Understanding the Science of Metabolism

Metabolism encompasses the intricate web of chemical reactions that occur within living organisms to sustain life. These reactions are essential for converting food into energy, building and repairing tissues, and eliminating waste products. Understanding metabolism is crucial for grasping how our bodies function and maintain homeostasis.

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is broadly divided into two categories: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism involves the breakdown of complex molecules into simpler ones, releasing energy that the body can use. Conversely, anabolism is the process of building complex molecules from simpler ones, which requires an input of energy. Together, these processes ensure that cells have the energy and materials they need to grow, reproduce, and repair damage​ (Encyclopedia Britannica)​​ (Nature)​.

The Role of Enzymes

Enzymes play a pivotal role in metabolism. These protein molecules act as catalysts, speeding up chemical reactions without being consumed in the process. Each metabolic pathway is governed by specific enzymes that facilitate the conversion of substrates into products. For instance, the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase converts pyruvate, the end product of glycolysis, into acetyl CoA, a key molecule in the citric acid cycle​ (Nature)​. Click for more.

Metabolic Pathways

Metabolic pathways are series of chemical reactions occurring within a cell. Two primary pathways are glycolysis and the citric acid cycle:

  1. Glycolysis: This pathway occurs in the cytoplasm and breaks down glucose into pyruvate, yielding a small amount of ATP (energy) and NADH (an electron carrier). It does not require oxygen, making it an anaerobic process.
  2. Citric Acid Cycle (Krebs Cycle): Taking place in the mitochondria, this cycle processes acetyl CoA to produce ATP, NADH, and FADH2 (another electron carrier). This pathway is aerobic, requiring oxygen​ (Encyclopedia Britannica)​.

Balancing Anabolism and Catabolism

Cells must maintain a balance between anabolism and catabolism to ensure metabolic homeostasis. When energy or nutrient supplies are low, catabolic pathways are activated to release stored energy. Conversely, when energy is abundant, anabolic pathways store energy by synthesizing molecules like glycogen and fat​ (Nature)​​ (BioOnline)​.

Factors Affecting Metabolism

Several factors influence an individual’s metabolic rate, including age, sex, body composition, and activity level:

  • Age: Metabolic rate generally slows down with age due to the loss of muscle mass and hormonal changes.
  • Sex: Men typically have a higher basal metabolic rate than women, primarily due to greater muscle mass.
  • Body Composition: Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, even at rest. Therefore, individuals with more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate.
  • Physical Activity: Exercise increases metabolic rate by building muscle and increasing the amount of energy the body uses during and after activity​ (Rush Health)​.

Hormonal Regulation

Hormones like insulin, glucagon, and thyroid hormones play significant roles in regulating metabolism. Insulin, for example, promotes the uptake of glucose by cells and stimulates anabolic processes like glycogenesis (the formation of glycogen from glucose). Glucagon, on the other hand, triggers the breakdown of glycogen to release glucose when blood sugar levels are low​ (BioOnline)​.

Metabolic Disorders

Disruptions in normal metabolic processes can lead to various metabolic disorders. For example, diabetes mellitus is characterized by impaired insulin function, leading to elevated blood glucose levels. Hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland produces insufficient hormones, results in a slowed metabolic rate, weight gain, and fatigue. Conversely, hyperthyroidism accelerates metabolism, causing weight loss and increased energy consumption​ (Encyclopedia Britannica)​​ (MIT Department of Biology)​.

Current Research and Applications

Research in metabolism extends beyond understanding basic biological processes. Scientists are exploring how metabolic pathways are altered in diseases like cancer, where cells exhibit abnormal metabolic behavior to support rapid growth and division. Understanding these alterations can lead to the development of targeted therapies that disrupt the metabolic processes of cancer cells without affecting normal cells​ (MIT Department of Biology)​.

Moreover, studying metabolism in different states, such as hibernation or fasting, can reveal insights into how organisms adapt to extreme conditions, potentially leading to novel medical treatments and strategies for preserving human health during space travel or severe medical conditions​ (MIT Department of Biology)​.

Practical Implications

For individuals looking to manage their weight or improve their health, understanding metabolism is key. While basal metabolic rate is largely determined by genetics and physiological factors, lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise play crucial roles in modulating overall metabolic health. Eating a balanced diet rich in whole foods and engaging in regular physical activity can optimize metabolic function and support long-term health​ (Rush Health)​.

In conclusion, metabolism is a complex but fascinating field that underscores the dynamic and adaptable nature of biological systems. Ongoing research continues to unravel its mysteries, offering promising avenues for medical advancements and a deeper understanding of life itself.

Top Causes of Weight Gain in the United States


In today’s modern society, weight gain has become a prevalent issue, particularly in the United States. Numerous factors contribute to the increasing number of individuals struggling with weight-related problems. This article aims to shed light on the top causes of weight gain in the United States, providing valuable insights into why this issue persists. By understanding these factors, individuals can make informed decisions to combat weight gain and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Sedentary Lifestyle

One significant cause of weight gain in the United States is the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles. With advancements in technology and the rise of desk jobs, many people spend a significant portion of their day sitting or engaging in activities that require minimal physical exertion. The lack of regular exercise leads to a reduction in calorie expenditure, ultimately resulting in weight gain over time.

Unhealthy Diet

Another prominent factor contributing to weight gain is an unhealthy diet. The availability and consumption of processed foods, high in refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and empty calories, have increased dramatically. Fast food and sugary snacks have become convenient choices for many individuals, leading to excessive calorie intake and weight gain. Sugar free treats and snacks can help.

High-Calorie Beverages

In addition to unhealthy food choices, the consumption of high-calorie beverages is a significant contributor to weight gain. Sugary sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened beverages have become staples in the American diet. These drinks not only contribute to excessive calorie intake but also lack nutritional value, promoting weight gain and compromising overall health.

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is another factor that influences weight gain in the United States. Many individuals turn to food as a coping mechanism to deal with stress, anxiety, or other emotional triggers. This unhealthy relationship with food often leads to overeating and the consumption of calorie-dense foods, resulting in weight gain over time.

Lack of Sleep

Sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain and obesity. In today’s fast-paced society, many individuals prioritize work, social activities, and screen time over a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep affects hormone regulation, leading to increased hunger and cravings, as well as a decrease in metabolic rate. These factors contribute to weight gain and hinder weight loss efforts.


Certain medications prescribed for various health conditions can also contribute to weight gain. Some medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and corticosteroids, may alter metabolism, increase appetite, or cause fluid retention. It is essential for individuals to discuss potential side effects with their healthcare providers and explore alternative options if weight gain becomes a concern.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can contribute to weight gain or make weight management more challenging. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and insulin resistance can affect metabolism, hormone levels, and energy balance, leading to weight gain. It is crucial for individuals with these conditions to work closely with healthcare professionals to manage their weight effectively.


Age is another factor that plays a role in weight gain. As individuals get older, their metabolism naturally slows down, leading to a decrease in calorie expenditure. Additionally, muscle mass tends to decrease with age, further impacting metabolic rate. These changes make weight management more challenging and increase the risk of weight gain.

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances can contribute to weight gain, particularly in women. Fluctuations in hormone levels, such as estrogen and progesterone, can affect appetite, fat storage, and energy expenditure. Conditions like menopause or hormonal disorders can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones, making weight management more challenging.


Genetics also play a role in weight gain and obesity. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to store more fat or have a slower metabolism, making weight management more difficult. While genetics cannot be changed, lifestyle modifications and healthy habits can still positively influence weight and overall health.


