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By Bob LeFavi, Ph.D., CSCS, CHES


Chances are, if you’re like thousands of fitness-conscious people, you’ll spend a good part of today agonizing over your diet as if the Black Cloud of Fatness was hot on your trail. No doubt you’re betting that through strict dieting, reading labels, relentlessly evaluating and reevaluating your daily meal plan and training routine, you’ll not only avoid those Quasibloato Meets Pillsbury Dough Boy comparisons, but you’ll also slowly expose a ripped, hard and chiseled physique.

But will all that work pay off? I mean, really pay off? After all, in spite of the fact that we’re continually updating our knowledge on the latest research and advances in nutrition and weight loss science, the only thing many people seem to be losing in their fight against fat is ground.

So, something’s not working just right, and I’m beginning to believe the dismal fat-loss success rates of many are the result of confusion. That is, there’s a tendency to get lost in the barrage of weight control “magic bullets” du jour espoused by the media so that we simply become overwhelmed by it all.

What you should know, however, is that the more research we perform and gather on the science of permanent fat loss, the more we’re ruling out the likelihood of a magic bullet (that one incredible fat-loss solution for everyone) altogether. Rather, it makes much more sense to view the most recent research on fat loss in its total framework and to incorporate the latest information into a plan that relates to you; one you can both understand and use. Here are the top 10 theories and more recent revelations dealing with body fat and fat loss that’ll put you in control of your ultimate plan to achieve a ripped physique.

#1. Dietary Fat: The Bad Guy

Whether we want to accept it or not, all calories as not created equal. In other words, it depends where a calorie comes from. Yes, a calorie from fat really is different than a calorie from other sources. And it has nothing to do with the fact that fat has nine calories per gram compared to four for carbs and protein; that;s a separate issue altogether.

Decades of research have shown that fat calories cannot be counted like other calories because they affect your body differently than calories from carbs or protein. Specifically, fat calories, in and of themselves, turn on fat storage mechanisms. To illustrate, take the findings of one study, also shown in animal work, in which the dietary fat content of a group of women trying to lose body fat affected fat loss significantly more than even their total caloric intake1!

Simply put, it’s as if the ingestion of fat itself, regardless of how minimal your total caloric intake may be, is a signal for your body to store fat. This work shows us more than ever that fat’s the culprit (not necessarily calories). And it has led more than a few researchers in nutrition science to suggest that, from a functional point of view, a gram of fat may result in an energy level more like 11 calories!

#2. Dietary Fat: The Good Guy

But, wait; what about the research suggesting dietary fat is not the enemy we once thought it was? Good question. In fact, newer research has provided clues as to how much dietary fat is best for fitness and increasing lean body mass. As it turns out, that’s the better question.

How Low Is Too Low? There is a substantial body of research showing that “to be less fat you must eat less fat,” but can fat intake get too low? When it comes to muscle growth and leanness, the answer appears to be yes!

A study2 by researchers at Penn State University demonstrated that a higher-fat diet might help maintain an athlete’s anabolic potential. This study is built on evidence identifying a decrease in circulating testosterone levels when subjects consumed a diet containing a much lower-than-average percentage of calories from fat. For instance, Reed3 showed that changing the diet of six normal men from one having plentiful fat to one in which the men consumed less than 20 grams of fat per day significantly decreased free testosterone concentrations in their bloodstream. And Tegelman and co-workers reported that when the diets of hockey players shifted from 40% energy from fat to under 30 percent energy from fat, their serum testosterone concentrations were reduced significantly.4

Again, in the Penn State study, the resting testosterone concentrations of 12 weight training men were positively correlated with their percent of energy intake from fat! This means that as these men ate more fat, their anabolic state increased. So what’s the deal?

“Higher Fat.” In the study above, a few things are important. First, when striving to maximize your anabolic state, we’re not talking about high-fat diets, but “higher fat” (higher than extremely low-fat) diets. In the Penn State study, the mean percentage of calories from fat was only 23%! And the highest was only 32%! We’re not anywhere near what you might call, by today’s standards, high fat!

