Carbohydrates in Food. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Every week or so I want to go back to basics and provide information that is often forgotten about as we forge ahead with fascinating research.  We were not taught nutrition at school and too often articles (and blog posts) are pretty advanced, forgetting most people are trying to figure this all out themselves.

Carbohydrates in Food

I had a uber-successful businessman come to my nutrition office in  Santa Monica.  He asked if there were any carbohydrates in eggs

I had the teenager on her way to Yale ask if she could use bread for her protein

I had the overworked lady who didn’t have the time to cook but knew she had to eat more vegetables.  Wanting to do better she had a green juice every day – with50 grms of carbohydrates in it

None of these people were stupid, they were actually trying to make their health a priority with the little information they had gathered.  So back to basics we go.  Last week I posted about Protein, if you missed the post here it  is /

If you like this post it is an extract from a book that should be available by the end of this year, comments always welcome


carbohydrates what you need to knw
Carbohydrates what yu need to know


If you are numb from the last two macronutrients, hold on as the ride is about to change.  If there’s one macronutrient we are expected to understand beyond all others, it is carbohydrates. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight in the last ten years, you will have tried to limit your carbohydrate intake. I would suggest that most of the people trying to cut their carbohydrates have no idea why.

The conversation goes something like this

Q           Why don’t you eat carbohydrates?

A           “They make me fat” or

A          “The make me bloated” or

A          “My body is super sensitive to carbs”

Q          Why is that?

A          ……. ?

I almost called this book “Beyond the second Why” because few understand their relationship with carbohydrates beyond that guttural first response

If you are paying someone money for their nutritional guidance and they can’t answer beyond the second why then please ask for your money back and run away.

The weight loss industry is terrible for this.  They tell people “Don’t eat carbs”, sell them products but don’t explain a thing!

People who tried to lose weight in the 1970’s were terrified of calories. Anyone trying to lose weight today is terrified of carbohydrates.  The sadness is when they succumb to the calories or binge on the carbs that person feels terrible about themselves. Self-loathing creeps in which leads to feelings of failure and defeat.

I had a client, a successful guy whose weight continually went up and down.  He lost weight by counting calories and starving himself.  He would ask how many calories we had burned in a workout so that he could estimate his calories perfectly, intake and output.  I met with him for nutrition many times and created meal plans yet. Still, every year he would starve himself down the scale and then rebound right back up.

One day I asked him about his fascination with calories, and he told me that years previously he had had a trainer who was in incredible shape. This trainer had told my client that he just made sure he didn’t ever eat more than 1500 calories per day.  This little gem had stuck with my client.  It made sense; the information came from a credible source and a source that my client could relate to (male, about the same age, and with a physique my guy admired).

A little hurt that my hours of teaching had been ignored due to a one-liner from another trainer,  I asked my client when he had been told this. “Over twenty years ago” he replied.  He had held on to this comment about calories per day for over two decades!  He had tried and failed for over twenty years to limit his daily calorie intake, and overall he was getting heavier and heavier with each passing year.


I saw how to break the belief my client had formed about fat loss.  When he told me that the comment had been made over twenty years, I told my client that I would have likely given him the same advice… twenty years ago.

I suggested that if he contacted that trainer today he would not be given the same answer.

This (at long last) struck a chord.  We spent time discussing nutrition and weight loss again, but this time my client was present and receptive.  He immediately started dropping weight without starving himself. Today he is 30lb lighter, and he has sustained this new weight for more than two years.

My point here is that I ask you to put on hold any beliefs you have about weight loss and, especially for this next section, about carbohydrates.

I will also say that carbohydrates can make you fat, but that is like saying a brick will break your toe; it will, but only if you drop the brick on your toe.  If you eat carbohydrates mindfully, they serve a great purpose as the primary fuel source for your body. If you treat them mindlessly, they are most certainly the one macronutrient that will pack on pounds and add inches.



Carbohydrates are your rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, cereal, candy bar, cake and pastries, your noodles, fries and tortilla chips as well as your fruit and vegetables. They never come from an animal source, and most of those mentioned are not natural carbohydrates; rather, they are products made from naturally occurring carbohydrates.

