5 reasons the dumbbell workout is the best for building muscles

In this article we will go over what we believe are the Top Reasons Why the Dumbbell Workout is the Best Workout… for ANY level.

A Dumbbell Workout will leave you more elbow room

Unless you plan on investing in a wide assortment of dumbbells of all weights and sizes, these mini muscle builders generally take up far less space in your house than your average home gym.

If even that sounds too cumbersome, you can also opt for a pair of adjustable dumbbells that let you add or remove weight plates to create whatever load you need.

There are also more space-friendly models—called selectorized adjustable dumbbells—that can reduce the amount of space an entire set of dumbbells normally takes up.

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These types of dumbbells keep all of the weight plates in one convenient spot—usually on a sturdy rack—with each plate resting inside the other like a stack of cups.

These fancier models let you add as much or as little weight as you need with just a change of a pin, a turn of a dial, or a press of a button (depending on which type of selectorized dumbbell set you buy).

I’ll explain the differences among all three styles of Dumbbell Workout equipment later, but regardless of which type works best for you, all three are great bets if you like your home exercise convenient when you’re doing it—and out of plain sight when you’re not.

Vince Gironda Prone-Dumbbell Rowing

The Dumbbell Workout gives your arms their independence

In a world where most things these days do not feel free….. At least your arms can be!

Most of the exercise machines you’ll find in gyms and health clubs require you to use both hands to push or pull a weight this way or that way. Even a barbell still requires you to use both hands for nearly every exercise you can do with it.

Dumbbell workouts give your arms independence to move

But how often do you ask your arms to perform the same task at the same time? Maybe that’s the case when you pick up a box, for example, but there are virtually millions of daily tasks—grabbing a suitcase, throwing a ball, holding a child, pulling on a stuck door, etc.—that have you using one arm instead of two.

That’s what makes almost any Dumbbell Workout ideal for strengthening your body in the same way that you use it all day long.

Lifting dumbbells allows you to do what experts call “unilateral” training. In layman’s terms, it’s when you train one limb (an arm or a leg) at a time.

Not only does this allow you to train your muscles in the way you typically use them throughout the day, but it also helps make up for any imbalances you may already have. You see, most people have one arm—and one leg—that’s stronger than the other.

That may not mean much to you, but it means a world of difference to your body. That’s because your muscles develop and grow to their fullest potential onlywhen they’re pushed beyond the stresses that they’re used to.

Using machines and barbells—which force you to use both arms at the same time—can rob your weaker arm of results by having your stronger arm do more of the work when you exercise.

Conversely, your stronger arm can also get cheated out of results, especially if your weaker arm tires out first as you exercise.

Because machine and barbell exercises require you to use both hands, your stronger arm never gets pushed hard enough to evoke as many muscle-building changes, leaving it less developed than it could be.

This effect doesn’t just pertain to arm exercises but all upper-body exercises because you need your arms to train your back, chest, and shoulders.

Dumbbells allow each arm to work independently—when one arm gets too tired, the other can usually keep going, depending on the exercise.

A solid Dumbbell Workout will improve your overall balance

Sitting nice and comfortably in a gym exercise machine may help you focus on nothing but the muscles you’re looking to train when you use it, but it doesn’t teach those same muscles to work with the rest of your body the way working out with dumbbells does.

Yet another advantage to using a pair of dumbbells to pull off the same exercises instead.

Working out with dumbbells—especially when you work one arm or one leg at a time—overloads your proprioceptive muscles as they try to keep your body stable during many commonly unstable exercises.

This leaves them working just as hard as the muscles you’re trying to reshape and rebuild, improving your sense of balance and coordination naturally as a side benefit.

This “extra effort” your body has to exert using dumbbells is the main reason why you can never seem to lift as much weight using two dumbbells as you can when using a barbell or a machine.

Dumbbell workouts help with learning balance

But don’t worry, because it doesn’t matter how much weight you lift to exhaust your muscles; the point is to exhaust them so they respond in turn by improving themselves—either by getting stronger, bigger, leaner, etc.

A great Dumbbell Workout is equally effective at accomplishing that goal, with better balance being another perk that indirectly comes along for the ride.

Check out this 8×8 workout that will blast your muscles to the next level!

The Dumbbell Workout offers you safer workout

Some people believe that dumbbells are the most unsafe piece of equipment for lifting, and that expensive gym machines and barbells are easier to handle and can be grabbed at a moment’s notice by a spotter.

However, the truth is dumbbells can be far safer for you for several reasons.

As I mentioned, while you can’t use as much weight when using dumbbells compared to doing the same exercise on a machine or with a barbell, your body still sees the same muscle-building results.

From a safety standpoint, not having to use as much weight to exhaust your muscles means less wear and tear on your body, especially for your joints and your spine.

Machines and barbells also limit your body’s range of motion by forcing you to push or pull along a specific pathway.

For example, if you sat down at a machine, grabbed a pair of handles by your shoulders, and pressed them upward, your muscles would have to move the weight in the exact direction the handles require you to move them.

Sit down and grab a barbell and you have a little bit more flexibility to adjust yourself by either moving your arms an inch or two either backward or forward as you press the weight up.

However, your hands still stay spaced the same distance from each other as you press and lower the barbell.

The problem with limiting your range of motion is that it causes your muscles and joints to work the same way over and over again.

This can make them more susceptible to repetitive-use injuries—nagging chronic issues caused by overusing certain parts of your body, especially the joints, for an extended period of time.

Additionally, the angle of these kinds of exercises may not be one where your body works its best.

With dumbbells, you are able to adjust each arm individually, letting you bring the weights forward or backward and closer in or farther apart.

This allows you to naturally align your arms as you raise and lower the weight. It also slightly changes where they are positioned each and every time you lift them, minimizing the amount of wear and tear on your joints.

