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Nutrition Mythbusting: Does Paleo Reset and/or Boost Your Metabolism?


Article written by Joe Nissim

Glory Days

RU Logo


R-U Rah Rah!

R-U Rah Rah!

Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah!

Rutgers, Rah!

Upstream, Red Team!

Red Team; upstream!

(Men) Rah! (Women) Woo! (Men) Rah! (Women) Woo! (All) Rutgers, Rah!

I can’t tell you the amount of times I was slobbering down wings and chasing them with a beer, while screaming the Rutgers fight chant during my college years on the banks of the ole’ Raritan at Rutgers University.

In those days, I was a competitive weightlifter.  My diet consisted of something like ⅓  dining hall food, ⅓ pizza, and ⅓ booze.  Somehow, no matter how many slices I downed at 2AM, I never put on any pounds.  It was awesome.

Then I graduated and started my career in finance.  My weightlifting career crashed and burned after 3 wrist surgeries in my first postgraduate year. So that meant I was spending 8-12 hours per day at a desk.  A combination of sitting on my ass and binge drinking almost every weekend led to me starting to pack on the pounds by age 28.  50 pounds to be exact.

My immediate reaction was to blame my Mom and her side of the family for the turtle speed metabolism.  (Of course, not my lifestyle or my spare tire.)

Then I started seeing stuff online that claimed that the Paleo diet could reset and boost your metabolism.  Hmmm… I was intrigued.

The basic logic was by eating foods that were only available during the paleolithic era (aka caveman times) that the body’s metabolism would adjust in a very positive way and begin burning fat in no time.

So I decided to explore this to see if it was true.

First things First: What is Metabolism?catmetabolism

Metabolism is a word thrown around the internet way too recklessly by the nutrition industry.  If you read the thousands of articles online, it will make you believe everyone has a slow metabolism, but some super juice will make it faster.

So let’s start by understanding what metabolism actually is:  Metabolism is the amount of calories your body burns in order to stay alive.  This includes both the amount of energy our organs and brain needs, as well as the amount of calories needed to PR your squat.  Metabolism is broken into two distinct processes: Catabolism and Anabolism.

Catabolism is breaking down food into nutrients that our body can actually use.  For example, when we eat chicken, our body breaks it down into its building blocks, known as amino acids.  Those amino acids can be used as energy.

Anabolism, on the other hand, is where our body takes those nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat, and uses them to rebuild our body.   Remember that piece of chicken? Those amino acids that it breaks down into can also be used to help rebuild our muscles after a long run or lifting sesh.

These two things together make up metabolism.

How does my body burn calories?

1000 calories
This is a shame. What did the pizza do to you?

There are three main ways that our bodies burn calories.

#1 – RMR – Resting Metabolic Rate

RMR is the amount of energy you need to keep your blood pumping, your brain functioning, and muscle moving.  RMR is the biggest component of your daily calorie requirements. 60-75% to be exact.

Side note: RMR is commonly referred to as BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).  Even though they refer to essentially the same thing, BMR is primarily used in labs and is really strict.  For our purposes, RMR is easier to use and way more useful.

#2 – Activity (aka Activity induced thermogenesis)

This is the energy you need to do anything like get up, move around, be on your feet, and most obviously, exercise.  This is the most important to us because:

  • It is the most variable
  • It is the easiest to change
  • It is the most controllable

Here’s the kicker. Unless you are an elite athlete or a psycho exerciser, this will never be where most of your calories are burned.  For most people, the amount of calories burned through activity will increase when:

  • We start exercising
  • We increase the amount of time we spend exercising
  • We increase the intensity of exercise

But exercise is not the entire story when it comes to activity induced thermogenesis.  The amount of calories needed for activity is determined by what you do all day, not just by the one hour of exercise.

Therefore, if we take two people whose exercise regiments are exactly the same, but one of those people is a school teacher who is on their feet for 6-8 hours per day, and the other is someone who sits at a desk, the school teacher will require and burn more calories than the desk jockey.

In total, activity accounts for roughly 15-30% of calories burned per day.

#3 – Digesting Food (aka Diet induced thermogenesis)

This one is the simplest.  It is the energy you need to break down and absorb nutrients from the food you eat.

This accounts for roughly 10% of calories burned per day.

So far so good?

So let’s put it together

RMR, as we learned above, is what our organs, tissues, and muscles need to work.  Well, how is this amount determined?  I made a little chart:

Heart/Lungs/Kidneys ~ 440 cals per day
Brain ~ 240 cals per day
Fat Tissue 4.5 cals per kilogram of fat body mass
Muscle Tissue 15 calories per kilogram of lean muscle mass

When our body has more muscle, we tend to burn more calories naturally.  Each kilogram of muscle burns 3.3x more calories than a kilogram of fat.

So listen closely: that means the #1 determining factor of metabolism is…. body composition.  Remember RMR is 60-75% of calories needed.  The biggest part of RMR is the amount of muscle tissue on our body.  This then means that body composition, or the amount of lean muscle mass vs fat mass, is the #1 contributing factor of metabolism.

Now, this does not mean that RMR is the only contributing factor, nor does it mean that if you are a well-muscled dude or chick that your metabolism can’t be slow.  There are other contributing factors such as:

  1. Genetics
  2. Race
  3. Gender
  4. Eating too little

It is still unclear the amount that each of these contributes, but science has concluded that they do make a contribution.  The answer to metabolism is not cut and dr,y and there is still a ton of research that is going into it each year.

So let’s circle back to the original question: Does Paleo “reset” your metabolism?

Before saying “yes” or “no,” let’s understand the argument.

Paleo purists believe the following:

Eat Do Not Eat
●     Grass-fed meats.

●     Fish/seafood.

●     Fresh fruits.

●     Fresh vegetables.

●     Eggs.

●     Nuts.

●     Seeds.