There are many words used interchangeably to talk about a carbohydrate; sugar, monosaccharide, disaccharide, glucose, glycogen, fiber, carbs and net carbs.  Let’s unravel this before we go any further.

A “sugar” is a carbohydrate that can dissolve in water. You can recognize a sugar because it will end in “ose.”  Food labels may say dextrose, sucralose, maltose, xylose and, of course, high fructose corn syrup, but it all means “sugar”

Carbohydrates are made up of single sugar molecules (a molecule is just a small particle made up of atoms).

A single sugar molecule has six carbon atoms and is called a monosaccharide (mono meaning one, saccharide meaning sugar).

Monosaccharide, therefore, means one sugar particle, so they are often referred to as “Simple Sugars”



Fructose – sugars found in fruit

Galactose – sugars found in mammals’ milk

Glucose – you’ll hear the word glucose a lot; this is because glucose is the form of sugar your body can use for fuel

When you eat carbohydrates, they have to be broken down into single units of sugar – monosaccharides – before they can enter the blood.


In chemistry, the prefix “di” is used to denote two, double or twice.  When talking about carbohydrates, a disaccharide is simply two monosaccharides.


Sucrose = glucose + fructose (your table sugars, sugar cane, the carbs in fruit and vegetables)

Lactose = glucose + galactose (found in milk and dairy produce)

Maltose = glucose + glucose (barley, “Malt” sugar)

Disaccharides, because they are made of two monosaccharides, still have to be broken down into the single units of glucose before they can be used.  Some people have difficulty breaking down milk sugar lactose and suffer discomfort, gas and bloating as a result. We would say that these people are “lactose intolerant”.



“Oligo” means “few” so oligosaccharides are three to ten monosaccharides (single sugars) joined together in a chain.

A carbohydrate chain has to be broken down into individual units of glucose before it can be used.  Part of the oligosaccharide chain cannot be broken and remains undigested.  The undigested part has been found to provide healthy bacteria in the colon and reduce the number of unhealthy gut bacteria.

Slightly sweet to the taste, this carbohydrate is gaining interest as a “functional food”. It is found in plants, vegetables, breast milk and especially in chicory root, onions, legumes, asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes.  Expect to hear more about oligosaccharides as the marketing madness catches wind of something new to shake in your face.  It’s a great sounding word which will make it sound very interesting and complex.

Carbohydrates are chains of sugar and oligosaccharides are longer than the two-piece chain of a disaccharide but not as long as a polysaccharide.



You are probably noticing the progression; mono (one) di (two) oligo (few) and now poly meaning “many”. These chains have more than ten parts to them and can be very long.

The shorter chained carbohydrates are sweeter whereas the polysaccharides are tasteless and, because of a great many bonds/links in their chains, they do not dissolve in water. This is why we sweeten our tea with honey, not broccoli.  Honey (glucose+ fructose = disaccharide, sweet and soluble) Broccoli (Polysaccharide, not at all sweet and won’t do much of anything in your tea).

May you have heard of “starchy” carbohydrates? You may have been told to stay away from “starches”. Well, starches are one type of polysaccharides.  They are long chains of glucose found in root vegetables, potatoes, and cereals.  Starchy foods include rice, bread, and pasta, making starch the most popular polysaccharide.

Cellulose is found in the structure of plants. We know it better as fiber. We cannot break down its bonds, and therefore we cannot digest it.  Animals, however, can break down and digest cellulose, which is why horses eat hay and we probably shouldn’t.

Pectin is a polysaccharide found in plant roots and fruits. Apples are the best-known source of pectin.  In water, it forms a gel and can be used as a setting agent or a glaze. It is popular among vegans as an alternative to the animal-based gelatin.

Pectin is used for jams and jellies. It is a stabilizer which is also found in bread and even your cornflakes.Naturally, pectin is found in all fruits, especially apples, apricots, grapefruits, and oranges. Pectin is also found in vegetables especially colorful carrots and tomatoes.

Sources of pectin are popular because, as a type of soluble fiber, pectin slows the passage of food thereby slowing the release of glucose into your blood. This is a good thing.


The final polysaccharide we will discuss is glycogen. If you work out you may be familiar with the terms; glycogen, glycogen storage, glycogen uptake, glycogen depletion.  These fancy terms simply refer

Carbohydrates are all “sugar” and “sugar” is not a bad word.

