"Will You Starve That They Be Better Fed?" was the slogan that biologist Ancel Keys used on a leaflet distributed to objectors of the war in 1944. Keys research intentions were to investigate what it would take to re-feed semi-starved Europeans that were left starved by the hostilaties. What he actually gave us was a piece of research that should lead to the collapse of the diet industry. Sadly it goes largely ignored, and to this day people still get conned by the low calorie cult. The volunteers starved on our behalf, yet we continually fail to learn from the hardship theyendured.
For years I've studied metabolism and when I worked at Virgin Active Gym I went against the grain and tried with all my might to educate the members that low calorie was not the answer. People frequently displayed seriously low resting metabolic rates (kcal/kg/24 hrs), showing serious symptoms of dysfunction. From low calorie to low carb, glycemic index and the atkins, and even metabolic typing (which I sadly used during my time with the CHEK institute). No matter what the diet calorie restriction was always a factor, often unintentionally. Even when I took people from these weird and wonderful diets to try and educate them about listening to their hunger, they still continued to restrict. It amazed me quite how indoctrinated the nation is when it comes to energy intake.
At Virgin I took part in my notorious anti-diet diet, consuming 6000 kcals a day to prove that I wouldn't put on weight as long as I maintained consistency. (i.e regular meals at regular times plus reguular intake). I also put a client (my boss) on a high calorie (by normal standards) diet and watched as everything I wanted to happen unfolded right before my eyes. I performed many so-called over-feeding experiments on myself to avoid ethical issues and due to wanting to see the results first hand. I ended up seriously "underweight" at around 10 st (I'm now 11 1/2 st). After the year experiment (I always did a year for my experiments), my point was proved and I fully expected clients to listen to reason having watched me go through a year of "over-feeding" by normal standards. Like the 1944 experiment, my hard work went largely unnoticed in a gym obsessed with reducing food consumption and upping energy expenditure to maintain a negative balance. The few clients that understood the logic and trusted me are still lean and healthy to this day.
Thirty six men were selected who were all conscientious objectors to the war. They were intelligent, psychologically stable and physically healthy. Intrestingly they were my weight and height (5' 10" and 75 kg prior to my own experiments), and for the first three months of the study the men received 3200 kcals a day to standardize their intakes. After this initial period intakes dropped to 1800 kcals per day, a figure not uncommon in many diet and fitness circles. Frequently people consider this amount to be high. Just last week we saw recommendations to cut an calories by 15-20% (no mention was made of the safe starting point, and I have recently also had an email from a woman whose lighterlife "consultant" took her as low 250 kcals a day. So whilst Key's considered this low, most would not dare consume so much, let alone call it a diet.
At the same time they were expected to walk 22 miles each week (they could split this up over days and make use of treadmills or outdoors walking), and also ensure that they expended 3009 kcals, which again isn't something uncommon in todays gym obsessed world, I only have to look out of my window during the day to catch of jogging. Obviously, as you can see from the picture above, they became skeletal from the effect of this 'enforced' lifestyle. You do see some people that have the insane willpower to do this but they are never well, luckily for most of us, we can't get to the extremes that the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (MSE) did. For a start, they were kept under strict lab conditions, yet we are surrounded by an abundance of food, is it any wonder we crack and can't stick to the lifestyle that weightwatchers want us to? Due to the absence of a lab environment diet groups tend to impliment behavour modifications to attempt to get us to comply and avoid compensatory behaviours.
When being starved they began to see many of the symptoms that are typical today in our energy restricted world. Libedo was at an all time low, which is something Max Kampelman (one of the subjects) reported, 'I can tell you, the sex drive disappeared. There was none.' I've lost count of the time I've heard clients telling me that a partner has no interest in sex, followed by bragging that they finally have them on a low calorie diet. Nobody seems to join up the dots.
So, what can we expect to see from entering periods of low calorie diets such as 1800 kcals and very low calorie diets (VLCD). If we learn from Ancel Keys work in The Biology of Human Starvation, (which if your commited to reading 1385 pages is avaialable in my healthCHEK store, or if you do fancy a look but aren't quite up to 1385 pages then try the PDF file attached at the bottom of this post) we see a host of problems caused by starvation/being low calorie (yes once again 1800 is low).
• Decreased heart volume
• Slowed pulse rate (and almost certainly low body temperature and raised cortisol)
• Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) reduced by 40% over expected norms. Just what you need if you are concerned about weight!!