●     Healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)


●     Cereal grains

●     Legumes (including peanuts)

●     Dairy

●     Refined sugar

●     Potatoes

●     Processed foods

●     Overly salty foods

●     Refined vegetable oils

●     Candy/junk/processed food

Further, they believe your plate should look something like this:

Photo credit: Wodnut Paleo,
Photo credit: Wodnut Paleo,

Photo credit: Wodnut Paleo,

The main argument is as follows: By eating foods free of hormones, genetic mutation, and rich in micronutrients, the body’s hormones will function properly and therefore regulate metabolism.

Here’s where I think things got confused:  a better quality, low-hormone, naturally grown and raised diet is better for your body.

I agree that such a diet is better for overall wellness, health markers, and skin, but not for metabolism.  As we discovered, in a very short and simplified version of the science behind metabolism, the answer is not that simple.

Metabolism has many moving parts with many contributing factors. Unfortunately, the quality of the food is not one of them. Body composition, quantity of food, and activity are biggest contributing factors.

Taking it a step further

We all want a fast metabolism.  We all want to have 4 slices of pizza without worrying that it will go straight to our belly or ass.  We all also want to believe that metabolism is more linked to genetics than it is.  You have more control over your metabolism than you think.  BUT, here the most important part, it does not come from a magic pill.

There is not a Himalayan berry, cleanse, combination of vegetable juices, or cayenne pepper that will speed your metabolism.  If you are feeling sluggish, that is your body’s natural reaction to buy time to another meal (AKA save your life).  So instead of contemplating, blaming your poor parents, or accepting it as a part of getting older, focus on two things:

  1. Move more often every day.
    • 60 minutes in the gym should not be your only activity. Walk, take the stairs, and get outside and play.  This is not new advice, but most of us rarely do it.
  1. Make sure you are eating the right amount of food
    • Eating too little is just as bad as eating too much. Most of the clients I work with come into our program eating too little. This puts their body in constant starvation mode.
    • In order to lose weight, you have to eat. In order to feel healthy, you have to eat. In order to perform at the gym or at work, you have to eat.  Invest the time to learn how to eat properly for your body, not someone else’s.

That’s it.

What’s Really Important

Nutrition is one of the hottest topics on the internet.  Yet, 90% of the information is meant to scare you into buying a product that will solve your woes: everything from your spare tire to cleansing your liver.

And deep down, we all know it’s BS.  Listen closely, there are not magic pills. Nothing can substitute putting in the work.  Be obsessed with the process instead of with the result.  Once you become obsessed with a result, shortcuts are inevitable and you can get roped into some wizardry.

If you want to lose weight, or if you are concerned about your metabolism, you need to do the following first:

  1. Improve your relationship with food
  2. Get active (this doesn’t mean exercise for 3 hours per day)
  3. Eat right for your body

There is no substitute for the hard stuff.  In any aspect of life, you must face the issue in order to change it.  You can change what you do day to day and change your result. Don’t get caught up pointing fingers at genetics.  My genetics pointed to me having the shape of watermelon. I changed it.  And you can too.


About the Author

Nissim, Joe About the Author Pic

Joe Nissim is the founder and CEO of Strengthlete.  After leaving a lucrative career on Wall St, Joe spent three years creating and developing the Strengthlete Nutribuild system and flagship products Repair and Complete. If you’re interested in leaving dieting behind for good, join Joe at



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Nutrition Mythbusting: Are Cleanses A Scam?



Article written by Joe Nissim

New Year! New You!

new year, new you

This is going to be the year where I drink less, eat better, get rid of the jelly rolls, and make more money.

First things first, detox.

I need to get this crap out of my system. The week between Christmas and New Years is usually one long party of alcohol, food, and family.

Pop into Whole Foods and head straight to the Whole Body section, with a variety of “detox” kits.  When you flip the box around, they all appear to have some really healthy stuff in them:

  • Dandelion root
  • Spirulina
  • Chlorella
  • Kale extract
  • Fiber cleanse formula
  • Herb cleanse formula

I mean, it’s natural, stuff from the earth. It has to be good for me. Right?




Medicine meets Marketing

The word “detox” is short for detoxification.  In the setting of real medicine, this is typically reserved for a procedure that removes high levels of drugs, alcohol, or heavy metals from someone’s body.  High levels of drugs, alcohol, or heavy metals have the ability to be extremely harmful or even fatal.

On the flip side, the term has evolved and we now see nutrition industry marketing teams borrowing medical terminology to treat a condition known as a “hangover.”

Real detoxification treatments are medical procedures that are not casually selected from a menu of dandelion root or acai berries, or pulled off the shelf in the pharmacy. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals when there are life-threatening circumstances.


But the box and Dr. Oz say it gets rid of all the “toxins”


There is a reason that we believe that drinking a combination of maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and lemon will cleanse us.  Since the beginning of time, humans have been religious and/or spiritual.  Regardless of that religion or spirituality, there is a belief that some sort of sin exists, and that we need to purify ourselves.

I grew up in a strict Christian household.  When I refused to be baptized because I didn’t understand the point of getting dunked in a bathtub full of water in front of people my parents were trying to impress, my Mom was not happy.

According to my Mom, I needed to “purify myself so God could give me new life.”  My response was, “I like my life, Mom, I don’t need a new one.”  This also did not make her happy. But I digress.

As society became less religious and biology became more prevalent, humans became more fearful of “autointoxication”, or poisoning ourselves.  For a span of 100 years, this was believed to be the root of disease in science. By the 1900’s, science continued to advance and autointoxication was dismissed.

Today’s version of autointoxication argues that some combination of food additives, gluten, salt, meat, fluoride, prescription drugs, smog, vaccine ingredients, GMOs, and perhaps last night’s bottle of wine are causing a buildup of “toxins” in the body.


Wait, what is a “toxin?”



According to Google, Webster, Wikipedia, and the Oxford dictionary, a “toxin” is a:

“poisonous substance, especially a protein, that is produced by living cells or organisms and is capable of causing disease when introduced into the body tissues but is often also capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies or antitoxins.”