Carbohydrates are energy foods that come from the sun hitting a plant.

Carbohydrates can be formed underground, above ground or even up to a tree.

Carbohydrates can be long or short chains of sugar units. The longer chains are called “complex, ” and the shorter chains are called “simple”.

All chains are broken down into single units of glucose which enter the blood stream and can be used as fuel immediately or stored as future fuel.


to the storage form of glucose. We can store the carbohydrates that we eat in our muscles.


Glycogen is found in our muscles, liver and brain.  When carbohydrates are broken down into single units of glucose they can then enter the blood.  From the blood, glucose can be used for immediate fuel or it can be stored for future fuel.  Glucose stored in muscle, the liver or the brain is called glycogen. We have about a day’s worth of fuel stored as glycogen.

There are a great many confusing terms that basically describe the same thing. We hear about simple sugars and starches; we talk about complex carbs and glucose. Fructose is demonized, and yet honey is idolized.  Sugar is to be avoided, and we are told to stick to the “good” carbohydrates, yet now we know that all carbohydrates are sugar. It all gets very confusing.


So where does fiber fit in?  We are told to eat more of it in the form of vegetables and whole grains.  “Whole grains” is another term thrown around with cheerful abandon, conjuring up a picture of a “wholesome” hunk of unsliced bread.  Just for the record, you don’t have to eat any grains to get enough fiber in your day.

Food cannot enter the blood stream in the form in which it lies on your plate.  We don’t have a piece of chicken or a bagel floating around in our blood.  Food is broken down by the digestive system into a absorbable/usable form:-

Protein is broken down into amino acids.

Fat is broken down into fatty acids.


Carbohydrates are broken down into single units of glucose.


Fiber, in contrast, is not broken down and if something we eat cannot be broken down it is not digested and therefore not absorbed into our bloodstream.


Although fiber never enters our blood it has huge health benefits. When we think of bacteria we think of invisible dirt coating innocent surfaces. It lurks on grocery cart handles, in bathroom stalls and on gym equipment.  We avoid it, wiping down that grocery cart, carefully placing seat covers on a public toilet and wearing gloves and carrying towels in the gym. Our body however is full of bacteria. We have more bacterial than we do human cells. We are talking hundreds of different types, and trillions of cells in total. There is both good and bad bacteria, so we focus on not picking up the bad stuff that makes us sick.

There are plenty of good bacteria, mostly living in our guts. Think of your “gut” as your digestive tract, or simply whether the food goes after you eat it.  It goes to your stomach and then on to your small intestine, into your large intestine and then exits your body.

Just as we need to eat to survive, so do cells and bacteria.  Cells are fed when the food that we eat is digested and absorbed into our bloodstream, after which nutrients can travel to cells. This is where fiber enters the story.  Fiber cannot be digested because our gut does not have the necessary enzymes to break it down – that’s why we need bacteria.

Fiber passes through the stomach and the small intestine unchanged. When it reaches the large intestine bacteria will get to work breaking it down and feeding upon it.  This is how fiber works as a “prebiotic”.

Prebiotics are the food for probiotics and probiotics are the good bacteria we were talking about in the first place.


These probiotics (good bacteria) are associated with a great many health benefits. Fiber feeds good bacteria in the gut and this is a very good thing.  What is not so great is the bloating and gas it can create.  When bacteria feed on fiber it produces gas. And it is this gas that can cause bloating and it is this gas that embarrasses women and turns men into seven-year-old boys.

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and becomes gel-like.  This is the fiber that expands our stomach by dragging in the water and creating more bulk.  Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water.  Most foods that contain fiber will have both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Fiber does not enter our bloodstream. Its purpose lies with intestinal health.  As a ballpark we should aim to eat 30-40g of fiber per day.

Fiber travels straight through our body doing a lot of good deeds along the way but it never enters our blood stream.

The mono, di, oligo and polysaccharides do end up in the blood and can be used as fuel or can be placed in storage.