Chronic stress can have a significant impact on weight gain. When individuals experience stress, the body releases hormones like cortisol, which can increase appetite and promote the accumulation of abdominal fat. Moreover, stress often leads to emotional eating and the consumption of unhealthy foods, further contributing to weight gain.

Environmental Factors

The environment in which individuals live can influence their weight. Factors such as the availability of healthy food options, access to recreational facilities, and walkability of neighborhoods can impact physical activity levels and food choices. Living in an environment that lacks these supportive factors can contribute to weight gain.

Lack of Physical Activity

Inadequate physical activity is a major cause of weight gain. Many individuals lead sedentary lives, with minimal engagement in exercise or physical activities. Regular exercise not only helps burn calories but also improves metabolism, promotes muscle growth, and enhances overall well-being. The lack of physical activity hampers weight management efforts and contributes to weight gain.


Weight gain in the United States is influenced by a multitude of factors, ranging from sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets to emotional eating and lack of sleep. Understanding these causes empowers individuals to make informed decisions and adopt healthier habits. By incorporating regular physical activity, making nutritious food choices, managing stress, and seeking professional guidance when needed, individuals can take control of their weight and work towards a healthier lifestyle.


1. Can genetics alone determine weight gain?

While genetics can contribute to weight gain, it is not the sole determining factor. Lifestyle choices and environmental factors also play a significant role in weight management.

2. How can I combat emotional eating?

Combatting emotional eating involves identifying triggers, finding alternative coping mechanisms, and seeking support from friends, family, or professionals when necessary. Engaging in stress-relieving activities like exercise or hobbies can also help manage emotions.

3. Is it possible to lose weight with a sedentary lifestyle?

Although a sedentary lifestyle can make weight loss more challenging, it is still possible to lose weight by focusing on calorie control through diet and incorporating small bursts of physical activity throughout the day.

4. What should I do if my medication is causing weight gain?

If you suspect that your medication is contributing to weight gain, it is important to consult your healthcare provider. They may be able to adjust your dosage, switch to an alternative medication, or provide guidance on managing weight while taking the medication.

5. Are there any specific diets or eating plans recommended for weight management?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight management. It is best to consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist who can assess your individual needs and create a personalized eating plan that suits your lifestyle and goals.

Trends in Obesity in the United States

Obesity is a growing health concern in the United States, affecting millions of individuals across all age groups. This article explores the trends in obesity, its causes, associated health risks, and strategies for prevention and management.


In recent years, obesity has become an alarming issue in the United States, with a significant rise in the number of individuals classified as overweight or obese. This article delves into the factors contributing to this trend and explores the implications for public health.

Definition of Obesity

Obesity is a medical condition characterized by an excessive accumulation of body fat that poses a risk to an individual’s health. It is typically measured using the body mass index (BMI), which takes into account a person’s height and weight. A BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.

  • Global Obesity Statistics:
    • Worldwide obesity rate has nearly doubled since 1980
    • Predicted by 2030: 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men will have obesity
    • More people have obesity than underweight in most regions
  • Obesity and COVID-19:
    • Obesity increases the risk of severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19
    • Obesity rate in the U.S. increased by 3% during the pandemic
  • Obesity and Health Risks:
    • 4 million deaths annually due to obesity
    • Obesity linked to 30%-53% of new diabetes cases in the U.S.
    • Medical costs for people with obesity tend to be 30%-40% higher
    • Obesity increases missed work days by an estimated three days per year
  • Obesity Prevalence:
    • U.S. Adults: 41.9% have obesity based on data from 2017-2020
    • U.S. Adolescents and Children: 19.7% have obesity (14.7 million individuals) based on the same data
    • Worldwide: Over 1 billion people have obesity (650 million adults, 340 million adolescents, 39 million children)

Prevalence of Obesity in the United States

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. According to recent statistics, more than 40% of adults and 18.5% of children and adolescents are obese. These numbers have been steadily increasing over the past few decades, indicating a worrisome trend.

Factors Contributing to Obesity

Several factors contribute to the rising rates of obesity in the United States. Understanding these factors is crucial in developing effective strategies to address and prevent obesity.

Sedentary Lifestyle

The modern sedentary lifestyle, characterized by a lack of physical activity, is a significant contributor to obesity. Many Americans spend a substantial amount of time sitting or engaging in activities that require minimal movement, such as working at a desk or watching television.

Poor Diet and Nutrition

Unhealthy eating habits, including the consumption of high-calorie, processed foods and sugary beverages, play a pivotal role in the obesity epidemic. These foods are often readily available, affordable, and heavily marketed, making them a common choice for many individuals.

Genetic Factors

Genetic predisposition to obesity can influence an individual’s likelihood of developing the condition. Certain genes may affect appetite, metabolism, and fat storage, making some people more susceptible to weight gain.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors such as easy access to unhealthy foods, lack of safe recreational spaces, and limited availability of fresh and nutritious foods in certain neighborhoods contribute to the obesity problem. These environmental barriers can make it challenging for individuals to make healthy choices.

Health Risks Associated with Obesity

Obesity is not just a cosmetic concern; it significantly impacts overall health and increases the risk of various chronic diseases. Some of the health risks associated with obesity include:

Cardiovascular Diseases

Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. The excess body fat strains the heart and blood vessels, leading to increased cholesterol levels, plaque buildup in the arteries, and reduced heart function.

Type 2 Diabetes

Obesity is closely linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. Excess body weight and unhealthy eating habits can lead to insulin resistance, where the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin. This condition can ultimately result in high blood sugar levels and the onset of diabetes.


High blood pressure is a common consequence of obesity. The increased weight puts additional pressure on the blood vessels, leading to elevated blood pressure levels. Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems.

Sleep Apnea

Obesity is a significant risk factor for sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. The excess fat around the neck and throat can obstruct the airway, causing interrupted breathing patterns and disruptions in sleep.

Joint Problems

Excessive weight puts strain on the joints, particularly in the knees, hips, and lower back. This can lead to conditions such as osteoarthritis, where the protective cartilage in the joints wears down, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

Childhood Obesity

The prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States is also a growing concern. Childhood obesity can have severe long-term consequences and should be addressed through preventive measures and intervention strategies.

Causes and Consequences

Childhood obesity is primarily attributed to a combination of genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. Unhealthy eating patterns, sedentary lifestyle, limited access to nutritious foods, and family history of obesity all contribute to its development. Childhood obesity can lead to physical and psychological health issues, as well as poor academic performance and social challenges.

Prevention and Intervention Strategies

Preventing and addressing childhood obesity requires a comprehensive approach involving parents, schools, healthcare professionals, and the community. Strategies include promoting healthy eating habits, increasing physical activity, providing nutrition education, and creating supportive environments for children to make healthy choices.

Socioeconomic Factors and Obesity

There is a significant association between socioeconomic status and obesity. Individuals with lower incomes and limited access to resources often face barriers to adopting healthy lifestyles. The availability of affordable, nutritious food options and safe recreational spaces is crucial in combating obesity in disadvantaged communities.

Role of Advertising and Marketing

The food and beverage industry plays a significant role in shaping dietary choices and contributing to the obesity epidemic. The aggressive marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages, particularly towards children, influences consumption patterns and contributes to poor dietary habits.

Government Initiatives and Public Health Policies

The government has implemented various initiatives and public health policies to combat obesity. These include promoting nutrition labeling, advocating for healthier school meals, implementing sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, and supporting community programs that encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyles.

Obesity Treatment and Management

Managing obesity involves a multidisciplinary approach tailored to individual needs. Treatment options include:

Diet and Exercise

A balanced, calorie-controlled diet and regular physical activity are the cornerstone of obesity management. Creating a sustainable, personalized plan that focuses on long-term behavior changes is essential for successful weight loss and maintenance.

