Do Calories Really Matter?

Energy Balance Background 

It is important to remember that the basis of weight control is energy in compared to energy out. Metabolism is “all the chemical reactions that occur in the body” and energy metabolism are all these chemical reactions involved in the “breakdown, synthesis, and transformation of the energy-yielding nutrients-glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids-that enable the body to store and use energy” (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 271). The energy source of the cell is not the calorie, but ATP; therefore not all calories are created equal. A calorie from a nutrient dense source is able to “fuel” a body at a higher, denser level than empty calories. Metabolism involves a variety of pathways and enzymes that work together to create energy from a variety of components (glucose, glycogen, fatty acids, amino acids, and more) from a variety of tissues . The body can get energy (ATP) from a variety of pathways, some of which are more optimal than others. So how does this affect weight loss?

To maintain weight one must be in a state of energy balance where energy in equals energy out. Weight loss comes negative energy balance where energy intake is less than energy out. As stated previously, the energy source of the cell is ATP, not calories. Energy balance is extremely individualized with metabolic rate being affected by: genetics, gender, age, weight, height, body fat percentage, diet, body temperature, external temperature, endocrine function, and exercise (Greenfield, 2014, p. 279). Diet is only part of the metabolic process, but is so important because it is the main source of energy in. The rest of energy balance components are more involved with energy utilization, storage, and use. In order to maintain weight loss and control body weight a diet or hopefully lifestyle needs to be sustainable. A negative energy diet with too much energy out can result in amino acid breakdown (lean body tissue), tiredness, hormonal changes, and overall a state of starvation which is not healthy or sustainable. Finding nutrient dense foods that minimize hunger by giving people many nutrients and a feeling of satiety can help optimize healthy eating.

There are ways to increase metabolism or the energy utilized in the body including: diet, exercise, external temperature, hormonal changes, and genetics. Eating foods can affect metabolism, like good protein dense sources or fiber rich foods, which have a higher thermic effect of food (TEF) and utilize more energy of the body during the digestion process (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 334). Eating nutrient dense sources will help optimize functioning during periods of negative energy balance as well. Exercise increases metabolism by increasing internal temperature which increases basal metabolic rate (BMR) during exercise and increases lean muscle mass which burns more calories than body fat, even when you aren’t exercising (Greenfield, 2014, p. 279). External temperature can increase metabolism because in cold or hot conditions the body has to utilize energy to maintain the body temperature, seen when a person sweats or shivers in extreme conditions.

Hormonal Effects

There are a number of important hormones that affect energy intake through promotion or reduction in the feelings of hunger and satiety. The brain controls these feeling by receiving signals from hormonal response and nutrient response in the body. Levels of circulating lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates promote feelings of fullness through release of neurotransmitters to the brain’s hunger and satiety center, the hypothalamus. Ghrelin is an important hormone because its release in response to an empty stomach stimulate a feeling of hunger (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 325). Ghrelin is a GI hormone, meaning that its release is controlled by the direct effect of food on the part of the GI tract. Leptin is another important hormone in body weight regulation, its release decreases the feeling of hunger. Impaired leptin signals are directly correlated with weight gain (Orr & Daly, 2005). Foods that are high-volume can help decrease release of ghrelin and increase feeling of satiety through release of leptin.

Fluctuations in the hormones of insulin and glucagon are directly related to obesity. Eating a diet high in sugar is linked to obesity because high sugar consumption results in periods of hyperglycemia and then hypoglycemia stimulating release of insulin and glucagon. Prolonged diets high in sugar can result in pancreatic dysfunction or inability to release the appropriate amounts of insulin, known as diabetes. Eating a lower or controlled carbohydrate diet is also linked to better hormonal control of insulin as well as ghrelin and leptin (Orr & Davy, 2005). Sugar is also linked to hormonal release of serotonin, which makes us feel good, therefore making sugar addicting and directly related to stressful eating described in lifestyle factors on energy balance (Shullman, 2011).

Lifestyle and Genetic Factors

There are many lifestyle and genetic factors that contribute to weight loss and obesity including: stress, food choices, gender, and inherited make-up. People tend to have food cravings during certain times in the day and in response to stressful situations; with women tending to experience food cravings more frequently than men in part due to hormonal fluctuations in the relation to the menstrual cycle and pregnancy (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 330). Prevention and management of stressful situations through diet, exercise. and proper sleep can help with “stressful eating” and hormonal control. Exercise is important in weight loss through benefits including: increasing energy used, increasing metabolism, helps manage stress, addition of lean body tissue, and better sleep (also linked to reduction in stressful eating). Eating high-volume, low-energy, and nutrient dense foods, like fruits and vegetables, are optimal for weight loss because they are high in water and/or fiber while providing nutrients at high levels (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 328). This results in feelings of satiety, good energy levels during energy restricted periods, and helps prevent use of body amino-acids for energy.