Ok. I’m not a scientist, so let me look up some examples of what that might include:

  • botulinum toxin A (from bacteriaClostridium botulinum)
  • tetanus toxin A (from bacteria – Clostridium tetani)
  • diphtheria toxin (from bacteria – Corynebacterium diphtheriae)
  • dioxin (manufactured)
  • muscarine (from mushrooms – Amanita muscaria)
  • bufotoxin (from the common toad – genus Bufo)
  • sarin (manufactured).

Huh. Nowhere on here do I see bagels, rose, tacos, or Jameson.  Toxins are typically something that, when ingested, can cause disease or death.  This is very different than the nutrition industry definition of “bad stuff in the air, food, and water.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not dismissing the fact that things like GMO’s and food additives exist. What I am saying is that a cleanse will not remove those things from your body.  This has to be done in your day to day.


Where it all went wrong


“CleanseSMART is a 2 part, 30 day, advanced herbal cleansing program. It is formulated to stimulate the detoxification process of the body’s 7 channels of elimination: the liver, lungs, colon, kidneys, blood, skin, and lymphatic system. In today’s toxic world, cleansing and detoxification is a necessity. Toxins enter our body daily through the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Over time, these toxins build up and slowly start to affect our health in a negative way.”

This is where it went wrong. Above, I copy and pasted a description of a 30 day cleanse.  Let’s note a few things:

  • It’s vague
  • Never names specific toxins
  • Sounds logical and possible
  • Does this mean if I’m healthy, there are not toxins in my body?
  • Are there good toxins?

The 3 Flaws

There are 3 fundamental flaws with the idea that the body is full of toxins and a “detox” will cleanse those toxins.

#1 – Why wouldn’t you simply eat better?

If we are ingesting harmful toxins, why wouldn’t the fundamental focus be on what you eat every single day?  As I have said in previous articles, the only things that create results are what we do consistently.

Let’s look at this in another way:

  • Are you likely to be a better runner if you run for 1 hour, five times per week, or if you run 1 time per week for 5 hours?
  • Are you likely to lift heavier weight if you lift 5x per week for 1 hour, than if you lift 1 day per week for 5 hours? (I would love to see someone lift 5 hours in a row).
  • Are you likely to get more work done if you go to the office five days per week for 4 hours, than working one day for 20 hours?

The answer is clearly to be more consistent.

When it comes to exercise or work, this intuitively makes sense. But when it comes to what we put into our body, this often hits a button where logic gets pushed aside and emotion takes over.

Cleanses are just like a band-aid.  They only cover up a boo-boo.  Underneath the band-aid, we have to treat the wound.  You can not cleanse out months and months of bad decisions in 7 days.  Our bodies do not work that way. 

Instead, build good habits.  I know this is boring, but there is no substitute for great habits.

#2 – A detox is not a substitute for control

We all have them.  A bad week, bad month, a bad year.  We go out on a bender.  Maybe multiple benders.  This can be with food, alcohol, or drugs.

As you know from the way you feel the next morning, eating or drinking in excess is  harmful to our bodies.  Drinking “detox” tea the next morning to reverse what we did last night will not work and is masking the bigger issue: control.

Every now and then, I go overboard with drinking.  One drink leads to another and before you know it, I am waking up on my coffee table in my underwear.  I get it.  Doing this repeatedly does not mean I need a detox, it means I need to learn how to control myself. The same goes for food.

The issue here is not the quality of food or drinks, its the quantity.  If I have 10 shots of Majorska vodka or 10 shots of Grey Goose, I am still going to feel like shit in the morning.  We need to stop masking the issue.  Control is about your relationship with food or alcohol.  The answer to changing or improving this relationship is not a detox, the answer is that you have to face the issue and make a change.

When clients come into our Nutribuild program, the first thing we tell them is “even if you don’t lose/gain as much weight as you want to, our number one goal is to improve your relationship with food.”

Why? Because in order to make real lasting, change, you have to change your relationship with foods.  Diets and detoxes function on the same logic, they are masking the real issue.  There is no detox, diet, or protein powder that will help you feel better over longer periods of time unless you address your relationship with food first. Period.

#3 – Cleanses are one size fits all

Like diets, how are cleanses all the same no matter your body, age, size, gender, etc?  You are telling me that a 250lb man and a 125lb woman can use the same exact cleanse and get the same result?

Come on guys, this is not even logical.  This is insulting to my intelligence.

Bringing it Home

I am all for medical advancement.  I am all for finding ways to be healthier, more fit, and more active.  But using short cuts never works.  At some point, you will have to face the bigger issue: No medical advancement or food technology can change your relationship with food or alcohol. Only you can.

The idea of a cleanse makes sense on paper, yet there is not one clinical study or trial showing that it actually works.  There is no documentation on what “toxins” it is removing.  There is no proof that the “toxins” it is removing actually exist.

On the flip side, is there is no documentation showing that it hurts either.  Is having some acai berries for 7 days going to hurt you? Probably not.  Will you likely be starving and leaking out of your butt because of the laxative in it? Yes.

The most important takeaway is this.  You can in no way shape or form change your relationship with food until you decide to face it.  No cleanse, no diet, no detox will change that.  You will be around food that is nutritious, you will be around food that is not nutritious.  You will be at parties where there is booze and finger foods. You will be at weddings and bar-mitzvahs.  If you cannot control yourself, there is nothing your cleanse, detox, or protein powder can do about it.


About the Author

Nissim, Joe About the Author Pic

Joe Nissim is the founder and CEO of Strengthlete.  After leaving a lucrative career on Wall St, Joe spent three years creating and developing the Strengthlete Nutribuild system and flagship products Repair and Complete. If you’re interested in leaving dieting behind for good, join Joe at


The Detox Scam: How to spot it, and how to avoid it

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A Review Of My Own Coaching Services

In my never-ending journey of self-analysis, I have decided to film a video, in which I review my own coaching services. I think it’s very important, both as a business owner and coach, to know what you are good at, and more importantly, what you are bad at, in order to round yourself out.

