frequently asked questions

 
You will find answers to most of your questions in The Calorie Myth. Your first step is to read the book; then come here for additional information. To easily search for frequently asked questions here, hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard, press F, start typing in the subject of your question, and use the “next” or “^” button in your web browser to find your answer. For example, if you are curious about recipes and meal plans, hold CTRL, press the F key, type recipe, and press the “next” or “^” key in your web browser a few times.

If you cannot find your answer here, please post your question in The Smarter Science of Slim Support Group and there you’ll find others who are experienced with this program who can give you more information.

 

top 12 most common questions

  1. How quickly should I see results?
  2. Where can I find SANE recipes and meal plans?
  3. Where can I watch Smarter Exercise videos?
  4. Is SANE eating any different for children?
  5. What about alcohol?
  6. What is a “serving?”
  7. How does The Smarter Science of Slim eating compare to traditional diets like Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Paleo?
  8. Should I avoid traditional exercise?
  9. What are some easy SANE snacks?
  10. How should I read nutrition labels?
  11. The Smarter Science of Slim cites dozens of international research studies that show natural fats aren’t bad, but then goes on to recommend lean meats, a blend of egg whites with whole eggs, and low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Is this a contradiction?
  12. What are your thoughts on organic, wild-caught, grass-fed, local, etc. foods?

 

SANE eating

  1. What do I do if I’m too full to eat all of the SANE food recommended in the book?
  2. What are SANE and inSANE foods?
  3. What are examples of SANE and inSANE foods?
  4. Can I be SANE and be a vegetarian?
  5. How do I eat SANEly on the go?
  6. Can I eat artificial sweeteners and stay SANE?
  7. Can I use cooking oils and butter and stay SANE?
  8. Are spices, seasoning, and salt SANE?
  9. What about low-carb products such as bread that contain more fiber and protein than carbs?
  10. Why aren’t apples, bananas, and grapes considered SANE?
  11. How can I deal with cravings for salty, sweet, and crunchy foods?
  12. What are good sources of on-the-go protein?
  13. Can I eat less than noted in the book and still unclog?
  14. What do I do if I’m not hungry enough to eat more than two or three times per day?
  15. How can I quickly separate egg yolks from egg whites?
  16. Why should I eat egg whites vs. whole eggs? Why should I eat low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat plain Greek yogurt vs. the full fat variants?
  17. What makes a protein bar SANE or inSANE?
  18. Is there a printable version of the grocery list provided in the book?
  19. Is it expensive to eat SANEly?
  20. Are sugar alcohols SANE?
  21. Is milk SANE?
  22. Is quinoa SANE?
  23. Is brown rice SANE?
  24. Is honey SANE?
  25. How do I incorporate milled flax seeds into my diet?
  26. How can I eat more and burn more body fat?
  27. What about the reported mercury in seafood and heavy metals found in some protein supplements?
  28. What about “cheat days?” Do I have to eat unlimited low-quality food occasionally?
  29. What are your thoughts on juicing?
  30. What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting?
  31. Do I have to count calories and create a caloric deficit while eating SANEly to burn fat?

 

smarter exercise

  1. How much resistance should I be using when I do eccentric exercises?
  2. I have a heart condition. Can I exercise smarter?
  3. I don’t have a place to do Assisted Eccentric Pullups at home. What should I do?
  4. I weigh too much to do Assisted Eccentric Pullups. What should I do instead?
  5. What specifically should I use for resistance for Assisted Eccentric Overhead Presses?
  6. Do I have to use a bike for smarter cardio or would other machines like ellipticals work?
  7. The type of exercise you describe in the book makes my muscles very sore. Is that a good thing?
  8. Would you recommend that I work with a personal trainer?
  9. Can I just do more exercise with slightly lower resistance and achieve the same results?
  10. Is there a printable version of the workout log provided in the workbook?
  11. How can I exercise less and burn more body fat?
  12. How much should I exercise?
  13. Why does exercising less–but smarter–work so well?
  14. Will eccentric or high-quality brief interval training help with sport-specific goals such as a better golf swing or a better 5k time?
  15. What do you think about exercise programs such as P90X or Insanity?

 

