing water; you don’t want to get hypothermia!).  Water temps around 60-70 degrees is more than sufficient to increase your metabolic rate.

Non-shivering cold thermogenesis won’t get you ripped but it can serve as one more tool in your weight loss toolbox. Stay cool.


1. NY Times Brown Fat burns ordinary Fat
2. Evidence for Active BAT in Adults
3. Rising Indoor Temps linked to obesity
4. Melatonin and Brown Fat Tissue

Doug Joachim – NYC
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Warm Up for Maximum Fat Burning

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Do you warm up prior to exercise?  Be honest. Walking out of the locker room and onto the gym floor does not count. Do you spend 5 to 15 minutes slowly revving your body up?  If I had to guess, I’d say most people don’t bother to warm up.  Showing up to the gym is half the battle.  The other half requires some strategic planning if you want to get the most out of your training sessions.  There are a lot of benefits to warming up but perhaps the least known is its ability to prepare your body for fat burning.

Picture this:  You get out of bed, eat breakfast and go the gym.  You forgo a warm-up and jump right into a set of squats.  Your body says, “Holy cow, what the heck are you doing?!”.  In this alarm state, your brain chooses to go with the most readily available energy source, sugar.  The more gradually you bring up your body temperature and heart rate the greater amounts of fat will be used as fuel.  Asking the body to perform at a high rate without properly warming up will increase the likelihood you’ll get most of your energy from sugars.

When you quickly enter the anaerobic zone (high intensity where the body produces energy without oxygen) your fast twitch muscle fibers preferentially drink up all the sugar.  I can assure you it isn’t sugar stored around your waistline and butt!  The body keeps sugar readily available for emergency use like this and fight or flight responses.  On the other hand, your fat stores are a little less easy to utilize.  The fat that is not immediately utilized is put away under lock and key for long term storage…an evolutionary vestige of forestalling starvation.  It takes about 5 to 15 minutes for your body to mobilize its stored fat.  This is where the warm up comes in. If you slowly ease into the training session your body will sense a non-emergency status and start converting fat into free fatty acids that can be used as fuel.   By the time you begin your workout in earnest, your body will be a fat burning machine.

Slowly preparing your body for a workout will not only help prevent injury but get you to burn more fat.  Isn’t it worth the extra 5 to 15 minutes to put your body into an optimum fat burning state?


2. Maffetone, Phil. In Fitness and Health. HalWalter, 2009.

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Study Suggests Lower Mortality Risk For the Overweight – Rebuttal

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New research published yesterday titled “Association of All-Cause Mortality With Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index Categories” in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) reviewed 97 studies containing a sample size of more than 2.88 million people.   This large meta-analysis concluded overweight but not obese individuals seem to have a lower mortality rate than their normal weight counterparts.  Unfortunately many media headlines neglected to state the correlative nature of this paper.  Instead, they definitively scream “Those Slightly Overweight Live Longer” or “Fat People Like Me Live Longer!”.  Obviously there is more to the story.  Is this study conclusive?  No, far from it and here is why: 

1. All of its data is based on a flawed measure called the body mass index (BMI).  The formula solely measures height and weight.  This metric does not take into account gender, race, age, muscle mass, fat distribution, body frame and fitness level.  These factors are all known to be strong health risk phenotypes.  The BMI is an imperfect measure to say the least.  Micheal Jordon, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Me in our prime had BMI’s listing us as obese!  “The BMI doesn’t give a precise readout. It can be horrible as an individual gauge.” – Cleveland Clinic,  Dr. Eric Topol.

2. This study is an epidemiological study which looks at patterns in a given population.  It does not show cause and effect.  It shows a correlation which is based on observed data.  The author of this study admits “because the errors in self-reported data tend to differ by sex, there may be an offsetting effect when analyses combine men and women”.  Self reported data is commonly flawed.  Many people lie about their age and weight or just guess or get it wrong.

3. The study looks at the correlation between BMI and death from all causes including car accidents and other accidental deaths.  Furthermore, many people who die of chronic disease tend to be much thinner when they pass away.  Once terminally ill persons are removed from the data, the “overweight people live longer” conclusion may no longer be statistically significant.  Being slightly overweight also is thought to confer some benefit during physical injury (like a car accident or fall in the house) due to the extra cushioning.  So if you’d like to increase your chances of survival from a bathroom fall and such, gain a few pounds, but too much extra fat will raise your inflammation levels and put you at a higher risk of death from all other causes.

4. Our population is living longer than ever but the number of years spent in poor health has increased as well.  This study does not take into account overweight people suffer disease at higher rates and may have prolonged lives due to advancements in medicine.   And these individuals are consequently  visiting the doctor more often and receiving preventative care.  The authors speculate that overweight people may show signs of disease earlier or be more likely to get screenings for weight-related diseases.  It is likely these older overweight people are living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancers.  Research has shown a direct causal relationship between being overweight and having increased chance of developing a chronic disease/illness.  So I ask you, what is their quality of life?

5. The author chunks the study participants into 3 categories: Obese, Overweight and Normal Weight (which is actually just everyone else).  Thus she fails to consider those at the lowest end of the BMI are often not healthy; anorexics, cancer patients etc.

6.  This study looked at mortality, and is thus skewed towards those who died in old age. Being overweight as a young adult is different from being overweight as a senior. The effects on health are more severe for the young because it drastically increases predisposition to a slew of major diseases, with problems accumulating over time, increasing mortality over time.   Such people will die earlier, and by old age only those who are overweight would be the healthiest amongst the survivors.