• Voluntary movements became slower. Your thyroid is regulating (slowing) your energy expenditure.
• Subjects felt and acted older
• Increase in apathy and depression.
• Sensitivity to noise. The body is overloaded and doesn't have enough energy to cope.
• General feeling of ineffectiveness.
• Loss of ambition and narrowing of interests. We no doubt conserve ourselves for important actions.
• Increased neuroticism and hysteria.
• Almost 20% of the subjects suffered severe “character neuroses” and 2 bordered on both violent and hysteria psychoses. We've all been a little bit hangry at times haven't we?
• Increased interest and preoccupation with food (talking, preparing, making meals last longer using a variety of methods such as sucking food).
• Heightened craving for food. Is it any wonder when we starve ourselves.
• Became possessive about food.
• Increased gum chewing, smoking, drinking of coffee and tea, and nail biting which also links in well with increased cortisol secretion.
• Purchased useless items and/or hoarded money. Clothes, foods, shoes, handbags, I see it all.
• Some escaped and binged with feelings of guilt (some followed by vomiting)
• Responsiveness, tolerance, happiness, and good humor gradually disappeared, very irritable and with only sarcastic humor remaining, venture on any facebook diet/fasting group for examples.
• Reluctance to participate in group activities. Not wanting to go to work etc and when they do resorting to the above.
• Self-centered and egocentric
• Food central topic of conversation, such as the need to cut back, avoid foods, craving cake or chocolate and discussing it with ones friends.
• Not able to control emotions, tears, tantrums, anger are all hard to control on a LCD.
Take a look at those symptoms, and if you're on, or have been on a LCD, either intentionally or not, tell me you've not suffered from them?
As with many nutrition studies its the after effects that highlight the damage. After the 6 month period the men were unsatisfied no matter how much they ate. They regained the initial weight plus an extra 40 percent.
The men were split into 4 groups, and each of the groups received a different re-feeding kcal amount, ranging from one group that was unrestricted, to the lowest group at 2200 kcals. It was noted by Keys that to fully rehabilitate the body 4000 kcals daily was necessary, and that it would take this abundance of calories to restore normal function. Even supplementing with vitamins and minerals was of little use with out a great quantity of food.
Effects of Re-feeding the groups
• Still overly concerned with food which was understandable.
• Many became even more irritable, depressed and argumentative.
• Still suffering from a slump in morale and maintained the loss of interest in previous activities
• Thirst increased
• Hunger pains more intense
• Appetites insatiable, even in the highest kcal group
• Continued to eat even when full as the body seems determined to get what it can, while it can (fear)
• Gained fat tissue rapidly (fat returned rather than muscle) as the body wants to protect itself and ensure it has safe reserves.
• Lean tissue recovered more slowly (lack of muscle) as it is more important to store energy first in case you encounter starvation again, which most dieters do when they yo yo on and off diets.
Free access to food group
• Ate an average of 5,212 kcals, a massive amount when compared to the 3200 kcals they consumed prior to starvation.
• Ate nearly continuously, then slept or ate again.
• Slow increase of social behavior at meals
• As time passed they all felt nearly normal with food
• 10 of 14 were beginning to eating normal amounts
• Slowly humour and sociability returned, we have all been grumpy when hungry haven't we?
Losing weight isn't about starving yourself thin, and despite what people seem to think, 1800 kcals is semi-starvation. Fat storage is an emergency response by the hormonal systems of the body to protect you from the repeated deprivations and stresses it is exposed to. Wise up and eat some food, even better learn your unique energy needs and eat accordingly.
So, how does the body do this? Leptin is a hormone which is found in our adipose tissue (fat tissue in case you're wondering) that tells our brain (the hypothalamus to be exact), all about the environment around us and the current condition of our reserves for dealing with the environment. Think about it logically, the body has to have someway of deciding how much energy to expend or it runs the risk of grinding to a halt (death). You may have said it yourself, or you may of heard somebody else claiming to have a 'naturally' low resting metabolic rate, so it is not 'their fault'. It is not physically possible to be at the surrender of an ominous metabolic rate that leaves you overweight no matter what you do. It simply responds to the environment we put it in. Yes we do see babies born overweight, and kids that seemingly have a "genetically" low metabolic rate, but, during the final 3 months of pregnancy a baby is preparing to support itself and live outside the womb. To do this it needs to learn about its imminent environment. Is it being born into a famine such as Ethiopia, or an abundance of energy.