miscellaneous

  1. All of this research is well and good, but doesn’t eating less and exercising more have to make me burn fat?
  2. How does your research mesh with The China Study research?
  3. What about the professor who ate a Twinke diet and lost 27 pounds?
  4. As we age it seems harder to keep fat off. Why is that and is there anything we can do about it?
  5. What about athletes? Does your research suggest a different eating or exercise approach for them?
  6. What do you think about gastric surgeries?
  7. Is there an app for SANE eating and Smarter Exercise?
  8. Why did you write The Smarter Science of Slim?
  9. What is the biggest myth you uncovered during your research?
  10. What is the set-point weight and how to hormones influence it?
  11. Why is eating more–but higher-quality–food so important, and is it practical in today’s busy world?
  12. My husband and I both recently started eating SANEly, and the pounds are dropping off of him, while I’m not losing much weight at all. What’s happening here?
  13. I have had kidney stones, and my doctor has prescribed a low-oxalate diet to prevent them from recurring. Can I still eat SANEly?
  14. I have arthritis in my hips and shoulders. Can I still exercise eccentrically?
  15. I am a wheelchair user due to a spinal cord injury. Can SANE eating help me lose fat and build muscle?
  16. I just learned that I’m pregnant! Can I keep eating SANEly and exercising eccentrically?
  17. I have diabetes. Is there anything special I need to know before starting a SANE and eccentric lifestyle?
  18. I have been diagnosed with an eating disorder and I am very afraid of gaining weight. Can SANE eating help?
  19. What are the terms of service and other super interesting legal things for this and related sites?

 

Answers

top 12 most common questions

How quickly should I see results?

See The Calorie Myth.

Where can I find SANE recipes and meal plans?

See Chapter 25 of The Calorie Myth. There are also some wonderful recipes in the companion E-book, “7 Days of SANEity”, available in our Premium Seminar Package.

Where can I watch Smarter Exercise videos?

The exercise how-to videos are available in our Premium Seminar Package.

Is SANE eating any different for children?

Check-out this blog post.

What about alcohol?

Calories provided by the vast majority of alcoholic beverages are inSANE. That doesn’t mean we must avoid all alcoholic beverages. It means that given our goal of minimizing inSANE calories, the best alcoholic beverages are those with the least calories. For example, choose wine instead of beer, clear liquor versus brown liquor, completely avoid sugar saturated mixes…e.g. fruit juice or soda.

Also see this discussion, and this podcast,

What is a “serving?”

See The Calorie Myth. There is also the wonderful companion EBook The Smarter Science of Serving Sizes in the Premium Seminar Package.

How does SANE eating compare to traditional diets like Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Paleo?

 

Atkins

Note: Please also enjoy this blog post: Is SANE Eating a Low-Carb Diet?

Premise
Eat as much as you want as long as it is fat or protein.

Strengths
You won’t be hungry and you will feel satisfied because you can eat savory foods such as steak, bacon, cheese, etc.

Weaknesses
– Variety. The vast majority of foods contain carbohydrate and are therefore
prohibited.
– There’s a risk of malnutrition if one does not follow a properly formulated low-carb diet.

 

Weight Watchers/Calorie Counting

Premise
Eat whatever you want, just not more than X calories worth of it.

Strengths
Diversity. No foods are off limits. Portion control more important than type of food.

Weaknesses
– There’s a major risk of malnutrition.
– Chronic hunger makes this technique unsustainable for 95% of the population.
– Counting calories is impractical in most real-world situations. Side effects
include lethargy, depression, slowed metabolism, muscle loss, poor mood,
decreased mental performance.

 

Paleo

Paleo is wonderful and SANE. A paleo lifestyle is strongly supported by my research.

If you like paelo, The Smarter Science of Slim will provide a mass of scientific backing and some additional options for you. It is also my impression that the specific exercise recommendations in The Smarter Science of Slim are unique…but in line with paleo’s “quality” over “quantity” thoughts on exercise.

The academic research of doctors Eaton, Konner, and Cordain (pioneers in the paleo movement) is leveraged significantly in The Smarter Science of Slim. I am a big fan of paleo; however, for those who are hormonally “clogged”, some aspects of the most common paleo diets (such as eating high-sugar fruit, honey, and potatoes) may not be be SANE enough for optimal fat loss.

 

The Smarter Science of Slim

Premise
Eat whatever you want and as much of it as you want as long as it has been scientifically proven to burn fat and boost health in the long term.

Strengths
– 100% rooted in the scientific method. 100% based on the world’s best and most robust scientific research.
– Endorsed by the world’s top medical and research institutions such as The Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, etc.
– Flexible, sustainable, and practical.
– Satisfying. You will never be hungry or experience hunger related side-effects.
– Promotes optimal health and performance.
– Requires less time and money than traditional diet and exercise programs.
– Holistic…covers eating and exercise.
– Encourages a wide variety of high-nutrition foods.

Weaknesses
– Requires a fundamental lifestyle change.
– The workout is very challenging.
– It is not the right approach if you want to lose 10 pounds by next week. It focuses on long-term metabolic repair and optimal health versus short-term weight loss.
– Transitioning away from starches and sweets is a challenge.

Should I avoid traditional exercise?

No. Traditional exercise is wonderful for health. However, it is not effective at clearing the hormonal clog that causes chronic weight gain.

Please also see this discussion.

What are some easy SANE snacks?

Please see this blog post.

How should I read nutrition labels?

Please see this blog post.

The Smarter Science of Slim cites dozens of international research studies that show natural fats aren’t bad, but then goes on to recommend lean meats, a blend of egg whites with whole eggs, and low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Is this a contradiction?