Genetic factors do influence obesity risk factors and until recently it was thought that we can’t change our genetic make-up; however new research is coming out supporting change in genetic makeup that can be positively promoted through proper diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices. Researchers have seen that conditions in the womb “can prompt epigenetic chances that later influence a person’s body weight” and scientists “estimate that at least 50% of our risk for becoming overweight or obese is determined by genetics or epigenetics” (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 345). There are genetic codes that increase risk of obesity and diabetes as well as genetic links to deficiencies or resistance to hormones, like leptin. Genetics do play a role in weight regulation, but as the science of epigenetics suggests the lifestyle choices we make every day can change our genetic makeup.

There is a lot more that goes into weight loss than counting calories. In order to lose body fat, energy out needs to be greater energy in. There are many ways to enhance energy used like: exercise, increasing metabolism, and even eating certain nutrients. If a diet is not filling and sustainable the lifestyle won’t be optimal. Hormonal response to hunger, satiety, and other environmental variables like stress also affect optimizing energy balance. Proper food choices, exercise, and other lifestyle choices along with genetics are all involved with metabolism. A good way to promote positive energy choices is by eating high volume, low energy, and highly nutritious foods. Our lifestyle choices affect not only our holistic health, but the genetic makeup of our children.


Greenfield, Ben. (2014). Beyond training: Mastering endurance, health, & life. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, Inc.

Inui, A., Asakawa, A., Bowers, C.Y., Mantovani, G., Laviano, A., Meguid M.M., & Fujimiya, M. (2004). Ghrelin, appetite, and gastric motility: The emerging role of the stomach as an endocrine organ. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal 18, 439-456. Retrieved from,%20appetite,%20and%20gastric%20motility.pdf

McGuire, M. & Beerman, K.A. (2013). Nutritional sciences: From fundamentals to food. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Orr, J., & Davy, B. (2005). Dietary influences on peripheral hormones regulating energy intake: Potential applications for weight management. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 105, 1115-1124. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2005.04.005

Shulman, J. (2011). Cast out those cravings: manage your blood sugar levels. Alive: Canada’s Natural Health & Wellness Magazine 339, 37

Four Q&A’s in Nutrition and Metabolism: Ketogenic Diets, Obesity in the U.S., GMOs, & Insulin in Weight Gain

Research a ketogenic diet. Explain the basis of the diet. What is this diet good for and why? Do you think this diet has other applications? Provide research to support your comments.

The ketogenic diet is a diet that uses ketones for energy after glucose diminishes during periods of starvation and when carbohydrate intake is minimal (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 292).  This process can help spare lean body tissue and spare use of amino acids for energy when glucose from carbohydrates is minimized.  Muscles and the brain can utilize ketones for energy, however high levels of ketones can lead to a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis.  Ketoacidosis is a condition that can cause a “variety of complications, lowering blood pH, nausea, coma, and in extreme circumstances, death” (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 293).

The ketogenic diet has been linked to helping sedentary people lose weight, reduced rates of cancer and control of high blood sugar from reduced carbohydrate intake, control of epilepsy, use in endurance exercise, and mental enhancement.  Sugar has been linked to higher cancer rates, by avoiding carbohydrates and using fat for energy, naturally blood glucose will be reduced and therefore cancer expansion or rates as well.  Likewise controlling blood sugar reduces and/or limits diabetes rates, making a  ketogenic diet an option for a diet-controlled method.  It has been linked to epilepsy control, which is not fully understood, but believed to be in relation to the fact the brain uses ketones for energy (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 293).  Dr. Peter Attia, an expert in ketosis and exercise, believes that being in a ketogenic state creates a mental enhancement because ketones are a potent fuel for your brain creating higher levels of “brain regeneration, focus and mental acuity” (Greenfield, 2014, p. .326-327).  The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are researching the ketogenic diet utilizing it as “a weapon in mental and physical performance in battlefield conditions” (Burne, 2012).  All this said it is important to not go into a ketoacidosis state which is very dangerous; even more so for an athlete.  (Greenfield, 2014, p. 328) states a ketogenic diet can be useful for a sedentary person to lose weight, but can be very stressful on an athlete’s body where nutrient stores are utilized at higher and faster rates.

