A simple roadmap to defeating Metabolic Syndrome and finding new strength and energy

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We love carbs. Not so much because it’s really what we like, but because food processing makes them easily available at all times. It’s not so easy to carry a chicken wing around in your pocket. Not unless food poisoning is on your schedule.

Carbohydrates aren’t all bad; they’re a prime source of food during high-intensity exercise and our brain is fueled primarily by sugar. While the body is capable, over a period of time, of becoming more efficient at using fat in high-intensity work, most studies show carbs work better when athletes are asked to work at levels higher than 70% of their VO2 max for extended periods. 

But there’s a dark side to the carbohydrate. If not burned up, they can lead to fat gain and in the long run, to what is known as Metabolic Syndrome, a systemic breakdown of several vital body mechanisms stemming from insulin resistance. Picture insulin like any drug you may take. The first time you take it, it has an immediate and powerful effect. But over time, your body adapts to the drug’s presence and it requires more of the substance to get the results you want. It’s the same with insulin. Keep cramming processed, high glycemic carbs down your gullet and your body becomes “numb” to insulin in your blood. The insulin doesn’t work as effectively at removing the sugar from your blood and so it keeps pumping out more of it; the body doesn’t like insulin in the blood for too long and wants to store it in fat or muscles. The long-term effects of elevated blood insulin are devastating: Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cognitive decline, cancer.

Get it? It’s bad.  

So years and years of soda, chips, ice cream, cookies, and white bread add up. Your gut expands, your blood pressure increases and you age quickly.

The news gets worse when you avoid exercise, which increases insulin sensitivity. In other words, your body needs less insulin to remove sugar, when you exercise regularly. Strength training is especially effective at increasing insulin sensitivity as is High Intensity Interval Training.

There’s good news though, and I’m going to give you a simple road map to new health, improved athletic performance, greater sense of well-being and weight loss. I’ll keep it simple; you don’t have to be hard-core top make it work. Stick with it and I think you ‘ll be impressed and when the results start coming through–you’ll never want to give it up. It’s simply too good to throw away.

Step 1) Intermittent fasting. Twice per week, I want you to skip one meal. The results are in–fasting is good for you. Live longer, look younger, increase insulin sensitivity and decrease the rate of cognitive decline. I’m intentionally taking it easy on you. I don’t want to scare you away with the way I do things. Sometimes I don’t eat for a whole day or I skip two meals on one day and one the next and continue to alternate fora week at a time. But you can get results by only skipping two meals– I’ve seen it in myself.

Step 2) Natural Food. Eat food throughout the week that is found in nature. Salads, fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts. I’ll even let you eat chocolate–as long as it’s dark chocolate. One day per week eat whatever you want–yes even cake. Don’t worry about how much you eat at each meal as long as you skip your two meals per week.

Step 3) High Intensity Weight Training. One day per week, hit the gym. Do 1 set of 6-8 reps per upper  body part. The last rep should be an all-out effort to the point that you can’t do another rep. Adjust the weight accordingly. For lower body part, do 15-20 reps. This is a full body workout. So you can do bench, curls, leg press, leg curl, arm curls. That in and of itself will be enough–if you go all-out with max effort. If you can’t make it to the gym, do max pushups, max bodyweight squats and max situps. Literally gas yourself.

Step 4) One day of intervals or distance running. Sprint for 20 seconds for six repetitions with 30 seconds rest between intervals. It’s gonna hurt but it’s 2 minutes of work. Suck it up Soldier! OR run for at least 20 minutes at a moderate pace.

What you say, that’s it? Don’t I need more exercise? No, you don’t.Can you do more exercise? Of course. This schedule leaves you plenty of space to add what you want. Maybe you play a sport or love running. Good, this will help with weight management, but as far as strength is concerned, one set to failure once per week is shown to be as effective as multiple sets three times per week! And you’ll save your joints.

Try my recommendations and let me know how things work out. I’ve given you a starting point, if not the guide to athletic supremecy. With it you’ll be able to live your life without having to constantly think about the gym or what you’re eating. And life’s about living, right? If you want advice, I’ll be happy to give it. I can at least tell you what’s worked for me-I’m very happy with my results.

