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Why Jogging May Be a Waste of Your Time


Why Jogging May Be a Waste of Your Time

I wince when I hear how a person needs to "go on a run" so he or she can "burn off the dessert."  "Going on a run" for most translates to as much as an hour or so of slow jogging, either on a treadmill or around the local area. I can get behind the idea of being outdoors and getting the blood pumping, but the unrealized truth of the matter is that an hour of jogging burns less calories than the amount in a typical breakfast for most Americans.  And in fact, not only is low-intensity jogging not the best way to lose fat, but it's more likely to cause injury, impose muscle loss, and it's not even the best choice for heart health.  Whether your goal is to cut down some body fat, or live longer, long-distance is likely a waste of your time.

Running Causes Injuries

An epidemiological study on running injuries reports that runners are at between a 37% and 56% risk for having a running-related injury within a given year (1).  An earlier study of 3,000 recreational and competitive runners even showed runners are at a 60% risk of getting injured in general (2).  I know if someone told me I was at a 60% risk of getting injured if I were to partake in a given exercise, I'd probably take a pass.

Running consists of repeated impact loads to the muscles and joints throughout the body, ramping up inflammation, and generally leading to some kind of serious injury that makes any sort of exercise impossible for some time.  Often, serious runners are training multiple times a week, never really letting the related inflammation subside.  On top of that, chronic inflammation is agreed to be the most direct cause of aging and disease out there (see previous blog post!).

Muscle Breakdown

When exercising for long durations (as in low-intensity, long distance running), the energy stores in your muscles (glycogen) become depleted, and your body looks for energy anywhere it can find it. Unfortunately, this energy may come from places you don't want it to, like your own muscle.

For most people who are living on a carbohydrate (glucose) based metabolism, the body is even more likely to break down muscle into the preferred energy source, glucose.  

What’s also ironic is that it takes more calories to sustain muscle then it does fat cells, and so losing muscle actually slows down your metabolism and makes you burn less calories in a given day.  Additionally, the loss of muscle means decreased insulin sensitivity and a correspondingly increased susceptibility to metabolic diseases like diabetes.

And decreased muscle mass means even more likelihood of getting injured!  Sounds like a lose-lose-lose situation in these respects...  

Aerobic "Cardio" Exercise and Heart Health

But what about running for a healthy heart? Most people believe that aerobic exercise is the best exercise for a healthy heart and for health in general. But what does the term aerobic exercise actually imply?

Well it basically means you're only tapping your aerobic metabolism, and your intensity is not high enough to make your body access full metabolism in your muscle cells.

Think of electrical conduits that only need to get electricity to a small group of people (in this case energy to your muscles).  This would imply only a small group of generators are required to create the energy, and small inefficient power lines can be used just fine.  This is low-intensity exercise. However, what if this same electrical line is now required to fuel a huge city?  Suddenly a whole new system of delivering electrical power is required, along with a more robust and efficient delivery system as well (even if for a short time, like in high-intensity exercises).  

This is analogous to what happens in high intensity exercise, where aerobic metabolism and  anaerobic metabolism are tested to their full capacity.  In fact, the way glucose metabolism works is that glucose must go through anaerobic metabolism to get to the aerobic pathway in the muscle cells, so it’s not possible to only trigger aerobic metabolism without the other.  In a high intensity environment, the whole system is forced to work more efficiently, and your heart becomes better at delivering nutrient-rich blood to your muscle cells too!   


We cause adaptations when we can tap into the “fight or flight” response of our body.  We can do this effectively in high intensity exercises, but unfortunately many runners sink into a comfortable pace that they get used to, and this beneficial adaptation never comes.  Running can be beneficial with this concept in mind: our advice would be to try short intense sprints, with only a little recovery time in between, rather than long steady-paced runs.  Now let us know how much harder your heart’s working when you run in this fashion!

In Excellent Health,

Garrett & Luc



3 Ways Sugar is Increasing Your Body Fat


3 Ways Sugar is Increasing Your Body Fat

Photo Credit:

Sugar is delicious.  I love sugar, you love sugar, we all love sugar.  And it’s easy to love it.  Not only is it delicious, but we get a nice buzz when we have it.  Literally.  When we consume sugar, opioid receptors light up in our brains, similar to how our brains respond to heroin or morphine. But that uncontrolled love of sugar could be making you fat. The top three reasons why sugar  makes you fat are:

  1. Excess sugar is converted to body fat

  2. Sugar is linked to insulin resistance and obesity

  3. Sugar feeds “bad” gut bacteria

This will all be explained.  We’ll dig deeper into the top three reasons why sugar is making you fat but first, a crash course in carbohydrates is shown below in the figure from a meta-analysis in Nutrients, an open access journal of human nutrition.  It shows how each carbohydrate is processed in the body and the associated effects on the body.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

There are different types of carbohydrates but for now we’ll focus on the left-hand side in the chart above, labeled Sugars. Sugars, also called simple carbohydrates, tend to taste pretty sweet.  A major one of these sugars that you’ve probably heard of is fructose, commonly found in fruit.  Although it’s pure sugar, it doesn’t cause a rise in blood sugar levels (another type of sugar (glucose) does raise blood sugar levels, which we discuss below.)  Instead it’s commonly sent to the liver, converted to triglycerides and stored as fat.  This mechanism is thought by many to be an evolutionary adaptation to have extra fat stores on hand with winter on the way, particularly because there won’t be fruit for months on end.  As you follow the fructose chain down in the flowchart, you can see that it can lead to not only insulin resistance but high blood pressure as well.  

