Welcome to my “About Me” section, where I attempt to tell you all about myself without sounding like a self-obsessed tosser. Hmmm, this could be a challenge…LOL
Judging by the copious amount of complementary (and much-appreciated) email I’ve received over the years, more than a few folks out there like what I have to say about diet, health, and exercise. These folks clearly are remarkably intelligent beings with impeccable taste
Some people, however, don’t like me. No, seriously. They claim I’m opinionated, sarcastic, and very blunt. They are absolutely correct. Hey, I tried being normal once. It was the worst 5 minutes of my life.
Here’s what happened during some of the remaining 23,650,995 minutes, and how it shaped me into the unrepentant, here-are-the-facts-whether-you-like-’em-or-not commentator I am today.
I was born in Adelaide, Australia in…wait, we probably don’t need to go back that far. Um, how about we fast forward to my 21st year on this planet, when a doctor ordered some blood work and subsequently told me my cholesterol was “moderately high”, and that I needed to bring it down because this allegedly increased my risk of heart disease. Oh boy, did he start something LOL
I started reading everything I could get my hands on about diet, cholesterol and heart disease and of course, it all said the same thing:
SATURATED FAT REALLY BAD.
WHOLE-GRAINS GOOD. IGNORE NEW GAS PROBLEM, STILL GOOD.
Now before I tell you what happened as a result of my newfound quest to battle the non-disease of ‘hypercholesterolemia’, keep in mind that at 21 years of age I was a typically healthy young man with no known organic or cardiovascular health issues. I’d decided to leave the binge drinking to my nightclubbing mates, had never smoked, and had never used any type of illicit recreational drug (and still haven’t, but thanks for asking). Nevertheless, I began cutting out all the fat and banished all refined grains from my diet, and started subsisting on a diet of extremely lean meats, namely chicken breast, tuna, and kangaroo meat (yes, we eat kangaroos in Australia, get over it) and various types of whole grains (primarily wheat, rye and brown rice).
Folks, it sucked. The only fat I ate was from the measly amounts naturally occurring in the chicken, fish and roo I was eating. And labouring through all those whole-grains without any kind of added fat to at least make them partially palatable? Like I said, it sucked like an Electrolux.
But following a boring-ass Spartan diet wouldn’t have been so bad if it at least endowed all the wonderful health benefits that were claimed for it. Well, I experienced health changes alright. And they were all bad. And I mean BAD as in “awful/undesirable/negative”, not BAD as in “Yo, he BAD!”
After a few years of this awesomely ‘healthy’ diet, my blood pressure rose. It had started out at 110/65 – a reading typical of highly trained athletes – but risen to 130/90. Ironically, in my mid-20s I was doing a lot more exercise than what I’d been doing at 21.
And then there was my blood sugar, which started bouncing around like a Wallaby on speed. One minute I was full of beans, the next I felt like someone had slipped a Valium into my steam-distilled drinking water.
Oh, and did I mention the stomach distension after meals, the dry skin, the gas, the mineral deficiencies, the leaky gut symptoms, and an ever-expanding list of food sensitivities? Yeah, it was a fun time in my life.
The most ironic thing about all of this is that I actually felt a whole lot better when I was 21 and didn’t fuss about what I ate. When you’re trying hard to eat and live healthy, and instead see your health worsening before your eyes, you start to get a little pissed off.
Then in 1996, my father died from a second, and massive, heart attack. He was only 55. That’s pretty bloody young to be dying of a heart attack. He wasn’t overweight, didn’t smoke, and was a moderate drinker. And he didn’t have high cholesterol.
What he did have was a poor ability to cope with stress, borderline blood sugar control (just shy of the official threshold for classification as diabetic), and high blood pressure. And while I no longer had a moderately high cholesterol either, I was indeed experiencing worsening blood sugar control and rising blood pressure. Sorry folks, but this is one guy who did not want to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Everyone can look back and identify at least a few moments where, for better or worse, their life changed irrevocably. A few rusty cogs in my brain started squeaking, grinding, and crying out for a few shots of WD40. I gave it to them, in the form of increased scepticism, a greatly decreased tolerance for bullshit, and an eventual promise to question everything I was told and verify information for myself before accepting it as fact.
