Sunday, February 05, 2006

#1 in the Plan For Success series


I’d like to start things off with a little piece of advice given to me by one of my high school English teachers, Mr. Wallace Haight. I quote: “There are men in the ranks who will stay in the ranks. Why? I’ll tell you why. They haven’t the ability to get things done.” I didn’t understand the meaning of this until after high school when the realities of living in our western society truly griped me. However, since then it has been a guiding light for me. I hope that you can take some meaning from it as well.

Whenever you change your eating habits, you have to ask yourself: "Could I eat this way forever?" Think of all the "miracle" diets out there, basically telling you that you can never eat certain foods again. Well, you end up getting on the program temporarily, with temporary results. The key is to adapt a lifestyle approach and learn how to eat healthy all year round. It’s ok to “go through phases,” just as long as you keep your overall body composition within an acceptable range, with out any large fluctuations in weight and/or %BF. It’s time to stop dieting and start getting healthy.

There’s a glaring problem with the health and fitness industries of today -- one that no one wants you to know about. The problem is that while the number of sources for health, fitness, nutrition, and supplementation information grow exponentially, people don’t seem to be getting much fitter or healthier! In fact, our fast food nation is one of the fattest and growing by the year. We are a society of convenience food. We want it right now and we want a lot of it!

A large part of the industry devotes itself to distracting you with pretty pictures of fitness s and articles promising new strategies and better results accomplished with less work. Quite a lot of the info out there ought to be tossed in the educational garbage dump. Nevertheless, solid info does exist, and much of it still cruises free of charge down the information superhighway. The knowledge – the truth! – is out there.

Yet, the critical question remains. Why the divorce between knowledge and result?
Well, for one, many people get confused when they are presented with a barrage of isolated facts, ideas and theories divorced from the context necessary to craft them into a comprehensive strategy. Outside of its proper context, good information often becomes unusable or even detrimental. Points of minor importance often usurp points of great importance, and misunderstanding reigns supreme.

I aim to give you something different, comprehensive tools to help you eat healthier and improve your body composition and health profile – without requiring a degree in nutritional biochemistry and physiology to do so. Nothing is left to chance. I guarantee progress and deliver it, because I know that applied knowledge, when structured properly, brings the greatest possible results.

I will discuss how to avoid eating the foods which are the most harmful to your body, health, and your goals. I will also talk about which food choices are the healthiest and the best to incorporate into your new lifestyle. I will go over common myths, mistakes, and misconceptions and you’ll find out how to minimize your cravings and stick with a nutrition and exercise program, and your new lifestyle.

Check back soon for the next installment in the Plan For Success Series.

#2 in the Plan For Success series


The Weight Loss Industry
Fat Is Beautiful?

While you people may find this difficult to believe, once upon a time, fat was not abhorred the way it is today. In fact, to be plump (not obese, of course) was viewed as a status symbol. Carrying around a bit of excess body fat distinguished the nobility from the peasantry and therefore became a sign of attractiveness, of beauty. Nevertheless, let us be honest. Back then, stripped down to the most basic of levels, being fat meant that you could afford to eat! To illustrate this, here are a couple of interesting ideas that came about just before the turn of the century:

• In the 1880's photographers were instructed that models "with hollowed cheeks or visible collar-bones" should not be photographed because the camera would accentuate these "defects."
• In addition, in 1882, Americans discouraged exercise, as they believed that it "would burn excessive amounts of fat.” But in the late 1800's and early 1900's when industrialization took over and food became easily available, even the lower and middle classes could afford to become plump. Well, this certainly aggravated the upper class, as they could no longer be distinguished by their rounded physiques. In an effort to differentiate themselves from the lower and middle classes, they decided to adopt a new ideal, and slim was now in.

The irony of it all is that because of this new ideal, healthy food was in demand, and much the same as it is today, eating well became expensive. Therefore, what happens is that the lower and middle classes can hardly afford to be thin, while in the 1800's they could hardly afford to be fat. So with this new standard in beauty and refinement set, the weight-loss industry began and people began to worry about losing weight (at first) and (more recently) about losing fat. With that said, the objective of this chapter is to:

1. Give you a brief interesting history of the weight loss industry.
2. Present a review of the effectiveness of different weight/fat loss strategies.
3. Dispel popular current myths concerning nutrition and exercise.
4. Discuss some important and misunderstood facts.

A Checkered Past
As is the case with any dramatic shift in public opinion, new problems arise which require new solutions. About the turn of the century, the new problem was how to lose weight. Therefore, the weight loss industry exploded in offering solutions. However, in the absence of detailed scientific data on the nature of energy balance, food composition, and the cellular mechanisms of energy exchange, the best the industry could do was search for agents that promoted weight loss, regardless of how they worked. Here are a few frightening examples of this mentality in action.

• When I say the words, "heroin chic," you think of the waif supermodels that believe heroin is the best diet drug available. Well, back in the dawn of the diet age, they had their own version of heroin chic that we'll affectionately call "consumption chic.” You see, at the time, several popular European poets and writers (Keates, Shelly, Chekov, and Bronte) had tuberculosis, which made them sickly and thin. People therefore associated this look with refinement and intelligence. As a result, the wealthy, taking the lead of other celebrities of the day, began starving themselves to appear sickly and refined. Therein the very low calorie diet (VLCD) was born.

• When I was growing up, a popular statement in my house was " I can't afford you eating like this; whadda' ya' have, a hollow leg or a tapeworm or something?” Now I didn't know what a tapeworm was (a worm made out of masking tape?), but I associated it with being able to eat a lot of food while staying thin, so the tapeworm was okay with me. But going back to the turn of the century, a popular question of the day might have been "Where can I get some chocolate covered tapeworms?” Yep, tapeworms (parasites that live in the intestinal tract) were actually used as a way to lose weight!

• During this same time period, even Kellogg of cereal fame entered the diet market by offering their "Safe Fat Reducer.” This product was loaded with thyroid hormone. And not the kind that comes nicely sterile and synthesized by a pharmaceutical laboratory. No, they added the pulverized thyroid glands of dead animals to their product.

• Other common ingredients that were used in the tonics introduced during the infancy of the diet industry were laxatives (cause diarrhea), purgatives (cause vomiting), strychnine (cause nervousness, restlessness, tremors), and arsenic (cause death — Do you weigh less when you are dead?).

• Getting even further away from the scientific method, some "diet experts" had a theory that men and women should not use lotions or cosmetics. In their opinion, these agents were absorbed into the skin, transported to fat cells, and stored as body fat. This was not good news for Oil of Olay.

• A final interesting diet drug note concerns our old friend DNP. For those of you who do not know, DNP (dinitrophenol) gained popularity in the 1990's as a particularly effective fat-loss drug among bodybuilders. However, DNP was nothing new; in fact, it was the very first drug ever prescribed for weight loss. By 1935, over 100,000 Americans had taken DNP to lose weight. So where can you get some? Not so fast. The problem is, DNP was actually found to be an effective agent for promoting weight loss in munitions plants during WWI. What happened was that fat munitions workers who had been exposed to DNP (which is used commercially in explosives, as a herbicide, and an insecticide) were losing a huge amount of weight. What they didn't know at the time though, was that the physiological actions of DNP cause the body to uncouple oxidative phosphorlylation from ATP production. In essence, normally, people metabolize food to produce energy (ATP). Well, DNP causes the body to metabolize food but instead of producing energy (ATP), heat is generated; so much heat that the organs can actually cook in the body. So, if you do not mind liquefied organs, DNP will help melt away body fat, literally. Moreover, this was a popular diet treatment!

The Focus on Food
Although low carb diets (i.e. ketogenic diets and the Atkins Diet) have been in vogue for the last few years, let me shed a little light on where the concept of the low carb diet came from. Interestingly, the first low carb diet was promoted several years before we even had strong evidence that carbohydrates, fats, and proteins were present in our foodstuffs. As legend has it, William Banting, a very overweight casket maker (of all things) was worried that his casket would be too expensive to fit his large, gelatinous physique. So he theorized that eating less starch (potatoes, bread, and pasta) would help him lose weight. And right he was as he dropped down a few "casket sizes.” He became slim and svelte and in 1878 he published his "Letter on Corpulence," extolling the virtues of the no bread, no potatoes, and no pasta diet.

So the first low-carb diet came from a casket maker. Just a few years later, information began trickling out of the scientific community regarding the composition of food. In the 1890’s, Wilber Atwater is credited for observing the different macronutrient components of food. In the early 1900's, Russell Chittenden went a step further to determine the calorie content of food. With these data, the concept of energy balance and the practice of calorie counting was born.
Half a century later, in the 1950's, the research world began to publish extensively on different diet strategies including ketogenic diets, high protein diets, very low calorie diets, and protein sparing modified fasts (a.k.a. fat fasts).

As a result of these dietary strategies, rather than promoting long-term weight loss, the concept of yo-yo dieting began. So take note. While writers are often "introducing new diet plans," there is very little that is "new.” As mentioned, the "Fat Fast" diet was popular in the 1950's, ketogenic diets were used at the same time with limited success, and even the Atkins diet was first introduced in 1966. So do not fall victim to the notion that these diets are really revolutionary ways to lose fat. As you are about to see, they failed miserably back then, and even now, they are not the best way to change your physique.

The problem with the dangerous early approaches to weight loss, as well as the later diet approaches (including ketogenic diets, very low calorie diets, fat fast type diets, etc), is that they all worked to one degree or another. However the effects of these treatments lasted only as long as the treatments were followed. In addition, since the focus was on weight loss (not fat loss), the composition of the loss (lean vs. fat) was usually ignored. Once the drugs were removed or normal dieting resumed, subjects actually gained more fat than they had lost!

Then comes research to the rescue. When more accurate methods of body composition testing were developed, body composition was used to determine the proportions of the loss. These new techniques demonstrated that most of the aforementioned low calorie diets decreased metabolic rate, chronically depleted muscle glycogen (and therefore performance), and decreased lean body mass.

Looking back through this chapter, it appears that we have come a long way in our quest to lose fat. However, while researchers are doing quite a bit to promote healthy weight loss, let us not lose sight of where the diet industry is today. Are our current diet drugs completely safe and effective? That’s debatable, especially with the FDA’s 2004 ban on ephedra. How about our commercial weight loss clinics? Certainly not! You know, although we can laugh at the ridiculousness of the diet industry of 100 years ago, these stories, in my opinion, serve as a warning for us. I often wonder what people in the year 2100 will say about us.

The Weight Loss Lie
Americans Are living a $40 billion dollar lie!
Did you know that the American public spends an average of $40 Billion dollars per year on a certain item that is doomed to failure from the beginning and not one congressman or senator is calling for an investigation to look into it. What is this item? A new stealth bomber? Six thousand dollar toilet for a missile frigate? No, not even close. How about welfare or farm subsidies? You're not even warm. The answer is much simpler than you might think: Weight Loss.

In the year 2003, Americans spent more than $40 BILLION on diets and weight loss products! According to the Nutrition Business Journal, the supplement industry reached an all time high of $16.1 billion in sales in the year 2002. With billions at stake, these greedy fat-cat supplement and weight loss companies will tell you anything to get you to buy their crappy products. They'll even lie right to your face! And the fact that the industry is so loosely regulated allows them to get away with murder!

It is widely estimated that we spend approximately $40 billion per year on weight loss programs, products, and potions. You know what? They don’t work! It is not even that they don’t work, They can’t work!
The typical weight loss program that you pick up at the checkout isle of your local grocery store or a commercial weight loss center goes against human physiology and the way our bodies are designed to work. They are in a sense physiologically incorrect.

What am I talking about? Let me explain, the typical weight loss program is based on a steady caloric reduction which enables the body to lose weight. Sounds good so far right? The problem is that no one ever said what we were actually losing. Fat? Not entirely. When you decrease your caloric intake to or below your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), daily caloric requirement needed to maintain lean mass while only conducting involuntary activity (heart beating, lungs breathing, etc.), your body has to get by on less energy yet still do the same amount of work. It becomes even more counter productive when "voluntary activity"(daily activities and exercise) is added yet caloric intake is still at BMR. When forced into this situation the body simply begins to "lighten the load.” This means the body perceives that it is about to go into a state of caloric (energy) deprivation which prompts the body to begin to rid itself of whatever material that most consumes calories. This material just so happens to be our lean muscle.

So what is weight loss then? Well it’s actually a combination of lean muscle and fat loss, not just fat loss as most people believe. Still doesn’t sound that bad? Let’s take this a step further then. When you begin to reduce your lean muscle mass, you are also damaging your metabolic rate (i.e., metabolism). Our body’s ability to burn up or a use calories for energy is directly dependent upon the amount of lean mass we have. What most people do not realize is that our lean mass is actually our calorie burning machinery. Calories, specifically fat, are burned in our muscle: Lower it and you lower your ability to burn calories and therefore fat! What we have done at this point is we have lowered the amount of calories we can now consume/burn on a daily basis. This means if we consume any excess calories above our daily BMR needs, we are very likely going to store the surplus as fat. When this happens it then becomes necessary to live off of 1,000 calories or less for the rest of our lives if we wish to keep our weight down due to the muscle loss. Just ask Oprah about her "Opti-fast Diet" experience. She would tell you that’s exactly what happened.

It has been calculated that up until the 1940-50's the average American woman took in 3,000 to 5,000 calories per day. Today the average American woman takes in less than 1,500 calories per day and is on some type of weight loss program. Last year, one out of every three people in the United States was considered obese. In the 1970's one out of every four people was. As we become a society more and more dependent upon appetite suppressants and commercial weight loss centers, we have also become largely a more unhealthy society due to incorrect dieting practices. Only when a person has embarked on a program that includes:
1)identifying the proper amount of daily food intake,
2)the proper amount of aerobic exercise, and
3)the proper amount of anaerobic exercise needed,
will they be able to truly alter their body’s health and appearance as well as maintain that health and appearance. Until then, do your best to avoid those good marketing/bad science weight loss programs in your checkout isle and on the late night infomercials.

Gimmicks and Gadgets
The science and art of eating for fat loss and/or muscle gain have become big business. Unfortunately, this big business, in the eternal quest to be paid, has taken the focus off excellent eating and excellent exercise regimens.

Instead, with infomercials, marketing and advertising, and strategic alliances with the media (magazines, TV, etc), the diet and exercise industry has confused most people to the point that all they can do now is call up 1-800 numbers or jump on a secure server with their credit card ready. Some of these infomercials not only ignore the role of diet and exercise, they try to convince you those things aren't necessary when you buy their fat melting vibrating belts and magic pills.

Why has this transpired? Well, the answer is simple. And for three easy payments of $19.95, I'll tell you. No, no, just kidding. How about a quote instead? "Throughout history, the difference between scientists and physicians on the one hand, and quacks and promoters on the other, has been that the scientists and physicians have attempted to show both what they knew and what they didn't know while the promoters saw the questions as simple and obvious, and always had all the answers."

Therefore, it doesn't seem such a mystery why people buy into the gimmickry. Telling the people what they want to hear wins them over. The problem is that while radical diets, gadgets, and pills may work in the short run, they often compromise an individual's health and well-being more than the extra fat does if they're overweight. This makes the cost to benefit ratio ridiculously low. The other problem is that these strategies don't typically work in the end. So if you're trying radical new methods, it's a safe bet to assume that after the "treatment" is over, you'll likely go back to normal, or worse.

Now personally, I love being lean, but I also enjoy my good health. And my focus remains on using the basics of good, natural food selection and an active lifestyle that includes regular, preplanned physical activity. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a big fan of prepackaged meals, gadgets or magic potions. As revolutionary as it sounds, I believe you can get lean by manipulating your diet and exercise alone.

