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Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we bring you The Thriller in Vanilla, the long-awaited fight to crown the World Obesity Federation’s heavyweight champion. It’s the battle to decide, once and for all, which contender is most responsible for making us fat. In one corner, we have our long-reigning champion, The Heartbreak Hammer, Fat! In the other corner, we have the up-and-coming challenger everyone’s been talking about, The Soda Pop Kid, Sugar!
As the undisputed nutrient kings of our fast food world, this is the bout that everyone’s been waiting for. Fat has been the people’s champion for a long time. Sugar, on the other hand, has only been around as long as humans have been altering foods from natural sources. Lately, a lot of money and science have changed our challenger’s traditional fighting style, leading to a string of TKOs (technical knockouts) en route to its shot at the title. Going into tonight’s fight, however, the experts still favor The Champion by 2-to-1 odds.
The tale of the tape
Sugar—Weighing in at 4 calories per gram, the challenger is slight in stature compared to our champion and will look to speed to gain an advantage. Sugar is a carbohydrate, but the form we consume it in is much different than how we find it in nature, where’s it’s surrounded by a fruit, grain, or other plants. The Soda Pop Kid is synthetic crystalline sugar—the kind that goes into soda, candy, and many convenience foods. Its main weapon is the speed with which it rushes into your system.
Fat—At 9 calories per gram, Fat outweighs its challenger by more than double. Unlike Sugar, Fat is its own food group and an essential part of our diets, just like carbohydrates and protein. It’s easily found in nature in many forms and doesn’t need to be processed. This, of course, doesn’t mean we don’t process it when it’s convenient or cost-effective. As opposed to Sugar, Fat moves into your system slowly. Then it remains there for as long as it can. In abundance, it clogs things up. Its main weapon being bulk, its goal is to wear you down.
As you can see, we’ve got a classic tortoise-vs.-hare matchup between these two heavyweights.
A brief history
Sugar—Since all carbohydrates are broken down into sugars in our blood, it’s always been a part of our diets. However, when eaten as a complex carbohydrate or encased in fiber (as in fruit), it affects our bodies differently than it does as processed sugar. Bees were the first sugar producers, and humans have been eating honey for about as long as bees have been making it. However, it didn’t become a major part of our diets until thousands of years later. Westerners began the production of sugar around 1500 BC. Originally made from sugarcane and sugar beets, it’s now manufactured from other crops, like corn and wheat, which makes up the bulk of the sugar consumed in the U.S.
Modern technology has enabled us to tamper further with natural sugar. Traditional sugar, like honey, had a much lower glycemic index (GI) than many modern variations. Since the higher the GI number, the quicker the sugar rushes into your system, we are now essentially able to have sugars affect the body like a drug, creating exaggerated hormonal responses, particularly the hormone insulin. You may have heard of insulin because, when we have trouble producing it, we have a disease called diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the result of eating poorly. It’s also the fastest-growing disease in the world, which, in Sugar’s camp, means they think it’s time for a shot at the title.
Fat—Like we stated earlier, fat is dense—it has a lot of calories for its size. It’s also an essential nutrient and helps us feel satiated or full. Therefore, when we’re hungry, we tend to crave it. And since we don’t really need much of it, it’s very easy to overeat. When we eat more food than we can put to good use, our bodies store it in adipose tissue. We call this tissue fat, or fat tissue. But it’s not really fat, as in the kind we eat. It’s something else. Well, it’s adipose tissue, but we’ve always called it fat. Anyway, the point is that we call it fat whether we get it from eating too much fat, too much protein, too much sugar, or too many carbs, or by drinking too much alcohol. And because of this, Fat gets a worse rap than it deserves.