However, these findings have certainly modified our thinking about the limits of a low-fat diet. Yes, you can get too low! Low fat doesn’t mean “the lower, the better.” What we’ve come to see is that changing your diet, and the subsequent physiological alterations to which your body would have to adapt, is a stressor like any other stressor you encounter. As such, your change in dietary fat can be a positive stress (called “eustress”), to which you respond as predicted with no difficulties. Or, in the case of a stressor that’s too intense or too frequent, your change in diet can be a negative stressor (called “distress”), to which your body reacts by actually trying to fight itself.

The Penn State study tells us 25-30% fat calories is low enough if you want to get leaner but also maintain your anabolic state. The study’s low-fat dieters were taking in only 10% of their calories from fat! Hey, that’s a pre-contest diet! And a tough one at that! The bottom line is that fat intake can get too low; keep your fat intake at about 25% (which is still cutting back a good deal for most people). And, if you’re looking for the best type of fat to eat, choose the monounsaturated fats associated with olive oils and the Mediterranean diet.

#3. Genetics I – Picking the Right Parents

Research shows you inherit two things: (a) the number of fat cells you’re born with, and (b) where they’re located. Relax! Even if your folks are on the heavy side, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed! It just gives you an idea of your starting point and what you’re working with.

Unfortunately, life continues to be unfair to us. You see, contrary to muscle cells that can really only increase in size, fat cells can increase in both size and number. And once you’ve got a fat cell, it’s with you for life (barring liposuction, etc.). The upside here is that you can shrink your fat cells to virtually nothing!



#4. Genetics II – The Fat Gene

Researchers at New York City’s Rockefeller University found a genetic mutation in obese mice, a mutation they believe is responsible for the production of a hormone that alters metabolism and keeps the brain from shutting off the feed mode.

So, what does all this have to do with you? “Obesity gene or not, you can control your eating habits,” says Kathryn Parker, RD, LD, a sports nutrition consultant in Gainesville, Florida. “We’re not mice; we can make intelligent food choices regardless of any overfat predisposition we might have. I’d bet there are dozens of great athletes who have a predisposition toward some degree of overfatness, but use knowledge, skill and willpower to offset it.” It still comes down to you and what you do every day.

#5. “Set Point” Shenanigans

This old notion that your body has a predetermined body fat “thermostat” that regulates your level of fatness has not only stood the test of time, but has been revisited with a vengeance. It’s no secret to any veteran of bodybuilding that a dieter’s body resists change, trying to get back to its original weight.

In fact, research5 has confirmed that one’s metabolic rate can slow as much as 15% after only a 10% loss of bodyweight. Imagine the incredibly sluggish metabolism competitive athletes must experience when they typically lose up to 15-20% of their bodyweight!

There are two new things here. First, is our belief regarding where this set point originates. Instead of a genetic determination, our set point is now believed to be under control of more external factors (environment, lifestyle, etc.) and thus, much more able to be altered.6 Clearly, the external factor that can lower your set point more than any other factor is continued exercise. That doesn’t mean once this week and three times next week; it means regular training!

Second, we now believe there are chemical messengers shrinking fat cells that are sent to the brain so hunger is stimulated. This protective mechanism might explain why long-term dieters seem to obsess about food; they are continually being reminded to eat. It’s not just you who feels that way at the end of a contest diet, but knowing what you’re up against should help.

#6. Sluggish Metabolism?

You’ve heard it: “I must have a slow metabolism!” Just an excuse for laziness and overeating, right? Well, maybe not. We’ve always known that metabolic rates can be chronically lower in some people. For example, people who put themselves through “yo-yo” dieting rituals wind up with a metabolic rate that’s adapted to first gear.7

It’s not that metabolism can slow; it’s a matter of how much it can slow. So how much difference is there between people when it comes to their normal caloric furnace? Not much. Metabolic rates rarely vary between individuals by more than 5%. But no, it’s not your imagination; some people really do burn calories as if they’re in overdrive all day.