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9 thoughts on “A simple roadmap to defeating Metabolic Syndrome and finding new strength and energy

    Amos Volante said:
    September 4, 2009 at 1:05 am

    You know, Magus, this well written and well thought out opinion would still have more hammer effect with a photo of you in the middle of a seriously intense workout.

    It would drive home the image that your words are not just fluff, but tried and true techniques.

    Surely there’s a troop with a camera who can give us some blog fodder?

    magus71 responded:
    September 4, 2009 at 5:32 am

    I hate posing while working out, but I’ll see what I can come up with.

    Lou said:
    September 4, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Your post is inspirational. I posted something on diets yesterday, too, being that I am the world’s all time great dieter:) I’ve done them all, but a low carb diet is the best for me. Your “Stick with it…” is probably the most important line in your post and the hardest part of diet and exercise. Although I think fasting can be good, I would be cautious here. When I was younger, I skipped meals often – often all day. Your body can often go into “starvation mode” and your metabolism slows down. Fasting teaches control, but not how to eat healthy. I’m not saying don’t do it, but I’m just saying for some people it can be taken too far or not be healthy in the long run. Over all, I needed your thoughts – thanks.

    magus71 responded:
    September 4, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Lou,

    I understand what you’re saying about fasting but most people will not have a problem with fasting too much or for too long. Clearly, too much food is the biggest problem. Our bodies are not meant to have constant access to food. I’m in the Army where people are required to do at least 30 minutes of physical traning per day, and yet, many of them are still chunky and doughy looking. They have unlimited access to food, much of it very starchy.

    If you’re doing the low carb diet, you’e on the right track. I do believe that it is a very healthy way to eat, and even the ideologues are having to admit it works. My diet is very similar, though I know when I can eat carbohydrates and when I can’t–and what type.

    Amos Volante said:
    September 4, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I’ve seen The Magus in action with his eat/fast/do physical stuff and it is a developed lifestyle habit, but it’s also very natural to do.

    I’ve never seen him binging or suffering from a lack of food. Compared to humans 100 years ago he probably eats double, or more.

    I suppose the magic is finding that right balance. There is definitely a common sense approach here.

    Sadly, most of our own families deviated from common sense so many years ago they don’t even remember when it started.

    It’s a good sign so many people are now looking for that lost trail.

    magus71 responded:
    September 5, 2009 at 5:35 am

    I just think people need to experience hunger once in a while. It’s natural. And there’s mounting scientific and anecdotal evidence to show it works.

    The main thing for me is that I don’t obsess about losing 1/8 ounce of muscle like bodybuilders do, who stuff themselves all day everyday and die of heart attacks when they’re 50. Not to mention the fact that they aren’t very athletic.

    I can’t help but believe my eating habbits have contributed to my ability to hold onto my physical abilities as I approach 40.

    But I’m all for doing what works, too. People should do what they can and what fits their lifestyles.

    Bill said:
    September 6, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    You know this already but I was wayy skeptical of this approach at first. I pretty much owe you my firstborne for turning me on to it – it works, works fast and is overall amazing

    magus71 responded:
    September 7, 2009 at 5:26 am

    Glad I was of help, Bill and I hope hope things continue to get better!

    Jay said:
    June 27, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I’ve been focusing on strength for the past few weeks and limiting my running. I used to run 4x a week , typically running at least 30mins-1 hr at a very moderate pace. I’ve cut my running down to once or twice a week of sprint intervals and have been focusing on building strength 3x a week with the concept based on Starting Strength. Focusing on the major movements/lifts with a 3 sets of 5 reps scheme of lifting heavy and focusing on adding weight to the bar every week. My strength is improving and i feel no major adverse effects to my cardio. My 1.5 mile time for my recent PT test was still at around a 9:40 as it was when i was running 4x a week. I’m convinced after the research you’ve been providing that strength is a foundation for fitness and proper high intensity training is sufficient for a healthy cardiovascular system.

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