But make no mistake, fat is formidable. We like fat. We like it a lot. Many fat-laden foods are considered delicacies. And we like fat so much that we’ve found ways to consume just the bad parts of fat that serve little to no dietary purpose. Stuff like butter, margarine, lard, and trans fats are completely unnecessary for our survival. Yet, somehow, our culture has taught us to crave such things. And these cravings have led to heart disease becoming the planet’s most popular way to kill people. Fat has been the undisputed champion of the obesity world for a long, long time. It’s not going to relinquish this title easily.
So let’s get ready to rumble!
Round 1: Smaller but faster, Sugar comes out in a rush and pummels Fat mercilessly. Because of The Kid’s smaller stature, Sugar’s punches seem to have little effect on The Champ. But Fat hardly lands a punch himself and is looking old and slow. Could The Hammer’s reign be over?
Round 2: The Sugar rush comes to a quick crash. The Champ, in no rush himself, seizes control of the pace and takes the round.
Round 3: All of our sponsors are major lobbyists on the side of Sugar. The Kid replenishes with some Gatorade and responds in another flurry of activity. The Champ is back on his heels, waiting for The Kid’s next inevitable crash.
Round 4: The Kid jabs, moves, and controls the pace, but The Champ seems unfazed. Fat knows that Sugar is only an effective nutrient during and immediately after activity, when blood sugar is being used up. So Sugar must keep moving, otherwise it has no nutrient value. The Hammer, being experienced, is willing to bide his time and wait for an opening.
Round 5: Sugar bobs and weaves, employing a psychological game that confounds The Champ. Complex carbohydrates and the simple carbs in fruit break down slowly and provide sustained energy during performance. This gives Sugar an advantage of public misconception because the junk food sugar can be lumped together with healthy carbohydrates. This underhanded attack is clearly something Fat hadn’t counted on. It seems to anger The Hammer.
Round 6: The Champ counters, big time. Two can play the public misconception card, and Fat uses its adipose tissue to absorb all of The Kid’s body blows. The statement that size matters seems to be holding true. In spite of nearly unending corporate support, Sugar seems to be tiring and its punches are growing less and less effective.
Round 7: Fat is now clearly in control of the bout and uses a cholesterol combo to further weaken The Kid. The Hammer’s corner men, Meat and Dairy, are loaded with it, and too much cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease. Could this spell the end for the gallant challenger?
Round 8: A savvy move saves The Kid, who notes that cholesterol is a necessary part of a healthy diet, and that with a proper ratio of fiber and complex carbs, it will have little negative effect. It’s a beautiful defensive move, but how long can it work? The Hammer just seems to be warming up his arsenal.
Round 9: Offended by The Kid’s trickery, Fat comes out smokin’ and unloads an entire 7-Eleven of chips, whipped cream, hot dogs, margarine, and even “vegetable” oils at The Kid. Since they all lead to heart disease, now the leading cause of death in the world, Sugar’s only defense is the rope-a-dope. He’s clearly in serious trouble.
Round 10: Down goes Sugar! The Champ plants a trans fat to the head and levels the challenger. This could be it, folks. The Kid staggers to his feet, but the referee has stepped in. He seems to be holding up a can of Crisco to see if Sugar can identify what hit him. If not, he’s going to stop it. Oh, but wait a minute! The Kid seems to be okay, and even looks to be smiling. The ref flashes a thumbs-up and the fight continues. Sugar dances away from a series of haymakers. The Hammer obviously wants to end the contest right now. But he can’t connect. The Kid survives! In his corner, he’s given a Coke.
Round 11: His face is bloodied, but The Kid is back at work. The Champ’s attack has been slowed with the news that the Food and Drug Administration has required that trans fat be listed on the side of every food label, while sugar, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, and glucose syrups can be used with virtually no regulation. This tactic has clearly befuddled The Hammer, whose punches are beginning to miss more often than they connect.