 

Please listen to this segment from the Balanced Bites podcast

 
The fats in seafood and plants (flax seeds, chia seeds, coconuts, avocados, cocoa, almonds, etc.) are phenomenal for our health and for hormonal healing. To ensure that we can enjoy these foods fully and also enjoy other natural sources of fat, I recommend lean meats, mixing whole eggs with egg whites, and lower-fat plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, all of which contain natural fats. By enjoying full-fat seafood and plants along with lean meats, eggs, and dairy, we can provide our bodies with the most diverse and healthy array of natural fats without skewing away from a balanced intake of one macronutrient (aka protein, carbohydrate, and fat). It’s not about low-fat. It’s about ensuring a diverse array of the healthiest natural fats available.

Also keep in mind that if you are seeking to eat a good source of protein (aka a food that provides most of its calories from protein), the meat, egg, and dairy recommendations in The Smarter Science of Slim are great options not because the full-fat variants are bad, but because it’s only the leaner variants that get most of their calories from protein rather than fat. For example, whole eggs are 63% fat and 35% protein. Getting the vast majority of their calories from fat, eggs are good sources of fat. If you want to use eggs to provide your body with specifically protein, mixing egg whites (3% fat and 91% protein) with whole eggs provides a mixture that gets most of its calories from protein. More simply, if you eat eggs as a source of fat, whole eggs are fine. If you eat eggs as a source of protein, you would be well served to mix egg whites with whole eggs to ensure that you are eating mostly protein.

Note: Eating reduced fat/low-fat anything is only desirable if the fat is not replaced with sugar. Low-fat food that is chock-full of sugar is terrible for health and fat loss.

Please also see this blog post.

What are your thoughts on organic, wild-caught, grass-fed, local, etc. foods?

I would classify organic, wild-caught, grass-fed, local, etc. SANE foods as “Super-SANE.” They are fantastic, but they are not practical for many, and are not required to go SANE.

If you are able to eat so much of these optimal choices that you are too full for starches and sweets, then you will have achieved super-SANEity. However, if the choice is between eating some organic starches and sweets along with some organic SANE foods (because purchasing enough organic SANE foods is cost prohibitive), I’d highly recommend sticking with conventional but SANE choices. A completely SANE lifestyle (aka conventional non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, and natural fats) will result in better health and fitness than a part super-SANE and part inSANE lifestyle.

At the risk of being redundant, if the choice is between a little wild caught fish and a lot of rice and bread (because the fish is so darn expensive) and a lot of conventional fish and a lot of conventional non-starchy vegetables (because both are quite affordable), I recommend the latter. Certainly, a lot of wild caught fish accompanied by a lot of organic non-starchy vegetable is ideal, but hopefully the point is clear.

  • Super SANE: Organic, local, etc., + not processed + high in water, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals
  • SANE: High in water, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals
  • In between SANE & inSANE: Not as much water, fiber, protein, and not as many vitamins and minerals as I’d like, but much better than starches and sweets.
  • inSANE: Low in water, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals

What do I do if I’m too full to eat all of the SANE food recommended in the book?

Every time you eat, enjoy the SANE food until you are full and then stop. As long are you are eating enough (in order of volume) non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, berries/citrus, and nuts/flax and you are too full for starches and sweets, you are doing great. The key is to stay satisfied and SANE. No need to eat until you are uncomfortable.

What are SANE and inSANE foods?

Listen to this 7 minute radio interview excerpt.

What are examples of SANE and inSANE foods?

Listen to this 3 minute radio interview excerpt.

Can I be SANE and be a vegetarian?

Yes. The eating SANEly is as applicable to vegetarians as it is to non-vegetarians. For example, this vegetarian reader reversed her diabetes and lost 42 lbs. in less than four months by going SANE. While research shows eating fish and lean meat aids in fat loss and robust health, that does not mean we must eat fish and lean meat to accomplish these goals. There are many vegetarian sources of protein. I’ve found that doing a quick web search for “vegetarian bodybuilding” provides a wealth of resources enabling you to get about a third of your calories from high-quality protein, carbohydrate, and fat, respectively, without eating meat, seafood, etc. It’s less about “you must eat this” and more about: “Here are the foods which have been proven to help burn fat and boost health for the long term. Adjust and modify as much or as little of this as you like depending on your goals.”

Please also see this discussion.

How do I eat SANEly on the go?

Wash and cut up a variety of non-starchy vegetables that you enjoy raw, and put a 3-4 servings in a container. Add a small container of raw unsalted nuts. And to that, a serving of lean protein (leftover cooked chicken or fish, some beef jerky, a Quest® bar, or a serving of whey protein powder in a shaker container), and you’ve got a great meal to eat away from home.

Can I eat artificial sweeteners and stay SANE?

Yes. A perfectly SANE lifestyle would not contain any sweeteners. However, if your goal isn’t perfection, artificial sweeteners are far less detrimental for our health and fitness than caloric sweeteners such as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

Can I use cooking oils and butter and stay SANE?

