The underestimated organ

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The underestimated organ

liver_web.jpg

 

The organs are very deep within our physiology but as the old saying goes, out of sight out of mind!

Just to shed some light on the subject, poor organ function can be worse than originally believed. The body doesn't like change, not to mention superficial change like muscle gain and fat loss. Why drop fat when it is our back up fuel tank? The body's main function is to protect itself, the organs! If the organs are in jeopardy, everything gets put on hold. If it's a contest between your kidneys and your muscle mass, there's only one winner! We will do a whole article on something called visceral somatic inhibition, which explains how organs, muscles, nerves are all on the same nerve vortex and how a whole system can be shut down. This is the reason the signal of the left arm going numb during a heart attack, or the abdominals shut down and do not activate when there are gut problems. The body is connected to a fascinating degree!

Back to the Liver, this is the filtration system for everything that goes into the body. Food, drinks, drugs, stimulants, everything. If by any chance this system isn't working properly, all of the above substances that are consumed or inhaled will have limited and/or negative impact within the body. Also during weight gain, this organ gets put under immense strain by an increase in sub cutaneous fat (white adipose tissue), the process of lipogensis is too slow that the liver takes on this strain. This could easily lead to the liver being the back up fat storage unit (fatty liver). The inability of the liver to deal with this situation rapidly becomes problematic as toxins and hormones ideally should be filtered and excreted by the liver, if this doesn't happen, the body has to send these things somewhere (for temporary storage in the fat cells). So if you are not excreting your estrogens say hello to your increased hamstring fat accumulation.

This process already being far less than ideal, with rising leptin levels, due to excess white adipose tissue. Leptin resistance can fast become a reality and this greatly affects its synergistic (protein) hormone adiponectin in a bad way which has a major role in insulin sensitivity, lipid breakdown, beta oxidation and up regulation of uncoupling proteins. Whoa!! Did you just become insulin resistant?!? From here on in, carbohydrate intake needs to be controlled as blood sugar levels will be chronically increased, leading to increases of blood triglycerides. With our adiponectin affected, the body cannot regulate blood sugar and clear blood triglycerides. Meaning? Problem gets worse!

This increased fat storage in the liver itself is termed fatty liver, which is not ideal but isn't fatal. Another type of  Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatisis (NASH) which microscopically looks exactly the same as Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD) which can both be far more serious. So if you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, and have relatively poor nutrition, you are almost certain to have some sort of Liver problem. With insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity or excessive weight are all big signs of liver trouble. Other things that cause FLD and even liver failure;

  • Smoking
  • Excessive paracetamol 
  • Too much dietary sodium (increases blood pressure which can have adverse effects on liver)
  • Excessive sugar 
  • Drugs (even prescription)

The more of these things you expose yourself to, the lower the functionality of the liver. If the liver doesn't function properly, it cannot filter toxins and waste products out of the body. If the toxins cannot be excreted, this causes specific fat gain on different sites on the body. Not to mention a serious risk to your health if you cannot rid your body of this toxicity. So this would be a good time to consciously reduce the amount of toxins and bad chemicals we expose ourselves to. This would be a good time to mention that toxins can be eliminated via other organs, lungs, lymph nodes, colon and kidneys but the liver plays a central role in the process. 

Now there is a basic understanding of what the problem is, how do you fix it? Exercise is something that can have significant effects on fatty liver. However, I emphasise, YOU CANNOT OUTWORK A BAD DIET. If you persist with doing the things that have caused this state of the liver simply exercising will not be enough to restore the function of the liver to optimum levels. 

The word that is used abundantly throughout the health and fitness industry is 'Detox'. The basic definition of detoxification is reducing the toxicity (de-toxify). However, the general perception of detox programmes go against everything you have just learned. With copious amounts of fruit, fruit juices (all increasing blood sugar) oats, oat cakes, potatoes, brown rice, brown pasta, brown noodles, yoghurt and vegetables - being the only thing in the list I would incorporate. Physiologically to get rid of toxicity and to produce new liver cells and replace the liver cells that are damaged needs specific herbs to assist the regeneration process. Protein is the nutrient that helps cells grow and rebuild. To exclude protein while going through a 'liver detox' and include extra amount of carbohydrates is crazy especially considering that you get adequate amounts of fibre just from vegetables, without the constant glycemic load on the digestive system and ongoing overuse of insulin, this giving the pancreas a bit of a holiday too. Excessive amounts of carbs after insulin resistance has set it is a big part of why the liver toxicity has been so high. 