I definitely think the diet can be useful and has other applications, like intermittent fasting.  I personally attempted to utilize an all out ketogenic diet as an athlete and person who is active as an RN at work.  I suffered from adrenal fatigue and muscle wasting after trying this diet because I went into a state where my body was having to utilize amino acids for glucose as described in (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 293).  I think this diet does have many advantages, especially for more sedentary people.  The problem with this diet is that it can be very difficult to follow because of how many carbohydrates are in our staple foods and monitoring ketone production is very important to prevent acidosis.  Intermittent fasting, without going to in depth, minimics ketogenic diets or fasted states, but in smaller doses.  I personally do a 12-16 hour fast 5-6 days a week because of the advantages seen with using fats for energy as well as giving the body time to digest and utilize all the nutrients from the previous day.  I truthfully believe in a diet that can be utilized for a long period of time as a lifestyle.  If you are able to closely monitor your ketone levels this diet can be a great tool.  Personally monitoring the timing and types of my carbohydrates, utilizing intermittent fasting to mimic ketogenic diets in small amounts, and for lack of a better term “listening to my body” has helped me feel better as an athlete and mentally in daily life.  I find it fascinating that diets too high fats, too high in protein, and diets too high carbohydrates are all dangerous.  Moderation and good nutrient sources are so important to understand along with timing of nutrients in daily life.

What do you think has been one of the biggest factors when researching the continuing upward trend of weight gain in the U.S.? Support your answer.

I think one of the biggest factors when researching the continuing upward trend of weight gain in the United States is the continued overuse of processed sugar, grains, and a diet too high in poor carbohydrates from years of emphasis on the old food pyramid.  For years the food pyramid was emphasized with the bulk of the diet coming from breads as the main stay on the food pyramid.  Lots of processed breads are high in sugars and on the glycemic index leading to problems of diabetes, which is linked to many chronic problems associated with it including: obesity, cardiovascular disease, immobility, higher cancer risks, and other chronic problems (Greenfield, 2014, p. 294).  These secondary problems can lead to tertiary problems for example diabetes can lead to obesity and pain with ambulation, which results in a person walking less and then developing a blood clot.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen clots form in the hospital and the majority that I see are a result of an inability or choice to not ambulate in the hospital.  Over the past 30 years obesity rates have soared with the use of many empty calories consumed from things like soft drinks.  Not all carbs are bad, but many of the processed ones that our society has used are.  It is important to look at the energy density and nutritional value of the food you eat.  “Studies show that people feel more satisfied and tend to consume fewer calories when they eat low-energy dense foods” (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 354).  When people consume soft drinks these are pure sugar and empty carbohydrate sources; meaning they contain calories from the sugar without added benefits of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrient that we get from nutrient dense sources like vegetables.  “The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we maintain a healthy body weight balancing caloric intake with energy expenditure” (McGuire & Beerman, 203, p. 352).  Despite whether you believe in a lower carbohydrate approach to diet or not; there is a direct link to increased obesity and use of processed sugars and carbohydrates since the 1970’s (Food Research and Action Center, 2014).  I believe we must reverse this trend by teaching our youth to not do what we were taught in schools with the old food pyramid.  Things like the new 2010 Dietary guidelines, using the plate instead of the pyramid, and understanding that there is more to food than just calories will help our society if we educate them properly and change our society’s nutritional culture.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are currently a nutrition hot topic. After reading the relevant research, what is your stance on GMO’s in the food supply? Support your answer.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are relatively new in terms of nutrition and can be a great tool or a dangerous weapon in the nutritional health of people.  Genetically modified proteins and foods can enhance the nutritional value of plants, proteins, and other nutritional parts of food.  However modification can denature proteins and other components which can lead to higher risks of gastrointestinal issues, cancer risks, food allergies, and other issues.  I believe like any food source, you must trust the source of the food.  For example, even an apple can have hundreds of preservatives, fertilizers to enhance growth, and be genetically very different from an organic (non-GMO) apple.    So my stance is proceed at your own risk.  My golden rule of eating is “Eat Real Whole Foods”; so right now I wouldn’t trust GMO foods because I try to eat whole fruits and vegetables, fermented grains and dairies, carefully picked protein sources (including protein powder that is carefully selected), minimal supplements, and nothing boxed or mixed in a bottle for the most part.  According to (Tufts University, 2013), as of right now, adding GMO to the new nutrition labels is not part of the plan and is of a great deal of controversy.  The goal of the FDA’s new nutritional facts label is “providing information that people can use to make their own choices” (United States Food and Drug Administration, 2014).  I feel that it is important that the FDA require foods that are genetically modified to be labeled so.  GMOs can be a great tool and in the future as more research and good GMO sources are confirmed, then I may use and even recommend.

Understanding that insulin stimulates lipogenesis do you believe that by simply controlling insulin (reducing spikes) weight loss can occur? Support your answer.  