Yes. Simply use as little of them as possible, and stick with avocado oil, coconut oil or butter for cooking, and olive or avocado oil for salads.

Are spices, seasoning, and salt SANE?

Yes. Use everything other than salt as much as you’d like. Salt is fine in moderation.

What about low-carb products such as bread that contain more fiber and protein than carbohydrate?

If a food contains more fiber and more protein than carbohydrate, then it is probably SANE in low quantities, if net carbs are low. A good rule of thumb is total carbs minus fiber should be less than 10 grams per serving and eat no more than one or two servings per day. The exception here would be that if the food also contains a lot of unnatural fats added to it, it should be avoided.

Why aren’t apples, bananas, and grapes considered SANE?

They are high in sugar and stimulate insulin release, and therefore are more Aggressive and less Nutritious than berries and citrus fruits.

How can I deal with cravings for salty, sweet, and crunchy foods?

Please see this blog post.

What are good sources of on-the-go protein?

- Protein bars with at least four times more protein than sugar
– Beef or turkey jerky
– Lunch meat
– Soy nuts
– Whey protein in a bottle (just add water and shake)
– Canned tuna, salmon, chicken, etc.
– Freeze low-fat cottage cheese or low-fat plain Greek yoghurt and let it thaw for a couple of hours
– Freeze cooked lean meat and let it thaw for a couple of hours

Can I eat less than noted in the book and still unclog?

Yes. Every time you eat, enjoy the food until you are too full for starches and sweets and then stop. As long as you are eating (in order of volume) non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, berries or citrus, and flax seeds or nuts you will unclog. Click here to see an example of a SANE grocery shopping cart.

What do I do if I’m not hungry enough to eat more than two or three times per day?

Only eat when you are hungry. And whenever you eat, stay as SANE as possible.

How can I quickly separate egg yolks from egg whites?

Wash your hands. Crack the eggs in a bowl. Reach in and gently scoop out a yolk using pointer, middle, and index finger. Hold the yolk for three seconds and the white will “fall off.” Repeat and in thirty seconds you will have six egg whites. Wash your hands afterwards.

Why should I eat egg whites vs. whole eggs? Why should I eat low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat plain Greek yogurt vs. the full fat variants?

 

Please listen to this segment from the Balanced Bites podcast

 
Whole eggs are healthy sources of fats since the majority of eggs’ calories come from fat versus from protein or carbohydrate. I recommend mixing egg whites with whole eggs to even out the ratio of protein and fat. If someone gets sufficient lean protein from other sources and takes in all the non-starchy vegetables necessary to optimize heath and weight, then whole eggs are fine. More simply, if someone eats eggs as a source of fat, whole eggs are fine. If someone eats eggs as a source of protein, she needs to mix egg whites with whole eggs to ensure she is actually eating mostly protein.

The point with the low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese is similar. If someone eats Greek yogurt and cottage cheese as sources of fat, then the full fat variants are fine. However, if someone uses these foods as sources of protein, she needs to make sure the majority of the associated calories are from protein.

Note: Eating reduced fat/low-fat anything is only desirable if the fat is not replaced with sugar. Low-fat food that is chock-full of sugar is terrible for health and fat loss.

To be really clear, it’s not about fearing fat. Rather, it’s about maximizing our intake of foods rich in water, fiber, and protein. We should enjoy fat freely, just after focusing first on water, fiber, and protein.

Please also see this blog post.

What makes a protein bar SANE or inSANE?

A SANE protein bar contains at least four times more protein than sugar. Also, the fewer ingredients, the SANEr the bar is. I enjoy Quest protein bars. Note that the vast majority of bars out there are not SANE protein bars. They contain more sugar than anything else and should be avoided.

Is there a printable version of the grocery list provided in the book?

Yes…it’s available in the Premium Seminar Package.

Is it expensive to eat SANEly?

It is dramatically more expensive to be sick and overweight than it is to eat SANEly.

The SANE foods which are potentially the most costly are non-starchy veggies, lean protein, and fruit. For individuals on a budget, SANE eating is possible in well under ten dollars a day if we focus on:

  1. Frozen non-starchy veggies and fruit bought in bulk (cost per serving: less than $1)
  2. Canned seafood (tuna, salmon, etc.) and meat (canned chicken breast etc.)…ideally bought in bulk (cost per serving: less than <$1)
  3. Nuts and seeds bought in bulk (cost per serving: less than $0.5)
  4. Whey protein powder bought in bulk (cost per serving: less than $0.5)

Using these guidelines, a typical person could eat SANEly for as little as $5 per day.

Are sugar alcohols SANE?