Round 12: Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got a new fight! Left for dead just a few rounds ago, Sugar is now controlling the pace. Still a long way behind on points, the challenger is using an intriguing combination that’s hurting The Champion. But The Champ fights back. The Champ first points out that many fats—the type in nuts, olives, seeds, avocados, fish, and many other foods—are essential for optimal health and then notes that nothing in sugar is needed for human survival; he then combines that with the fact that a “no fat” label can be on a food containing 100 percent sugar. Then he uses the fact that sugar alters the body’s pH levels, a clear example that an all-sugar food is far worse than a no-fat food. That’s gotta hurt.
Round 13: The credit probably goes to The Hammer’s corner men, all major corporate CEOs, but Sugar has got to be one of the craftiest fighters in history. He comes after Fat with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and fibromyalgia, an offensive that clearly caught The Champ off guard. Apparently, they’re illnesses attributed in part to excessive sugar in one’s diet leading to insulin-resistance problems. The Hammer may have amassed enough points to win a decision but is now clearly on the defensive and reeling. Who knows what The Kid’s got up his sleeve at this point?
Round 14: With only one round to go, Sugar swings wildly with a combination of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and soda pop. This is one of the most lethal offensive combinations in the history of obesity! HFCS is the cheapest and lowest-quality sugar produced, and is now added to many items that aren’t even sweet—things like salad dressings and peanut butters, items once clearly in Fat’s corner. And soda, a substance with no nutritional value whatsoever, has become the singularly most consumed item on the planet. I don’t see how The Champ can survive this. He’s staggering around the ring, basically out on his feet! Somehow, and it must be experience, The Hammer avoids going down.
Round 15: It all comes down to this: one round to crown the World Champion of Obesity. Fat, the longtime champ, is clearly in trouble but still has enough points to win thanks to his mid-fight dominance. But Sugar has owned the latter rounds thanks to heavy lobbying, effective marketing, deregulation, and public misconception. The Champ was barely on his feet at the end of round 14, and his corner is working furiously to limit the damage. The question is, does Sugar’s corner have one last trick up its sleeve?
And here we go . . .: The Champ still manages to show some swagger, and comes out flashing heart disease as the number one killer, recently eclipsing lung disease and cigarettes—no slouch in the death department. But Sugar barely flinches and counters with type 2 diabetes, the fastest-growing illness in the world, that’s almost single-handedly controlled by Sugar. It’s like Ali’s “anchor punch” against Liston. And it sends The Champ sprawling. Down goes Fat! Down goes Fat!
And I don’t think the Champ will be rising from this one. Nope. Fat is out cold. The Hammer’s reign is over. There’s a new kid in town. Sugar is elated, dancing around the ring and pointing at the crowd, screaming, “I want YOU! I want YOU!” Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the NEW heavyweight champion of the obesity world: SUGAR!
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HES MILLS COMBAT is the first home-based mixed martial arts–inspired workout program designed to get you a lean, chiseled body—in just 60 days!
People who eat sugar on a daily basis typically crave even more sugar. It can correctly be called an addiction. Blood sugar levels spike after eating sugar and then plummet, resulting in a craving for more after a couple of hours. Some people eat sugar in response to stress or depression, relying on the emotional comfort of say, cookies or cake to feel better. Eating balanced, healthy meals and controlling blood sugar are pivotal when trying to stop cravings.
Craving sugary foods can be an indication of a lack of certain nutrients in the body, such as chromium (found in broccoli, grapes and dried beans), phosphorus (found in nuts, legumes, grains, fish and eggs), carbon (found in fresh organic fruit) and tryphtophan (found in cheese, liver, raisins, sweet potato and spinach).
Combining protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy oils at mealtimes reduces the risk of triggering sugar cravings. Both healthy fats and protein leave the body feeling full longer than sugary foods and complex carbohydrates contain many of the essential vitamins and nutrients the body needs. Protein slows down digestion so that even when consuming complex carbohydrates, there is no rapid rise in blood sugar.