As a result of my rapidly developing distrust towards so-called ‘expert’ health advice, I started eating more fat, starting tentatively with poncey plant-based stuff like flax oil. Then, noticing that I didn’t feel any worse and in fact felt a bit better, I started hitting the hard stuff. Yep, saturated fat.
Oh, it was g-o-o-o-d. You know how a guy feels after getting out of prison? Well, that’s how I felt after downing my first lamb chop in several years. Fresh, grass-fed, lovingly roasted, mouth-watering Australian lamb, the same glorious stuff that made Sam Kekovich into an Aussie icon, bless his irreverent soul.
And, contrary to the anti-saturate hysteria masquerading as health advice, I continued to feel better.
I know this page is supposed to be about me, but I’ll happily make an exception for a champion ambassador of all things lamb like Sam Kekovich.
A lot of other people, evidently, were going through a similar transition (minus the lamb, poor bastards). Decades of low-fat mania had failed to make a dent in heart disease rates (while CHD mortality had declined thanks to improved emergency care and the use of anti-coagulants, the overall incidence of CHD refused to budge). Instead, it had ushered in a global obesity epidemic, giving rise to the fattest population the world has ever seen.
In typical knee-jerk reaction fashion, the increasing rejection of the low-fat idiocy towards the end of the 1990s gave rise to a polar opposite phenomenon: Low-carb idiocy. And, I’m ashamed to say, I got sucked into it.
To be fair, the initial changes were positive. My blood sugar returned to normal, my energy levels felt more even keeled, and my stomach settled down. But the initial honeymoon eventually came to an end, in the form of a shiny new Scott CR1 road bike.
Not only did my Scott CR1 begin an enduring love affair with the black/yellow/white colour combo ;), it got me back into serious cardio training. I started hitting the hills with mucho gusto. But then something started happening, and it wasn’t good.
My gusto went AWOL.
I started struggling up the hills like an arthritis-riddled old man, while guys who had no business passing me in fact did so with ease. At first I tried to brush off my worsening performance as being due to “having a bad day”. However, after several weeks of bad days, I had to stop bullshitting myself. The reality was my legs had the glycogen levels of an empty sauce bottle, thanks to the stupid very-low-carb diet I was following. Super-awesome-eat-all-the-steak-and-cheese-you-want low-carb dieting was flat out killing my performance on the bike.
So I did what any bloke not terminally paralyzed by low-carb dogma would do – I upped my carbs. And my performance on the bike improved immediately. Thanks to further improvements in glycemic control afforded by blood withdrawal to lower my bodily iron stores, I started eating more and more carbs.
Oh yeah, it was damn g-o-o-o-d too. Macadamia oil-laced sweet potatoes, delicious white rice dishes, and lots of other scrumptious carb-rich foods that I sorely missed were now back on my dinner table. And when I eventually started eating pizza and pasta again, it was official: The Italian-Australian prodigal son had returned back home from the barren low-carb wasteland, and his body was happy as Larry.
Especially his thyroid.
Yep, something else had gone downhill during my low-carb years, but it had happened so insidiously and imperceptibly that I didn’t realize what was going on until I’d totally dumped my carb-restricting ways for good. Here’s what happened: After I resumed eating several hundred grams of carbohydrates per day, winter eventually rolled around (it has an annoying habit of doing this every year, bugger). Now, during my low-carb years, winter was only a few steps above outright torture for me. I used to freeze, and would have to rug up with several layers of heavy clothing just to get anywhere near comfortable. While this had an unexpected side-benefit in that people used to think I was one huge mo-fo in winter, everything else about it sucked. The bits of me that stuck out of my clothing, like my face and my fingers, were always ice cold to the touch. And at night, in the depths of winter, I used to have to throw not one, not two, but three heavy doona covers on my bed to be able to get a decent night’s sleep. And remember, this was Melbourne, not friggin’ Anchorage.