The key to whether you’re at the high or low metabolic end may lie in how good a “fidgeter” you are. “Fidgeting refers to nonpurposeful or spontaneous movement,” says Dr. Eric Poehlman, a former tenured research professor at the University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine in Burlington, Vermont. “And that burns calories, too.”

But can fidgeting really make a difference? “Sure, it can!” says Poehlman. And studies at the National Institutes of Health back him up. It has been shown that fidgeters can burn as many as 800 extra calories a day just bouncing their legs and shifting in their chairs! That’s the equivalent of running about eight miles!

#7. Food on the Brain: NPY and Protein-Rich Diets

Research showing decreased hunger and enhanced fat loss when certain brain chemicals are altered has blown us away. First, Kaye and colleagues found the hormone now believed to be the cause of hunger – neuropeptide Y (NPY). When NPY is present in a critical area of an animal’s brain, hunger is produced no matter how much the animal has recently eaten.

So, how can you use this information to your benefit? Since NPY seems to be more specific to carb intake stimulation than anything else, make sure you reach for low-calorie carbs like pasta, potatoes or fruit when the hunger pangs hit. This will reduce NPY activity and the hunger associated with it. This is completely consistent with the new move to higher protein diets, based on clinical (the thermic effect of protein digestion and the fattening effects if insulin) and anecdotal evidence.

Additionally, prescription drugs, such as Prozac (fluoxetine), collectively termed serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), and even herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort, may hold a clue to eating behaviors and permanent fat loss.

#8. Weight Cycling: Going Nowhere Fast

Repeated cycles of weight loss and regain, called “yo-yo” dieting, result in weight regain that occurs very quickly. In fact, in one study, animals required twice the time to lose the same weight during a second period of caloric restriction, and only one-third the time to regain it8!  Making matters worse, the final, regained weight is virtually always much higher than the pre-dieting weight.

We used to believe this was all a function of a slowed metabolic rate that continually trained itself to live on less during and following each bout of dieting. Now, we know a key fat storage enzyme, called lipoprotein lipase, whose main mission in life is to store fat, increases in activity and concentration after each bout of the up-down cycle. Bottom line: Don’t let yourself get too heavy after a contest or a long diet; it’ll be harder to take that weight off next time.

#9. Missed Communication

Studies suggest sensors in your small intestine signal the brain not only about how much, but also about what has been eaten! In some people who seem to have difficulty losing fat, this gut-to-brain communication system is off-line.

You can use this work to your advantage by (a) being especially conscious of your level of satiety and, of course, by (b) avoiding the tendency to wolf down food when you’re in a hurry, as this crucial monitoring system won’t have time to kick in.

#10. The Caloric Equation

After all this, you’d think it really doesn’t matter how many calories you eat! Well, unfortunately, it still does. That is, when all is said and done, excess calories are stored as fat; there’s really no way around it. However, on the other side is the fact that if you burn more calories than you ingest, you’ll pull energy from your fat stores and slowly deplete them. Sure, that sounds elementary, but as a bodybuilding judge I can’t tell you how many competitors I’ve seen who simply lost sight of this.

However, the processes of converting carbs, protein and fat into fatty deposits differ dramatically. For carbs to be converted to fatty tissue, roughly 30% of their caloric energy is used in the process itself, and even more for protein. (Of course, fat just slips right in there with little trouble.) Here’s another reason why many people have done well on higher protein diets.

And don’t forget about the exercise side of the equation. Far too many people still mistakenly attempt to reduce body fat the ol’ “no-brainer” way – by dropping their caloric level dangerously low, unwittingly shooting themselves in the foot by slowing their metabolic rates to a crawl.