How to Control Blood Sugar to Prevent Cravings
Not eating regularly or going for long stretches between meals can cause a person’s blood sugar levels to drop. When blood sugar levels drop too low, cravings kick in because the body craves food that can quickly be converted to energy. Typically, this is when people reach for a chocolate bar or quick “pick me up”. Since the boost of energy is not sustained, another craving will take place a couple of hours later. The key to controlling blood sugar levels from dipping is to eat small meals and snacks frequently.
Excellent choices for snacking in between meals would be nuts (such as almonds, walnuts or Brazil nuts), seeds, fruit, dried fruit (such as raisins, dried cranberries, dried peaches) or vegetables (such as carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices). These foods will provide fiber, vitamins and nutrients and at the same time will keep blood sugar levels from plummeting.
The easiest and quickest way to stop the sugar habit? This would be to go cold turkey. Gradually trying to cut down is not likely to work as well. Coming off sugar may be hard, but cravings will subside after the first few days and the individual concerned will likely be astounded at the increase in energy levels he or she experiences.
If stress is given as the reason for turning to sugar, alleviate stress in other ways. Find the route cause and change the situation if possible. Exercise is an excellent stress-buster and will improve overall health.
7 ALKALIZING FOODS THAT CLEANSE THE LIVER – garlic, grapefruit, green grasses, green vegetables, avocado, walnuts, and tumeric.
Our liver works extremely hard everyday to protect us from adverse affects from metabolic an dietary acid and often it is easy for our liver to become overwhelmed compromising our health significantly.
Here are 7 common foods you can include daily to help cleanse your liver naturally. The primary way in which your body expels metabolic, dietary and environmental acid is via the liver, which detoxifies and cleanses your body by continuously filtering the blood of poisons that enter it through the digestive tract, the skin, and the respiratory system. But when your liver becomes overworked as a result of stress or excessive exposure to acid, your entire system can be thrown off balance, and your health severely compromised.
Since the liver is also responsible for producing alkalizing bile, another form of detoxification that is metabolically necessary for the breakdown and elimination of metabolic, environmental and dietary acid from your lifestyle. It is exceedingly important that your liver be properly alkalized with an alkaline lifestyle and diet. Without a well-functioning liver, your body will be unable to cleanse and detox itself from metabolic and dietary acid, which is a recipe for a health disaster.
So here are seven important alkalizing foods you may want to begin incorporating into your diet in order to maintain a healthy alkaline liver.
1. Garlic and Onion
Garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for flushing out dietry and metabolic acid from the body. This bulbous relative of the onion also contains allicin and selenium, two powerful nutrients proven to help protect the liver from acidic damage, and aid it in the detoxification process.
Grapefruit is rich in natural vitamin C and antioxidants, two powerful liver cleansers. Like garlic, grapefruit contains compounds that buffer excess acids. It also contains a flavonoid compound known as naringenin that causes the liver to bind up acids for elimination rather than storing them in the fatty tissues.
3. Green Grasses
Green grasses, like wheat and barley grass are loaded with chlorophyll, a the main molecule in green grasses that buffers excess metabolic and dietary acids. The increase in chlorophyll from green grasses also helps in detoxing the small bowel and liver and maintaining the alkaline design of the body.
4. Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables such as bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory also contain numerous cleansing compounds that neutralize heavy metals, which can bear heavily on the liver. Leafy greens also eliminate pesticides and herbicides from the body, and spur the creation and flow of cleansing alkalizing bile.
Rich in glutathione-producing compounds, avocados actively promote liver health by protecting it against toxic acidic overload, and boosting its cleansing power. Some research has shown that eating one or two avocados a week for as little as 30 days can repair a damaged liver. Dr. Robert O. Young recommends eating an avocado a day keeps the doctor away.
Walnuts, which contain high levels of l-arginine, an amino acid, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, also help detoxify the liver of disease-causing ammonia. Walnuts also help oxygenate the blood, and extracts from their hulls are often used in liver-cleansing formulas.