Medications and Supplements

In some cases, medications may be prescribed to aid in weight loss for individuals with obesity-related health complications. These medications suppress appetite, reduce fat absorption, or increase metabolism. However, they are typically used as an adjunct to lifestyle modifications.

Bariatric Surgery

For individuals with severe obesity and related health problems, bariatric surgery may be an option. Procedures such as gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy can help promote weight loss by reducing stomach size or altering the digestive process.

Psychological Factors and Obesity

Psychological factors can significantly impact eating behaviors and contribute to obesity. Emotional eating, stress, depression, and anxiety can all influence food choices and eating patterns, leading to weight gain and difficulties in weight management.

Addressing these psychological factors through therapy, counseling, and support groups can be integral to comprehensive obesity treatment.

Obesity and Mental Health

Obesity and mental health often coexist, creating a complex relationship between the two. Obesity can contribute to low self-esteem, body image issues, and social isolation, negatively impacting mental well-being. Conversely, individuals with mental health conditions may be at a higher risk of developing obesity due to emotional eating or medication side effects.

Addressing Stigma and Discrimination

Obesity is often stigmatized, leading to discrimination and bias against individuals with obesity. This can further exacerbate the physical and mental health challenges they face.

Raising awareness, promoting body positivity, and fostering inclusive environments are crucial steps in addressing stigma and creating a supportive society for individuals with obesity.

Obesity Prevention Strategies

Preventing obesity requires a multifaceted approach involving individuals, communities, healthcare providers, and policymakers. Some key strategies include:

  • Promoting healthy eating habits from an early age
  • Encouraging regular physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviors
  • Creating environments that support and facilitate healthy lifestyles, such as access to affordable, nutritious foods and safe recreational spaces
  • Implementing comprehensive school wellness programs
  • Enhancing nutrition education and literacy
  • Advocating for policies that promote healthier food options and limit the marketing of unhealthy products to children


The rising trends in obesity in the United States pose significant challenges to public health. Understanding the factors contributing to obesity, its associated health risks, and effective prevention and management strategies is crucial in addressing this epidemic. By promoting healthy lifestyles, implementing supportive policies, and addressing the underlying social and environmental factors, we can work towards a healthier future for individuals and communities.


1. Can genetics alone cause obesity? Genetics can influence an individual’s susceptibility to weight gain, but it is not the sole determinant of obesity. Lifestyle factors, such as diet and physical activity, play a significant role in weight management.

2. Are all obese individuals at risk for health problems? While obesity increases the risk of various health conditions, not all obese individuals will develop health problems. Factors such as overall health, genetics, and lifestyle habits contribute to the overall risk profile.

3. Can childhood obesity be reversed? With early intervention and lifestyle modifications, childhood obesity can be addressed and reversed. Encouraging healthy eating, physical activity, and supportive environments are key in preventing long-term health consequences.

4. Are there medications for weight loss? There are medications available for weight loss, but they are typically prescribed for individuals with obesity-related health complications. These medications should be used under medical supervision and in conjunction with lifestyle changes.

5. How can society support individuals with obesity? Society can support individuals with obesity by promoting body positivity, reducing weight-based stigma, and creating inclusive environments. Access to affordable, healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity should be prioritized for all individuals, regardless of their weight.

The Ultimate Guide to Legal Steroids and How They Affect Metabolism

Discover the benefits and risks of legal steroids in enhancing metabolism. Our comprehensive guide provides a detailed overview of what legal steroids are, how they work, and the science behind their impact on metabolism. Explore how legal steroids can help improve your physique, boost your performance, and take your fitness journey to the next level.

Many individuals turn to anabolic steroids when building muscle, burning fat, and enhancing athletic performance. However, these performance-enhancing drugs are illegal and have many dangerous side effects. Legal steroids have emerged as a safer and more effective alternative to anabolic steroids in recent years. But what exactly are legal steroids, and how do they affect metabolism?

Legal steroids are natural supplements that mimic the effects of anabolic steroids. They are formulated with high-quality, natural ingredients scientifically proven to enhance muscle growth, increase strength, and improve athletic performance. Unlike anabolic steroids, legal steroids are free from harmful side effects and are legal to use.

One of the primary ways legal steroids affect metabolism is by increasing protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process by which the body converts protein into muscle tissue. Legal steroids help promote muscle growth and repair by increasing protein synthesis. This, in turn, helps to boost metabolism, as muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat tissue.

Legal steroids also help increase energy levels and endurance, improving your overall athletic performance. They do this by increasing the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles. This allows you to work out for longer periods without getting tired, ultimately helping to burn more calories and boost metabolism.

Another way in which legal steroids affect metabolism is by reducing cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress. High cortisol levels can lead to increased fat storage and a slower metabolism. Legal steroids help to reduce cortisol levels, which can help to promote fat loss and boost metabolism.

So, how do legal steroids compare to anabolic steroids? While anabolic steroids are known to produce rapid muscle growth and strength gains, they come with a host of dangerous side effects, including liver damage, infertility, and even death. Legal steroids, however, are free from harmful side effects and are legal to use.

In conclusion, legal steroids are a safe and effective alternative to anabolic steroids that can help to enhance metabolism, promote muscle growth, and improve athletic performance. They increase protein synthesis, boost energy levels and endurance, and reduce cortisol levels. Legal steroids may be worth considering if you’re looking to take your fitness journey to the next level. As with any supplement, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before use to ensure safety and efficacy.

How Aging Affects Your Metabolism: Everything You Need to Know

As we age, our bodies undergo several changes that affect our metabolism. Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert food into energy. It’s a complex process that involves several organs and hormones working together. When our metabolism slows down, we burn fewer calories, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems.

The Causes of Slowed Metabolism

One of the main causes of slowed metabolism is a decrease in muscle mass. As we age, we lose muscle mass, which reduces the number of calories we burn at rest. This can lead to weight gain and a slower metabolism. Additionally, hormonal changes can also play a role in slowed metabolism. For example, menopause can cause a decrease in estrogen levels, which can lead to weight gain and a slower metabolism.

The Effects of Slowed Metabolism

A slowed metabolism can have several negative effects on the body, including weight gain, decreased energy levels, and a higher risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, a slower metabolism can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and bone density, which can increase the risk of falls and fractures.

Ways to Boost Metabolism as We Age

Fortunately, there are several ways to boost metabolism as we age. One of the most effective ways is to engage in regular physical activity. Exercise can help increase muscle mass and improve hormonal balance, leading to a faster metabolism. Additionally, eating a healthy diet that is high in protein and fiber can also help boost metabolism. Foods such as lean meats, fish, nuts, and whole grains are all excellent choices for boosting metabolism.

Another way to boost metabolism is to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to hormonal imbalances and a slower metabolism, so it’s important to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Additionally, drinking plenty of water can also help boost metabolism by keeping the body hydrated and allowing for optimal metabolic function.

The Role of Genetics in Metabolism and Age

While lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise play a significant role in metabolism and aging, genetics also play a role. Some people are born with a faster metabolism than others, and this can be influenced by genetics. However, it’s important to note that even if you have a slower metabolism due to genetics, lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can still help boost metabolism and improve overall health.


In conclusion, metabolism and age are closely linked, and a slower metabolism can lead to several negative health effects. However, by engaging in regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated, it’s possible to boost metabolism and improve overall health as we age. While genetics play a role in metabolism and aging, lifestyle factors still play a significant role in overall health and wellbeing. By making healthy choices and taking care of our bodies, we can age gracefully and enjoy optimal health and wellness.