In this video, I discuss what I know I lack as a coach, areas I can improve upon, as well as discussing the areas of coaching I excel at. I am not the coach for everyone. Perhaps because I don’t possess the knowledge necessary to help you improve yourself, or I don’t have the personality you need in a coach. It’s important to recognize these things, so you don’t live in this false bubble you may have of yourself, wasting your own time, as well as the time of others.

Check out the video for a review of my own coaching skills and services. Thanks in advance for watching, and if coaching is something you think you may need after watching the video, you can find my services here:


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Nutrition Mythbusting: Sugar vs. HFCS


Ladies & Gentleman, Let’s get ready to RUMMBBLLEE!!

Tonight we are going to talk about the evil and awful high fructose corn syrup and the less evil, but still evil, sugar.


corn vs sugar



In the left corner,  dressed in white and ready to be put in your coffee is SUGARRRRRR.

In the right corner, dressed in green husk, ready to be milled is high fructose corn syrup…..


The Profile: Table Sugar (Sucrose)

The left corner has come under quite a bit of scrutiny in the past few years.  If you remember high school biology, we learned the building blocks of carbohydrates are 3 molecules known as monosaccharides. They are glucose, fructose, and galactose.

When you combine two monosaccharides together, you get a disaccharide.  Table sugar (also known as sucrose or cane sugar) is a combination of glucose and fructose.  It is essentially glucose connected to fructose in a 1:1 ratio, meaning sucrose is comprised of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.

So far so good?

The Profile: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

The right corner has gotten absolutely abused in the past few years. HFCS is a liquid blend of both glucose and fructose.  It is sweeter than table sugar, and because it is very cheap to produce, it is commonly used in food products. The reason why HFCS is a liquid, rather than a solid like sugar, is liquid sugar gives food manufacturers several important benefits:

  • It’s easier to transport and handle in liquid form.
  • It has certain advantages in baking, browning, and fermentability.
  • It retains moisture after baking or cooking, making foods more eatable and enjoyable
  • And perhaps most significantly, it allows the proportion of glucose and fructose to be adjusted.

The Profile Differences

Here is where they differ.  In HFCS, the fructose content, which generates most of the sweetness, varies between 42-55%.  The most common is called HFCS 55, which is 55% fructose and named accordingly.

That’s it.  The difference structurally is very small. Sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, whereas HFCS is 45% glucose and 55% fructose.

You don’t have to be a scientist to understand that is not a significant difference.

Comparing Punches


Comparing Punches: How does the body consumer each?

So let’s compare how our body digests both. This is probably the reason HFCS has gotten such a bad rap.

Let’s start by taking a step back to learn a few important facts about digestion.

Our digestive system is pretty amazing.  The second we start eating something, our body recruits enzymes to break the food down so we can extract nutrients from it.

When we eat sugar, our body releases an enzyme called sucrase.  Sucrase breaks any sugars that are bonded (like we learned above) into individual component parts (monosaccharides).  Anytime we consume sugar, it is broken apart into free glucose and fructose prior to intestinal absorption.

Because HFCS is already broken apart, the body doesn’t have to break it apart.

Regardless, because HFCS and sugar are both made up of glucose and fructose, our body detects the sugars the same way.  Therefore, our body digests both the same.  The only difference is the relative amounts of fructose (50% in sugar and 55% in HFCS).

Comparing Punches II: How does each affect satiety and weight loss/insulin?

This is where they have to differ.  Definitely. This has to be it.

Let’s go to the tape.


Both sugar and HFCS have been found to have the same effect on how full you feel because they interact with leptin, a major regulator of the feeling of fullness, in the same way.

Weight Loss

In a double blind study, four groups of people were put on a weight loss program, using a caloric deficit of 500 calories.

Two groups consumed 10-20% of their calories from sucrose (sugar), while the other group did the same with HFCS.  These levels were chosen to mimic the 25th and 50th percentile of average American intake, respectively.

The results are quoted verbatim from the study:

“The metabolic response by the body, in reference to mostly leptin and insulin, appears to be the same between sucrose and HFCS when both sugars are given in similar oral doses with no gender influence as the lack of difference has been noted in both healthy males and females.”

More importantly, the panel that conducted the study concluded (again quotes verbatim):

“Currently, it has been concluded (expert panel) that HFCS and sucrose do not have different influences on body composition and obesity (both being of comparable innocence or blame, depending on context).

Independent of whether or not sugar in general influences obesity and weight gain, sucrose and HFCS have no significant differences in their effects on the body.”

Let’s bring this home

What we have learned today is:

There are only tiny differences between the most common type of high fructose corn syrup, HFCS 55, and regular sugar.

  1. When we digest sugar or HFCS, the result is exactly the same.
  2. Whether sugar or HFCS, both affect satiety, insulin production, and weight loss the same.

In it’s simplest terms, sugar is sugar. Whether that is HFCS or sugar, does not make a difference.

What’s really important

Even though I writing about what the nutrition industry holds up on a pedestal, empowering you with information that combs through the BS is what’s really important.  More importantly, I want you to be able to make a better decision when it comes to your personal nutrition.

Most nutritionists, dietitians, and so-called experts argue small perforations of microhealth just to have something to talk about.  Like we just proved, these arguments have very small, if any, effect on your health, body composition, and overall well being.  When it comes to making a decision over whether you should eat something or not, defer to:

  1. Your tastebuds
  2. Your goals
  3. Your macronutrient breakdown

Don’t listen to the all the garbage that the internet has to offer.  Nutrition is not a “one size fits all” science. What’s right for you may not be right for someone else.  Beware of nutrition articles written from extreme points of view, even if they appear scholarly and contain impressive statistics, they do not help you smash bigger weights or look better naked.

Most importantly, listen to your body.  It is very easy to get caught up reading 100 articles with 100 different arguments on a single topic.  It’s enough to make your head explode.

I hope you enjoyed this article.  I would love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Beyond this Article (For the crazies)

Sugar-based sweeteners are considered very unhealthy, not in their root form, but because of the actual amount Americans consume.  These sweeteners, as we learned, use fructose to sweeten soft drinks and processed foods.  The liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose in significant amounts. When the liver gets overloaded, it turns the fructose into fat.