Carbohydrates start getting broken down with our first bite. The saliva in our mouth has enzymes that start the process, and give us that sweet tasting delight of the first bite.  The carbohydrates travel down your esophagus (throat area) into your stomach and on to your small intestine.  It is here in the small intestine (duodenum) that they really get acted upon, by pancreatic amylase.  The pancreas is positioned near the small intestine and enzymes travel from the pancreas to the small intestine to aid in digestion.

How the carbohydrate started off – maybe it was a bagel, the carbs in a candy bar or a sandwich – it is now in the form of monosaccharides; the single units of sugar that pass through the wall of the small intestine and enter our blood.

Once in the blood we can call these carbohydrates “blood sugar” or “blood glucose”. They travel in the blood to the liver.  The liver processes and then repackages or eliminates anything you ate or drank (this includes medications and alcohol) before sending it back into the general blood supply via the hepatic vein.


As you understand the journey of food, you can see how that journey is affected by health.  If we have digestive issues affecting the small intestine, or pancreatic issues affecting the enzymes and hormones it releases, or a liver disease, food can become a problem for the body instead of effective nourishment.

If you have a food allergy then you know all too well how this feels.  Let’s say you are lactose intolerant and are not able to digest dairy:  it really doesn’t matter how healthy that raw unpasteurized $10-a-carton organic cream is, it will pass through you undigested, doing you no good and causing hours of discomfort

Protein and fat have numerous functions, from making hormones, enzymes and muscles to protecting cells and our network of nerves.  Carbohydrates, on the other hand, have one main job to do; fuel the body, brain, nervous system and red blood cells that carry the all-important oxygen.

How much carbohydrate can be stored in our muscles is limited by how much lean body mass we have, thankfully yet bittersweet is the unlimited capacity for excess carbohydrates to be taken via the liver and stored in fat cells




The carbohydrates not immediately used for fuel can be stored as ‘glycogen’.  The liver can store a little bit of glycogen but, although the liver is quite a large organ and a big hitter in the organ world, it really doesn’t like to store much glycogen, maybe a few hundred calories.  However, what we really rely on for glycogen storage is our muscles.

The more muscle we have, the more carbohydrates we can store as glycogen.  That might mean a thousand or several thousand calories worth of carbohydrates,  depending on how much muscle you have.  How much we store in muscles also depends on how active the muscle is; conditioned athletes having the ability to store a lot more glycogen than most people.

Beware: once carbohydrates enter a muscle they remain there until that muscle uses that ‘glycogen’ as energy.  This is critical if you want to lose weight.  If you find yourself sedentary for any reason you will not deplete your muscles’ glycogen stores.  If you eat an excess of carbohydrates, the muscles stores will max out and those carbohydrates will show up as body fat.

Dealing with this fact depends on circumstance. If, for example, you are sick in the hospital you may need carbohydrates to heal, so you cannot just cut them out.  By contrast, if you’re on vacation, resting your butt on a beach lounger for a week, you may want to reconsider that dessert they are offering you. If your muscles are not active then that desert is going straight to that thing you’re sitting on.

  • There is a limit to how many carbohydrates can be stored in muscle.
  • Stored carbohydrates are called Glycogen
  • Glycogen will only fuel the muscle it is in. It is only liver glycogen that can help that travel and fuel the rest of the body.

With this in mind, consider the concept of “carbing up”. An age-old practice of eating huge amounts of carbohydrates before and event.  As the story goes this will give you energy and fuel.

If you can only store X amount of carbohydrates, what is the point of eating 10 x that amount? Where is the excess meant to go?  I’ll give you one guess.

Over the years I have met with many clients who came to see me because they gained weight getting ready for an endurance event. The amount of carbohydrates they were told to eat is always the reason why.



Carbohydrates are transported into muscle by the hormone Insulin.  When we eat a high carbohydrate meal our blood sugar increases and triggers Insulin.  The body dislikes high levels of sugar in the blood and its Insulins job to get rid of it.  When blood sugar is high Insulin will not only transport the carbohydrates out of our blood but it will also lock fat in our fat cells.  It makes good sense that insulin traps one source of fuel while it deals with an abundance of another.

When we are working out insulin in inhibited which also makes good sense as we want to keep carbohydrates in the blood to travel to the muscles being used.  Glut4 is the transporter that takes sugar from the blood to the working muscles while we are exercising.  When the muscle is dormant Glut4 is not active and we rely again on Insulin to remove sugar from the blood.  The kicker here is that it takes a “boat load” of insulin to get carbohydrates into a known active muscle. If Insulin cant get the carbohydrates into the muscle where does it end up?  In fat cells.