The Hidden Dangers of Drinking Sugary Beverages

Are you aware of the adverse effects of sugary drinks on your health? Learn about the negative impact of consuming sugary beverages and the potential health risks associated with it. Discover the science behind the correlation between sugary drinks and health and make informed choices to protect your well-being.

Consuming sugary drinks, such as soda, energy drinks, and fruit juices, has become a common practice worldwide. However, the excessive intake of these beverages can lead to several health issues. In this article, we will explore the adverse effects of sugary drinks on health and the science behind this correlation.

Understanding Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks are beverages that contain added sugars, such as sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup. These beverages are often high in calories and can cause a sudden increase in blood sugar levels. The most common sugary drinks include soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, fruit juices, and some coffee drinks.

The Negative Effects of Sugary Drinks on Health

The overconsumption of sugary drinks has been linked to several health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and dental decay. Here are some of the adverse effects of sugary drinks on health:


Sugary drinks are high in calories and low in nutrients, making them a significant contributor to obesity. Research has shown that people who consume sugary drinks regularly are more likely to be overweight or obese. A study conducted on children and adolescents found that those who consumed sugary drinks regularly had a higher risk of developing obesity.

Type 2 Diabetes

The consumption of sugary drinks can lead to insulin resistance, a condition where the body becomes less sensitive to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. This can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. A meta-analysis of studies found that people who consume sugary drinks regularly have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Sugary drinks can also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. A study found that consuming sugary drinks regularly can increase the levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Dental Decay

Sugary drinks can be harmful to teeth and cause dental decay. The sugars in these drinks combine with bacteria in the mouth, leading to the production of acid, which can erode tooth enamel. A study found that children who consume sugary drinks regularly are more likely to have cavities than those who don’t.

How Sugary Drinks Affect the Body

Sugary drinks can have several negative effects on the body, including:

  • Increase in Blood Sugar Levels: The high amount of added sugars in these drinks can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels, leading to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes.
  • Dehydration: Sugary drinks can lead to dehydration as they do not contain enough water to compensate for the diuretic effect of caffeine and sugar.
  • Decreased Brain Function: Studies have shown that consuming sugary drinks regularly can lead to decreased brain function, including memory and learning.
  • Increased Inflammation: The high sugar content in these drinks can lead to inflammation, which can contribute to the development of chronic diseases.


The overconsumption of sugary drinks can have detrimental effects on our health. These drinks are high in calories, low in nutrients, and can lead to various health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and dental decay. It is important to note that even drinks marketed as “healthy” or “natural” can contain added sugars that are harmful to our health.

Reducing or eliminating sugary drinks from our diet can have a significant impact on our overall health and well-being. Drinking water, unsweetened tea, or coffee, and natural fruit juices in moderation can be a healthier alternative to sugary drinks.

By understanding the science behind the correlation between sugary drinks and health, we can make informed choices to protect our well-being. It is crucial to pay attention to the nutritional value of the beverages we consume to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How diet and lifestyle affect health: evidence in maps

Sometimes picture is better than a thousand words. What if we just look at the US statistical maps for obesity and heart disease and see how they relate to lifestyle and nutrition?

The full maps are shown at the bottom of the page, and if you examine them, you will see that:

  • heart disease rate and obesity are almost perfect overlap;
  • obesity, heart disease and percentage of inactive adults are in very good correlation;
  • obesity, heart disease and soft drink consumption are very good correlation;
  • higher fruit and vegetable consumption in most cases correspond to lower rate of obesity and heart disease;
  • higher meat and poultry consumption usually, but not always correspond to lower rate of obesity and heart disease;
  • solid (saturated) fat consumption does not correlate with obesity and heart disease

Most of these results reflect what we already know: sugar-rich foods are the worst for health.

A noticeable good effect of meat and poultry consumption is in line with research that shows that protein rich diet is best for weight loss and exercise.

It is also interesting, that we cannot see no bad effect of higher saturated fat consumption.

Lets focus on the southeast region. I highlighted and numbered four areas for more careful analysis: San Antonio / Austin Texas (area 1), Mississippi (area 2), Northern Georgia (area 3), and Southern Florida (area 4)

AreaObesityHeart Disease% InactiveSoft drinksFruits and vegetablesMeat and poultry

Region 4 is an exception for meat and poultry consumption, with low meat/ poultry and low obesity. Because this is South Florida, I suspect that people there substitute various fish and seafood for meat. But based on the other three regions, we can see that high meat and poultry consumption is certainly compatible with good health.

I did not use saturated fat for this sub-analysis, because the way it is concentrated on the map (the bottom one) probably reflects higher cheese and milk consumption in North Central states. It doues not show clear correspondence to any other map.

Below are full versions of these maps (taken from www.cdc.gov and http://maps.ers.usda.gov/FoodAtlas/).


Heart disease deaths per 100,000:

Percentage of adults inactive in leisure time:

Soft drink consumption, gallons per capita:

Fruits and vegetables, Lbs per capita:

Meat and poultry, Lbs per capita:

Solid (saturated) fat, Lbs per capita

Healthy nutrition: go sugarless and increase protein

To understand the claim in the title of this article, we need to start with the basics. All nutrients you get with food can be divided in two categories: essential and non-essential.

Essential means “indispensable” – they are the ones that your body does NOT make on its own.

Non-essential nutrients are the ones that your body does make on its own. You body’s ability to go from one nutrient to another is as follows:

  • All carbohydrates (sugars) can be made from proteins and fats. They are non-essential nutrients.
  • Fats can be made of any other nutrient, with an exception of essential fatty acids (EFAsomega-3 and omega-6) that must be obtained with food in small amounts.
  • Protein is an essential nutrient. Protein cannot be made completely from scratch, because 9 out of 20 protein building blocks, called amino acids are not made in our body and therefore must be obtained with food. They are essential. This means that we must eat protein to build our own.
  • Carbohydrate, fat and protein can all be used to produce energy. The default energy source is carbohydrate (glucose); if glucose is not available then your body will readily burn fat and then protein. Carbohydrate, fat, and protein together are called macronutrients (“macro” means “big”), to stress the fact that we get most calories in food from them three.
  • Water, vitamins and minerals are all essential: they are not produced in our body and must be obtained with food. (To be precise, some water is produced in your body, but that amount is not nearly sufficient to keep you alive).

The following diagram represents these rules:

Since I majored in biochemistry this simple concept about nutrition is as obvious to me as multiplication table, yet I find that so many people are unfamiliar with it.

So if you are trying to build a low-calorie diet that is balanced and contains all essential nutrients, does it mean that you have to get obsessed with looking at those nutritional facts and count all those calories and grams of fat and protein? Well, the answer is both yes and no. You need to understand basic facts about foods once, and after that you will not have to worry too much about how those numbers add up.

Below are three simple rules you can use to build a well balanced diet:

  1. Carbohydrate rich foods that contain no or little essential nutrients can be safely reduced to a minimum. That is the easiest way to keep your calories low. I call it a carbohydrate avoidance strategy. If protein content is below 5 grams per serving – reduce this food or exclude it from your diet. This way you will stay low on calories automatically, without having to count them.
  2. Build your diet around animal protein-rich foods. The best ones are those that have calorie to protein ratio anywhere between 5 to 10 (using kilocalories and grams for protein). Examples are meat (with fat trimmed off), milk, poultry, eggs, fish and “light” cheese. In these foods, most calories will come from fat, which it fine. Regular cheese and sausages are bad examples, because in those foods, calorie to protein ratio is about 20. That is way too many calories per gram of protein. You can still include these, but limit serving sizes.
  3. Include a variety of plant products – oils, vegetables and fruits to supply essential fatty acids and vitamins. Use a normal portion size for oil, about half ounce (15 ml). Green veggies, salads and fruits are unlimited, because they are very low in calories.