Some of that fat can lodge in the liver, contributing to fatty liver,  insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, to name a few .

Going into all the harmful effects of excess fructose is beyond the scope of this article.  You can read more here.



About the Author

Nissim, Joe About the Author Pic

Joe Nissim is the founder and CEO of Strengthlete.  After leaving a lucrative career on Wall St, Joe spent three years creating and developing the Strengthlete Nutribuild system and flagship products Repair and Complete. If you’re interested in leaving dieting behind for good, join Joe


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Mental Illness Isn’t A Competiton

A few months ago, I made a video about my mental illness, and how it has shaped my existence. I decided to make a followup video regarding mental illness, and discuss how opening up to others about your issues can cause the listener to think it’s a “competition”, because they know someone else who has a “worse” problem, so yours isn’t that bad.

Mental illness is not a competition, which is what I discuss in this video. I also discuss my fear of sleeping, why I am a very literal person, and why I prefer to spend my time alone.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to watch it.


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Nutrition Mythbusting: Brown Rice Is Better Than White Rice

Nutrition Myths, Decoded – Part Deux

Article written by Joe Nissim

If you have ever watched Myth Busters, you know they answer the big questions like:

  • So exactly how hard is it to find a needle in a haystack, anyway?
  • Can water dripping on your forehead really drive you nuts?
  • Was it the chicken or the egg that came first?

In this series, I have begun talking about Nutrition myths that many of you may believe are true. In fact, when we released part I, I caught a lot of flak. But you know what they say: “If you have haters, then you must be doing something right.”

Today I am going to cover a topic that I absolutely cannot wait to talk about.  It’s something that really has never made sense to me:

Why is brown rice considered healthier than white rice? Is it really true?  Does it really matter?

Today we are going to dive in.

Myth #2: “Is brown rice better than white rice?

Chipolte Rice

Does getting white rice instead of brown rice at Chipotle make me a bad person? 

To the average person, this an easy answer.  You always get brown rice.  As everyone knows, brown rice is clean, healthy, and good for you, while white rice is dirty, unhealthy, and bad for you.

I never understood why this was such a big deal, but in the interest of not being shunned by my friends, I cook and order brown rice, even though I enjoy white rice more.

A few years ago, I decided to get to the bottom of this argument and do some of my own research.

Let’s Geek Out

Anatomy of Rice

Before we start comparing brown rice and white rice, let’s understand the main difference between the two.

This is the anatomy of a single grain of rice. Let’s break it down.

Hull: The outer part of the rice grain that is inedible by humans.  This is removed whether it is brown or white rice.

Bran & Germ: Rice bran is the vitamin-rich outer layer that surrounds the endosperm of whole grain brown rice. Rice bran (which includes the germ) accounts for 60% of the nutrients found in each rice kernel.

Endosperm: This is where all energy (carbohydrates) is stored.

How to Apply It

Brown Rice: only the “hull” is removed because humans cannot digest it.

White Rice: the “hull”, “bran”, and “germ” are all removed, leaving only the endosperm.

Therefore, the major difference between brown and white rice is that in brown rice the bran and germ parts of the grain are left in tact, while white rice has had the bran and germ removed.  That’s it!

The Arguments

There are 4 major arguments when it comes to the health benefits of brown vs white rice.  We will cover them one at a time.

  1. Brown rice has more fiber and protein than white rice.

Let’s take a look at the nutrition label here.  In order to make a real “apples to apples” comparison, I will compare:

  • the same variety of rice (Basmati)
  • produced by the same company (Lundberg)
  • use the same serving size (¼ cup)

    Brown vs. White Rice


As you can see, the results are stunning! Brown rice has 1 additional gram of fiber and protein! Hold your horses, I know you are excited. I can barely contain myself. A whole gram!!!
I am being sarcastic, of course. The macronutrient profile and calories of both brown and white rice are almost identical, making this argument null and void.



  1. White Rice is “empty calories” with no nutritional value.

Let’s go back to the nutrition label (scroll up). As we mentioned above, from a macronutrient perspective, white rice and brown rice are almost identical.  This means that they have almost exactly the same amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein per serving.  Since carbohydrates, protein, and fat are all nutrients, it renders this argument null and void.



  1. Brown rice has more micronutrients than white rice.

Let’s go to the chart! I created a chart below showing the micronutrients (aka the amount of vitamins and minerals) in each.  In order to make a real “apples to apples” comparison, I will once again compare:

  • the same variety of rice (Basmati)
  • produced by the same company (Lundberg)
  • the same serving size (100g)


  White Rice (100 g) Brown Rice (100 g)
Calcium (mg) 3 10
Iron (mg) 1.49 0.53
Magnesium (mg) 13 44
Phosphorous (mg) 37 77
Potassium (mg) 29 79
Zinc (mg) 0.42 0.62
Thiamin (mg) 0.167 0.102
Riboflavin (mg) 0.016 0.012
Niacin (mg) 1.835 1.330
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.050 0.149
Folate (mg) 97 4
Vitamin B12 (mg) 0 0
Vitamin A (mg) 0 0
Vitamin D (mg) 0 0
Vitamin K (mg) 0 0

As you can see, brown rice beats white rice in most categories. Not by a staggering amount, but nonetheless brown rice wins.

There is just one giant, huge, crazy big flaw with this argument. 

Brown rice contains something called Phytate, an anti-nutrient that minimizes our body’s ability to absorb the beneficial nutrients.  Phytate (phytic acid) is found in most seeds, legumes, nuts, and grains…including rice.  Therefore, all those additional nutrients that brown rice is supposed to have, CAN NOT BE ABSORBED!  The phytates are in the hull and germ, the part left in tact in brown rice.

Cue the sad trombone…..womp, womp, womp.

Argument null and void.