Turmeric, one of the most powerful foods for maintaining a healthy liver, has been shown to actively protect the liver against toxic damage, and even regenerate damaged liver cells. Turmeric also boosts the natural production of bile, shrinks engorged hepatic ducts, and improves overall function of the gallbladder, another body-purifying organ.
How much you should eat before your workout depends on the type of workout that you plan on doing: high, moderate, or low intensity. If you’re going to do a low-intensity workout, don’t eat before your workout because it will just make you feel sluggish. On the other hand, for moderate to high-intensity workouts, you’ll want to have some reserve carbs in your system to perform the best.
Here are some caloric guidelines:
If it’s 3 or 4 hours before your exercise, eating a large meal is OK (600 calories or more).
If it’s 2 or 3 hours beforehand, a smaller meal is better (400 to 500 calories).
If it’s 1 or 2 hours before, a liquid meal is a good choice (300 to 400 calories).
If it’s an hour beforehand, a small snack will do (200 to 300 calories).
Try not to eat during the last hour before you begin a workout because it floods your system with too much blood sugar during those initial stages of your workout.
(Full Spike) The pre-workout meal is probably one of the most important meals of the day. The pre workout meal is the fuel your muscles need to get through your exercise. Eating before working out also provides energy and can help increase performance.
If you want to get better workout gains then you should definitely add pre-exercise food to your daily workout plan.
Glucose is the preferred energy source for most training routines and the pre-exercise meal should include foods that are highest in carbs and easiest to digest. High carb foods might include:
It’s not recommended to work out on a full stomach. Working out with food in your belly can cause cramping, nausea, and an upset stomach / stomach aches. No one wants to be hurting during their workout so give it time to digest. Typically it takes 1 – 4 hours for food to digest, depending on what, and how much you eat. Digestion also varies from person to person, so a little trial and error will be required to figure out how much time it takes for your food to digest. Regardless, the minimum waiting time after a meal is one hour.
Building Muscle Mass
If your goal is to build muscle, then you should eat foods high in carbs and protein before workout. High protein / high carb foods include:
The pre-workout meal of choice for people trying to lose fat, would be a small carb meal. This will supply you with the energy you need to get through your fat burning exercise routine, such as cardio and anerobic activity (hard sprints for 30 seconds – 1 minute). Remember, the body can continue to burn fat up to 6- 8 hours after cardio or workout.
The worst thing you could possibly do is workout on an empty stomach. While the body will in fact use fat stores to supply energy to the body if on an empty stomach, thus burning fat, this is not the preferred method to lose weight. This only ensures you of maximum muscle loss, and short term gain; No bueno.
What you do want, is to eat more small meals per day, which will speed up your metabolism and help you shed those calories. Eating too few calories per day will deprive yourself of energy, and your body will start hoarding calories that you do take in as fat so that it can survive these starvation episodes that you put yourself through. This also makes it harder for your body to use these calories.
Regardless of what your doctor told you, or what you have read, if they said to workout on an empty stomach, then they are 100% wrong. Working out on an empty stomach sends your body into a panic state, and you will, I repeat, you will…store…fat.
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On a good morning in Paradise Cove, Malibu, the water is so clear you can see halibut lurking in the kelp. Little Dume Point rises from its cliffs to the north, and beneath it a few surfers on stand-up paddleboards rise and fall on the swell waiting for their wave.
Darin Olien, who looks like a Tarzan action figure, is talking to a surfer in his early twenties named Igor about the health benefits of alkalinization in the body. He tells Igor, who’s trying to balance his board and blinking back the sun, that 7.4 is where the pH of our body wants to be and that most of our diets are far too acidic, which leads to inflammation and degenerative disease. Red meat is very acidic; coffee, corn, and wheat, too.