When on a fitness program, best results are achieved by cutting carbohydrate to a minimum while increasing protein intake. Here is an example of how reducing carbohydrate while keeping the total energy intake the same results in improvements in weight loss (this particular experiment was in obese women; all diets were reduced in calories, from Meckling, 2007):

Carbohydrate to protein ratio (in calories)Exercise included?Weight Loss (kg) over 12 weeks
3 to 1No2.1kg
1.5 to 1No4.6 kg
2.7 to 1Yes4 kg
1 to 1Yes7 kg

We can see that reducing carbohydrate relative to protein while keeping the total calorie intake constant results in a better weight loss. The best combination for weight loss in this experiment was 1 to 1 carbohydrate to protein diet in combination with exercise.

To make certain important chemicals in our body, called leukotriens and prostaglandins, we need two kinds of essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. (Omega-9 fatty acids advertised on some supplements are not essential.) There are several different subgroups in each class, but we will just refer to omega-3 and omega-6 to keep it simple.

Despite the presence of many products on the market advertized as “omega-3 supplements” the truth is that you can easily meet your daily need for both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids with 2 servings (1oz, 30 mL) of canola or vegetable cooking oil, or blended oils that include eigher one of these two. The trick is that these two common oils are very high in omega-3, and most other oils are high in omega-6. So you could use either pure canola and vegetable or blended oil like canola/corn or canola/vegetable. Important: olive oil is a poor source of essential fatty acids, despite being more expensive. Here is my full article about this. Including 1 to 2 servings of plant oil is also good for another reason: polyunsaturated fat in your diet may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, although some scientists argue that evidence is not strong enough to claim this.

Your customized diet

You are ready to build your own diet customized to your needs. One common mistake is attempting to write a weight loss diet from scratch, and abandon most foods you love to eat. It is a very bad idea. Your feeding habits took years to form, and you will feel very unhappy without foods you love. Your chances of sticking to such a diet in a long term are fairly low.

Much better idea is to analyze your current diet and make adjustments to it based on your goal. I call this method do-it-once calorie adjustment. Here is my detailed article about it.

The idea is that when you are starting you diet and fitness regime, do a summary of foods you eat, including protein content and calorie content. You really do not need to include fat and carbohydrate here, since you know that they can be converted one into another. In protein-rich animal foods, most energy comes from fat; in plant foods it is both fat and carbohydrate, but all you care about istotal calories. Most certainly, your breakdown of foods will fit on one page. Example:

Food servingCaloriesProteinCalorie to Protein ratioNotes
1 egg70611OK
120g (4oz) sardines in tomato juice156246.5OK
120g (4oz) tuna in water133284.7OK
1 cup (240 mil, 8oz) 2% reduced fat milk130816limit
1 cup whole milk1731116limit
120g (4oz) chicken breast220327OK
0.5 oz (15mL) plant oil1200Must have 2 servings
Potato, large250736Limit
360 ml (12oz) beer, regular1400Exclude
360 ml (12oz) beer, light1000Limit
120g (4oz) pork2802810OK
113 g (4oz) muffin300650Exclude

The food nutrition facts are eigher on the packaging or you can do a quick search on a website like this one: http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/ .

When you do your diet analysis you will be able to evaluate your foods, see how much total calories you are consuming and most importantly, how and where to cut down on your calories. Identify poor food sources, and put a note. That means that you will either have to abandon them or limit serving sizes.

You will have to do this table only for foods rich in calories, which includes all animal products, all flour and starch rich products, including grains, and all fat rich products. Green vegetables, salads and fruits are very poor in calories, so you do not have to include them in your analysis. Consume them in unlimited amounts in any combination.

When you have your custom food summary, follow these steps:

  1. Determine you current calorie intake.Simply write out foods you have consumed yesterday and add up calories.
  2. Adjust it according to your goal: weight loss, muscle gain or both. You will need to go down on calories a little bit in order to push your metabolism out of its stable weight zone into a weight loss zone. Use theses guideline for calorie adjustment:
  • For most effective weight loss, reduce total calories to about 70% of your starting point.
  • For most effective muscle gaindo not limit calories, stay at normal energy consumption.Substitute carbohydrate and fat with protein calories whenever possible.
  • For a combination of fat loss and muscle gain go anywhere between 75 and 95 % of you starting point. The exact point will depend on many factors: your will power, eating habits, social habits, etc. To preserve or gain muscle, you absolutely have toexercise. If you do not exercise, you will lose both fat and muscle.


1 Potato, 4 oz pork, 15ml oil/salad250+280+120=6507+28+8=43
1 Potato, 2 eggs, 15ml oil/salad250+70*2+120=5107+12=19
120 g (4oz)Tuna in water13328
One 24oz can of light beer200
2 cups (500mL) reduced fat milk130*2=2608*2=16

This 1750 calories, 106g protein diet would be a good weight loss starting point for many. As you can see, it is easy to design your customized diet which will also supply necessary amount of essential nutrients. No additional supplements were needed.Below are few more suggestions on healthy nutrition:

  • Rely on what your body signals about its energy needs. Always be a little “hungry”. Do not indulge on food. Limit portion sizes and split food consumption evenly throughout day for best appetite control. When you exercise more the first thing that happens is that your appetite will increase. Watch your calories and do not indulge! Here is my article about managing your appetite.
  • Do not attempt to starve and lose weight very fast. I do not recommend attempting to lose more than 2-3 kg (6 pounds) per week.
  • Drink plenty of water. A lot of times you feel like you are hungry, but you are in fact thirsty. Drinking plenty of water fills up your stomach and helps reduce food cravings.
  • Use two rules of legendary Mr. Jack Lalanne: “if man made it, don’t eat it”, and “if it tastes good, spit it out.”

In conclusion, I would like to mention that in a whole picture of health and fitness, your diet only comes second to physical activity and exercise. The importance of diet is overstressed, while physical activity and sleep regime in underestimated. The reason for this is simple – foods are easy to advertise and sell and require no effort on your side. And most people want something with no effort. That is why the market is flooded with all kind of nutrition and food supplement products that claim to “burn fat” with no effort required.

Some of these products are certainly good, but take any claims with healthy skepticism. Free-ranging eggs and vegetables from Whole Food stores are definitely better choices than regular products from cheap Mexican stores. But they will not do magic. You can lose weight with just diet, but you will lose both fat and muscle. And losing muscle means decrease in your body’s ability to burn food into energy. There will be very little or no gain to your overall health with just diet and no exercise.


Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease.
Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):502-9.

Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.
Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46.

Metabolic effects of weight loss on a very-low-carbohydrate diet compared with an isocaloric high-carbohydrate diet in abdominally obese subjects.
Tay J and others. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008 Jan 1;51(1):59-67.

The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010?
Astrup A and others. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Apr;93(4):684-8

A randomized trial of a hypocaloric high-protein diet, with and without exercise, on weight loss, fitness, and markers of the Metabolic Syndrome in overweight and obese women.
Meckling KA, Sherfey R. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2007 Aug;32(4):743-52.

Effects of a hypocaloric, low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss, blood lipids, blood pressure, glucose tolerance, and body composition in free-living overweight women.
Meckling KA and others. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;80(11):1095-105.

Effects of a popular exercise and weight loss program on weight loss, body composition, energyexpenditure and health in obese women.
Kerksick C and others. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009 May 14;6:23.

Alcohol consumption and cardiovascular mortality among U.S. adults, 1987 to 2002.
Mukamal KJ and others. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2010 Mar 30;55(13):1328-35.