  1. Brown Rice has a lower glycemic index than White Rice

The glycemic index (GI) classifies foods based on how quickly and how dramatically they raise blood sugar levels. The higher a food’s GI value is, the faster it will be digested and the faster/higher it will raise blood sugar levels.

White rice typically has a higher GI value than brown rice. This means it is digested faster and raises blood sugar levels faster than brown rice. This is typically the first reason given for why brown rice is the better choice.

So let’s break down the numbers, the glycemic index is 56 for long-grain white rice and 72 for short-grain white rice.

The glycemic index of brown rice is 55, putting it about equivalent to long-grain white rice.

There you have it folks, the glycemic index of long grain white rice and brown rice are 1 point apart.

Once again, this argument is null and void.


What’s really important

Even though I love disproving major arguments that the nutrition industry touts as science and truth (and putting big “void” pictures in this article), let’s talk about what’s really important here: teaching you how to comb through the bullshit and discover what’s real when it comes to nutrition.  Most nutritionists, dietitians, and so-called experts argue micro health benefits.  These are things that have very small, if any, effect on your health, body composition, and overall well being.  When it comes to making a decision over whether you should eat something or not, defer to:

  1. Your tastebuds
  2. Your goals
  3. Your macronutrient breakdown

Don’t listen to the all the garbage that the internet has to offer.  Nutrition is not a “one size fits all” science. What’s right for you may not be right for someone else.  Most, not all, nutrition arguments are written on a very narrow topic and reviewed from an extreme point of view.  Although they may appear scholarly and contain impressive studies, they do not help you smash bigger weights or look better naked.  Most importantly, listen to your body.  It is very easy to get caught up reading 100 articles with 100 different arguments on a single topic.  It’s enough to make your head explode.

I hope you enjoyed this article.  I would love to hear your feedback in the comments.

About the Author

Nissim, Joe About the Author Pic

Joe Nissim is the founder and CEO of Strengthlete.  After leaving a lucrative career on Wall St, Joe spent three years creating and developing the Strengthlete Nutribuild system and flagship products Repair and Complete. If you’re interested in leaving dieting behind for good, join Joe at


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Nutrition Mythbusters: Food Cravings

Article written by Joe Nissim

Nutrition Myths, Decoded

Before you start reading this article and the ones that follow in this series, I am going to warn you, I am going to upset you.  Since the time you were a kid, you have been fed (no pun intended) information about health, nutrition, and fitness, of which 90% of was either straight up wrong or just someone’s opinion.

In the past 30 years, America has gotten a little chunkier.  Based on our societal belief of “skinny is healthy” (I won’t even start on this one), we all tend to try to find ideas or diets that we believe will:

  • Be a magic potion to lose weight
  • Help us look good in a bikini or shirtless
  • Give us abs without any work or idea of what we are doing
  • Help us look good in our clothes

I think deep down, we all know it’s a bunch of crap.  In the next few articles, I am going to cover 5 myths that really burn me down to my core.

So without further ado…..

Picture 2 Popcorn Stress Eater


Myth #1: “If you are craving certain foods, it’s because your body needs the nutrients”

One minute you are IN THE ZONE. The next minute you are salivating in front of the vending machine with a craving so bad for salt or sugar, you can’t think straight until you have it.

What the hell just happened?

For most of us, we want to believe that our body “really needed” exactly the 13g Fat, 30g of Carbs, and 5g of Protein in the Peanut M&M’s.  In fact, we have no other logical explanation.

Food is highly complicated and emotional. And besides the physical need to eat, food is highly integrated in our social structure. Things like:

  • “Sunday Family Dinner”
  • “Meet me for Lunch”
  • “Let’s Grab Ice Cream”
  • “Annual family BBQ”
  • “7 Fishes Christmas-Eve Dinner”

These ideas have become a cornerstone of how we interact with each other, and they are important parts of tradition and family.

Some Sciency Stuff

Everytime we eat, our body not only digests food, but also releases a sophisticated set of hormones.  One of those hormones is known as dopamine.  Dopamine is a very complicated hormone responsible for a lot of stuff that happens in our body, but it is most well know as the “Motivation Molecule.”

It causes us to act in ways that make us feel good.  Dopamine is responsible for feelings such as  “I did it,” “I feel productive,” or “I feel good about that”.  It is that great feeling of reward.

Now, we typically get those feelings after a good workout or closing a new client.  And when we are feeling stressed, we feel the need to do something physical to get a little dopamine flowing in our body.

The kicker is that a good workout or a job well done is not the only thing that gives us a dopamine rush.  We get that same rush from things like:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Using drugs like cocaine
  • Eating foods high in sugar
  • Eating food high in fat

Now let’s look at the findings of a study conducted in 1993 specifically on physical cravings.  G. Terrance Wilson found evidence showing craving is heavily influenced by the psychological and environmental conditions in which it is assessed.

He found “no evidence for an internal chemical or additive basis for the food cravings of binge eaters.”

To take it a step further, when we are stressed, we are biologically programmed to find stress relief.  When we eat something high in sugar or fat, it’s like a shot of stress relief. And it is much easier to buy a shot at the  vending machine, then hit the gym at 2pm in the afternoon.

And in times of super high stress, we tend to crave very specific foods that give our bodies that shot of stress relief. Obviously, they are high in sugar, fat, or both.  I have never met anyone who when stressed reaches for some steamed broccoli!


Let’s Get Specific

The foods we choose are not random.  In fact, they are very specific.  The reason is that over time, we tend to build associations with how that food makes us feel.

If every time you got an “A” your parents took you out for ice cream, you will tend to build a happy feeling association with ice cream.  If after every baseball game you won, your parents took you to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal, you may associate McDonald’s with the feeling of pride or triumph.  As a child, this is totally normal.  As an adult, this can be very damaging and destructive.

For me, its Pizza

Picture 4 Dog with Pizza

Might be me, may not…..

Besides the scientific evidence behind breaking this myth, I want to explain how I discovered this was not true. You can read all the science you want, but when you experience it first hand, you have a completely different understanding.