“Hold on,” Olien says. He pivots his stand-up board and hooks on to a wave, muscles rippling, blonde curls flying. The board, essentially a longer, beefed-up surfboard designed to be paddled while standing up, was designed by Olien’s buddy, Laird Hamilton, the legendary big wave surfer. When Olien paddles back out, his grin is wide, white, and infectious. “This connection with the ocean … water is so vital.” He starts telling Igor about the biochemistry of proper cellular hydration. The kid is polite, nodding along. It’s hard to resist the enthusiasm of Superfood Man.
Olien, who has traveled in the past two years to Peru, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Bhutan, and China in search of underappreciated fruits, nuts, and grains, may be the most aggressive hunter of superfoods on the planet. A superfood, according to Olien’s Facebook page, is “a natural food regarded as especially beneficial because of its nutrient profile or its health-protecting qualities.” The category includes such well-known domestic fruits as blueberry and pomegranate, as well as little-known exotics such as maca root and goji berry, sacha inchi, and ashwagandha root. Many of the exotics have been consumed for their health-giving properties for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. Olien has cultivated the persona of Raider of Lost Nutritional Knowledge. “We aren’t discovering anything,” Olien says. “My greatest gift is showing up. Listening. Asking questions.”
His timing could hardly be better. Millions of health-conscious Americans now heed the advice of such TV personalities as Dr. Mehmet Oz, who says people are better off getting dietary fiber and nutrients from whole foods (rather than mass-produced vitamins). Drinks such as POM Wonderful, which in 2011 said it expected to sell 3 million cases, have expanded the market for foods and drinks rich in antioxidants, molecules that promote health by protecting cells. Popular weight-loss and athletic-performance diets, such as the Paleo Plan, based on what humans ate before agriculture, stress the wisdom of the ancients.
In 2006, Olien joined up with the infomercial and multilevel marketing powerhouse Beachbody (the company behind the P90X home exercise program) and formulated a superfood-rich meal-replacement powder they call Shakeology. Olien is under contract with Beachbody, gets a royalty from Shakeology sales, and the company picks up some travel expenses. What they sell is a chocolate- or berry-flavored powder you mix with water or milk or juice, usually in lieu of a normal breakfast. Six years later, the company sells 2 million 1.7-ounce servings a month to 66,000 subscribers who pay $120 for a 30-day supply. The shake brings in over $100 million annually. Beachbody Chief Operating Officer Seth Tuckerman declined to reveal profit margins. Tuckerman, who came over from Gerber Products, and Carl Daikeler, Beachbody’s chief executive officer and majority partner, say that while sales of dietary supplements in multilevel marketing channels declined 1 percent in 2010, Beachbody’s Shakeology is growing 100 percent per year. By word of mouth. No infomercials and no advertising—beyond, that is, the indefatigable efforts of Olien.
If there were a comic book Superfood Man, he’d live in Malibu, in a sage-green bungalow just like Olien’s, tucked away in a dense grove of eucalyptus trees half a mile from Zuma Beach. A 38-year-old horse named Moonlight comes to the fence to keep Olien company when he sets his chair out in the sun to eat the big salads that are his staple diet. Olien, 40, hails from Waseca, Minn., and has been a vegetarian for 10 years. He has a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Santa Monica. His interest in nutrition dates to a back injury he sustained playing football at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, when he tried to use diet to reduce swelling and recover the full motion of his limbs.
Inside, the decor is austere, with a few artifacts from Olien’s travels—a didgeridoo from Australia, a flag from Bhutan. A futuristic machine that distills pure water from the air rests in the kitchen. His desk chair is a snow-white exercise ball. Such details might seem trivial, but Olien has a keen eye for them. In Shakeology’s marketing materials, he’s seen paddling a dugout through jungles, hiking Andean mountainsides, and riding beat-up Third World motorcycles to arrive at remote farms where he kneels and sifts dirt that has never seen a pesticide. The booklet that accompanies your first order of Shakeology carefully builds on the same theme: The cover looks like a leather-bound explorer’s journal, and the story of each ingredient is an adventure told on torn diary and stamped passport pages that includes “swimming with crocodiles to acquire papain,” an enzyme in papaya.