More specifically, here are some of the more common lies which you are lead to believe are true facts by big business competing for your nutritional buck:

Fat Loss Lie #1:

You need supplements to lose fat.
Exercise, nutrition and the proper mental attitude (positive self-image, motivation, and discipline) are the only things you need to lose fat permanently. Supplements are not a requirement. Some basic supplements are helpful for “nutritional insurance,” and some supplements can help speed up the fat loss process a little, but not nearly as much as the advertising leads you to believe.

Even supplements that have been proven effective are only responsible for a small fraction of the results you achieve. At least 97% of your results will come from good training and good nutrition.

If most of your results come from nutrition and training, then why would you chase after that last 3% “edge” if you haven’t even maximized the first 97%? Isn’t that approach completely backwards?

Respected exercise physiologist Dr. Tim Ziegenfuss of Kent State said, “Supplements should be the icing on the cake.” That’s a good way of looking at it. If anyone tries to convince you that supplements are essential and that you can’t reach your goals without them, beware; they are probably just trying to sell you something.

Fat Loss Lie #2:
The only way to get really lean is to "starve" yourself.
Most commercial diet programs are Very Low Calorie Diets. Many border on starvation: 1200 calories, 1000 calories, even 800 calories or less!
Ironically, the more you slash your calories, the more your metabolism slows down. In fact, very low calorie diets can actually make you fatter! It’s physiologically impossible to achieve permanent fat loss by starving yourself. When you eat less, your body burns less. When you eat more, your body burns more. It’s the ultimate paradox.

Very low calorie diets not only slow your metabolism so you burn fewer calories; they also cause muscle loss. Eventually, they shut down your metabolism completely. When this happens, the weight loss stops and any increase in calories that follows will cause immediate fat gain. This “rebound effect” is inevitable, because no one can stay on low calories forever.

Carefully scrutinize the calorie recommendations of any nutritional program before you start it. You'll probably discover that 95% of them have you slash your calories to “starvation” levels. Any nutritional program that’s extremely low in calories will cause weight loss in the beginning – but it will never work for long.
You see, the human body is very “smart” - it always strives to maintain a magnificent state of equilibrium: Metabolism, body temperature, blood sugar, hormone levels, acid-alkaline balance and every other system in the body, are all regulated within a narrow range that your body finds safe and comfortable.

When you subject yourself to drastic measures in an attempt to create sudden changes such as rapid weight loss, your metabolism adjusts itself to maintain equilibrium in energy balance, much the same way as a thermostat maintains the temperature of your home within a desirable range. As soon as you’re in danger of starving, your body will quickly adjust your metabolic rate downward like a thermostat, so you burn fewer calories. This is often referred to as “the starvation response.”
The only way to lose fat and keep it off permanently is to reduce your calories slightly and increase your activity greatly. It’s always better to burn the fat than try to starve the fat.

Fat Loss Lie #3:
You can believe everything you read in the magazines.
Most magazine publishers own supplement companies and use their magazines as the primary means for promoting their products. Certain well-known magazines have been doing this for decades. One day, it dawned on the rest of them that more money could be made selling supplements than selling advertising or subscriptions. Before long, every publisher joined the cause and started supplement companies.

You see, magazines have mega-credibility. After all, they can’t print a lie right there on paper, can they? If it’s in print, it must be true, right? They’d get in some kind of trouble with an “alphabet agency” otherwise, wouldn’t they? Maybe. Maybe not.

Editorials are more believable than advertising (that’s why they try to make ads look so much like articles these days). Most people will believe almost anything if it’s printed in a "reputable" medium such as a nationally circulated magazine. That's why magazines are the perfect vehicles for promoting supplements.

Did you ever notice how many magazine articles are about the latest, greatest "breakthroughs" in supplements? These "articles" aren't really articles at all; they’re nothing more than advertisements in disguise! (With an 800 number for easy ordering at the end… how convenient!)

Even if a magazine doesn't have a vested interest in a supplement line, you still can't count on them to reveal the whole truth to you because they don't want to offend the deep-pocketed companies that are spending big money to advertise.

A full-page ad in a high circulation national magazine can cost tens of thousands of dollars. With this kind of money at stake, do you think any magazine will print an article saying “supplements don't work” and on the next page, run an ad for the same supplements they are criticizing? Not likely is it?
It’s in the magazine’s best interest to promote supplements like crazy, regardless of whether they work or not, because the more supplements that are sold, the more the supplement companies will advertise. The more they advertise, the more supplements they sell, and on and on the cycle goes.

This is the same reason you often get better investing advice from the smaller, lesser-known financial newsletters than you do from the major financial magazines and newspapers; because the major publishers don't want to write editorials that will upset the advertisers.

Don't believe everything you read. Question everything. Use your head. Use common sense and your own good judgment. Beware of hidden motives. Just because it's right there in black and white doesn't mean it's the truth. If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.

Fat Loss Lie #4:
Meal replacement products, powders and diet shakes help you "burn" fat.
Supplement companies would like you to believe that meal replacement products (MRP's), powdered mixes and shakes have some sort of "magical" fat-reducing or muscle-building properties. The truth is that they’re nothing more than "powdered food" (or “liquid food”). The primary benefit of these products is convenience.

It's a challenge to eat frequently and to get enough high quality protein from whole foods, so quality MRP's are great when you're in a hurry and you don't have time to eat food, but they’re not better than food, no matter what any supplement "guru" says.

Owners of supplement companies will say that MRP's are the greatest thing since electricity. That shouldn't come as any surprise; sales of these products run in the tens of millions of dollars each year.

With the one possible exception of post-workout nutrition during mass-building programs, eating real food is better than drinking shakes. The human gastrointestinal system has evolved to efficiently digest whole food, not powders or pills. The process of digesting solid food every three hours actually increases your metabolic rate. This is known as the "thermic effect of food.” Powders fail to take advantage of this metabolic boost. Whenever you have a choice, and whenever time permits, you should always choose whole foods over powders and drinks.

Fat Loss Lie #5:
Thermogenic "fat burners" that contain ephedrine and caffeine are highly effective for permanent fat loss.
Xenadrine, Hydroxycut, Metabolife, Thermadrol, Diet Fuel, Stacker and Ripped Fuel. Ever heard of any of these? If not, you must have been living in a cave somewhere for the past ten years because "thermogenic" fat burning pills made with the herbal stimulant ephedra have become the hottest weight loss craze in the history of the industry.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on these products every year and there's no end in sight to this fat burning pill feeding-frenzy. Even though Ephedra was banned for over the counter sale because of FDA pressure, ephedra-free stimulant products took their place in short order, even if they’re weaker versions of the original products. The strength of the brand names seems to be carrying them forward.

However, are these thermogenic products all they're made out to be? Let me set the record straight.
Open up any fitness magazine these days and you'll see multi-page advertisements boasting of “amazing,” “clinically proven,” “university-tested” results, with dramatic photos of physiques allegedly transformed overnight by using these products. One headline says "Proven to increase fat loss 1700%.” Another says "Burn up to 613% more fat!” Still another says, "34 times more fat lost than control group." Frankly, the hype surrounding these products borders on being ridiculous.
Where did these numbers come from? 1700% or 613% or 34 times greater THAN WHAT? Obviously, some “apples” are being compared to “oranges.”

It's easy for supplement companies to cleverly take statistics out of context - just one of many sneaky tricks they have up their advertising sleeves. (Did you know there’s an infamous book called “How to Lie With Statistics,” written on this very topic? If you don’t believe me, go to and see for yourself.)

If any supplement really did burn 1700% more body fat, there wouldn't be any overweight people left! But there are: There are more overweight people today than ever before in history!

Don't believe the hype! It’s not that these products don’t work at all – the problem is more in the deceptive marketing and advertising than the products themselves. The claims are simply outrageous.

Thermogenic fat burners do work, but they don't work miracles and they’re not a substitute for proper nutrition and training. Use caution if you use thermogenic products at all and never use them if you are sensitive to stimulants and/or have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders or any other medical problems.

There are no magic pills. Why is it that people just don't seem to get this? It's human nature, I suppose. We all want instant gratification, so it's awfully easy to be swayed by the glossy four-page magazine spreads with those mind blowing (doctored?) before and after photos.

If you want to lose body fat, get your nutrition and training program in order FIRST.

Fat Loss Lie #6:
Losing fat can be accomplished without hard work.
If someone is eating poorly and not exercising, then they can often begin losing fat very quickly and easily, relative to their previous disappointing results. All they have to do is improve their nutrition and exercise habits and a quantum leap can often be made.

With that distinction made, let me state unequivocally that permanent fat loss is never really “easy.” There is always effort and discipline involved, as there is with any worthwhile achievement. Endlessly searching for an easier way, a magic bullet, miracle cure, a Holy Grail, is a misguided quest.
Losing fat is very simple, but for most people it is not easy.

There's a big difference between simple and easy:
"Simple" means there is nothing complicated about the process - it's like algebra; just plug in the numbers where the X's and Y's are, and the formula always produces the correct result.
"Easy" implies that something can be done with little or no effort. Anyone who tells you they've discovered an “easy” way to lose fat is lying.

Getting a lean body requires two things:
1) You must be willing to work hard
2) You must be patient
The problem with many people is that they shy away from anything that appears to be hard work. They’re always looking for short cuts. As soon as they see something that promises results "quickly," "easily," "effortlessly," "while they sleep," "without exercise," and so on, they whip out their wallets and take the bait, hook, line and sinker. Shortcuts always fail! Take a shortcut and you're going to get lost, fall into a deep hole, or smack into a brick wall!

Everything worth having in life has a price attached to it - EVERYTHING! (Study Emerson’s essay on Compensation). If you want a lean and muscular body, you must be willing to pay the price for a lean and muscular body. STOP looking for easy ways. Just pay the price and it’s yours – and it’s yours for life, because you didn’t depend on the crutch of a short-term gimmick.

Make no mistake; people with great bodies, especially athletes and fitness models, have worked very hard for a very long time to get where they are. It's an absolutely unbreakable law of the universe that you can't get something for nothing. Your results will come in direct proportion to the amount of effort you put in. You can only reap what you sow.

Fat Loss Lie #7:
Some people will never be able to lose weight and they should just give up and accept their genetics for what they are.
It's true; your heredity will, to a certain degree, dictate your athletic ability and the ease and speed with which you can lose fat. However, it's a lie to say that some people can't lose weight because they've inherited a "slow metabolism."

Let's be honest; not everyone is going to become an Olympic Gold medallist, a Mr. Universe or a Miss Fitness America. However, you should never just "accept your genetics" and give up. Everybody can lose fat. It just takes a little longer for some than for others.

Some people have inherited a metabolism and body type that tends to favor fat storage. This body type is called an "endomorph.” Endomorphs may have a slower metabolism, they’re often carbohydrate sensitive, they gain fat quickly when they eat poorly, they gain fat quickly if they don't exercise, and they may hold onto stored fat, even with clean, low fat eating habits.

Weight loss is easier for some than for others and that doesn't seem fair. But that's the way life is. This simply means you're going to have to adjust your diet and training to fit your body type and metabolism. You may have to work harder than other people. You may have to be more persistent than other people. You might need a stricter diet than other people. You might need to train more intensely than other people. You might have less margin for error (fewer, or no, cheat days).
The question is: Are you willing to do what it takes for you? It's amazing what a human being can achieve when they have a clear goal and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. “Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.” - Richard Bach, Author of “Illusions.”

Fat loss lie #8:
Zero carbohydrate or very low carbohydrate diets are the best way to lose body fat permanently.
No diet issue has created more confusion and controversy than the low carbohydrate vs. high carbohydrate debate. Contrary to what certain diet "guru's" tell you, carbohydrates are not fattening.
It’s a flat out LIE to say; "carbohydrates are fattening.” What's fattening is eating more calories than your body can use at one time.

However, it's true that some people lose weight more quickly on a low carbohydrate diet (that's not the same thing as saying carbohydrates are fattening.)

Despite these facts, very low carb diets are not the ultimate answer to permanent weight loss. At worst they are unhealthy. At best they’re a temporary tool that should be used only for short periods to achieve specific fat loss goals (preparing for competition, for example).

Even for carb-sensitive, insulin-resistant, hypoglycemic people who respond well to less carbs and more protein/fat, there are still many drawbacks:

1) Very low carb diets are difficult to stick to. If you remove most of your carbohydrates from your diet for a long period of time, you’re setting yourself up for a relapse. The more you cut back the carbs, the bigger the rebound will be when you put carbs back in. That's why 95% of people gain back all the weight they lose on a very low carb diet.

2) Very low carb diets are often unbalanced and missing many nutrients. Few people would debate the fact that the optimal diet for long term maintenance is one that has some semblance of balance between protein, carbs and fats and includes a wide variety of foods. Not an overemphasis on one food or food group.

3) Very low carb diets may be unhealthy. Many low carb diets allow large amounts of saturated and processed fats. (No toast or pancakes are allowed, but bacon, sausage, butter and whole eggs for breakfast are just fine). In the absence of carbohydrates, you can eat fat with protein and you’ll still lose weight (fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat).
However, it's probably not wise to eat large amounts of saturated fat and it’s never wise to eat processed fats or trans fats (margarine etc.). Most people would be best to opt for a diet that is low in fat (below 30% of total calories) and moderate in carbs and protein. (Fat is, comparatively, calorie rich and potentially detrimental to your health in larger quantities.)

4) Very low carb diets cause your energy levels to plummet. Not only will you feel tired and irritable without carbs, but your training will also suffer: Low carbs = low energy. Low energy = poor workouts. Poor workouts = poor results.

5) The weight loss on a very low carb diet can be deceiving. You will definitely lose weight if you don't eat carbs, but much of the initial weight loss will be muscle and water. Suppose you lose 5 lbs in one week on a low carb diet: That sounds impressive, but if one pound is fat, two pounds are water and two pounds are muscle, what did you accomplish? Your goal should never be weight loss. Your goal should be fat loss. Most people will lose fat simply by adding a regular exercise routine to their schedule and by "cleaning up" their diets. By "cleaning up,” I mean that you’ve mastered the seven habits (discussed later).

Low carb diets can accelerate fat loss. However, if you choose the low carb approach to dieting, the best method for most people is to decrease your carbohydrates moderately and add in some of the “good fats.” Cutting out carbs completely is not necessary, it's probably not healthy, it's hard to stick to, and it's no fun! It's usually not wise to go to extremes in anything and that’s as true for nutrition as anything else in life: moderation is the key.

Fat Loss Lie #9:
If you eat the right foods, you can lose fat permanently without exercise.
A full-page ad in a recent issue of the National Enquirer featured this headline:
"Lose Up To 2 Pounds Daily... Without Exercise."
Yeah right! And you'll make a million dollars a day too...without working! That's a whopper of a lie if I've ever heard one. Trying to lose fat without exercise is like trying to sit on a chair without four legs. If one leg is missing, your chair is going to fall over.

An effective fat burning program must have at least these four crucial components:
1. Aerobic exercise
2. Weight training
3. A nutrient dense diet of natural foods with a mild calorie deficit
4. Goal setting, motivation and a positive self image

Except for those genetically gifted, fast-metabolism types (that we all love to hate), it‘s extremely difficult (if not impossible) for most people to lose fat permanently without exercise. It’s always better to burn the fat than it is to try to starve the fat (refer back to Fat Loss Lie #2 for the reasons why).

To lose fat, there must be a calorie deficit. Such are the laws of thermo-dynamics and energy balance. However, there’s more than one way to create a calorie deficit. One way is to decrease your calorie intake (eat less). The other is to increase the amount of calories you burn though exercise.