Take a few minutes to consider the typical western mums diet. Probably attempting to eat low calorie prior to conception, maybe even during, and often consuming processed foods that are high in vegetable oils. We also see skipped meals, lack of care in maintaining a regular supply of energy to the body despite a growing baby to feed and care for. Is it any wonder kids may be born with an adapted metabolic rate (it is working, you just told it a famine is going on) only to find out that food is in abundance. Some of these kids may find some balance, but others may be commited to the same cycle of endless dieting in an effort to lose weight. All while claiming they can't help having a 'low metabolic rate.'
Back to leptin, when we encounter a famine our body fat stores will more than likely decrease. Leptin steps in and signals to slow down the rate at which we use our energy in order to preserve energy (store body fat at every given opportunity). To do this our body temperature and pulse rate will reduce, our energy levels will drop and we feel begin to feel more tired/fatigued (although stress hormones may negate this aspect initially). It's almost as if the body wishes to hibernate, at the same time we become ravenous and the body will signal to eat anything and everything you can, which we frequently blame on weak willpower.
Interestingly when our fat stores increase, leptin tells us that the famine is over, and that body temperature, pulse rate and energy levels can return towards optimal (i.e we can attempt to expend energy at our optimal rate). Except for most this increase in fat stores means one thing...time to diet.
So does that calorie controlled diet still seem like a good idea? Probably not, but what should you do? Well I don't suggest starting a 6000 cal per day diet.
Firstly, if you intend on doing a refeed, you have to accept fat gain as an almost inevitable part of the deal. You did the damage and the quickest rehabilitation amongst Key's groups was those that ate with no restrictions. Factors to consider are that again this is real life, not lab conditions, you potentially have many diets under your belt, so recovery may take longer than those in the experiment.
A wiser approach would be to assess your current Resting Metabolic Rate and set a plan to gradually raise it over time. Potentially raising your RMR by consuming as little as 200 calories more per day than your actual needs. Not as dramatic a recovery but less risky in terms of psychological welfare for lieflong dieters.
My clients, former clients and friends are highly educated. When I've trained them in the past I haven't just dumped a load of ridiculous exercises on them (while I count the reps and chew gum - hello former co workers). Nor have I just given them a diet based upon a generic glycemic index or any a recommendation to avoid fat while eating carbs (the most bizarre recommendation I've ever seen).
I gave (and still do) my clients a solid foundation in why they need to do certain things. This includes teaching them to listen to their bodies response to exercise or food. I trained Mark a few times way back in 2004, we lived on the same street and while we didn't train for that long Mark still knows his stuff. I'd happily let him train any of the PT's I used to work with as he'd do a great job (probably wouldn't enjoy the wages though).
Mark sent me a message earlier today saying that he saw a poster in his work gym.
Work Gym Member of the Month - Brian
with the following quote "Brian's shift patterns are far from favorable, yet he still manages to make it to the gym after a long night shift! Well done Brian, keep up the good work."
Mark spotted the fact that training after a night shift isn't something to be proud of or aim for, lack of energy, altered sleep patterns, hormonal disturbances etc etc all add up to it not being the ideal foundation for a gym work. The guilt advertising may or may not have its desired effect and shame others into "showing up."
In my personal opinion Brian would be far better searching for jobs away from night shift or shift work in his quest for health, wellness or a six pack. However, well done Brian, you've just showed Mark the exact reason why he trains rather than drains himself. Well done to Mark as well for not getting hooked into the guilt marketing these gyms use.
A few of my clients and friends have taken to wearing FiveFingers footwear while training and competing in various sports. They are fantastic for the health of your feet, in fact they are fantastic for the health of your whole skeleton. Matt has agreed to a £5 discount for clients of CHEK Practitioners. To receive this discount you should enter the code craig453 at the checkout.
http://shop.primallifestyle.com will take you to the primal store so you can purchase a pair.
