I was planning on writing an article for New Year's resolution folks, and then got this from Dr. Sears. It's so great to see other progressive professionals preaching what I do. His article was so good, I just cut and pasted it here. I will post a blog entry soon about specific tips for brain training to help with your fitness resolution, so stay tuned! -PJ
Al Sears, MD
11903 Southern Blvd. Ste. 208
Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411
January 01, 2009
Dear PJ ,
Losing weight is probably at the forefront of your mind this time of year. So here’s a “doctor-recommended” resolution for you to take into the New Year: work out less and eat more.
I’m not kidding. One of the discoveries I’ve made in my years of working with people on fitness and weight loss is what I believe to be the nature of “true” exercise—short bursts of high-intensity workouts.
The reason’s simple: your body wasn’t designed for long, repetitive exercise. What your physiology really evolved to handle is short, intense periods of exertion, followed by rest.
Think about it: is there any circumstance you can picture that would have led our ancestors—early caveman—to run seven miles three days a week or isolate their biceps and work them until they couldn’t lift a one-pound rock?
I can’t think of one.
Same goes for diet. There’s a right way and a wrong way. The bulk of the calories in the pre-agricultural diet came from lean, wild-caught meats, fat from the kill, and above-ground edibles, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
This is what you were meant to survive on. Millions of years of evolution created a digestive system optimally suited to processing protein and fat.
What’s more, if you over-consume protein, your native physiology interprets it as “the hunting is good” and starts to shed excess fat stores, since they’re then seen as inefficient drags on speed and energy levels by the body.
Modern medicine is finally waking up to the health benefits of this approach. Diabetes experts just this year found that high-protein dieting really does lead to lower fat stores and more lean muscle. They’re looking at it as a way to prevent or even reverse the effects of diabetes.1
Another study published late last year found the same thing: the authors concluded that low-carb dieting promotes weight loss, brings soluble fat levels in the blood into balance, and “can be simply incorporated into a person’s lifestyle.”2
The most up-to-date research on high-intensity, low-duration workouts also supports my point about exercise.3
Scientists at McMaster University in Canada took 20 healthy men and women with an average age of 23 and put them on a weekly workout schedule using stationary bikes. Some exercised five days a week, doing 40 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling. Others did four to six sets of 30-second sprints on the cycle, allowing 4.5 minutes of recovery time between sets; their total exercise time was about 15 to 25 minutes—for only three days a week.
After six weeks, the researchers found that the intense sprint interval training improved the structure and function of arteries just as much as traditional, longer endurance exercise—without all the wear and tear.
So start eating more protein—ideally from grass-fed, organic, or wild caught meats—and go for shorter, high-intensity workouts!
Best wishes for the New Year from all of us here at the Center for Health and Wellness.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1. Brehm BJ, D’Alessio DA. “Benefits of high-protein weight loss diets: enough evidence for practice?” Current Opinions in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity. 2008. 15(5):416-21.
2. Thomas DE, Elliott EJ. “Low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load diets for overweight and obesity.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007. (3):CD005105.
3. Rakobowchuk M et al. “Sprint interval and traditional endurance training induce similar improvements in peripheral arterial stiffness and flow-mediated dilation in healthy humans.” American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology. 2008. 295(1):R236-42.