Insulin stimulates lipogenesis so preventing excess release of insulin (spiking) can help with weight loss, however energy in compared to energy out still needs to be less.  Insulin promotes the uptake of excess glucose by adipose tissue where the glucose is stored as what we know as body fat (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 290).  So by minimizing spikes we can lower glucose uptake by adipose tissue.  It is important to remember that we can use other nutrients for energy other than carbohydrates because the energy source of the cell is ATP; therefore we can use ketogenesis (fat-burning) as an alternative source.  To lose body fat ketogenesis has to occur, otherwise weight loss is either lean tissue and/or fluid weight.  Understanding what and when carbohydrates stimulate insulin response is key to controlling preventing the insulin spike response.  Carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index and load need to be eaten minimally or only at certain times, as discussed in (McGuire & Beerman) chapter discussing carbohydrates (2013, p.133-135).  So eating foods with a lower glycemic index and load can help promote weight loss from controlled blood glucose.  During and shortly after exercise skeletal muscles can take up glucose without insulin and help prevent loss of muscle tissue (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 138).   Personally, I use intermittent fasting to enhance fat-burning and eat a diet with low sugar and low grains, with the majority of my higher glycemic index and glycemic response carbohydrates coming after exercise.  It is also important to keep in mind that excess protein and poor fat choice intake can stimulate weight gain .  So hypothetically speaking, simply controlling insulin spikes can make weight loss occur, if the person is understands how to control the spikes.  Other things that can help control insulin response outside of exercise and diet control include: fiber intake, vinegar use, and ability to release glucagon which can cause rebound hyperglycemia.  Properly timing carbohydrates, eating the right low glycemic carbohydrates, understanding insulin response, and knowing that energy used still has to be greater than energy in, all factor into losing weight.

Burne, J. (2012, November 26). Could this elixir hold the key to weight loss? experts hope it’ll also treat diabetes, epilepsy and alzheimer’s. Retrieved from

Food Research and Action Center. (2014). Overweight and obesity in the U.S. Retrieved from

Greenfield, Ben. (2014). Beyond training: Mastering endurance, health, & life. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, Inc.

McGuire, M. & Beerman, K.A. (2013). Nutritional sciences: From fundamentals to food. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Tufts University. (2013). Should You Worry About GMOs?. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 31(9), 4-5.

United States Food and Drug Administration. (2014, August 1).  Proposed changes to the nutritional facts label. Retrieved from

Velasquez,-Mieyer, P.A., Cowan, P.A., Arheart, K.L., Buffington, C.K., Spencer, K.A., Connelly, G.W., & RH Lustig. (2003, February).  Suppression of insulin secretion is associated with weight loss and alternated macronutrient intake and preference in a subset of obese adults. International Journal of Obesity Related Metabolic Disorders 27 (2): 219-226.. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.802227

My paper on “Using Fat as Energy”

Using Fat as Energy During Exercise


Athletes for years have been using carbohydrates as their primary energy source for exercise and performance.  Recently an alternative use of energy, fat-burning, has begun to be utilized by athletes as their primary source of energy during sport.  Low-carb diets and using fat for energy during exercise can be the same diet, but not necessarily.  Using fat for energy is called ketogenesis and can be confused with (ketosis), which is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening state.  According to (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 142) the minimum amount of carbohydrates needed for the body, in particular the brain, to function properly is 130 grams.  There is some disagreement on this minimum amount of carbohydrates needed for the body to function.  Due to the infancy of fat-burning use with modern exercise, research on fat-burning in sport is not as comprehensive at this point to the research on use of carbohydrates.  However, there are many proven benefits to utilizing fat for energy and the science on the use of fat for energy is definitive.

Athletic Benefits of “Fat-Burning”

Carbohydrates have been the traditional approach to energy utilization in exercise, but due to the importance of timing and troubles with blood sugar an alternative approach is the use of fat for energy.  Athletes, in particular endurance athletes, who want to perform for hours want a sustained energy throughout a long exercise or race session.  Your body can utilize its fat stores for energy instead or carbohydrates through the release of ketones into the blood after the process of ketogenesis.  “Ketones are organic compounds used as an energy source during starvation, fasting, consumption of a low-carbohydrate diet, or uncontrolled diabetes” (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 292).  Three benefits of Ketosis as an athlete include: “metabolic superiority of using fats as fuel, mental enhancement, and health and longevity of controlling high blood sugar” (Greenfield, 2014, p. 327).  Use of body fat during sport throughout the process of ketogenesis is metabolically superior because it minimizes nutrient timing that can be a problem during use of carbohydrates for energy.  Ketones can be utilized for mental enhancement because ketones have been shown to be a source of energy by the brain.  Finally fat-burning can be a great way to control diabetes because blood glucose is not elevating and dipping as can result from use of improper carbohydrates and timing.  Blood glucose control and reducing diabetes has been linked to reduction in obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disease; therefore can be utilized outside of sport for health.