Fasting is also something that can be considered ideal for a detox, the logic being the digestive system gets a break and some time to self heal. Or something like that! In reality the body, given the right herbs and foods in the right concentrations will always try to heal itself. As mentioned earlier, the first port of call for the body to protect is the organs. There have been little to no concrete evidence that prolonged water fasts allow detoxification of the liver to occur. This considering how risky it is (David Blane didn't exactly look detoxified when coming out of that suspended box in the early 2000's). Intermittent fasting - which is slightly different - is long periods within the day, normally one window of 4-10 hours where food is permitted and the body gets a 'break' during this time the body has sufficient relief from the constant digestion that takes place on a daily basis. However, there has been new research to suggest that prolonged periods of fasting could actually wreak havoc on the brain. 

One thing that is completely underestimated is enough water (filtered or bottled). The liver is 85% water, so water needs to be a very important part of the detoxification process. 2-3 litres of water a day alone will help all types of liver disease, and a good portion of chronic diseases for that matter.

Other herbs and spices that help with liver detox are Silymarin which is a fruit extract that is in Milk Thistle. Turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory also Artichoke is a bitter herb that protects against Liver toxins and infections. 

Summary

There are many signs and symptoms that indicate problems with the Liver there are 2 main forms of liver damage, an alcohol induced fatty liver and a non alcoholic induced fatty liver (induced by nutrition). If the liver is damaged too much it is a huge risk to our health. Once the liver has had significant damage, it creates a situation where most of its functions become impaired and the body then has to restrict its function. The removal of toxins, hormones, and other waste products cannot be removed and this means that the body then suffers and this could lead to most of the major symptoms of liver disease. Treatment of the liver with certain foods and supplements along with continued liver protection is something that needs to be considered when attempting to detox and not just a juice day or a few days fasting as this could produce the opposite effect. The main thing is to find the cause of the Liver trouble and fix the underlying problem, otherwise the persisting re-toxifying of the body creates a bigger problem while you struggle to fix the initial smaller problem.

Kind Regards

Levi DuCran

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HCL: Fat loss science

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HCL: Fat loss science

Now on your list of 'THINGS NOT TO DO' drinking acid may well be one of them. However, a form of acid that may be standing in the way of your fat loss goals is HCL (hydrochloric acid). Now may please advise,  do not  literally drink acid!

HCL is produced in the stomach along with sodium chloride and potassium chloride, they form stomach acids. These stomach acids are imperative to survival as they help prevent most fatal chronic diseases and allow us to get the optimum nutrient uptake from the foods that we eat. We rely on mechanical breakdown (chewing) to break down food but we rely heavier on chemical breakdown (body's acids and enzymes breaking down food into components small enough to be used by the body).

Thorn FX, pharmaceutical grade supplements available through Salus.  

Thorn FX, pharmaceutical grade supplements available through Salus.  

Symptoms of low/no stomach acid:

 

  • Belching or gas 
  • Heartburn
  • Bloated stomach after eating
  • Undigested food in stool
  • Excess fullness after food
  • Preference to skip meals
  • Food allergies
  • Cramps (poor mineral absorption)
  • Osteoporosis/osteopenia 
  • Poor recovery
  • Constant sickness

Contrary to the common belief, most people (especially in the western world) do not produce enough of this critical stomach ingredient as a result of poor nutrition and low levels of stomach acid can cause:

Poor absorption of vitamins and minerals (all the trouble of hitting your 5 a day could be for nothing, and how expensive was your last bunch of supplements?)

Poor breakdown of foods (impairing recovery and also stopping lean muscle gain due to preventing muscle protein synthesis)

Inactivation of hormones and neurotransmitters (neurotransmitters are our brain chemicals)

Poor enzyme activation (meaning food doesn't get broken down enough - hence the phrase, 'it went straight through me')

Imagine this scenario, you have been given a diet plan and a training programme, stuck to it despite insane cravings (caused by inability of balancing neurotransmitters) and after 6 weeks you have not seen any major changes! It is possible that regardless of excellent food selection and commendable diligence, the food you have been eating isn't being broken down into useable parts for your body to use, you have even eaten foods you don't like! 

 

If you would prefer not to waste time on things that do not work, take out all guess work. Hormonal profiling (bio print), intolerance tests, improving stomach acid and digestive enzymes and even analysis of blood work could give you a stand out foundation and could see results before you even pick up that first weight!!! 

Fat loss can be as easy or as hard as you make it. Once you find out your individual start point, adjusting your current issues relatively quickly you can press the accelerator and go. 

Kind Regards

Levi DuCran

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Pre-workout shakes; what you need to know

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Pre-workout shakes; what you need to know

I just need a little boost!