Caffeine ingestion reverses the circadian rhythm effects on neuromuscular performance in highlyresistance-trained men.
Mora-Rodríguez R and others. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e33807

Dietary cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients: a review of the Harvard EggStudy and other data.
Jones PJ. Int J Clin Pract Suppl. 2009 Oct;(163):1-8, 28-36.

Egg consumption as part of an energy-restricted high-protein diet improves blood lipid and bloodglucose profiles in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Pearce KL and others. Br J Nutr. 2011 Feb;105(4):584-92

Effects of eggs on plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations.
Fernandez ML. Food Funct. 2010 Nov;1(2):156-60

A five-step program to fix metabolism, lose fat, and build muscle

If you are visting this site, you are probably looking for a solution to lose weight. Most people want an easy solution, they are not willing to invest time and effort in educating themselves or in improving their lifestyle. I never understood that. People invest enormous amount of time in learning about TV celebrities or playing video games, which has absolutely no effect on their own lives, but are not interested in learning about their health.

Before looking for a solution we need to understand the problem a little better. Obesity itself is neither the problem nor the cause of problems.

Obesity is a manifestation of a messed-up metabolism.

Messed-up, unhealthy metabolism is the cause. Improperly functioning metabolism, in turn, has its own underlying cause: unhealthy lifestyle. This whole website is about careful analysis and finding solutions to adjust lifestyle in developed countries, with U.S. being the extreme. There is a solid scientific proof to suggest four major problems with lifestyle:

  1. Too much sitting
  2. Too little exercise
  3. Too many calories in food, particularly in a form of sugar
  4. Too little or irregular sleep time

I created this website not just for analysis but also to provide a comprehensive solution.

SOLUTION: A five step program to fix metabolism, lose fat, and build muscle

I could have called my program like others do, something like “Five easy steps to lose weight”. But I will not, because it would be lies. Nothing about human body is easy. If you want an easy solution, you might want to get one of those “fat burning” pills and see how that works for you. This program is a life-long commitment to healthy lifestyle. If you are not ready to make a life long commitment to healthy lifestyle and just looking to quickly drop 10 pounds, then look elsewhere.

The program is made of five steps which all start with letter “S” to make it easy to remember. The diargam below illustrates those steps and how your body will respond:

This map is actually is an extremely simplified diagram of some of the things that we know. Behind this map, there is a whole kingdom of things hidden from us. But we will work with what we know about our body, listening to its needs, and keeping us updated with latest research.

First three out of five steps in this program are all about increasing you activity level and giving your body a level of physical challenge it direly needs. With some thought and creativity you can fill most of your day with some kind of activity – standing, walking, aerobic exercise and resistance exercise. Make physical activity a default during your wake hours: whatever you are doing, you should be standing, walking, or running, or doing some kind of exercise. Reduce your sitting time to a minimum — it hurts you most and is the major problem with lifestyle in developed countries. This will take some thought, creativity, and planning. Provide your body with protein to build its own, vitamins and minerals, and necessary amount of sleep time. Exclude carbohydrate-loaded foods that have no essential nutrients, especially sweet stuff that gets you addicted by acting on your happiness centers.

Sweat. “Sweat” is aerobic exercise; it is also called endurance exercise, or simply “cardio”. This is really the most important component of the program, and there is absolutely no substitute for it. What aerobic exercise does is improving your cardiorespiratory fitness, or CRF. CRF is the single most important parameter of your health.

So how about all those “lose-20-pounds-in-2-weeks-with-no-exercise” kind of advertisements? You see, this is not strictly about weight loss, it is really more about fitness. Certain diets will cause weight loss, but diet with no exercise will cause you to lose both fat and muscle. Losing muscle means decreasing energy-producing capacity, or metabolic rate. Why there is so much talk about all those organic foods and food supplements? Because they promise you results with absolutely no effort. A well-balanced nutrition will only prime your body to become healthier, that is to burn fat and build muscle, but you only can make your body do it through exercise. If you thought you could increase your fitness and health level with just expensive all-organic diet, while still spending most of your time in that comfortable chair, keep dreaming. The only way to improve it is by doing aerobic exercise – the kind of exercise that brings your heart rate to 70% or more above rest.

Research shows that the particular kind of aerobic exercise is not important, what is important is duration and intensity. You could be jogging, swimming, dancing, or on a treadmill; as long as it is intense and duration is at least 30 minutes. Find the kind of exercise that you enjoy and that best fits your schedule to make it a daily routine.

The bottom line: exercise is a must. People worry too much about their BMI (body mass index) and weight and are not paying attention to cardiorespiratory fitness level. Research shows that higher BMI/higher fitness is far better than lower BMI/low fitness level.

Stand. We know everyday exercise is important. How about the rest of your wake time? Does it make sense to spend most of wake time sitting, do a 30 min workout, and expect great results?

In 1953, they found that in England, bus drivers have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease than train conductors. The underlying cause? Bus drivers sit their entire work shift, whereas train conductors stand. The healthiest occupations turned out to be mail carriers who walk all day. Sedentary work is a huge occupational hazard, on par with smoking. The problem though is that we do not just sit at work. On average, Americans sit additional four hours at home in front of a TV or a computer. And for every hour per day of TV viewing all cause mortality increases by 11% , whereas mortality due to cardiovascular disease by 18%. That is for every hour of sitting per day.

The bottom line is: quit sitting. Do all your favorite activities, including internet, TV, video games, while standing. It will take some creativity and thought, but little or no money. Look here how I made my standing work area at home. Some people went as far as mounting some kind of a treadmill underneath their desk.

Fill your day with activities that engage most of your body muscles. They absolutely do not have to be physically demanding. Activities that you love and enjoy. Gardening or walking with your dog are great examples. Poker or eating out clearly not. When you go shopping, see how everybody wants to park as close as possible to the store? Do not follow the crowd — park as far as possible, so you can walk a little. Very soon, you will get into a habit, and you will actually get tired of sitting. I remember it was pretty hard to wean myself off that chair, but now I get tired of sitting for more than 10-15 minutes! Because I do not even use chairs now, I hid them all in a closet, one day they will go on a yard sale.

Strength. “Strength” is resistance exercise – the kind of workout when you are pushing targeted muscles to the limit by giving them a load that you can only repeat about 10 to 20 times. A basic resistance workout can be done at home; a pair of dumbbells or a barbell are desirable but not absolutely necessary. Push-ups are great example of a basic resistance exercise. While resistance exercise will not raise your cardiorespiratory fitness level, it has its own unique benefits: it helps maintain and increase muscle volume and strength.

By including resistance training you build up larger muscle mass, increasing your body’s energy-producing ability. An added benefit is athletic looks, which will definitely increase your self-esteem level and general satisfaction with life. Anabolic hormones, such as testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor all spike after intense resistance training. They stimulate recycling of muscle, bone and cartilage tissue and slow down aging.

According to research, the benefits of resistance training are greatest when it is used in combination with aerobic exercise. In a way, by doing cardio+resistance program, you are doing a better cardio!

Sugarless. Healthy nutrition will provide necessary fuel and building blocks so your body can do all those wonderful things and flourish. Based on research and experience, I recommend low sugar / high protein diet. Out of three main nutrients, protein, fat, and carboydrate, only protein is an essential nutrient. This means your body needs to get protein with food in order to build its own. Everything else is disposable: your body can build all of its fat and all of its sugar (with one exception, read my article about nutrition). And it can use all three major nutrients as energy source. Build your diet around protein, using a variety of protein-rich foods, and also making sure that you get other essential nutrients: vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Examples of such foods are meat (both lean pork and beef), poultry, fish, eggs and reduced fat milk.