But during my first winter of truly high-carb eating, I suddenly realized something, and it was quite remarkable: I didn’t feel so cold. I didn’t have to sleep under a mattress-thick layer of doonas. I didn’t need to dress like the Michelin Man. I didn’t need to have the heating cranked up all day. And my proboscus and pinkies no longer felt like Icy Poles. I subsequently discovered that clinical trial after clinical trial after clinical trial had shown that when people are placed on a low-carb diet, their blood levels of the most important thyroid hormone – T3 – drop like a stone. No kidding – mine dropped like a bloody boulder.
So what we have in yours truly is a guy who, like so many others, believed the widely-accepted low-fat bollocks only to suffer health effects that could have caused him some serious grief in the long term.
We also have a guy that succumbed to the low-carb mania at the dawn of the new millennium but, like so many others, noticed he felt a damn sight better, faster and fitter when he went back to eating copious amounts of carbs. Only this time round, the carbs were primarily from tubers and refined grains. And this time, the carbs were also accompanied by plenty of perfectly healthy fats that kept my skin smooth and my blood sugar levels stable.
Both my negative low-fat and low-carb experiences were the impetus for some pretty intense research, not to mention some serious psychological reflection. I started hitting the university libraries of Melbourne and pulling journals from shelves like a looter grabs sneakers in a riot. Or something similar.
What I soon realized is that 90% of preventive dietary health dogma nowadays is complete nonsense. Apart from a few commonsense recommendations like “eat more vegetables” and “don’t eat other humans”, pretty much everything else that passes for unquestioned mainstream health wisdom is in fact extremely questionable. More than that, most of it is complete hogwash.
Here’s a few little tidbits guaranteed to totally contradict what many of you have come to accept as true:
–Cholesterol does not cause heart disease. To the contrary, it is a vital substrate desperately needed by every cell in your body. Without cholesterol, you’d be dead as a floorboard.
–Saturated fat does not cause heart disease. Total fat intake also bears no association with heart disease. However, the polyunsaturated omega-6 fat linoleic acid (found most commonly in plant oils) and trans fatty acids (again, from industrially molested plant oils) do indeed have a compelling and very likely causal relationship with heart disease risk.
–One of the biggest contributors to the modern CHD epidemic is not cholesterol, but iron. Yes, iron. Everyone wanks on and on about the French and the Japanese and Cretan men from the sixties and various other groups with low CHD incidence, but do you know that you – yes, you – live alongside a group that has an even lower CHD risk? Heck, you may even belong to this group yourself. Who am I talking about? Well, if you’re a premenopausal woman, I’m talking about you, ma’am!
Yep, you don’t need to go to Japan or France to find a low-risk CHD population – give your plane tickets to me instead and check out the CHD rates among premenopausal females in your own country. With the exception of certain countries like Brazil, where high smoking rates among women negate their natural protection against CHD, premenopausal women in most modernized countries have remarkably low CHD rates. This was once thought to be due to their estrogen levels, but that hypothesis has since been disproved. The only other plausible explanation is the massive differences in bodily iron stores that occur between men and women, as the latter drain out excess iron from their bodies on a monthly basis. That is, until menopause when their heart disease risk promptly rises to match that of their male counterparts. And of the two clinical trials conducted so far – one pilot study, and one decent-sized clinical trial – both obtained statistically significant reductions in CHD rates among men. The latter also found significant reductions in cancer incidence and mortality, despite the fact that the target serum ferritin levels were not reached. In other words, in men under fifty, even a half-assed attempt at iron-reduction resulted in a halving of CHD mortality. And an all-ages reduction in cancer!
But don’t expect iron reduction protocols from your doctor anytime soon – the medical profession nowadays is essentially owned by Big Pharma. And Big Pharma makes Big Money out of cholesterol drugs. Seriously Big Money.