"I've had such a long day and can't face training today! Maybe if I have a red bull just to wake me up I'll be ok". Not only is this a signal of something in your body that needs rectifying (adrenal fatigue, impaired ability to recover, excessive inflammation etc) do these 'quick solutions' have an impact on  your fat loss goals? 

 

I am seeing more and more people who are chronically tired and tell me they can't wait for the weekend, this generally directly after a weekend...we will be posting up an article on adrenal fatigue in the next week or so. Keep your eyes peeled about this one as it is a very interesting theory that most can relate to. There are not any current scientific studies to back this up...yet! Science takes a while to catch up. 

 

Having a pre workout mix or a red bull gives us energy, hence pre workout. Why? Its core ingredients are sugar, caffeine, a small amount of 'energising vitamins' with concentrations of low percentages of an already ridiculously low RDA value. Omitting the impact of adrenal fatigue, which is HUGE let's see the impact these have.

 

What people fail to realise is that they have a petrol tank inside their bodies, it's called Glycogen. This can be used for low, medium and high intense bouts of exercise. Research shows that after 60mins of intense exercise, these glycogen stores are only roughly 30% depleted. Believe me, most people don't tap into half of their petrol tank in a single workout, so no need for the Lucozade sport to rehydrate yourself, stick to water! 

 

However, at Salus, we love taking a look at the hormonal responses of the body. Once you ingest this sugar loaded pre workout drink, not only are you totally disregarding your bodies ability of Glycogenolysis (the breakdown and utilisation of this petrol tank) you are asking Insulin to make an appearance to the party. Insulin, a storage hormone is the opposite effect you want, you are in the gym to break down, right? But is a bit of storage ok if we are breaking down too? 

 

Growth hormone is secreted in response to high intense exercise, GH is a powerful fat burner! The interesting thing is that Growth hormone and Insulin share the same cell receptors, in other words, you have an ON switch and an OFF switch. Can you have a light ON and OFF at the same time? So can you have your storage hormone and your burning hormone working at the same time? So you are working out to shift that stubborn fat and although you are working hard to produce your Growth Hormone, it hasn't shown up!! 

 

Without going into copious amount of detail into the hormonal consequences of sugar filled pre workout drinks, let me just share the best way to do it.

 

Opt for a sugar and sweetener free option.

 

Caffeine can preserve your glycogen, and in the absence of ingested sugar, what fuel will be called upon? Yes, fat. So keep caffeine present. 

 

Pre workout shakes have little to no protein, more specifically Branched Chain Amino Acids and these do not result in an insulin response (unlike whey shakes) so stick to BCAA's. 

 

Coconut oil...that pause was for you to read that again, as yes it wasn't a typo. It contains Medium Chain Triglycerides which act as insulin impersonators. Also it prolongs the stimulant effect of the caffeine. 

 

This is all gearing up to one specific concoction. If I was to have a pre workout beverage (which I avoid at all costs because of the obvious psychological effect it has, over reliance on a pre workout saviour!) it would be.......

 

A black coffee with a bit of coconut oil and a serving of BCAA's to ensure less muscle wasting.

 

There are numerous pre workout shakes that are as useful for fat loss as a pre workout bag of Maltesers but there are some that are nutritionally better choices. Your aim is to fuel your body to prepare for the workout and optimise your response to it. Not to further pile the sugar on, as most do also post workout. Hold on! Is post workout nutrition as significant as pre workout? We shall tell you soon.

Whats your favourite pre-workout drink?

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Fat loss – what should I eat for breakfast

It would be very easy to just give you set breakfasts that will help promote fat loss; but if you understand the protocols that must be in place to reach your goal, you are then able to gain a greater understanding of the science behind what you’re eating thud not limiting yourself to set meal plans. 

When it comes to breakfast there are two major hormones we want to really focus on: manipulating growth hormone and insulin.

Growth Hormone (GH) is a hormone responsible for cellular growth in the human body; throughout the day, GH is synthesised, stored and secreted by the anterior portion of the pituitary gland. 

Insulin is a hormone secreted from the Pancreas after a carbohydrate meal (secretion dependant on the types of carbohydrate consumed, for example: fast digesting or slow digesting) and it's major role is to control blood glucose level, be aware that whenever you have high levels of Insulin you will have low levels of Growth Hormone as both Insulin and GH fight for the same receptors.

Now just exactly how you manoeuvre these hormones for fat loss will depend on two factors: are you training that day? If you are training; what time are you training?