This diet is the easiest to maintain, because if you dump sugar, you will not have to worry too much about counting calories – your body will decide how much protein to use as building blocks and how much burn to obtain energy. Most protein-rich foods, such as eggs and meat, come with a decent amount of fat, and that will be your primary energy source. To mention here, there is nothing wrong with consuming fat. What makes you get fatter is not fat that you eat, it is the total amount of calories you consume in any form.

It is particularly important that you completely avoid simple sugars — glucose, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup — a major sweet sugar in US), and sucrose (hite power sugar sold in stores is sucrose; it is made of one glucose and one fructose). Anything that tastes sweet. Apart from the fact they are loaded with calories and usually contain no essential nutrients, there is something else about the sweet taste: it really has the power to make you feel happy! Did you notice that you tend to crave for that chocolate bar a lot more when you are stressed and tired? Sweet calorie-rich foods act as antidepressants and provide positive feedback to make you crave them even more. They almost make you overeat. Kind of like any smoker will tell you that you cannot limit yourself just to one cigarette per day. If you smoke, you will eventually be smoking exactly a pack per day. It has to do with appetite control, here is my full article about it.

Sleep. If you are serious about your health, get least 7 hours of sleep every day and wake up at the same time. Not having enough sleep with cause you to overeat (on average, by 500 calories), will cause imbalance of glucose, will mess up hormones that control appetite so it will negate all the benefits of exercise and healthy diet. Irregular sleep hours, a result of shift work that many people have to do, is as bad as having not enough sleep.

Our ape-like ancestors did not have no electricity, so they woke up with sunrise and went to sleep with sunset. Every day, for millions of years. No wonder that your sleep cycle is such a powerful mechanism in your body, that trying to mess with it will only cause serious problems in all your body systems. Yet these days people mess with it all the time. They watch TV till 2 am and wake up at 6 to go to work. Have late parties. Work night shifts. Actually, if you wake up to an alarm clock, you are already messing your sleep to a certain extent. The bottom line is: get enough sleep.

Biological perspective

Human body is an incredibly complex thing shaped by about 23000 genes (from each parent) and millions of years of evolution. Did you know that in the last 50000 years our genome almost did not change? That we only have 18 unique genes, the rest are just very slight tweaking of ape genes? (yes, gorillas and chimps). Forget apes though. Only 300 of our genes are not found in mice. Have you heard how scientists test all new theories and drugs in mice?

Think for a second how we lived 50000 years ago. You think we would never know an answer to this question? Actually, this one is easy, because we can just look at how native South American tribes live right now. And you would see that you would be spending most of your wake time trying to locate, catch, dig out, kill, or steal food. You would be close to starvation most of the time, and the food you could catch and find would only barely meet your calorie expenditures for that day. In fact, the food was so scarce and precious that you would also cut, cook and eat the dead people in your tribe, then you would just bury their bare bones with due respect. And the reason is because out of all scarce and hard-to-find foods, protein was especially precious. Getting a good protein-rich meal meant killing a wild animal, which is not even easy these days when people have fishing rods and rifles. Imagine having to do it with arrows and stone axes! Yet we clearly were successful at that sometimes, otherwise there would be no humans walking on this planet now.

If you think for a second how much energy it should take just to get food, you realize that being active all day walking, running, using our arms and legs should be our default, normal behavior. Instead, the default activity for many people is sitting comfortably in the char at work or at home in front of the TV. 30% of Americans live their lives just like that – with NO physical activity. (This number is actually a perfect match with the rate of obesity in US – also about 30%). And most of the rest of us are not even close to the activity level that nature has designed us for.

Why give this program a serious consideration?

With hundreds of different fitness programs, food supplements, and other products on the market, what makes this one special? A few things:

1) It is based on latest research. Being a scientist (a doctor of science), I have developed a broad perspective of a “big” picture, which includes biochemistry, neuroscience, physiology, and other disciplines, even evolution. I know that human body is an intricately complex system shaped by millions of years of survival of the fittest, and our current lifestyle is drastic departure from what mother nature designed us for. I constantly monitor literature and keep my site updated with new findings.

2) It is comprehensive: all of its components are essential and work together. There are many products on the market which focus on only one thing, and usually it is selling you a specific product, such as a magic exercise machine or a food supplement. Human body is an incredibly complex system and to make progress toward health, a lot of things need to be adjusted and tweaked. Exercise and general activity level is the most important thing; it is complemented by the diet that provides all the essential nutrients and also necessary amount of sleep that makes everything else possible.

3) I am not trying to sell you anything: I merely provide information to guide you. You read, you do your own research; you make your own choices.

4) An ultimate test: test on myself. I kind of tried separate components of this program and I was confident they work separately, but in the summer 2012 I decided to go one step further: put together a well-structured course and try it on myself as an ultimate proof. It did work great! I carefully documented my progress and the results exceeded my expectations.

5) Home-based. In my program, there is no need for gym membership, special equipment, food supplements or pills. Instead, using information from this web site, you set up an exercise plan of the exercises you love and enjoy and can do at home or in the area where you live. Access to the gym would not hurt of course, especially for bad weather days, but it is not necessary either. The only limiting thing needed on your side is your determination!

A concluding message from Dr. Boris.

The reason I even made this site in the first place is that I got sick and tired of being fed with lies and scams about health. I want facts, analysis, truth and experimentally proven strategies. And I have a passion to tell what I have learned to everybody else. So, keep educating yourself about fitness and health, do your own research, analyze, and remember: you can do it no matter what the stage of your unfitness is.

Diet: reduce fat or carbohydrate?

If you are trying to lower calorie intake for better weight loss, you will probably ask a question at some point: is it better to cut fat or carbohydrate calories? This is what this articles is about and I start with probably somewhat surprising answer. Actually, two answers because they are different for diet in general and diet for weight loss and exercise:

For general nutrition, cut down on carbohydrate first, especially refined sugars and starch products. It is very likely that you are overeating particularly these kinds of carbohydrate, which have proved to be most detrimental to human metabolism.

For weight loss and exercise, it does not matter if you cut down on fat or carbohydrate or both, as long as you:

  • Supply essential fatty acids as 1-2 serving of unsaturated fats (oils);
  • Supply sufficient protein to maintain and build muscle: preferably, at least 1 grams protein per kg body weight.

Lets get into detail on how I arrived to this answer.

The 2010 nutritional guidelines by US government call or the following proportion of energy (calorie) intake for adults:


As we can see, this diet is biased in favor of carbohydrate. Is this something that is based on research or something that merely reflects our habits?

Talking about out real habits, take a look at the graph of soft drink consumption here(from here):

The soda sales in US have pretty much hit the ceiling but in developing countries, which strive to live by “western” standards, sweet water sells pretty well. Coca Cola spends about 10% of its 12 billion profits on advertisement and it goal is to double business by 2020, mostly by growing in developing world.

In soft drinks sold in US, carbohydrate comes in a form of HFCS – high fructose corn syrup. It is a mixture of sweet simple sugars glucose and fructose obtained by chemically processing corn. Fructose is very sweet, it is sweeter than regular sugar (sucrose), which is one reason for using HFCS. Another reason is price – HFCS is cheap because US companies get subsidies to grow corn, or else cheaper foreign sugar made of sugar cane would put them out of domestic market.

