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ALAN LEVI PERSONAL TRAINING

GET STRONGER, LIVE LONGER

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The Big Cholesterol Myth

Posted on December 27, 2016 at 12:33 PM Comments comments (113)
Cholesterol has been cited as the key reason behind heart disease, it has led people to eschew eating fat for fear that it will clog their arteries and have them keeling over dead in ten minutes. They religiously go to the doctors to get their levels monitored and feel relieved when they are told their cholesterol is low or normal.

Well, I am here to tell you...it's all total cobblers.

I was first introduced to the myth of cholesterol by legendary Olympic strength Coach, Charles Poliquin, during a Biosignature course I attended, Needless to say I was shocked when he stated what a minor player it was in heart disease and that the greatest cardiovascular risk factor came from having high levels of the dangerous amino acid, homocysteine (this is an issue I will address in another article).

This view was concurred by hormonal optimization expert, Mike Mahler, who stated in a course I undertook with him, that:

Adequate cholesterol is critical for sex hormone production as cholesterol is the building block for all hormones. If cholesterol levels go too low (such as when you take statin drugs such as Lipitor) then sex hormone production will plummet. This is why loss of sex drive is common side effect with statin drugs. Loss of memory as well as cholesterol is needed for brain health.

Recently I was fortunate enough to listen to a talk by eminent nutritionist, Dr Jonny Bowden, and he confirmed all this and more.

So why did we get this so wrong? Well, in the same way that  the war about what caused fat gain pitted sugar vs fat was a major battle in the 1970's and 1980's (and fat wrongly got to take the wrap), the same can be said of the whole, "what causes heart disease" argument. 

The ramifications of this are HUGE, effectively the whole food Pyramid espoused by the Government is completely wrong.

It all boils down to poor science winning, and the result has been deeply concerning. There are potentially millions of people taking statins that should absolutely not, and the risk factors on their hormonal profiles and general health is shocking !

Common issues I see with clients on statins are joint pain, poor sex drive and memory issues, to name but a few. And did you know that statins destroy your bodies endogenous supply of Coq10, that is the spark plug of your energy producing cells, your mitochondria !!! In fact in some, more forward thinking, countries, a doctor can be struck off for NOT prescribing Coq10 when he gives out statins. If you are taking statins and feel completely lethargic...that is why !

Dr Bowden categorically states that if you are over 60 you have no business being on statins as cholesterol is CARDIO PROTECTIVE ! (a recent Japanese study backed this up)

Remember that cholesterol is the building block of all hormones...reduce this and you will have an adverse effect on the production of key hormones, for men, testosterone, for women, estrogen.

In fact Bowden has an interesting working hypothesis that posits that men in their forties are complaining more and more about erectile dysfunction, could this be the result that this is the demographic most likely to be taking statins? Less cholesterol resulting in poorer testosterone production = asking for a prescription for Viagra?

These theories are not mine, I am relating what I have learned...the key players are people like Dr Stephen Sinatra who was a darling of the pharmaceutical world till he started to doubt the linkeage between heart disease and high cholesterol. And just for the record, he is a Board Certified Cardiologist.

Other doctors to blow the whistle on the myth were the likes of Dr Mark Houston of the Nashville Hypertension Institute, and once again,  he felt it was high levels of homocysteine that were the real culprit, NOT cholesterol.

But what about "good cholesterol" and "bad" cholesterol, I hear you ask?

Well it is infinitely more complicated than having such a simplistic approach - there are sub fractions of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, that are totally harmless, like LDL A. So theoretically you could have really high levels of this and it is indicator of  no increased risk factors at all, but LDL B is highly oxidised and causes inflammatio. LDL (a) is really inflammatory, so unless you know what exact ratio you have, your doctor, to quote Bowden, "is treating a number and not a patient".
So see if you can get the Particle Test.

So what are the real key players?

Well here they are in no particular order....

1. Stress - no surprises here. You can have all sorts of issues in your body, but add stress to the bodies physiology and now you have an increased risk of any illness. Stress is a killer. 

2. High Homocysteine levels. This can be tested easily, if you eat asparagus and your wee stinks of asparagus then there is a high chance your homocysteine levels could be dangerously elevated. This is a far greater concern and I would recommend having a chat with your doctor. Normal levels should be 1-10.

3. Inflammation. "Acute inflammation hurts, chronic inflammation kills" - basically low grade ongoing inflammation is one of the key factors in your cardiovascular risk. Oxidative particles get attracted to the arterial walls as a result.

4. Glycation. Yup, its not the bugbear that is cholesterol that is sticking up your arteries and clogging your body, it is sugar! Enough of that metabolic barrelling down the arterial walls and sticking to the sides is a perfect storm for now attracting the less desirable aspects of cholesterol to add insult to injury...so hopefully you can see, there are other major players at work here well before cholesterol (as a minor player) has any negative impact whatsoever.

