Brendan Brazier

A Lean Muscular Body: A Mere By-Product

Those who limit healthy carbohydrates for a prolonged period have been shown to demonstrate mental lethargy and increased general fatigue as the first symptoms. If a carbohydrate restrictive diet is continued it can actually lead to internal organ damage and to the amazement of some, a reduction in lean muscle and excess body fat accumulation. If the body’s first choice for fuel (carbohydrate) is restricted it must then make another selection. If protein is all that’s available, then the body has no choice but to either stop its activity or burn protein. As mentioned earlier, protein creates toxins when burned for fuel. The production and elimination of toxins is of course a stress to the body and as such causes a stress response. As with all forms of stress cortisol, also known as the death hormone, will rise causing lean muscle to be catobolized and fat to be stored.

Training for my first Ironman triathlon, I entered into a new realm. The training was different from what I was used to, lower intensity, but much higher overall volume. With the intense workouts absent, the long ones seemed much easier, for the short term. It seemed that the more volume of training I could do the better. I was putting in eight to 10 hour training days. All was well; I was becoming steadily stronger each week, as per the plan.

What began to happen next I certainly did not expect. Despite the fact that I was performing 40 hours of exercise per week, I actually began to accumulate body fat! How could this be? Was I simply eating too much, more than I could [...]

  • Alkaline Advantage
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    The Alkaline Advantage: How ph Promotes Optimal Health and Performance

The Alkaline Advantage: How ph Promotes Optimal Health and Performance

It amazes me how little attention the value of balanced pH has garnered from the mainstream medical world.

Positive acid/alkaline balance is one of the most important factors in athletic performance. In my opinion, by disregarding this fact, sport supplement manufacturers have significantly reduced the effectiveness of their products. In fact some of the energy bars currently on the market are the worst offenders. Processed for the sake of shelf life and convenience, and consequently denatured and acid forming, many energy bars are not much more than disguised junk food.

When acidic forming food is consumed, starting with digestion and continuing until elimination, it produces toxins that the body must deal with. Denatured foods are toxin producers and as a result have the greatest negative impact on pH balance within the body. Highly refined and processed, denatured foods are void of any usable nutrients, yet retain their caloric value – the worst combination. Toxins in the body lead to premature aging through cell degeneration. Aside from food, most prescription drugs, artificial sweeteners and synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements are extremely acid-forming.

Athletes in peak training are the most affected by acidosis. Vigorous exercise creates stress in terms of muscle trauma cased by the workout. Physiologically speaking, hard exercise is the stressor but equally important is rest and recovery. The correct balance of theses two opposing elements is the recipe for growth. Already physically stressed, many athletes also must deal with various types of performance anxiety. An increased metabolism is yet another factor athletes are met with, further lowering pH. Furthermore, athletes require more food in general with an emphasis on protein to aid muscle recovery.

For recovery to be expedited, alkalizing foods, such as those rich in [...]

By |October 22nd, 2012|Athletics| Comments|

Whole Foods for Optimum Health

As a professional endurance athlete I have had to learn to deal with high levels of stress.

Not just mental stress from competition, but also extreme physical stress from training over 30 hours a week. If I am not able to recover from a workout quickly, my training sessions will have to be spaced further apart and the rate at which I improve will diminish.

An important fact to be aware of is this: The body’s response to stress is the same, whether it be the physical demands of sport, the environmental strains of breathing polluted air, a poor diet or the hectic pace at which most of us now live. A full, productive life will undoubtedly be a catalyst for an elevated stress level. Stress slows progress and therefore it must be minimized for us to reach our full potential. Success at anything starts with the ability to effectively cope with stress.

I believe the greatest impact we can have on overall stress reduction, is dietary. It is estimated that as much as 40% of all stress can be attributed to a poor diet, something I call nutritional stress. Contributing factors include over-consumption of processed foods and the under-consumption of nutrient dense whole foods that support biological function, activity level and regeneration. Consistently eating acid-forming foods is also a culprit.

My book Thrive explains how a properly implemented whole food, plant-based diet can help alleviate nutritional stress, while poor dietary choices can exacerbate it. The solution is not as simple as just withdrawing from stress; it’s about reducing nutritional stress and making our diets work FOR us rather than against us. So what can we do to reduce nutritional stress?

First, I suggest a shift towards plant [...]

By |October 22nd, 2012|Athletics| Comments|

Strength = Endurance

Building strength to improve running efficiency

A few decades ago endurance athletes where encouraged to avoid gym trainingĀ for fear that they would develop heavy, bulky muscles. The reasoning was: extra mass without function will inhibit endurance performance. This makes sense. However, the reason gym trainingĀ was adamantly shunned by the endurance culture was primarily due to it being lumped together with the body building culture. Of course the main reason bodybuilders lift weights is to build bulk. They also weight train for symmetry and definition, but the vast majority of their time spent training is to get bigger.

In the early eighties some endurance athletes began supplementing their regular endurance training with weight training in hopes of improved endurance. The results where mixed. While the athletes generally gained some strength, they also gained weight. Therefore their strength-to-weight-ratio showed only very modest improvements, and not enough to justify the energy expenditure in performing the extra workout. In other cases, strength-to weight-ratio dropped. Why? The problem was that these endurance athletes were doing body-building-style workouts, designed to grow muscle size with little or no improvement in functional strength. Of course this resulted in a reduction in the endurance athletes most valued attribute: strength-to-weight ratio.

When it was realized that various training principals and techniques could be reworked to make bulk-less strength gains, gym workouts for endurance athletes were revisited.

While gym workouts were being embraced by some endurance athletes, there were still those who abstained. It was clear that a finely tailored weight training program could be implemented to build strength without an increase in size or weight, but why would an endurance athlete need strength? And would a few gym workouts to achieve it [...]

By |October 22nd, 2012|Athletics| Comments|

Continual Cleansing for Optimal Health and Vitality

Do you have difficulty waking up in the morning and find that you have low energy all day long? Are you unable to concentrate at work, feel sluggish and depressed? Do you suffer from poor digestion, bloating or constipation? If so, you could be a good candidate for a cleanse. Cleansing your body of accumulated toxins may help you gain energy and improve overall health. Many people report more clarity, greater alertness, over-whelming joy, and incredible insight after a cleanse.

A simple test you can do to determine whether you would benefit from a cleanse is to eat a few leaves of a dark leafy green vegetable such as kale or down a couple of shots of fresh wheat grass juice. If you can get it down without cringing, then chances are your system is already alkaline. If however, these foods taste horribly bitter and nearly cause a gag reflex, you will certainly benefit from a cleanse.

There are many excellent articles and books dedicated to cleansing so I won’t get too much into the details in this article. What is interesting to note, however, is that all of them prescribe complete abstinence from animal based foods and focus solely on plant-based nutrition during the cleansing process. My take on this is that if you feel so good after a cleanse, then why not adopt a continual cleansing type diet? That’s what I call The Thrive Diet, a common-sense, simple approach to eating that is based on plant-based whole foods.

Once you have completed the cleanse of your choice, you will likely feel much better and you won’t want that great feeling to go away. So how to you extend and expand upon these cleansing benefits for [...]