NEWSLETTER #5
EVO.TEE
EVOLUTIONARY THINKING, EATING AND EXERCISING

30th October 2015
Reading time: 9 minutes


This newsletter was going to be short and sweet but I failed miserably! I've had a busy week moving house and spending some time away in Wales. 

I hope you are all ready for the winter ahead. Being a bit of a freak I quite like the cold. This winter I plan on swimming in a reservoir once a week at least!

I'm also looking forward to some exciting things to come with my business and moving into a new house with my sister. She is expanding her business and we're moving into a much bigger house that will double as a dog boarding house. It's a lot of fun to be around Jess, she has genuine passion to go and create what she's always dreamt of. And that gets me fired up to do the same!

Remember if you have any health queries, please don't hesitate to get in touch at james@evotee.co.uk


Thinking - who cares what they think!

This year a friend introduced me to this website, Wait but Why. It is incredibly funny, entertaining and educational! You won’t be disappointed.

After my introduction, I soon tore through every article on the site. Today I’ll touch on just one and invite you to read it now or over the weekend. If this article doesn't apply to you, I’d love to hear from you!


Taming the Mammoth: Why you should stop caring what other people think.

This topic is a defining paranoia of the human species. We share a collective insanity that pervades human cultures throughout the world: An irrational and unproductive obsession with what other people think of us.



...humans evolved an over-the-top obsession with what others thought of them - a craving for social approval and admiration, and a paralyzing fear of being disliked.
— Waitbutwhy.com

The reason why we give so many shits is because this behaviour helped us survive. We evolved in small social groups. We now live in towns and cities and work in much larger social circles. This problem is universal but it's also exacerbated when living in a consumer based society. If you suffer from caring too much I hope this article will soothe your pain and offer a solution!

So if you’re curious about why you care so much about what other people think of you check it out here:

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/06/taming-mammoth-let-peoples-opinions-run-life.html

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/06/taming-mammoth-let-peoples-opinions-run-life.html


Eating: Vitamin D supplementation guides

A few weeks ago we took a look at vitamin D (click here if you missed it). Afterwards, some of you asked me what the best supplement was and how much to take, so here are a few answers.

First a quick recap. Vitamin D is a powerful hormone with many health benefits. It also plays a significant role in the ageing process. Here are the headlines:

  • Vitamin D deficiency is common because up to 90% of vitamin D is made when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
  • Lots of us are staying inside too much or covering up with sunscreen when outside.
  • A vitamin D deficiency is bad for bone health (Rickets) and increases the speed of ageing.
  • Vitamin D is a hormone that helps code for over 1000 genes.

What's discussed below is for informational purposes only. Over supplementing can be as bad as being nutrient deficient. The safest way to ensure your health is to work alongside a medical professional. Many supplement companies cut corners to provide us with affordable products.

For the last year I’ve been taking this supplement:

vit_D.jpg

You can find it here on Amazon where I often buy supplements.

I’ve been taking between 5,000 and 10,000 IU’s for about a year now. I vary my dose depending on how I feel and my circumstances. What follows are some instructions to help you understand why I do what I do.


Benefits of Testing

Testing is the only way to know if we need to supplement or not. It's also the only way to know if the supplements we are taking are having an impact on our physiology.

Depending on your circumstances it might be possible to get your Vitamin D tested via an NHS doctor. If not then I recommend exploring other avenues. I’ve just ordered a Vitamin D test, which I've been meaning to do for a while now. Testing Vitamin D is affordable and simple. I ordered a test kit online for £28 that's delivered to your door. You send off the completed test to the lab and they send you the results within a few days.

Quantified Self

Welcome to the world of quantified self. A movement of people taking responsibility for testing and tracking their own health. Done by people who are willing to invest in their health. They want to increase their chances of being healthy as they age. Perhaps because they’re not happy to succumb to the adage:

“Some thing’s got to kill you so you might as well enjoy yourself.”

The idea is that you test your physiology to get a better idea of exactly what is going on. Once you know your baseline data you intervene with a supplement or lifestyle protocol. Then retest yourself to see the impact of the intervention.

Vitamin D testing

For vitamin D, we would test our exact serum (blood) levels then begin a supplement protocol. After a few months you'd retest to see the impact of the protocol. Depending on the results you'd then increase, decrease or maintain the supplement dosage. Then test and retest where necessary.

In the case of vitamin D we are aiming for is serum levels between 30-80 ng/ml. Of course it goes without saying that it is our own responsibility to work out what is best for us. If you want to know how to tell if you're supplementing too much then click here to learn more.

Below is a graph to give you a better understanding: 


Not testing

As Paul Chek often says, “if you’re not assessing, you’re guessing.” But I think there is a way to supplement vitamin D without testing. For many of us the idea of testing is too complicated but popping a pill once a day is much more manageable. So here’s how to navigate in the dark!

Most vitamin D supplements on the market suggest a daily dose of 5,000 IU, that’s one tablet in most cases. So it’s possible to just stick to this information and use it as an insurance policy. A bit like an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

5,000 IU is 2500% of the British recommended daily allowance (RDA)! The RDA is not a recommendation based on good health. It’s a recommendation on how to avoid getting Rickets! Quite a difference.