Dr. Robert “Bob” LeFavi is dean of the Beaufort Campus at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort. Previously, he was professor and head, Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology at Georgia Southern University (Armstrong Campus), and professor of Sports Medicine at Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Georgia. LeFavi’s research and published work on training and nutrition have led to interviews on “CBS Evening News,” CNN and “Inside Edition,” and quotes as an expert in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and Parade. LeFavi is a former competitive bodybuilder who placed second in his class at the National, USA and North American bodybuilding championships.



1. Sheppard L, AR Kristal and LH Kushi. Weight loss in women participating in a randomized trial of low-fat diets. Amer J Clin Nutr 54:821, 1991.

2. Volek JS, WK Kraemer, JA Bush, T Incledon and M Boetes. Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. JAppl Physiol,  82(1):49-54, 1997.

3. Reed MJ, RW Cheng, M Simmonds, W Richmond and VHT James. Dietary lipids: An additional regulator of plasma levels of sex hormone binding globulin. J Clin Endocrinol & Metab, 64(5):1083-1085, 1987.

4. Tegelman R, T Aberg, A Pousette and K. Carlstrom. Effects of a diet regimen on pituitary and steroid hormones in male ice hockey players. Int’l J Sports Med 13:424-430, 1992.

5. Leibel RL, M Rosenbaum and J Hirsch. Changes in energy expenditure resulting from altered body weight. New Eng J Med. 332:621, 1995.

6. Bennett WI. Beyond Overating [Editorial] New Eng J Med. 332:673, 1995.

7. Van Dale D and WHM Saris. Repetitive weight loss and weight regain: Effects on weight reduction, resting metabolic rate, and lipolytic activity before and after exercise and/or diet treatment. Amer J Clin Nutr. 49:409, 1989.

8. Brownell KD, et al. The effects of repeated cycles of weight loss and regain in rats. Physiolog Behav 38:459, 1986.

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Failures in Business: The Unseen Stepping Stones to Success

Equally significant is the need for businesses to remain vigilant about broader shifts in both domestic and global markets. Macro factors, whether they’re economic trends, geopolitical events, or emerging global challenges, can have profound ripple effects, impacting even the most niche industries. By staying abreast of these larger market dynamics, businesses can better anticipate risks, adapt to challenges, and capitalize on new opportunities. In an ever-globalizing world, the ability to navigate both the nuances of one’s immediate market and the broader global shifts is what separates thriving enterprises from those that falter.

TACTICAL Takeaway: Stay sharp and monitor your industry’s trends. When things shift, being ahead in understanding consumer habits offers you the flexibility to adjust and succeed. Things can change rapidly and the sooner you have insight into consumer behavior changes, the more opportunities you have to pivot.


Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The sports nutrition industry is an interesting, fast-paced vertical where what’s old can quickly become new again but also what worked yesterday likely won’t work tomorrow.

It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s spot-on. Take creatine as an example. It hit the shelves in the early 1990s and quickly became a hit. Yet, a decade later, its demand had waned. Jump another decade to today, and it’s back more popular than ever.

TACTICAL Takeaway: The key for businesses is knowing when to go all-in on a product and when to ease off, as it’s the ever-changing consumer market that truly drives demand.

Never Rest On Your Laurels

Just because something “has always worked” doesn’t mean it’s going to continue to work (or continue to work as efficiently).

In the dynamic world of business, the saying “never rest on your laurels” holds more truth than ever. What propelled a company to success yesterday might not necessarily be the formula for its tomorrow’s success. Market demands, technological innovations, and consumer preferences are in a perpetual state of evolution. While a particular strategy or product might have been a game-changer at one point, there’s no guarantee that it will remain relevant or effective in the future. This inherent unpredictability underscores the need for adaptability and forward-thinking in any business endeavor.

This reality pushes companies to be proactive, always forecasting and adjusting to the next potential shift. Relying solely on past successes can lull businesses into complacency, risking obsolescence in the face of changing tides.

