Sep 2011 14
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Winning athletes, like Australia's 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, thrive on carbs. Lots of them.

KellySaysWhat Embraces the Carbs after Reading The Fat Loss Bible

My last Reader Mail segment featured an apology to yours truly by former critic and Colpo-disliker Kelly Mahoney from KellySaysWhat. As part of the traditional olive-branch ceremony I conduct when wayward low-carbers finally see the light and renounce their Colpo-hating ways, I offered Kelly a free copy of The Fat Loss Bible ebook. Here are his thoughts:

Hi Anthony,

I finished reading FLB...

Regarding style, your writing style is clear and understandable. I have found other nutrition books hard to follow when they cite many research papers. That wasn't the case with FLB. I didn't take the time to follow up on those citations for myself. That would take months if not years for me to tackle. Pulling all of that information together must have been an enormous task. As with any singular scientific report, there is room for interpretation, which is why I particularly liked how you grouped many papers together to consider the message as a whole body of work. There is no questioning your overall interpretation: a calorie deficit is necessary for weight loss. Again, other nutrition books that I have read recently seem to leave wiggle room, or keep you guessing about their underlying weight loss principles until late in the book. I won’t mention names, but you refer to them as "diet gurus" in FLB.

Regarding content, your book's title was initially a turn-off for me but you lay out a plan that is so detailed and yet so clear that I can appreciate how you refer to it as a bible of fat loss. Since reading FLB, I've also read Paleo Diet for Athletes which has a similar message about the necessity for carbs in endurance competition. Of course, there are some major differences between the two books. Most notably, PDFA recommends avoiding saturated fats. And, although PDFA does give some examples of nutrition plans, I was more impressed with FLB's detailed calculations on macronutrient calorie intake requirements based on categories of calorie expenditures.

I do have one criticism which I think you will agree with. In chapter 15, it would be better to remove the paragraph that states the obese subjects in Phinney's research should have worn weighted backpacks to compensate for their weight loss while preforming the endurance test. As you have already noted on your blog recently, they did wear weighted backpacks. However, I believe Phinney said in his 2004 review article that the endurance improvement was confounded by the weight loss (even when compensated) which prompted him to do the subsequent study with the trained cyclists. For me, the conclusions are the same though regardless of the weighted backpacks. The tests were done at low to moderate intensity where fat burning is more critical than depletion of muscle glycogen. In this sense, my criticism is minor as the overall message remains the same that ketogenic diets are not optimal for endurance activities. Previously, I believed gluconeogenesis (the result of a ketogenic diet) was a sound endurance fuel, but both FLB and PDFA agree that it's an inefficient fuel source and impedes muscle recovery. That makes sense.

Perhaps the best compliment that I can give you, Anthony, is that after reading FLB, I have changed my diet to include a lot more carbs from fruit and starches. I'll blog about the specifics in the coming weeks. Thanks for the splash of cold water on this long distance runner.

Best Regards,


Anthony replies:

Hey Kelly,

good to hear from you mate, thanks for taking the time to write with your kind and thoughtful appraisal.

As for the title, I'm not at all religious but I felt it pretty much summed up what the book was designed to be - an all-encompassing guide to fat loss. I think it pretty much covers everything, with perhaps the exception of "metabolic damage" which really is a whole other topic in itself and ideally should be treated with the personal guidance of a knowledgeable expert. If someone has truly pounded their hormonal/adrenal/thyroid network into the ground, extensive testing is often required to ferret out exactly what hormonal irregularities and nutritional deficiencies are taking place.

The Paleo Diet for Athletes does indeed recommend higher carb intakes than most other Paleo tomes, but as you note that's pretty much where the similarities with The Fat Loss Bible end. PDFA tries to concentrate the increased carb intake during and after athletic training and events. I dropped that approach years ago, and subsequently updated The Fat Loss Bible to reflect the new approach, which is much more in line with the work of leading exercise physiologists like Louise Burke.

After posting my comments about Phinney's studies in the August 5 Reader Mail segment, I also updated Chapter 15, but there was a time lag between posting the article and realizing that the erroneous backpack information was still sitting in the ebook. You'll need to take a few minutes to re-download the book to ensure you have the very latest amended version.

"Perhaps the best compliment that I can give you, Anthony, is that after reading FLB, I have changed my diet to include a lot more carbs from fruit and starches. I'll blog about the specifics in the coming weeks. Thanks for the splash of cold water on this long distance runner."