Finally, dumbbells let you push your muscles to the limit without worrying if there’s a spotter around to rescue you from a barbell that’s too heavy for you.

Doing shoulder presses, bench presses, squats, and the other exercises you’ll find in this book using a barbell can be tricky, especially if you find yourself too tired to complete a repetition.

But with dumbbells, there are no bars to get trapped under. So long as you have a floor that can handle the shock, it’s easy enough to drop the weights if you find yourself too exhausted to control the weights properly.

You can use a Dumbbell Workout no-matter what your size is

As fancy as many gym exercise machines may be, most of them—as I just mentioned—force you to work within a specific range of motion.

However, many of them also force you to grab handles or lie down and adjust footpads and backrests that may or may not be the right width for your body type.

What many people don’t know is that most machines are built to accommodate the average-size person. But if you’re either above or below average height, your arms or legs are longer or shorter than average, or your shoulders are wider or more narrow than average, you’re at a biomechanical disadvantage when you work out on any machine that doesn’t accommodate you.

If you’ve ever used a machine that “just didn’t feel as comfortable as it should have,” odds are your range of motion was restricted because of your body type.

Even though most machines have adjustable seats, arm pads, and lever arms that aim to make them more comfortable to use, there are still limits to their range, and some may not fit the very small or very large person.

With a great Dumbbell Workout, your size doesn’t matter because they allow you to work within your own natural range of motion with every single exercise.

Thanks for reading our Dumbbell Workout article…. Don’t be a DUMMY in the gym!

Click for this Dumbbell Workout Guide

Hitting the dumbbells is like hitting new booty!

Because of all that versatility, your best bet for seeing consistent results from exercise—for life—starts with investing in dumbbells. Do you remember the first time you ever did something that required your undivided attention—like the day you couldn’t wait to learn how to drive, for example? Or every time you get new booty? Do you also remember how difficult it was when you first got behind the wheel, or under the sheets? Every part of your body felt like it was on edge as you tried to focus on everything—your “driving”, your surroundings, the road, etc.—all at once!

After a while, the excitement of driving suddenly disappeared, didn’t it? After doing it over and over again, it suddenly became easier and easier to do without your ever realizing it. You probably drive so instinctively now that you barely devote one-tenth as much attention to it as you did on that very first day. That is exactly how your muscles react when they are given the same exercises to do every single workout.

Exercise physiologists, strength coaches, and other exercise experts all agree that your muscles adapt to an exercise quickly—usually within performing the exercise four to six times. After that, they get bored and quickly learn how to do that exercise using less effort, less energy, and fewer muscle fibers.

The unfortunate outcome: You stop seeing results, no matter how long you keep exercising—weeks, months, even years. That’s the reason why most people hit a peak where, all of a sudden, their bodies stop improving like they once did when they first started an exercise program.

Even the slightest change to an exercise can make a huge difference that reminds your muscles to pay attention. Most home exercise machines allow you to do anywhere from 12 to 50 different exercises, but unfortunately, once you’re through with those, there’s really no room left to grow.

The versatility of dumbbells, however, allows you to switch any overdone exercise with hundreds of other similar options that constantly challenge your muscles. With thousands to choose from, it’s virtually impossible for your muscles to get bored.

Resolution to the Issue of Fat-Burning

We now have to address the notion that a muscle isn’t able to readily burn fat, preferring instead to burn carbohydrates. This, of course, is still the contention of J. P. Flatt and of most scientists. It’s also the basis of the argument against the high-fat diet and the basis for supporting the high-carbohydrate diet. In 1971, N. B. Ruderman showed that “ketone bodies are a major oxidative fuel when present in sufficient concentration, and acetoacetate serves as a fuel in preference to exogenous long-chain FFA and glucose.” In plain language, ketones are a form of fat and a muscle would rather burn ketones than fat released from the fat cell or blood sugar, glucose.

Science’s misunderstanding of this critical issue is a direct function of its reliance on the unworkable glucose-loving belief system. Boxed into this hole, science has remained incapable of understanding that the long-held belief that muscle can’t burn fat is not a fact. Muscle’s apparent inability to burn fat is a function of a lack of adaptation.

Science’s continued ignorance concerns this important truth of metabolism. It’s also an irrefutable indication that the bulk of the last half-century of scientific research on fuel use has been, in a sense, a waste. Not because nothing of value turned up, but because the interpretive process was driven by ideology, that is, the ideology of fitting the interpretation into a box: the glucose belief system. 

In a study I mentioned earlier by Dr. Stubbs, his group found that a reduction in carbohydrate intake to about 0% doesn’t lead to increases in food intake: “Our findings provide no support for the components of the Flatt model that propose that food intake is directly controlled by changes in glycogen status.” Flatt’s model is, of course, that carbohydrates and the body’s store of them as glycogen, control food intake. Stubb’s study presents the first contradiction to Flatt’s theory. As I’ve stated, the diets tested by scientists like Flatt are always high-fat and high-carbohydrate. In the cause of honesty, the scientist must use the correct term for that diet: high-fat and high-carbohydrate. It’s that diet that must be damned, surely not — not ever — the true, a true, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.

Let’s now close this chapter, this chapter in the book, but also the whole chapter in dietary science that has sought to understand what fuel humans use at the cellular level and how they use it. This gets us close to an understanding of the ultimate diet and to an understanding of exactly what one should eat, if, that is, he wants to eat optimally. Humans can survive eating almost anything, but the question that I’m addressing is what’s optimal in our quest of good health and long life.