I lost my father at the very young and tender age of 11.  I was just a kid, snotty and dirty from playing outside all the time and trying to figure out how to build a treehouse with my friends.

When my father died, my world was flipped upside down.  My entire family (my mom and 2 older sisters) was in complete and utter shock. And my mom had no idea what to do.  To say my house was a little stressful growing up is a huge understatement. But on Friday nights, we would order ….. you guessed it, PIZZA!

So as an adult, when I am stressed, I am drawn to pizza.  That’s my shot of stress relief. Especially after a few drinks, the wheels fall off and I am like a dog who found where the treats are hidden.

Picture 5 Kid with Fries

…. But my cravings are SOOO strong

Now, for some of you, your stress eating might be easy to figure out.  For others, it may not be as clear. Regardless of what causes this behavior, it is something that you need to address.

Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Identify Your Causes or Triggers

This is probably the hardest step, because there can be so many triggers.  A trigger can be an event, situation, or person that causes you to act a certain way.  For me, it was work.  Every time a client got upset or I had to have an unpleasant conversation with a colleague, I just wanted to sit on the couch and stuff myself with pizza, kettle chips, glazed doughnuts, or an egg roll.


Step 2: Substitute Food with Something Else

Once I identified my trigger, I had to break the behavior pattern.  Otherwise, I would keep doing it again and keep feeling terrible about myself for never, ever losing weight.

You need an alternative action.

Actually, you need several, because only having one will not be enough. That’s because different stresses cause different reactions.  Some are easily managed and some are tougher.  What worked best for me was doing air squats.  I know that sounds nuts, but it worked for me.  If I was in my office, people thought I was nuts. I would step out to the staircase and do 25 air squats.

Another option can be a walk or having an accountability buddy.  This habit takes 3-4 weeks to break. And you will mess up a few times, but you have to keep with it in order to make a change.

Step 3: “Take 5”

This is another one of my favorite and most powerful tools that I’ve developed.

Every time I crave food, I take 5 minutes.  In those 5 little minutes, I can figure out if I’m really hungry or if I’m about to emotionally eat in response to stress.  If after 5 minutes, I am still hungry, I will eat.  If not, I will carry on with my day.

If 5 minutes is too long, start with one minute.  From one minute, move to two minutes, and so on and so forth.  Even an extra 60 seconds can make a huge difference in checking in with yourself.

Myth 1, Busted

Taking it back to the original myth: “If you are craving certain foods, it’s because your body needs the nutrients.”

Clearly, it’s not because our body physically needs those nutrients, but instead because we are used to the way it makes us feel in response to stress.

Why we are doing this?

If you know Brandon Morrison or have been following LBEB, you know he’s a no-BS kind of guy. And if you know me (Joe Nissim), I love cutting through the nonsense of the media and nutrition industry to find out the truth.  When we combined our brains, Brandon and I wanted to cut through the crap and break through these myths, so you can make better decisions.

Over the next few articles, we will cover topics that have been distortedby the media.  Next article: Is high fructose corn syrup worse than sugar?


About the Author

Nissim, Joe About the Author Pic

Joe Nissim is the founder and CEO of Strengthlete.  After leaving a lucrative career on Wall St, Joe spent three years creating and developing the Strengthlete Nutribuild system and flagship products Repair and Complete. If you’re interested in leaving dieting behind for good, join Joe at

Works Cited

Werdell, Philip. “Physical Craving and Food Addiction: A Scientific Review.” Food Addiction Institute. 2009. Web. July 27, 2016.

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Why Your Training Needs Focus

Article written by Rachelle Reinking
Athletes are ambitious people. As an athlete, you’re always setting new goals to better yourself, whether it’s for a competition or your own personal satisfaction. Having goals keeps you motivated and gives your training purpose. You decide that you’re going to hit new PR on deadlift. Oh, and you’ll shave time off of that one WOD. Plus, you’re going to look jacked, while getting lean and have some sick abs. These are all admirable and doable goals, but your training needs focus in order to achieve them. When you try to do it all, you end up with little to nothing to show for it. By training with focus, you’ll see significantly more progress than being scatterbrained with your programming.

Ideally, we all would get instant results. We know that isn’t how it works, so we dial in our training and nutrition over time in order to achieve those results through programming. When we recognize that a program isn’t giving us results we want, we switch it up. The egregious error that many lifters make is switching it up too often.

By jumping program to program frequently, you’re halting your own progress. Coaches see (and loathe) this common mistake, because they design your program with the intent that you’ll see it through to the end. Don’t complain to your coach that he or she is not getting you results after just one month; you haven’t stuck to the program long enough to see any of the effects. It’s best to give a program at least a few months. Through program consistency, you’ll be able to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts. If you don’t see any improvement at this point, then you may go back to the drawing board. Direct your focus to the goal of this specific program, and move on to different one only once when you achieve the desired outcome or it no longer serves you.

The training and nutrition protocol looks different for every goal you might have: fat loss, mass gain, agility, strength, athletic performance, or flexibility. When you have your sights set on more than one of these goals, you add more onto your training schedule to achieve them. However, it becomes problematic when you add in more of everything. You start with a lifting program that includes max attempts, begin running longer distances, double your volume of lower body days to get more developed glutes, include fasted HIIT on the bike, and started taking up yoga so you could master that pose you saw on Instagram. Training like this is as detrimental to your progress as program jumping. By trying to do everything, you end up with nothing.

We can only put so many things on our plate in our lives before we’re overwhelmed. Training works the same way. You can’t put your all into a goal when your focus splits off in multiple directions. You won’t be giving your body an ample amount of recovery, the quality of your training will go down, and you’ll feel drained physically and mentally. Consequently, your progress will suffer all around. You must shift your focus toward one goal. Gain mass in the winter when everyone else is carrying holiday weight and lean out in bathing suit season. If you’re a competitor, keep your training strict in the weeks leading up to the meet. During off-season, set an objective that isn’t normally part of your training for your chosen sport. Your body needs the rest from the rigorous training regardless.