Kelly, I'm both flattered and delighted that the book has made such an impact on you. Be sure to send me the links as you post your blog entries and let me know, as you bump up your carb intake, if you need any help with anything or come across any issues that need clarifying.

And hey, we can all do with a good splash of cold water every now and then. It's a healthy thing to review your beliefs in an impartial manner, and to change them in the face of solid evidence. It's a pity so many people do just the opposite, stubbornly burying their head in the sand and getting angry at those who present information that challenges their cherished paradigms.



The book that rescues people from years of low-carb brainwashing. Get your copy here.

How the Hell Did You Conclude From a Study that Showed Higher Cholesterol Reduced Stroke Risk that Higher Cholesterol Reduced Stroke Risk?!

Adnaan S writes:

The study you mentioned on your site ( actually has total cholesterol as a major risk factor for stroke.

So where did you get this from? - "Total cholesterol levels didn’t make a whit of difference to coronary heart disease risk, and were in fact associated with a lower risk of stroke."

Adnaan S

Anthony replies:

Where did I get that from?

You clearly have not read the full text of the study, but even the abstract you link to says "The major risk factors for stroke cholesterol (HR per SD=0.78; 0.69-0.89)."

A hazard ratio of 0.78 per standard deviation means that increasing cholesterol levels were inversely associated with stroke risk (to the tune of -22% relative risk per SD).

Total cholesterol was a major risk factor alright - a reduced risk factor.

BMJ has a great series available online called How to Read a Paper. I'd highly recommend you read it.

And after you've done that, I suggest you grab yourself a copy of The Great Cholesterol Con and learn why this was hardly the first study to find an inverse relationship between cholesterol and stroke risk. As I discuss in that book, study after study has shown higher cholesterol levels are associated with a lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke (in the Hamer study, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke were not differentiated).

Fruit versus Fructose: They’re NOT the Same Thing

R writes:

I only consume raw, organic cane sugar or raw organic honey (mainly with coffee and nothing else and I have 1 or 2 coffees a day maximum, if that) but I eat and consume lots of organic fruits and fruit juices (nothing added). How bad is that in terms of my fructose consumption? I work out a minimum of 5 days a week and am physically active and moving 7 days a week.

It's just that so many people are telling me not to consume fruits and fruit juices but I simply cannot believe that natural organic fruit can be bad for me...



Anthony replies:

Hey R,

before I answer, I’d strongly recommend reading this review from Gaby, it's one of the more balanced reviews I've come across on the topic:

The key thing to remember when trying to make sense of this whole fruit/fructose issue is that fruit and fructose are not the same thing. People talk about them interchangeably as if they are one and the same, and that's patently false.

Fructose and high fructose corn syrup are refined simple sugars with essentially no nutritional value aside from their caloric content. Humans did not begin eating these simple sugars in their refined state until industrialization gave us the technology to do so.

Fruit is a natural food that contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals, and antioxidants (the exact levels of these depending on the type of fruit, variety, growing conditions, soil nutrient content, etc). Humans have been eating fruit for millions of years, as have the primates we descended from.

Throughout evolution, some ethnicities evolved in areas with different types and availabilities of fruits, so individual tolerance of amounts and different types of fruits varies. Best advice I can give on this point is listen to your body. If you thrive on whatever intake of fruit you are currently consuming, then my advice would be to ignore all the geniuses who tell you fruit will kill you. But if fruit makes you bloated, gassy and has you farting like a cow, maybe it's time to review your intake.

As Gaby points out, large intakes of fructose in powdered/liquid form permit blood levels of fructose that would never be seen with normal fruit consumption, so the harmful effects of fructose-induced glycosylation you may have heard about are from studies involving refined fructose. (Glycosylation or glycation refer to the 'cross-linking' of sugars like fructose or glucose with bodily proteins. High blood sugar levels send glycosylation rates soaring and are a major reason why diabetics undergo accelerated aging, experience so much organ damage and suffer higher rates of just about degenerative ailment you can think of. Research shows that fructose is even more glycosylative than glucose).

So my advice would be keep eating fruit. Items like pomegranates, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries have been shown to have very high antioxidant levels. And they taste damn good.

The only thing I would caution against is fruit juice intake. While fruit juice is invariably more nutrient-dense than soft drink, they have similar effects on blood sugar. In other words, they are both liquid sources of sugar that will send your blood sugar level spiking upwards. Because it's been liquified, juice no longer provides the slow steady release of carbs that whole fruit does. Even if you blend the whole fruit including the fibrous pulp, you've still broken down the structural matrix of the fiber and paved the way for more rapid release of sugar into your bloodstream.

