Monthly Archives: February 2016

Intermittent Fasting + Carbo Back Loading = Success

About a year ago, I tried intermittent fasting (IF). I was disappointed that I didn’t get any results, with no change in body composition after 2 weeks. I noted some things that could have improved the results – it seems that IF is pretty sensitive to a lot of things in order to really get benefits.
Just recently I got turned on to Carbo Back Loading (CBL) by John Kiefer. Despite the overwhelming marketing on his site, I actually found his method to work for me. The process is pretty simple, even though his book is 290+ pages long. You basically just only eat carbs towards the end of the day, and move the workout to right before dinner time.
I had already added carbs back into my diet as I was wondering if my thyroid issues were the result of being on a low/no-carb diet for the last 4-5 years. The low/no-carb diet worked wonders for my fat composition, but other things seemed not quite right. I also didn’t seem to be gaining any muscle but I also found evidence that I needed carbs to make my muscles grow.
So I began adding carbs back, but I found that I was gaining weight, up from about 156 lbs to 168-169 lbs! My waistline wasn’t looking trim – my Omron said I was up to 25% body fat now. And by the way, my thyroid numbers didn’t get better by carb intake which was disappointing, so I fixed that via supplements prescribed by my functional medicine doctor, Dr. Justin Marchegiani.
At this point, I was working out mid-morning. I would take Infinity Fitness’s 100% MR and Muscle Synthesis before and after workout, and then started eating carbs at lunch time to refuel as if I did not, I would often get into a low energy state by mid-afternoon. Taking carbs in right after working out seemed crucial, although it seemed that this was also making me gain a lot of fat. So carbs seemed essential for recovery from a tough workout, but it was making me fat too.
Enter CBL. There is a ton of theory that I’m working my way through now in Kiefer’s book. But implementing it is relatively simple.
I moved my workout to around 4pm every day instead of about 10am. I then only ate carbs after working out, and only at dinner time. During this time, I would have breakfast consisting of whey protein, eggs, and Bulletproof coffee with grass fed butter. At lunch, I would eat about .5 lb of beef on days I worked out – if I didn’t workout, I would just healthy but not necessarily meat to keep some variety in my diet. At dinner after workouts, I would have another .5 lb of beef, and on non-workout days just vary it up with something healthy again.
Note: I try to eat 1x my body weight in grams of protein per day for recovery and for growth. There were times when I could only recover with 1.25-1.5x my body weight. So weighing about 165 lbs, I try to eat 165g of protein. In beef, there is about 6g or protein per oz of beef. One pound = 16 oz = 96g of protein. I can then make up the other 65g or so with protein powder supplementation and other foods.
I did this for 2-3 weeks and found that not much was moving in my body composition. What the heck was wrong with this? If you read the book, Kiefer claims you can eat whatever you want including crap at night. Not sure if I would ever do that, or even buy into that. But still, if someone can eat crap and still lose fat, then why was I not losing any?
Side note: Dr. Kathy Dooley, a coach therapist based in NYC, was the one who turned me onto CBL. In my conversations with her, she told me that CBL works with some people and not so well with others. I find that consistent with my own observations and readings on diet; some diets work great with you and some don’t work so well or not at all. There definitely seems to be some differences between humans in their responses to food intake and how they process it. How do you tell what works and what doesn’t? I think the best way is to try some for a while and see what gives you the best results AND is sustainable by you, given your mental make-up (ie. how good is your willpower and focus?) and your lifestyle (ie. traveling often for work sucks for eating right).
So just a week ago, I decided to add IF back into the equation. I started skipping breakfast and only drinking some Bulletproof Coffee, and only consuming food during an 8 hour period between 12noon and 8pm. This is recommended by Kiefer, which is to simply skip breakfast.