Some key info from Matt at Primal Lifestyle
2. Facilitated venous return resulting in:a. Decreased blood pressure;this is true – particularly if walking on uneven ground (ie cobbled streets or off road). The walking itself, of course, helps to support good cardiovascular function but, in addition, the fact that the foot strikes the ground at a slightly different angle with each step and is allowed to roll over the naturally convex heel (rather than a flat, straight, rubber plate) means that multiple muscle groups are activated resulting in greater pumping of blood back through the valve-based venous system (Vines 2005).
b. Reduced risk of deep vein thrombosis;for the same reason as above (2a) there is less pooling of blood in the lower leg and enhanced venous return.
c. Lower incidence of varicose veins;because there is better venous return, blood does not sit in the veins increasing pressure on the vein walls and creating varicosities. Instead it is pumped more efficiently back to the heart through enhanced muscular use in the lower leg.
3. Decreased ankle sprains;it is claimed that increased awareness of foot position from direct contact with the ground (Robbins et al., 1995) may decrease risk of ankle sprain – and/or the reduced leverage and consequently twisting around the ankle (sub-talar) joint from going “barefoot” minimizes the risk of spraining the joint during a stumble (Stacoff et al., 1996).
4. Lowered risk of shin splints;chronic ailments such as shin splints, ilio-tibial band syndrome and peri-patellar pain are attributed variously to altered biomechanical loading of the limbs (Siff and Verkhoshansky, 1999, p.451). When running barefoot on hard surfaces, the runner compensates for the lack of cushioning underfoot by plantar-flexing the foot at contact, thus giving a softer landing (Frederick, 1986). Barefoot runners also land mid-foot, increasing the work of the foot’s soft tissue support structures, thereby increasing their strength and possibly reducing the risk of injury (Yessis 2000, p.124).
5. Minimize back pain;walking barefoot means, inherently, that the only heel you’re walking on is your own. Walking wearing standard shoes means, almost inevitably, you’ll have an extra heel. Any change in the orientation of the heel instantly changes the mechanics of the arch of the foot, but importantly also changes the mechanics of the low back – increasing the curve. An increased curve in the low back means that the small facet joints on the back of the spine which are not designed for weight bearing (Bogduk 2003) become loaded and, across time, painful.
6. Enhance proprioception;70% of the body’s terminal nerve endings finish in the hands and feet. Of course, if you look to the evolution of vertebrates you find that they progressed from fish, to tetrapods (ie forelimbs and hindlimbs in touch with the ground) then finally to bipeds. Bipedalism not only requires significant balance but, by definition, means that our only two consistent points of contact with our surrounding environment are our feet. This is reflected by the fact that there are 200,000 sensory nerve endings in the sole of the foot – more than anywhere else in the body.
7. Strengthen intrinsic foot musculature;just as when you support a broken limb with a plaster the muscles weaken and atrophy, so when you support a foot the muscles weaken and atrophy. Weak muscles make for greater injury risk, greater dependency on shoes, and impaired performance. Don’t let yourself become a statistic.
8. Maximise biomechanical performance;funnily enough, the arches of the foot evolved that way not by chance, but for a reason. Counter to the commonly held belief that the arches are there to absorb shock, in actuality the arches are designed to store energy and return that energy to the gait cycle on the next step. Similarly, the natural arches of the spine are designed to perfectly store energy as the body “derotates” during the gait cycle (Gracovetsky 1988, 1997, 2001). Wearing shoes that “support” the arch prevent the arches from performing their function, while any change in heel height above that of the forefoot results in changes to the spinal curves compromising energy storage and recoil in these two key areas for efficiency and performance.
9. Diminish risk of bunions;the traditional shape of shoes means that they round to a point somewhere in front of the 2nd or 3rd toe. This means that the big toe is often pushed towards the middle of the foot and the same is true of the little toe. This phenomenon coupled with a heel on the shoe – which loads the big toe even further – results in a deviation of the big toe called hallux valgus and ultimately bunions may develop.
10. Optimise balance / prevent falls;we mentioned above (point 6) that the feet provide significant sensory feedback to the brain and are therefore critical in balance and efficient gait. However, it is sad to learn that the leading cause of death in people of the age of 65 years is not heart attacks, not cancer and not strokes – but falling (Chek 2004). In fact, 25% of elderly people who fall and fracture a hip, die within 1 year of that fall.
Atrophy: A lack of nutrition to a tissue, resulting in wasting of that tissue.
Tetrapod: A creature which habitually stands on four limbs.
Gait cycle: The repetitive cyclical motion of walking or running.
Venous return: The return of blood, via the veins, from the periphery toward the heart.