The Traditional Carbohydrate Approach With Performance

From a performance standpoint there is some question over proper timing of carbohydrates prior to exercise, when choosing to utilize a more traditional “carb-loading” way to elevate performance.  Ingesting carbohydrates 15-75 minutes prior to exercise, can result in a “rebound hypoglycemia” resulting in a tired feeling, low energy, and ultimately poor athletic performance (Jeukendrup & Killer, 2010, p. 19-21).  However, having carbohydrates less than 15 minutes or during warm-ups before exercise are linked to better performance, when utilizing the carbohydrate load way to performance, (Jeukendrup & Killer, 2010)  For the non-athlete, the previously mentioned rebound hypoglycemia would be the low-energy feeling or tiredness one feels after a big meal.  As a result of the (Jenkendrup & Killer, 2010) article, it is recommended that when choosing to utilize carbohydrates for athletic performance to choose low glycemic index carbohydrates preventing hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia incidents for the non-diabetic athlete, “ingesting carbohydrates just before exercise or during the warm-up” and “avoiding carbohydrate in the 90 minutes of exercise altogether.  Due to the issues related to carbohydrate ingestion, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and importance of timing; many endurance athletes have transitioned into a fat-burning approach.  However, there is no proven “performance enhancement” benefit of fat-burning over carbohydrate burning; if carbohydrate timing is done correctly according to (Ormsbee, Bach, & Baur, 2014, p. 1782).



When fasting the body uses fat for energy and when done properly can be a great way to lose weight for the obese.  Ketogenesis utilizes body fat and spares uses of amino acids which results in weight loss without loss of muscle tissue.  However, when a fast lasts too long or the exercise during a fat burning state is too prolonged muscle wasting and ketone levels resulting in high blood acidity can occur, which can be very dangerous (McGuire & Beerman, 2013, p. 293).  You can get mental enhancement from ketogenesis, but it typically takes the body 10-14 days for the body to adapt to fat-burning according to (Greenfield, 2014, p. 327).  FInally, there is no proven performance advantage of fat-burning compared to properly timed carbohydrate use (Ormsbee, Bach, & Baur, 2014, p. 1782).  When done properly fat-burning can be: convenient, a good weight loss strategy, utilized for blood glucose control, and utilized for endurance exercise.


Greenfield, Ben. (2014). Beyond training: Mastering endurance, health, & life. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, Inc.

Jenkendrup, A.E. & Killer, S.C. (2010) The myths surrounding pre-exercise carbohydrate feeding. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 57(2). 18-25 doi:10.1159/000322698

McGuire, M. & Beerman, K.A. (2013) Nutritional sciences: From fundamentals to food. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ormsbee, M.J., Bach, C.W., & Baur, D.A. Pre-exercise nutrition: The role of macronutrients, modified starches and supplements on metabolism and endurance performance. Nutrients 6(5), 1782-1808. doi:10.3390/nu6051782

Volek, J. & Westman., E.C. (2002). Very-low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets revisited. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 69(11), 849-862.  doi:10.3949/ccjm.69.11.849



Low-Carb Diets

After learning more about carbohydrates, do you agree with using a low carb diet as a means for weight loss? Why or why not? Include relevant research to support your answer.


After learning more about carbohydrates I still believe that using a low-carb diet as a means for weight loss can be a good idea.  It can also be beneficial as a way to control early problems with diabetes type 2 that many people don’t realize can be diet controlled through proper nutrition and nutrient timing. (Volek & Westman, 2002) analyzed a collection of studies talking about some of the benefits of a low-carbohydrate data from the study collection including: body fat loss, appetite suppression,

Negatives that can result from too low of a carbohydrate diet can include: decreased metabolic rate and efficiency through diet deficient in nutrients that can lead to issues such as immunosuppression and adrenal fatigue.  Therefore it is important to remember that a diet has to be sustainable to maintain performance in and out of sport.

A major aspect to consider includes the quality of foods and carbohydrates; some carbohydrates have a lower glycemic index, lower sugar content, and easier on digestion (Ormsbee, Bach, & Baur, 2014, p. 1787-1788).  The quality of food also applies to fats and proteins, which we we discuss in upcoming weeks through class discussions.  Finally, obesity is “Obesity is multifactorial; its causes include both excess energy intake and inadequate energy expenditure” (Volek & Westman, 2002, p. 857).  Exercise can contribute to more energy expenditure and increase metabolic rate, as can proper diet.   Proper nutrition, like a low-carbohydrate balanced with good fats, proteins, and nutrient dense carbohydrate sources can lead to proper weight loss.  It is still important to remember that a lot more goes into a proper diet than just one aspect like low-carbohydrate intake.

