Is Fructose the villain?

This is an amazing read, and is part of my cholesterol studies

“Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans” found here

take home message is here:

“Studies in animals have documented that, compared with glucose, dietary fructose induces dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. To assess the relative effects of these dietary sugars during sustained consumption in humans, overweight and obese subjects consumed glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverages providing 25% of energy requirements for 10 weeks. Although both groups exhibited similar weight gain during the intervention, visceral adipose volume was significantly increased only in subjects consuming fructose. Fasting plasma triglyceride concentrations increased by approximately 10% during 10 weeks of glucose consumption but not after fructose consumption. In contrast, hepatic de novo lipogenesis (DNL) and the 23-hour postprandial triglyceride AUC were increased specifically during fructose consumption. Similarly, markers of altered lipid metabolism and lipoprotein remodeling, including fasting apoB, LDL, small dense LDL, oxidized LDL, and postprandial concentrations of remnant-like particle–triglyceride and –cholesterol significantly increased during fructose but not glucose consumption. In addition, fasting plasma glucose and insulin levels increased and insulin sensitivity decreased in subjects consuming fructose but not in those consuming glucose. These data suggest that dietary fructose specifically increases DNL, promotes dyslipidemia, decreases insulin sensitivity, and increases visceral adiposity in overweight/obese adults”

Cholesterol and coffee

If you know me well, you’ll know I’m running some  daily tests on my cholesterol status ( results due in 30 days).

Here was a surprise correlation that I thought I should highlight now.

So cholesterol is all about saturated fat! Right? So if you woke up and only had 3-4 cups of coffee  ( with 1 sugar and skimmed milk) over 5 hours,  missed breakfast and lunch, you’d expect your cholesterol to be low or high?

Enter Cafestol.

Check out Coffee Raises Cholesterol .

Cafestol, a compound found in coffee, elevates cholesterol by hijacking a receptor in an intestinal pathway critical to its regulation, according to a recent article. Allegedly the effect is negated if you pass the coffee through an old fashioned paper filter, but still, who knew!!

“In fact, cafestol is the most potent dietary cholesterol-elevating agent known, said Dr. David Moore, professor of molecular and cellular biology at BCM, and Dr. Marie-Louise Ricketts, a postdoctoral student and first author of the report. Cafetiere, or French press coffee, boiled Scandinavian brew and espresso contain the highest levels of the compound, which is removed by paper filters used in most other brewing processes. Removing caffeine does not remove cafestol.” 


Olympic lifts as a percentage of your back squat

It’s a big, big, sweep of the arm, but most of your lifts can be (could be) compared to your back squat. If you back squat 100kg, the chances are you can snatch up to 60kg, and clean 75kg. Bear in mind these figures could vary by as much as 15%

Front Squat Snatch Clean
 87.5%  60%  75%
Overhead Squat
Power Snatch Power Clean
Deadlift Snatch Pull Clean Pull
 125%  90% 100%
Christian Thibaudeau adds extra ratios and insights  here
Waxman’s gym has a fascinating “Weightlifting Lift Calculator” here
Box Rox also has a nice assessment tool here
My take home message is this: once you start struggling with your olympic lifts, and your technique is quite good, start to consider improving your strength.

Psyllium: is magic

Throughout the fitness industry,  people are busting a gut to sell you dubious pills and potions.

However there are naturally occurring, non controversial  substances that cure or alleviate many  dangerous  medical conditions. I’ve discussed Chia seeds here, today its  Psyllium.

Pysllium is magic.


Some fun Pysllium facts


  1. Psyllium is a soluble fiber derived from the seeds of Plantago ovata. Grown mainly  in India
  2. Because of its great water solubility, psyllium can absorb water and become a thick, viscous compound that resists digestion in the small intestine.

    Its resistance to digestion allows it to help regulate high cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels.  For me, there are 2 notable areas where it helps

A) Blood sugar regulation

One study treated 56 diabetic men with 5.1 grams of psyllium twice per day for eight weeks. It reduced their daily blood sugar levels by 11% (see here for reference). 

