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Update - What’s New?

By Phil Kaplan

Hmm.  What’s new.  Let’s see . . . 

A 53-year old man named Jody Goran is suing the estate of Dr. Atkins.  Goran believes the Atkins diet caused his cholesterol to skyrocket to dangerous levels. If anything, maybe Goran should sue whoever named him Jody, but that's a different matter entirely.

I’ve already received over 250 forwarded articles from clients, customers, and radio show listeners informing me of the lawsuit.  The truth is, it’s not really news.  Nothing’s changing.  People are still going to battle over two extremes and fail to see the middle ground.

The articles I’ve read relevant to this story all mention that The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is backing Goran’s case.  That sounds like a strong reliable alliance, after all, it has the word “physicians” in it.  Interestingly, the President of the PCRM is Dr. Neal Barnard, the author of several books, and a firm advocate of vegetarianism.  This isn’t a new battle.  It’s simply a repackaged one.  We’re faced with yet another battle of extremes. Atkins embraced human consumption of animal fat, Barnard abhors the idea. 

We live in the real world with real world temptations, real innovations in nutrition, and real manufacturers manufacturing all sorts of foods.  We have jobs, families, obligations, and hopefully a bit of leisure time.  While the diet gurus can write books that lead to various eating obsessions, the truth is, America needs education, not another extreme diet, and certainly not a new lawsuit opening the flood gates for unsatisfied dieters to become fodder for case-chasing attorneys.

To suggest that “Avoiding Carbs” is the road for America to find fitness is unrealistic, yet to expect that America will abandon animal meats and “go veggie” is also far fetched.  The true answer has to lie in balance, in helping people understand some fundamental realities of exercise and eating, and empowering them to make better choices.  Will some people find virtue in Dr. Barnard’s approach?  Absolutely, and others will find “Atkins works for them.”  The primary issue is, we’re dealing with a population made up of individuals and we can’t provide a diet that works across the board.

Now the good news.

People don’t need a diet.  In fact, they’d be better of burying their heads in the sand anytime a diet book found its way into their line of sight.  I’m not here to provide a diet.  I’m here to help you get fit lean and healthy just as I’ve helped hundreds of thousands over the last 20 years.  I’ll do it by coaching you, advising you, and guiding you through a ridiculously insane maze of fitness and weight loss alternatives.  I’ll also recognize that you are an individual with individual food preferences, your very own lifestyle, and habits that have developed and evolved for years.  I won’t steer you in the direction of deprivation, but rather in the direction of education.  While we are all individuals, we are also made of the same material.  Without attempting to prescribe individual meal plans, I’ve learned to introduce and clarify some concepts that do apply across the board.  In order to open up to these concepts, we first have to address the mush that’s in your brain as a residual effect of all of the supplement, diet, and infomercial advertising you’ve been exposed to.

Let’s start with a simple concept. 


Have you ever failed to achieve a fitness or weight loss result?  If so, here’s my promise.  You're confused.  Don’t be offended.  Most people are confused by the overwhelming assault of fitness and weight loss misinformation, and the repetition of the line, “I know what I should do but I don’t do it” in those who visit with me in my office is clear evidence that many who are confused don’t even know they’re confused!

You, in all likelihood, blame yourself for your previous failures, and because in the realm of fitness and weight loss, misinformation has replaced common sense, you, as most Americans, are led to believe that supplements are solutions, that the last diet you were on “worked” but you couldn’t stick to it because you didn’t have willpower, and that you should start looking at an extreme makeover where they cut you open, suck the fat out of your belly, enhance whatever needs enhancing, and fix your teeth in the process. 

Information overwhelm combined with a society closer to pure narcissism than ever before has our entire population victimized by a seemingly endless flurry of vague and conflicting messages.  Eat carbs, don’t eat carbs . . . cut fat, eat fat to burn fat . . . relax to reduce cortisol, force yourself to exercise . . . . the contradictions in the messages out there are astounding.

Look at the landscape and I defy you to tell me it makes sense at any level.

The Newest Diets

Atkins might have been the first to hit the best seller list, but new low carb diets keep coming out of the woodwork.  All of the “new diets” are simply twists on Atkins.  The South Beach Diet does discuss the important distinction between good fats and bad fats, but the first two weeks, just as the induction phase of the Atkins Diet, result in deceptive water loss leading people down a potentially hazardous and frustrating road.