–Whole-grains are not healthier than refined grains. Yes, some of the deleterious effects of Standard Western Diets are due to excessive intake of refined cereal products. Note the word excessive. Simply replacing an excessive intake of refined grains with an excessive intake of whole grain or wholemeal products will not, I repeat will not, alleviate these problems. In fact, several very tightly controlled clinical trials comparing refined versus whole grain diets that were identical in every other aspect found the latter to cause impaired absorption and even deficiencies of several key nutrients.
When free-living trials were conducted examining the effects of whole grains and cereal fiber on heart disease and colorectal adenoma incidence, guess what? CHD, adenoma and colorectal cancer rates were higher in the whole-grain/cereal fiber groups!
Despite the indisputable evidence that sits in journals for anyone who cares to look at it, health authorities, dietitians, and book authors persist in their reality-evading ways and continue to promote the whole-grain myth. They ignore the clinical evidence and instead cite data from confounder-prone epidemiological studies, breaking one of the most fundamental rules of good science: Association does not equal causation.
–Carbohydrates do not make you fat. Insulin does not make you fat. I know this is guaranteed to cause advocates of low-carb diets – most of whom are themselves overweight – to jump up and down with hysterical, self-righteous indignation, but the science is firmly on my side. Over seven decades’ worth of tightly controlled metabolic ward trials, as well as their own portly bellies, show that the “carbs raise insulin and insulin makes you fat!” thesis is a load of simplistic and pseudoscientific nonsense.
OK, now here’s the bit that kinda pisses me off. I did not make any of the above up. Like I said, it’s all there in the peer-reviewed medical journals for anyone who is prepared to remove their blinders and take a look.
And believe it or not, I am not an omnipotent being with the power to influence the outcomes of clinical trials. Especially ones that were conducted before I was even born.
Yet when I present my findings to the public, a lot of people automatically go into shoot-the-messenger mode and start acting like complete dickwads. Seriously, they carry on like I just spat at their mother or something. Some of them attempt to dispute me on scientific grounds, and when that fails they invariably resort to making unfounded pronouncements about my mental health, issuing false and defamatory claims about my financial motives, and calling me all sorts of nasty names. Many folks just skip the attempt at science from the outset and go straight to all the defamatory bullshit right off the bat.
I’ve lost count of the number of cocksure doctors and PhDs who’ve belittled my (current) lack of formal university qualifications, only to have their ass handed to them on a cyber platter when I asked them to step up and support their condescending snipes with something resembling a coherent scientific argument.
Folks, I stand behind everything I say. I don’t write anything for the sake of making a quick buck. Telling the truth about diet, health, fitness and strength training is all part of my get rich slow strategy. And it’s working beautifully, damn it.
My books might not have rocketed to the top of the New York Times best-seller list, but they might just help you turn your body, health and even your entire life around, and they’ll do it a lot faster than the unscientific bullshit emanating from your favourite diet huckster. I know they’ve done just that for plenty of others:
I’m not asking you to believe anything I say just because I want you to. I wholeheartedly encourage you to do your own research and retrieve the references I cite to verify for yourself that they in fact say what I claim they do.
All I ask is that you refrain from acting like a reactionary, dogmatic wackopath just because I said something that doesn’t gel with what you’ve become comfortable believing.
By the way, doing your own research does not mean reading what I write, then reading something by someone who claims the opposite, then reading something by someone else who says something entirely different again, then watching a couple of shamelessly deceptive Youtube clips, then scratching your head in a perpetual state of confusion whining, “Gee, I don’t know who to believe!”
Doing your own research means just that – doing your own journal sleuthing in a systematic manner, not simply bouncing from one commentator to another in the hope you will eventually find someone who can fulfill your need to be convinced and save you the discomfort of thinking for yourself.
My experiences in this lunatic asylum that masquerades as the diet and health arena have demonstrated time and time again that, for many folks, it is a place where evangelism and cultism reign supreme. When you go off your rocker because someone matter-of-factly questioned the veracity of your favourite diet beliefs, then guess what? You’re much more than an adherent of a certain diet – you’re a religious zealot.
And, being forthrightly critical of just about every diet fad out there, I attract the ire of a lot of zealots, the most vocal of all being low-carbers and vegans.
