Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Hi, guys! Happy Tuesday!
It is HOT here… like really hot… like holy heat wave hot. I’m working from my home office right now, but I might need a change of scenery and air conditioning soon!
This morning, I was up and at ’em working before my boys woke up – well, besides Murphy, who hops out of bed as soon as I am a wake because: food potential. The dog is always on top of where his next meal is coming from!
After I took Murphy for a walk, I headed home and saw that Mal and Quinn were awake. On Tuesdays, we receive a delivery from Hornstra Farms, and Quinn immediately remembered that we ordered ice cream. The kid hightailed it downstairs to bring it up to the freezer! He was pumped!
Before Quinn left for school, he made sure to fill up his water bottle, which “has [his] name on it, so no one else drinks it.” Smart. Strep is going around school this week – and my throat hurt today. Oy.
Mal is golfing this morning, so he dropped off Quinn at school on his way to the course. I immediately got back to work and then took a quick break mid-morning for breakfast. On the menu: zucchini millet toast with chive cream cheese style spread and a slice of tomato + honey peanut butter with banana slices on top. Mmm! I loved this breakfast!
Question of the Day
Is it HOT where you are?
What’d you have for breakfast this morning?
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There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that kids aren’t getting enough physical activity.
Inadequate amounts of physical activity are a strong risk factor for obesity and metabolic dysfunction in kids. It’s most likely causal, too, because as much as people question the usefulness of only exercising to lose weight, there’s no question that exercise and physical activity in general is important for preventing obesity from occurring.
Kids are getting so obese that a new RCT came out showing metformin can help them lose weight and normalize metabolic biomarkers.
It’s not just that inadequate physical activity is destroying the physical vitality, body weight, and metabolic health of children. It’s also ruining their movement skills and general athleticism. I don’t work with kids directly, but I have many friends who do. And all of them, from gymnastics coaches to running coaches to basketball/base/football coaches report that the athleticism of the beginners has degraded over the years. Fewer kids are coming into practice for the first time with that raw movement ability. They’re clumsier, clunkier, and more confused than ever before.
Childhood is a big window, but it’s a crucial one. All that time spent throwing a ball—or sitting on the couch manipulating an Xbox controller so that the character onscreen throws a ball—establishes neural pathways. Do you want those pathways to enable efficient, competent throwing (a skill that may have required our big brains and allowed humans to conquer the world), or do you want those pathways to enable skillful button and joystick maneuvering?
The good news is that kids love to move. Even the ones who don’t look it. Go down to a park, the beach, or walk through the city square on a hot day when the fountains are flowing and kids of all shapes and sizes will be moving frequently at slow, moderate, and fast paces. They’re playing tag. They’re roughhousing. They’re jumping from ledges twice their height. They’re all over the place.
And that’s how it works: Get even the most screen-obsessed kid in a fun, physical environment with plenty of opportunities for movement and he or she will move. The innate desire for physicality and play exists in all children.
Overweight kids aren’t too far gone either, and exercise can work wonders. According to a 2015 meta-analysis, there’s “moderate” evidence that exercise by itself is an effective way to reduce bodyweight in overweight and obese children. Another study concluded that strength training and aerobic exercise are more effective at lowering children’s BMI than either alone. I imagine you could optimize a kid’s training regimen even further and get even better results.
How Much Exercise Do Kids Need?
Ethnographic studies have found that, by and large, kids in hunter-gatherer groups play all day long with little to no supervision (PDF). They don’t have scooters and Laser Tag, or barbells and kettlebells, but they also don’t have smartphones and televisions. For these kids, play is movement and movement is play. There’s no other way. Of course, contemporary hunter-gatherer groups are a very rough approximation of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The former have been pushed onto marginalized land by better-armed and more numerous city folk; the latter ranged across an untouched world teeming with large game. Even still, they’re the best model we have for ancestral childhood physical activity.
But we don’t even have to go back to the paleolithic to illustrate the amount of physical activity the average kid should be getting. Just talk to an elderly neighbor. Talk to an older colleague. Or heck, search within your own memory bank. What were summers like as a kid for you? I for one was out all day long if school was out, exploring the neighborhood, roaming the woods, getting into trouble. And I rarely stopped moving.
Anecdotes and personal memories not enough? The data tells the same story. The parents of today’s children got over 8 hours a week of outdoor play (which is still too little). Today’s children get under four. That trend is likely to continue as you go back in time, with outdoor play doubling in frequency and lack of supervision with each previous generation.
These are averages, of course. Some kids get quite a lot. Others don’t.
Kids in Denmark aged 6-12 average 90 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day. It’s highest in the six-year-olds and declines by 3.5 minutes each year.
Elementary school kids in Qatar average around 28 minutes of MVPA per day, with a large discrepancy along gender lines. By age 9, for example, boys are getting over 40 minutes a day and girls are getting just 23 minutes.