Wharburton M. (2001) Barefoot running. Sportscience 5(3), sportsci.org , 2001
Vines G, (2005) Put a wild wobble in your walk. New Scientist. 24th December, Issue 2531 pg51
Gracovetsky S (2004) Stability or Controlled Instability? One day workshop, London.
Gracovetsky S, (1988) The Spinal Engine. Publisher: Springer-VerlagGracovetsky S, (1997) Linking the spinal engine with the legs: A theory of human gait in Movement, Stability and Low Back Pain – the essential role of the pelvis. Ed.s Vleeming, Mooney, Dorman, Snijders & Stoeckart. Publisher: Churchill Livingstone pp243-252.
Gracovetsky S, (2001) Analysis and interpretation of gait in relation to lumbopelvic function in Proceedings of the 4th Interdisciplinary World Congress on Low Back and Pelvic Pain, Montreal.
Chek, P (2005) Balance Training for the Elderly.
Yessis M (2000). Explosive running. Illinois, USA. Contemporary Books
Robbins S, Waked E (1997). Hazards of deceptive advertising of athletic footwear. British Journal of Sports Medicine31,299-303
Siff MC, Verkhoshansky YV (1999). Supertraining (4th ed.). Denver, Colorado. Supertraining International
Frederick EC (1986). Kinematically mediated effects of sports shoe design: a review. Journal of Sports Sciences 4, 169-184
Stacoff A, Steger J, Stussi E, Reinschmidt C (1996). Lateral stability in sideward cutting movements. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 28, 350-35
As a CHEK Practitioner I've organised for a £5 discount on every pair ordered
If you wish to order a pair, the code you will need to use in order for your own discounted shoe is craig453
The codes is used during the payment procedure and is placed in the Coupon Code section of the Checkout
Please don't hesitate to contact me should you have any queries regarding how they may benefit your health.
The BBC’s program “The Big Fat Truth about Low Fat Foods”. A minor celebrity eats nothing but processed low fat junk to see the results. Bit scary at the beginning when she has a party and all her friends have full dominos pizza’s each!!! Thought they were meant to be for sharing.
At least she sort of understands the “once you pop, you can’t stop” effect of eating high carbohydrate, low fat chemical ridden foods which are making her eat more than she normally would (perfect for food industry profits).
A few facts from the program:
On Saturday I spent the afternoon with Pidcock Motorcycles and Stu Day for a test ride on a Montesa Honda 4rt. I've been a confirmed Gas Gas rider since 2003 and before that was on Beta for a fair few years, I think I was about 9 the last time I rode a Honda. When I had my Honda TLM50 I got given a HRC sticker which I decided to save for my next bike...I'm 35 now and have never had the chance to actually put it on a bike.
After many years on 2 stroke power I never considered riding a 4 stroke. My dream bike all those years ago was an RTL 250 in Rothmans colors and theirs no doubt about it, a Repsol Montesa Honda 4rt is the modern day equivalent. So when we arrived at the test day to be greeted by a massive line up of both 4rt Racing and Repsol models, I made sure I stood close to a Repsol ready for the start of the test day.
The bike fired into life like clockwork, as it did all day and instantly the sound (or bark) of the engine put a few grins on the faces of the test riders. Their was a wide range of abilities at the test day, from capable riders, right through to a guy who'd never been off road. The day was arranged alongside the Mick Extance Off Road school under the guidance of Stu Day which meant everybody's skill level was catered for. Everyone managed to get a good 2 hours (yes 2 full hours) trying the bikes out and a number of staff (including Chris Pidcock himself) were on hand to make sure everybody got the assistance/information they needed.
Considering I had an S3 Championship round the next day, I should of been taking it steady and conserving my energy. However, I've never had so much fun on a bike and didn't want to waste a minute. Hence, my gloveless hands came away sore and blistered (will toughen me up for the SSDT in May). If you've not tried a 4rt I'd suggest you do, rather than forming an opinion based upon that of others give yourself a good go on one and remember that your learning to adapt to a new technique. Once you crack how to ride one, its a rewarding and often easier experience. One thing is guarenteed though, the noise will keep you riding much longer than you originally intended.
The bike I rode (Repsol 4rt) wasn't set up for me as it was a test day bike. However, even with out any personal adjustments the bike was comfortable and gave a sense of real quality. The bike is wider than my current GG but it feels right and just added to the stable feeling. The other thing that felt obvious (well it did to me) was that the mass of the bike felt very low down which obviously aides balance.