Of the two ways to create a calorie deficit, burning the calories is the superior method. This is because large, prolonged calorie deficits cause muscle loss and trigger the “starvation response.” Ironically, most people do the opposite: They slash their calories to starvation levels and exercise too little or not at all.

Paradoxical as it seems, the most effective approach to fat loss is to eat more (keep the calorie reduction small) and let the exercise burn the fat. You don’t have to starve yourself – you just have to choose the right foods and make exercise a part of your lifestyle.

Why would anyone resort to starvation diets when they can burn fat more efficiently through exercise? Perhaps they believe that eating more food and working out at the same time will “cancel each other out. Maybe they shy away from the hard work involved in exercise. Aerobic exercise –combined with weight training - is the only method of fat loss that allows you to create a calorie deficit and burn fat without slowing down the metabolism.
Here are the reasons why exercise - not dieting - is the superior method of losing body fat:
1. Exercise – aerobic and weight training - raises your metabolic rate. Dieting decreases your metabolic rate.
2. Exercise creates a caloric deficit without triggering the starvation response.
3. Exercise is good for your health. Dieting is harmful to your health.
4. Exercise, especially weight training, signals your body to keep your muscle and not burn it for energy. Dieting without exercise can result in up to 50% of the weight loss to come from lean body mass.
5. Exercise increases fat-burning enzymes and hormones. Dieting decreases fat burning hormones and increases fat storing hormones.
6. Exercise increases the cells sensitivity to insulin so that carbohydrates are burned for energy and stored as glycogen (muscle energy) rather then being stored as fat.

If anyone ever tries to sell you a program for losing weight and it doesn’t include exercise (it’s just a “diet”), hold on to your wallet and run for cover. Even if you could get lean without exercise, you should be working out for your health anyway, not just for cosmetic reasons.
"In the long run, you hit only what you aim at, so aim high." - Henry David Thoreau

Fat Loss Lie #10:
“If all else fails, then steroids, growth hormone, weight loss drugs or surgery will help me lose this stubborn fat for good and regain my youthful look.”
To many people who are frustrated with little or no results, despite their best intentions, physique-enhancing drugs or hormones appear to be a panacea or “miracle cure.”
Steroids have been around for a long time. So have obesity drugs. Lately, there’s been a huge push – especially on the Internet - for the use of Human Growth Hormone or Testosterone under the harmless sounding auspices of “anti-aging medicine” and “Hormone replacement therapy.” This sales pitch is being made mostly to the baby boomers, who desperately want to regain their youthful looks and vitality.

Dramatic short-term results in body composition can be achieved from use of weight loss drugs, steroids, thermogenics, thyroid drugs, growth hormone and other chemicals.
However, appearances can be deceiving. The road of drug use can be a wild ride in the beginning, but in the end, it doesn’t lead you anywhere – it’s a dead end street.
Regardless of whether we’re talking about illegal steroids and performance enhancers, prescription obesity drugs, hormone replacement therapy, or even over the counter “fat burning” drugs like ephedrine, these are all really one in the same:
1) Billion dollar money makers, and
2) Feeble short-term attempts at treating effects, not causes.

Let’s take weight loss drugs, for example:
What would happen if the pharmaceutical companies finally came out with a “safe and effective” obesity drug and brought it to the marketplace on a massive scale? Here’s exactly what would happen:
The obesity problem would continue, and the pharmaceutical companies would get richer!

Think about it: Did Xenical cure obesity? How about Phentermine? Meridia? Adipex? Bontril? Didrex? Tenuate? What about Ephedrine? Did that solve the obesity problem? How about gastric bypasses? 60,000 were performed last year. Did that solve the obesity problem? In a few extreme cases where someone’s health is at stake, and when time is of the essence, the benefits of drugs clearly outweigh the risks. However, even in these cases, you have to concede that it’s a short-term treatment.

Here’s the problem with thinking that any drugs will be a long-term solution:
We live in an orderly universe where everything happens for a reason (by “law”). For every effect, there is a cause. There are no accidents. A lean body never happens by accident. An overweight body never happens by accident. A lean body and an overweight body are effects. Both of these effects have causes. If you’re overweight, you can create lasting changes 100% of the time if you find the cause of the overweight condition and remove it.

The cause of body fat in most cases is inactivity, poor nutrition and often a negative self-image. Taking drugs is only treating the effect (the fat). Even if the fat (the effect) is temporarily removed, it will always come back if the cause is still there. You can’t merely take pills or drugs that only treat symptoms/effects and expect a permanent change. The idea that some people were born to be fat is ridiculous and terribly dis-empowering. Equally disastrous is the belief that any pill will ever be a long-term solution to the obesity epidemic.

Depending on your genetics, you may never look like Mr. or Miss Olympia, but you always have the power to improve your body and your health above and beyond where you are today. How? By accepting 100% total responsibility for your situation and then taking positive action every day to improve it. You simply have to change your lifestyle!

Try to fight the law or shirk hard work by looking for short cuts if you want, but in the end, you’ll always lose. Try to ignore the law if you want, but ignorance of the law does not excuse you from its operation.

Lifelong health, fitness and a perfect body weight do not come out of a bottle or needle and NEVER will - no matter what new concoction they cook up in the lab. Those who think otherwise may gain temporary relief from health woes or enjoy some short-term benefits, but unless they change their lifestyles, they’ll have some hard lessons to learn in the end. Taking ANY kind of drugs to lose weight is never more than a desperate, fear-driven, short-term solution to a problem with deeply rooted and often unseen causes. Here’s what it all boils down to: The rewards you take out will always come in direct proportion to the work you put in.

"Whatever it is you seek in the form of rewards, you must first earn. All attempts to sidestep this law will end in failure, frustration and, if maintained long enough, ultimate demoralization. All over the world there are millions of people who are being hurt, confused, frightened, and whose lives are turned upside down because they don’t understand the principle law on which everything in the universe operates – the law of cause and effect." -Earl Nightingale
“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” - Vince Lombardi.

Myth vs. Fact
This is where I call you lazy, tell you to stop making excuses, quit sitting on your butt, and do something about it.

Myth 1 –
I don’t have enough energy to exercise:
First, if you are suffering from a lack of energy, then go see your doctor. Lack of energy can be a medical condition, nutrient problem, lack of sleep, stress, or just being out of shape. Before you begin any nutrition or exercise program, it is best to consult with your physician first. After eliminating a medical reason for the lack of energy, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Exercising will give you more energy. Natural energy that will last all day long. Therefore, this is not a good excuse or legitimate reason to keep you from getting into shape.

But, how do I get going? First, start walking 5 minutes per day. A normal healthy adult can walk inside or outside for 5 minutes even if they suffer from an extreme lack of energy. The next day walk 6 minutes. Then 7 minutes the next day. Go to 10 minutes per walk, then 12, 15, 20, 25, 30 minutes. At 30 minutes of walking per day you are speeding up your metabolism, increasing your energy, and you can begin to burn fat. You are on your way!

Myth 2 –

I don’t have the time to exercise:
OK, I’ll be blunt here. If you can’t find the time to spend 45 minutes to an hour, 3 to 5 days per week exercising then you deserve to have love handles or saddle bags. That’s it! A former President of the United States exercised on a regular basis. I am sure he was one of the busiest people on the planet. Now, I understand people with children have less spare time, and some people have two or three jobs. However, we are not talking about using your free time to exercise. We are talking about your body, your health, your life, and your well being.

Therefore, you should make it a priority. Finding an hour a day, a few days a week is possible for everyone. Get up anhour earlier. If you are exercising regularly, you will sleep better. Hence you will need less sleep per night to recuperate from daily activities. Second, exercising relieves stress. The busier you are, the more stress you endure, and the more benefit you will get from a good workout. Finally, busy people will perform better if they relieve their stress by exercising on a regular basis. Get organized, and get motivated. You deserve it.

Myth 3-Spot Reduction:
We hear a lot of talk about "six-pack abs" and "trimming those problem areas.” A product that is supposed to help you lose fat and tone up a specific part of your body accompanies most of these messages. This notion of "spot reduction" is probably the biggest myth going in fitness. No one can "spot reduce.” You can't pick a particular area of body fat and lose that fat. Your genes determine where your body fat is stored. However, you can change your body shape and tone muscles by following a diet that slightly restricts calories and engaging in aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

Begin your program slowly. Don't over do it in the beginning or you may be injured and discouraged. Seek expert help from a certified personal trainer on proper form when first learning to lift weights.

Myth 4-Muscle to Fat?!:
This is a common misconception and I routinely come across this question on online forums. It usually goes something like: “My friend, who works in the medical field, claims that if I stop training, my hard earned muscle will turn to fat. Is there any truth to this?”

Here is the answer, once and for all. Muscle turning to fat is a long time myth that continues to endure. Muscle and fat are distinctly different tissues. Muscle tissue is approximately 70 percent water. Conversely fat is over 70 percent fat with less than 25 percent water. A pound of muscle contains under 700 calories whereas a pound of fat will yield 3500 calories. In addition a pound of muscle is approximately 18 percent smaller by volume than a pound of fat.

Just as wood cannot turn to iron, muscle cannot turn to fat. Dr. James A. Peterson, Dr. Cedric X. Bryant and Susan L. Peterson use a great analogy to explain away this persuasive myth in their book, Strength Training For Women (1995-Human Kinetics). The explanation goes like this: "If you don't use a muscle, it will literally waste (atrophy) away.

When someone has a cast removed from a leg that had been broken, the unused leg muscles look smaller than they were before the injury. If muscle turned to fat, you would see a "fat ball" when the cast was removed, not atrophied leg muscles. “

I believe this myth has its roots in the “creeping obesity.” Wherein a person who stops exercising but continues to consume the same amount of food (calories) begins to gain fat due to the unbalanced energy intake/energy expenditure principle. Lack of physical activity causes muscles to get soft, and if food intake is not decreased, added body weight is almost always fat. Once-active people, who continue to eat as they always have after settling into sedentary lifestyles, tend to suffer from "creeping obesity."

I sincerely hope that you will never have to stop your strength training program. If for some reason you do have to stop don't worry about your muscles turning to fat. It is not going to happen so long as you continue to keep your energy balance in check.

Fact 1-
When we talk about losing "weight," we're really talking about losing "fat.” We do not want to lose muscle, or at least as little as possible. Realizing that everyone is conditioned to step on the scale constantly, be my guest. You're addicted and so am I. But you must interpret that offensive little dial correctly. Although it will be used when you learn to determine approximately how much you should be eating per day, all it really tells you is your weight in pounds. It does not define what that weight is composed of. Not all of it is fat. The only part of our weight most people want to lose is excess fat, so we are only going to talk about losing fat or being over fat, etc. Fat, fat, fat -- not weight, weight, weight!

Fact 2-
There are actually three kinds of body fat, all of which serve a special purpose. The first is brown fat. Babies have a lot of this. It's brown because it contains blood. As we age, we lose a great deal of this, but we still have some. You'd die if you didn't.

The second type of fat is intramuscular which is just as it says, inside the muscles. It looks just like the marbling in meat. You can have lots of this and still appear very slim and muscular. People tend to acquire more of this as they age. It is for this reason that body fat calculations add an age factor.

Having too much of this is not healthy and keeping it under control can be helped with proper diet and exercise, specifically resistance training.

The third kind of fat is subcutaneous. Located between the skin and muscles, it's what disappoints when you look in the mirror or hear the results of a body fat test. Even though we don't like it, this is the fat that protects our internal organs and body systems. It acts like a protective cushion. Like intramuscular fat, too much causes health problems because our organ systems have to work too hard to support it, but if you don't have enough you won't have a life (literally).

I have provided the following information in the hope that it will cause those women who constantly worry about their lower body fat to cut themselves some slack.
That doesn't mean I'm giving you permission to resemble a T-Rex, but Mother Nature has built the female body differently (no kidding?!) than men, and unless you use a lot of androgenic/anabolic drugs, once you reach puberty you will never have the peanut butt and thin thighs of most men. Don’t despair because men have their own fat storage problems. We call them love handles and they are ghastly difficult to get rid of; just as difficult, in fact, as the fat on a woman's upper thighs.

Mother Nature is insanely clever. She knew that in order for a female to carry a fetus to term, these fat stores were/are necessary. She long ago programmed the male brain to look upon this as extremely desirable. Men don't always verbalize it politely, but they perceive an apple ass and round thighs as sexually inviting.

That's why when you ask one of us if we think your butt is fat, we appear totally clueless. We’re not putting you on, ladies, we really don’t understand. My best advice is don't ask! If you don't believe me, the next time you're some place where you can observe men watching women, take notice of which ones we look at. Okay, okay, we look at them all I know I, know. But seriously…

Each fat cell in your body has two kinds of receptors, technically known as Alpha-2 Adrenoceptors. Once activated, one kind makes the cell shrink and the other causes it to get bigger and even prevents it from shrinking. The balance between the two determines how fat an individual is. These receptors are not present in even numbers in fat cells throughout the body, which explains why some fat deposits are extremely hard to lose.

Fact 3-
When you go on a low calorie diet, your insulin level drops and your fat cells shrink. But just when you think you've got a handle on it, Mother Nature comes along and increases the responsiveness of each and every alpha-2 receptor because she thinks you're starving. She approaches it from a prehistoric point of view; i.e. there is no more food on the immediate horizon. So to keep Mother Nature from becoming nervous and cannibalizing your muscle tissue in the bargain, which decreases your metabolism, never try to lose more than about a pound of scale weight per week when on a fat loss diet, and a half-pound per week is even better.

In most women (and men who tend to have female body type fat distribution), the problem fat is in the glutes and upper thighs. In most men (and some women), these receptors are located equally throughout the subcutaneous fat that covers the entire body, although there are slightly more in the abdomen and lower back. When people decrease caloric intake they simply shrink these fat cells (you never lose them unless you have them surgically vacuumed, commonly known as “lipo-suction.”). In our 'I want it now' society, some people resort to liposuction. It has been found that liposuction makes the body restore the amount of fat it has lost - some of it around your organs.

Excessive internal body fat raises your risk of disease. In nature, liposuction does not exist, and it has been found that when fat is removed by liposuction, the body also redistributes this fat around the hips and at the side of the trunk - a.k.a. love handles.

Women naturally have more fat, which is regulated by estrogen. If women are given additional amounts of this hormone, many will experience a swelling of their fat cells just where they don't want it to occur. This is why some women on birth control pills gain fat. After menopause, if additional estrogen is not taken, they will slowly lose fat in their glutes because reducing estrogen levels reduces the number of alpha-2 receptors in fat cells.

Androgens, including testosterone, can (although not always) contribute to fat accumulation as men age. What really happens here is that the aging male converts more and more of his endogenous or naturally produced testosterone, to estrogens, including estradiol. Estrogen in men is necessary in small amounts to maintain brain function and bone density, but when they have more than what Mother Nature thinks they need, the effects on the male body are negative. The most noticeable side effects are love handles that are impossible to lose, the appearance of breasts, which is simply the swelling of fat cells in the pectoral area, and possibly the loss of hair.

So you can clearly see why controlling hormones, through eating habits, is important and beneficial.

Time for a Reality Check (It’s your Eating Habits!)

If you're not losing fat, it's probably your eating habits that's holding you back. Everywhere I look I see the same two questions posed to every nutritional Q&A article and posted on every message board I come across:

"My name is Jonathan. My goal is to lose about 10 to 15 pounds of fat and really get my abs going for summer. Currently, I do weight training three or four days a week depending on my schedule at school. I am thinking about adding in 20 minutes of cardio before or after each workout. I will probably do cardio on my off days, too, in the morning on an empty stomach. My questions are: Should I use German Body Comp instead of regular cardio? What type of fat burner should I use?"