At the same time, I was wondering about my ultra-high cholesterol numbers and Dr. Justin mentioned yet again that he has seen cholesterol go up when people start drinking Bulletproof Coffee with butter in it. So I started drinking Bulletproof Coffee without butter, but with only Brain Octane to give my brain a boost and MCT Oil which will give me energy benefits as fat but doesn’t get stored in my body in fat cells.
Just this week, I measured myself now at 164 lbs and 24% body fat (down from 168 lbs and 25% body fat). Wow! Now things were working better!
However, the fact that I lost about 4 lbs and barely moved in fat % worried me. Was I going catabolic during the morning when I didn’t eat? I then added in 10g of 100% MR in the morning which are BCAAs to help me maintain muscle during fasting periods. The results were pretty good. Now I’m at 164 lbs and 22% body fat. So body fat dropped while weight stayed the same. Pretty cool.
Note: The 100% MR I take is their new product that is Stevia sweetened. I believe this was the missing element during my first experiment with IF that cratered my results. Their old product was sweetened by sucralose which in many ways is worse than sugar! When I worked out mid-morning and bracketed my workouts with sucralose sweetened protein powders, my belief is that this messed up my ketosis big time and made IF produce no results. Stevia however seems to not interfere with ketosis. I have ordered all new Stevia flavored versions of the protein powder, both 100% MR and their new Muscle Synthesis. Can’t wait to go through my final sucralose flavored tubs of those two. Thankfully it seems that taking in sucralose during my non-fasting period seems to be OK from a fat loss perspective.
It’s pretty interesting to see my progress. Definitely there is a lot of tweaking here and there. You also have to pay attention to labels and what you’re putting in your mouth. Any little unknown deviation could stop your results cold, as I found out. I’ve also started taking Omega-3s when I eat a take out meal or eat out. So many restaurants use crappy oils for cooking; it’s a good idea to balance out the Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio somewhat if you are eating food cooked by a restaurant.

Total Immersion: Can’t Seem to Get the 2BK? Try Cross Crawling

If you’re finding that 2BK coordination is difficult, give this a try….
The kicking practice i typically use with first timers of 2BK is simply, use both hands and hold onto the wall of the pool. Put your head in the water, and push out from the wall while still holding onto it and extend your body straight horizontal on the surface of the water.
Then practice 2BK of one leg at a time, while holding the other leg perfectly still. Do this a few times, then switch to the other leg.
As you may guess, with many people, they cannot hold one leg still while only kicking the other leg in 2BK form. Often they will move both legs.
After trying both legs and seeing difficulty, I have them stop and stand. Then I have them do a standing cross crawl exercise. This is simply: raise one leg and touch the opposite hand to the thigh or knee. Note the leg raised is bent. Imagine yourself marching but instead of raising your hand high along with the opposite leg’s knee going high, you touch the hand to the rising opposite leg. Then repeat with other leg/hand. And so on.
This improves your contralateral or crossing the midline movement pattern and stimulates the vestibular system to operate better, and what it was designed to do. Often through years of improper use (ie. walking around with a bag slung on one shoulder, or having things in your hands – essentially walking without swinging your arms) or disuse (ie. sitting too much!), the nervous system can literally forget how to enable cross body movement patterns.
I have found instantaneous results before and after doing cross crawling. I have them stand there and I cross crawl with them. I do it for 10-20-30+ times – more the better! Then I put them back on the wall for the 2BK kicking practice. Now they can do it! It just shows that with the proper nervous system reactivation and stimulus, things like 2BK can now be more easily learned.
Pro tips: For even better results, make sure your mouth is closed and your tongue is touching the roof of your mouth. If your mouth is closed, make sure your jaw is not slack in the mouth which makes it hard to touch your tongue to your roof of mouth; barely touch your teeth to make sure the jaw is not slack. Why does this help? People have found that touching the tongue to roof of mouth further enhances stimulus of the vestibular system to speed up learning and imprinting. If you find results are spotty, makes sure your mouth is closed and tongue touching roof of mouth and you may find that results are much better.
