I thought I’d do a round-up of the most important fitness and nutrition lessons that I learned in 2018.
Fasting Mimicking Diet / Protein Cycling Diet
This is the year I started experimenting with the FMD / Protein Cycling Diet, which is a 5-day very low protein fast that forces the body into a cycle of repair.
I tried a few different approaches. What worked best for me was eating 2 avocados and steamed cabbage each day. I kept my total daily protein under 20 grams. I also used the sauna.
Knee Pain Knowledge
I made a lot of progress this year with my left knee issues. This post has some ideas that could help you.
Since then, I have added single-leg leg presses into the mix. Use a lower weight and do them slowly. This will strengthen your hips and glutes without you having to focus much on balance.
Going on Offense to Deal with Toxins
I’ve always thought that defending the body against every environmental toxin was a losing battle. We can’t control every bite of food, every drop of water or the air we breathe. It would drive you crazy or bankrupt if you attempted to do so.
A better approach would be to go on offense. Assume toxic exposure and remove them. But how? See this post.
The short version is to get in a caloric deficit and then sweat. The sauna is the best tool for the job.
Solving Stomach Pain Issues
After trying a bunch of supplements and changing up my diet, I found swapping out my first AeroPress coffee of the day with cold brew coffee fixed everything.
Returning to Cardio
It has been more than a decade since I did anything that could even be closely considered “cardio”. I have been in the “cardio is a myth” camp for years thanks to my HIT mentors. But all that changed.
Now I am hitting the elliptical trainer a few times a week. Will it help my heart make it to 100 years? No idea. What I have discovered is that it has taught me to breathe better when I lift, which reduces my exertion headaches. So it is a win already.
Potatoes & Protein
My great insight of 2018 was to take the success I had with the Potato Hack and mix it with my new goal of increasing protein. Mix potatoes and protein in the same meal. And then repeat that meal or something similar several times a week.
This combo is turning out to be crazy effective for controlling appetite.
I use the Penguin to make my cold brew coffee. See my article Make Concentrated Cold Brew Coffee With the Penguin Coffee for instructions.
Jan 10, 2019 — 4:59 pm
The typo “old brew coffee” threw me for a minute until I realized that it was “cold brew coffee”. Also, I thought that Penguin was some new tower going up in Seatlle!
Jan 10, 2019 — 5:04 pm
@garymar – Fixed. Thanks.
Jan 13, 2019 — 8:04 pm
Great summary. Now that you’ve done it a few times, did you notice any benefits from the FMD? Or are you just doing it for the possible long term benefits?
Jan 14, 2019 — 6:34 am
@Jim – I can’t feel any differences “under the hood”, but 5 days of very low calories does cause some noticeable weight loss. Most comes back once you start eating and resuming creatine, but I could see how someone could use an FMD to jump-start a diet.
Jan 15, 2019 — 10:50 pm
I think fighting the toxins yourself is a myth. Body has detoxifying systems and metabolic pathways that work 24/7, and if they don’t, severe diseases occur. That said, some stuff is accumulated in fat tissue, also the lungs contain anthracosis, which is a fancy word for dust…Even 10 year olds have it during autopsies, and it looks quite terrible, kinda like those “smoler’s lungs” from cigarette packs. But it doesn’t really matter. What kills you in the grand scheme is your mitochondria – to create so much energy that made humans and animals superior, the tradeoff is that this system is inherently flawed anc creates free radicals that are removed but over time the mistakes accumulate and you die as the system is imperfect. Some primitive organisms don’t have that and live essentially forever, but all they do is float in the water.
Again, I don’t think you can do anything meaningful to “detoxify”. Sever stuff you cannot deal with unless you are a future Nobel prize winner and small stuff doesn’t matter. And the levels of toxins now are much lower than in any point in history, but much more measured and panicked about.
Jan 15, 2019 — 11:03 pm
And regarding harmful toxins, you’ll know because you’ll be in a hospital in no time. Or dead:-)
Regarding cardio, I think HIT and walking can fully replace it for benefits except endocannabinoid (inner marihuana:-)) rush from 20 minute jog.
But HIT is so specific and nich that nobody considers that when making large scale recommendations.
That said cardio is fine when done on elliptical or rowing machine, ski-erg etc. But running or sprinting is just asking for problems in my opinion. Hituni (I know, possibly biased) had an article on this very topic.
Jan 16, 2019 — 6:35 am
@Ondrej – If one doesn’t sweat or sweat enough, then one is not using one of their natural detox pathways. That is where the sauna comes in. So if one makes it a habit to sweat then one is choosing to fight the toxins accumulated in their body. Seems logical to me.
We also know that some toxins exit the body via sweat and not digestion. So, I am unpersuaded by your comment that one can’t fight toxin exposure.
I’ll continue to go to the sauna and donate blood regularly to help my body naturally remove any environmental toxins. And if this risk is low or non-existent, then I’ve lost nothing and gained other benefits.
As for HIT vs Cardio. All I am doing is diversifying my exercise portfolio.
The point of this blog (unlike other blogs) is not to say what is right and what is wrong, but to make the best decisions in the absence of complete information.
Jan 17, 2019 — 1:27 am
Why in your opinion is running and sprinting asking for trouble? What has formed your opinion? Not saying I disagree, I’m just curious.
Jan 17, 2019 — 9:11 am
Stuart Gilbert: Injury rate. I heard a rehab doctor joke about how they are grateful for the running trend as well. We can see accelarated version of the effects in sportsmen in their thirties…they balance on the knife edge, injury vs. heroic peformance. I guess in moderation it’s ok, but you better have good technique.
Some structures – joints, cartillage etc. just lose their quality over a lifetime and their medical substitutes are non-existent or poor. New hip just sucks even if done well and certainly won’t imrpove my performance. Therefore if I’m doing something over the lifetime I prefer it to be very safe.
The idea is to stress the muscle as much as possible and force it to adapt while ideally avoiding joint impact or repeating pattern of movement too frequently.
From my experience cardio surgeons and cardiologists often do marathons etc., wear trackers. But rehab doctors don’t recommend it. I guess each specialty has it’s own experience.
Again, if you choose rowing machine, eliptical, swimming…it’s fine.
Jan 17, 2019 — 10:05 am
Why do you think that running or sprinting is asking for problems? What basis do you have for your point of view?
I’m not disagreeing with you necessarily, just curious.
Jan 17, 2019 — 10:10 am
Sorry Ondrej…thought my original question hadn’t posted…hence the second stab at it. Thanks for your detailed reply which I wholeheartedly agree with.
Feb 11, 2019 — 6:17 am
Have you heard of GXP?
It’s “cardio” protocol developed by Richard Winett, dr. Otto and others.
It is mentioned in recent books by Clarence Bass and Stuart McRobert as well. Basically a submaximal (85%) relatively short cardio protocol yet it isn’t HIIT, so it shouldn’t compromise recovery ability as much.
Feb 11, 2019 — 7:20 am
@Ondřej – No I hadn’t. Thanks for sharing.