Remember that focus is finite. Find a happy medium in your training that lets you improve in one area while maintaining your progress in the others. No one wants their hard work to go to waste. You must clear your head from the fog of goal attention deficit disorder and train intelligently. Decide what you most want to achieve in the near future, and plan your programming accordingly. Stick with it. Only move onto another goal if you’re ready to direct your energy wholeheartedly into it. By giving your training focus, you’ll be able to meet all of your goals more efficiently.

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Dedication or Disorder?

Article written by Rachelle Reinking

No matter what sport you compete in, hard work and discipline are essential to your success. You carve time out of your busy schedule for training sessions. You meal prep to ensure you don’t stray from nutritional goals. You check the scale to see how close you are to dropping a weight class and adjust your programming accordingly. Friends and family who are non-athletes might be concerned with this “unhealthy” behavior, even when you can reassure them that what you’re doing is appropriate for your sport.

However, this kind of dedication can become an obsession. Athletes are at-risk for putting themselves into physical and psychological damage, particularly those who compete in sports that focus on appearance, weight requirements, and individual performance. According to a study by the National Eating Disorders Association, over one-third of female Division 1 NCAA athletes exhibited symptoms that aligned closely with anorexia nervosa. So what is normal and what is borderline dangerous? Let’s take a look at the difference between dedication and disorder.

When gearing up for a competition, you adjust your diet to meet a goal. Maybe you’re in a cutting phase for a physique-based competition or to make a weight class. You count your macronutrients, lower your carb intake, and avoid alcohol like the plague. People outside of the lifting community don’t adhere to these strict guidelines, and social settings magnify the differences. Whether it’s cocktail hour with coworkers or a graduation party with sheet cake, people take notice that you aren’t indulging. They prompt you with “Just one bite won’t hurt,” and ask questions about how restrictive your diet is. Sticking to your guns on this is completely acceptable.

However, athletes can take these restrictions too far. Disorders come in more forms than just anorexia and bulimia. Excessive caloric restriction, serial avoidance of specific foods deemed unhealthy, and starvation tactics like juice cleanses for extended amounts of time border disordered eating habits. Orthorexia is a fairly newly coined term for obsessive behavior related to healthy eating. If you experience extreme guilt or anxiety from eating a “bad” food and you’re avoiding social situations altogether in fear of slipping up on your diet, there’s a possibility that you have disordered eating habits.

Another part of competing is making sure your training is in order. You take extraneous activities out of your schedule in favor of lifting sessions, add in some extra cardio here and there, and maxing out on weight in the weeks leading up to competition. You’re kicking into high gear, and at this point, you don’t even have a day off of training. But, your programming is tailored to meet your goal, and with the right discipline, you think may even surpass it.

Training becomes borderline disordered behavior when it negatively affects your health. Some athletes fear missing workouts and believe it to be detrimental to their training if they do. They’ll refuse to miss a session, even when injured. This kind of behavior can lead to overtraining. In female athletes, especially those who are in sports focused on leanness, overtraining can result in the female athlete triad. This syndrome includes low bone mass, amenorrhea (lack of menstrual cycle), and an energy deficiency. Eventually, this can cause stress fractures, severe disordered eating, and infertility. Both men and women can sustain other injuries that could put them out of competing for good if they aren’t careful. In extreme overtraining, some athletes even develop rhabdomyolysis, where muscle tissue begins to die off (Ghoch). When diagnosed with this, doctors prescribe rest and zero physical activity until the body can recover. You need rest in order to not only progress, but also to train safely and protect your health. If training seems to consume your life, even without experiencing some of these physical symptoms, you may have a compulsive exercise disorder.

Being an athlete of any kind takes dedication. But, when that dedication takes a stranglehold on other aspects of your life, it may be time to evaluate whether you are bordering the line of disordered behavior. Your physical and psychological health should always come first.

If you believe you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please consult a physician to get officially diagnosed and seek treatment. They will be able to provide you with the steps to take control back from the disorder.


“Eating Disorders, Physical Fitness and Sport Performance: A Systematic Review.”

Marwan El Ghoch, Fabio Soave, Simona Calugi, Riccardo Dalle Grave

Nutrients. 2013 December; 5(12): 5140–5160. Published online 2013 December 13.

National Eating Disorders Association.  National Eating Disorders Association. n.d. Web. 11 June 2016.

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The Cascade Strongman Challenge

I am VERY excited to announce that I will be working with Kill Cliff and Xplore CrossFit to put on The Cascade Strongman Challenge for this coming September! The weights and events were picked by me, to be most applicable to the most amount of athletes. Check out the info below, as I think Strongman competitors will be pleasantly surprised by what’s in store for them:

First: There are only two weight classes for women and men: Lightweight and Heavyweight. This will help move the event along quickly, and cut down on weight changes and confusion between classes. The classes for women/men are as follows:

LW: 164.9lbs / 229.9lbs
HW: 165lbs / 230lbs

Second (and my favorite): Each weight class will have a $500 prize for the winner. This applies to women as well, and was the caveat that I wouldn’t budge on. I rarely see shows where women win anything, and I wanted this one to be fair to both sexes.

Stone weights:
LW women – 175lbs
HW women – 230lbs
LW men – 305lbs
HW men – 355lbs


8″ log for women and 10″ log for men:
LW women – 135lbs
HW women – 175lbs
LW men – 230lbs
HW men – 285lbs

Farmer carry (weight per hand):
LW women – 155lbs
HW women – 195lbs
LW men – 265lbs
HW men – 320lbs

LW women – 160lbs
HW women – 200lbs
LW men – 225lbs
HW men – 275lbs

Deadlift Ladder:

The event is not sanctioned by NAS or USSC, so winning will not qualify you for Nationals, but I feel that a $500 prize is worth more than a jug of protein for the winners. Sign up today, as there is a 60 athlete cap!

If you have any questions about the show, please let me know in the comments. Standard show rules will apply. This means no bouncing deadlift reps, waiting for commands, etc.

Registration and competition info here: