First hand experience of the Great Cholesterol Myth

I had an interesting experience on Thursday after visiting my doctor to review my first ever blood tests. Due to the Paleo Diet I was encouraged by friends and family to get my numbers tested due to concerns about my cholesterol because I was eating alot of saturated fats and animal products. I am going to share what is happening here because this is a very controversial subject that gets very heated and I want it noted what is happening and why I am choosing to do what I do.

First of all, lets get to the punch mark. My total cholesterol results were high and in my doctors words, she has never seen LDL (the so called ‘bad cholesterol’ (we will get to this later)) as high as she has seen mine. The results are Total Cholesterol 375, Triglycerides 62, HDL 58 and LDL 244.

Now when we first reviewed the blood tests (fasted) which included everything from red blood count, to liver function, kidney function, testosterone, cortisol, vitamin D, CRP (inflammation), Iron, Glucose, Serum’s and Thyroid. Everything indicated that I was very healthy, the only small discrepancies were testosterone on the low side and Serum Ferritin on the high side. Despite everything being ok, and being a young 28 year old fit, healthy, male with no history of disease, sickness in myself or heart disease in my family, the doctor decided that I was to immediately start treatment on statin cholesterol lowering drugs. She also took me to the Australian Government website to calculate my risk of heart disease. This website indicated that I have a 15% chance of death by heart disease in the next 5 years (if I didn’t change anything by the age of 35). She advised that I should start a low-fat diet and cut out butter, coconut oil, red meat and cheese.

I was in shock. First thing first, I asked her whether one supposed outlier in a field of results that showed I was healthy could mean I am to go on a statin. She said the LDL is too high, she had never seen this result before and that it is ‘very bad’. I said, what about the LDL particle size, isn’t very low density LDL B a better indicator of risk of heart disease? ‘No, this is very bad’ was the answer. Queue the Latest In Paleo, Humans Are Not Broken post by Angelo Coppola where even now the infamous Dr. Oz (the oprah of American talk show health) has been convinced by the docs of The Great Cholesterol Myth that you should resist being placed on a statin if you have high LDL and that you should get a particle size test.

I eventually convinced the Dr that I should get retested in three months and get a particle size test done. Further research hereherehere, here and here. Alison Golden even details her own experience going through this issue all the way to the point of a CT Scan.

Needless to say, my research has shown that my triglyceride to HDL ratio 1.06 ( puts me in the very low risk of heart disease ratio because it indicates the majority of my LDL are the large fluffy kind. Secondly, my research shows it is very well documented that people who are transitioning through Paleo may get elevated LDL lipoproteins. I can’t seem to see exactly why my body is doing it but it must be for a reason. They say this can be lowered by reducing my consumption of eggs but that due to LDL particle size A is a poor indicator of heart disease there is no real need to do something as drastic as ‘taking a statin’ to reduce the number when it isn’t evident it is doing anything wrong and that it may be healthy.

All I know is, people freak out with this stuff, so I am going to go get my LDL particle size test to see what my ratio of LDL particle size B is within my LDL number.

A great result out of this test though, and on the bright side of it all, my inflammation numbers were non detectable at less than 5mg/L which means my anti inflammatory diet of avoid grains, wheat and legumes is working. And, seeings as the research is showing inflammation to be a greater cause of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer and a myriad of other diseases I, and my friends and family, should be happy with this result.

It is a lonely road when you are not pushing the popular opinion and I guess that is why it takes courage to fight for what is right and not what is accepted.

Please feel free to comment below or read my forum post on my blood test where I am further discussing this issue and how to get healthier which ultimately makes us stronger more capable karateka.

Paleo Kale Shake Recipe with Blueberries

Today, whilst my wife and I were out at the Eagle Farm Markets and buying awesome fresh fruits and vegies I bumped into this pile of freshly picked Kale. Now if you have never heard of Kale it is a form of cabbage and is a bit of a super star in the Paleo community. Sometimes you will hear the argument “If you eat Paleo then how do you get your calcium…?” (usually  because the milk industry have been pretty successful informing the world about how milk is the best source of calcium for you diet and is a great way of making your bowl of wheat and grains (cereal) in the morning more edible. Anyway, I digress. Green leafy vegetables such as Kale are great sources of calcium. So with this in mind, I thought, “Hey! There’s Kale, and woah, its only $2 a bunch, sweet, time to give the paleo kale shake recipe a go today”. I also picked up two steaks of awesome premium grass fed black angus rump at the Eagle Farm Markets for $10 which is super awesome value if you ask me! I just can’t get over how good the produce is at the markets and you pay so much less than at Woolies and Coles. [Read more…]

Best Farmers Markets in Brisbane

We all know how much fun it is to go to the Farmers Markets with your family on an early Saturday morning. It is a great way to start the weekend with an early rise, some walking and finding cool new products that you normally wouldn’t find in your typical Woolworths or Coles. But did you know that buying from your local Farmers Market has many more benefits then just variety in our products and a fun morning for the family?

Typically buying  from a Farmers Market also gives you the benefits of better quality products, sourced from local materials and supporting people who are managing their own family business. In the world of Paleo we love the idea of products being sourced locally as it represents the true economics of how we live. Importing products from other countries such as food degrades the quality or requires preservatives to reduce the chances of the product spoiling. This also creates situations where poor quality standards reduce the cost of producing food and forces local farmers to do things such as feed their cattle grains to keep up with the market price. Take a look at this story in America where one farmer is now feeding his cattle candy because it is cheaper than corn even though corn is highly subsidised. Was there ever anything wrong with cows eating grass? Moo!

There are many benefits to buying from your local farmers market. So let’s see which one’s we have available in Brisbane in our Top 3 Best Farmers Market countdown.

Top 3 Best Farmers Markets in Brisbane

Brisbane Markets at Rocklea

Leading the way is the Brisbane Markets at Rocklea. A great time to visit these markets are on a Saturday morning where the place is buzzing with people looking for great quality locally sourced fruits, vegetables and meats. The prices are always competitive and you know that every dollar spent is going straight into the pockets of a local producer and supporting the farms in the Greater Brisbane Region. Personally, I have seen 500g bags of natural almonds go for as low as $5 when you can easily pay up to $11 in your local Woolworths.

When: Saturday, 6:00am – 12:00pm

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Davies Park Market West End

Next up we have the Davies Part Market West End where you are gauranteed to find local organic products possibly from the person that has sourced it from the local vegie patch around the corner. We all know that West End leads the way in all things local and organic.

When: Saturday, 6:00am – 2:00pm

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Jan Powers Farmers Market Brisbane City

Hugely popular but sometimes difficult to get there if you are in the ‘burbs. The Jan Power’s Farmers Markets get huge credits for occurring every Wednesday to service the entire Brisbane CBD of city folk in town for work. Now you may not find yourself wandering around for hours on end due to the smaller size of the markets but you are sure to find the staples of your requirements and something different to take home and check out.

When: Wednesday, 10:00am – 10:00pm

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What is your favourite Farmers Market in Brisbane? Please comment below so that more people can get involved and support the local farmers in Brisbane.

Paleo Diet for Karate

I recently stumbled upon this great infographic created by Greatist which does an excellent job at summarising the Paleo Diet.

For the past few months I have been experimenting with the Paleo Diet, and furthermore the Paleo Lifestyle (as diet is just one element of this). The results spoke for itself and echoed with many of you in my post on .

Since returning from my holiday in America I have maintained this Paleo Diet style of living and eating and today would like to evaluate it from the perspective of the karateka. Essentially creating the framework for the ultimate Karate Diet.

The Paleo Diet for Karate

Since beginning this Paleo Diet I have found my performance in my Goju Ryu Karate improve in the areas of endurance, strength and focus. I have discovered that I can effectively use fat as my primary energy source and regularly consume both complex carbohydrates such as Sweet Potato or Yams post training or fruits such as banana, berries etc the night before to ensure my glycogen levels in my muscles are ready for a big workout or training session.

Fueling on fats for karate has its benefits in that alot of the time that we are at training we are oscillating between high intensity and low intensity movement. Especially during the beginning of our training session when we are warming up with pushups, situps, squats and core exercises my heart rate maximises and I am working my muscles to the point that I need to work in that glycogen energy state. Then as training for martial arts gets into Kihon Ido and Kata we regularly move from high intensity explosive movements to almost no movement as we sit in seisa and listen to our instructor explain the mechanics of the movement and its application to generating power.

Other changes I have noticed include better endurance for training after the warmup. So when I have completed all those pushups, situps and squats I can transition more effectively into Kihon Ido and don’t suffer from the usual muscular fatigue that would take up to 10 minutes to wear off. I have also found that I am less effected by my blood sugar levels as my body is constantly pulling energy from my fat stores.

Running on fat does have its issues from time to time. If I go too low on the carbohydrate intake I can really hit a wall. This makes movement more lethargic and I feel completely wiped out after training. This has been overcome by making the switch from complex carbs to like sweet potatos to more available energy found in fruits. The change can be felt within minutes as my muscles are refueled.

At the end of the day. I find the Paleo Diet for Karate to be great and I will continue down this path. There are other great benefits around sleep, training outside of karate including weights and high intensity interval training that I will explore in further detail as I continue along the paleo path.

So if you are playing around with Paleo let us know how it is working for you in the comments section below. If you are looking for the Paleo Diet for Karate or just looking for some ultimate karate diet then I highly recommend giving it a try for yourself. Some great resources to get started include reading Robb Wolf’s and reading his blog. I also really enjoy what Mark Sisson has to say.

So give it a try and let us know how you go.

paleo-022012/” target=”_blank”>The Ultimate Guide to Eating Paleo

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Karate, diet and weightlifting for the holiday body

I am going to make a lot of people jealous writing this but never the less when you are preparing to head off on a one month holiday to America you need to share your secrets and tips on what you did to lose weight, get leaner, stronger and have more energy.

As a karate ka in Goju Ryu I feel it is my duty to test the limits of what can be achieved when we put our mind to something (albeit with the correct knowledge and tools). Bruce Lee once said “Knowing is not enough, you must apply, willing is not enough, you must do” and I have had a poster of that quote on my wall or written down somewhere since I was young. I haven’t always stuck to this mantra at everything in life but when I get that burning passion to succeed at something I could pretty much bottle it and slap that Bruce Lee quote to it.

Ok, so what was my burning passion, my purpose, my goal. I wanted to be fit, strong and looking my best for my first ever “tourist trap” visit of America. I don’t have any before photos but I have included a graph of my weight below (I use the Target Weight app on my iPhone to track some key metrics to help me achieve these weight loss goals).

But essentially the story goes that I hit 87kg, the ‘oh shit’ moment where I realised that I had only about 6 weeks left before I was heading to the States and was no where near what I wanted to weigh or how I wanted to look. Time to implement the usual karate and weight loss plan. I started by watching what I was eating, and running as well as a bit of weights and skipping. This worked until about the 1st of May when I was running up the Mount Gravatt Lookout, hurt my knee and spent the rest of the day hobbling like a cripple around the office at work.  An expensive trip to the physio that included acupuncture, some hard rolling with the forearm (give me foam rolling any day) and they shaved my leg for crying out loud!  Anyway, it  revealed that I had swollen my ITB (that pretty important band that runs up the outside of your leg and stops you from collapsing sideways when you walk) and that I should lay off the running for a week before attempting another 8 kilometres run up some enormous hill somewhere (I never died try that hill again).

ITB injury from running

Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy with this. So I decided to do a bit of research and find out why this happened to me and what I could do to avoid it. What I was about to find out would be one of the single best discoveries of my nutritional/fitness exercise and overall health life since starting Goju Ryu Karate. I stumbled upon a podcast by the fat burning man Abel James  who had a podcast called ‘What is the Paleo diet‘… well, I took one look at it, thought, what the hell is the Paleo Diet and had a listen. Boomtown! I hit the jackpot on that one. Thanks ITB for failing on me. Also you can see exactly where I implemented Paleo, just above 13 May at 84kg’s. You can also see how I was able to control my weight fluctuations (that I thought were normal once I started cutting out grains, wheat and lowering carbs in favour of healthy fats).

So I am not going to go into ‘Paleo’ or anything here just that I found it and it worked and it fit into my Goju Ryu Karate lifestyle and philosophy seamlessly. Finding this podcast then led me onto Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson and from Mark Sisson I stumbled across his post on building muscle using Mehdi’s 5×5 approach.

Eat, Lift, Eat! Karate time!

The result is that I cut down on my cardio, spent less time on exercise, ate more, felt less hungry (then my karate diet from a previous time) and spent less time in the gym lifting heavier things then I had ever lifted before. This allowed me to strip down to 80kg’s (as of today) and perform a lot better during my karate classes.

From today’s post, I encourage you to take a look into incorporating Paleo into your lifestyle, whether that is Goju Ryu Karate or for any other weight loss or strength gaining goals, or just give it a try. I am happy I stumbled upon it and I am sure the word about it will continue to spread like wildfire. Additionally, the concept of lifting heavy things, doing ‘less’ cardio for weight loss and just burning more energy doing things that you enjoy, like Karate! will stick with me long after my trip overseas!

Until I return, enjoy your training and if you have any other tips on what has worked for you in regards to karate and weight loss or just achieving your goals in general, feel free to share them below.

I’m outta here and will be returning in July ready for some more awesome karate good times! Probably going to have to go through my karate diet again too 😛

Karate dead lift

I know it ain’t pretty but you gotta work hard!

Goju Ryu Karate t-shirt











10 Tips for Losing Weight in Karate

Peak of my fitness to date and what I plan to exceedPeak of my fitness to date and what I plan to exceed

Now that the new year of karate training, or whatever martial arts style you are into, many of your will be struggling with getting back in shape after the Christmas/New Year binge. This most definitely includes myself, and it sucks big time. You may have worked extremely hard, also like myself, getting in tip top condition for your end of year grading. Or in my case, the biggest grading I had after two years being my Nidan Grading.

So now that we have established that we are all hurting, you can’t get out as many pushups as before, you can feel your new gut getting in your way during your sit ups and you are generally more tired and lethargic, sleeping more, drinking more and eating more. We need to find a way to put the brakes on and get this karate journey back on track.

Hopefully, my list below will help you with this. Now I am no dietitian, personal trainer, doctor or astronaut. What I am is someone that has previously seen results through the following list of tips:

Weight Lose Tip 1. Know Your Daily Recommended Calorie Intake

Naturally, there are more calorie/kilojoule calculators on the internet than there are fast weight lose schemes. With a little bit of research (I wouldn’t go past your countries health department/government website such as The Department of Health and Ageing for Australia) you should be able to come up with a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is how much energy your body needs to survive if you become a couch potato and a Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) that suits your age, height and current weight. The DRI adjusts based on your activity level and will give you a calorie intake to maintain your current weight.

Weight Lose Tip 2. Set SMART Goals

Once we know this we can set a daily/weekly calorie deficiency target that is SMART. S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (or words to that effect).

A good SMART objective for weight loss for a myself as a young, fit martial artist would be something like this

“Lose 5 kilograms in 3 months by reducing my calorie intake by ~400 calories per day on average”

Obviously it is specific as we have figures in there, it is achievable as it is within the range of a healthy calorie deficit for someone my age and fitness level. It is achievable as I can lose the weight and still have a healthy BMI. Realistic as I have done it before and timely because we are doing it in 3 months.

Weight Lose Tip 3. Make it Your Decision

It is all good to have a plan, set smart objectives and tick all the right boxes. What we ultimately need is the personal drive and discipline to go through with it. This won’t work if you are not doing it for the right reasons. You may need to reevaluate why you are doing this before you start. If it is to achieve your goal of passing your next grading then that will be a good motivator and one that your instructor will support. If it is because someone else is telling you to do it you may end up applying a negative association to  the journey you are about to embark on. This in my opinion happens a lot with personal trainers. You pay someone to push you but when they are not around you have no desire to push yourself. You cannot outsource will to a personal training. As martial arts instructors we aim to change your discipline and behaviour by giving you the will to do things outside the dojo and not just in the training arena.

Find strength in yourself and you increase your changes of success.

Weight Lose Tip 4. Find Support With Your Friends and Family

Next step is to get someone else on board that you can be accountable to. Your friends and families, or even work colleagues, people that you see on a daily basis or in regular intervals will help you with this. I would recommend someone that does not have too close of a relationship as they may be soft on you and allow you to take shortcuts. Also it is good to talk about goals we have set ourselves with other people as it goes from being an idea to a choice.

Weight Lose Tip 5. Change Your Diet

Now we come to the bits that will actually help you to get the weight off, and hopefully to keep it off.

Most karate students or martial artists are already getting a good amount of exercise in their weekly routine of training. What is lacking is the discipline within our diet.

First thing first, research the foods that you currently eat and find out their serving size, calories per serve and compare that to your target daily calorie goal. You will be surprised how many calories are a serve of honey, or in two slices of white bread or a latte. This gives you a very good point of reference especially once you get a grasp on how many calories you burn running or riding a bike or training in karate for 90 minutes. It starts to become very apparent that it is easier to not consume the energy than it is to burn it off.

My personal strategy is to increase my protein intake (tins of tune, chicken breast, kangaroo, protein powder supplements, egg whites, soy milk) along with fibre (psyllium husk, whole grains), minimise my carbohydrate intake by cutting out simple carbohydrates and foods high in sugar. Do some research on the glycemix index (GI) of food as this measures the rate at which the your body absorbs energy and impacts blood sugar levels, insulin and has a huge impact on apetite, hunger pains and the underlying desire to eat.

Find some super foods such as freeze dried acai for antioxidants, white tea to boost your metabolism and and get stuck into your vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, spinach and drink the recommended daily amount of water. A lot of emphasis on water and magnesium to help the body to absorb the water and use it for greater functionality.

Weight Lose Tip 6. Lift the Weights

To substitute the new diet we are going to take on, we will opt to lift some weight so that we grow those muscles (which will feed off the high protein and carbohydrates) and ultimately increase our overall basal metabolic rate as our body requires more energy to be a couch potato with those new muscle fibres to feed.

For someone that is new to weights, the easiest way to begin is by working the large muscle groups by doing bench press, squats, dead lifts and chin ups. Anything that will get those large muscles pumping. Also some of the smaller muscle groups such as the abdominals, calves, triceps will be worked during your martial arts class and you may not have the appropriate recovery time for those muscles to repair themselves between weight training days.

If you are unable to gain the equipment to work these muscle groups I recommend a martial artist to research kettlebells as they require minimum space, can be done in short training sessions and give a complete workout for the body.

Weight Lose Tip 7. Implement a Cardio Routine

Skip, run, cycle or swim either before class, after class, in the morning, when you get home from work. Anytime you get a spare 30 minutes to an hour, you can do this at a low pace just to get your heart pumping into the fat burning zone. This may add up to an additional 300 calories burned per session and will be another stake in the coffin of the Christmas gut.

Try not to overdo cardio for weight lose and follow the general rule of 80% of weight lose coming from diet and 20% from exercise. The greater the energy put into cardio exercise the more you start to use energy derived from within the muscles and this needs to be replenished usually by eating carbohydrates after exercise. So you can run a marathon a day but you need to up your carb intake to align with your activity level which negates the calorie deficit objective. Stick to long walks on the beach.