Screw ’em. I’m supposed to stay silent despite knowing full well the things I see and hear are often complete flapdoodle? If that’s the way you feel, crawl back to your little fantasy world and leave the rest of us alone.
What all you brainwashed cultists should wake up to is the fact that your gurus are often in appalling physical condition themselves, and tend to have shorter-than-average life expectancies (Pritikin, Atkins, Airola, Davis, the list goes on…and on). And what’s really regrettable is that most of them formulate their theories and excitedly write their best-selling books well before the long-term adverse effects of their diets kick in.
Remember the runaway 1980s best-seller Fit For Life by Marilyn and Harvey Diamond? It was pretty adamant that animal foods were seriously bad stuff and best avoided. In fact, their follow-up book, Living Health, was downright histrionic in its denunciation of animal foods. Fast forward a couple of decades to March of this year, and we have Marilyn admitting “I lived for the better part of 20 years on a plant protein and fat diet, and I almost died.”
Now listen – I’m not trying to belittle Marilyn. To the contrary, I applaud her for having a great deal more honesty than most other diet gurus, who either keep their not-so-glowing health status a secret or attempt to rationalize it away when it does become public, even when it was pretty damn obvious their diet was the cause.
What I do find regrettable is that so many people keep falling for The Honeymoon Effect of a new diet. As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. I got fooled once by the initial favourable effects of my low-carb diet; never again. Unfortunately, like a woman who finds herself repeatedly attracted to smooth-talking assholes who then proceed to treat her like crap, some folks just can’t seem to break the alluring spell of a new fad diet.
To help these folks out, here’s a brilliant and humorous piece by Matt Stone to help you recognize the dietary honeymoon effect before it turns you into another victim of the diet charlatans:
Anyway folks, I better wind this up. All this talking about myself has made me hungry. And my pooch is yearning for a bit of fresh air. I hope you enjoyed the official story of Anthony Colpo and how he came to have a website that you are now reading with such keen interest (well, you made it his far without dozing off, didn’t you?)
Before I go, I’ve just been told I should include a bit of trivial personal info to give my bio a “human interest” aspect.
Huh? What is this, Women’s bloody Weekly?
Alright, please yourself…here ya go:
My interests include cycling, weight training, MMA, writing, researching, live music, things that go fast, and shopping for boots and bike bling on ebay.
Other regular pastimes include annoying vegans and die-hard low-carbers. The more the better. Actually, I don’t deliberately set out to do this, it’s just a consequence of their own irrationality, gullibility, and unwavering dogmatism. Eating idiotic diets that starve their brains of key nutrients probably doesn’t help either.
Hey look! Another 10 vegans just smashed their computer screens!
Interesting things you didn’t know about me:
–I talk to my dog like he actually understands what I’m saying.
–My boot collection is worth more than your car. And depending on where you live, it could be worth more than your house. I especially like boots made from exotic skins. Man, you have no idea how disappointed I was when I found out “Vegan” boots were simply boots made from synthetic materials and not dead vegans.
–When I was a kid, I almost accidentally burned down a chicken farm. No further comment.
There’s more fascinating stuff, but my Mum reads this website from time to time so I’ll just have to leave it at that.
Oh, and I was also told many moons ago to include photos of myself so people know that I’m a real person who practices what he preaches, and not some flabby Internet lard-ass who lives on a diet of ice cream and donuts while masquerading as a diet and health expert. So to that end, see below.
The infamous photo that caused at least one unhinged vegan to fly into a jealous rage and accuse me of using pharmaceutical substances of an anabolic nature. I guess when you’re built like a broomstick and bench press less than most girls, any bloke over 80kg looks like a massive ‘roid monster LOL.
Anyway, it’s been fun spilling my guts to you, now I have to go take Ramone the Studliest Dog in the World for a walk. Yeah, watch out bitchez! No, no, no, I didn’t mean it like that…I meant bitches as in female dogs. Ramone’s a bit of a ladies man
Alright folks, I’m outta here. Feel free to hang around and check out my website while I’m gone.