Even the Danes aren’t doing enough, in my book.
Kids should be moving all day. I won’t mince words. Look, my kids probably could have moved more, and I knew about this stuff. It’s hard. I get it. But that doesn’t negate that the ideal situation is for kids to be constantly moving. After all, kids have fatigue-resistant muscles akin to elite athletes’. That’s why they can run all day without getting tired, and that’s a fairly strong indicator they’re meant to move all day.
That’s not in the cards, though, so what should kids aim for?
To stave off overweight/obesity, 60 minutes of MVPA (moderate-to-vigorous physical activity) with at least 15 minutes of genuinely vigorous physical activity each day is the absolute minimum. That’s not optimal. That’s barebones.
Kids should be:
- Running (sprinting rather than jogging)
- Squatting (the movement pattern more than heavy weight)
- Lifting/hip hingeing
- Supporting their own bodyweight
- Playing, ideally using all the skills and movements I just mentioned
Ideas To Get Kids Moving
What are some ideas? How can we get kids to get enough exercise while having fun and developing skill? Many need a little nudge. There are innumerable ways to unlock what’s already inside. I’ll throw out 30 of them right here.
- Walk to School. If you can make it work, walking to and from school will contribute a good amount of MVPA to a kid’s life. Extra points for getting into trouble on the way.
- Swim underwater as far as you can.
- Dive for Objects. Give kids a goal, make it a game. Throw a handful of quarters into the pool; see if they can get them all in with one breath. Toss a kettlebell into the deep end and have them bring it back up.
- Biggest Splash Contest. Who can make the biggest splash into the pool? Encourage different dives, cannonballs, jackknives, and other jumps.
- Water Polo. An excellent training stimulus. One of the hardest sports around.
- Lift Weights. Real ones. In Germany, 11-year-old soccer players and 12-year-old Olympic weightlifters are safely front squatting their bodyweight.
- Race the Dog (with a Head Start). Tell your kid to make a break for it, hold your dog for a few seconds, then release.
- Play Catch. Great way to practice throwing and catching, the latter of which is particularly tricky (and useful to learn).
- Barefoot Hike. Your kid will thank you when she’s all grown up and thinks nothing of walking across gravel.
- Creek Walk. Jump from rock to rock, climb over logs, balance on fallen trees, take a little dip.
- Check Out the local rec center schedule. You’d be surprised at the quality of some of these classes. Gymnastics, dance, martial arts are all good options for building good movement skills.
- Get a pullup bar in the house. Place it at a level your kid can reach. Start with hanging, swinging, and various holds, but work your way up to pullups. Give incentives (“do 5 pullups and I’ll give you $20”).
- Get the dog they’ve always wanted, with the stipulation being they have to walk it and play with it.
- Set up an obstacle course. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just give them things to climb under/over, crawl under/through/, leap over.
- Hill Sprints. If you want a killer workout, sling that kid over your shoulder in between his sprints and run some of your own.
- Gymnastics. Great foundation for movement later in life. Just stop short of elite competition unless it’s something they really want to commit to.
- Have them race. If you catch kids at the right age, they love races without being attached to the outcome. They’ll just let it rip and go all out, all smiles. Winner and loser both have fun.
- Roughhouse. Roughhousing is a lost art that helps kids establish boundaries and limits, learn what hurts and what doesn’t, grasp when something is “too rough.” Plus, it’s fun.
- Try Parkour. Parkour isn’t something a seven year old just leaps into (go to a parkour gym for formal instruction),but they can certainly start playing around on manmade structures. Visit a business park for good climbing and play.
- Animal Impersonations. Crawl like a bear. Hop like a rabbit. Leap like a frog. Slither like a snake. Walk like a duck. These are very difficult modes of transportation that make for great exercise. To keep things fresh and playful, come up with other animals to emulate.
- Play Fetch. Throw the ball, they go chase it and bring it back. Same concept as running your dog.
- Reverse Box Jumps. That cool Persian tot aside, it makes more sense for small children to practice jumping down from tall objects than trying to jump up them. Besides, landing is where the danger lies later.
- Trampoline. Studies indicate they’re responsible for a large number of emergency visits, but a properly set-up trampoline enclosed by a protective net can be a great place to learn how to jump with good form. And again, fun.
- Keep a scooter/bike/skateboard around. Kids love zooming around on wheels.
- Chore Duty. Give them a standing order to help with bags/groceries/trash. There’s always something they can carry, and every little bit helps make them stronger and more resilient.
- Kettlebell Challenge. Keep a kettlebell in the living room and have him or her lift it every day. Marvel at the perfect deadlift form.
- Build forts, then destroy them.
- Try conventional sports. Although specialization isn’t advised at such an early age (it can actually increase the risk of overuse injuries and inhibit the athletic growth of children), sports are fun and do offer a great path to overall athletic development.
- Build up to a mile run. Start by walking it. Throw in some quick sprints in the middle. Then a full on mile run. Then unleash the offer: “I’ll give you [x] if you can run a mile in [x-amount of time].”
- Set a good example. If you fail to embrace physical culture while demanding your child do the opposite, that’s a strong nudge in the wrong direction. Make sure you’re moving, too.
That’s it for today, folks. I’d love to hear from you.
What kinds of games, sports, and other activities do you use to increase your children’s physical activity and help them develop a positive relationship with exercise? What’s worked, what hasn’t, and what’s the most unconventional activity you’ve had success with?
Take care all.
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We’re back with Q&A #9 with Robb and Nicki.
Remember to submit your own questions for Robb and Nicki to answer on a future show here: https://robbwolf.com/contact/submit-a-question-for-the-podcast/
1. [2:06] Kidney Stones
I’ve been mostly Paleo for about 5 years now based on one of your piror books. Overall, it has worked well for me, with one exception. I started to develop kidney stones on a regular basis. I finally had them analyzed and they turned out to be calcium oxalate stones. Upon reading up on this condition, it stems from a high amount of oxalate in the diet. Unfortunatley, most of the foods I liked on Paleo happen to be super high in oxalate… spinach, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, sweet potatoes. The other wammy here is that I was initially avoiding dairy on Paleo which turns out to be worse for stones because one way to counteract high oxalate intake is to match it with high calcium to avoid stone formation. I’ve since gone back to eating plenty of cheese and high fat dairy in my diet.
I’m curious if this is a common issue that you’ve seen and I’m wondering if this is something that might be helped by going to a keto diet.
2. [5:33] Sugar addiction
I am really hoping you can give me some insight into why I can’t seem to fully recover from sugar addiction. I have had a sweet tooth my whole life, but in recent years I have learned that I have a true addiction to sugar. In the last four years or so, I have studied a lot of nutrition, functional medicine and ancestral health perspectives and gone on a strict paleo diet for months at a time. In almost every way, a clean diet of whole foods makes me feel amazing (better sleep, clearer skin, joints and movement feels better, etc.), except, I become very depressed. It’s not a mopey, weepy kind of depressed, it’s literally a depression of all feeling, like I feel very little at all. But I do sometimes feel really, really irritable, or sometimes bouts of rage that don’t match the situations they arise in. But most of the time, I just feel blah. I thought this would go away after a couple of weeks or even a month or two of eating clean, but it didn’t. In happy or exciting moments, it was like I just couldn’t feel those emotions fully. I also noticed that I didn’t crack jokes like I usually do or feel like being social. All my feelings were dulled. Even sad ones. And when I did fall off the diet, and eat sugar, I immediately felt cheerful again. To me, it seems that the years of sugar abuse have altered my brain enough that without sugar, I can’t feel normal emotions anymore. So my question is concerning healing my brain. Is it possible to reverse these effects? The longest I have gone on a strict paleo diet is three months. I admit it was hard to keep going when I just didn’t see myself ever feeling happy again. If it’s possible to heal my brain and increase its capacity for proper dopamine signaling again, are there certain therapies or supplements that can precipitate and accelerate that healing? Perhaps I am ignorant of some other factor or mechanism at work here. I would be grateful for any insight or help you can give. Thanks for the incredible work you do to bring to light the truth about human health and nutrition.
STEM Talk Episode 69 (David LeMay): https://www.ihmc.us/stemtalk/episode-69/
3. [11:32] Metabolic Flexibility and Weight Loss/Maintenance
Robb and Nicki,
I am very interested in the concept of metabolic flexibility and eagerly waiting to hear your upcoming lecture on this topic. Intuitively it makes sense that given variation in season and climate that humans would have relied on a menu of macronutrient combinations. My question is: how can developing metabolic flexibility be used as tool for weight loss/maintenance? I have been about 90% ketogenic for the past 28 months; the other 10% would be high carb meals which I have allowed as a metabolically flexible person. I can swing in and out of ketosis with ease; however, I have noticed that if I go through periods of higher carb, it does result in weight gain which is tough to lose even when reentering ketosis. I do crossfit almost daily and practice the 18:6 IF schedule, and I don’t notice either of those things affecting my performance. Thanks!
4. [16:31] Low afternoon energy
Hi Robb and Nicki,
Thank you both for all you do! I’ve been a huge fan since 2010 and admire your relentless pursuit of the truth when it comes to health and nutrition.
My question is about my extremely low energy in the early afternoons. I know it is a common complaint, but I feel like I’ve done everything I can to fix the common mistakes that lead to the afternoon slump, and I also feel like my exhaustion is too extreme to be normal for my age and health status.
I’m 32 years old, I eat low carbish (75-100g most days), have toyed with keto, eat mostly paleo with the addition of some dairy and occasional non gluten grains. I do crossfit 3x/week and spend most of my time chasing my 2 year old around. My sleep is good most of the time, and I do not have any major life stressors that effect me currently. No diagnosed health conditions, no rx meds.
I had bloodwork done recently, and my doctor was very impressed with the results, especially my blood lipids. A1c was 4.8, C-reactive protein 0.8, no thyroid antibodies present. Fasting blood sugar 78. The only things that were slightly out of range were homocysteine (slightly low at 4.6), Uric acid low at 2.4, serum iron slightly high at 148, and my free T3 was a little low at 2.5. Another Doctor years ago prescribed me naturethroid but I never took it.
Ive tried changing my diet in every way imaginable to try to combat a possible hypoglycemic or food sensitivity related slump after lunch. I’ve eliminated various foods that people can be sensitive to,and ive even tried more carbs in the morning, but that leads to blood sugar imbalance and cravings all day. As a result, my breakfasts and lunches would fall under the keto umbrella, as I feel better when I eat carbs later in the day.
The only thing that seems to slightly help is not eating at all, but I just get so hungry! My activity level is fairly high and I don’t feel like I’m a great candidate for intermittent fasting at this point.
My mom, who has had MS for about 30 years, does not eat all day and only eats dinner because she’s says eating makes her tired. I just can’t handle not eating at all, and I do feel fatigued and hypoglycemic if I try to skip meals.
Thanks for reading and for all you do!!
5. [23:08] Carb test and ketosis
I read Wired to Eat while I was pretty deep into a ketotic cycle, so I didn’t immediately get to the 7-day carb test. Years of self-experimentation have led me to a relatively low carb (<50g/day) Paleo diet with an occasional 48 hour fast, an occasional ketotic cycle, and a very occasional carb re-feed. Genetic testing revealed some SNPs that predispose me to insulin resistance, and others that positively affect my fat metabolism, reinforcing the fact that I look, feel, and perform better eating in this fashion. I do enjoy my occasional carb binges, so I’d like to perform the carb test in order to whittle my food selections down to those least damaging to my metabolism; but I’m concerned that my postprandial blood glucose readings will be skewed upward because I don’t regularly eat more than ten or fifteen grams of effective carbs at a time. Should I bring my daily and per-meal carb intake up for a certain period of time before starting the carb test, or is a 50 gram bolus of carbs small enough to give me a true measure of glucose tolerance for the purpose of food selection? Thanks in advance.
6. [27:30] Creativity and Writing Process
I hope all is well. I’m a big fan of the Podcast and excited about the Q & A return. I have a two-parter both within the same general idea.
I’m a writer and I am alway curious about how others approach the creative process. I was curious if you could elaborate on how you approach writing and creativity in regards to balancing an active lifestyle? And how a typical day when writing might look.
For example — Do you do things like meditate? What time of the day do you write? Where do you write? If you write in the morning how do you reconcile with hanging outside first thing in the morning to get some sun? If you do Jujutsu around noon and roll for 2 hours how do you write around it? You’ve mentioned eating big meals in the morning, if you’re in a heavy writing period, is this a habit you stick with? Oh by the way, you have a wife and kids… how do you balance it all?
Do you still do caffeine? Do you force yourself to take breaks during writing? How do you avoid sitting for 5/6 hours straight?
Sorry for all the questions, I’ve just been thinking about this a lot lately as I enter into a career pursuing my passion as a writer while trying to balance and prioritize my health. As I am sure you can attest, writing can be all consuming if you let it and setting boundaries is vital — though difficult, especially if you’re in “the zone.” So I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’d love to get your thoughts on the mechanisms at play when writing or doing anything else that requires intense mental focus in regards to willpower. Correct me if I am wrong, but it feels like for me, many aspects of writing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle (choosing healthy food over shitty stuff, hitting the gym, walking, etc.) can drain from the same willpower tank (if not just psychologically, and physically — physiologically as well). This isn’t to say that both can’t exist — rather does one need to be given priority based on ordering of events throughout the day?
For example, I feel my creativity comes to me first thing in the morning. If I were to wake up and hit a Metcon first thing, I feel my creativity gets depleted from the shared willpower tank. I feel this to be true with little things that chip away at my early morning start time as well. For example, taking the time to make a big healthy breakfast, sitting in the sun, even a short walk, all delay me tapping into when I feel I am creatively primed — but is it worth the sacrifice of my health?
I was curious if you have any thoughts on when or how you prioritize creativity. Or maybe this is all just a bunch of bullshit like Robert Rodriguez says — and our creativity is totally out of our control.
Anyways, love the show and everything you do. If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.
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