Sugar alcohols, such as xylitol and erythritol do not cause the same unhealthy and fattening hormonal response as sugar. This is why foods designed for diabetics (individuals whose hormonal system has broken down) rely heavily on sugar alcohols. While sugar alcohols are not nearly as SANE as non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, select dairy, berries, citrus, nuts, and seeds, and can lead to bloating, diarrhea and flatulence when over consumed, they are healthier than sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or other caloric sweeteners. If we must sweeten something and the choice is between sugar and sugar alcohols, go with sugar alcohols.

Is milk SANE?

2% or whole = inSANE
Skim = not SANE, but ok in very small amounts

Is quinoa SANE?

It is a starch so it is not SANE. 222 calories of quinoa contain 5g of fiber and 8g of protein. 222 calories of spinach contain over six times more fiber and about four times more protein.

Is brown rice SANE?

It is a starch so it is not SANE.

Is honey SANE?

It is a caloric sweetener so it is not SANE.

How do I incorporate milled flax seeds into my diet?

They are great on salads, in whey protein smoothies, as “breading” on fish and chicken, and added to plain Greek yogurt. You can even use them in place of flour in baked goods.

How can I eat more and burn more body fat?

Listen to this 2 minute radio interview excerpt.

What about the reported mercury in seafood and heavy metals found in some protein supplements?

Whether it’s pesticides on plants, hormones in meat, or mercury in seafood, there’s a lot to be improved about the modern food system. Ideally, one would have the time and finances to eat local and organic plants, local and grass-fed-hormone-free meat, and sustainably procured mercury-free seafood. In a less than ideal world, if we have to choose between foods with zero unique health benefits that have been proven to lead to debilitating illness and obesity in hundreds of millions of people (aka starches and sweets), and foods with proven unique health benefits and theoretical suboptimal side-effects if consumed in almost unrealistic amounts (aka fish with trace amounts of mercury in it), go with the latter. In short, I recommend the aforementioned ideal. If that’s not possible, I recommend going with “proven good + theoretical bad” instead of “proven bad.”

We have to eat something. In the absence of ideal, I recommend foods that theoretically cause minor side effects over foods that have been proven to cause major side-effects.

Regarding whey protein, simply do a bit of web research to ensure that your brand is free of unwanted material.

What about “cheat days?” Do I have to eat unlimited low-quality food occasionally?

None of the research underlying The Smarter Science of Slim showed that you *must* have a cheat day. It’s best characterized as an option because my research did suggest:

  1. An unclogged fat metabolism system doesn’t store calories. It burns excess calories. Therefore, much like a healthy immune system can heal itself after the occasional virus, as long as we unclog and keep ourselves that way, our healthy fat metabolism system can heal itself after the occasional cheat day.
  2. Whatever we do for our health and fitness, we must keep up long-term. Therefore, if SANE eating 6 out of 7 days enables someone to stay SANE for a lifetime while SANE eating 7 out of 7 days would cause them to stop after a couple of months, cheat days are critical for that individual.

What a lot of people find is that after a couple of months—or even weeks—of SANEity, their tastes begin to change and cheat days become less appealing. Much like a vegetarian has no desire to “cheat” and devour a 16oz steak, many “long-time” SANE eaters find low-quality starches and sweets unappetizing.

What are your thoughts on juicing?

  1. I fully support and encourage drinking a lot of non-starchy vegetables sweetened with some berries and citrus fruits.
  2. The research is clear that consuming whole foods is optimal for our health and fitness.
  3. Given 1 and 2, I strongly advise blending whole foods rather than destroying the whole food with a juicer.

Note: For added drinkability, add more water to the non-starchy vegetables and fruits when blending.

Note: Reconditioned Vitamix blenders can be purchased on the Vitamix website for $329 along with an unconditional 5 year warranty ($66 per year…$0.18 per day). This is the blender I use and absolutely love. Get the large 64oz. jar. I have no affiliation with the company and am receiving nothing for this recommendation.

What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting?

There’s been some recent research which may be of interest to those considering intermittent fasting: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1195517.

Keep in mind that however frequently you choose to eat, the quality of food eaten is the key to long-term health and fitness. If going long periods of time without eating makes you more likely to eat low-quality inSANE starches and sweets, I’d recommend staying so full of non-starchy veggies, high-quality protein, and whole food natural fats that you feel great and are too full for starches and sweets.

Bottom Line: Eat whenever works for you, and ensure that when you eat you are eating high-quality SANE foods.

More Info

More Info

Do I have to count calories and create a caloric deficit while eating SANEly to burn fat?

Please see this discussion.

Smarter Exercise

How much resistance should I be using when I do eccentric exercises?

Please see this blog post.

I have a heart condition. Can I exercise smarter?

Before you start any new exercise program, you must check with your doctor. An eccentric exercise program is one of the safest that you can do; but you should never start a new program without medical clearance from your personal physician.

I don’t have a place to do Assisted Eccentric Pullups at home. What should I do?

Try something like the Iron Gym or heavy resistance bands.

I weigh too much to do Assisted Eccentric Pullups. What should I do instead?

You can go to a gym and do pulldowns or seated rows. You can also work with a lower bar, or use heavy resistance bands to get the same results. If you don’t know how to use the equipment in the gym, it’s important to schedule a session with a trainer to make sure you are doing these exercises safely and correctly.

What specifically should I use for resistance for Assisted Eccentric Overhead Presses?

Buy a few inexpensive dumbells. These can also be useful for Assisted Eccentric Squats when you need to add resistance.

Do I have to use a bike for smarter cardio or would other machines like ellipticals work?

Yes. As long as you are able to increase the resistance so high that you are able to work your muscles so deeply that you must stop after thirty seconds (while also not moving so fast that you risk injury).

Note that it is not possible to do smarter cardio by running because there is no feasible way to increase resistance sufficiently without risking injury. For example, sprinting up a steep incline while wearing a weight vest and ankle weights would damage your joints and expose you to a high-risk of injury. Remember that the key to exercising smarter is maximizing resistance while minimizing risk. Using resistance training machines eccentrically is the best way to do this (eccentric body weight exercises can be sufficient for people new to resistance training). Low-impact cardio machines are useful, but not quite as effective, as they cannot offer the same level of resistance.

The type of exercise you describe in the book makes my muscles very sore. Is that a good thing?

Yes. Unless you are sore for at least four days after exercising eccentrically, then you are not using enough resistance and are not releasing an optimal amount of clog-clearing hormones. Think of it like an immunization, for you trade safe and short-term discomfort now to avoid life-threatening and long-term discomfort later.

Would you recommend that I work with a personal trainer?

Personal trainers can be excellent resources to help you learn how to exercise using proper form. They are also wonderful resources if you have pre-existing medical conditions which need to be accommodated. If you’ve never been to a gym, it’s good to schedule a session or two with a trainer to learn how to use the equipment correctly and safely. Be careful with trainers who suggest that you work out with them frequently. As you know, trainers get paid more the more often they work with their clients. Also, the only way it is possible to exercise frequently is to reduce the quality of your exercise. Spending excess money and working fewer muscle fibers is counter to long-term fat loss and robust health.

Can I just do more exercise with slightly lower resistance and achieve the same results?

No. Think about the movements necessary to move more muscle fibers, release fat-burning hormones, and drop your set-point like the movements necessary to move a heavy sofa. You can gently poke at the sofa for one, ten, or even 100 times, but no quantity of these low-force movements will achieve the result you want. The body works similarly. No quantity of low-force movements done during traditional exercise will move the muscle fibers responsible for lowering our set-point. Less, but higher-force movements, are how we move sofas as well as the muscle fibers that enable our body to burn body fat in the long term.

Is there a printable workout log available?

Yes…in the Premium Seminar Package.

How can I exercise less and burn more body fat?

Listen to this 3 minute radio interview excerpt.

How much should I exercise?

Listen to this 90 second radio interview excerpt.

Why does exercising less–but smarter–work so well?

Listen to this 3 minute radio interview excerpt.

Will eccentric or high-quality brief interval training help with sport-specific goals such as a better golf swing or a better 5k time?

Smarter exercise is primarily designed to unclog our fat metabolism system as safely and effectively as possible. If someone has different goals such as running a 5k, improving their golf swing, etc., there are ways of training primarily designed to help with those goals. While smarter exercise will improve our health and fitness globally, activity specific exercise/training is still beneficial. Think of learning to exercise smarter like learning to read. It is foundational to our long-term goals and can be augmented with additional goal-specific training if we desire.

Please also see this blog post.

What do you think about exercise programs such as P90X or Insanity?

My research suggests that when it comes to evaluating the efficacy of a given exercise technique as it relates to practical and permanent health and fitness, there are three primary criteria to look at (in priority order):

  1. Safety
  2. Sustainability
  3. Resistance

Safe – If an exercise technique isn’t safe, it’s counterproductive to the aforementioned goal. Example: Tom slips a disk in his back while powerlifting and can’t resistance train effectively for the rest of his life. Some people like to say “pain is temporary, pride is forever.” As someone who was part of a state championship Ohio football team and also blew his knee out twice playing football, pain is forever, and pride isn’t necessarily forever (talking about my high school glory became lame many years ago ;) ). In my experience, our primary goal when doing anything with food or exercise should be “first do no harm.”

Sustainable – If an exercise technique isn’t sustainable, it risks being counterproductive. Back to football. I played in Ohio (in the running for 2nd most high school football crazed state behind Texas). We did workouts at 6am and then again in the afternoon that made P90X and Insanity look relaxing. Today, just about every one of my teammates including me no longer train even close to that way either because we got hurt doing it or because it was so absurd that it soured us on exercise. This is why we often see ex-“power” athletes becoming obese. Unsustainable approaches can lead to burn out and exercise avoidance later in life.