"I'm 34 and all my life I've been fat. I have yet to crack 255 pounds. I have tried training programs and everything from Atkins to South Beach. Nothing seems to work. Supplements help some, but not much. What do you think? What is the best approach to losing my body fat? Thanks.” Steve.

Every week I basically see these same two letters. Different people always write them, but they say about the same thing. Everyone wants to know how to either lose fat or gain muscle. Of course, most want to do it at the same time. My response to these letters is usually the same: "It's your eating habits, stupid!” Well, I’m a little nicer than that, but you get the idea. If this grand epiphany has yet to hit you like a bolt of lightening out of the clear blue sky, then allow me to toss out the first bolt:

If you are not satisfied with your body or your progress, it’s probably not your workout, your supplements, or your genetics that’s the problem. It's your eating habits. Accept that fact. Live with it. Tattoo it on your forehead.

If there are any real nutritional truths out there, this is one of them. What you shove down your cake-hole is the key to getting the body you want.

Diet is the missing ingredient if you are not making progress toward your goal, be it fat loss or muscle gain. If your diet is shitty, don't think you can make up for it by just training harder or taking more supplements. Everybody say it together now: It's your eating habits, stupid!

Strap on your seatbelts and engage your airbags. It’s time to sacrifice a few sacred cows and have ourselves a big 'ol Texas style BBQ.

Reality Check #1:
No diet is easy and completely painless. All require an element of sacrifice and change. You have to drop that "I want to look like a completely different person, but don’t want to do anything differently" attitude. You are living a pipe dream if you think that. There is no magic pill! If you are on a low-carb diet, you will eventually start craving carbs. Likewise, if you are on a low-fat diet, you will soon begin gazing stalker-like at slabs of bacon and red meats. Each dieting strategy has its drawbacks. People with great physiques make sacrifices. They suffer a little for it. If you want a great bod, you are going to have to suffer a bit, too. Don’t worry, though. The rewards outweigh the punishments in the end.

Reality Check #2:
You probably will not be able to lose a lot of fat and gain a lot of muscle at the same time. It’s just not in the cards for most of us. So, stop eating like a bird, training like a girl, and expecting to get huge and muscular! It’s not gonna happen guys. You’ll likely gain some fat on a good muscle-gaining diet.

That’s okay! You can carefully diet it off later. I've known way too many 145-pound guys who immediately go on a strict cutting diet the moment their precious abs begin to fade under a little fat. With that attitude, they’ll never break 150, period. The same goes for guys who immediately stop trying to get lean once they lose a little strength or perceived lean-body mass.

The secret here is to pick one goal at a time and pursue it. Decide whether you want to lose fat or gain muscle first, then pick the diet that best fits that goal.

Reality Check #3:
There are a few people out there who can get away with a poor eating habits. (Yes, I hate them, too.) Do not assume that you can eat crap, train sporadically, and live an unhealthy lifestyle and do the same. These lucky bastards may have one in a million genetics, may use buckets of steroids and other drugs, or both. Total beginners can usually make fast progress on almost any diet, as well. Newbies who go from sitting on the couch eating Pringles to sitting on the weight bench eating protein always make fast progress in the beginning. The longer you live the “healthy” lifestyle the harder it becomes to progress. Ironic? You bet. A fact? Unfortunately, yes.

Reality Check #4:
Stop it with the low-carb diets while trying tone and shape muscle! The two just don’t tango. Yes, excess carbs, especially the simple variety, can be bad if you eat them all day long. However, if your main goal is to tone and shape muscle, you need carbs, both complex and yes, even a few simple ones after a good workout. In short, a good toning or fat burning-diet should not be limited in any macronutrient. In the same vein, a low carb diet is not the way to go for competitive athletes, especially during the season.

Reality Check #5:
Calories do count. Back in the day, the low-fat fanatics wanted you to think that you could eat anything you wanted (and as much of it as you wanted) as long as it was low fat. They were wrong. Today, some of the low carb gurus want you to think the same thing about their favorite macronutrient, the lowly carbohydrate. The truth is that while a low carb/higher fat diet is very filling and will reduce hunger pangs in most people; you still get fat if you eat too much.

Reality Check #6:
If your goal is fat loss, then the closer you get to your desired weight, the harder it will become. A person who needs to lose 50 pounds will have an easier time than a person who only wants to lose five. So don’t freak out and do something crazy when your fat loss slows down a little. That slowdown is normal. If you are already pretty lean and trying to achieve that perfect six-pack, then losing about a pound per week is great. Those with a lot of fat to lose can safely drop two to four pounds per week depending on their starting weight. Also, remember that if you choose a low carb diet, you will drop some water weight in the first week or so. When you come off a low carb diet, you will quickly add some of that water weight back. This is normal, so don’t panic.

Diet and Exercise

Your eating and exercise habits determine whether you lose (or gain) body fat. They determine how many calories you take in and how many you use up. To lose body fat, you need to control the number of calories you eat and increase the amount of calories you burn through exercise.

Research shows overwhelmingly that combining the proper diet with exercise is much more effective for losing body fat than dieting alone. Even the most nutritious low calorie diet without exercise will cause some of your losses to be from muscle.

A pound of muscle has only 600 calories - or about 1/6 the calories in a pound of fat - and, therefore, can be lost much quicker than fat. Since a pound of fat has 3,500 calories, you should expect to lose no more than ½ to 1 percent body fat per month or 1-2 pounds of fat per week. If you lose any more than that, you’re losing muscle too. You simply can’t rush fat loss. You don’t gain fat overnight, and you don’t lose it that way either; but the losses you do get will be permanent. And with the accompanying changes that exercise will make to your body, the results can be remarkable.

Remember to consult your doctor before starting a reduced-calorie diet and exercise program, especially if you have a history of health problems, haven’t had a physical checkup recently, or are pregnant or lactating.

Making a commitment
You have taken the important first step on the path to physical fitness by seeking information. The next step is to decide that you are going to be physically fit or at the very least be healthy. This book is designed to help you reach that decision and your goal.

The decision to carry out a physical fitness and nutrition program cannot be taken lightly. Exercise must become one of those things that you do without question, like bathing and brushing your teeth. Unless you are convinced of the benefits of fitness and the risks of unfitness, you will not succeed. Patience is essential. Don't try to do too much too soon and don't quit before you have a chance to experience the rewards of improved health and fitness. You can't regain in a few days or weeks what you have lost in years of sedentary living, but you can get it back if you persevere. The prize is worth the price.

In the following pages you will find the basic information you need to begin and maintain a personal fitness and nutritional program. These guidelines are intended for the average healthy adult. It helps you decide what your goals should be and how often, how long and how hard you must exercise to achieve them. It also includes information that will make your workouts easier, safer and more satisfying. The rest is up to you.

Checking your health
If you're under 35 and in good health, you probably don't need to see a doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you are over 35 and have been inactive for several years, you should consult your physician, who may or may not recommend a graded exercise test. Other conditions that indicate a need for medical clearance are: High blood pressure. Heart trouble. Family history of early stroke or heart attack deaths. Frequent dizzy spells. Extreme breathlessness after mild exertion. Arthritis or other bone problems. Severe muscular, ligament or tendon problems. Other known or suspected disease. Vigorous exercise involves minimal health risks for persons in good health or those following a doctor's advice. Far greater risks are present by habitual inactivity and obesity.

Controlling your weight
The key to weight control is keeping energy intake (food) and energy output (physical activity) in balance. When you consume only as many calories as your body needs, your weight will usually remain constant. If you take in more calories than your body needs, you will put on excess fat. If you expend more energy than you take in you will burn excess fat. It’s a little more complicated than just that, but that’s the basic principal.

Exercise plays an important role in weight control by increasing energy output, calling on stored calories for extra fuel. Recent studies show that not only does exercise increase metabolism during a workout, but it causes your metabolism to stay increased for a period of time after exercising, possibly up to four hours, allowing you to burn more calories.

How much exercise is needed to make a difference in your weight (read fat) depends on the amount and type of activity and on the amount and type of food you eat. Anaerobic exercise tends to burn body fat. A medium-sized adult would have to walk more than 30 miles to burn up 3,500 calories, the equivalent of one pound of fat. Although that may seem like a lot, you don't have to walk the 30 miles all at once. Walking a mile a day for 30 days will achieve the same result, providing you don't increase your food intake to negate the effects of walking. If you consume 100 calories a day more than your body needs, you will gain approximately 10 pounds in year. You could take that weight off, or keep it off, by doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. The combination of exercise and diet offers the most flexible and effective approach to weight control.

Since muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue, and exercise develops muscle to a certain degree, your bathroom scale won't necessarily tell you whether or not you are "fat.” Well muscled individuals, with relatively little body fat, invariably are "overweight" according to standard weight charts. If you are doing a regular program of strength training, your muscles will increase in weight, and possibly your overall weight will increase. Body composition is a better indicator of your condition than body weight.

Check back soon for the next installment in the Plan For Success Series.

#3 in the Plan For Success series

The Basics of Healty Living

“Remember, I am offering you the truth, nothing more.”

Monitor and Control
Health care in the U.S. soon will not be reliable when you need it most. So what can you do to not need it? The answer is Monitor and Control! Nearly every physical condition can be controlled, alleviated, reversed, or prevented through eating habits and exercise alone. According to functional medicine practitioners, you can control 80% of all disease by regulating your adrenaline, cortisol and insulin, which means in daily life you must lower your stress levels and manage your sugar.

Insulin, which comes from your pancreas, is the hormone you have greatest control over and is the master hormone to control if you want all your other hormones to stay balanced. You control insulin by regulating what you eat. If you feel you have lost control of your body shape, ask yourself this question: "Have I ever eaten anything by ?" Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, remember that your body fat is telling you something. It is giving you a sneak preview of the health of your hormonal system.

Most people take better care of their vehicles than they do their own body. When was the last time you had a physical or check up? This year? Last year? The year before? When was the last time you had your car in for work? If you follow your oil change recommendations you have your vehicle checked out about four times a year. But you only check your own personal health, once a year, once every two years, or more? Does that make sense? Most every insurance policy covers at least one yearly physical. In fact they encourage you to do so. They want any potential conditions caught early and rectified to avoid costly treatments. This should also be your goal. Monitor and Control. I know it’s scary to go for a checkup. What if they find something? However, you shouldn’t be afraid of what they’ll find, you should be afraid of not finding it in time. Of the 2.2 million people that die each year in the US, cardiovascular diseases account for the most victims, more than 48% of all s! Moral of the story: get a physical/checkup once a year, every year.

So what exactly does it mean to be “healthy”? What is it that the doctor “checks up” during a physical? And what exactly should you be monitoring and controlling? Let’s discuss that.

I'm going to go over each of the most common tests. I'll include why it's performed, what it tells you, and what the typical ranges are for normal humans. That way, you'll have something more to go on in assessing your health other than your family doctor saying, "Well, these few values are a little worrisome, but you'll probably be okay."

One note, though, before I get started. The values I'll be listing are merely averages and the ranges may vary slightly from laboratory to laboratory. Also, if there's only one range given, it applies to both men and women.

Lipid Panel — Used to determine possible risk for coronary and vascular disease. In other words, heart disease.

HDL/LDL and Total Cholesterol
These lipoproteins should look rather familiar to most of you. HDL is simply the "good" lipoprotein that acts as a scavenger molecule and prevents a buildup of material. LDL is the "bad" lipoprotein which collects in arterial walls and causes blockage or a reduction in flow. The total cholesterol to HDL ratio is also important.

Your HDL should be 35 or higher; LDL below 130; and total to HDL ratio should be below 3.5. Oh and don't forget VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) which can be extremely worrisome. You should have less than 30 mg/dl in order to not be considered at risk for heart disease.
On a side note, I'm sure some of you are wishing that you had abnormally low plasma cholesterol levels (as if it's something to brag about), but the fact is that having extremely low cholesterol levels is actually indicative of severe liver disease.

Triglycerides are simply a form of fat that exists in the stream. They're transported by two other culprits, VLDL and LDL. A high level of triglycerides is a risk factor for heart disease as well. Triglycerides levels can be increased if food or alcohol is consumed 12 to 24 hours prior to the draw and this is the reason why you're asked to fast for 12-14 hours from food and abstain from alcohol for 24 hours. Here are the normal ranges for healthy humans.

16-19 yr. old male
40-163 mg/dl
Adult Male
40-160 mg/dl
16-19 yr. old female
40-128 mg/dl
Adult Female
35-135 mg/dl

Unfortunately, the doctor doesn’t always order this test. They should. Homocysteine is formed in the metabolism of the dietary amino acid methionine. The problem is that it's a strong risk factor for atherosclerosis. In other words, high levels may cause you to have a heart attack. Luckily, taking folic acid (about 400-800 mcg.) as well as taking a good amount of all B vitamins in general will go a long way in terms of preventing a rise in levels of homocysteine.
Normal ranges:

Males and Females age 0-30
4.6-8.1 umol/L
Males age 30-59
6.3-11.2 umol/L
Females age 30-59
4.5-7.9 umol/L
>59 years of age
5.8-11.9 umol/L

The Hemo Profile
These are various tests that examine a number of components of your and look for any abnormalities that could be indicative of serious diseases that may result in you being an extra in the HBO show, "Six Feet Under."

WBC Total (White Cell)
Also referred to as leukocytes, a fluctuation in the number of these types of cells can be an indicator of things like infections and disease states dealing with immunity, cancer, stress, etc.
Normal ranges:

This is one type of white cell that's in circulation for only a very short time. Essentially their job is phagocytosis, which is the process of and digesting bacteria that cause infection. Both severe trauma and bacterial infections, as well as inflammatory or metabolic disorders and even stress, can cause an increase in the number of these cells. Having a low number of neutrophils can be indicative of a viral infection, a bacterial infection, or a rotten diet.
Normal ranges:
2,500-8,000 cells per mm3

RBC (Red Cell)
These cells are also called erythrocytes and their primary function is to carry oxygen (via the hemoglobin contained in each RBC) to various tissues as well as giving our that cool "red" color. Unlike WBC, RBC survive in peripheral circulation for approximately 120 days. A decrease in the number of these cells can result in anemia which could stem from dietary insufficiencies. An increase in number can occur when androgens are used. This is because androgens increase EPO (erythropoietin) production which in turn increases RBC count and thus elevates volume. The danger in this could be an increase in pressure or a stroke.
Normal ranges:

Adult Male
4,700,000-6,100,000 cells/uL
Adult Female
4,200,000-5,400,000 cells/uL

Hemoglobin is what serves as a carrier for both oxygen and carbon dioxide transportation. Molecules of this are found within each red cell. An increase in hemoglobin can be an indicator of congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, sever burns, or dehydration. Being at high altitudes can cause an increase as well. A decrease in number can be a sign of anemia, lymphoma, kidney disease, sever hemorrhage, cancer, sickle cell anemia, etc.
Normal ranges:

Males and females 6-18 years
10-15.5 g/dl
Adult Males
14-18 g/dl
Adult Females
12-16 g/dl

The hematocrit is used to measure the percentage of the total volume that's made up of red cells. An increase in percentage may be indicative of congenital heart disease, dehydration, diarrhea, burns, etc. A decrease in levels may be indicative of anemia, hyperthyroidism, cirrhosis, hemorrhage, leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, malnutrition, a sucking knife wound to the chest, etc.
Normal ranges:

Male and Females age 6-18 years
Adult Men
Adult Women

MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume)
This is one of three red cell indices used to check for abnormalities. The MCV is the size or volume of the average red cell. A decrease in MCV would then indicate that the RBC's are abnormally large (or macrocytic), and this may be an indicator of iron deficiency anemia or thalassemia. When an increase is noted, that would indicate abnormally small RBC (microcytic), and this may be indicative of a vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency as well as liver disease.
Normal ranges:

12-18 year olds
78-100 fL
Adult Male
80-100 fL
Adult Female
79-98 fL

MCH (Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin)
The MCH is the weight of hemoglobin present in the average red cell. This is yet another way to assess whether some sort of anemia or deficiency is present.
Normal ranges:

12-18 year old
35-45 pg
Adult Male
26-34 pg
Adult Female
26-34 pg

MCHC (Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration)
The MCHC is the measurement of the amount of hemoglobin present in the average red cell as compared to its size. A decrease in number is an indicator of iron deficiency, thalassemia, lead poisoning, etc. An increase is sometimes seen after androgen use.
Normal ranges:

12-18 year old
31-37 g/dl
Adult Male
31-37 g/dl
Adult Female
30-36 g/dl

RDW (Red Cell Distribution Width)
The RDW is an indicator of the variation in red cell size. It's used in order to help classify certain types of anemia, and to see if some of the red cells need their suits tailored. An increase in RDW can be indicative of iron deficiency anemia, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anemia, and diseases like sickle cell anemia.
Normal ranges:

Adult Male
Adult Female

Platelets or thrombocytes are essential for your body's ability to form clots and thus stop bleeding. They're measured in order to assess the likelihood of certain disorders or diseases. An increase can be indicative of a malignant disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, iron deficiency anemia, etc. A decrease can be indicative of much more, including things like infection, various types of anemia, leukemia, etc. On a side note for these ranges, anything above 1 million/mm3 would be considered a critical value and should warrant concern.
Normal ranges:

(Most commonly displayed in SI units of 150-400 x 10(9th)/L
(Most commonly displayed in SI units of 150-400 x 10(9th)/L

ABS (Differential Count)
The differential count measures the percentage of each type of leukocyte or white cell present in the same specimen. Using this, they can determine whether there's a bacterial or parasitic infection, as well as immune reactions, etc.