Shakeology now accounts for 20 percent of a business that also sends out 2 million fitness DVDs a month, and yet much of the shake’s blending is done by Olien alone, in the bungalow’s small back bedroom. On floor-to-ceiling shelves sit jars and jars of precious powders—beige, ochre, and green—labeled with strips of masking tape, the dried and milled grist of roots and fruits and seeds, each with its own alleged powers. There are also two precise formulator scales and notebooks with the results of the battery of lab tests that are performed on each powder, from the initial bacterial counts for food safety to micronutrient and phytochemical profiles. Olien uses his own body as a guinea pig before bringing his blends to a food lab for final formulation. “My body is the first barometer,” says Olien.
Meal-replacement shakes are a vibrant, if nebulous industry, with its roots in early attempts to control obesity. In the 1960s a University of California at Los Angeles study found that starvation as a treatment for extreme obesity was effective, but that for every four pounds of body weight lost, the subjects also lost a pound of muscle. In the ’70s, protein shakes such as Optifast (now owned by Nestlé (NESN) ) and Unilever’s Slim-Fast were developed to address the problem, and Abbott Laboratories (ABT) came out with Ensure, a balanced diet drink that could be fed to hospital patients unable to eat whole foods. All three have been adopted enthusiastically by the weight-loss industry and are market leaders. According to the Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), the meal-replacement industry grew 4 percent in 2010, to $2.8 billion. Ensure accounts for the lion’s share. According to Chicago market research firm SymphonyIRI Group, Ensure brand sales, excluding those at Wal-Mart (WMT), grew 4.7 percent, to $252.7 million. NBJ estimates total sales at more like $500 million.
The packaging for Shakeology features the slogan, “The Healthiest Meal of the Day,” but it may not be a true meal-replacement shake. While the Food and Drug Administration has no legal definition for meal-replacement powders, or MRPs, Olien says Beachbody may move away from the term so as not to get crosswise with industry standards. The basic Ensure shake has 250 calories and 9 grams of protein. Shakeology has 150 calories and 18 grams of protein—so it’s light on calories for a meal. It does qualify as a dietary supplement as well as a superfood supplement, and it vies with protein shakes such as Muscle Milk. (Muscle Milk sales, excluding those in Wal-Mart, grew 32.3 percent, to $51.6 million, from 2010 to 2011, says SymphonyIRI.)
Shakeology’s success may be explained by its ability to occupy a niche at the intersection of these categories; the categories themselves are slippery. Carla Ooyen, director of market research at NBJ, laughs and concedes: “There are fine lines between meal replacements and harder core sports nutrition products. A lot of it is marketing. In 2010 sports nutrition grew 9 percent, to $3.2 billion.” She says sales of such superfruits as açaí, mangosteen, and noni increased between 200 percent and 400 percent in 2005 and 2006 but have since flattened. What’s most striking about Shakeology’s rise, however, is not that it has outperformed these trends, but that it has done so without clinical trials to prove that its superfoods are, in fact, super.
Beachbody’s chief science officer is Bill Wheeler. He’s a hearty, white-haired PhD in a glass-fronted office. He wears a silver belt buckle from his days as a roping cowboy in Colorado. His résumé includes a stint as the staff nutritionist to the President of the United States. Both Carter and Reagan. In 2001 he started a nutrition consulting business that advised the Green Bay Packers, Utah Jazz, and Denver Nuggets, among other pro teams. Brett Favre depended on him to tell him which of the piles of free supplements the team received wouldn’t trigger false positives on drug tests. “There are stacks of studies on most of these ingredients,” Wheeler says, referring to Shakeology’s ingredients. “You can look them up. We are conducting a full-scale clinical trial on Shakeology, 100 people, 100 days, double-blind. At a university medical school.” (Wheeler wouldn’t disclose when the results would be published.)