Other studies indicate the same , with a guess that 10gms a day is the magic figure

B) Cholesterol

A review of 21 studies reported that reductions in total and LDL cholesterol are dose dependent. This means greater results were observed with treatments of 20.4 grams of psyllium per day than 3 grams per day


5 gms  x 3 times a day with a glass of water, but increase water consumption in general. It is a bit difficult to get that much  down!



Chia seeds

Well, its all chia seeds now!

29 grams of chia seeds provides up to 42% of your daily recommended fiber,  plus phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids ( which are good btw!). Don’t take my dubious word for it. Look up :

“A dietary pattern including nopal, chia seed, soy protein, and oat reduces serum triglycerides and glucose intolerance in patients with metabolic syndrome” says so (check it out here).

What a read.

But, what this really means is that if you don’t include things like chia seeds and psyllium husks in your diet, you are a bit of a moron.

I should say,  however, that I’d never heard of “nopal” until I read the above  study. It’s a prickly pear cactus, comes from  Mexico and has a high   antioxidant, vitamin, mineral, and fiber content.

A sort of a sit up test

Coming from a functional fitness back ground, the  sit up procedure suggested by Goulding is a bit of a shocker!!

Lie on the floor  with your knees bent at approximately right angles, with feet flat on the ground. Your hands should be resting on your thighs. Just slide your hands along your thighs to touch the top of your knees, then back to the starting position (don’t tug or strain your neck)

Do it for 1 minute

Allow the table below to Judge you!

1 Minute Sit Up Test (Men)

Age 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 65+
Excellent >49 >45 >41 >35 >31 >28
Good 44-49 40-45 35-41 29-35 25-31 22-28
Above average 39-43 35-39 30-34 25-28 21-24 19-21
Average 35-38 31-34 27-29 22-24 17-20 15-18
Below Average 31-34 29-30 23-26 18-21 13-16 11-14
Poor 25-30 22-28 17-22 13-17 9-12 7-10
Very Poor <25 <22 <17 <13 <9 <7

1 Minute Sit Up Test (Women)

Age 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 65+
Excellent >43 >39 >33 >27 >24 >23
Good 37-43 33-39 27-33 22-27 18-24 17-23
Above average 33-36 29-32 23-26 18-21 13-17 14-16
Average 29-32 25-28 19-22 14-17 10-12 11-13
Below Average 25-28 21-24 15-18 10-13 7-9 5-10
Poor 18-24 13-20 7-14 5-9 3-6 2-4
Very Poor <18 <13 <7 <5 <2

Source: adapted from Golding, et al. (1986). The Y’s way to physical fitness (3rd ed.)

Push up test

The old favourite push up test. Loved by some hated by many. This is supposed to be the amount of push ups you can do before exhaustion. Surprisingly this is not chest to floor, but elbows to 90 degree.

Allegedly, those with weaker upper body strength, can drop their knees to the floor and test from there

Table: Push Up Test norms for MEN

Age 17-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-65
Excellent > 56 > 47 > 41 > 34 > 31 > 30
Good 47-56 39-47 34-41 28-34 25-31 24-30
Above average 35-46 30-39 25-33 21-28 18-24 17-23
Average 19-34 17-29 13-24 11-20 9-17 6-16
Below average 11-18 10-16 8-12 6-10 5-8 3-5
Poor 4-10 4-9 2-7 1-5 1-4 1-2
Very Poor < 4 < 4 < 2 0 0 0

Table: Push Up Test norms for WOMEN

Age 17-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-65
Excellent > 35 > 36 > 37 > 31 > 25 > 23
Good 27-35 30-36 30-37 25-31 21-25 19-23
Above Average 21-27 23-29 22-30 18-24 15-20 13-18
Average 11-20 12-22 10-21 8-17 7-14 5-12
Below average 6-10 7-11 5-9 4-7 3-6 2-4
Poor 2-5 2-6 1-4 1-3 1-2 1
Very Poor 0-1 0-1 0 0 0 0

* Source: adapted from Golding, et al. (1986). The Y’s way to physical fitness (3rd ed.)