Our purpose here has been to comprehend the cultural and scientific forces that have sought to convince us that man is primarily an eater of carbohydrates. The historical record, however, shows that man’s earliest movement toward an agricultural culture was a result of the depletion of his resources and of overwhelming economic forces. After this earliest period, food became an ever-more important consideration of his ever-more complex and complicated social engineering. With the advent of modern science, in the last several hundred years, investigations into how man has processed the foods he eats have become a matter of great interest; indeed, food has become one of the most important of our socio-cultural artifacts.

During the last fifty years, the science of nutrition has become strongly integrated with the art (not science) of medicine. There has been a melding of science with medicine so that now both have come to occupy the same campus and municipal buildings.

This union created an implicit monopoly that bedazzles the scientist almost as much as the layman. Today, it’s rare for anybody to trust his own instincts, observations, and experiences over those of the medical man, the scientist, or the scientific report: Until they have a scientific finding in their head, most people can’t, or won’t, act on their own instincts. Unfortunately, the conduits of these studies are lay writers or journalists, or even the medical man (not scientist); hence the “science” is usually garbled and confusing and, at best, misinforming.

One of the results of the mopping-up work of traditional science is the plethora of technical details that accrues to such work: technical details and, sometimes, important discoveries. Also, sometimes, yet-more glitches appear against the current beliefs.

A recent “discovery” that rewarded our harried researchers and technicians has been the development of the pulse-chase technique that measures the use by muscle of its stores of fat, intramuscular triglycerides. Importantly, the pulse-chase method allows researchers to measure fat that’s burned from within the muscle’s storage depot, as well as fat that arrives from the blood. This technique was first developed in 1997 and has settled an impasse of the last several decades: It allows researchers to partition the sources of fat that fuel exercise. It has been discovered that, during aerobic exercise, 62% of the muscle’s fuel comes from stored fat. In tests of more intense work — when a muscle is forced to contract strongly (weightlifting-type contractions) — 90% of the fuel comes from stored fat.

By now, 2021, all of the biochemical pathways and the substances that control them have been worked out. On-going research is looking at these issues in more detail, uncovering, in the process, the molecular and genetic basis for the production of protein enzymes. But, we don’t really need these discoveries to teach us what to eat and how to solve the obesity epidemic.

Mitochondria, as you now know, are organelles found inside cells. The cell’s powerhouses, mitochondria extract the energy from the food we eat. Mitochondria burn fat, carbohydrates, or a mixture of the two fuels. Two enzymes act as gatekeepers, delivering either fat or carbohydrate into mitochondria. These enzymes are reciprocally controlled: as one turns-on, the other turns-off. Each has a maximal low and high rate of activity, and everything in between. The pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) determines the rate of glucose entry into the mitochondria and carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT 1) determines the rate of fat entry.

Either enzyme can be inhibited or activated. In a recent study, high-fat/low-carbohydrate feeding for twenty-eight days led to a significant reduction in the ability of PDC to deliver glucose into mitochondria. This is the type of strong evidence that’s now developing about how diet regulates fuel flow at the enzymatic level. To choose an ideal diet, or an effective exercise program, one must understand the “mechanism of action” effected at the cellular level. My programs “reverse engineer” the choice of diet or exercise as dictated by cellular and enzyme function. First, we find out how the body works; when that’s understood, the strategy appropriate to that understanding and knowledge presents itself.

All existing diet and exercise programs are the result of an idea in someone’s head. Often the idea is rooted in some fragment of information possessed by that particular “someone.” More often, it’s agenda-based, arising from a strongly held belief system. The medical Establishment’s dietary recommendations are belief system-based; they’re not based on how things actually work in the body itself, particularly at the site of control, cellular enzymes.

The mechanism of action is dictated by what goes on inside the cell. In this formulation, cellular activity dictates the response at the whole body level.

As I’ve shown, fat is an important source of fuel during low- and moderate-intensity exercise. Taken together, feeding fat and exercise training increase the body’s ability to use fat while depressing the use of glucose and glycogen. A decades-long argument among nutrition scientists has its roots in the matter of fuel and its sources: fat and glucose from the blood, and fat (as intramuscular triglycerides) and glucose (as glycogen) from inside the tissues. Also involved in this heated debate is the question: At what intensity of exercise does fat burning slow down.

My argument, of course, has revolved around the idea that the slow burning of fat is simply a function of the body’s limited-ability to burn fat when it’s still carbohydrate-adapted. Even in Dr. Ruderman’s study, cited above, rat muscle preferred to burn ketone-fat, choosing it over fat in the blood and glucose; his animals were not fat-adapted but carbohydrate adapted, and they still chose to burn fat. This limited-fat-burning ability is simply a function of a reduction in the fat burning enzymes.

The body automatically reduces these enzymes when its exposure to fat is low or when its exposure to carbohydrate is above a threshold amount: higher than 25% of one’s total daily calorie intake. Predictably enough, the enzymes that process carbohydrates increase in response to carbohydrate eating. That fat is the primary fuel of the body is beyond dispute; if both fat feeding and exercise co-exist, then the body remodels itself, becoming in the process an efficient user of fat. Remodeling, of course, occurs in response to any mix of dietary fuels and is dependent upon the mix.

Resultant adaptations allow one to process most efficiently that which he eats. He won’t, however, experience a fat-adapted economy if he consumes fat along with carbohydrate. The fat-adapted economy can evolve only when carbohydrate restriction falls to a threshold at which carbs are about 25% or less of one’s total daily calorie intake. Twenty-five percent is only the starting point, however, and reductions to even lower percents cause an even more efficient adaptation.

What’s the ideal percent? We don’t know. But what works very well, while also practical as to what people can and are willing to do seems to me to be around 10-15% of one’s total daily calorie intake. Would 0% work? Yes, I think it would be the best, but few can and will do it. 

