Exercise and Stress

There are plenty of sources of stress in our lives. Exercise both helps with stress and causes stress. Here’s a good survey of the subject (Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Nov 1; 1(6): 783–792.  Stress and the neuroendocrine system: the role of exercise as a stressor and modifier of stress. Anthony C Hackney, PhD, CPH).

From the summary:

  • Physical exercise is a stressor to the human body and serves as a robust activator of the neuroendocrine system, provided that the exercise is of sufficient volume (i.e., intensity and/or duration). The magnitude of the neuroendocrine stress response to exercise seems directly proportional to the volume of exercise exposure. These stress hormone responses are typically very transient in nature and do not last longer than a few minutes to hours into recovery.
  • Chronic exposure to exercise training results in adaptations in the neuroendocrine system, such that there is a reduction in hormonal stress response to submaximal exercise and, in many cases, reduced circulating basal stress hormone levels. This abatement of the hormonal stress response with exercise training has implications for dealing with many chronic stress-related health problems.
  • The adaptability and plasticity in the neuroendocrine system to exercise training has limits. Excessive exercise training can push the neuroendocrine exercise stress response to become inappropriate, resulting in the potential development of chronic fatigue and the overtraining syndrome condition.


Greg Glassman’s Offensive Tweet

CrossFit’s Greg Glassman posted a Tweet which was taken as offensive by some diabetics. Here’s the Tweet:

The criticism came largely from people who were Type 1 Diabetics since this tweet implies that diabetes is a choice of whether or not to drink sugary drinks. And it is true that for Type 1 Diabetes it’s not a lifestyle choice that leads to the Type 1 Diabetes.

But it’s true for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics that sugar isn’t their friend.  This is a helpful graphic that makes the point. Which diabetic can take that much sugar without affecting their blood sugar? More importantly what value does that sugar bring to anyone’s life – diabetic or not.

At the risk of offending a Type 1 diabetic sugar is your enemy. Same for a Type 2 Diabetic. Yes, the type 1 diabetic can’t cure their diabetes by eating a low sugar diet. But your diabetes can be controlled much more easily with less sugar. You will take in less Insulin. Even Type 1 Diabetics can become Insulin Resistant.

And I have zero doubt as a former Type 2 Diabetic that the vast majority of Type 2 Diabetics have no business drinking any sugary drink. Yes, those drinks are killing you by raising your blood sugar.

Diabetes professionals know better, though. From (Diabetes Care 2004 Feb; 27(2): 538-546. Carbohydrate Nutrition, Insulin Resistance, and the Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Nicola M. McKeown, PHD, James B. Meigs, MD, MPH, Simin Liu, MD, SCD, Edward Saltzman, MD1, Peter W.F. Wilson, MD4 and Paul F. Jacques, SCD)

the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome was significantly higher among individuals in the highest relative to the lowest quintile category of glycemic index (1.41; 1.04–1.91).

And shame on the Diabetic community for not recognizing the role of sugar in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Yes, Glassman is right. #SugarKills


Carbs After Workouts – Study #2

Here’s a second study on the effects of post-workout carbs (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 201512:48. The effects of whey protein with or without carbohydrates on resistance training adaptations. Juha J. Hulmi, Mia Laakso, Antti A. Mero, Keijo Häkkinen, Juha P. Ahtiainen and Heikki Peltonen.) This study carefully compared three post-workout nutritions:

  • Whey Protein Alone
  • Carbohydrate Alone
  • Whey Protein plus carbohydrates

All three groups in this study had gains in strength from the resistance training (RT). However, only the Whey Protein Alone had a decrease in fat mass. The study concluded:


This first long-term study supports the acute protein balance studies showing that adding carbohydrates to postexercise protein ingestion may not have large effect on the RT adaptations. Whey proteins, however, increased abdominal fat loss and relative fat-free mass adaptations in response to resistance training when compared to fast-acting carbohydrates. Therefore, if the main goal is to maximize fat loss responses to RT especially from abdominal area without compromising increases in muscle hypertrophy, whey protein instead of carbohydrates can be recommended for the postexercise nutrition.