Lets start with your days off… 

So, throughout the night growth hormone will have been secreted in its largest pulse, ghrelin (the hunger control hormone) will be high as you finish digesting your dinner and you stomach will be telling you to wake up and eat something. Ghrelin stimulates production of cortisol to raise your blood pressure; this will make you more sensitive to epinephrine, free up energy throughout the body and turn on gluconeogenesis to get some sugar to your brain. You’re going to wake up!

Cortisol levels will gradually decrease as you break down glycogen in your liver and muscles and before you know it, you’ll go through the whole cycle again; ghrelin levels will peak and you’ll get a small burst of growth hormone. 

What we don’t want to do is cut off this off this growth hormone by raising insulin, through high carbohydrate or sugary foods; such as cereal, toast or juice. By skipping (really just delaying) breakfast allowing your blood sugar (as well as your hormone balance) to regulate itself. Although you’ve already maximised recovery and mobilised a bunch of fat by riding out the cortisol spike (cortisol is, after all, an anti-inflammatory), you’re now in control of your metabolism and you can go in one of two directions: towards fat loss and muscle gain, or growth of both fat and muscle tissue. This is the perfect time to have your first meal and make your decision (I think I know which one you’ll pick.)

By keeping the carbs low and thus insulin low, eating a healthy dose of fat and a modest amount of protein, you will synthesise protein, mobilise fat, promote ketogenesis and maximise growth hormone secretion throughout the morning and afternoon. You’ll actually be using your body fat as energy to maintain or grow muscle. Whatever glucose your brain needs to do whatever it’s got to do; it will have available thanks to endogenous production in the liver. You’ll actually be using your body fat as energy to maintain or grow muscle. Perfect!

Now if you are training on that morning you can go another two ways, you can alternatively swap out the low carb option for something like oats and seeds, after your training session. This is a great option if your already insulin sensitive and have body fat lower then 10% for men and 15% for women. 

To summarise, steer clear of carbs first thing in the morning, to allow blood sugar levels to regulate on their own by sticking to healthy fats and a good source of protein.

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Fat burning perfection

OK, so as promised I’m going to tell you the exact process of how fat is burned and tell you the correct training principles to maximise fat loss and prevent re-esterfication. If you read the previous article I explain what exactly I mean by re-esterfication and why it’s crucial to avoid this happening. 

For the majority of us, fat burning is one of our top fitness priorities - why leave it down to guess work? Fat Burning happens in three stages:

  • Mobilisation 
  • Transportation 
  • Oxidation

MOBILISATION

First then is mobilization. In the most basic terms this simply means taking out the energy stored in fat cells, in the form of free fatty acids (FFA), to be utilised elsewhere. To release FFA from the fat cells requires the stimulation of a hormone called hormone sensitive lipase (HSL). While many different hormones have an effect HSL is the one that concerns us in terms of acute fat loss - adrenalin and insulin. It is really worth noting that, even the smallest presence of insulin will blunt HSL activity. Put simply if you have any carbohydrates in your bloodstream you will not use the energy from your fat cells. You will not burn fat. Fat burning requires your blood sugar levels to be low, so don’t eat right before you train. The Key point here has been that we require adrenaline for effective mobilization of free fatty acids which is essential for the most effective fat loss.

TRANSPORTATION

Through the process of mobilisation we have now released the energy from our fat cells in the form of FFA – free fatty acids. But these FFA’s now only sit outside the fat cells walls. We then require them to be transported evenly throughout the body via the blood stream. The amino acid Acytle L Carnitine transports free fatty acids to the muscle cells. Acytle L Carnitine stimulation is increased through high intensity training and the release of Adrenalin. So we can begin to see how again adrenalin and blood flow plays a key role in fat loss.

OXIDIZATION 

To contract our muscles we used a stored energy called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Through the process of oxidation FFA’s are converted to ATP within the muscle via the Mitochondria to be used as energy. The more muscles contracts we force our body to make the more we require ATP, and so the more FFA’s we burn up.

TRAINING PROTOCOLS

For maximum fat loss we really need to clearly lay out our time for each stage of the fat loss process, so here is an example how you can apply the science to your training and begin to get seriously shredded for the summer.

First Mobilization, if we look back to the first stage we can see that the best way to release FFA’s is the release of adrenalin. This requires us to work at maximum capacity. A short 5 minute HIT session or 10 minutes of HITT will definitely do they job. But you must remember if you don’t go all out you will not get an effective release of adrenaline. Whether its up a hill or on the treadmill, I like to do sprint intervals on a gradient. Run as hard as you can for 30 seconds followed by 60-90 seconds to recover and repeat this 7 times.