As a side discussion board note I really enjoyed our (McGuire & Beerman, 2013) carbohydrate chapter and the focus on reducing added sugars and gives excellent tips at the end of the chapter in “Working Toward the Goal: Focus on Reducing Added Sugars” (p. 144).  I personally try to avoid added sugars and processed grains.  The only grains I have are fermented to make them easier to digest and I pay very close attention to added sugars utilizing stevia and honey in small doses as needed.  I personally eat relatively low carb, but don’t scold the “traditional athlete” that fuels with carbohydrates if they understand how important carbohydrate timing is in the process.


From personal experience I think that low carbohydrate diets can and do work for weight loss.  I have even experimented with a ketogenic diet for performance as an endurance athlete.  In order to burn body fat it makes sense to utilize fat as an energy source.  I found I can burn fat for energy on a daily basis utilizing a daily intermittent fast giving my body time to fully digest and utilize the nutrients from the previous 12 to 16 hours.  I feel a sense of mental clarity during my fasts utilizing MCT oil during the fast and of course natural fat stores that everyone has.  I feel this enhances my work because I don’t get the typical “rebound hypoglycemia” that some people get after breakfast and the MCT oil is easily utilized as a source of energy for the brain (Jeukendrup & Killer, 2010).   However on a strict fat-burning diet, I was unable to thrive on only a fat-burning diet which resulted in muscle wasting and adrenal fatigue from what I believe was not getting enough nutrients from other sources.  I have since added back in a few more good carbohydrate sources; like small doses of fermented grains, fruits, and a few starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.  I believe that a very low carbohydrate diet can help the everyday person lose weight, a moderately low carbohydrate diet can enhance performance in athletes by teaching the body to burn fat as energy; but needs to be individualized because of the dangers of going too far.  As a metaphor, we talked about how alcohol and dark chocolate in moderation are good, but not too much.  I personally believe a low carbohydrate diet is good, with proper carbohydrate choices; however going too far or too low-carbohydrate is potentially dangerous.



McGuire, M. & Beerman, K.A. (2013) Nutritional sciences: From fundamentals to food. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ormsbee, M.J., Bach, C.W., & Baur, D.A. Pre-exercise nutrition: The role of macronutrients, modified starches and supplements on metabolism and endurance performance. Nutrients 6(5), 1782-1808. doi:10.3390/nu6051782

Volek, J. & Westman., E.C. (2002). Very-low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets revisited. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 69(11), 849-862.  doi:10.3949/ccjm.69.11.849

New Proposed Food Label Posting for Nutrition and Metabolism Class

There is a new proposed food label. What are the differences between the old food label and the new proposal? Do you feel these changes will help consumers to choose better options? Why or why not? What are the things you personally look for on the label when you purchase products? Why?

In the new proposal for a food label a few differences include: required information on added sugars, added vitamin/mineral amounts on labels, and removing “calories from fat” on the label.  I feel anytime there is more information that it does help consumers make better decisions.  However it is still important that consumers learn about proper diet and how to properly read labels and/or make food choices.  One of many common misconceptions with food labels is that “fat is bad”.  For example, avocados, MCT oil/coconut oil, and olive oils are pure fat, but are superfoods that are staples in my diet.  I like that they proposed removing “calories from fat”, but I also wish they would just remove percentages in general from the label; still leaving the amounts on the label.   Everyone’s nutritional demands are different and modern research has shown that higher amounts of the right fats can result in fat being the primary contributor to calories in diet and still being healthy.  Another thing to consider is that a very active athlete with high-functioning organs will be able to metabolize and needs higher amounts of protein than other population groups.  I love the new “added sugars” part of the new label because a big problem in our society is the added sugars, preservatives, and fillers that weren’t in our staple foods prior to the obesity rates tripling 3-fold in the last 30 years.

Personally when reading labels I first look at the ingredient list and look for a few things including a personal preference that there are no grains or legumes added.  I like to see as few ingredients as possible, make sure that I know the ingredients, and then make sure they are quality ingredients.  So many boxed and packaged foods have fillers, preservatives, and added sugars that make the food a poor nutritional choice.  I then look at the: Calories, Fat, Protein, Carbs, Sugars, and Fiber; just because I have done it for years; but these aren’t as important as to what is actually in the food itself.   One of my diet guidelines is eating “Real Whole Foods”, which often means shopping in the fresh fruit and veggie section of the grocery store, going to the farmer’s market, and getting meat from a local butcher where there aren’t food labels at all.  As a healthcare professional (RN) and recreational athlete I feel better, think clearer, and perform better when I eat “Real Whole Foods”, minimizing grains and legumes (try to ferment/sproak), and choosing packaged foods with minimal high-quality ingredients.