The important exception to the no-juice rule is after a workout. At this point, rapidly absorbed sources of sugar are actually beneficial as they assist in replenishing glycogen stores. After a hard ride, I'll often wash down 500ml of pomegranate juice, with or without added dextrose as necessary, which provides me with at least 75g of carbs and a bunch more antioxidants than a concoction made purely from dextrose.



It's disingenuous to discuss perfectly natural fruits and highly refined fructose as if they are one and the same.

MCTs, Coconut Oil and Building Muscle

Imee writes:

Dear Anthony,

You are one of the reliable nutrition and fitness experts (along with Lyle McDonald, Alan Aragon and James Krieger) whose articles I read and trust because you can back up what you say with scientific research.

I am a student studying fitness and nutrition and some of the information my lecturers provide are outdated and inaccurate (eg, eating low cholesterol), so discovering your site helped me understand the truth about nutrition better and I also learned how to properly look at scientific journals. So Thanks!!

I am writing to you because I would like your input on two things:

1. The basic composition of a weight gaining/bulking diet and exercise plan should be.
What are your thoughts on MCTs and coconut fat?

Apologies if you have covered these topics before. You are a busy man and I will totally understand if you do not have time to address my questions. However, I would very grateful if you could.



Anthony replies:

Hi Imee,

thanks for your kind email, I'm flattered that you like my site and have found it helpful.

I intend to do an article on MCTs and coconut oil when time permits. Coconut oil and MCTs were all the rage several years back, then the mania died down... but lately I've been getting a few emails about them, so maybe interest is being rekindled in them somewhere out there in Cyberia.

In a nutshell, I think coconut oil is a healthy fat, but there's nothing "magical" about it. Any metabolism-boosting effect appears short-lived and seems to vanish after 2 weeks. There may however be a slight satiety advantage over the longer term.

MCT oil is not the same as coconut's what is left over after all the lauric acid has been extracted for use in other products. It was originally pimped as an ergogenic supplement for athletes and bodybuilders, but the original research showing endurance enhancement in stationary cycling was not validated.

Basic composition of a bulking diet? Well, a caloric surplus of sufficient magnitude to induce weight gain is the most critical requirement. Sounds obvious but it's amazing how many people out there seem to be trying to get shredded and massive at the same time. That's like trying to lift a bucket while you're standing in it.

Around a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is an effective rule of thumb, fat and carbohydrate content will need to be manipulated to suit your own digestive capabilities, glycemic status and training volume. The longer, harder and faster you train, the more carbs you'll need. Too much fat may slow gastric emptying time to the point where you don't get enough meals/calories in each day.

If you want muscle growth, I would avoid low-carb diets like the plague.

As for training...oh boy...let's just say that if you ask 20 different "experts" you'll get 20 different answers. I personally have found the Serious Growth programs to work well for a wide variety of trainees. If you are young, have good recuperation, have plenty of time to train, have little trouble getting in plenty of calories, and are hellbent on putting on some quick muscle, the 6-day a week, 2 x a day programs can work real well.

If you are a little older, have a busy schedule, have suffered adrenal fatigue at some point, or just plain can't be stuffed spending half your life in a gym, then an intelligently constructed full body routine can work a treat. Whatever routine I design, I always shoot for 3 x a week frequency for each bodypart. Frequency is real important. 1 exercise per bodypart, 3-6 sets per exercise. I often vary the reps each workout, e.g. Monday 8-10 reps, Wed 6-8 reps, Friday 5-6 reps.

Stick with the basics - squats, deadlifts, bench, Pendlay rows, DB rows, pulldowns/chins, power cleans/hang cleans, good mornings, glute ham raise, stiff leg deadlifts, plus some bi, tri, neck and ab work. Be a stickler for excellent technique, don't loosen up your form to get extra reps and avoid all this "beyond failure" nonsense. Take a set to the point where you can't complete another rep in excellent form and stop.



Sharon Tate marvels at the pecs of the legendary "Blonde Bomber" Dave Draper. Women are fascinated by muscles, which is why so many guys are obsessed with building them.

Imee replies:

Thanks for clearing the air a little on coconut oil and MCTs. I hope you do write the article on MCTs!

With regards to a weight-gaining diet, don't worry, I am not bulking on low carb and have no intention to. Taking your advice to try and maintain good form and to not go beyond failure, both of which I have problems achieving since I tend to have the mentality that I should "feel" half dead by the end of a workout, so I just keep pushing.

