Sunday, April 25, 2010


Last day of the challenge.

Photos after the WOD.






Monday, April 5, 2010



Why would high levels of Glucagon be optimal in our systems?

We know that high levels of glucagon oppose insulin resistance, so it stands to reason that the higher levels of glucagon in the system the less likely someone is to becomeing insulin resistant. We know that glucagon is released during a high protein meal and hunger. This would lay claim to two practies that we promote on this site. The eating of protein...and when we (Robb Wolf) say protein we mean "something with a face or soul", not beans or tofu; these vegetable based proteins are pretenders and are not to be trusted. The second practice is intermittent fasting or IR. Both have shown to stimulate the production of glucagon thus helping us avoid insulin sensitivity and eventual diabetes.


What is Glucagon?

Glucagon is the counter-regulatory hormone for insulin. It is an important hormone involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Produced by the pancreas, it is released when the glucose level in the blood is low (hypoglycemia), causing the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose and release it into the bloodstream. The action of glucagon is thus opposite to that of insulin, which instructs the body's cells to take in glucose from the blood in times of satiation. It is also released in reponse to a protein meal or hunger. It also releases fatty acids used for energy. High levels of glucagon oppose insulin resistance.


Why is Insulin Important?

Insulin is an important and necessary hormone and many essential functions. Without insulin, the body cells cannot absorb the glucose from the bloodstream, and the cells will be unable to make use of the calories from food. Insulin slows or suppresses certain processes like Gluconeogenesis, a process of formation of glucose and other carbs from non-carbodydrate sources; Lipolysis is the breakdown of fat; Glycogenolyiss is the breakdown of glycogen into glucose; Ketosis happens when body produces ketone bodies through a low carb diet; Protein synthesis. Insulin is one of the most important hormones in the body.

It seems that insulin regulates the most important process pertaining to our and the how we process it and use it for energy. Without the proper control of insulin levels we grow fat and sick. We create inflammation in our bodies, the inflammation directly relates to high insulin levels. Inflammation is the underpinning of all illnesses from Parkisons Disease to Diabetes.


What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone. And insulin is a protein. Insulin is secreted by groups of cells within the pancreas called islet cells. The pancreas is an organ that sits behind the stomach and has many functions in addition to insulin production. The pancreas also produces digestive enzymes and other hormones. Carbohydrates (or sugars) are absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream after a meal. Insulin is then secreted by the pancreas in response to this detected increase in blood sugar. Most cells of the body have insulin receptors which bind the insulin which is in the circulation. When a cell has insulin attached to its surface, the cell activates other receptors designed to absorb glucose (sugar) from the blood stream into the inside of the cell. Once insulin fills the cell the extra insulin not binded to the cell gets stored as fat. Once this cell is filled with insulin, it becomes locked and we cant get energy out of the cell.




Sunday, March 28, 2010


Why Grains Are Not Even a "Cheat."

Grains Suck and You Should Not Eat Them

(Excerpts from Robb Wolf’s “Damn Dirty Grains”)*

To improve how we look, feel, and perform, we need to have the right stuff on our plates more than we need to have the right proportions.

Grains should not be on our plates.

Most of the problems related to grain consumption can be lumped into one of two categories:
1. Hyperinsulinemia
2. The irritant/toxicant properties inherent to the grains

Grains are mostly starchy carbohydrate, and starchy carbohydrate, when consumed in any amount, causes the release of a significant dose of insulin. The starch in grains can be subdivided into two basic forms, both comprised of glucose, amylose and amylopectin. Grains are made up of differing amounts of amylose and amylopectin, and this variation accounts for differences in the glycemic index of various grains.

"Hello, Dominoes Pizza. How Can I Kill You?"
Any type of processing (cooking, milling) breaks up both the varieties of starch molecules, thus facilitating digestion. Easier digestion means a greater insulin response. The making of pizza crust fractures the starch grains in such a way that the body produces more insulin in response to pizza crust than raw glucose!
Grains can have a fairly wide-ranging glycemic index and thus insulin response and various forms of processing can greatly increase both those numbers and consequently their impact on our health.