United States Food and Drug Administration. (2014, August 1).  Proposed changes to the nutritional facts label. Retrieved from

Random #Biohacks Inspired by Others

I just got accepted into the Master’s Exercise Program at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.  So I feel that it would be appropriate to release a somewhat random, and incomplete blog post that I have worked on the last couple days, maybe Ill go back and complete this blog post at a different time, maybe not.  My co-workers at the Mayo Clinic and my desire to prevent some of the terrible diseases that I see on a daily basis have inspired me to not just care about the shape that I’m in (which I have been obsessed with for years) but to inspire and hopefully help others become more “Superhuman.”  Speaking of Superhuman, I get to see Ben Greenfield at Concordia University next Tuesday June 10th present; Ben has helped me with my own diet, fitness, recovery, and overall health with his books, podcast, and articles.  If I can help one person make positive health care decisions, prevent an injury, enhance performance, or just have better health in any way than I have succeeded.  I am always pursuing lifelong learning and although this article is now even more random due to my rant I give you my incomplete list of some things #Biohacks that I love……..

    • Intermittent Fasting– Yes I skip breakfast…. I typically stop eating at 8pm and don’t eat until after 10am….I use (MCT Oil) for mental performance and still have coffee in the morning…..(Benefits of Intermittent Fasting)
      • On days I have Two-A-Day Workouts (Days off of work) Ill have my coffee, MCT Oil AND a protein shake (minus the carb sources), some (BCAAs), or recently I’ve been using Ben Greenfield’s “Skinny Fat Shake
    • Supplements I take:
      • Protein Powder- make sure it is a good source without added preservatives, soy, sugars, sugar alcohols (If it has ingredients in it that you don’t know about, don’t get it)
      • Vitamin D3
      • Glucosamine
      • Gelatin
      • Melatonin
      • BCAAs- on days I do Two-A-Days
      • Creatinine- muscle energy (ATP) and mental clearance (Read Beyond Training)
      • Bitter Melon Extract- If I eat unneeded carbs and/or sugars


  • Eat Fat


      • Perfect Health Diet (PHD) recommends a diet ratio of 65% Fat, 20% Carb, 15% Protein)
        • When I kept track I got my calories from (50% Fat, 25% Protein, 25% Carb), which is beneficial to someone who exercises at times to a fault
      • There are bad fats: trans fat, vegetable oils, etc.  that I avoid
      • I don’t count nutrients or calories except a week or two a year, but try to get the majority of my nutrients from good fat sources (coconut, avocado, fermented dairy, olive oil, raw nuts, fish, clean meat sources, etc.)


  • It is not how much you eat, but what you eat


      • Not every Calorie is created equal (The Calorie Myth)
        • Nutrient Density vs. Calories
        • 100 calories of Chia Seeds is better than a handful of Typical Potato Chips
      • I don’t count calories, I just watch what I eat


  • Eat Real Whole Foods


      • Rarely do I eat out of a box or package (unless there are very few and good ingredients like a larabar for example)- take a look at some of the packaged foods in your pantry and see how many ingredients you actually know
      • Make Your Own Dressings- Have you ever seen the ingredient lists on your ……….brand dressings- I think I’ve made my point………
        • Your dressings should have a healthy fat and/or vinegar (which lowers blood sugar), and some spices


  • I do eat some grains (therefore I am not Paleo)


      • They must be prepared properly because……(link) or (link2)…nuts, seeds, and grains have acids and enzymes in their coating making them hard on the GI tract to digest properly leading to possible “leaking gut” and inflammation all over the body
      • Don’t need very many grains or any on days with minimal or no exercise (just excess carbs on those days)
      • I usually have a ½ cup of oatmeal soaking in a Mason Jar in my fridge in Vinegar Water
        • When I want a bowl of my famous Almond Butter/Chia Seed/Oatmeal, I just rinse all the vinegar out of the oats, soak with the chia seeds until the chia seeds soften (sometimes overnight again) and then add almond butter and heat it up until it swells….add stevia to sweeten and coconut milk to get the consistency you want
          • Don’t make it a soup like mom and dad used to do
    • MarcPro
      • increases blood flow to the trained muscle area
      • increases lymphatic (waste flow) away from trained muscle
      • therefore decreases recovery time!!