The BMI is like the bathroom scale, it gives us only one small metric of health.  There are many other factors to consider when looking at one’s health and longevity.  Supposing the study is definitive (and it is not!) people with a “normal” BMI should not try to gain weight on purpose in order to live longer.  Instead focus on your fitness level.  Good fitness is a result of strategic exercise and a proper diet.  In fact most research on the subject shows fit “normal” weight individuals  (with good genetics) have the best protection from disease and death.  Fitness and picking genetically superior parents is the key to health and longevity.

Check out the study in it’s entirety here:


Doug Joachim – NYC
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LSD Running Trip & Intervals

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Lysergic acid diethlamide has nothing to do with long slow distance (LSD) running, or does it?  Many  runners have reported hallucinatory experiences while engaging in long runs.  Vivid images and out of body experiences during long slow distance runs have rivaled the best of Timothy Leary’s LSD.  This is more than the runner’s high.  These powerful images and hallucinations are brought on by chemical changes in the brain, increased body temperature,  rapid sustained heart rate, loss of glycogen and dehydration.  A lack of sleep may also bring on these events.  It should be noted that only under extreme conditions would a runner experience these psychoactive effects.  Long slow distance running, which is primarily aerobic in nature, became popular in the 70’s and many still do it today.  It is doubtful that it’s popularity has anything to do with the desire to ‘trip’.  Until recently it has been touted as a superior way to improve cardiovascular fitness.   Research has shown that short bouts of interval training is comparable or better in increasing cardiovascular fitness and burning calories.  Nevertheless LSD is still a viable training option.

Interval training is a pattern of high and low speed training combined in one workout.  Correctly executed intervals benefits both health and fitness.  Some types of interval training (too hard, too long and/or not enough recovery time) temporarily increases your fitness level at the cost of decreasing your health.  Obviously, most would like to train for both health and fitness.  I see too many people unknowingly increasing their stress (chemically and physically) by working out too hard with not enough adequate rest.  This stress wreaks havoc on the body:

  1. Decreases you white blood cell count
  2. Protects you fat stores
  3. Increases your inflammation
  4. Lowers body defenses
  5. Interrupts REM sleep

Regularly training with a constant elevated heart rate taxes your anaerobic system (energy system that uses very little fat and no O2) and induces a high stress response.  At a certain point during intense exercise your body switches energy systems from aerobic to anaerobic.  This training is fueled principally by sugars (glycogen) where aerobic work is mostly fueled by fat stores.  It can be argued that anaerobic system evolved for short quick bursts of energy.  Think, running away from mad momma hippopotamus.  Many gym-goers tax the hell out of this high heart rate energy system at the cost of their health.  Modern life has given us some bad habits that carry over into our workouts, we need to learn to relax and slow down.

The average body may have upwards of 120 hours of fat stored and approximately 20 minutes of glycogen (for prolonged high intensity exercise).  The human body preferentially uses what it has most of, fat.  However, in an ‘alarm’ state (anaerobic training/high heart rate) it cannot convert fat to sugar quickly so it utilizes its’ glycogen stores (which has nothing to do with the fat around your midsection).  Chronically training anaerobically decreases the number of aerobic muscles fibers and fat burning potential.  It is is important to build a aerobic base and (re)teach the body to use fat for energy during workouts.   In order to do this, you will have to slow down and do some LSD.

I recommend that you get a heart rate monitor and follow the “Maffetone Method”:

Step 1:  180 – your age

Step 2:  Change this number by selecting one of these categories:

  • If you are recovering from a major illness and/or on regular medication subtract 10
  • If you are a novice or tend to get sick often subtract 5
  • If you have been exercising successfully up to 2 yrs without injury subtract 0
  • If you have been in exercising and progressing for more than 2 years add 5

Step 3:  The final number is your max aerobic heart rate.  Example: A 40 year old who’s been working out for 4 years would have a 145 max HR.  She would try to stay between 140 and 145 without going over for the duration of her run.

Challenge:  Find your max aerobic heart rate and run a mile while keeping your heart rate as close to that number (but not above) as possible.  Write down your mile time – it will be slow.  Do your normal amount of runs for the next 4 weeks but don’t train above your max aerobic heart rate.  These runs will be very slow, I urge you to leave your ego at home and take your time, the results are worth it.   At the end of this period re-test your mile and see how much faster you are.  It is not uncommon to observe  a 10% enhancement in your time.  I’ve had some clients improve by 30% in 1 month!  In other words, the heart gets stronger and generates more speed with the same effort.

After you build your aerobic base, training LSD for at least 4 weeks under your max aerobic heart rate, it may be time to add intervals (if you would like to burn more calories).  Without sacrificing your aerobic base and fat burning metabolism slowly add 1 minute of anaerobic work in every 6 or 7  minutes.  This means, go hard (on a intensity scale of 1-10: train 1 minute at a 7 or 8) depending on your goals.  Here is a sample workout (for the same 40 yr. above):

Slow 5 minute warm up at a heart rate of 110-120
Aerobic training 6 minutes at 145 HR
Anaerobic training for 1 minute at 165-175 HR
Then repeat  two step cycle until the end of the workout

Interval training is hard and some just don’t like it.  If LSD motivates you to run, than so be it. You can still be fit and healthy by training the LSD Maffetone Method.  A well rounded and planned  routine with lots of rest and a healthy diet will produce the best results.


1. LSD Hallucinations: From Ergot to Electric Kool-Aid
2. Gaitanos, G.C., Williams, C., Boobis, L.H., and Brooks, S. Human muscle metabolism during intermittent maximal exercise. J Appl Physiol 1993;75:712-719.
3. Hargreaves, M., Finn, J.P., Withers, R.T., Halbert, J.A., Scroop, G.C., Mackay, M., Snow, R.J., Carey, M.F. Effect on muscle glycogen availability on maximal exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 1997;75:188-192.
4. Maffetone, P; Training for Endurance; David Barmore Productions; 1996.

Doug Joachim – NYC
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