5. Oxidation. Too many free radicals in your body (the cancer promoting cells) and too little of the foods and drinks that mop them up and now your heart disease risk factors are going to dramatically increase.

So, here are some take home facts:

If you are concerned about your heart risk factors ask your doctor for a homocysteine test, if he is current with the literature he will know why

The ratio of triglycerides to cholesterol is a far more telling ratio. 
If it is under 2 you are safe.

Cholesterol is NOT dangerous at all until it becomes oxidised.

Do not be concerned about dietary fat and cholesterol causing arterial disease. The results of some studies of Polynesian peoples for whom coconut is the chief source of energy should put your mind at rest according to Dr Sarah Myhill, one of the leading lights in the field of chronic fatigue. She posits that statins, by reducing cholesterol (that the brain LOVES) are contributing to the epidemic of Alzheimers, 

Freely add fish oil, MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil (unheated), organic butter (Yeo Valley or Kerry Gold) to your diet, safe in the knowledge that you are fuelling your brain, as it improves fuel supply and membrane function, and is also highly cardio-protective.

Jonny Bowden has a book available on Amazon called the Great Cholesterol Myth, I highly recommend you buy it if you are concerned about cholesterol or your cardiovascular risk factors.








Butter in your coffee?

Posted on April 27, 2015 at 8:17 AM Comments comments (0)
This idea has become all the rage and I have to admit, its one fad that is actually based on good science.

Why? ... As a PT I am always asked which energy drink is the best. The answer is simple...none of them.
They are all caffeine and sugar laden rubbish.

However caffeine has been scientifically proven to improve sports performance, insulin management and digestion (its one of the few bitter herbs we consume).

Butter is rich in CLA (a fat that helps you burn fat) and the fat contained is rich in butyric acid which is anti viral and anticancer. It also acts as a constituent of the fat which protects the myelin sheath in our brains (nerves are coated in fat, much like an electrical lead is protected in plastic - protect that and your "leads" don't fray...ie Alzheimers or other examples of cognitive decline)

Last in the mix: MCT oil. This is a fat derived from coconut oil and is much more liquid than its coconut cousin. It mixes better with coffee and is rich in a liver friendly fat is more readily used as fuel for exercise/life than stored around your belly.

Another benefit of adding these smart fats to your coffee is that they delay the uptake of caffeine giving you a sustained release of energy rather than a short sharp burst, leaving you craving more.


The Recipe:

1 tablespoon of organic coffee per person (I use Cafe Directs Machu Picchu)

1 tablespoon of MCT oil (build up to 2, gradually!)

1 sliver of grass fed butter (unsalted)

I use Kerry Gold

Pop in a cafetiere, pour on boiling water, stir vigorously , steep for 5 minutes and enjoy!

The Red Meat Controversy

Posted on April 28, 2013 at 10:59 AM Comments comments (0)
There is a lot of controversy surrounding a diet high in red meat content. This started with the cholesterol controversy (which has been resoundingly debunked by guys a lot smarter than me - Dr Jonny Bowden, Dr Mercola, Dr Briffa, Coach Charles Poliquin and a number of pharmaceutical "whistle blowers" in the USA who confirm what a lot of us fear - that cholesterol is vital for body function and that reducing it could actually be counterproductive to good health!)
 
This is an argument for another day - but what is obvious from the research out there is that the old LDL = bad, HDL = good paradigm is a gross oversimplification of a far more complex issue. What we need to worry about is oxidisded cholesterol, that is the stuff that "sticks" to arterial walls and forms the plaques that obviously have serious cardiovascular risk properties. So hard cheeses are often rich in that type, which is why I always recommend to my clients that they eat more mozarrella or feta if they do like cheese.
 
So, let us, for the sake of argument, put aside the cholesterol issue. Then there is the highly controversial "China Study" which is often cited as a classic in "poor science". It was published by a vegetarian who sought to railroad his own views into the study. As an epidemiological study it seeks to jam cause and effect together. Tim Ferriss, excellent author of the exceptional "Four Hour Body" compared this kind of study to saying that there are less pirates on the planet now than hundreds of years ago, and that in that time the global climate has got warmer. Therefore a lack of pirates is responsible for Global Warming..you get the jist! The idea that people who eat red meat are more prone to coronary heart disease is also a myth, albeit one that has resoundingly stuck in peoples conciousness.
 
What I would say is this - red meat often has more fat. Fat is a great storage sight for toxins (hence the reason you feel rubbish on a fat loss diet often - the toxins released from the fat stores enter the blood stream). So, what do we do? Well I think the only way forward is to eat as organically as we conceivably can. It is better from a sustainable ethos, an ethical basis and a health perspective.
 