Recent studies confirm that fat is the primary fuel even in those consuming a high-carbohydrate diet. In resting muscle, glucose provides about 10-15% and fat about 85-90% of the energy used. During contraction, overall fat use increases because of the contribution of the muscle’s store of fat to energy production. Stored fat represents 70% of the total energy production.

In high-intensity weight training and other sorts of high-intensity activities, it has long been believed that glucose, and primarily muscle glycogen (stored glucose), are the primary sources of fuel. In a recent study, researchers cast doubt on this long-held belief. Stores of fat in the muscle provided close to 40% of the total energy used during a very strenuous weightlifting protocol.

It’s important, here, of course, to note that these athletes were carbohydrate-adapted, not fat-adapted; if they had been fat-adapted, their use of fat, not carbohydrates, would have been far higher. Weight training exercise is of such high intensity that it represents the type of exercise that physiologists have always argued cannot be fueled by fat.

On a personal note, I’ve put hundreds of strength and power athletes on a low-carbohydrate diet and after they adapt to it, they’re always stronger and have more endurance than they did when following a high-carbohydrate diet. Many lose weight because they lose body fat but, nonetheless, they still become stronger. This may not be the type of “scientific” proof required by scientists, but observation and experience are the basis of science. When the fat-loving belief system becomes the belief-of-choice, scientific studies proving my claims will appear and the world will know the truth as I already know the truth.

Weight maintenance requires that, in the long term, calorie intake must match calorie output. Apart from this balance in calories, there must be a match in the rate at which separate foodstuffs burn. As we’ve learned, the research of J. P. Flatt, suggests that protein and carbohydrate burning match their intake. Dr. Flatt argues that fat balance is poorly regulated and, as such, the consumption of too much fat will cause the body to become fatter because, in a sense, the body can’t “see” the fat that was consumed. In a recent study, researchers tested a low-carbohydrate diet (25% of energy as carbohydrate, the threshold of the low-carbohydrate response); predictably, after the first day’s abrupt switch in fuels, fat burning didn’t match fat intake. After seven days on the high-fat diet, however, predictably enough, fat burning matched fat intake, in conflict to Dr. Flatt’s theories.

The result of this study suggested that subjects were completely adapted to the high-fat diet within seven days. They weren’t. They couldn’t have been. They were “completely adapted” only in the sense that fat burning matched fat intake. Seven days is too short a time for a human to make a complete adaptation to a low-carbohydrate diet. For example, if the researchers had demanded heavy exercise of the subjects, fat burning couldn’t have met these heavy demands after only seven days of adaptation, although it could, of course, meet the demands imposed by the body at rest.

Rather than gain weight, as would be predicted by the Flatt model, the subjects in this trial actually tended to lose weight even though this wasn’t a weight loss trial. In conclusion, this study doesn’t support those studies that attack the high-fat diet as more fattening than the low-fat diet (Flatt and others). Further studies from the same laboratory indicate that obese subjects are capable of rapidly adjusting fat burning to fat intake, the process being accelerated if the body’s glycogen stores had been previously reduced by exercise.

The same study proves that lean subjects have the same response as the obese. Further, and importantly, fat burning is the highest when carbohydrate availability is the lowest. This demonstrates that the body burns what it is fed.

Eating a low-carbohydrate diet is far more effective than eating a low-fat diet in weight control, all of which is described in my Ultimate Diet Secrets and Ultimate Diet Secrets lite books.

I contend that we’re now ready for a scientific revolution in the diet of humans. We’re now ready to throw over the prevailing view that a diet consisting primarily of carbohydrates is the one best suited for us. I believe the scientific research of the last century has uncovered so many glitches in the current beliefs that it has to be replaced by a viable alternative. The existing scientific and medical communities aren’t up to this task; only new, young researchers, not committed to the existing beliefs, will be up to it. Unfortunately, the barriers to revolution, and even just orderly change, are many, and this is true because the health and profit of many powerful institutions depend upon a continuation of the status quo.

Intriguing is the fact that the laity, not medicine, is driving the movement toward the new belief system, one in which the linchpin is not glucose. This is a return to humankind’s early roots, before there was science: A time when true science — observation and experience — was the science we depended upon: a time before there were “experts,” “expert committees,” and “institutes of expertise.” Today, trust in one’s own observations and experience has been replaced by the worship of scientists and of science as the new religion.

Our observations conflict, and have long conflicted, with so-called science’s latest truisms about diet. In coming to our revelations, here, about low-carbohydrate eating, we’ve had to ignore what science and medicine have preached, and we’ve ignored them because our experience and senses have provided for us an irrefutable set of guidelines. Any person following a properly designed low-carbohydrate lifestyle KNOWS that he loses weight and fat, KNOWS that he feels better, KNOWS that he’s more alert, and KNOWS that he’s just so much better off than when consuming lots of carbohydrates.

The problem with science is that it’s not truly interested in new discoveries; it’s interested in probing ever-more deeply into what it already believes. It’s driven by its belief system rather than by a search for the truth. When glitches appear, they’re ignored — or “explained” away. Even when presented with information that disproves its beliefs, science “interprets” the contradictory facts with so-called scientific “rationality,” turning them around and upside down until they’ve “proved,” yet-again, the old (momentarily threatened) belief system. Business as usual.

This self-serving, self-preserving trait is, after all, just another very human, human-trait, one we all share, not just scientists. What’s striking about all this is the fact that this lamentable trait has incapacitated our scientists and medical elite more completely than it has the ever-more rebellious people. The people’s zeal in this regard has its origin in whole body knowing: they look better and feel better without carbs. This sort of subjectivity, however, will never be enough to convert the scientist rooted in the old belief system, stuck as he is in his “cutting-edge” technology. And, since the scientist has constructed a community that includes only his colleagues, he remains isolated from the laity, his work directed not to the needs of his fellow men, but to those of his closed community.