Resistance – Increasing exercise resistance (vs. duration or frequency) is the key to hormonal healing. If an exercise technique doesn’t allow us to easily add resistance, the only way to increase intensity is to do the movement faster and that is a recipe for injury. This is why running isn’t as good as stationary biking when it comes to smarter exercise…it’s quite difficult to safely add resistance while running.

Getting back to the question, since everyone is different, I recommend that we all step back when considering various exercise options and ask:

  1. How likely am I to get hurt doing this?
  2. Will I be able to do this consistency for the rest of my life?
  3. Can I increase resistance without increasing risk?

If our answers are *not*: “I’m very unlikely to get hurt.” “Yes I can do this long term.” “Yes I can increase resistance safely.” Then we’d likely be better off getting eccentric and doing the high-quality brief interval techniques outlined in SSoS as they are maximally safe, sustainable, and resistance-friendly.

PS Speaking of football…here’s a silly clip of me back in my football days from the embarrassing pre-wedding montage video shown at our rehearsal dinner. I’m #42 in purple.

Miscellaneous

All of this research is well and good, but doesn’t eating less and exercising more have to make me burn fat?

Listen to this 4 minute radio interview excerpt.

How does your research mesh with The China Study research?

Please see this blog post.

What about the professor who ate a Twinkie diet and lost 27 pounds?

While I have not deeply researched Mark Haub’s experiment, from what I’ve seen, it appears to do a great job of demonstrating a lot of the research in
The Smarter Science of Slim. Specifically, The Smarter Science of Slim discusses the importance of both the “need” and the “ability” to burn fat…with the former driven by calorie quantity and the latter driven by calorie quality. Haub’s experiment also does a great job demonstrating that many of the foods that we are told are healthy are not…and are not helpful with creating the need or the ability to burn fat.

The thing that I liked most about Haub’s experiment is that it was an experiment. Haub’s efforts are a wonderful testament to how there are all sorts of interesting ways to drop weight temporarily…as many of us have painfully experienced firsthand. It also demonstrates how confusing things can get when we look at fat loss and health in the short-term.

In doing all of these things, Haub’s experiment also demonstrates how wonderful it would be to have a practical method of eating and exercise that we can do permanently to boost our health and burn fat forever.

Fortunately, the last forty years of research have revealed how we can live a life of long-term health and fitness: Eat as much SANE food as we want, whenever we want, and do a little—but very high-quality—exercise. With this science we stop experimenting on ourselves and boost our health and fitness practically and permanently.

As we age it seems harder to keep fat off. Why is that and is there anything we can do about it?

The hormonal balance in the body changes such that we store fat more easily; our set-point weight increases. This can be mitigated if not reversed completely by eating SANEly and exercising smarter. Results may be achieved more slowly than with younger people; but we have had MANY over-40 and even over-65 men and women show dramatic results in body composition, health, and well-being after 6-12 months of SANE eating and eccentric exercise.

What about athletes? Does your research suggest a different eating or exercise approach for them?

When it comes to achieving optimal athletic performance, right before, during, and right after the event, we need to quickly get our muscles glucose and amino acids. The most SANE option I’ve found for doing this is blending fruits with whey protein powder and consuming these shakes before, during, and after the event.

Tip: If you freeze the shakes for “during” and “after” and take them with you, the shakes will thaw and be ready for you a few hours later (no refrigeration needed).

Athletes often also have higher caloric and protein requirements. This can easily be addressed by drinking a couple of whey protein and milled flax seed smoothies per day.

What do you think about gastric surgeries?

The metabolism works the same before and after gastric surgeries. If insufficient nutrition and calories are consumed, the metabolism will slow down dramatically, burn muscle, and then burn fat. Shrinking the stomach makes it easier to get into this state. The only way it is useful is when it is combined with SANE eating and smarter exercise. If we just eat less of the diet that caused weight gain in the first place, we will be worse off in the long run because we’ll destroy our metabolism and burn muscle. Then again, if the few calories we’re able to consume after surgery are extremely SANE and are combined with smarter exercise, we can preserve our metabolism and muscle.

Bottom Line: Studies show that 95% of the time simply eating less of the traditional diet fails in the long term. Our best bet is to improve the quality of our diet and exercise. This needs to happen whether or not we have surgery. Surgery may be helpful to some, but it must be done in conjunction with a SANE diet and smarter exercise or else it will lead to a completely broken metabolism and dramatic muscle loss.

Another problem that often occurs after gastric surgery is the inability to absorb nutrients optimally; particularly iron and Vitamin B12, which are very important for proper maintenance of the blood and nervous systems. This makes it doubly important for individuals to eat enough high-quality foods after surgery. We hope that those considering surgery will consider a serious trial of SANE eating and Eccentric exercise first, because it is possible for many individuals to achieve better results than with surgery and avoid the unpleasant side effects.

Please also see this blog post and this discussion in the Smarter Science of Slim Support Group.

Is there an app for SANE eating and Smarter Exercise?

There will be in 2014.