We started the test by having a guided tour of the land from Stu and the initial play area was an area of hard standing with various logs, see-saws, concrete blocks and a limbo bar which Stu kept lowering every-time someone went through without dislodging the beam. A log acting as a balance beam allowed us to see quite how stable the 4rt was across it. Straight away it became clear that the Montesa suspension is absolutely sublime. It seems to have no compromises and simply does what you require. It amazed me time and time again as the bike stuck like a leach to various rocks and obstacles and not once did it bounce around and loose grip.
From here we moved on to a mini MX track and a got a little chance to unleash the power of the 4rt. On a muddy track the engine never felt under stress. Once again the suspension soaked it all up, even the tabletop :-)
From here we followed Stu up towards the first real section we had planned. On the far side of a lake Stu had set out a stream section. For those a little more ambitious their was a turn out the stream up a steep bank and up a cambered climb covered in muddy roots. Its exactly the sort of section I dread as I'm usually far to clinical and want to be inch perfect before firing a bike up such as climb. I have great admiration for those 1970-80's riders that stick their tounges out and cling on at ridiculous angles as the bike climbs up. I grew up with a biketrials background, and wanted to ride like Tarres, If needed I ride like that but never feel happy or overly confident. Modern bikes probably aren't built with that in mind either. I got the shock of my life when it all seemed so easy as I shot up in 3rd gear. Once again the stability of the bike helped it track just right whilst the power just fired the bike up. I'd love to take claim for using my skills but I'm pretty sure it was the bike.
We moved on to some rocks and after a £5 bet with my friend Marcus (who thought I'd bottle it or fail) I tried a carrying the front wheel over a rock and tapping it on the the next step. The torque of the engine meant it was easy to control and Marcus now owes me £15 for my 3 attempts. Riding it on rocks felt good and was the area I was most interested in testing. I've often felt out of control in the SSDT (those who've seen me would no doubt agree, especially if they've had to pick me up). I've often wondered if the 4rt would prove more controllable across such sections and it did. Where as I often just have to rush rock piles on a 2 stroke I felt more able to ride. In part I'm sure this is also due to the suspension yet again. I've often described my Scottish riding as 'pinball' as my back wheel skips and bounces around, so I really appreciated the back end.
The final section of the day was a SSDT style section up a long long stream which ended with some pretty steep bits. The bike didn't seem to pull away or strain your arms but felt very strong with power instantly on tap. By this time our 2 hours were up and begrudgingly we headed back down to hand the bikes back. Given the chance I'd of kept it for the next day. Would of been handy with all those graded hill climbs at the Colmore.
To conclude, an excellent test day. Well organized with ample opportunity to get a real feel for the bike. It seems those that have a 4rt wouldn't trade them for anything and are full of praise. Those that haven't tried a 4rt should really give one a go and form their own opinion. Give Pidcock Motorcycles a ring http://www.pidcock.com/montesa/pages/montesa/home.htmweeblylink_new_window
Or if you fancy experiencing the Mick Extance Off Road School with Stu contact them via http://mickextanceoffroad.com/weeblylink_new_window
As a C.H.E.K Practitioner its often very difficult to describe what it is that I do, which is the only reason I felt the need to try and study Physiotherapy. C.H.E.K. stands for Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology. There are CHEK-trained professionals worldwide, many of which I regularly communicate with to share ideas and talk through health issues. C.H.E.K is the only system that I've studied which has made true sense and has always been based upon understanding why symptoms occur. The various teachers I've had through the institute have always taught me to be open to a varied range of modalities so I can make the best judgement of what will assist my clients needs.
CHEK is a multi-disciplinary, holistic, practical-based system that provides effective individualised coaching towards better health. Via my studies through the institute have have touched on a number of therapies which provided the inspiration to gain other qualifications such as NMT.
CHEK Practitioners and Exercise Coaches perform comprehensive orthopaedic assessments which allow them to prescribe functional stretching and exercise in a highly individual program and coach you on how to implement it into your life.
CHEK HLCs (Holistic Lifestyle Coaches) address the lifestyle factors that are increasing your stress levels. By stress I mean anything that is out of balance with how your system should be. The HLC foundational factors include breathing technique, hydration, nutrition, movement and sleep patterns. HLC's focus on assessing and reducing the stress within these factors to assist clients regain their health.
I've never liked physiotherapy after years of unsuccessful appointments in my younger years so my decision to attempt studying it was a bizarre one in many peoples eyes. I always felt the need to gain a qualification that people recognise and thats what I set out to gain. Studying it became impossible due to the frustration it caused. Studying with CHEK enabled me to learn real techniques that work clinically and it felt like a step backwards. What I needed to do was push my CHEK qualifications and teach the people of the UK that their is a system which can help them.
Over that last year I've continued to work with business professionals, personal trainers, athletes and regular members of the public to assist them in getting pain-free, healthy and having a positive outlook on their life.
To learn how I can help you help yourself, get in touch.
The thyroid has always fascinated me. From my early days as a PT I was well aware of the effects diet and lifestyle changes could have on the thyroid. The thyroid is found in the front of the neck and has a variety of vital body functions. It produces the hormones that regulate pretty much every function of our bodies and controls our metabolism which is what I used to work on back in the day. Thyroid hormones effect weight, energy, muscle strength, cholesterol levels, memory, emotions, menstruation and effects how sensitive we are to other hormones. When the thyroid doesn't produce enough of these crucial hormones, then hypothyroidism occurs and results in a variety of psychological and physiological symptoms.
Hypothyroidism, in which the body produces to little of the thyroid hormones Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4) which are synthesized from iodine and the amino acid tyrosine. Lots of people are deficient in amino acids causing improper functioning of the thyroid gland. Endocrine disruptors also impeded thyroid function.
Hyperthyroidism is the opposite in which the body produces too much of the very same hormones (T3 & T4). Those with hyperthyroidism can feel hotter than normal, slowly lose weight even though they may be eating more, or gain weight because of an increase in appetite. Patients with hyperthyroidism usually experience fatigue at the end of the day, but can have trouble getting to sleep. Hand tremors and palpitations can develop, they may become irritable and easily upset. In severe cases people can suffer shortness of breath, chest pain, and muscle weakness. Often so gradual in its onset that patients may know they are sick for sometime.
Hypothyroidism is what fits most peoples picture and the common symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue that sleep often fails to eliminate, depression and weight gain. Other symptoms that often occur include:
Modern medicine usually uses blood tests for thyroid function, which frequently miss the diagnosis. A more reliable test is the barnes basal temperature test which is suggested by Dr. Broda Barnes who is the author of the book Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. Dr Barnes assessed thyroid function by testing the metabolic rate via basal body temperature and resting pulse rate.
As I mentioned, Josh Rubin from East West Healing, who is one of the CHEK Faculty has turned us all on to the work of Ray Peat. Ray states that "Healthy and intelligent groups of people have been found to have an average resting pulse rate of 85/minute, while less healthy groups average close to 70/minute". He explains that our pulse rate can also be controlled by adrenaline (racing pulse in a constant fight or flight state), and that when in hypothyroidism their can be a compensation factor of extra adrenaline production. Leading to symptoms linked with adrenal fatigue. As we already know adrenaline works on the liver to raise blood sugar levels due to stimulated glucose production so their can also be blood sugar handling issues. This can also raise the the heart rate etc. What we need to work out is what is the driving factor that causes this cycle rather than just jumping in and treating symptoms. For some years I've assessed blood sugar levels and adrenal function so it will be interesting to see if this method brings better results for those I advise (including myself). Barnes suggests that when temperature and pulse is low it may be an indication of hypothyroidism. In Barnes book he suggests that "a pulse running 65 or below indicates lower thyroid function. The normal basal body temperature runs between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature running below 97.6 indicates the possibility of low thyroid function." Peat suggests that a pulse rate below 85 is indicative of low thyroid function. Babies tend to have a pulse around a 100 which slows to 85 by about 8 years old and then seems to gradually slow as we age and deteriorate over the years. My old knowledge gained from numerous gym instructor courses told me that a slow pulse is healthy, yet over the years I've frequently seen unhealthy people with relatively low pulse rates, my own experience of having a pulse rate in the 30's left me chronically ill and questioning how I could train so much yet feel so unfit. I'm personally aiming for 98.6 degrees Farenheit (37) after eating.
How to test yourself: As you rise in the morning place the thermometer under your armpit and take a reading. This is also an ideal time to record your pulse rate for one full minute. Be sure to remain still so as not to stimulate the body (temperature & pulse rate) and be sure that you follow the same protocol each day when you retest. From this you can do various things such as work out if you are suffering from poor thyroid function and also monitor any daily variance which can help athletes decide if they should train or not.
Peat makes a lot of suggestions for diet to assist in thyroid regulation which sits well with my CHEK training as I've never been a fan of pills and potions.
Proteins: As with the methods I've previously used (metabolic typing) it's important to eat carbohydrate when consuming proteins (people always assume I teach carbohydrate avoidance). Meats need to be eaten with the gelatin it comes with or via another source (I use gelatin powder), to balance out tryptophan. Coconut oil can also be used in the cooking process to assist in the removal of poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Peat recommends potato (eaten with lots of fat such as butter) as a protein source but I'll cover this in a later blog post.
Fatty fish such as salmon should be limited due to it unsaturated fat content. We need fats from warm blooded animals which produce the saturated and monounsaturated fats we require. Fish tend to be cold blooded and unsaturated which is unhealthy for us.
Peat suggest that for an adult, gelatin is greatly required. Lamb shanks as an example, is a great source of gelatin but is exactly what the world tends to avoid due to fear of fat. 5–10 grams of gelatin at approximately the same time is suggested as a healthy amount when consuming meats to create a better amino acid balance.
Dairy is great but make sure its raw which is what I (and CHEK) currently recommend.
Fats: Still the same here, coconut oil and butter are the most useful and healthy fats plus the fat naturally occurring in your meat. Avoid grain and vegetable oils like the plague which is no different to what I've taught for years. A little (good quality) olive oils seems to be ok but don't go overboard.
Carbohydrates: As with metabolic typing always consume carbohydrate at every meal with protein and fat (know your own ratios though). Peat is a big advocate of fruit (both whole and juices), he seems to love orange juice due to it’s potassium and magnesium content. If your going to try juices (I'm not there yet due to previous problems with too much sugar in relation to protein/fat), make sure its home juiced and not store bought. Berries which contain seeds aren't recommended. Bananas and other starchy fruits such as apples/pears are also on his no no list. He does seem to suggest that they are more useful/safer when ripe, peeled and cooked. The fat in cheese is suggested as protective against the starch in non ripe fruit, so once again good quality raw cheese is a handy snack if your consuming fruit.
Potato, white rice or oats, and brown rice (listed in order of preferability) can be used. You should already be aware of phytic acid as we've discussed it before (its why we soak nuts and grain) and it causes calcium absorption to be blocked. Its suggested that cooking the oats for a much longer period may improve the nutritional value. I know they don't work for me so I still won't be eating them though.
Carrot, especially a carrot salad with coconut oil has an anti-estrogen effect. Well cooked broccoli is okay. Vegetables should not be the main part of anyone’s diet though.
Beverages: Water. Peat does suggest coffee (must be taken with sugar and cream) but at the moment I'm sticking with avoiding this one until I can balance my thyroid, adrenals and know that my blood sugar handling is more stable.
Avoid: PUFA's can be found in processed food, nuts and seeds and their butters, vegetable oils.
So here's the deal. The whole world seemingly believes that to stay healthy we need to eat lots of plants (5 a day) and do lots of cardio. From my experience and studies, jogging doesn't prevent heart disease, help you loose weight or give you a rippling six pack (sorry to all the people I see jogging past each day). The message put out to everyone is wrong, we aren't designed to run for long periods (we can but it compromises health and your body is suffering while you do it), aerobics classes will not make you healthy (check out the often plump instructors with thyroid issues, running on adrenaline and often with serious blood sugar issues). We also aren't supposed to survive on veg and poly unsaturated fats alone and evidence suggests that it seriously damages the body. For most Ray's suggestions will be too much, people already struggle with the current recommendations I make. However, working alongside a knowledgeable practitioner is advisable as health is a complex issue that varies from person to person. Its not as simple as running and dieting, working together we can begin to implement the changes that progress you on the path towards a healthier life.
1. Peat, Ray. www.raypeat.com
2. Barnes Broda, M.D. Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness
3. Rubin, Josh, Jeanne. Wholistic Living: Blog Talk Radio Various episodes available through iTunes
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Independent health researcher with a BA Hons. and an MSc in Psychology. Currently battling to complete a PhD...wish me luck.
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