As explained previously, severe trauma and bacterial infections, as well as inflammatory disorders, metabolic disorders, and even stress can cause an increase in the number of these cells. Also, on the other side of the spectrum, a low number of these cells can indicate a viral infection, a bacterial infection, or a deficient diet.
Percentile Range:

These cells, and in particular, eosinophils, are present in the event of an allergic reaction as well as when a parasite is present. These types of cells don't increase in response to viral or bacterial infections so if an increased count is noted, it can be deduced that either an allergic response has occurred or a parasite has taken up residence.
Percentile Range:


Lymphocytes and Monocytes
Lymphocytes can be divided in to two different types of cells: T cells and B cells. T cells are involved in immune reactions and B cells are involved in antibody production. The main job of lymphocytes in general is to fight off bacterial and viral infections.
Monocytes are similar to neutrophils but are produced more rapidly and stay in the system for a longer period of time.
Percentile Range:


Selected Clinical Values
This cation (an ion with a positive charge) is mainly found in extracellular spaces and is responsible for maintaining a balance of water in the body. When sodium in the rises, the kidneys will conserve water and when the sodium concentration is low, the kidneys conserve sodium and excrete water. Increased levels can result from excessive dietary intake, Cushing's syndrome, excessive sweating, burns, or getting to drink for a week. Decreased levels can result from a deficient diet, Addison's disease, diarrhea, vomiting, chronic renal insufficiency, excessive water intake, or congestive heart failure.
Normal range:
136-145 mEq/L

On the other side of the spectrum, you have the most important intracellular cation. Increased levels can be an indicator of excessive dietary intake, acute renal failure, aldosterone-inhibiting diuretics, a crushing injury to tissues, infection, acidosis, dehydration, etc. Decreased levels can be indicative of a deficient dietary intake, burns, diarrhea or vomiting, diuretics, Cushing's syndrome, licorice consumption, insulin use, cystic fibrosis, trauma, surgery, etc.
Normal range:
3.5-5 mEq/L


This is the major extracellular anion (an ion carrying a negative charge). Its purpose is to maintain electrical neutrality with sodium. It also serves as a buffer in order to maintain the pH balance of the . Chloride typically accompanies sodium and thus the causes for change are essentially the same.
Normal range:
98-106 mEq/L

Carbon Dioxide
The CO2 content is used to evaluate the pH of the as well as aid in evaluation of electrolyte levels. Increased levels can be indicative of severe diarrhea, starvation, vomiting, emphysema, metabolic alkalosis, etc. Increased levels could also mean that you're a plant. Decreased levels can be indicative of kidney failure, metabolic acidosis, shock, and starvation.
Normal range:
23-30 mEq/L

The amount of glucose in the after a prolonged period of fasting (12-14 hours) is used to determine whether a person is in a hypoglycemic (low glucose) or hyperglycemic (high glucose) state. Both can be indicators of serious conditions. Increased levels can be indicative of diabetes mellitus, acute stress, Cushing's syndrome, chronic renal failure, corticosteroid therapy, acromegaly, etc. Decreased levels could be indicative of hypothyroidism, insulinoma, liver disease, insulin overdose, and starvation.
Normal range:

Adult Male
65-120 mg/dl
Adult Female
65-120 mg/dl

BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen)
This test measures the amount of urea nitrogen that's present in the . When protein is metabolized, the end product is urea which is formed in the liver and excreted from the stream via the kidneys. This is why BUN is a good indicator of both liver and kidney function. Increased levels can stem from shock, burns, dehydration, congestive hear failure, myocardial infarction, excessive protein ingestion, excessive protein catabolism, starvation, sepsis, renal disease, renal failure, etc. Causes of a decrease in levels can be liver failure, overhydration, negative nitrogen balance via malnutrition, pregnancy, etc.
Normal range:
10-20 mg/dl

Creatinine is a byproduct of creatine phosphate, the chemical used in contraction of skeletal muscle. So, the more muscle mass you have, the higher the creatine levels and therefore the higher the levels of creatinine. Also, when you ingest large amounts of beef or other meats that have high levels of creatine in them, you can increase creatinine levels as well. Since creatinine levels are used to measure the functioning of the kidneys, this easily explains why creatine has been accused of causing kidney damage, since it naturally results in an increase in creatinine levels.

However, we need to remember that these tests are only indicators of functioning and thus outside and supplements can influence them and give false results, as creatine may do. This is why creatine, while increasing creatinine levels, does not cause renal damage or impair function. Generally speaking, though, increased levels are indicative of urinary tract obstruction, acute tubular necrosis, reduced renal flow (stemming from shock, dehydration, congestive heart failure, and atherosclerosis), as well as acromegaly. Decreased levels can be indicative of debilitation, and decreased muscle mass via disease or some other cause.
Normal range:

Adult Male
0.6-1.2 mg/dl
Adult Female
0.5-1.1 mg/dl

BUN/Creatinine Ratio
A high ratio may be found in states of shock, volume depletion, hypotension, dehydration, gastrointestinal bleeding, and in some cases, a catabolic state. A low ratio can be indicative of a low protein diet, malnutrition, pregnancy, severe liver disease, ketosis, etc. An important thing to note again is that with a high protein diet, you'll likely have a higher ratio and this is nothing to worry about.
Normal range:

Calcium is measured in order to assess the function of the parathyroid and calcium metabolism. Increased levels can stem from hyperparathyroidism, metastatic tumor to the bone, prolonged immobilization, lymphoma, hyperthyroidism, acromegaly, etc. Decreased levels can stem from renal failure, rickets, vitamin D deficiency, malabsorption, pancreatitis, and alkalosis.
Normal range:
9-10.5 mg/dl

Liver Function
Total Protein

This measures the total level of albumin and globulin in the body. Albumin is synthesized by the liver and as such is used as an indicator of liver function. It functions to transport hormones, enzymes, and other constituents of the .
Globulins are the building blocks of your body's antibodies. Measuring the levels of these two proteins is also an indicator of nutritional status. Increased albumin levels can result from dehydration, while decreased albumin levels can result from malnutrition, pregnancy, liver disease, overhydration, inflammatory diseases, etc. Increased globulin levels can result from inflammatory diseases, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), iron deficiency anemia, as well as infections. Decreased globulin levels can result from hyperthyroidism, liver dysfunction, malnutrition, and immune deficiencies or disorders.
Normal range:

Total Protein: 6.4-8.3 g/dl
Albumin: 3.5-5 g/dl
Globulin: 2.3-3.4 g/dl
Albumin/Globulin Ratio:

Bilirubin is one of the many constituents of bile, which is formed in the liver. An increase in levels of bilirubin can be indicative of liver stress or damage/inflammation. that may increase bilirubin include oral anabolic steroids (17-AA), antibiotics, diuretics, morphine, codeine, contraceptives, etc. that may decrease levels are barbiturates and caffeine. Non-drug induced increased levels can be indicative of gallstones, extensive liver metastasis, and cholestasis from certain , hepatitis, sepsis, sickle cell anemia, cirrhosis, etc.
Normal range:
Total Bilirubin for
0.3-1.0 mg/dl

Alkaline Phosphatase
This enzyme is found in very high concentrations in the liver and for this reason is used as an indicator of liver stress or damage. Increased levels can stem from cirrhosis, liver tumor, pregnancy, healing fracture, normal bones of growing children, and rheumatoid arthritis. Decreased levels can stem from hypothyroidism, malnutrition, pernicious anemia, scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) and excess vitamin B ingestion. As a side note, antibiotics can cause an increase in the enzyme levels.
Normal range:

16-21 years
30-200 U/L
30-120 U/L

AST (Aspartate Aminotransferase, previously known as SGOT)
This is yet another enzyme that's used to determine if there's damage or stress to the liver. It may also be used to see if heart disease is a possibility as well, but this isn't as accurate. When the liver is damaged or inflamed, AST levels can rise to a very high level (20 times the normal value). This happens because AST is released when the cells of that particular organ (liver) are lysed. The AST then enters circulation and an elevation can be seen. Increased levels can be indicative of heart disease, liver disease, skeletal muscle disease or injuries, as well as heat stroke. Decreased levels can be indicative of acute kidney disease, beriberi, diabetic ketoacidosis, pregnancy, and renal dialysis.
Normal range:
0-35 U/L (Females may have slightly lower levels)

ALT (Alanine Aminotransferase, previously known as SGPT)
This is yet another enzyme that is found in high levels within the liver. Injury or disease of the liver will result in an increase in levels of ALT. I should note however, that because lesser quantities are found in skeletal muscle, there could be a weight-training induced increase . Weight training causes damage to muscle tissue and thus could slightly elevate these levels, giving a false indicator for liver disease. Still, for the most part, it's a rather accurate diagnostic tool. Increased levels can be indicative of hepatitis, hepatic necrosis, cirrhosis, cholestasis, hepatic tumor, hepatotoxic , and jaundice, as well as severe burns, trauma to striated muscle (via weight training), myocardial infarction, mononucleosis, and shock.
Normal range:
4-36 U/L

Endocrine Function
Testosterone (Free and Total)

Just as some background info, about 95% of the circulating Testosterone in a man's body is formed by the Leydig cells, which are found in the testicles. Women also have a small amount of Testosterone in their body. (Some more than others, which accounts for the bearded ladies you see at the circus.) This is from a very small amount of Testosterone secreted by the ovaries and the adrenal gland (in which the majority is made from the adrenal conversion of androstenedione to Testosterone via 17-beta HSD).
Normal range, total Testosterone:

Age 14

LH (Luteinizing Hormone)
LH is a glycoprotein that's secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and is responsible for signaling the leydig cells to produce Testosterone. Measuring LH can be very useful in terms of determining whether a hypogonadic state (low Testosterone) is caused by the testicles not being responsive despite high or normal LH levels (primary), or whether it's the pituitary gland not secreting enough LH (secondary). Of course, the hypothalamus — which secretes LH-RH (luteinizing hormone releasing hormone) — could also be the culprit, as well as perhaps both the hypothalamus and the pituitary.
If it's a case of the testicles not being responsive to LH, then things like clomiphene and hCG really won't help. If the problem is secondary, then there's a better chance for improvement with therapy. Increased levels can be indicative of hypogonadism, precocious puberty, and pituitary adenoma. Decreased levels can be indicative of pituitary failure, hypothalamic failure, stress, and malnutrition.
Normal ranges:

Adult Male
1.24-7.8 IU/L

Adult Female
Follicular phase: 1.68-15 IU/L
Ovulatory phase: 21.9-56.6 IU/L
Luteal phase: 0.61-16.3 IU/L
Postmenopausal: 14.2-52.3 IU/L

With this being the most potent of the estrogens, I'm sure you're all aware that it can be responsible for things like water retention, hypertrophy of adipose tissue, gynecomastia, and perhaps even prostate hypertrophy and tumors. As a male it's very important to get your levels of this hormone checked for the above reasons. Also, it's the primary estrogen that's responsible for the negative feedback loop which suppresses endogenous Testosterone production. So, if your levels of estradiol are rather high, you can bet that you'll be hypogonadal as well.
Increased estradiol levels can be indicative of a testicular tumor, adrenal tumor, hepatic cirrhosis, necrosis of the liver, hyperthyroidism, etc.
Normal ranges:

Adult Male
10-50 pg/ml

Adult Female
Follicular phase: 20-350 pg/ml
Midcycle peak: 150-750 pg/ml
Luteal phase: 30-450 pg/ml
Postmenopausal: 20 pg/ml or less

Thyroid (T3, T4 Total and Free, TSH)
T3 (Triiodothyronine)

T3 is the more metabolically active hormone out of T4 and T3. When levels are below normal it's generally safe to assume that the individual is suffering from hypothyroidism. that may increase T3 levels include estrogen and oral contraceptives. that may decrease T3 levels include anabolic steroids/androgens as well as propanolol (a beta adrenergic blocker) and high dosages of salicylates. Increased levels can be indicative of Graves disease, acute thyroiditis, pregnancy, hepatitis, etc. Decreased levels can be indicative of hypothyroidism, protein malnutrition, kidney failure, Cushing's syndrome, cirrhosis, and liver diseases.
Normal ranges:

16-20 years old
80-210 ng/dl
20-50 years
75-220 ng/dl or 1.2-3.4 nmol/L
Over 50
40-180 ng/dl or 0.6-2.8 nmol/L

T4 (Thyroxine)
T4 is just another indicator of whether or not someone is in a hypo or hyperthyroid state. It too is rather reliable but free thyroxine levels should be assessed as well. that increase or decrease T3 will, in most cases, do the same with T4. Increased levels are indicative of the same things as T3 and a decrease can be indicative of protein depleted states, iodine insufficiency, kidney failure, Cushing's syndrome, and cirrhosis.
Normal ranges:

Adult Male
4-12 ug/dl or 51-154 nmol/L
Adult Female
5-12 ug/dl or 64-154 nmol/L

Free T4 or Thyroxine
Since only 1-5% of the total amount of T4 is actually free and useable, this test is a far better indicator of the thyroid status of the patient. An increase indicates a hyperthyroid state and a decrease indicates a hypothyroid state. that increase free T4 are heparin, aspirin, danazol, and propanolol. that decrease it are furosemide, methadone, and rifampicin. Increased and decreased levels are indicative of the same possible diseases and states that are seen with T4 and T3.
Normal ranges:
0.8-2.8 ng/dl or 10-36 pmol/L

TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
Measuring the level of TSH can be very helpful in terms of determining if the problem resides with the thyroid itself or the pituitary gland. If TSH levels are high, then it's merely the thyroid gland not responding for some reason but if TSH levels are low, it's the hypothalamus or pituitary gland that has something wrong with it. The problem could be a tumor, some type of trauma, or an infarction.
Drugs that can increase levels of TSH include lithium, potassium iodide and TSH itself. that may decrease TSH are aspirin, heparin, dopamine, T3, etc. Increased TSH is indicative of thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, and congenital cretinism. Decreased levels are indicative of hypothyroidism (pituitary dysfunction), hyperthyroidism, and pituitary hypofunction.
Normal ranges:
2-10 uU/ml or 2-10 mU/L

Hopefully this will help to shed some light on the questions you have, or may have in the future, in regards to your health profile. Now perhaps you can truly rest assured after viewing things yourself. Knowing how to interpret these tests can be a very valuable tool in terms of health and your body composition progress. Use your new knowledge wisely!