How do Wheeler and Olien know how much of each superfood to put in? “We go to the user country,” says Wheeler. “What is the observed use of it? We form a collaboration with experts in that area, take that as a start. Make a WAG, a wild ass guess. What does it contain? What are the effects?” Take maca root, he says. “If it’s used as a sexual stimulant you’d probably use 10 grams; 500 milligrams to a gram as an adaptogen [a remedy that prevents unwanted stresses]. We look at all the science, the historical data, the literature, and make a SWAG. A scientific wild ass guess.” He leans across his desk. “Sometimes you can’t wait for all the science. In 1853, a British naval surgeon said one lime a day would prevent scurvy. It was 1920 before we knew the active compound was vitamin C. If they had waited for the science, how many would have died in 70 years? There might not be a British Navy. There might not be an England, which might not be a bad thing.”
Dr. Susanne Talcott, assistant professor of toxicology and a director of research at Texas A&M’s Nutrition and Food Science Dept., specializes in testing superfoods. She conducts animal trials, human clinical trials, and cell culture tests on a whole range of foods. For this article, she agreed to review the ingredients and amounts on the fact sheet of a serving of Shakeology. Aside from almost three eggs’ worth of protein, vitamins, and minerals, there seemed to be a tad of almost every superfood known to the herbal-loving world, she says. Shakeology’s Adaptogen Herb Blend, for instance, has a combined 1,675 milligrams of maca (root) powder, astragalus (root) powder, cordyceps, schisandra (berry) powder, and suma (root) powder, among others. The Antioxidant Blend weighs in at 1,750 milligrams per serving and includes standards such as blueberry as well as goji and açaí. A third “phytonutrient super-green” blend adds 1,800 milligrams. Talcott did some fast math in her head. “If we add up the amounts of each of these blends, we are looking at about 5 grams. You say these are not extracts. So, we expect 1 percent to 2 percent secondary bioactive compounds. That would be some 50 milligrams.” She explained that the amounts she uses in clinical trials are usually much higher, varying from one to two grams a day, to 7.5 grams per kilo of a subject’s body weight. She says, at first glance, “I think it might be a terrific product.” But she cautions, “I cannot answer whether the amounts provided here contain enough bioactives to indeed have [a positive] effect.”
Neither can the FDA. Dr. Daniel Fabricant, director of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says that under a 1994 law called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, companies don’t even have to notify the agency of their ingredients, as long as they were marketed in the U.S. before 1994 and they haven’t been chemically altered. “We’re going to take them at their word,” he says of Beachbody. As far as health claims, he says: “Statute requires they have substantiation of their claims.”
Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council, a trade group for herbal remedies, is more critical. “The whole plant dried is not as concentrated as some extracts,” he says. To use more concentrated extracts could cost four times as much, he says, and as it is, Beachbody charges a premium. How does the company justify it? Blumenthal answers his own question: “Construct a compelling story.”
Which is exactly what Beachbody has done. It feeds on testimonials. “Once people go through a dramatic transformation—they lose weight, their cholesterol goes down, they have more energy—they just can’t stop talking about it, ” says COO Tuckerman. Moreover, “when anybody hangs out with Darin, they just want to be like him.”
Two days after surfing in Paradise Cove, Olien is up at Laird Hamilton’s house, doing Laird’s infamous pool workout with a bunch of superstars that includes retired Indiana Pacers All-Star Reggie Miller, world champion Thai boxer Tom Jones, and, curiously, legendary music producer Rick Rubin. For two hours straight Olien engages in grueling exercises with names like ammo box and seahorse that mostly involve running and lunging with weights, 10 feet underwater. The idea is to build strength, stamina, and lung capacity for big wave wipeouts and epic calm in the face of terror. Halfway through, Miller says, “This is the hardest athletic thing I’ve ever done. I’d rather set a pick on Shaq.” The only athlete who keeps up with Hamilton is Olien, who pointedly consumes Shakeology—and only Shakeology—before and after the pool session.