Why did you write The Smarter Science of Slim?

I’ve always been interested in science and technical topics, and as little kid, I wanted to emulate my older brother. He was heavy into athletics and working out, and so I naturally did the same. At first, I took a traditional path to health and fitness but also read all I could in popular literature because it interested me. In fact, I got so involved in health and fitness that I became a personal trainer.

Shortly after I started working with clients, I realized how ineffective traditional approaches to health and fitness were. For example, I’d work with a client for a few weeks, and she’d drop a few pounds by following a traditional “eat less, exercise more” approach. But a few weeks later, that client would inevitably report how the pounds came right back. I tried all sorts of different techniques to make eating less and exercising more practical, but the results were the same; clients would lose weight only to find themselves heavier a few months later. This caused me to re-think what success means in terms of weight loss and health, and I realized success is not defined by short-term weight loss. Instead, it is long-term fat loss and improved health. Also, I didn’t derive much satisfaction from asking clients to feel hungry, tired, deprived, and time-crunched for the rest of their lives.

Something had to change, and I was determined to find out what that change could look like. Building on my interest in science, I started reading all the academic research on health and fitness I could find. I didn’t plan to spend a decade studying this topic; it’s just something that deeply interests me.

Immediately, I was startled by the sharp contrast between what researchers had proven about how to burn fat and boost health in the long term and what I was taught by popular literature and as a personal trainer. At that point, I was determined to get to the bottom of the disconnect between traditional assumptions regarding weight loss, diet and exercise and what scientific research had proven.

The goal of The Smarter Science of Slim is to use scientifically proven facts to show how anyone can lose fat and boost health in the long term. There aren’t many people who are going to read thousands of pages of academic research to achieve this, and I saw a great opportunity to distill what I had learned into an easy-to-read manual anyone can understand and apply.

What is the biggest myth you uncovered during your research?

Listen to this 4 minute radio interview excerpt as well as this 3 minute follow-up.

What is the set-point weight and how to hormones influence it?

Listen to this 3 minute radio interview excerpt.

Why is eating more–but higher-quality–food so important, and is it practical in today’s busy world?

Listen to this 2 minute radio interview excerpt.

My husband and I both recently started eating SANEly, and the pounds are dropping off of him, while I’m not losing much weight at all. What’s happening here?

Women, particularly those nearing or post-menopause, are hormonally different from men, and require an extra level of SANEity in order to have success with fat loss. Read this blog post.

I have had kidney stones, and my doctor has prescribed a low-oxalate diet to prevent them from recurring. Can I still eat SANEly?

Yes you can. Although you should minimize your intake of high-oxalate vegetables such as spinach and kale, you can eat a wide variety of healthy non-starchy vegetables and still keep your oxalate intake low. Also, GREEN TEA will minimize adverse effects of the oxalate you do eat. See this blog post.

I have arthritis in my hips and shoulders. Can I still exercise eccentrically?

There are many types and causes of arthritis, and of course, each person needs to deal with their arthritis in different ways depending on the pathophysiology of the condition that they are experiencing. It’s very important to integrate any new exercise program into your total health care system, and check with your doctor and other members of your health care team before starting a new exercise program. See this post: this Support Group post.

I am a wheelchair user due to a spinal cord injury. Can SANE eating help me lose fat and build muscle?

With this lifestyle, 90% of the changes you will experience are due to SANE eating. SO, YES, you can lost fat and become healthier! And of course, depending on your muscle innervation, you can also do effective eccentric strengthening, which will improve your overall health and function, increase fat loss, and increase your feeling of well-being. You’ll need to work with your physical therapist to design a program specifically suited to your particular needs.

I just learned that I’m pregnant! Can I keep eating SANEly and exercising eccentrically?

SANE eating is generally excellent during pregnancy, as long as you follow all of the specific dietary recommendations of your physician. We know that during pregnancy, exercise is absolutely essential for the health of the mother and baby; but we also know that everybody is different, and some women have special conditions that require special treatment. SO, CHECK WITH YOUR PERSONAL PHYSICIAN about the exercises you are doing, and make sure he/she agrees that they’re going to be good for you in particular. See this note: this Support Group post.

I have diabetes. Is there anything special I need to know before starting a SANE and eccentric lifestyle?

If you take insulin or an oral hypoglycemic agent your medication requirement is likely to decrease as you start eating SANEly. We would recommend making the change slowly, with careful monitoring. And it is IMPERATIVE to work with your health care team to optimize your blood sugar management as you transition to SANE eating. Here’s a helpful post.

I have been diagnosed with an eating disorder and I am very afraid of gaining weight. Can SANE eating help?

Eating disorders are complex and multifaceted and require care by an interdisciplinary team of specialists. That said, many people with eating disorders have had very good success with SANE eating along with other aspects of care in a specific eating disorder program. See this podcast.

What are the terms of service and other super interesting legal things for this and related sites?

disclaimer and disclosures

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