Next is the Transportation stage. All this requires is keeping your heart rate at a steady beat allowing those newly released FFA’s to be transported around the blood. This is a good chance to allow your self some time to recover ready for the next stage. I like to just do a little LSD for 10 minutes on the treadmill keeping my heart rate about 140bpm, if your not in the gym or don’t have a heart rate monitor, just run for 10 minutes but there is no need to allow yourself to go into a heavy breathing pattern.

To finish, Oxidation. Now this is the reason why people keep going on about weights for effective weight loss and believe me there is no better way to burn up ATP then lifting heavy weights. However, its not as simple as standing in front of the mirror with your 5Kg dumb bells doing a few bicep curls, this will get you nowhere! We are looking to create the most muscle contractions as possible. The best way to do this is to recruit our largest muscle groups through compound exercises. You want to work the full body giving priority to the bigger muscle groups. Try this - its basic, but fast and effective.

  • Back squats 2 sets 15 reps
  • Chest Press 2 sets 15 reps
  • Lat pull down 2 sets 15 reps
  • Close grip seated row 2 sets 15 reps
  • Deadlift 2 sets 15 reps 
  • Clean and press 2 sets to failure

Keep rest times to 1 minute or less between exercises and sets to keep the tempo up and the heart rate high. And if you’re comfortable making 15 reps increase the weight.

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Why is fat so hard to lose around my bum and thighs‏?

Over the next few weeks our team at Salus will be going through all the scientific facts about fat cells and fat loss, and revealing all the vital secrets to shredding the kilos for summer.

We are going to start off with some of the basics and how they relate to your fitness, well-being and body composition. Unfortunately due to the nature of fat cells, and the amount of blood flow which passes through the cells (all of which we will be covering in detail in the following articles), make some fat are a lot harder to get rid of then others, so lets see the order in which our body burns fat.

 

1.Visceral Fat

So the first to go is your Visceral fat, Visceral fat is body fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity and is therefore stored around a number of important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. Visceral fat is sometimes referred to as 'active fat' because research has shown that this type of fat plays a distinctive and potentially dangerous role affecting how our hormones function. Here at Salus we are big on hormone optimisation so its vital you work on bringing your visceral fat down. Storing higher amounts of visceral fat is associated with increased risks of a number of health problems including –

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Alzheimer's disease

NOTE: Visceral fat cannot be accessed through diet alone, I have to stress you must exercise to bring excess visceral fat down to a healthy level.

2.None stubborn subcutaneous fat of the deltoids (muscle surrounding the shoulders), upper back and arms.

Subcutaneous fat is the fatty or adipose tissue lying directly under the skin layers. Subcutaneous translates to "under the skin." It contains not only fatty tissues but also blood vessels, which supply the skin with oxygen, and nerves. Subcutaneous fat stores energy, which the body uses during periods of high activity. However too much fat can cause the skin to become tight or stretched, and result in dreaded cellulite or a dimpled look of the skin. While you can have a small impact on reducing subcutaneous fat through diet, regular exercise combined with a healthy eating plan will have a twice the impact over dieting alone.

3.Deep abdominal fat

This is similar to visceral fat; this will cause and increased rounding of the stomach. Studies on deep abdominal fat show that there is a strong correlation between that and glucose tolerance, that’s your bodies ability to deal with glucose, glucose been a simple sugar. 

4. Abdominal superficial subcutaneous fat

Heavily connected with the intake of unhealthy trans fats, the consumption of trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of the lipoprotein LDL (so-called "bad cholesterol") and lowering levels of the lipoprotein HDL ("good cholesterol"). When it comes to fat loss you will first see signs of fat loss from the upper abdominals followed later by the lower portion. For guys this will occur before we loose the love handles.

5. Fat from the hips and thighs.

Yes that’s right! Unfortunately fat from the hips and thighs are the most stubborn areas to burn, and it only gets worse! Because of the increase amount of alpha 2 receptors on fat cells in theses areas it is far easier to store fat too. 

So I’m about to ruin your day completely, due to a process called re-esterfication, you can actually gain fat around the hips and thighs even on a low fat diet. 

Let me explain how this works- You have been for a run and free up free fatty acids (FFA) from your fat cells, this has been pulled out of the most receptive areas, which is fat from your upper body, you then continue your run transporting the FFA around the body to use as energy. You then finish your run; any FFA not used up in muscle tissue will then head in the direction of the fat cells for storage. What area do you think will welcome those free fatty acids with open arms! That’s right! Without the right training principles you can shift fat from your upper body and restore it on your lower body.

Share this article if you feel it will help out a friend in need.

Peace and Love 

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