Next entry into the marketplace, the Hamptons Diet.  I’ve spent many summers in the Hamptons.  I understand the mentality.  People looking their best at all costs, so it’s only appropriate that a place as trendy, as affluent, and as enviable as the Hamptons should have its own diet, but is this a unique new dietary approach?  Not exactly. 

The Hamptons Diet is written by Dr. Fred Pascatore.  In case you don’t know the name, he was the medical director of the Atkins Center.  Of course, in order to sell a book there must be something new and miraculous, or at least something identified as miraculous.  Pescatore did precisely that.  He holds Macadamia Nut oil up as the great salvation.  The Hamptons Diet is the Atkins Diet drenched in Macadamia Nut oil.

It’s pretty simple to sum up.  The “diet trend” today revolves around recognizing the impact of refined, bleached, and processed foods and then, in order to facilitate pounds lost as measured by the scale, find a twist on minimizing carb intake.  Ultimately, carb depletion leads to water loss and extended carb depletion leads to muscle loss and metabolic slowdown . . . even though the scale in the short term says, "it's working!"

Five Points

If you’re at all caught up in or intrigued by the new diets, there are five points that can help you get “the A-ha.” Allow me to share these points in hope of providing some much needed clarity.

The Thermic Effect of Food – any time our bodies do work heat is produced, thus calories are expended.  When we eat supportive combinations of lean proteins and natural unrefined carbohydrates we can experience up to a 20% metabolic boost just in the act of digestion.  Fat is the least thermic of the nutrients.  While we do need essential fats, meals relatively low in fat and adequate in proteins and natural unrefined complex carbs work to boost metabolism significantly.

The Definition of Metabolism – recognizing the thermic effect of food should help you better understand how eating ties directly into metabolism.  The definition of metabolism reduced to its simplest terms would be, “how quickly the body burns through food.”  Depriving the body of nutrients can only lead to a metabolic slowdown. Most who pursue “carb restriction” actually wind up consuming fewer calories than they did prior to the diet.  A metabolic boost comes from making the body more efficient at burning through and utilizing nutrients and frequent nutrient complete meals can do precisely that.

The Pancreatic Hormones – the pancreas produces two hormones that directly relate to energy production and body composition.  Glucagon is the “release” hormone, and allows for fatty acids to be released from adipose cells.  If you can’t release fat, you can’t burn it, thus a glucagon dominant environment is optimal for fat burning.  The other hormone produced by the pancreas is insulin which is the “storage” hormone as it transports and shuttles glucose into the muscles and liver. When a blood sugar spike, brought on by the consumption of simple sugar, causes blood sugar levels to increase, the pancreas begins kicking up insulin production, minimizing glucagon production which in essence locks in stored fat.  Complex starches and fibers, when ingested as components of complete meals, slowly release glucose into the bloodstream allowing the pancreas to maintain a supportive balance between insulin and glucagon.  Simple sugars, bleached, processed, and refined carbohydrates can very well contribute to fat accumulation, but throwing complex natural carbs out with the refined products can lead to the body becoming more carbohydrate sensitive and insulin resistant.  Eat frequently, provide a slow release stream of glucose in the presence of protein and essential fat, and avoid simple sugars, and pancreatic hormones allow the body to stay in a state ideal for fat liberation.

Two other “A-ha statements” that require little explanation but can serve as wonderful filters to separate potentially legitimate information from cleverly disguised marketing are:

A Supplement will not be a Solution (supplement by definition means “the extra” and if a capsule or pill is offered as the fat loss solution, it’s obviously being marketed deceptively).

Any single nutrient is simply a piece of the puzzle.  The body is complex and all nutrients interact and interplay.  To suggest that a single nutrient . . . even macadamia nut oil . . .is going to be the radically transformational ingredient is to show an ignorance for the human machine.

The Ignorance Driven Goldmine

Because only a negligible segment of our population maintains an awareness of the five points I just shared, the floodgates are open.  Everyone’s cashing in . . . except the consumer!  Even Dr. Phil’s on the bandwagon!

Coke’s coming out with a low carb version, Pepsi is as well.  Is a new low carb cola going to help people?  Are carbs really the enemy, and if they are, don’t Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi already exist?  How about Pepsi One?  Only one calorie!  Why do we need another.  We don’t.  Pepsi’s just capitalizing on the new awareness of America.  America thinks it wants “low carb.”