I’m sure you’ve heard the Old Wives Tale

“Don’t eat before bedtime”

They should be saying

“Don’t eat carbohydrates at night”

The most relaxed part of the day for most people is the evening.  Sitting on the couch watching TV or trolling social media.  Not the ideal time to order pizza or to eat cookies or pasta.  Your muscles are rested and it would take a lot of insulin to get any of those carbs into your inactive muscles.  If the carbs cannot go into muscle they will end up in fat.

If you do eat enough carbohydrates to illicit a huge insulin response insulin will do its job and trap fat in the fat cell.


If you’re trying to lose weight skip the carbs at night and stick to protein, fat and vegetables. If you’re working out at night then you can disregard the Old Wives Tale altogether because your muscles are active and receptive and ready to store more carbohydrates.


The carbohydrates your muscles store are actually the fuel you need for your next workout, which brings me on to another gem.

“Eat before your workout to fuel your workout”

You wake up and have a hearty carb-rich breakfast in preparation for your workout.

The fear is if you don’t have that breakfast you won’t have the energy or strength to get through your training session.

Knowing what you know now does it make sense to have that breakfast?  You just woke up so the muscles are not active, they are not primed to take on those pancakes but not to worry, your fat cells will oblige.

I suggested skipping breakfast to a dear cardiologist friend of mine who trains in the morning.  He dropped 15 lb

In the summer of 2010 a gentleman came to see me at my nutrition office in Santa Monica and he was pretty upset as he had just dedicated six months of his life to transforming himself from (his words) “a lifelong coach potato” into a man who ran the LA Marathon.  He ran with a running group and had a goal to raise money for a charity close to his heart and also to lose the weight he had been gaining since he turned 40.

He completed the marathon, raised the money and gained ten pounds.

He sat in my office furious, accusatory, even though this was my first time meeting him.  He left the office understanding why he had gained weight and with a plan to correct it. His coaches had encouraged that hearty breakfast and a heavy carb diet.  He was still furious but at least it was no longer directed at me.  I think he was heading straight to the running club that had told him to eat bagels and bananas for breakfast.

Please know even the most well-intentioned coach or exercise instructor may be giving outdated advice.  I once attended a running certification course where everyone there was a running coach.  During the two-day course the nutritional advice given was to have your clients “eat well”. I nearly fell off my chair.  What does that mean “Eat well?”

Many people join running groups to lose weight.  This advice will not move them towards that goal.  I must add that that weekend course was catered with Gatorade, bagels, bananas, subway and granola bars.


Another gentleman came to see me in the fall of 2015.  He had lost a lot of weight, over 80 pounds, and he had kept the weight off for five years until he suffered an injury and had to greatly limit his exercise.  I asked him how he had lost weight originally and he said from becoming very active and watching his portion size.  This was a guy who had hiked every local elevation possible, in between grueling ultramarathons.  He lost weight not because his nutrition was the best (it was not) but because he was exercise reliant and continually in a state of muscle glycogen depletion.  He was continually depleting the glycogen stored in his muscles so that he always had storage room for the carbohydrates he was still over-consuming. When he got injured the exercise stopped and on came the weight. He had quickly regained almost all 80 pounds.

When you have somebody with that sort of discipline it’s an easy fix.  We simply restructured the way he ate his macronutrients and he started to lose weight again.  A few months later his injuries had all healed and he was back to his intense workouts, but this time he wasn’t relying on excessive exercise to keep him in shape.

In the 1970s we focused on calories if we wanted to lose weight. In the 1980s we focused on fat-free foods. In the 90s we started to learn more about the role of carbohydrates and body composition. It’s all got obsessive, confusing and contradictory prioritizing the calories, the fat grams or the carbohydrates and now, as we barrel towards 2020, we are becoming fearful of meat.  There are very real concerns about how animals are fed and treated and we are entering and an era of conscious and ethical living, but more of that anon.