It’s science’s lack of vision that disturbs me. Unaware of the nature of science as I used to be, I came into it believing that it sought the truth. It doesn’t; it attempts, instead, to maintain the most “rational,” to it, defense possible of its belief system to which its community has committed itself.

In our story, here, the scientific community has become committed to the idea that carbohydrates are good and fats are bad. All of its “science” supports these claims. But, as we’ve learned, fat is “bad” only when we consume it with carbohydrates. When we reduce carbohydrate intake enough, fat then becomes “good.” (Trans-fatty acids or hydrogenated fats, margarine and solid vegetable oils, are bad, all the time.)

This truth, however, is beyond the current comprehension of all but a few, most of who are not in science per se. The laity now subverts so-called science and drives the scientific revolution to the fat-is-good belief system. The danger of all this, however, is profound, even fatal, because — “body knowing” aside — the people don’t understand what they’re doing, beholden as they are to the religion of science and its language, one foot in medicine and the other one out.

The journalists and the marketers have grabbed the language of science and ladle it out to the uncomprehending people. But this language isn’t used by layman journalists or marketers to clarify difficult ideas; it’s used to push group agendas or to make product sales.

This is exactly what we see in the Net Carb Scam, the sub-set to the Carb Scam. Each Net Carb box has an asterisk next to it that points the reader to a disclaimer which states that these carbohydrates, the so-called Net Carbs, are the ones that impact glucose and insulin: they are the “remaining carbs”: the ones that are left after the other carbs have been voided and declared not to exist, not to have a serious impact on glucose or insulin.

So what? What does it all mean? The consumer accepts this concept of Net Carbs as though it comes from science, as though it were published in some medical or scientific journal somewhere. He’s wholly unaware that it’s all made up and designed for only one purpose: to get the money out of his wallet.

Metabolic Adaptations at the Cellular and Whole Body Level

During the 1950’s, scientific research on the biochemical mechanisms dictating fuel use confirmed that the elimination of carbohydrate from the diet in a rat for only a few days led to a loss in the ability of its liver to convert carbohydrate (glucose) into fat. The rate of fat-making from carbohydrate depends upon the quantity of carbohydrate available.

This is a very important point to remember as we proceed: the primary issue related to fat-making from carbohydrate — the ability to release fat from one’s fat stores and the ability to burn fat as fuel — depends upon one’s total daily exposure to glucose rather than upon the rate of its appearance in the blood

These early studies also looked at how interventions, such as various sorts of feeding, variations in diet composition, and even starvation, affected animal tissues. Striking changes were noted in the enzyme systems of animals that had been starved and then re-fed. Starvation for as few as forty eight-hours, followed by re-feeding, led to a one thousand-time increase in the enzymes that convert carbohydrate into fat!

Today, it’s well understood that these metabolic changes begin to occur within minutes of a change in the internal environment. In other words, exposure to glucose can cause an increase in the principal glucose-to-fat converting enzymes within minutes. Yet, on the other hand, as we’ve seen, changes at the cellular level and at the whole body level can often take several months to become fully developed. Adaptation time varies according to the tissue or cellular machinery under investigation.

Several popular diet books preach low-carbohydrate eating for five days, re-loading with a high-carbohydrate diet on the weekendfor the purpose of reloading the muscle’s glycogen, and then resuming the low-carbohydrate diet on the following Monday.

Based on what we’ve learned to this point, it’s clear how foolhardy such a regimen is; its basis resides in the supposed importance of glycogen for muscle building and endurance. One author goes so far as to say that fat-building won’t “turn-on” within the span of a forty eight-hour weekend. Sadly, this medical doctor hasn’t learned much about how enzymes work: It’s a scientific fact, well established in the literature that the five days of carbohydrate restriction (taught in this regimen) actually increase the ability of the enzymes to convert carbohydrates to fat.

When high rates of enzyme activity meet the large amounts of ingested carbohydrates that are generated in the weekend’s carb-loading phase, rapid fat-making from carbohydrate begins immediately, within minutes.

Considering the amount of information that’s available about organism adaptation, the true student in this field is surprised that so many obesity researchers, even those with training in biochemistry, fail to take all this information into account.

One of the leading and best-known medical Establishment doctors, Dr. J. P. Flatt from the department of biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center seems totally unaware of these adaptations. Flatt has written extensively about his notion that carbohydrate balance is at the root of the obesity epidemic. He claims that evolution has led to a regulatory system that prioritizes adjustments of protein and glucose burning relative to the intake of protein and carbohydrates (glucose). This evolutionary priority, he says, takes preference over any attempt by the body to maintain fat balance.

He understands, however, that the fuel mix, burned by the body, is controlled by the fuels themselves and by the body’s hormonal response to these circulating fuels. Flatt is convinced that glycogen is important to blood glucose concentration and, therefore, attributes an undue importance to glucose (and glycogen) that isn’t supported by the best of current research. This, of course, is a central feature of the scientific belief based on glucose as the body’s primary fuel, biasing all of his science because the basic assumption upon which he draws his conclusions is flawed from the outset. Based on his observations, he has concluded that, over time, carbohydrate burning is essentially equal to its intake. His recommendations to people include restricting fat intake to avoid regaining weight after periods of dieting. His rationale is that body fat accumulates from the storage of dietary fats, not from the conversion of carbohydrate into body fat.

In his studies, technologically sophisticated, Dr. Flatt has committed the cardinal sin: failure to understand the relationship between carbohydrate and fat in the diet and, hence, failure to understand their consequent disposal. In his studies, he adds varying amounts of fat to the diet of someone habituated to carbohydrate consumption and then tests his ability to burn fat.

The ability to burn fat is a direct function of the amount of carbohydrate in the diet: the more carbohydrates that are consumed, the more the body loses its ability to burn fat.