"Ah, alright for you to say!" I hear you shout, "but its so bloody expensive!". Well try and get down to your Farmers Market (plenty around these parts - and supportive of local business), and if does cost more - than buy organic where you can, and just eat less of it!
 
This was a brilliant tip given by Mike Mahler (a vegetarian who, rightly, abhors the horrendous practices of some factory farming practices.)
 
The crux is, eat red meat, in moderation but ensure that the source is good.
 
One additional thing I would add, which people often neglect when they waffle on about eating more red meat is...balance it with plenty of alkalizing drinks or green vegetables. It is highly acidic so you do need to get the PH balance right in your body.
 
GET STRONGER, LIVE LONGER!
 
 

Eating On The Go

Posted on April 14, 2013 at 5:30 AM Comments comments (0)
It is one of the big problems for a huge majority of clients - what do I eat when I am on the road, busy and haven't had time to prepare anything?
 
My first recommendation is cook more than you need, and have that with you (so if you cooked a chicken, then that is hot or cold snacking for days). Of course there is the issue of refridgeration, and sometimes we just don't have time to get anything ready.
 
The worst case scenario is stopping off at a petrol station to get a snack. Very few (apart from the BP garages with an affiliate Marks & Spencer) have anything remotely resembling a healthy, nutritious or comprehensive range of foods - so what do you do?
 
Well, I would always make sure that I have a tub of Super Greens (see my previous article on SuperGreens for more info), protein shaker (ideally with one of those spiral blender balls in it), protein powder and maybe protein bars in the car. So far so good, you have an excellent source of bioavailable protein, a nutrient dense carbohydrate source, and a more substantial protein source in the form of the protein bar. What you can pick up in the garage is maybe a pack of Biltong, this dried meat is delicious, lean, nutritious and doesn't require heating or cooking.
 
Now all you need to ensure you a complete balance of macronutrients is fat. Two fish oil tablets in the middle of your snack and you have the powerhouse of all essential fatty acids, oiling your joints, lubricating your brain, downgrading your bodies fat storage ability and upregulating your fat burning potential, whilst also lowering the glycaemic effect of what is already a low-carb, high nutrient dense meal.
 
Below I have posted an excerpt from my pdf e-book (still available at the VERY low cost of £2.49) on some other healthy snacks...
 
 
A handful of raw nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, walnuts)
 
Small full fat Greek yogurt

Raw vegetables
 
1 fruit portion (organic apple, pear or grapes)
 
Fibre bar
 
Protein bar (should have less than 5g of carbohydrate per 100g serving)
 
Hard boiled egg
 
A “Bounce” ball – protein ball available from Waitrose or Health Food stores
 
Celery stick
 
Protein shake
 
A Super Smoothie

Guacamole
 
2 oz of cheese (ideally feta, or mozzarella) 

Biltong

Olives
 
2 oz of (preferably) organic meat with mustard

Drinks: Water, cinnamon, chamomile or green tea
 
 
GET STRONGER, LIVE LONGER
 

What is a SuperGreen?

Posted on April 13, 2013 at 11:34 AM Comments comments (20)
If you are rubbish at getting your vegetables in, my first recommendation is to purchase SUPERGREENS. These are a marvellous shortcut and actually nutritionally superior to a scraggly bag of wilted lettuce.
 
So what are they? Supergreens have been around for years, they are produced by various companies and usually consist of chlorella, wheat grass, barley grass, and spirulina. They come in powdered form and are easily mixed with water. The taste may take a bit of getting used to and the resemblance to something Yoda would drink is inescapable, but in terms of a nutrient dense package this takes some beating, and can make up the backbone to some truly Super Smoothie's...
 
Not only are SuperGreens a very effective, portable and cost efficient method of ramping up your veg intake but they also contain:
 
Wheatgrass: this cleanses the lymph and it is believed that as little as one ounce is the equivalent of 2 pounds of vegetables
 
Chlorella:This is reputed to be a great heavy metal detoxifier that binds with pesticides and carcinogens and carries them out of the body safely. It is actually quite rich in essential fatty acids AND 20% of them are the highly important omega 3's
 
Spirulina: Anti-oxidant and anti carcinogenic and a great source of complex sugars, protein and amino acids this is a highly digestible form of microalgae
 
Barley Grass: "his improves stamina, sexual energy clarity of thought  and reduces addictions to things that are bad for you" according to Dr Howard Lutz , director of the Institute of Preventative Medicine in Washington D.C
 
Another great blood purifier, helps activate enzymes, is anti-inflamatory and nutrient dense. Helping to alkalize the blood and cleanse the blood of yeasts and fungi, what more could you ask for in a nutrient.
 