9 Incredible Ways To Boost Energy after 40

9 Incredible ways to boost your energy after 40

Lack of energy is one the biggest complaints I hear as the years start ticking away and its true you can take on just about anything if you have an abundance of energy.  Looking back I had a crazy amount of energy and motivation.  I would start work at 5am with clients and finish with my last client at 9pm.  I often worked 7 days a week, worked myself out every day and had a full social life – I enjoyed every minute.

Then about 42 it started to change.  I stopped working evening and set a curfew for myself.  I trained less (but smarter) and became the person who left the party early.  Part of getting older is accepting a decline in energy but what I couldn’t handle was the lack of motivation and ambition that came along with it.  I have always had a million ideas in my head, my thoughts are happy and my outlook positive but that started to change.  Eight years ago I made my energy a priority (rather than my body) and I was able to bring myself back to center with simple things like more sleep, less coffee, only unprocessed foods and a slew of supplements.

All has been great until very recently.  A surgery knocked me off my feet.  My energy plummeted to a 2 and my strength dropped by at least 50%.  I appreciate that this should be expected as a body heals but I am not the most patient person and I HATE feeling lethargic and weak.

I reached out to two of the smartest people i know, Jerry Brainum and to Dr Howard Elkin and I wanted to share what they told me to do.

If you are feeling tired and sluggish for any reason you might want to try some of these supplements to get you back on your feet.

feeling tired affects every aspect of your life and often the fatigue you feel goes beyond lack of sleep.

Watch the video as I explain

  1. glutamine
  2. fish oil
  3. probiotics
  4. creatine
  5. magnesium
  6. L tyrosine
  7. Coq10
  8. Protein
  9. Vitamine D

If you find this useful please share because there are many exhausted people out there 🙂

The Shrink Shop can help you with 3 of these supplements (Omega 3 fish oil, Probiotic, Vitamin D)  direct link CLICK HERE

Until next time.  I hope you enjoyed  9 Incredible ways to increase energy after 40



3 Ways Hormones Affect Your Waistline


In an earlier post this week I talked about a fascinating new study that showed us how the nervous system and the immune system communicate with each other. As we age cells become inflamed and may stop fat cells from communicating properly. It may be one reason why that fat around our middle never wants to leave us no matter how hard we exercise and diet.
Great study which I found really interesting but that’s not the whole story and I may have started with the more complicated explanation.
LIPOLYSIS (yes, again)
Lipolysis is the process that breaks the fat cell down into its individual parts. Once broken down it can enter the blood and can be used as fuel. If we use the fat for fuel we lose weight, if we do not use the fat for fuel it simply gets taken back into storage. We call that a “futile cycle”
Lipolysis is the breakdown of the fat cell and it is a chain reaction, a sequence of hormones and enzymes, at the end of the sequence the fat is in the blood and the rest is up to you.

Hormone Sensitive Lipase (yes, again) is part of this chain. It is an enzyme and the name suggests, it is sensitive to hormones. As discussed in a previous blog, Insulin shuts down this enzyme halting lipolysis.
Our sex hormones also influence his enzyme. As our sex hormones decline with age they don’t shut this crucial enzyme down, but they do slow it down. If HSL is slower so too is fat breakdown and this helps us understand why it gets more and more difficult to lose weight as we get older. We are breaking down fat at a slower rate.

Another enzyme is LPL (lipoprotein lipase) and it’s the gatekeeper to our cells. Its sits on our cells and decides how much fat is allowed to enter. When this enzyme is super active its drags more fat into the cell.
In our mid section Estrogen (women) and Testosterone (men) inhibit LPL activity. Estrogen and Testosterone keep this enzyme is check in our belly area,
As we age and these hormones decline so does their inhibitory behavior. Lipoprotein Lipase kicks us a gear, gets more active and more fat can be stored in the mid section area ☹
The decline in our sex hormones therefore slows the breakdown of fat and increases our ability to store fat … ouch !!

Its right about now I wish I had some good news for you.
Its most certainly a good argument for bio identical hormones, but that is a personal decision and you really need a great doctor to work with (CA peeps Dr Howard Elkin In Whittier)
I have seen clients whose doctors just slapped an estrogen patch on them and they gained 10 lb and became emotional wrecks. I cannot stress HRT is the answer for some people but it 100% depends on the care and guidance you are given.