Carbohydrates convert into body fat, and the newly formed fat is diverted into storage and away from burning because it blocks the metabolic pathways that lead to its own burning. As we’ve learned, any fat consumed along with the carbohydrate is diverted into storage as well because the pathway to fat burning is shut down.

In his studies, Flatt feeds fat along with carbohydrate and also experimentally over-feeds his subjects. His measurements of the subjects’ ability to oxidize (burn) fat are made on the day of the feeding experiment, or on the next day, but never after a longer interval to see how time affects fat burning through the mechanism of adaptation.

In all cases, the subjects are unable to burn the fat that’s consumed. To Dr. Flatt this means that there’s a lack of direct regulatory mechanisms which adjust fat burning to fat intake. These errors in fat balance, according to Dr. Flatt, become cumulative and gradually lead to an increase in the body’s fat mass. He recognizes that fat burning can increase but believes that this occurs only when one becomes fat. He also confuses his terms and argues that it’s a tenet of nutrition science that high-fat diets increase the incidence of obesity. If his research had been more wide-ranging, he would have understood that the high-fat diet, discussed in the studies he quotes, is always associated with a concomitant high level of carbohydrate intake.

Dr. Flatt’s influence upon his scientific colleagues and the medical and scientific communities of which he is a member has been profound; they have tended to accept his theories without protest. Examples of such unquestioning acceptance follow in the words of excellent scientists who’ve made extraordinary contributions to traditional science. This is, of course, yet-another example of the constraints imposed by a faulty belief system upon what should be unhampered scientific vision. Even those at the highest level of the Academy don’t escape criticism on this score. These misrepresentations then filter out into the news media through journalists and, then, out into society via journalism and its layman “experts.” Dr. Neil Ruderman, one of the most respected researchers working in obesity, diabetes, and pure research, recently referenced Dr. Flatt’s work:

Also relevant to this issue is the notion that obesity is a disorder of fat partitioning. This conception is based on the observation that humans and experimental animals generally are able to adjust rates of carbohydrate and amino acid (protein) oxidation (burning) to the amounts of these nutrients in their diet, but they are less able to adjust fat oxidation to fat intake. It has been suggested that for this reason some humans and experimental animals are more prone to obesity than others when placed on a diet with high-fat content. Although the notion of fat partitioning has led to many recommendations concerning the fat content of our diet, a mechanistic explanation for the adipogenic (fat-making) effect of a high-fat, high-calorie diet, has not come forth, nor is it clear why certain individuals and animals are more likely to become obese than others when ingesting it.

Dr. Ruderman is, undoubtedly, unaware of the interrelationship between carbohydrate and fat use throughout the whole range of a widely varying intake of different proportions of carbohydrates and fat. His viewpoint is that of a respected scientist, but one who is still a captive of the regrettable glucose belief system. As we’ve learned, the studies that related high-fat diets to obesity always used diets that were made up of a mixture of carbohydrates and fat. It seems that this brilliant researcher is unaware that in these studies the carbohydrates have never been reduced to a point or level that would truly indicate what happens to human physiology when it’s subjected to a true low-carbohydrate diet.

Dr. J. D. McGarry, recently deceased, formerly of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, also reflects a viewpoint similar to Dr. Ruderman’s. Dr. McGarry was technically one of the best metabolism researchers in the world and his contributions to our understanding of metabolism are unparalleled. In 1980, he and his group were able to finally unravel the complexities of fuel metabolism, putting a close to a frantic research effort that had been on-going during the previous fifty years. Nonetheless, his vision was profoundly constrained by the glucose-loving belief system within the constraints of which he labored. In a discussion that I had with him while writing Ultimate Diet Secrets, the furthest he could go in agreeing with my thesis was that the low-carbohydrate diet might be interesting to look at. In his recent paper describing the cause of Type 2 diabetes Dr. McGarry wrote:

The concept that a lower than normal capacity to burn fat might be a predictor of insulin resistance receives support from both human and animal studies. For example, Astrup et al. showed that obese women who achieved a normal bodyweight by caloric restriction did not increase lipid oxidation appropriately in response to a fat meal when compared with women who had never been obese…

Kelly et al. showed directly that in obese humans the muscle bed has a diminished capacity to oxidize (burn) fatty acids. The above considerations lend weight to the notion that a substantial ability of muscle to oxidize fatty acids is an important contributor to the genesis of insulin resistance.

He concludes this landmark paper by suggesting that the development of new drugs might increase the capacity of the enzymes that dictate a muscle’s fat-burning capacity. Unfortunately, he’s unaware that we have the power to do exactly that right now, without expensive and dangerous drugs: All that we need to do is reduce our carbohydrate intake below a certain threshold. This, of course, along with exercise, is the answer and solution to Type 2 diabetes. I argue, therefore, that glucose is directly responsible for the rapidly growing number of diabetics and that one of the actions causing this disease is the process of glycation, as we’ve seen.

The most fascinating feature of Dr. McGarry’s 2002 paper is that it is an important first shot in a long-awaited revolution: the overthrow of the glucose-loving belief system and the triumph of the as yet unaccepted changeover to a belief that fat is good, as long as carbohydrate is restricted. Sadly, with his death, he’ll no longer be able to participate in that revolution. In his paper, he makes a list of all that we know, and don’t know, about diabetes. In his work, Dr. McGarry suggests that the impasse in solving the dilemma of the cause of diabetes may relate to the fact that our traditional campaign has been largely glucose-focused and that a more fat-focusedapproach may be better rewarded

In Dr. McGarry’s view, the diabetic state is caused by a breakdown in the body’s ability to handle fat and is, therefore, not primarily a disturbance in sugar metabolism. This is an earth shattering proclamation because the focus of diabetes research and treatment has always been directed to strategies having to do with glucose.