Bottom line is that if you want to get leaner from resistance training, don’t eat carbs post-workout.


Strength Training and Mortality

From (Prev Med. 2016 Jun;87:121-127. Is strength training associated with mortality benefits? A 15 year cohort study of US older adults. Kraschnewski JL, Sciamanna CN, Poger JM, Rovniak LS, Lehman EB, Cooper AB, Ballentine NH, Ciccolo JT.):


During the study period, 9.6% of NHIS adults age 65 and older (N=30,162) reported doing guideline-concordant ST and 31.6% died. Older adults who reported guideline-concordant ST had 46% lower odds of all-cause mortality than those who did not (adjusted odds ratio: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.57, 0.70; p<0.001). The association between ST and death remained after adjustment for past medical history and health behaviors.


Carbs After Workouts?

If you are exercising to improve your insulin sensitivity, then Carbs after workouts are bad. Here’s the science (Nutrients. 2018 Jan 25;10(2). pii: E123. PostExercise CarbohydrateEnergy Replacement Attenuates Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Tolerance the Following Morning in Healthy Adults. Taylor HL, Wu CL, Chen YC, Wang PG, Gonzalez JT, Betts JA.)

In this study they put participants on a 90-minute treadmill at 70% of their VO2max. At the end they gave the participants either a placebo (no carbs) or maltodextrose that matched the caloric expenditure. Researchers then measured the glucose and insulin responses with an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) the following day and found that the participants who had the carbohydrates had reduced Insulin Sensitivity and increased blood glucose levels.

The practical conclusion of this is that to maximize Insulin Sensitivity it is best to both eat low carb and take no carbs after exercise. Decreased Insulin Sensitivity is one of the markers that lead to Diabetes and increasing Insulin Sensitivity is an important part of reversing Diabetes.

This study is the first to show that feeding carbohydrate to replace that utilized during exercise can reduce insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance the next morning in healthy adults, when compared to a preservation of the exercise-induced carbohydrate deficit. Furthermore, carbohydrate replacement suppresses subsequent postprandial fat utilization. The mechanism through which exercise improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control is therefore (at least partly) dependent on carbohydrate
availability, and so the day-to-day metabolic health benefits of exercise might be best attained by maintaining a carbohydrate deficit overnight.

For those people who are not particularly concerned about their risk of getting Diabetes it’s worth noting that if they refill their Glycogen stores quickly with carbohydrates they are not burning fat. If they let the Glycogen stores be low then their body will burn fat.

Want to burn fat? Work out and don’t eat carbohydrates after working out.


STRRIDE-AT/RT – Exercise Study

I was considering dropping CrossFit in favor of a strength program when I came across an interesting study which compared Aerobic Training (AT) to Resistance Training (RT) for impact on Metabolic Syndrome (MS). (September 15, 2011, Volume 108, Issue 6, Pages 838–844. Comparison of Aerobic Versus Resistance Exercise Training Effects on Metabolic Syndrome (from the Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention Through Defined Exercise – STRRIDE-AT/RT. Lori A. Bateman, Cris A. Slentz, PhD, Leslie H. Willis, MS, A. Tamlyn Shields, MS, Lucy W. Piner, MS, Connie W. Bales, PhD, RD, Joseph A. Houmard, PhD, William E. Kraus, MD.)

AT/RT induced a significant improvement in the MS z score (p = 0.004) and AT alone exhibited a trend toward improvement (p <0.07). However, RT alone failed to significantly alter the MS z score.

My conclusion is to stick with CrossFit and work in the resistance training as often as reasonable as an accessory to CrossFit.