Weight Lose Tip 8. Measure Your Progress

If you don’t have a set of scales you will need to go out and buy some, find some, borrow some, beg for them. As part of our SMART objectives we had measurable and the scales will be the key factor in success or failure. If you do not measure you do not know whether what you are doing is working.

Measure your body weight whenever you want but keep it to a routine that has little variables that can effect it. Also only measure yourself once per day as there are too many factors that can change. This is why most people measure themselves after they wake up and after relieving themselves. Keep it consistent, do it daily where possible and track it on a graph or write it down, get an app on your smart phone or tell someone who can.

Weight Lose Tip 9. Give it Your Top Effort

Once you have the fitness you need to work harder to take advantage. Don’t leave anything in the tank.

If you find that the results don’t come straight off the bat, give it some time. This is not a fad weight lose diet, this is about changing behaviour so that when you have reached your goal you do not go back to the old ways and be back at square one.

Part of the journey of karate is learning about perseverance, determination and will. Think of it as part of your overall karate journey.

Weight Lose Tip 10. Results Equal Reward

After achieving the goal, you need to be rewarded. The weight lose itself will be reward enough, but you need something special that isn’t a binge fest. Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break, enjoy the moment and show off the results to your friends and those that have supported you along the way. Be vocal and bask in the sunshine of success. This will also make you remember down the track if you ever find yourself off course what it feels like to give it your best shot and give you the motivation to get back on the fitness band wagon.

If you are still here reading this than thank you for your time. As always, you get inspired to write these based on events during the day. In this case it was speaking to one of our students who is attempting their 2nd kyu later in the year and looking themselves for inspiration to lose 10-15 kilos. I will go back through and re-link to more sources as I go to help you out.

But if you do have any further advice to add or want to talk about it feel free to comment below. I am more than happy to help and share some of the things that I have learnt after crawling the internet for information, applying it and getting great results.

Strong and Heavy

Ohayou Gozaimasu!

Whilst practicing sanchin dachi in class, James Duggan Shihan will regularly try to disrupt our stance by placing pressure on our upper back and pushing us forward. At first when you feel the sensation of falling forward I tend to panic and go rigid in the legs or apply more strength to my sanchin stance.

Sometimes this works, other times it does not and I have been going through the motions trying to understand what works in each different situation. What I have found, and through an analogy given by Shihan, is that sanchin needs to be strong but not rigid. Like a stick stuck in jelly, you need the core strength to support the form of your upper body, but complimented by an interface with the ground that can absorb shock.

A stick in jelly. Karate grounding.

The checks I am putting into place include:

1. Ensure correct sanchin foot placement. Front foot only slightly bent inwards no more than say 15% and back foot slightly bent outwards around the same degree;

2. Sink down into the stance allowing my knees to come slightly inwards (due to the slight inward angle of my feet), protecting my groin;

3. Raise my pelvis up into my core by tensing my inner thighs (allowed by the sinking in my stance).

This allows me to have a good grounding with gradual tension throughout my thighs into my core (the jelly). I then have maximum tension in my laterals directed downwards back into my core and try to keep my back straight and so that I am not leaning back into my stance (the stick).

At this point, I would be able to slide like a piece on a chessboard if pushed. However, as we have sticky feet that don’t allow us to be slide all over the globe, the excess energy can freely move down into my legs and feet where it is absorbed by my stance and into the ground.

Ultimately, what this means is that when I am moving with explosive energy through my stance and finishing with chudan tsuki my body can transfer maximum energy into my opponent by minimising the energy that can escape backwards through my forearm, elbow, shoulder or back. Alternatively, we can reduce the input energy and still achieve the same effect by minimise energy lose meaning we have better efficiency and therefore endurance.

If you are confused by now, I am a little too! Food for thought anyway! Jelly time!

If you would like to add anything, or think I have it totally wrong! Feel free to leave a comment. I appreciate all feedback.

Domo Arigato!

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