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Nutrition and Fitness Tips

  February 08, 2019

Submitted by Frederick Schurger, DC, Upper Cervical Springfield

When it comes to new diets and fitness, the deck seems stacked against your chances to win. Accept that progress requires struggle, and you’ll feel better about your New Year’s resolution to lose weight failing in January. The good news is that there are still 11 months left in the year and many more strategies to actually achieve your weight loss or fitness goals. First, let’s dispel some common myths about dietary programs that are out there.

Low carb/high fat

Eating fat makes you fat.

Fat is actually very satiating. In fact, increasing your dietary fats will help keep you full for longer periods of time. Choosing the right fat sources is key, and the answer may be in favor of saturated animal fats over vegetable fats that may be rancid on the shelf.

Keto diet

Being in ketosis is dangerous.

Truth: Nutritional ketosis is perfectly safe for most individuals. Not to be confused with ketoacidosis, a condition where both blood sugar and ketones are out of control due to lack of insulin, dietary ketosis is a fasted state most of us achieve every night after 12 to 14 hours of not eating. The ketogenic diet consists of increased healthy dietary fat sources, moderate amounts of protein, and very low carbs, usually consisting of green, leafy vegetables.

Slow carb diet

We get enough protein in our normal diet.

Truth: This diet is the brainchild of Tim Ferriss, from his book The 4-Hour Body. It’s a simple formula that largely involves cutting out white foods (breads, pasta, sugar, rice) in favor of carbs that take longer for your body to process. It also includes eating more protein from bean sources. Most people are likely lacking enough protein, and having another helping of beans can often give you the extra protein your body needs while providing a good, healthy fiber. Added bonus, you get a cheat meal once a week. On your “Faturday” eat all the things that you crave throughout the week. You may not feel good about it afterwards, but it’s a strategy to get things moving in the right direction.

Eventually, you won’t engage in it regularly, but it does absolve you from having to stay strict to your diet all the time.


Vegan/vegetarian diets are more protective of my heart health.

Truth: Vegetables are good for you, and have many healthy benefits for us. However, cheese pizza with tomato sauce does not equal vegetarian eating. Even when done right, vegetarian diets often are lacking certain vitamins that are critical to our health (B-12 in particular). When compared to other diet programs (Mediterranean, etc.) it was found that the incidence of heart disease was equally low among all groups that chose to follow a particular dietary program. The take-home message is that you’ll be healthier when you follow a given diet.

Standard American diet

The federal government has created food guidelines that cover everyone equally.

Truth: The Standard American Diet (SAD) lacks evidence to support it being a healthy way of eating. This is only made more evident by the epidemic of obesity in our culture, including our children. Many of the young men and women who want to enter the military are too overweight to pass physical fitness tests.

Losing weight begins in the kitchen. Regardless of the diet you choose, you have to keep track of the calories you’re eating, as your calories will drive your ability to lose weight. You can’t immediately drop your calories to starvation levels either, because your body will rebel and you’ll fail your diet. Small, incremental changes on a weekly basis are easy for your body to tolerate. More importantly, it’s easy to follow for the average individual. Your first goal should be to increase your metabolism, but that happens best when combining one of the above dietary strategies with some exercise. Working with a coach to establish your metabolic levels and create a game plan to follow is likely key.

Cardio for weight loss

I can only lose weight by doing 60 minutes of steady-state cardio every day.

Truth: People give up on going to the gym after not seeing the scale move after doing cardio like this for a couple of weeks. The problem is the initial benefits your body may have felt were lost shortly after you adapted to your training (often within a week or two). If you must do cardio on a treadmill/elliptical/etc., choose one of the programs that focus on high intensity interval training (HIIT) for only 20 minutes. Intervals of elevating your heart rate followed by rest periods are more practical for boosting your cardio performance, and you’ll save 200 minutes per week if you do this five days per week

You’re going to get big & bulky lifting weights

I’ll look like Arnold if I weight train!

Truth: It will take a very long time of lifting weights to look like Arnold (men or women), and you likely don’t have the genetic gifts to get that big. Women who work with weights tend to get more toned, improving their curves. For more evidence, just look at the women who consistently participate in Crossfit. However, we can all benefit from building muscle. Muscle is the powerhouse of our metabolism, and adding muscle benefits us for not only losing weight, but staying healthy as we get older. One consistent measure of reduced mortality in the elderly is grip strength. The stronger your grip, the longer you tend to live. Muscle mass is harder to build as we get over the age of 35. Maintaining your muscle mass as you get older is critical to your overall health and wellbeing. Besides, if you follow the above advice about cutting back on your cardio, you’ll have all that extra time to lift weights.

Overweight men who want to get in shape

I’m going to build muscle, which will burn my fat off.

Truth: Women who want to improve their body composition generally focus on cardio and dietary changes for losing weight. For men go right to the bench press and then pour on the protein powders! Building muscle is definitely going to help us burn off our belly fat, but it’s hard to build muscle if we have any significant amount of body fat. The late, great Charles Poliquin said, “If you can’t see your linea alba (abs) then you don’t deserve carbs!” That’s because your body fat is producing estrogen. If that wasn’t bad enough, testosterone converts into estrogen for a number of reasons! Focus on fat loss first. Keep lifting weights, but many probably don’t need the protein powders to the degree they’re using them.

I’m losing weight in the sauna

Those five minutes in the sauna had me sweat out a lot of fat.

Truth: Saunas have many health benefits, but the pound of weight you think you lost in the sauna is likely water, and you probably didn’t restore the minerals you lost after you did your five 5-minute session. Sauna benefits really come into play when you spend 30 to 40 minutes (split into multiple sessions to not overheat), 3 to 4 times per week. This regimen has shown 30 to 40 percent improvement in all-cause mortality in cultures where sauna use is a cultural norm. Chat with your fellow sauna bathers, as it will make the time go by faster with less pain. Follow your sessions up with time to cool down (cold showers or just sitting and relaxing at room temperature).

Supplements and protein powders

I have a very small window to get my protein in, otherwise all my gains are lost.

Truth: Unless you’re a professional athlete training for the Olympics, NFL, NBA, etc. and doing two or more workouts a day, this myth doesn’t apply to you. As long as you’re eating your proper amount of food (calories and macro nutrients) you can eat at your normal times. The small window of re-feeding that is so often referenced applies more athletes who are training a lot.

Regarding training, most people will notice that one side of their body isn’t as strong or flexible as the other side.  This may be stemming from body asymmetry caused by a neurostructural shift in your spine. A small shift of 1mm in your neck may lead to a contraction of muscles on your left side, causing one leg to be shorter than the other by a half-inch or more.  This can sneak up on you when you’re in the gym, causing bad form or uneven distribution of forces that can lead to unintended injury which can set back your progress weeks to months. Getting your spine checked to make sure you’re supporting your body weight (or any other weight you put on the bar) is just another smart strategy to achieve your goals for 2019.  

As an engineer, Dr. Schurger looks at the whole body as a system to determine what is best for each patient. Custom spinal imaging is performed for each patient in order to create a custom correction. Dr. Schurger has transformed himself through the ketogenic diet and offers nutritional advice to help patients improve their overall health (weight loss being a side effect). His practice, Upper Cervical Springfield is at 450 S. Durkin Drive, Ste. B, Springfield. Call 217-698-7900 to setup a complementary consultation to see if he can help you with a neurostructural shift in your spine.

Sources available upon request.

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February 08, 2019


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