It’ll be decades, if ever, before clinicians who treat and study diabetes accept the idea that diabetes is fundamentally a disease in which there’s a breakdown in the body’s ability to deal with fat and that the disturbance in its ability to handle glucose is secondary to the fat-handling problem.

It’s my contention that the fat-handling problem is directly related to the body’s inability to deal with large amounts of glucose as well as fat and glucose together. The response to glucose consumption is a disruption in the ability to deal with fat. This is why I argue that one of the primary solutions to Type 2 diabetes lies in consuming fewer carbohydrates.

Burning Calories. Discover how we get it? How do we use it?

Since everyone is still arguing about how our bodies are Burning Calories… Here is some science.

As the 1970’s unfolded, it was still commonly thought that carbohydrates (in the form of blood glucose and its tissue storage form, glycogen) were the preferred energy sources for working muscles in man. I say commonly thought because evidence had already accumulated that this idea was unfounded, but this fact wasn’t common knowledge during these years, or even today.

In studies of dogs (early 1960’s), glucose from the blood accounted for 10-15% of total energy expended ( ya dogs are Burning Calories ) during prolonged strenuous exercise while fat supplied 70-90% of the total energy required, a finding that made it very difficult for scientists to hold onto their belief that carbohydrates supplied 100% of the fuel needs of working muscles. This was a true, if minor, belief shift, yet it, alone, wasn’t powerful enough to lead to a full-fledged scientific revolution.

Although fat supplied a significant amount of energy to support exercise, the finding that fat from the blood was only a limited portion of the total fat used led to an intensified effort to discover the source of the additional fat fuel that powered muscle contraction.

The fact that fat supplied 70-90% of the total fuel burned wasn’t in doubt. During these years, however, there was no technology capable of determining the source of the fat that “burned”: whether it was from the blood or from inside the muscle. The studies and the technology needed to make these assessments didn’t become a fact of scientific research until after 1995. I’ll discuss this shortly.

One of the first attempts to acclimate dogs to a high-fat diet was conducted in 1977. The outcome of the experiment was that the dogs’ endurance performance increased as the carbohydrates in their diet decreased. Importantly, the lowest carbohydrate intake, zero, led to the best endurance performance.

The authors concluded from their dog experiments that, if humans wanted to test the endurance benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet, they should spend at least twenty weeks accommodating themselves to the high-fat diet. Previous studies in humans consuming a diet restricted in carbohydrate had shown a significant decrease in performance.

These dog studies showed the opposite effect, and the authors suggested that one reason for this effect was the amount of time allotted for the dogs to adapt to this dramatic change in dietary fuels. This 1977 paper was the first scientific publication that brought up the idea that the time allowed for dietary accommodation might be an important variable in the ability of an organism to use different fuels.

Vilhamar Stefansson had suggested this same idea in his 1960 book, The Fat of the Land, which, of course, wasn’t really “acceptable” to science as a “scientific” publication.

The complete understanding of this idea is most important as we begin to develop the idea that the low-carbohydrate diet is the primary asset when it comes to your body body Burning Calories, a road to better health, weight control, and disease protection by eliminating glycation.

In 1983, Dr. Steven Phinney and his coworkers were the next scientists to note that most dietary studies hadn’t afforded enough time for adaptation. Very low-carbohydrate diets are difficult to tolerate in their early stages, with nausea and weakness being the most common side effects. Indeed, these symptoms often contribute to an early end of the dietary experiment.

Interestingly, the authors pointed out that the only existing published studies of people consuming extremely low-carbohydrate diets were those of the Arctic explorers described earlier by Stefansson.

Other empirical evidence observed that North American native people had lived healthy lives on a restricted carbohydrate intake. This fact indicated that humans had the ability to maintain health and to function effectively even during prolonged nutritional ketosis (see the explanation of ketosis three paragraphs below).

From all this, we can readily see just how recent all of these ideas are and why we’re just now experiencing a transition into a new belief system, one whose architect is the citizenry, not our scientific, medical, or government leaders.

The Phinney study used a diet that contained 83-85% of total calories as fat, containing less than twenty grams of carbohydrate a day. Although these lean subjects adapted to and tolerated the diet well, the authors concluded that fuel use and hormonal responses were still incomplete after four weeks of adaptation.

In a follow-up study, these researchers showed that lean, healthy, aerobically trained cyclists could maintain exercise performance after four weeks on a ketogenic diet, an inference drawn from experiments in which those on the ketogenic diet were pitted against cyclists consuming a high-carbohydrate diet.

Ketones form when fat, from fat tissue, reaches high levels in the blood and the liver converts this fat into ketones, secreting them into the blood for transport to the tissues and cells of the body as a source of fat fuel. During starvation, for example, after twelve days, ketones supply more than 75% of the brain’s fuel. They also become the primary fuel for the rest of the body.

Physiological ketosis (ketosis in a healthy person), as opposed to pathological ketosis (ketosis in an unhealthy person), isn’t dangerous as so many believe.

The major difference between cycling performance on the high-fat diet, opposed to the high-carbohydrate diet, was the large increase in ketones experienced by the cyclists on the high-fat diet. 

Interestingly, the use of muscle glycogen decreased by 79% after four weeks of adaptation to the ketogenic diet. Researchers were left wondering about the mechanisms involved in the slowing down of muscle glycogen use. The biochemical pathways and mechanisms involved in the control of fuel use were just beginning to be researched during the early 1980’s.

Unbelievably, the authors concluded that the results of their study did not contradict the then-current understanding that exhaustion correlates with muscle glycogen depletion, which is a part of the intellectual dogma that has held us captive during the era of the woeful glucose-loving belief system.