One thing you can do proactively. Control your blood sugar by controlling your carbohydrate intake. Too many carbohydrates trigger the over release of insulin and insulin will shut down lipolysis completely. Insulin will also cause your kidneys to reabsorb water so say hello to major water retention.
Getting older is tough enough but you add insulin overload to the mix and it’s a whole other story
If you need help understanding blood sugar and carbohydrate control please comment here or contact me directly

11 Ways Sleep will Make you Slim and Gain Muscle


The Shrink Shop started as a weight loss consulting business.  The supplement line that followed was originally for my nutrition clients.  I would be suggesting the supplements they really needed but I wasn’t actually providing them with the products.  Buying supplements can be pretty daunting and by providing my clients with a basic line of high-quality supplements I could save them that anguish11

Wehn I started researching and formulating the line the very first product I started with was our Sleep Formula.  It maybe seemed like a strange choice for a weight loss business but it is the biggest obstacle I have seen when it comes to health and especially to weight loss.  I am now seeing article after article of sleep and why it is so important and I am going to pull on some of these articles for this blog post.

One of the greatest problems I see with sleep deprivation is the bravado that people attach to it.  They almost pride themselves on getting too little sleep.  Prideful of how busy they are or how in demand they are or the amount of self-sacrifice or importance they have that just doesnt allow for quality sleep hours.  I have been very guilty of that in the past, trying to take on every client that came my way.  From the 5am client to the Sunday 9pm client.  I worked 7 days a week for years and put everybody’s health before my own  (a total martyr because it was always a choice that made me feel more important and successful – what a load of $%@&!)

Sleep to lose weight and build muscle

Clients would roll their eyes when I went into the importance of sleep, that was until they actually practiced it and pounds would drop off in a matter of days.  This did not apply to everyone because for every martyr, like myself, there was the person who really wanted to sleep but just couldn’t get to sleep or couldn’t stay asleep.  This plagues almost 70% of women and over 50% of men and it is an issue that gets worse as we age, partly because of hormonal shifts.

Simply taking some $6 melatonin works for some people but melatonin is not really a sleeping aid, it is a darkness simulator and this is not always the reason people cant sleep.  Glowing gadgets before going to bed absolutely affect our ability to sleep and melatonin will help in that regard but what about body aches, tension, a chattering mind that won’t shut up.  Not being able to sleep more than a few hours, robbing you of that powerful REM sleep.  What about stress, an over stimulated nervous system or hot flashes and declining hormones that keep your body awake?  Melatonin will not address these issues and that’s why I developed the Sleep Formula.

Too many people resort to prescription meds or downing NyQuil in their quest to sleep but now we are looking at dominance and building a tolerance to hardcore medication and we are dealing with that awful hangover which feels almost as bad as no sleep. It is a shame that we tend to trust prescription meds over herbs and naturally occurring substances that have proved successful for thousand of years.  I think maybe it is that white coat syndrome, where our faith lies in anyone that wears a white coat.

During WW2 the Nazis did some pretty gruesome experiments on people and one of the tests involved telling people to do something they knew was wrong.  In one case they had to turn a dial that would electrocute a person and cause them a lot of pain.  Individuals were instructed to turn a dial and watch as a  person in another room felt the pain of their decision.  There was huge resistance and people refused to act, that was until the person instructing the task put on a white coat.  The compliance skyrocketed when the person instructing the experiment wore a white coat.   A white coat to this day symbolizes authority, a person that knows more than us, a person we can trust.

I am not bashing our medical community here.  We want to trust someone with our decisions and we are more inclined to trust a doctor or a pharmaceutical company than we are to trust a herb we can’t pronounce, even if it has been used for hundreds of years with great results.


Chronic sleep debt is associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and many other health complications.  If you are the person that is doing everything right but you still have that stubborn belly fa, this might be your answer.

Insufficient sleep downregulates leptin levels and upregulates ghrelin. A perfect storm for always being hungry, never feeling full and increasing your appetite.  If you dont get enough sleep or if you cant stay asleep then you may become less insulin sensitive (not a good thing) and may affect your ability to tolerate carbohydrates

(we often hear about insulin sensitivity, but it is rarely explained.  If your blood sugar becomes elevated – usually because of too many carbohydrates – then it triggers the over the release of insulin.  If your cells are sensitive to insulin you can clear the excess sugar from the blood and get back to normal asap.  If you are insulin resistance then cells don’t respond well to insulin and the sugar does not leave the blood as efficiently causing the pancreas to churn out more and more insulin aka pre-diabetes  You really really want to be insulin sensitive for many reasons)

Being tired will have you seeking “energy” foods (not usually a chicken breast or a handful of nuts) and being tired isnt the best motivator for that run or gym workout.  If you do make your workout you might be chugging that pre workout or energy shot and hey ho few hours later and you crash and be hungry and … tired OY

If you are trying to build muscle (especially at an age where it gets more difficult to add quality muscle) then you really need your sleep.  We only grow when we sleep!  Its why babies need so much sleep and why teenagers can sleep past noon.  If you’re not sleeping you will not build muscle – that simple.



I am not against medication to make you sleep, I just strongly believe that the vast majority of people just don’t need it and here’s why …

Calcium – a natural relaxant that promotes a feeling of calm

B6 – normalizes our sleep/wake patterns and is required to make serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that controls mood, appetite, sensitivity to pain and … sleep.

Magnesium – relaxes physical tension and tight muscles.

Melatonin – a hormone released by the pineal gland in the brain.  The Pineal gland is inactive during daytime but is triggered into action by the darkness of night.  Once released melatonin enters the blood and you start to feel less alert and more ready for sleep.  Melatonin is found naturally in small doses in meats, grains, and vegetables.

The brain associates light with day and dark with night and melatonin rather than being a sleep supplement it is rather a darkness simulator.  For those who travel in different time zones melatonin can really help with their circadian cycle (light/dark pattern) although you don’t need to travel to have this problem.  Our smartphones, computers, televisions, even our alarm clocks are confusing our natural cycle and causing sleep problems, we are seeing this especially with the young.  In 2012 Time/Qualcomm polled 4700 people in 7 different countries (including the US) and found that young people were more likely to say that they “don’t sleep well because I am connected to technology all the time”

What’s the last thing you look at before sleep?

GABA (an amino acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that dampens nerve activity in the Central Nervous System leading to a feeling of calm and relaxation.

Valerian Root a popular herb for sleep actually increases GABA

Hops Flower is similar to Valerian in being a sedative and hypnotic herb.  Made from the female flower of the hops plant Hops Flower is a popular herb often used in combination with Valerian Root. Both are well tolerated and have been used for centuries.

Skullcap is a muscle relaxant and used for headaches, especially tension headaches.

Chamomile is used for nervous energy and mental anxiety

Passionflower a fabulous addition as it’s the herb that helps keep you asleep! Often used on its own for this one reason.

L Taurine also increases GABA and vegetarians are at risk for being deficient as it is found naturally in

Inositol a sugar found in citrus fruits (negligible calories) that activates pathways to stop your mind from racing.  Inositol quietens that mental chatter that seemingly gets louder when we try to sleep.  Inositol activates serotonin and promotes the calmness needed for sleep

You will recognize many of names here and like melatonin you can they all individually with good success.  I used to use passion flower nightly and loved it.  GABA back in the 90’s was  big in the bodybuilding community (it works so well, that all got a little out of hand for some) and Inositol in today’s fast-paced world is one of the most overlooked supplements to get your head to just shut up and sleep.

So please don’t compare our SLEEP FORMULA with a simple melatonin product.  The reason most people cant sleep goes way beyond our light/dark rhythms.

To answer the biggest question of all.  Because The Sleep Formula works with your own regulators to allow for quality sleep it will not leave you with the dreadful hangover of a prescription pill.

Sleep Formula is available on Amazon where it is doing really well!  What surprised me was how many guys are buying it.  Ladies as our hormones change our sleep gets hit first (I’m doing another blog post on exactly why)  70% of women over 40 report problems with sleep but I hadn’t appreciated how popular it would be with men.

I would for you to purchase it on Amazon and if you love it PLEASE leave a review.  If you’re still not sure but you know you need some zzzzzz then just contact me through this blog with your name, email address and mailing address and I will be happy to send you a sample

Hope you enjoyed this blog post.  Until next time x