One of the fallacies that is still spewed forth by the likes of the ADA is that slow-releasing carbs (beans, whole grains) causes a flat insulin response and consequently do not pose a problem. This is true only if one is consuming grains as condiments, as in a tablespoon here and there. Eat them a cup at a time, and not only does blood glucose level rise dramatically, but it stays elevated for a long time. Research is pretty conclusive that the insulin spike is more detrimental than the lower level chronically elevated insulin, but the end results are the same: Syndrome X, AKA the Metabolic Syndrome (You always need multiple names for things in science and medicine to ensure that as few people as possible have an idea of what is going on).
Grains, both processed and unprocessed, are a major player in metabolic derangement in that they are almost entirely carbohydrate and they are typically consumed in large quantities.
Let’s look more closely at what Syndrome X is. The signs and symptoms of Syndrome X include high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, high risk of stroke and heart attack… and a bunch of other stuff. Professor Loren Cordain wrote a paper that sheds some light on some of that “other stuff” Called “Syndrome X: Just the Tip of the Hyperinsulinemia Iceberg”. That “other stuff” runs the gamut from cancer to myopia, but many diseases that have been associated with Syndrome X and hyperinsulinemia are slowly being put under the umbrella of Chronic Inflammation. We know that we are onto something hot when Barry Sears has a new topic that allows him to re-hash his Zone offerings. The Anti-Inflammation Zone is his most recent contribution to the Zone book club.
The main point is grains pack a potent impact with regards to insulin response and that can lead to a variety of problems.
Inflammation has many factors, including antioxidant and essential fatty acid status, but one of the key contributors to the condition we call inflammation is insulin level.

Another sub category of irritants/toxicants includes items such as gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains. It is also categorized under a huge family of molecules called lectins. Many of these lectins actually damage or destroy the gastrointestinal tract.

In the small intestine we have structures called microvilli that interact with the food in our intestines. Microvilli are covered with enzymes that help to digest and transport food particles into the blood stream or lymph. Certain proteins such as gluten found in wheat, rye and barley cause a severe autoimmune reaction in some individuals, which is called Celiac Sprue.

Celiac is a full-blown autoimmune reaction in which the microvilli of the intestines are destroyed. This condition makes it nearly impossible to absorb fats, minerals and many vitamins.

Not everyone shows a full blown celiac response; however, irritation is present with virtually all grain consumption. This lower level irritation has been broadly labeled as “leaky gut syndrome” and is emerging as a primary player in all autoimmune disorders.

The theory is that once the gut lining is damaged, large food particles are able to make their way into the blood stream. Once there, your immune system mounts an attack against these foreign, undigested food particles. These particles may have elements that are similar in structure to your body's own proteins. In response, your immune system produces antibodies that will attack your own tissues. Thus, the seed of autoimmunity has then been sown (nice grain cliché, no?).

This is something that has been kicked around for many, many years, but some other very interesting disease processes have been uncovered, like schizophrenia and congestive heart failure, which appear to owe their existence, at least in part, to leaky gut. Nay Sayers (read also: The Ignorant) frequently make the point that not everyone gets celiac. That is true, but across all species tested, grains cause gut irritation. Check PubMed. This knowledge has even allowed the design of experiments looking at gut permeability and autoimmunity.

Grains also have a highly addictive nature beyond the carbohydrate content. They contain opiate-like substances that can be very problematic. Not surprisingly, these opioid constituents can be concentrated in dairy. Makes one look at pizza in a new and frightening way.

Grains are not just bad for humans; they give livestock some serious problems as well, ranging from creating heat and acid resistant forms of E. Coli to completely altering the fatty acid and nutrient content of meat. Grass-fed meat should contain significant amounts of n-3 fatty acids, alpha lipoic acid, CLA, Vitamin E and loads of carotenoids. Grain fed meat is the protein version of cardboard.


Another good source for Paleo cooking:

My Paleo Kitchen

I'll add the link to favorite's as well, look to the left.