I enjoyed your recent articles responding to Martin. Clearly he has a product to sell (his Leangains IF protocol). I think one thing Martin managed to do is help remove the dogma belief that you need to eat every 3 hours or your metabolism will drop and your muscles will fall off. However, after reading your articles, I realize he is not as honest as I had thought. Seems like he tries to make it appear fasted cardio = intermittent fasting, which you have explained is not the same thing. Furthermore, it appears he tries to make it seem that Alan Aragon supports IF when really after reading Alan's article, it  just shows that he believes meal timing has little significant value with regards to body composition. Nowhere did Alan say that IF was superior.

Anyway, keep up the good work. Looking forward to reading more of your articles!


Anthony replies:

Years ago, I used to have the kind of mentality that saw me viewing every single workout as a test of my manhood. I considered stopping a set short of anything less than temporary paralysis of the target muscle as a sign that someone could be, you know, a little on the effeminate side. If my muscles weren't in searing, blowtorch-like pain during the last few reps of a set, I'd actually stand there recounting the set, wondering where I'd went wrong.

That was a long time ago, and I'm much wiser nowadays. I wish that instead of striving for Rambo-like kamikaziness on every set, I focused on maintaining picture perfect form on every rep, and stopped a set when I could no longer complete a set in near-perfect anatomical form. I'm sure my adrenal glands and my rotator cuffs would have been eternally grateful.

Another thing I'd explain to my younger self if I could travel back in time is there's a time to haul ass and there's a time to drop things down a gear or two and consolidate your recent gains. Training flat out week in, week out might make one feel like they have a heroic work ethic, but it's a surefire path to burnout. Few people can successfully train with the kind of high volume sufficient to produce optimal results in the weight room for more than 3-4 weeks straight...which is why the best routines include periods of high volume interspersed with periods of lower volume. Heck, if world-class athletes can benefit from periodization and deloads, then there's little reason to believe us mere mortals can train all-out all the time and get away with it.

Regarding Martin Berkhan, his reliance on fasted cardio studies seems to be a common theme at his blog, so I guess he really needs to decide what he's all about: fasted cardio, or intermittent fasting? The two are not the same. As for Alan's alleged change of stance, I read his post the same way you did. Admitting that maybe something doesn't suck as bad as you once thought it did isn't exactly tantamount to an enthusiastic open-arm embrace.

Now excuse me while I go buy one of those gizmos you use to check under your car for bombs...



Dean Karnazes’ High-Carb Slow-Carb Diet

Frank writes:

Hi Anthony,

just read your recent post regarding Dean Karnazes and how your favourite doctor 😉 attempted to claim him as a low-carber. Dean Karnazes – a low-carber!?! After I cleared the tears of laughter from my eyes, I reached for my copy of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes and thought I’d share with you the following tidbits:

From page 282 in the Epilogue (I’ve got the expanded version): “Broadly, my diet consists of 40 percent of my daily calories coming from carbohydrates (primarily complex carbs), 30 percent coming from protein, and 30 percent coming from fats…”

Now, if you calculate 40 percent of the 4,000+calories an extremely active runner like Dean would need just to maintain his weight, you get…light years away from low-carb.

So that’s “broadly” his diet, but as you know, Dean spends a lot of time running, and when he’s running he devours carbs like there’s no tomorrow. The book includes his food log from the 199-mile Relay he ran in 2000 – solo! It includes: “PowerBar, Slurpee, Pizza, Banana, Grilled chicken sandwich, Dorritos (large bag), Cheesecake, Chocolate chip cookie, Cinnamon bun, Peanut butter and honey sandwich, Burrito (large beef), Smoothie, Pretzels, Wrap (Thai chicken), Chocolate mat (large), Ice cream sandwich, Macaroni and cheese, Chocolate éclair, Doughnut, Trail Mix, French fries, Chocolate espresso beans, Pedialyte.”

Diet info aside, it’s a very inspiring and entertaining book. Highly recommend it if you come across a copy.

Keep up the great work!


Anthony replies:

Hi Frank,

I think it’s pretty clear Dean Karnazes is about as much a low-carber as a politician is honest. There’s simply no way he could do what he does plodding along in a glycogen-depleted, ketotic funk.

The man is a dynamo – I’ve just been reading how he completed 50 marathons in 50 days (!), and he sure as heck didn’t do it on pork rinds and beef tallow:



Anthony Colpo is an independent researcher, physical conditioning specialist, and author of the groundbreaking books The Fat Loss Bible and The Great Cholesterol Con. For more information, visit or

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