McDonalds is now selling an adult happy meal with a pedometer to count your steps.  Is that who we should look to to help us resolve weight issues?  McDonalds?


The week before I wrote this I was performing dumbbell curls in the gym when I overheard two women chatting away as one of them stood and performed endless repetitions of curls with ridiculously light weights and the other sat and listened.  The curler's arms were moving, but her mouth was moving faster, and she was obviously upset about a man who dumped her for a woman with “a better body.”  The seated woman offered her two cents trying to put a positive spin on things, “well, now you’ll show him.  You’ll get into great shape and he’ll be sorry!”  The response got to me.  “Nah, exercise doesn’t work for me.  I’ve been doing this for months and I haven’t seen my arms change at all.”

Time out.  Swinging light weights around as if you’re playing with toys is not considered resistance training.  You have to challenge muscle, and if the chat takes more of your attention than the exercise, it’s not likely you’re going to see a change, but let’s not mistake that for meaning “exercise doesn’t work.”  Exercise has to be strategically introduced in a manner that provides a stimulus for change.  If exercise doesn’t work for you, you’re in one of two categories:

  1. You’re an alien and are not made up of the same biochemical material as Earth humans
  2. You’re not exercising at an intensity or with a frequency sufficient to stimulate improvement

If you’re an alien, I really can’t help.  Check for personal trainers on your own planet.  If you are an earth being, than exercise works!  You just need the Synergy in place!


“Exercise doesn’t work for me,” is what I’ve learned to recognize as a False Belief.  There are many false beliefs that destroy the very first prerequisite to getting in shape, the belief that it’s possible.  Here are just a few of the other false belief that plague our population:

  • Believing a walking program is enough to get you lean – too many people with this belief walk, walk, and walk some more and lose muscle tissue in the process by failing to recognize the importance of supportive eating and resistance training
  • Dieting and believing it’s going to resolve your weight problem – diets lead to temporary reduction of pounds, but are inefficient at actually boosting metabolism and preserving lean body mass.  Follow a diet along with the expectation that the diet will “work” and its only a matter of time until belief starts to fade.  Unfortunately, for most the loss of belief turns into “no matter what I do I can’t lose weight.”

OK, lets grab some common sense back.  Let’s understand the bigger picture.

I’m sure you’ll agree that today there are more so-called fitness and weight loss solutions than ever in history.  If you view a problem globally, you’d typically find that when a solution is introduced, or for even greater impact, a number of solutions are introduced, the problem begins to decline among a population.

As an example, in 1900, staggering numbers of children died from infectious pneumonia.  In 1927 penicillin was discovered.  There was a problem, and a solution was found.  With the introduction of penicillin, there was a 93% decline in child mortality due to infectious pneumonia.  As a matter of fact, today we only have 1/20th of the number of deaths from bacterial diseases than we had prior to the invention of antibiotics.

If a drug, a supplement, or a diet were truly a solution to obesity, shouldn’t we see an epidemiological decline in the “disease?”  Of course, but with 2/3 of our population overweight, and half of the overweight population considered dangerously obese, the obesity “disease” is at an all time high!  Is there evidence of a reversal in the “growth” trend?  Nope.  Today 25% of teens sit on the danger side of the obesity threshold which means our next generation is on the way to greater obesity statistics than we face today.

There was actually another time in history when obesity started to escalate significantly.  If we go back to the turn of the 20th century we’d find that obesity among white-collar workers in the U.S. went from about 2% of the population to near 5% in a the ten-year time span from 1895 - 1905.  That’s staggering.  It more than doubled.  The turn of the century was also the time that railroad tracks found their way across the country, cars were produced by the millions, and innovation led to automation reducing the need for physical labor.  The word “sedentary” was beginning to find its place.

While the beginning of the 20th century showed a spike in obesity, from 1905 to the 1970’s, obesity statistics remained relatively stable.  In the late 70’s they again started to climb, and since 1980, every year the numbers have gone up.  As we crossed the line into the new century, the 21st Century, the increase ran out of control.  The reason for the spike in 1900 is clear, but the current obesity climb seems to summon up frustration and confusion among those who are called upon for solutions.

Let’s start to understand what major changes have taken place in the last 30 years.

  • Computers.  That’s obvious. 
  • Increases in airline travel. 
  • Reduction in physical education programs. 
  • Fast foods. Hydrogenated fats. Refined foods overtaking the supermarkets.
  • Increased restaurant dining (in 1970 less than 20% outside of the home, today near 35%)
  • Average increase in food consumption by 500 calories per day from 1984 to 2000
  • A survey revealed that a significant number of teens drink more than 6 sodas a day, 240 grams of sugar, and the average American consumes 168 pounds of sugar per year
  • Inactive hours spend in chat rooms and in front of the television. A study with adolescent girls surprisingly showed that their metabolisms were lower during the post-school hours that they sat and watched television than they were upon waking in the morning.

Add in video games and consider that most children are now driven to school, and it becomes obvious activity is almost non-existent.

So what's the mystery? The reasons are clear. The solution should be as well.


Obesity may or may not wind up being called a disease, but if the word “disease” means “dis-ease” or discomfort, speak to anyone who struggles with it and they’ll agree it’s an applicable term. The dis-ease of obesity walks hand in hand with other diseases, and as obesity escalates so too do blood sugar irregularities including diabetes.  America’s school children may learn about the 21st century as a time during which our population was faced with a diabetes epidemic. 

Heart disease, gallbladder disease, breast, uterine, and colon cancers are all on the rise along with obesity.

As the quest to define obesity, in ultimate efforts to treat and “cure” it, continues, medical science has brought us a new term.  The Metabolic Syndrome.  An article in the January 2002 issue of JAMA listed astoundingly high statistics in terms of the percentage of each age group displaying Metabolic Syndrome.  According the article, after the age of 50, roughly 40% of our population can be so diagnosed.  Metabolic Syndrome is diagnosed when three out of five factors are identified in an individual:

  • A waist circumference of greater than thirty-five inches for a woman or forty inches for a man
  • High serum triglycerides of 150 or above
  • A low HDL or "good" cholesterol of below 50 in women or below 40 in men
  • Blood pressure of 130/85 or higher
  • A fasting blood sugar level of 110 or higher

People with Metabolic Syndrome typically have abdominal adiposity which is a fancy way of saying “a big belly.”  This “apple shape” has been linked with greater risk of potentially fatal incident.  These people typically are “insulin resistant,” which means that the pancreas produces adequate insulin, but the body is not efficient at utilizing it.  Insulin resistance leads to a pancreas trying desperately to produce enough insulin, and the insulin : glucagon environment being swayed far toward the likelihood of fat storage.  Those diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome will probably amplify the problem by trying conventional (yet unsuccessful) weight loss “cures.”

What are bariatricians (weight loss medical specialists) doing about Metabolic Syndrome, which according to some sources afflicts slightly less than half of our population?  “Treating it.”  The treatment may include VLCDs (very low calorie diets – which ultimately backfire and slow metabolism), extreme diets, medications that act as stimulants, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and/or appetite suppressants, and in severe cases gastric bypass surgery.  Here’s the sad part.  The increased incidence continues.  The “cures” are impotent.

I can go off into an exploration of “fat burning supplements,” but I won’t.  I’ve done that plenty of times and the conclusion is consistent in every case.  The products fall short.  I can also go off into an exploration of pharmaceutical releases beginning with Phen-Fen and leading up through Meridia, Redux, Xenical, and the exploration of a leptin drug.  The bottom line is, with billions of dollars being generated, scientific exploration in the realm of pharmaceuticals has done nothing to curb obesity.

Before a “cure” reaches the entirety of the afflicted population, someone needs to clearly identify “prevention,” and preventative measures must be instituted to slow the increase and ultimately bring at least a segment of our population more appealing statistical reports.

So What's the Solution?

Synergy . . . and education. "Synergy" is the word I use to describe the ideal strategy for gaining control of metabolism, body composition, and physical well-being. There are three synergistic elements that ALL must be in place to facilitate a positive physical change.

  • The Right Nutrition
  • Moderate Aerobic Exercise
  • A Concern For Muscle

I've written endless articles on this topic (you can find many at the Site Menu and the Update Menu), and I'll continue, as "Synergy" is the solution . . . oh, along with the second part of the equation. Education. Our population is confused and needs clarity, and that's precisely what I strive to provide.

As I’ve said in the past, it’s not that I have any magic.  It’s not even that I’m so smart.  It’s that I have the right approach, and while it may not sound as sexy as “eat anything you want and lose all the weight you want,” or as compelling as “The magic pill has arrived,” I tell people what they need to hear and in that lies empowerment. If you're not yet on the way to Physical Excellence, look into my programs and select the one best suited for you!


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