Another view of the same data (J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015 Jun 15;118(12):1474-82. The effects of aerobic, resistance, and combination training on insulin sensitivity and secretion in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT: a randomized trial. Abou Assi H, Slentz CA, Mikus CR, Tanner CJ, Bateman LA, Willis LH, Shields AT, Piner LW, Penry LE, Kraus EA, Huffman KM, Bales CW, Houmard JA, Kraus WE.). Conclusion:

AT/RT resulted in greater improvements in insulin sensitivity, β-cell function (disposition index), and glucose effectiveness than either AT or RT alone (all P < 0.05). Approximately 52% of the improvement in insulin sensitivity by AT/RT was retained 14 days after the last exercise training bout. Neither AT or RT led to acute or chronic improvement in sensitivity index. In summary, only AT/RT (which required twice as much time as either alone) led to significant acute and sustained benefits in insulin sensitivity.

Yet another look at the same data (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Nov;301(5):E1033-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00291.2011. Epub 2011 Aug 16.
Effects of aerobic vs. resistance training on visceral and liver fat stores, liver enzymes, and insulin resistance by HOMA in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT. Slentz CA, Bateman LA, Willis LH, Shields AT, Tanner CJ, Piner LW, Hawk VH, Muehlbauer MJ, Samsa GP, Nelson RC, Huffman KM, Bales CW, Houmard JA, Kraus WE.) concluded:

AT was more effective than RT at improving visceral fat, liver-to-spleen ratio, and total abdominal fat (all P < 0.05) and trended toward a greater reduction in liver fat score (P < 0.10). The effects of AT/RT were statistically indistinguishable from the effects of AT. These data show that, for overweight and obese individuals who want to reduce measures of visceral fat and fatty liver infiltration and improve HOMA and alanine aminotransferase, a moderate amount of aerobic exercise is the most time-efficient and effective exercise mode.

Yet another view (Arch Intern Med. 2004 Jan 12;164(1):31-9. Effects of the amount of exercise on body weight, body composition, and measures of central obesity: STRRIDE–a randomized controlled study. Slentz CA1, Duscha BD, Johnson JL, Ketchum K, Aiken LB, Samsa GP, Houmard JA, Bales CW, Kraus WE.):

In nondieting, overweight subjects, the controls gained weight, both low-amount exercise groups lost weight and fat, and the high-amount group lost more of each in a dose-response manner. These findings strongly suggest that, absent changes in diet, a higher amount of activity is necessary for weight maintenance and that the positive caloric imbalance observed in the overweight controls is small and can be reversed by a modest amount of exercise. Most individuals can accomplish this by walking 30 minutes every day.

Note none of the results were comparable to the effect on the metabolic syndrome from the Low Carb High Fat diet.

Blood Test Results

I got them back. 2015-09-04 was from before (while I was a diabetic). 2017-07-28 was my 1 year keto anniversary. The new test is about 18 months.

Test Range 2015
WBC 3.4-10.8 11.0 7.7 6.6
Lymphs (Abs) 0.7-3.1 3.8 3.1 2.5
Glucose, Serum 65-99 152 159 103
BUN/Creatinine 9-20 17 31 20
Protein, Tot, Ser 6.0-8.5 6.4 6.6 5.9
A/G Ratio 1.2-2.2 2 2.3 2.5
Total Cholesterol 100-199 159 Did not
Triglycerides 0-149 460 Did not
HDL Cholesterol >39 36 Did not
12.78 2.31
VLDL 5-40 Invalid Did not
LDL Cholesterol 0-99 Invalid Did not
HbA1c 4.8-5.6 7.5 5.8 5.2
Vitamin D 30-100 14.9 Did not
Did not
Testosterone 264-916 Did not
Did not

Interpreting the Results

Looking at the results – overall very good results. Most important of all my goal of hacking my Type 2 Diabetes has been accomplished. My HbA1C number is not even in pre-diabetic range. It is right in the middle of the healthy range.

The Triglyceride number is went from a very unhealthy 460 a couple of years ago to a healthy 118 now. And I was on statins for lipid issues back then. Much healthier now and I am on no statins.