  • Blue-Ray Reducing Glasses


  • Chia seeds: I put them in my protein shakes, oatmeal, yogurt, hot drinks….why? because it swells, it reduces blood sugar, a complete protein, can sustain an Aztec warrior for 24 hours #Superfood…..Don’t believe me Ben Greenfield says in a recent article……
    • “Chia seeds have a long history as an endurance fuel. Ancient Aztec tradition held that an ounce of chia seeds could sustain a warrior for 24 hours. Today, chia is considered a superfood because it has more Omega-3’s than any other crop in the world, it has more antioxidants than blueberries, it is a complete protein, providing you with all 9 Essential Amino Acids (important for preventing muscle breakdown when exercising longer than 2 hours), and it has 25% soluble fiber. A chia seed can absorb 9-12x its bodyweight in water – and this helps regulate absorption, which can prevent sugar spikes and crashes. So despite the issue with having to pick it out of your teeth, I’m a fan of chia.”

This Article is to be continued and hopefully better organized……

My Superhuman Day Off

My #Superhuman Day Off

So I haven’t blogged in forever…..  I’ve really wanted to start a website about Diet, Fitness, and Health in General, but that has been put on hold.  Recently I have applied to go back to school part-time in order to get an Exercise Science Masters to do something in Sports Medicine which is something I am very passionate about.  I suppose it makes sense to get a degree in something that I spend a great deal of time doing between: exercising 8-12 hours a week, walking another 15-25 miles a week at work, cooking new (and some classic) foods that are both healthy and tasty, and in the last year really working on another aspect: RECOVERY.  Recovery has many aspects including: sleeping well, managing stressors, eating well(previously mentioned), and much much more.

I have been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast for over a year and utilized many of his diet, fitness, and other #biohack techniques.  Ben and Broc’s Podcast has inspired me to do many things as an endurance athlete so I can thrive as an endurance athlete and in life.  I have been hacking (no pun intended) through Ben’s great new book Beyond Training, continue to listen to his podcasts, and utilize Ben’s resources (which are getting spending by the way) #MarcPro #AmazonPrime……I am excited to listen to one of Ben’s presentations in June at Concordia University in St. Paul, where I applied for the Exercise Science Master’s Program.  In honor of Ben’s Superhuman way of life I thought I’d show you what a Superhuman approved day may look like……


0600- Wake up and have a cup of French Press (Freshly Ground) Coffee

0615- Marc Pro Electrodes on my Quads/Hammies while sipping Coffee and checking Email while listening to the new episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast #284

  • This episode talked about IT Band Syndrome which I have battled this spring
  • After Biking and Doing a Track Sprint Workout yesterday, it was fitting to be listening to this podcast with my Marc Pro Unit

0700- 30min Yoga Routine (Vinyasa Morning Flow Yoga ) (Fasted)

  • Also had a 20 ounces of water with 5 grams of Creatine (Brain Clarity and Strength see Ben’s Book)

0745- Breakfast- The “Skinny Fat Shake”- I saved a little of my French Press from 0600

  • I usually Fast until 10 or 11am on days that I work

0830-1130- Fishing with Dad for a couple hours

  • It is Dad’s birthday Sunday and I work 2- 12 hour shifts this weekend so I wanted to do something he loves.  I did fish with my shirt off and got some natural Vitamin D

1200- Lunch at a local Deli called City Market in Rochester, MN

  • I had a Turkey Breast Sandwich on Ben Greenfield’s Favorite acceptable bread SOURDOUGH w/ red peppers, leaf lettuce, red onion, and fresh tomato w/ many glasses of water to rehydrate post-fishing

1400- Workout- included 15min of easy cardio on the elliptical (after a high intensity cardio day yesterday) 30min of lifting consisting of 2-SuperSets w/ Dumbbells

  • 5×5 DB Bench w/ 5×15 R. Crunch w/ 5×5 Pull-Ups
  • 5×8 DB OH Press w/ 5x8e DB Row

1500- Post Workout 5min Cold Shower and Quest Bar

1600- Healthy Grocery Shopping- (Real Whole Foods w/ no added sugars)

1700- Carrots dipped in freshly homemade Guacamole

  • Also rinsed off my oats that sat overnight in vinegar (proper grain preparation) and added some Chia Seeds w/ the oats so I can make my famous Almond Butter-Chia Seed-Oatmeal tomorrow after a long day at work- (proper grain prep)

1800- Sitting here now writing this about to Thai it up with a Swai/Miracle Noodle/Red Curry/Vegetable Stir Fry and maybe enjoy one or two Vodka Stevia Water’s with a fresh slice of lemon and lime