If you are interested in getting this excellent and highly digestible vegetable source then you can purchase it from my online store at the fantastic price of £18!
 
 

Asparagus Wee

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 8:24 AM Comments comments (0)
One of the principal questions I ask new clients is: "Does your urine smell of asparagus when you eat it". If the answer is "yes", we have a problem..
 
Contrary to popular belief, "asparagus wee" is not a normal, nor desirable by-product of eating this vegetable. It is symptomatic of the MTHFR gene (methylene tetra hydra folate reductase gene) and is THE key risk factor for cardiovascular health (just ask Dr Mark Houston from the Nashville Hypertension Institute). Yes, it is a greater risk indicator than even that of cholesterol (which has been overblown out of all proportion as a risk factor for heart disease by the way...)
 
Why is the MTHFR gene so dangerous? Well it was passed down to us by the Roman's during their conquest of Britain, and is an inbuilt genetic defect that prevents effective methylation (one of the many ways in which the body detoxifies itself on a daily basis).
 
This is because the body has a defect that prevents adequate absorption and usage of folates. The upshot is that you get an increase in a highly dangerous amino acid called homocysteine. When your homocysteine is elevated your risk of cardiovascular disease goes up.
 
So what can you do, well the good news is that just taking a specific supplement called METHYLATOR PLUS (£20 for 3 months supply)  can reduce your risk to that of a person without the gene in just a matter of weeks.
 
I don't doubt that there will be those who feel this is alarmist, or at the very least that they have never heard of this before. In respect to this I have put a number of pdf's with this article so, for those effected ,you can do your own research and draw your own conclusions.
 
What I would urge is that if you do have the gene, 23p a day is a small amount to pay for big piece of mind !
 
GET STRONGER, LIVE LONGER
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The PolyMeal

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (0)
From Jonny Bowdens 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth:

Researchers designed a "polymeal" that if you ate every day would reduce your cardiovascular risk by a staggering 75%. The ingredients????

Drum roll...prepare to be happy..

1. Wine
2. Dark chocolate (60%+)
3. Fish
4. Nuts
5. Garlic
6. Fruits
7. Vegetables

The best kind of chocolate (because, lets face it, that's one of the few items people are interested in) is organic, like Green & Blacks.

The best wine is Spanish because its grown high up on the hills where the grapeskins have to develop a thicker antioxidant skin. Red wine is preferable. This is particularly important for menopausal women as the dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols that are protective to the uterus and the wine is packed full of antioxidants and a bit of melatonin to aid with sleep.

Fat makes you slim

Posted on January 15, 2013 at 5:32 AM Comments comments (0)
Research conducted by Dr John Berardi and the Precision Nutrition team showed that people who consumed large dosages of fish oil (ie 10g plus per day) exhibited a 450-500 kcal increase in their basal metabolism. In other words consuming more fat actually increased your metabolism, decreased your body fat and improved lean muscle mass.
 
Fat makes you slim, its official.

Soy Sorry

Posted on December 30, 2012 at 1:03 PM Comments comments (0)
Soy is touted as a great health food, but everyone from Charles Poliquin, Jonny Bowden through to Dr Briffa all maintain that it  can do you more harm than good. Here are some reasons why:
 
1. The phytic acid that it contains can compromise your absorption of calcium, magnesium and iron
 
2. It was only recently introduced into our diet meaning we are more likely to have food sensitivity to it
 
3. The processing of soya means heavy chemical treatment - the slurry of soybeans is treated with acid and alkali solutions and there is heavy tainting of aluminium - this has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's
 
4. It can inhibit digestion
 
5. It mimics estrogen - so, if you are a man who wants man-boobs or a woman who wants a bigger bottom and chunkier thighs, eat up!
 
6. It can impair the thyroid. Thyroid hormones are responsible for metabolism, so it can help pack on weight.
 
If you are a Mother who is moving to formula with your baby, then it is not my place to tell you what to do, but PLEASE research the negative effects of soy based formula on the endocrine system!
 
GET STRONGER, LIVE LONGER !

Death Of The Diet

Posted on December 27, 2012 at 8:56 AM Comments comments (1)
Research conducted by Dr John Berardi and the Precision Nutrition team has proven what a lot of fitness professionals have been saying for years - increasing your exercise AND the amount of food you eat improves your body composition. People who did this all saw dramatic improvements in resting metabolism, lean muscle mass and reductions in body fat.
 
The interesting fact is that the reverse doesn't work! If you decrease your calorie intake, and decrease your activity level you simply lose muscle and get fatter. So restriction is a myth, you should never be going hungry and you need to get more active - so eat more and move more!

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