Now you understand what to look for from your health and how that impacts your body and your life, but how do you control these factors? Eating Habits and Exercise! Eating habits have a huge impact on your body and your health and it‘s a multi-faceted approach. Again here the key is Monitor and Control.

Changing The Rules
What kind of body do you really want?
Think about it for a second. Ask yourself, “What kind of body do I really want?”
Women often say something like, “Oh, I just want a nice, toned body. Not too big, but firm.” Toned and firm? Okay, sounds good to me. Men usually say something like, “I want to be big, muscular, and lean.” Well, I’m with ya. That’s a noble goal.

You know what you want to look like. You can picture it in your mind. You know exactly what kind of body you want. Now brace yourself and ask yourself honestly, “Why don’t I already have the body I want?” “Why don’t I look the way I want to look, right now?” “What’s holding me back?” Well, let’s consider the possibilities . . .

Is it a lack of motivation?
Maybe. In my experience, however, people who actively seek out solutions to their problems have motivation enough. You don’t need to move mountains to get in the best shape of your life; you just need to get started, and everyone can do that. If you can start, you can finish, as long as you do the right things! You see, once you’ve started to change your body, you don’t need motivational slogans and pep talks. What you need are results! Results are the true motivation. When you’re doing something that works, you just look in the mirror and say, “Damn, I look good, this stuff really works.” It’s positive reinforcement of what you’ve been doing, and you keep doing it. So the problem isn’t inspiration. It’s something else.

Poor exercise habits?

Sometimes, especially if you’re completely sedentary. If your daily activity involves nothing more than moving from one piece of furniture to another, you’re simply not going to get that body. Looking good requires exercise and probably more than you’re told is necessary.
30 minutes three times a week? I don’t think so. I know lots of people who are already exercising with highly skilled trainers and coaches, and even then, the results don’t come easy. So what else could it be? What is it really?

Bad genetics?
Look, this is a definite NO. A complete cop-out. You know what bad genetics are? Being born without legs. A propensity to gain fat around your midsection is NOT bad genetics. Sure, each of us has certain genetic limitations; for instance, you may not be equipped to play quarterback for the Patriots, play center for the Celtics or win the Boston Marathon. In other words, you may not have the genetic makeup to reach the upper limits of human performance. But you can always lose fat or gain muscle. In years of working out with people of all stripes, from office managers to elite athletes, I’ve yet to see a single case where they couldn’t make significant body composition change, and that’s what you really want, isn’t it? So if you’ve been using the old “bad genetics” routine, stop shaking your fist at the heavens, and look a little closer at the real problem.

So what is the real problem?
Ask yourself again: “Why don’t I have the body I want?” What’s really holding you back. Look, it’s not your lack of inspirational posters. It’s not the set/rep scheme you use in the gym, and it’s definitely not your genetics. Make no mistake about it, your limiting factor nearly always resides in the 160+ hours per week that you spend outside of gym. And what do you think is the most important factor in those 160+ hours? What, in that time, has the greatest impact on your body composition, health and performance?
Answer: Nutrition. Whether you want to gain muscle, lose fat, or just live healthy, the limiting factor is almost always nutrition.

Poor nutrition is what holds you back.
And good nutrition is what will move you forward. Good nutrition is what will feed muscle and shed fat. It’s what will improve nearly every health marker you can measure. It’s what will drastically improve recovery and mood, so you can work harder, longer. Good nutrition is what will get you the body you never thought you could have. Change your nutrition, and you’ll change your body entirely. Change your nutrition, and you’ll quite literally change your life.

Just look at people who have made major changes to their body. And I mean major changes, the type of changes that make people take notice when you enter the room. The common denominator is that they all completely changed their nutrition.“Well, great,” you say, “I understand the importance of nutrition to my body, and I do want to change. The question is how!”

But I think my nutrition is already pretty good – do I still need this?
Well, first of all, how do you know your nutrition plan is good? Because you “try to eat healthy?” Because you think your diet is low-carb, or high-carb, or low-fat or high-fat, or low-protein or high-protein or high in fiber? Because it looks good on paper? Or because it meets some other criteria for "pretty good nutrition"? Let me lay this out in the clearest, most concise way I know how . . .
If you don’t already have the body you want, then your nutrition plan is not good enough.

Listen, the only one way to determine whether your nutrition plan is any good is to look at your results. That’s the plain truth. I don’t care if your plan meets so-and-so’s guidelines, or is “low-carb” or contains enough vitamin C or whatever the latest B.S. indicator of good nutrition is in the popular press. There is only one rule: what works is good; what doesn’t is not. That’s the only rule to live by.

My approach is entirely outcome-based. It’s about getting results and nothing else. So if you want to know whether it’s right for you, then just ask yourself this question:
"Do I have the body I really, truly want?" Answer it honestly. Don’t worry, no one is listening.

If the answer is yes, then great. But if you answered no, “in all honesty, I don’t yet have the body I really want,” then I can say without the slightest hesitation that this plan is exactly what you need. Optimizing your nutrition plan is the true secret to transforming your body, and I’ll show you exactly how to do it.

Simple Strategies Remarkable Results
People think that radical changes to their exercise and nutrition habits are extremely difficult to make. And you know what? They’re right. Radical changes ARE extremely difficult to make. But who said you need radical changes to get great results? Here’s the reality: the changes that get remarkable results are SIMPLE. The hard part is figuring out what they are. We need to establish a system of specific, simple steps that will allow the results we want.

Most diets and nutrition plans fail to get the results they claim. It’s that simple. They survive only as novelty items, as fads or gimmicks that help them stand out on an overcrowded bookshelf. If you want to succeed, you have to learn how to filter out the nonsense. You have to avoid the pitfalls that lead to failure, and focus your energy only on what works! Well, the reality is that some plans do work. Some do get the results. And guess what? The successful plans are surprisingly similar, as different as they claim to be. The key, then, is not to worry about what’s different between the successful plans, but rather to discover what is the same. Those similarities are the key to your success.

What are the rules of good nutrition? What types of things must you absolutely do to succeed. What types of things must you avoid? Seriously, take a moment and think about it. What rules do you think you’ll need to follow if you want to eat in a healthy way. A way that will improve the way your body looks and the way it feels? Pause for a moment and come up with that list in your mind right now.

Now that you’ve considered these rules, I want you to take a second and think about your list. Specifically, think about where you learned these rules. Certainly your rules have been influenced by how you were raised, no? Certainly they’ve been influenced by your experiences dining with friends and relatives. Comfort foods, right? Of course, no set of nutrition rules is immune to media influences. You can’t help but be arded by those Got Milk ads! Your rules have probably also been influenced by what you’ve heard others say. Heck, every 3rd episode of Dr. Phil is about food and dieting. And, no doubt, your nutrition rules have probably been influenced by your own past attempts at changing your body, whether you’ve been successful or not. I could sit here all day and list potential nutritional influences. But I’ll stop here since there are probably hundreds of ‘em and to enumerate them all would be gratuitous.

At this junction, I’d like to go ahead and make my point. And the point is this: very few of your “Good Nutrition Rules” have been influenced by those who know anything about good nutrition, let alone about long-term success or about what it really means to eat in a healthy way! And worse yet, most of those rules have been hammered home without you even knowing it! It’s time to change the rules.

Now I’ll admit it. Changing the rules, just like changing your habits, is difficult. Not only does it take a desire to change, “want to,” but it takes a strategy for change, “how to.” The “want to” is all your own. But the “how to” is what I’m here for. I’ve committed myself to helping people do just this, to change their rules and change their habits.

In changing these rules and habits, everything changes; the way you’ll eat, the way you’ll sleep, they way you’ll look, the way you’ll feel when you wake up in the morning, and the way you’ll perform in day-to-day activities.

I’m going to teach you a system; a system based on three criterion. What are the criterion for? Well, they represent a three step way of evaluating a strategy for its usefulness.
Step 1 – Simplicity Are the rules easy to follow?
Step 2 – Science Are the rules based on sound scientific principles?
Step 3 – Success Have the rules produced success in the past?
Using this criterion, the systems developed will always produce a positive result.

Think again about your nutritional rules, rules that you might be quite attached to. Which criterion did you use when determining your rules? Are your rules based on Simplicity, Science, and Success? Have your rules produced the desired effect? A lean, healthy body that you’re able to maintain; a body that you’re happy with when looking in the mirror? If not, perhaps they could use a re-evaluation.

Now that we agree that your nutrition habits are ineffectual, lets identify some of those possible habits and discuss why they are poor behaviors to embellish.

Dietary Displacement
I’ve got this friend who seems to love going out for coffee with members of the opposite . Wait; let me clarify. He loves going out for coffee with exceptionally good-looking members of the opposite . Almost every time I call this guy during afternoon hours, he’s on one of these coffee dates with one of his little hottie "coffee friends." My buddy assures me these "coffee dates" are components critical to his style of dating, and his success. Intrigued, I decided to give the coffee date a try.

The Origin of Obesity?
So there I am, sitting in my favorite coffee shop across from my "coffee friend." Things are off to a good start. We’re laughing, she’s playing with her hair, and she’s reaching across the table touching my arm when I make a particularly witty comment. Note to self: "I’m in there!"

I order a green tea, a pitcher of water, and two chicken breast sandwiches (no bread, no mayonnaise, double the vegetables, please). Because it’s my "free" or "cheat" day, I pre-order dessert. A slice of warm apple pie. With mouth agape and that "where do you put it all?" look on her face, my coffee friend orders a chocolate brownie and a double latté. Then it happens: she starts asking nutrition questions.

Internally, I groan. Only fifteen minutes into the meeting and we’re talking about the subject I usually like to steer clear of with new people. It’s better to slowly wean them onto my nutrition ideas than to launch right into it during the first meeting.

Damn my buddy and his "coffee dates"! But then, during the ensuing conversation, which wasn’t as bad as I'd initially predicted, something else happened. In talking nutrition with my coffee friend, I realized that during this meal I was getting a very clear insight into the very "obesification" of North America.

Now, this is definitely not obese. She’s young, thin, and a real hottie. But in ten or twenty years, she will be obese if she continues to regularly dine on rich chocolate brownies and frappaccinos for lunch, bagels and coffee for breakfast (her admitted breakfast of choice), soda throughout the day, and leftover casserole for dinner.

Of course, obesity isn’t imminent in her case. She’s a young, intelligent, and reasonably disciplined woman and she’ll probably be able to restrain her eating habits enough to stave off full-blown obesity. But the fact is, simply moderating ones portions isn't enough to achieve optimal body composition and health.

The "All-Treat" Diet
At this point some of you might be thinking, "Hold on just a minute, didn’t you order the apple pie? Why are you berating her when you’re just as guilty of ordering junk as she is?" Sorry, that sort of thinking is flawed.

There's a big difference between a healthy diet to which treats are occasionally added and an all-treat diet. In the former, less healthy foods are consumed rarely and in addition to healthy foods. In the latter, less healthy or unhealthy foods are consumed often and instead of healthy foods. This is called food displacement and must be avoided if optimal body composition and health are your goals.

Sure, I did indulge in a slice of sugar-laden junk food, this being one of the two "treats" I ate that week. But looking only at the junk food that we ate presents a woefully incomplete part of the picture. The presence of bad food in both of our diets is much less important than the absence of good food in hers.

To elaborate: I ate a small amount of junk food in addition to my antioxidant rich, protein filled, nutrient dense meal, which was just one of seven such meals I ate that day. And that was one of seven such days that week! She ate some junk. Period.

She started her day with junk, ate a lunch of junk, and filled the rest of the day with junk as well. I got all the antioxidants, micronutrients, and protein I needed, while she spent the entire day eating the nutritional equivalent of a cardboard box.

Based on our activity levels and basal metabolic needs, we both probably met our energy needs for the day (in terms of total energy ingested vs. total energy expended), but I actually got some nutrition that day. She just got calories, and her calories came from what we call "displacing foods."

You see, the bagel, the brownie and latte, the soda, etc. were consumed instead of good healthy choices. So, in essence, their empty calories displaced the good, nutrient dense food she could've otherwise eaten. She consumed nothing but empty calories, calories more likely to be stored as fat than burned, calories that actually degrade health or do nothing to improve it, calories that'll make her hungry and food-obsessed all day, and calories that'll make her tired just an hour or two after consumption.

I ate 49 healthy meals plus two treats that week. She had all treats. Big difference, huh?

Convenience and Calories
Know anyone else like this ? Chances are you know lots of other individuals like her! In the US alone, there are about 129.6 million overweight individuals and probably many more well on their way, just like my coffee friend.

These stats beg the question; how did otherwise intelligent people get to be so bad, exchanging good nutrition for empty calories? While an explanation is probably multifactorial, there are a few simple answers that pop into my mind.

First, I think that North Americans strive daily for nutritional convenience. Sure, when the typical person goes out for a nice dinner at a restaurant, he or she usually gets a decent meal. But, unlike many Europeans, North Americans select everyday meals for speed and convenience.

A nice egg and spinach omelet with oats and pineapple on the side takes some time to prepare and eat. On the contrary, a bagel and coffee can be carried into the car and eaten on the way to work. So in our quest for speed and convenience, we get very little in the way of good nutrition. That’s why we’re overfed and undernourished, and that's how people can eat so much yet still have nutrient deficiencies.

Secondly, I think we’ve gotten too calorie conscious. Most people who make poor food selections aren’t stupid. They know if they want to be thin, they can only eat a certain amount of calories per day. If they eat more, they either feel monumentally guilty or, much less often, they head to the gym for marathon cardio sessions designed to exercise those extra calories off.

In trying to walk that thin tight rope of energy balance, they realize if they eat good, healthy food (i.e. marinated chicken breast with a spinach salad and a piece of fruit), they’ll be eating a bunch of calories which simply don’t taste as good as the brownies they’re craving. In this sense, the healthy food will displace the tasty junk they often crave.

So in an attempt to get the tasty brownie calories, they choose instead to displace the good chicken and spinach calories, kicking them out of the diet. In their minds, "a calorie is a calorie" and therefore if they simply eat a brownie instead of the chicken, they’ll stay just as thin. Thin, in our society, is synonymous with healthy. Little do they realize they’re setting themselves up for losses in lean body mass, an ever slowing metabolic rate, micronutrient deficiencies, and all sorts of nutrition related health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and syndrome-x. It’s hard to stay lean when the metabolism is dwindling as a result of insufficient protein intake and a low thermic effect of feeding. The metabolic rate takes another plunge because of deficiencies in essential fatty acids, not to mention decreasing muscle mass.

It’s also pretty difficult to stay lean if you’ve got diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and/or syndrome-x. To support this notion, all we need to realize is that in the last twenty years the incidence of obesity has doubled, yet our average daily energy intake hasn’t increased much at all!