My Testosterone number would be a good number for a young man. Libido from Keto – check…

To see an increase in LDL is not an unusual situation on keto.  The very important ratio is triglycerides to HDL. My ratio went from 12.7 to 2.3 which is a very dramatic drop in risk of heart disease. See (The American Journal of Cardiology Volume 94, Issue 2, 15 July 2004, Pages 219-222. Accuracy of the triglyceride to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio for prediction of the low-density lipoprotein phenotype B. Viktor Hanak MD, Julian Munoz MD MSPH, Joe Teague MD, Alfred Stanley Jr. MD. Vera Bittner MD MSPHc):

A triglyceride/HDL cholesterol ratio of 3.8 divided the distribution of LDL phenotypes with 79% (95% confidence interval [CI] 74 to 83) of phenotype B greater than and 81% (95% CI 77 to 85) of phenotype A less than the ratio of 3.8. The ratio was reliable for identifying LDL phenotype B in men and women.

Studies on the Ketogenic Diet and Blood Biomarkers

There’s a lot of studies which been done on the positive benefits of the Ketogenic Diet on Blood Markers.

Strength Gains on Meat Protein vs Ovo-lacto-Vegetarian Protein Sources

Study of vegetarian diets vs meat as protein source diets and muscle gain in older men (Effects of an omnivorous diet compared with a lactoovovegetarian diet on resistance-training-induced changes in body composition and skeletal muscle in older men).

Conclusions: Consumption of a meat-containing diet contributed to greater gains in fat-free mass and skeletal muscle mass with RT in older men than did an LOV diet.

More details:


Maximal strength of the upper- and lower-body muscle groups that were exercised during RT increased by 10-38% (P < 0.001), independent of diet. The RT-induced changes in whole-body composition and skeletal muscle size differed significantly between the mixed- and LOV-diet groups (time-by-group interactions, P < 0. 05). With RT, whole-body density, fat-free mass, and whole-body muscle mass increased in the mixed diet group but decreased in the LOV- diet group. Type II muscle fiber area of the vastus lateralis muscle increased with RT for all men combined (P < 0.01), and the increase tended to be greater in the mixed-diet group (16.2 +/- 4.4 %) than in the LOV diet group (7.3 +/- 5.1%). Type I fiber area was unchanged with RT in both diet groups.

Another study showed favorable results for meat (Effect of protein source and quantity on protein metabolism in elderly women).

With the high-vegetable-protein diet, protein breakdown in the absorptive state was not inhibited to the same extent as during the high-animal-protein diet, resulting in less net protein synthesis during the high-vegetable-protein diet than during the high-animal-protein diet.

Strength Training – Starting Strength

I’ve started doing the Starting Strength program by Mark Rippetoe. The program is described in Rippetoe’s book, Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition. The program is intended to be done by people who are beginners to strength training.

Starting Strength Program

The Starting Strength Program consists of a linear progression where the weight you lift is increased every single time you lift. The program is performed 3 times per week.

I did the program starting at bar weight and am now increasing by 5 lbs. I am expecting that the rate will slow down. I do the lifts twice a week on the day before my CrossFit rest days (which are Thursdays and Sundays). I am lifting on Saturdays and Wednesdays in my home gym.

The Lifts

There are four lifts which are performed in alternating patterns. The four lifts are:

  • Back Squat
  • Bench or Overhead Press (on alternating days)
  • Deadlift

Back Squat

CrossFit places the bar high on the back. Starting Strength places the bar lower on the back.

Bench Press

This is just what you remember from your high school gym.

Overhead Press

This is rarely performed at my CrossFit box. We are usually told that any S2OH (shoulder to overhead) movement is allowed and that usually means a push press or a jerk press.


We do the deadlift at my CrossFit from time to time but not often enough to progress in the lift.

Hiring a Coach

It’s very smart to get good at lifting form before attempting heavy weights. This is necessary to avoid injuries. Starting Strength has a couple of ways of getting help with your form.

My Videos

Here’s my Starting Strength videos on YouTube. Don’t use my lifts as examples. I am still learning.