Glucose is also a big player in the sugar world.  This, unlike fructose, causes a rise in blood sugar levels.  In fact, the term blood sugar is interchangeably used with blood glucose since glucose is what directly raises blood sugar/glucose.  Like fructose, it’s absorbed very quickly, increases hunger and can lead to overeating.  It also dramatically raises insulin levels to counteract the rise in blood glucose.

Polysaccharides, also known as complex carbohydrates, are big groups of sugars.  These are are called starches, and some of these starches are slow digesting (SDS), some are rapidly digesting (RDS) and some are just plain resistant to any digesting (RS).  We’ll dive into these in another post but for now just know they exist.  And they can be very beneficial for you for a host of reasons.

The slow digesting starches are great because although they will raise your blood glucose and insulin levels, it’ll be less than what other carbohydrates will do.  In terms of your body’s response, rapidly digesting starches create responses similar to simple sugars. Resistance starches are what only your stomach is not able to digest it.  Instead, it’s processed by bacteria in your intestines and converted to fatty acids for use in your colon.

So now that you have a primer in simple carbohydrates (sugar), let’s explore the three points at the beginning.

Excess sugar is converted to body fat

A certain amount of glucose is stored as glycogen in our muscles.  The glycogen (strings of glucose/sugar molecules) in our muscles gets quickly used for energy when needed for physical activity.  So if you start to do a squat, your body will use the glycogen stored in your thighs and butt as energy for that movement. This store of energy isn’t unlimited though--there’s a cap on how much glycogen we can store in our muscles.  Once this limit is reached, the excess glucose is converted to body fat.  

Also remember that fructose is commonly converted to triglycerides in the liver and then stored as fat.  Fructose is found in all fruits, but particularly the very sweet ones. Additionally, fructose does a poor job in making us feel full since it doesn’t trigger the release of insulin or leptin (the hormone that tells us we’ve eaten enough), thus you’re more likely to overeat.

So excess amounts of two main sugars--both glucose and fructose--can increase body fat.

Sugar is linked to insulin resistance and obesity

Your body likes to maintain homeostasis (balance), so when your blood glucose level rises, insulin is released from the pancreas to bring blood glucose back down.  But eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates, and especially sugars, will blunt this insulin response.  Eventually, your body figures that glucose levels are chronically high and it becomes resistant to insulin.  This is called insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. This is commonplace in many Western societies today and many times insulin resistance and obesity go hand-in-hand.  

Sugar feeds “bad” gut bacteria

You have over 100 trillion bacteria living in your gut (colon) that compose your microbiome.  They can impact everything from food digestion, to your immune system, and risk for metabolic and mental health syndromes.  So there is food that feeds that “good” bacteria, but there is also food that feeds the “bad” bacteria.  Sugar feeds the “bad” bacteria when it enters your gut because it’s preferentially used by them as fuel.  These bad bacteria become stronger and multiply, directly increasing your risk for obesity.

Bringing together these three reasons why sugar is making you fat you can see that:

  • If you eat too much sugar and don’t deplete your glycogen stores, it’ll convert to body fat

  • Eating too much sugar can lead to obesity and insulin resistance, thereby causing even more fat gain

  • Sugar feeds bad gut bacteria, which can immediately lead to fat gain

We’re not saying that carbs and sugars are the enemy, because they’re not.  Carbohydrates and sugar have their time and place in a diet focused on longevity and optimal performance.  What we’re saying is that the dose makes the poison--and a ton of people are poisoned by excessive sugar.    

So we have some compelling arguments showing why sugar is making you fat. But what can you do about it?  

  1. Eat a “whole food” diet.  Sugar is commonly added to processed foods and is hidden in everything from yogurt to tomato sauce.  Eating whole foods, foods with one ingredient, will put you in a much better position to know what you’re eating.  Some brands of processed eggs have a half dozen ingredients.  A whole egg has one ingredient--the egg itself!

  2. Limit sugar intake to small amounts of nutrient-dense fruits in the evening.  By far the most nutrient fruits are the dark, tart berries.  Although these berries have sugar in them, they also have a ton antioxidants and micronutrients seldom found elsewhere.  Like we said, the dose makes the poison, and it’s excess sugar that’s poisonous.  Having a handful of raspberries, cherries, and blueberries will get you vital nutrients.  And limiting the amount will ensure the sugar isn’t going to contribute to body fat.

  3. Eat 50% or more of your calories from healthy fat. Our bodies process two things for energy: fats and carbohydrates.  Getting the majority of energy from healthy fat ensures that you’ll be satiated because of the leptin release (hormone that tells you you’re full) and will help to prevent overeating. Because you won’t be overeating on a high healthy fat diet, there won’t be any excess dietary fats to convert to body fat either. It’s a win-win situation!

Armed with this knowledge of why sugar is making you fat and the action steps of how to not fall victim to sugar, which action step will you try first? Eating whole foods? Making a few berries at night the majority of all the sugar you eat? Or eating a diet high in healthy fats like grass-fed pastured butter? Let us know in the comments how you’ll stop sugar from making you fat!

In Excellent Health,

Garrett & Luc


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