A 1984 study provided yet-another glitch to the current glucose belief system and one of its sub-beliefs, glycogen loading. These authors first restated the fashionable belief that the amount of glycogen stored in working muscles was the limiting factor in prolonged exercise. Since some subsequent papers suggested that this theory might be incorrect, these researchers saw fit to study further the concept of carbohydrate (glycogen)-loading.

Male rats were divided into four groups: two groups consumed 78% of their calories as fat, and the other two groups consumed 69% of their calories as carbohydrate. The animals were tested at either one or five weeks after beginning the experimental diet, with some animals sacrificed in a rested condition and others sacrificed after an exhaustive treadmill run.

After one week on the low-carbohydrate diet, animals fed fat ran 8% longer than high-carbohydrate-fed animals before becoming exhausted. With continuation of the diet for another four weeks, the low-carbohydrate-fed animals ran 33% longer than the high-carbohydrate-fed animals.

Exhaustion occurred at approximately forty minutes, indicating that the intensity of exercise was heavy, the sort of exercise whose demands, according to the theories of the moment, could not be met by fat.

Clearly, rats adapt to this diet more rapidly than dogs or humans, proved by the fact that, after only one week, performance was already improved.

On average, muscle glycogen content decreased approximately 20% and liver glycogen decreased by 50% at week one and 38% at week five in high-fat animals, suggesting that liver glycogen was rebounding, even though very little carbohydrate was available in the diet.

Finally, we had scientific proof that the well-known notion that a short-term low-carbohydrate diet of three-seven days reduces endurance time is a fact, but not one whose application is broad: It’s a fact for only the first week of its use. Thereafter, metabolic adaptations occur in the muscle, and these adaptations allow the muscle to perform much better on a high-fat diet.

This study also proved that a reduction in the glycogen content of muscle and liver doesn’t limit performance. Importantly, it must be understood that fuel use in muscles is controlled by the enzymes found in muscle.

The available fuel and the hormonal response to it influence changes at the enzymatic level but the mechanism of action is dictated solely by enzymes. In this study, researchers investigated the changes in some of the primary enzymes involved in fat use. The total activity of two critical fat-burning enzymes increased by 77% and 98% respectively; these enzymatic changes dictate an increase in fat burning.

Researchers concluded that untrained rats, which by definition weren’t fat-adapted from training but from diet only, could — through dietary manipulation alone — improve their performance dramatically in prolonged and intense exercise, and all this despite a profound limited glycogen content.

Burning Calories

One of the principal researchers from this study published a review article in 1987, discussing what we knew then about muscle glycogen and performance. Because this scientist was instrumental in uncovering one of the major glitches facing the existing belief-in-carbohydrate-as-primary-fuel, one might hope that he’d expanded and enriched his once-limited vision as a function of his very own, quite formidable, research. But, beliefs don’t give up the ghost easily, however utterly disproved they become. Dr. R. Conlee observed, then, as recently as 1987:

All of these facts indicate that, in spite of the opinion among the scientific community regarding the limitations of fat as an energy substrate, there may be experimental conditions not yet designed under which the disadvantages of fat and, conversely, the advantages of carbohydrate for energy production may not be as polarized as the present literature leads us to believe.

Holding true, however, to the scientific community of which he’s a member, Dr. Conlee observes further:

Such a statement does not imply that man should live on a high-fat diet. That recommendation would ignore the obvious implications for cardiovascular health.

Obvious? As I’ve stated, the belief that fat is implicated in heart disease has been one of the main limitations to understanding and accepting the optimal diet for human health. In fact, with the 1987 introduction by Dr. Anthony Cerami of the glycation theory of aging and disease, it’s becoming ever-more clear that glucose, not fat, as we’ve learned, is the real contributor to the present-day rise in cardiovascular disease.

In 1991, a group of researchers finally got around to setting up an experimental condition that duplicated the experiences of early humans as described by Stefansson some sixty years earlier. At last, science was beginning to catch up with what men had known for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, for one hundred years, we’ve allowed nutritional theories to guide us rather than the centuries, nay eons, of actual human experience.

Citing the study above by Phinney, a group of French researchers fed one group of male rats a 0%-carbohydrate diet and another group a 62%-carbohydrate diet, rounding out their experimental design with an exercise regimen for the animals.

The rats were trained until the scientists were sure that they could maintain one hour of exercise at 80% of their maximal capacity. Most important, the rats were allowed an adaptation period of twelve weeks for both their training and their dietary regimens.

The low-carbohydrate diet group ran for sixty eight minutes before experiencing exhaustion, whereas the high-carbohydrate diet group experienced exhaustion in only forty two minutes. At the end of a five-hour run, only 75% of the carbohydrate-fed animals were still running, but 83% of the rats fed the high-fat diet were still running at the end of the five-hour mark.

After accomplishing the goal of running for five-hours, the rats were encouraged to continue running until exhausted. All of the carbohydrate-fed animals were exhausted within seven hours, whereas six high-fat-fed rats actually had to be stopped at seven and a half hours. They simply hadn’t become fatigued.

My trained, estrogen-treated rats (estrogen treatment allows more fat use), during the time of my Ph. D. research also didn’t tire out; we had to remove them from the treadmill after eight hours because we’d become exhausted just from watching them run!

Confirming the earlier work by Miller, the enzymes involved in burning fat increased. Critical to enzyme action, however, is that the fuel that enzymes act upon must be available. This was accomplished in several ways in this experiment. One is obvious: fat availability increased because the animals ate so much more fat.

The second is less obvious: fat from the body’s fat reserves becomes much more accessible when one consumes a low-carbohydrate diet. Later, I’ll flesh-out the internal environmental conditions in which stored body fat is made available.

In the Simi study above, both diet-induced fat-adaptations and training-induced fat-adaptations were cumulative.

Burning some Calories baby!