Not only we mostly replace water with soft drinks, but we have also created negative image for water consumption. Many people think that tap water is somehow inferior in quality to bottled water, which is a misconception. About half of bottled water sold is nothing but a regular tap water. If you go to any fast food place, you will be offered a huge 24 or 32 oz brightly colored cup for soft drink (free refills, of course). If you ask for water, you well be offered a tiny inconvenient 8 oz cup. Not enough for a hot Texas day! 32 oz cup of soft drink is, by the way, 4 servings – about 400 calories with absolutely no essential nutrients.

The map of soft drink consumption in US is a pretty good overlap with a map of obesity and heart disease. Here is my article about that. This is not surprising since every known metabolic marker is affected by high carbohydrate consumption. Glucose tolerance is reduced, “bad cholesterol” (smaller LDL) rises, good cholesterol (HDL) drops, and fats (triacylglyceroles) also rise. Yes, you are reading this right – high carbohydrate in diet raises fat level in blood. This leads to diabetes, obesity and elevated risk of heart disease.

There are generally three problems with carbohydrate rich foods:

  • Too high on calories. Just an example: a 4 oz chocolate muffin has 8g protein and 360 calories. 4oz of pork have 28g protein and 280 calories.
  • Too high in simple sugar (glucose), causing a blow to your metabolism by messing up glucose balance. Note that starch is also glucose but connected in a chain: in your stomach and small intestine, it is digested and absorbed into blood as glucose.
  • Too low on essential nutrients. Companies are trying to get around this by adding things like vitamin C and labeling it “Vitamin Water” but it does not make no difference – it still over 100 calories, and still no protein. You can easily get you daily dosage of vitamin C from real fruits and vegetables, like onions and oranges. The problem of course is that real stuff is not as sweet and that is why so many people prefer varous forms of sweet water labeled as “juice”.

Fat, especially fat from meat and diary products (solid, or saturated fat) has been getting negative publicity. It is easy to convince people that fat is bad if you tell them that fat is what makes them “fatter”. So many people are looking for “zero saturated fat” products and often replace them with foods rich in carbohydrates. Our body can easily convert fat to carb and carb to fat in a snap. What really matters is the total amount of consumed calories. Unused calories from either source will be saved as fat, mostly in abdominal area.

In 2010 analysis, some prominent experts in a field, Ronald Krauss and colleagues, have reached a conclusion that there was “no significant evidence that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease”. However, increasing consumption of polyunsaturated fat is independently associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The take home message: you can have nutrition rich in saturated fats (meat, diary products, eggs), but be sure to also include products rich in polyunsaturated fats: fish and plant foods. Replacing saturated fat with carbohydrate is a bad idea.

All above is described for diet unrestricted in calories and for those who do not take steps to include exercise and/or increase their activity level. For an individual with an average genetic makeup, eating as much as you want and not exercising will result in a slow weight gain, slow muscle loss, and all chronic diseases that come with it. This will happen regardless of what you are eating. Under those conditions, lowering carbohydrate to a minimum, reducing saturated fats, and increasing unsaturated fats is a good idea, but it will only slow down the process of slow decrease in fitness. With these diet modifications, expect better weight control and about 30% decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

But things are a little different when calories are restricted. When calories are down to about 70% (1400 kcal), both low fat / high carb and high fat / low carb diets worked about equally well. Low high fat / low carb diet showed slightly more of weight loss (9.2% vs. 7%). In both diets, cardiovascular markers were also improved: lower fat (triacylglycerol) level, higher “good cholesterol” (HDL) and lower “bad cholesterol” (small LDL).

So the take home message is:

it is not the particular fat to carbohydrate ratio that matters, but the total amount of consumed calories.

With calorie restricted diet alone, both loss of fat tissue and loss of muscle tissue will occur, accompanied by a decrease in metabolic rate – body’s ability to burn food into energy. This is described in more detail here. For both weight loss and increase in fitness level, diet needs to be combined with an exercise regime and an increase in low-level and moderate-level activity. When combined with exercise, very different types of diets give significant improvement in all health parameters, but high protein / low carbohydrate diet allows for better muscle gain and better fat loss.

Here is an example of how diet and exercise combinations worked for obese women (average weight 94 kg, BMI 34.9) over 14 weeks:

RegimenDietWaist size change, cmBody mass change, kg
Exercise + 1200 kcal diet63% protein, 7% carbDecrease by 6.3Decrease by 5.6
Exercise + 1200 kcal diet50% protein, 20% carbDecrease by 6.7Decrease by 6.5
Exercise + 1200 kcal diet15% protein, 55% carbDecrease by 5.7Decrease by 4.0
Exercise only, no dietNormalDecrease by 5.1Decrease by 0.2
No exercise, no diet (control)NormalIncrease by 8.2Increase by 1.4

(from Kerksick, 2009).

I marked best results I bold. Clearly, limiting calories, keeping protein high and carbohydrate low gives best results for weight loss in combination with exercise. Also note two other things: 1) No exercise, no diet group got significantly fatter over 14 weeks and 2) Exercise only also gave small, but visible improvement.

In summary, for exercise and weight loss, the total amount of calories and amount of protein is more important than a fat to carbohydrate ratio. As long as you keep calories low, weight loss will occur. High protein, on the other hand, will facilitate muscle gain.

Whether you are focusing on lowering carbohydrate or lowering fat, there is a couple of things to remember:

  • Refined sweet sugar (sucrose and HFCS) is extremely unhealthy and mess up metabolism. It should be avoided at all cost.
  • Daily need for essential fatty acids must be met. This can be easily done with 1 to 2 servings of regular cooking oils such as canola oil and vegetable (soybean) oils. There is no scientific basis for providing more than necessary amount of omega-3 fatty acids in a form of supplements (flax seed, fish oil, etc.).
  • It helps to increase protein to above the recommended daily amount to retain and build muscle: 1 gram per kilogram body weight or more. If you are more into muscle building (“bodybuilding”), then go up to 2 grams per kilogram, or 1 g per pound. You cannot overeat on protein – whatever is not used as building material will be used as energy source.

When you decide to limit calories there is a practical consideration though: most animal protein sources are rich in fat calories and low on carbohydrate. This means that if you build your diet around these products, you will quickly max out your calories, and there will be little or no space left for carbohydrate products. This is exactly how I build my diet – around meat, eggs, milk, poultry and fish. I really do not mind dumping most carbohydrate. My staple food is meat, mostly trimmed pork, and eggs – two per day. I call is a “caveman’s diet”. My full article about it is here.

I personally use a “carbohydrate avoidance strategy” – for me, this is the easiest way to limit calories. This means no sugar in the house, no soft drinks, no sweet stuff, no bread, grains limited. But there is an advantage to it also – I can enjoy an occasional sausage (200 kcal) or a beer (another 200 kcal). I do get some carbohydrates from vegetables though – mostly potatoes. I found that this approach works great and is very easy to maintain, I only need to buy a few very basic foods in a grocery store.

Advanced reading:

Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease.
Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):502-9.

Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.
Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46.

Metabolic effects of weight loss on a very-low-carbohydrate diet compared with an isocaloric high-carbohydrate diet in abdominally obese subjects.
Tay J and others. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008 Jan 1;51(1):59-67.

The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010?
Astrup A and others. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Apr;93(4):684-8

A randomized trial of a hypocaloric high-protein diet, with and without exercise, on weight loss, fitness, and markers of the Metabolic Syndrome in overweight and obese women.
Meckling KA, Sherfey R. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2007 Aug;32(4):743-52.

Effects of a hypocaloric, low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss, blood lipids, blood pressure, glucose tolerance, and body composition in free-living overweight women.
Meckling KA and others. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;80(11):1095-105.

Effects of a popular exercise and weight loss program on weight loss, body composition, energyexpenditure and health in obese women.
Kerksick C and others. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009 May 14;6:23.