North Americans aren’t getting so darned fat and/or unhealthy simply because of overeating. Often they replace good foods with the super-sized sugars, the trans fats, and the other fast food ingredients. The good foods have the power to negate the effects of these , health-degrading junk foods, but because people become too concerned with energy balance, they simply displace the good stuff.
In fact, if people simply ate a high protein, antioxidant and micronutrient rich diet supplemented with junk food, they’d end up leaner and healthier than those who got the same amount of calories (and often even fewer calories) from empty, displacing foods.

Obesity is epidemic, diabetes is on the rise, and heart disease is our number one killer. Even those who exercise fairly regularly can find themselves struggling with body fat and related health issues. Yet, bizarrely, rather than choosing wholesome foods, we’re often taught portion-control as we live and eat in a world of processed, pre-packaged abominations.

Where does this leave a health conscious person like you? Without good dietary judgment, it could leave you a frustrated, metabolic and hormonal train wreck struggling to get off that body fat in a world polluted by "frankenfoods." Sound familiar? This is most commonly the situation.

Sometimes I wonder what my grandfather would say if he walked into a modern grocery store. Probably something like: "Where’s the FOOD?" He’d see aisle after aisle of brightly colored cans, boxes and bags of tasty, processed, confectionary delights. But he’d be thinking: "Don’t these people eat actual food? Where are the lean cuts of meat, the fruits and the vegetables? That’s what we used to eat."
They’re along the side or in the rear of the store, Grandpa. They’re stuck over there because they’re boring and nobody eats actual food anymore.

Perhaps saddest of all is that those of us who want to stay lean without being hungry all the time are offered "health foods" that are just as false and freaky as the junk foods. Let’s take a look at foods that you may have in your own cupboard. Foods that leave your body wondering how the heck it’s going to deal with them…

Low-fat Peanut Butter
Brilliant. Let’s take the healthy, mostly monounsaturated fat out and mix-in some corn syrup solids. Whether this appeases the leaders of the "fat witch hunt" or not, it just creates a nice fat-plus-sugar combo that we just don’t need. And although Consumer Reports has stated that there is actually little trans-fat in most peanut butters, I still pass on the creamy run-of-the-mill stuff. I like the taste of real mashed-up peanuts in their own oil. It’s bizarre, if you think about it, that we have to pay significantly more for "natural peanut butter." In the name of George Washington Carver! That’s the REAL stuff! In fact, it’s sometimes only offered in stores with a specialty foods section. Ugh.

Here’s another smart move, eh? Industry’s efforts to find an alternative to butter (which admittedly isn’t something that should be over-indulged-in) brought our society to margarine. Trans fatty acids replaced the saturated ones and voila, vascular disease is more common than ever.

When I use margarine, it’s an olive oil-based, trans fat-free type. Or, on occasion, I even use actual butter. Or how about just getting used to life without it? Learn to suck it up, you pampered child of the kindly West! You’re just smearing fat on your carbs by remaining dependent on buttered toast and margarine-fried pancakes. Not good for a dieter. These foods aren’t really that different from donuts; would you eat those regularly?

Listen, margarine, at least in its original form, was basically a mistake. Even if it is a modern-day staple. On holidays, I still find myself smiling at how far society has drifted into our fancy new hydrogenated world when my mom announces "I’m serving this with REAL butter!"

Fat-free hotdogs and bologna
Exactly what is this stuff, anyway? More demonization of fat, as if our ancestors didn’t evolve on the stuff, has resulted in these freaky little processed thingamabobs. They’re typically just as riddled with nitrites as the fatty versions. And nitrites are (arguably) potently carcinogenic.

Admittedly, however, not everyone agrees on the carcinogenic potential of n-nitroso compounds. One study found significant relationships between hotdog consumption and brain cancer in kids, especially those rugrats who didn’t get a multivitamin. Not good. I don’t even want to think about how many hotdogs and bologna sandwiches I ate as a kid. Although an upcoming summer picnic can admittedly leave me buying a pack of low-fat dogs for indulgence ("real" hotdogs and bologna are similarly abominable), this stuff just has no place in usual eating habits.

Fat free ice cream
Hey, I know! Let’s take all the fat out of something that was never meant to be eaten regularly so we can indulge in a little sugar rush/ insulin nightmare every night! Forget the fact that it’s supposed to be a rare treat. Gobbling the stuff as an after dinner desert is even better! At this time our glucose tolerance is so bad, we might as well insert an intravenous drip of Karo syrup. But hey, it’s fat free, right?

Of course, we can take the advice of certain nutrition authorities and self-enforce rigorous portion control, frustrating ourselves on a nightly basis with a mere quarter cup! Why do this to yourself? Time once more to suck it up and lose the crutch.

Historically, Frankenfoods have been myopic mistakes that folks use as a crutch (unwittingly to their own detriment) rather than learning REAL, biologically correct dietary choices. It has yet to dawn on us that our efforts to make something "healthy" that was never meant to be anything but a rare treat backfires more often than not. By trying to fool Mother Nature, we have perennially created abominations that catch up with us in the long run. Why frustrate yourself continually when learning not to crave these foods, which admittedly takes months for most of us, is so much more logical? Then, if you want the REAL stuff on a special occasion, go eat a big bowl without guilt.

Diet Pop
Although perhaps less offensive, this useless Frankenfood is one of the most common. It rots your teeth with its acids, adds in a little extra sodium and caffeine and offers nothing by way of actual nutrients—aside from the fluid itself.

Still (and sadly) it’s a big improvement over the even more tooth-rotting, occasionally sodium and caffeine providing, nutrition-less AND sugary soda pops. Did you know that pop is being called "liquid candy" by researchers? Did you know that Pepsi has a pH of just 2.4? Yikes! Whose teeth wouldn’t demineralize? I personally don’t want to swish around in my mouth and then actually swallow something that would eat a hole through my living room carpet.

Here’s a tip: go drink some freaking water. If you need some flavoring to help increase consumption, find some spring water with a twist of lime or perhaps small amounts of sucralose flavoring.

If you’re a diet pop junkie, try replacing just one diet soft drink daily with water containing a twist of lemon or lime; barely-sweetened green tea is a great choice too. And regarding your teeth, mineral waters are a research-supported "safe alternative to more erosive acidic beverages", not to mention they actually give your body a fluid it recognizes. By sweetening drinks yourself, you can titrate the sweetness downward each month. Over time you’ll actually lose your taste for ultra-sweet Frankenfoods.

Regular Hamburger
I’ve certainly admitted before that I love beef in a big y way. But as a society we’ve taken cattle off their natural diet (grass) and served them up copious quantities of corn. Can you imagine a free-ranging cow up on its hindquarters nibbling the tip of a stalk of corn? Me either. It’s like the furniture commercial says: "that’s just not natural!"

It’s true that the term "corn-fed beef" does sound appetizing to a carnivore like me but "grass-fed beef" is far superior. The fatty acid composition is much better suited for human physiology. Although I am grateful that agriculture successfully maintains much of the world population, I am also grateful that I live in a culture that provides a biologically correct alternative.

That’s right, bread. Don’t let its prevalence fool you. White bread is perhaps more disturbing than the rest of the Frankenfoods put together. Just because you grew up on the stuff doesn’t mean it’s okay. There is actually literature describing Americans’ preference for white bread over healthier types. There’s also literature relating this spongy Frankenfood to obesity. Here’s a scary quote:
"The mean annual change in waist circumference was more than 3 times as great for subjects in the white-bread cluster as for those in the healthy cluster.”

It's been stripped of most of the grain’s benefits and artificially fortified a bit in an effort to resuscitate it. It's so insulinogenic that it’s actually used in glucose tolerance tests (e.g. in labs to spike sugar/ insulin as rapidly as possible). This kind of food doesn’t exactly lend itself to fullness and satisfaction. In fact, did you know that 76% of foods offer more satiety than white bread? This stuff needs to be saved only for post-workout periods, if ever consumed.

And the "wheat" bread you see is usually just white bread dyed brown. It’s like a fat guy with a tan. He’s still a fat guy. Unless it specifically says "whole wheat" in the ingredients list, it’s not. The fiber content and other nutrients are just like white bread. Besides, if you’ve been feeling good about consuming the usual brown stuff instead of white, ask yourself what the white stuff is made of… wheat, duh!

Canned Vegetables

Since so few people eat vegetables at all, it would be remiss to chastise everyone for consuming some canned green beans or corn. Vegetables are a great way to increase fiber intake, reduce calorie load, take-in beneficial phytochemicals, and even lose body fat over time. But if you’re trying to eat more veggies for health reasons, why bother with sodium-loaded, unattractive canned types? Most fresh or frozen vegetables aren’t typically expensive and they're WAY more attractive than those grayish, canned "green" beans you’ve been choking down.

My guess is that you’ve had a hard time complying with recommendations to eat more vegetables; do you think those daily canned, gray, salty "Franken-beans" are helping? Have you ever thought: Oh yeah! Give me a second helping! Conversely, a purposeful attempt to buy a different bag (or three) of fresh or frozen veggies each week can go a long way toward complying with your nutrition plan and reverse your downward spiral into that hormonal-metabolic-physique trainwreck we mentioned earlier. You’ve just got to take a moment and think about preparing them in a quick, visually-appealing way.

Summary Table
• Frankenfood/ Better Choice

• Low-fat PB/ Natural PB, mixed nuts

• Hydrogenated corn oil margarine/ Olive oil margarine, straight olive oil or nothing

• Fat free processed meats/ Fresh chicken breast - perhaps bought un-brined; salmon; 93% lean burger or grass-fed beef; round steak

• Fat free ice cream/ Low-fat or no-added-sugar ice cream, as a treat only

• Diet pop/ Water, tea

• White or "wheat" bread/ 100% whole-wheat (or 100% whole-grain) bread or better still: baked potatoes with skin, oatmeal, oat bran hot cereal, wheat bran cereals (hot or All-Bran type) or other unrefined sources of carbohydrate (vegetables)

• Processed, canned vegetables/ One to three 16-oz. bags of frozen veggies weekly to be entirely consumed within seven days

Listen, eating real food doesn’t have to be excruciating. Blandness and unattractive presentation of wholesome foods is a real (and huge) factor that drives people away. Unfortunately, the ever-convenient, ever-tasty, ever-colorfully-packaged Frankenfoods are beckoning. They aren’t just fun-foods, they masquerade as "healthy choices" that are little more than a crutch for the weak minded. Some people "cave" to the temptation but some resist with a little effort at the grocery store and the stovetop. You have to ask yourself flatly and DAILY: what is my choice?

I often mention that physique success is 90% nutrition and recovery, at least temporally. That is, even with a lengthy two-hour training session (which admittedly is a critical 8-9% of one’s day), one is still left with 22 hours each day outside of the gym. That’s over 90% my friends. Do you want to put in thought and effort only 10% of the time? What kind of health and progress do you expect to achieve living on Frankenfoods, even if you do train well?

Maybe this little tirade was a wake-up call; maybe we all just need to be reminded of some basic, obvious stuff at times. But for those struggling to rid themselves of body fat and improve health, these adjustments away from Frankenfoods would be a measurable help. Don’t make your diet a horror story.

This is the short list, just to open your eyes. Later I’ll go over some specific food choices, what you should be eating everyday and more of what you should avoid. Remember that if you don’t buy it you only have to resist the temptation once. Avoid these foods one time, while in the grocery store, and you are home free. Lets talk about that.

The First Stop on the Road to Muscle
Welcome, my friends, to grocery shopping for health. Grocery shopping?!? That's right; this section is all about grocery shopping. And I'm not kidding either! So what's up with that? I'll tell you what's up with that, you don't know how to shop.

Okay, maybe some of you do. But I'd wager that most of you don't have a clue as to how to navigate the perilous aisles of the grocery store. And I'm willing to bet that at least half of the men out there aren't comfortable at the grocery store either.

I maintain that learning how to navigate the grocery store is critical to your progress if you're trying to lose fat or improve your health. When I say that your trip to the grocery store is the first, and probably the most important stop on your road to success, I mean it.

Interval Shopping
In North America we shop less frequently than our European counterparts. While we shop every 1-2 weeks, they may shop every 1-2 days. Why the difference? One reason is that these norms have become habit, for sure. But the other is that Europeans typically buy items that are closer to their natural state, items that have short shelf lives. Conversely, we North Americans buy a lot of packaged stuff loaded full of preservatives that takes a little (or a lot) longer to expire. So we need to shop with less frequency. Of course, this is to our detriment.
I suggest that you shop once per week or even more frequently, based on your schedule (but never less than once per week). With all the fruits, veggies, and meats you're buying, once per week usually is just about right to ensure nothing goes bad.

Getting in a set pattern of shopping ensures that there are fewer occasions to run out of food. Amazingly, when some start with this program, they forget to shop and even claim that they forget to eat! Obviously, if the fridge is stocked, it's less likely that you'll forget. And if it’s stocked full of the right stuff, it’s less likely you’ll eat the wrong foods.

The Psychology of Shopping

You will always visit the grocery store prepared. You will visit the store with a pre-planned list that'll cover you until the next planned shopping excursion. Below is an example of a one week shopping list. You can use this as a template to start with. Eventually, once you customize your intake, you'll need to make your own lists based on the number of calories you should be eating as well as which foods you're going to incorporate into your plan.

5 large bags fresh spinach
2 large bags fresh carrots
1 pineapple, either fresh or precut
7 apples
7 plums (or oranges, pears, etc.)
4 bananas
7 potatoes/yams
1 bag of quinoa (ancient grains)
1 lemon
1 clove garlic
4 large red bell peppers
1 onion
1 lb walnuts
1 container non-stick cooking spray
1 box high fiber cereal
1 jar of pesto
1 box green tea
1 container apple cider vinegar
1 bottle flax oil
1 bottle extra virgin olive oil
5 lbs extra lean beef
3 packages of chicken or turkey sausage
5 containers egg whites
1 dozen omega 3 eggs
1/2 lb sliced cheese
2 large containers plain yogurt
1 bottle salmon oil/fish oil capsules

High Intensity Shopping
Once you've got a grocery list goin' on you'll be able to breeze in and out of the grocery store in a mere 15-20min; you'll know exactly what you need and exactly where it's located.

Sure, from time to time, you can feel free to browse the aisles for new healthy offerings and interesting food variety. But most of the time, you're not going to want to waste time walking up and down the aisles being tempted by the newest BBQ sauce or frozen entrée. Make your shopping a high intensity affair and you're in and out of the store in a flash.

Disease AislesIf you knew someone had the clap, would you mess around with them? Probably not? Heck, you probably would just steer clear of them for fear of catching somethin' through simple proximity.

Well why not treat the grocery store the same way. Since many of the aisles contain foods that'll surely "infect" you with diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc. why not just steer clear of them? To this end, I encourage you to avoid all the aisles that contain foods not conducive to your goals.

Much of the best food is found around the perimeter of the grocery store. Around the perimeter you'll find the produce section (fruits, vegetables, potatoes, nuts, etc), the meat section (chicken, lean beef, fish, etc), the bakery section (choose the fresh whole grain breads and not the desserts, please), and the dairy aisle (cottage cheese, plain yogurt, eggs, etc). Sure, the middle aisles might have to be visited from time to time for things like legumes, oats, etc. But be on guard, it's the aisles in the middle (snacks, juices, etc) that can get you into trouble with their pretty packaging and "magically delicious" flavors. Stay away from the bright, shiny objects.

Why So Many Rules?
Ok, I know what you're thinking. Does shopping really matter that much? Why so many rules? Well, if you're looking in the mirror and aren't liking what you see, the chances are that you've got your own set of rules (whether you know it or not) and these rules are just perfect for creating a sorry physique. The rules I put forth are perfect for creating a perfect physique. So which would you like to follow again?