Note that the first level in the cross crawl progression is to touch your hand to the opposite rising leg, either on knee or thigh. The second level once you improve your skill, is to touch your forearm to the opposite rising leg, either on knee or thigh. The last and highest level is to touch your elbow to the opposite rising leg’s knee/thigh. This requires not only coordination but also mobility and stability as well.
A small detail, you may find better results if you dorsiflex the foot as you raise it (ie. do not point the toes down but rather bend the foot up to 90 deg or a bit higher). Dorsiflexing the foot will help you engage muscles to bring the leg up as high as possible and help enable meeting the opposite arm’s elbow/forearm/hand.
Many thanks for Original Strength for showing me this technique.

Breath Training for Intra-Abdominal Pressure from the Total Immersion Forums

I thought I’d repost this thread from the Total Immersion forums. It touches on some key points I’ve learned about IAP generation, and the context is for swimming. The full thread is entitled Reasons for the arched back and how to fix it?.
User sachintha writes:
In a recent underwater video I was surprised to see the amount of back arching happening
(by arching I mean my head and butt being relatively close to the surface while midsection is towards the bottom of the pool as in a banana shape). I think this obviously breaks the head-spine alignment.
So the question is what causes this and how can I fix this? I believe I could significantly reduce the drag and improve body position if I could sort this out.
My reply:
The most common reason for arching your back is lack of proper torso stabilization technique. The reason why you might do it more in the water is to attempt to lift your arms/head and butt/legs up to the surface, thus forming an arch with your body at both ends.
You will likely have an arched back while standing on dryland. Thus often the postural problem starts on dryland and is transferred to water.
The easy fix is to try Torpedo (stand tall like a statue and straight up with arms at sides), and then holding this position, lean forward like a tower falling, and fall into the water and attempt to hold your straight body position despite falling into the water and now you are not even standing any more. You will need to engage your core and figure out how to turn on stability up and down your spine to stop you from losing your shape even though you may be floating in the water.
The harder and longer but more proper way to do this, is to:
1) make sure you are diaphragmatically breathing.
2) once you can d-breathe, then learn how to generate intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) with each breath inhale.
Proper IAP generation will engage the correct internal torso stabilizing muscles which will not wipe out despite being used for long periods of time. They are designed to stabilize all day long but if you don’t d-breathe, they will stop engaging which is bad.
The torpedo leaning exercise can help with this, but you can hold a straight stiff body by using other core muscles. It is possible to do this while swimming, but you may find it hard to maintain this for long periods of time.
If you want a taste of d-breathing and IAP training, check out this post of mine:
How to Train for Abdominal Breathing and Generating Intra-Abdominal Pressure
This post may also be good for you to read, regarding d-breathing:
Optimal Breathing: The Case for Diaphragmatic Breathing
User sachintha replies:
Thanks David. You are spot on regarding my dry land posture. I tend to have anterior pelvic tilt which makes the back arch prominent. But I have worked on stretching (specially the hip flexors) and strengthening for some time and it is significantly less severe now.
When you say “harder and longer but more proper way to do this …”, do you mean harder to learn but easier to maintain for longer swims once learnt or harder to learn and also harder (more effort) to maintain?
My reply:
Sorry bad choice of words. harder = more time/difficulty to learn due to doing something for so long as habit, and to create a new habit while removing the old one.
However, if you do this, it will take MUCH LESS EFFORT and a LOT LESS ENERGY to maintain torso stability in the water using the internal torso stabilizers (ie. transverse abdominis) which were built for this, versus other torso muscles which are typically primary movers (ie. obliques, rectus abdominis) and aren’t built to maintain stability for long periods of time. You’ll likely wipe them out and lose stability once you tire.
You may also want to explore the dead bug:
Total Immersion: The Dead Bug
Note that i need to shoot that video again. one crucial point I did not describe in there was the importance of lifting your tailbone off the ground while doing this. This will engage your anterior core and give you feedback when it has let go (ie. tailbone touches the ground again).
It is only through proper IAP generation that you will be able to sustain dead bug reps. Otherwise, you’ll start vibrating and shaking like crazy. But that’s ok in the beginning – that’s also your nervous system telling you it’s learning.
Good luck and let me know if you have other questions.
User bx then writes:
Regarding torso/core stabilization with 360-degree breathing (which I’m familiar with from weight training), is this compatible with the “tummy up” instruction from Richard Quick in his Posture, Line and Balance dryland exercises, where he gets Shelly Ripple to draw navel to spine?
To my mind, these seem like pushing out versus pulling in, if you get my drift.
I WAS a pusher-out, but when I saw the Quick video, I became a puller-in 🙂
My reply:
Note that a traditional PT/coaching technique was to create transverse abdominis activation via drawing in. While this DOES happen when you draw the navel to spine, it is conscious action, not a reflexive one. Also, you cannot breathe properly if you are trying to stabilize by drawing in the navel and trying to maintain it through the entire length of a training session or race. You will end up chest/clavicular breathing the whole time which is sub optimal. then you will wipe out either physically and/or mentally to hold your navel to spine the whole time.
See: How Are We Still Getting It Wrong: Abdominal Hollowing vs. Bracing
If you use d-breathing to activate the transverse abdominis (TA) through stabilization reflex, this is a much better and natural strategy. It is one that we are born with and happens when you are a baby – sadly we lose it through our 21st century lifestyle over the years. You will find that the TA and other torso stabilizers will activate naturally and sustain their activation with far less effort.
The idea for swimming is that you renew your d-breath and torso stabilization every time you take your breath. Then you hold it until the next breath. So a quick inhale drives the diaphragm down and activates stabilizers all the way down to your pelvis. this gives you an incredibly stable platform on which your muscles and limbs can perform from.
About pushing out – this is something i’ve learned which is that you should not be simply pushing out with your belly the whole time. I only use this part as a transition to proper d-breathing and IAP generation. It is however, really good as a way to retrain activation of the diaphragm WHILE removing activation of the chest and clavicular breathing muscles. So it is possible to d-breathe via belly in/out, but it may not generate much IAP at all. Most people, when they train for d-breathing, do this, but then do not proceed further.
This is why I move quickly to 3D/360 deg breathing so that it is less an in/out of the belly, but a pressing down of the diaphragm, which then becomes more of a pressure increase (hence intra-abdominal PRESSURE) in all directions in the area of torso that is the lumbar spine. Thus in/out is in all directions 360 deg and not just in front. So the feeling will be much different than you experienced before I’m sure.
User sachintha writes:
Does the IAP decrease when breathing “out”? The reason for asking this is, if we exhale (which we do) when our head is in the water and if that leads to a decrease in IAP wouldn’t the posture go back to that sagging form until you take the next breath?
My reply:
Good detail point –
The idea is to train yourself how to activate those muscles and maintain it even if you are exhaling. However, one thing to note is that you shouldn’t exhale completely. Thus IAP is maintained if you can keep some air in your and don’t blow it all out.
Note that ultimately when activity happens, you should always have some reflexive stabilization capability that just is there simply because your body knows it’s doing movement.
Also note that if you practice this a lot, you will find that you will be able to activate the stabilization strongly even without breathing in. essentially you can command some descent of the diaphragm to give you IAP but not be taking in air. this will happen over time.
If you analyze freestyle, there are really only moments when you need a lot of IAP. You need more IAP during the moment of rotation to the other side and maintaining body shape during that rotation as your spear and stroke with authority. Once you are in the recovery phase, you just need enough IAP to maintain a straight body line but not as much as for a body that is rotating strongly to the other side.
User jenson1a writes:
I watched the video regarding how to get IAP. I can do the belly and the sides, but the back part barely moves. More practice needed. The million dollar question is how do you do this in the water? Obviously if one makes this type of breathing an everyday practice, there is no problem. But how long does it take to make this IAP a reality?
How would one go about integrating this iap while in the water? A focal point?
My reply:
Great question.
It depends on the individual as you might guess. Habit change can take months or seem incredibly long (and frustrating). Think about how long you have ingrained your current breathing habits – decades maybe?
As a case study of one (myself), it took me about 2-3 months to switch from my chest breathing to belly breathing. However, I noticed that under certain circumstances I would still go back to chest breathing, like during a reflexive yawn or cough. At the time I didn’t know about 3D breathing until I took a Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization course whose basis for rehabilitation is to make sure breathing happens properly and is used for good IAP generation and torso stabilization. I immediately started practicing 3D breathing and a few months later, I took my first yawn with my diaphragm descending versus via my chest.
I think the first thing to do is to make sure you are just breathing naturally using d-breathing on dryland. After all, we spend the other 23 hours of the day on dryland and only 1 in the pool, right? The more time this becomes habitual, the better results you’ll have in the pool.
The water provides a new environment, with new sensory experiences which can interfere with transference of dryland practice to the water. How many times have we practiced the swinging arm recovery on dryland and then returned to the pool to swim a few laps with our videocam on, and then upon playback we are doing not a swinging arm recovery!
I would say that the next stages for IAP practice is to:
1. Practice driving IAP way down to the pelvis on every breath. Instead of just pushing out the belly, make the diaphragm descend until you feel a “quickening” way down in your private parts. Make this natural on every one of these breaths, breathe in and way down and don’t stop inhaling into you feel it way down at the bottom. Then exhale and repeat.
You can start with doing a set number of reps, like 5 and then taking a break. Then you can build up from there. I once did this practice sitting in a theater for the entire length of a 2 hour movie. You learn a lot about breathing when you do that!
2. Once you get 1., then practice taking in a quick breath and being able to feel IAP generation in the lower torso all the way down to the pelvis. On every quick inhale, practice to generate IAP quickly and reflexively down there.
While I’m an advocate of nasal breathing, swimming is pretty much done via mouth breathing. So in this case you may want to try a few inhales with the mouth instead of through the nose. The change in intake methods may make IAP generation difficult and need to be reinforced in the other method.
3. In the pool, practice your basic drills with IAP generation and holding it. As you prepare to launch off into SG, take a breath in and generate IAP. You can use your fingers on your sides to feel them pressing out. Hold IAP and your breath, then launch off into SG. Were you able to hold IAP? You may notice that the touch of the water and how it suspends you may all of a sudden cause you to release IAP. Practice holding the IAP despite launching off into SG.
Once you get this, then try holding IAP and launching into SG and then Skate.
Then try holding IAP while taking one stroke. Could you perform a complex movement like one stroke without letting go of IAP? Once you get this, try a few strokes but without breathing.
The next step on this is reinforcing IAP upon every breath. This can feel hard, but if you are practicing on dryland the reflexive, quick generation of IAP via a quick breath in, I believe this will come quickly.
A quick note on IAP and being relaxed:
Remember that we in Total Immersion like to tell people to relax. However, this is a cue. Most often it is used on people who hold too much tension because of unfamiliarity with the water, nervousness, fear, etc. But we have also seen people take that too far, where people are way too relaxed in the water like a piece of loose spaghetti. So great job in working on that cue, but bad because we didn’t tell you at what level of tension you should have stopped relaxing!
This relaxation extends to IAP generation. You need to maintain the minimum level of tension necessary to hold body shape and adjust it based on the need to perform movements. IAP will need to rise during that moment of stroking – when the limbs have a stable base to perform from, they will perform optimally. You don’t want the limbs stroking as if attached to a bag of jello right?
So yes, relaxed down from a lot of tension, but not so relaxed that you are like a loose piece of spaghetti and have lost IAP.
Give this a try and let us know how it goes. Be patient, it can take many months to develop this new breathing habit. Diligent, mindful, consistent, and constant attention to it will make progress faster.