I found the NHS guidelines lacking. The evidence suggests that many of us are vitamin D deficient. Yet the advice they give suggests we can get enough vitamin D from a balanced diet and some summer sun exposure.

Their view is based on avoiding disease not optimising health. For me this information is just too vague. They also suggest not taking any more than 25 mg if supplementing. But vitamin D supplements are measured in International Units (IU’s).

The National Institute of Medicine (NIM) has a tolerable upper intake for adults at 4,000 IU. Vitamin D can be toxic at high doses so show some caution. The data suggests that vitamin D toxicity is obtained at doses higher than 10,000 IU for adults. So I make sure I never exceed this dosage. Remember the saying the ‘dose makes the poison.’

Any authority guidelines will have a built in safety margin. They're aimed at an average person. In essence they are conservative. So only if you are at the small end of the spectrum you should take care. For example the vitamin D requirements and tolerances for a 6ft 10” man are much higher than a 5ft 3” female. For that reason common sense must be used. A guideline is a just a guideline.

In summary our safe zone is between 0 and 10,000 IU. Taking too little isn't bad for us, but it might not increase our serum levels. Sometimes we need to up the dose to move the needle. But knowing how much requires testing.

Factors affecting dosage

It is possible to judge how much we need depending on our lifestyle, age, race and weight. The following factors affect how much vitamin we produce.

  • Skin pigmentation - melanin, the pigment in skin, is a natural sunscreen. Darker skin blunts the our ability to make vitamin D.
  • Age - the older we are the less efficiently we make vitamin D. A 70 year old makes 4 times less vitamin D than a 20 year old.
  • Body fat - higher body fat percentages prevents vitamin D from being released into the blood. Obese individuals have been shown to have 50% less bio-available vitamin D compared to non obese individuals.
  • Exposure to the sun - spending all day indoors and rarely letting our skin see the sun dramatically decreases our ability to make vitamin D.
  • The latitude we live at - In the UK, UVB rays from the sun are only strong enough to make vitamin D during the summer and part of spring and autumn. Exposure to the sun in the winter carries no benefit. Whereas in climates closer to the equator we can make vitamin D all year round.

The research on how much sun exposure is enough is unclear. Some suggests that just 15 minutes of sun exposure can be enough. Some suggest exposing legs and arms is enough others suggest being bare chested. All I know is that for many thousands of years we didn't wear suits and ties!

I noticed a big difference from living overseas in a climate with more sunshine! My skin has always seemed healthier when I spent more time in the sun.

Now we know what affects how well we make vitamin D we can judge how much to take. For most of us the safest bet is just to take 5,000 IU a day and leave it there. But if we are deficient in vitamin D taking just 5,000 IU a day might only move the needle a little. It might be necessary to take higher doses to bring you up to your own sweet spot.

Conclusion

The important thing to note here is that a daily vitamin D supplement will improve your health. How much you take is up to you and the only way to be sure is to test or work with a health professional. But if you’re not going to test show some caution, you could be doing more harm than good.


Exercising - weight loss mistakes

There are two myths in the fat loss world that I’d like to address here to help you shift a few pounds!

  1. Doing steady state exercise burns fat.
  2. Doing CV work before strength work is best.

Fat burning zone

Too many of us perform steady state exercise in the hope of burning fat.

When we want to lose weight we often begin a new exercise programme. The cheapest and easiest exercise is jogging around the block. Although there are health benefits to this, fat loss is harder to come buy this way.

Slow jogging is a steady state exercise. Steady state exercises could be low intensity jogging, swimming, rowing or cycling. Any type of exercise where the demand for energy is met by the supply. What this looks like physically is a steady heart rate and comfortable breathing rate. If you can talk with ease whilst exercising then it is steady state exercise.

The myth is that by performing steady state exercise you are working in the fat burning zone. I.e. for every minute you exercise you are burning fat. Unfortunately this myth is not true. It takes about half an hour for the body to just break down fat and even then it's not quite that simple.

If given the choice, the body will always burns sugar over fat. It’s just easier for the body. Burning fat requires a lot of oxygen and it can take some time to get enough oxygen into every single muscle cell.

A more beneficial way to burn fat is to perform high intensity interval training. This is any activity that requires us to work at very high intensities. Each bout of high intensity is followed by low intensity rest. This is then repeated over and over. Not only is the energy demand higher but there is a second benefit. It causes a temporary increase in metabolism for up to 24-36 hours later. It also causes hormones to shift in favour of muscle building and fat burning.


Doing CV before strength work

A lot of people jump on the treadmill before picking up the weights. Doing cardiovascular work (full body jogging, rowing cycling etc.) before strength work is counter productive.

Here are some reasons for this:

  • Performing CV work before strength work can tire certain muscles out. This makes you weaker and less stable during strength work.
  • Muscle pH decreases (becomes more acidic) after CV work. This inhibits the recruitment of high threshold muscle fibres. Muscle fibres you need for strength work
  • Performing steady state exercise after strength work burns more fat. Fat burning pathways are ready due to previous strength work. Also the carbohydrate stores in the muscle are lower, fat oxidation has to pick up the slack.

I hope these tips are useful, if there is anything else you would like me to talk about don't hesitate to get in touch at james@evotee.co.uk


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