When you're trying to re-pattern your life, there's little room for "winging it." Although training to lose fat is fun, eating to lose fat is fun, and watching other people's faces as they appreciate your new body is fun, exchanging old, ineffectual habits for new habits isn't always fun; in fact, it can be downright difficult. However, like all good investments, the larger the amount of capital you're willing to put into the investment, the larger the reward.

Reading The Food Label
Grocery store aisles are avenues to greater nutritional knowledge.
Under regulations from the Food and Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the food label offers more complete, useful and accurate nutrition information than ever before.

With today's food labels, consumers get:
• nutrition information about almost every food in the grocery store
• distinctive, easy-to-read formats that enable consumers to more quickly find the information they need to make healthful food choices
• information on the amount per serving of saturated fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, and other nutrients of major health concern
• nutrient reference values, expressed as % Daily Values, that help consumers see how a food fits into an overall daily diet
• uniform definitions for terms that describe a food's nutrient content--such as "light," "low-fat," and "high-fiber"--to ensure that such terms mean the same for any product on which they appear
• Claims about the relationship between a nutrient or food and a disease or health-related condition, such as calcium and osteoporosis, and fat and cancer. These are helpful for people who are concerned about eating foods that may help keep them healthier longer.
• standardized serving sizes that make nutritional comparisons of similar products easier
• Declaration of total percentage of juice in juice drinks. This enables consumers to know exactly how much juice is in a product.

These and other changes are part of final rules published in the Federal Register in 1992 and 1993. FDA's rules implement the provisions of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA), which, among other things, requires nutrition labeling for most foods (except meat and poultry) and authorizes the use of nutrient content claims and appropriate FDA-approved health claims.

Nutrition Information Panel
Under the label's "Nutrition Facts" panel, manufacturers are required to provide information on certain nutrients. The mandatory (underlined) and voluntary components and the order in which they must appear are:

• total calories
• calories from fat
• calories from saturated fat
• total fat
• saturated fat
• polyunsaturated fat
• monounsaturated fat
• cholesterol
• sodium
• potassium
• total carbohydrate
• dietary fiber
• soluble fiber
• insoluble fiber
• sugars
• sugar alcohol (for example, the sugar substitutes xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol)
• other carbohydrate (the difference between total carbohydrate and the sum of dietary fiber, sugars, and sugar alcohol if declared)
• protein
• vitamin A
• percent of vitamin A present as beta-carotene
• vitamin C
• calcium
• iron
• other essential vitamins and minerals

If a claim is made about any of the optional components, or if a food is fortified or enriched with any of them, nutrition information for these components becomes mandatory.

These mandatory and voluntary components are the only ones allowed on the Nutrition Facts panel. The listing of single amino acids, maltodextrin, calories from polyunsaturated fat, and calories from carbohydrates, for example, may not appear as part of the Nutrition Facts on the label.

The required nutrients were selected because they address today's health concerns. The order in which they must appear reflects the priority of current dietary recommendations.

Understanding Serving Sizes
To understand more about food labels and serving sizes, look to the sample food label above. At the top of the label under Nutrition Facts, you'll see the serving size and the number of servings in the package. The rest of the nutrition information in the label is based on one serving. In this example, one-half cup is designated as one serving, and the package contains four servings.

That means that if you eat the whole box of macaroni and cheese, you’re eating four servings, not one, so you’ll have to multiply the number of calories, fat grams and other nutrients by four to get accurate nutrition information.

Calories, Calories From Fat and Percent Daily Values

This part of the label provides the calories per serving and the calories that come from fat. If you need to know the total number of calories you eat every day or the number of calories that come from fat, this section provides that information. In this example there are 90 calories in a half-cup serving of macaroni and cheese. But one third of the calories, 30, come from fat. Remember that this part of the label doesn't tell you whether you are eating saturated or unsaturated fat.

On the right side of the label, you'll see a column that lists percentages that are highlighted in light green. These percentages refer to the percent daily values (%DV). Percent daily values tell you how much of something, whether it's fat, sugar or vitamin A, one serving will give you compared to how much you need for the entire day. It will help you gauge the percentage of a nutrient requirement met by one serving of the product. One way to use this section of the label is when you comparison shop. For example, if you're concerned with sodium, you can look at two foods and choose the food with the lower % DV. Are you trying to eat a low-fat diet? Look for foods that have a lower percent daily value of fat.

Fat, Protein, Carbohydrate, Sugar, and Sodium
The sections on the label highlighted in green show the name of a nutrient and the amount of that nutrient provided by one serving of food. In our example, one serving of macaroni and cheese contains 3 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium and 13 grams of carbohydrate.
Food labels also include information about how much sugar and protein is in the food. If you are following a low-sugar diet or you're monitoring your protein intake, it's easy to spot how much of those nutrients are contained in one serving.

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Information
The next lower part of the label lists nutrients, vitamins and minerals in the food and their percent daily values. Try to average 100% DV every day for vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and fiber.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Reading a Food Label
Until you become accustomed to reading food labels, it's easy to become confused. Avoid these common mistakes when reading labels:
• A label may say that the food is reduced fat or reduced sodium. That means that the amount of fat or sodium has been reduced by 25% from the original product. It doesn't mean, however, that the food is low in fat or sodium. For example, if a can of soup originally had 1,000 milligrams of sodium, the reduced sodium product would still be a high-sodium food.
• Don't confuse the % DV for fat with the percentage of calories from fat. If the % DV is 15% that doesn't mean that 15% of the calories comes from fat. Rather, it means that you're using up 15% of all the fat you need for a day with one serving (based on a meal plan of 2,000 calories per day).
• Don't make the mistake of assuming that the amount of sugar on a label means that the sugar has been added. For example, milk naturally has sugar, which is called lactose. But that doesn't mean you should stop drinking milk because milk is full of other important nutrients including calcium. What you can do is look at the list of ingredients. If you see the words high-fructose corn syrup or sugar high on the list of ingredients, it probably means refined sugar has been added to the product.

A common mistake people make, especially with packages dispensed from vending machines, is to assume that a small item contains one serving just because the package is small. If you eat a bag of pretzels from a vending machine, for example, you may find that it contains 2.5 servings. So you need to multiply the numbers by 2.5 to figure out how many calories and the amount of sodium and other nutrients you are eating.

Nutrient Content Claims

The regulations also spell out what terms may be used to describe the level of a nutrient in a food and how they can be used. These are the core terms:
• Free. This term means that a product contains no amount of, or only trivial or "physiologically inconsequential" amounts of, one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, and calories. For example, "calorie-free" means fewer than 5 calories per serving, and "sugar-free" and "fat-free" both mean less than 0.5 g per serving. Synonyms for "free" include "without," "no" and "zero." A synonym for fat-free milk is "skim.”
• Low. This term can be used on foods that can be eaten frequently without exceeding dietary guidelines for one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories. Thus, descriptors are defined as follows:
o low-fat: 3 g or less per serving
o low-saturated fat: 1 g or less per serving
o low-sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
o very low sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
o low-cholesterol: 20 mg or less and 2 g or less of saturated fat per serving
o low-calorie: 40 calories or less per serving.
Synonyms for low include "little," "few," "low source of," and "contains a small amount of."
• Lean and extra lean. These terms can be used to describe the fat content of meat, poultry, seafood, and game meats.
o lean: less than 10 g fat, 4.5 g or less saturated fat, and less than 95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g.
o extra lean: less than 5 g fat, less than 2 g saturated fat, and less than 95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g.
• High. This term can be used if the food contains 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient in a serving.
• Good source. This term means that one serving of a food contains 10 to 19 percent of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient.
• Reduced. This term means that a nutritionally altered product contains at least 25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than the regular product. However, a reduced claim can't be made on a product if its reference food already meets the requirement for a "low" claim.
• Less. This term means that a food, whether altered or not, contains 25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than the reference food. For example, pretzels that have 25 percent less fat than potato chips could carry a "less" claim. "Fewer" is an acceptable synonym.
• Light. This descriptor can mean two things:
o First, that a nutritionally altered product contains one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the reference food. If the food derives 50 percent or more of its calories from fat, the reduction must be 50 percent of the fat.
o Second, that the sodium content of a low-calorie, low-fat food has been reduced by 50 percent. In addition, "light in sodium" may be used on food in which the sodium content has been reduced by at least 50 percent.
The term "light" still can be used to describe such properties as texture and color, as long as the label explains the intent--for example, "light brown sugar" and "light and fluffy."
• More. This term means that a serving of food, whether altered or not, contains a nutrient that is at least 10 percent of the Daily Value more than the reference food. The 10 percent of Daily Value also applies to "fortified," "enriched" and "added" "extra and plus" claims, but in those cases, the food must be altered.
Alternative spelling of these descriptive terms and their synonyms is allowed--for example, "hi" and "lo"--as long as the alternatives are not misleading.

Healthy. A "healthy" food must be low in fat and saturated fat and contain limited amounts of cholesterol and sodium. In addition, if it' s a single-item food, it must provide at least 10 percent of one or more of vitamins A or C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber. Exempt from this "10-percent" rule are certain raw, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain cereal-grain products. These foods can be labeled "healthy," if they do not contain ingredients that change the nutritional profile, and, in the case of enriched grain products, conform to standards of identity, which call for certain required ingredients. If it's a meal-type product, such as frozen entrees and multi-course frozen dinners, it must provide 10 percent of two or three of these vitamins or minerals or of protein or fiber, in addition to meeting the other criteria. The sodium content cannot exceed 360 mg per serving for individual foods and 480 mg per serving for meal-type products.

Other Definitions
The regulations also address other claims. Among them:
• Percent fat free: A product bearing this claim must be a low-fat or a fat-free product. In addition, the claim must accurately reflect the amount of fat present in 100 g of the food. Thus, if a food contains 2.5 g fat per 50 g, the claim must be "95 percent fat free."
• Implied: These types of claims are prohibited when they wrongfully imply that a food contains or does not contain a meaningful level of a nutrient. For example, a product claiming to be made with an ingredient known to be a source of fiber (such as "made with oat bran") is not allowed unless the product contains enough of that ingredient (for example, oat bran) to meet the definition for "good source" of fiber. As another example, a claim that a product contains "no tropical oils" is allowed--but only on foods that are "low" in saturated fat because consumers have come to equate tropical oils with high saturated fat.

Although not mandated by NLEA, FDA has issued a regulation for the term "fresh." The agency took this step because of concern over the term's possible misuse on some food labels.

The regulation defines the term "fresh" when it is used to suggest that a food is raw or unprocessed. In this context, "fresh" can be used only on a food that is raw, has never been frozen or heated, and contains no preservatives. (Irradiation at low levels is allowed.) "Fresh frozen," "frozen fresh," and "freshly frozen" can be used for foods that are quickly frozen while still fresh. Blanching (brief scalding before freezing to prevent nutrient breakdown) is allowed.
Other uses of the term "fresh," such as in "fresh milk" or "freshly baked bread," are not affected.

Health Claims
Claims for 10 relationships between a nutrient or a food and the risk of a disease or health-related condition are now allowed. They can be made in several ways: through third-party references (such as the National Cancer Institute), statements, symbols (such as a heart), and vignettes or descriptions. Whatever the case, the claim must meet the requirements for authorized health claims--for example, they cannot state the degree of risk reduction and can only use "may" or "might" in discussing the nutrient or food-disease relationship. And they must state that other factors play a role in that disease.

The claims also must be phrased so that consumers can understand the relationship between the nutrient and the disease and the nutrient's importance in relationship to a daily diet.
An example of an appropriate claim is: "While many factors affect heart disease, diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of this disease."

The allowed nutrient-disease relationship claims and rules for their use are:
• Calcium and osteoporosis: To carry this claim, a food must contain 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for calcium (200 mg) per serving, have a calcium content that equals or exceeds the food's content of phosphorus, and contain a form of calcium that can be readily absorbed and used by the body. The claim must name the target group most in need of adequate calcium intakes (that is, teens and young white and Asian women) and state the need for exercise and a healthy diet. A product that contains 40 percent or more of the Daily Value for calcium must state on the label that a total dietary intake greater than 200 percent of the Daily Value for calcium (that is, 2,000 mg or more) has no further known benefit.
• Fat and cancer: To carry this claim, a food must meet the nutrient content claim requirements for "low-fat" or, if fish and game meats, for "extra lean."
• Saturated fat and cholesterol and coronary heart disease (CHD): This claim may be used if the food meets the definitions for the nutrient content claim "low saturated fat," "low-cholesterol," and "low-fat," or, if fish and game meats, for "extra lean." It may mention the link between reduced risk of CHD and lower saturated fat and cholesterol intakes to lower cholesterol levels.
• Fiber-containing grain products, fruits and vegetables and cancer: To carry this claim, a food must be or must contain a grain product, fruit or vegetable and meet the nutrient content claim requirements for "low-fat," and, without fortification, be a "good source" of dietary fiber.
• Fruits, vegetables and grain products that contain fiber and risk of CHD: To carry this claim, a food must be or must contain fruits, vegetables and grain products. It also must meet the nutrient content claim requirements for "low saturated fat," "low-cholesterol," and "low-fat" and contain, without fortification, at least 0.6 g soluble fiber per serving.
• Sodium and hypertension (high pressure): To carry this claim, a food must meet the nutrient content claim requirements for "low-sodium."
• Fruits and vegetables and cancer: This claim may be made for fruits and vegetables that meet the nutrient content claim requirements for "low-fat" and that, without fortification, for "good source" of at least one of the following: dietary fiber or vitamins A or C. This claim relates diets low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables (and thus vitamins A and C and dietary fiber) to reduced cancer risk. FDA authorized this claim in place of an antioxidant vitamin and cancer claim.
• Folic acid and neural tube defects: Folic acid and neural tube defects: This claim is allowed on dietary supplements that contain sufficient folate and on conventional foods that are naturally good sources of folate, as long as they do not provide more than 100 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A as retinol or preformed vitamin A or vitamin D. A sample claim is "healthful diets with adequate folate may reduce a woman's risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect."
• Dietary sugar alcohols and dental caries (cavities): This claim applies to food products, such as candy or gum, containing the sugar alcohols xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, isomalt, lactitol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, hydrogenated glucose syrups, or a combination of any of these. If the food also contains a fermentalbe carbohydrate, such as sugar, the food cannot lower the pH of plaque in the mouth below 5.7. Besides the food ingredient's relationship to dental caries, the claim also must state that frequent between-meal consumption of foods high in sugars and starches promotes tooth decay. A shortened claim is allowed on food packages with less than 15 square inches of labeling surface area.
• Soluble fiber from certain foods, such as whole oats and psyllium seed husk, and heart disease: This claim must state that the fiber also needs to be part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and the food must provide sufficient soluble fiber. The amount of soluble fiber in a serving of the food must be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel.

Ingredient Labeling
Ingredient declaration is required on all foods that have more than one ingredient.
Because people may be allergic to certain additives and to help them better avoid them, the ingredient list must include, when appropriate:
• FDA-certified color additives, such as FD&C Blue No. 1, by name
• sources of protein hydrolysates, which are used in many foods as flavors and flavor enhancers
• declaration of caseinate as a milk derivative in the ingredient list of foods that claim to be non-dairy, such as coffee whiteners.
As required by NLEA, beverages that claim to contain juice must declare the total percentage of juice on the information panel. In addition, FDA's regulation establishes criteria for naming juice beverages. For example, when the label of a multi-juice beverage states one or more--but not all--of the juices present, and the predominantly named juice is present in minor amounts, the product' s name must state that the beverage is flavored with that juice or declare the amount of the juice in a 5 percent range--for example, "raspberry-flavored juice blend" or "juice blend, 2 to 7 percent raspberry juice."

Check back soon for the next installment in the Plan For Success Series.