TACTICAL Takeaway: To remain competitive and relevant, businesses need to cultivate a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and agility. In essence, the past can inform and guide, but it’s the vision and readiness for the future that will determine enduring success.

Embracing The Journey

To any entrepreneur reading this: the road to success is rarely a straight one. At times, it may seem like every decision leads to a dead end. But remember, every misstep is an opportunity to learn, grow, and pivot.

The trials you face in business are not meant to discourage you. Instead, they are meant to shape you, refine your vision, and improve your strategy. As the age-old adage goes, “smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” It’s the challenges that will arm you with the experience and resilience necessary for long-term success.

So, the next time you face a setback, remember that your next big success could be just around the corner. Embrace failure as a part of the process, learn from your mistakes, and continue pushing forward with a renewed sense of purpose and determination.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. With so much time spent working and navigating challenges, it’s essential to find joy and have fun along the way.


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Negativity Is a Losing Mindset

By Marc Lobliner


‘A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.’

I coach my son’s U11 football team. I am just the line coach, but the dudes who coach with me are also in the same mindset as I am.

Positivity wins.

Let’s start off with last weekend’s game.

It’s 0-0, the opening kickoff is a short one and we fall on it.

You can hear our coaches getting our kids fired up and getting the offense ready for play. POSITIVE statements. A lot of “Let’s Go!” and energy.

On the other sideline, you hear the coaches angrily yelling at their players for the execution of the kick.

First play from scrimmage, our line makes every block and opens the outside for our running back to score.

You hear their coaches furiously yelling as we celebrate.

We celebrated and our fullback punched in the extra point.

After the kickoff, our defense held them to four and out. We got the ball again, touchdown. Extra point good.

14-0 in two offensive plays.s

Their coaches were still mad. Angry. Yelling.

We smiled, encouraged our kids, and ended up with a 42-0 mercy-rule win.

Our players are awesome, but not the biggest, not the fastest, not the strongest.

It’s all about culture and what you’re playing for.

We demand a lot of our athletes. Learn your plays, DO YOUR JOB, and we will win.

Every Tuesday after we win, I buy my linemen doughnuts and give them to everyone, telling them that a random lineman (changes weekly) said everyone deserves doughnuts. We don’t punish every mistake with extra running and up-downs. We focus on what we do RIGHT, and not what we do wrong.

The other game one of my linemen got called for a hold. He came off the field expecting to be scolded. I put my arm around him and said, “What happened?” He explained it and then I said, “You’re better than that guy, you don’t need to hold. Show the world how dominant you are!” He didn’t get one call the rest of the game and crushed it.

This is also my management style at work. Managers are usually garbage. You can do 1,000 things right and you mess up once and your manager attacks you.

556494762 fullsizerender 4


Employees typically respond better to positivity, and numerous studies have found that positive reinforcement and a positive work environment can significantly improve employee motivation, performance, and well-being. Here are some reasons why, supported by various studies:

Increased Productivity: According to a study conducted by the University of Warwick, happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10% less productive. The research shows that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity.

Better Decision-Making Abilities: Research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center found that individuals who were induced to feel positive emotions were better at problem-solving and making decisions than those in a neutral state.

Boosts Creativity: Positive emotions widen attention and allow people to think more broadly and openly. This is discussed in the “broaden-and-build theory” by Barbara Fredrickson, which suggests that positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary thought-action repertoires.

Enhanced Team Collaboration: A study from MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that teams that communicate effectively, with members actively reaching out and connecting with all other team members, were more successful. Positive interactions contribute to this dynamic.

Reduced Employee Turnover: According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a positive work environment and culture encourages employees to stay longer in their jobs, thus reducing turnover rates. This is KEY at where our staff has mostly been there for 5+ years!

Better Health & Well-being: A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that positive work environments and low job stress are linked to better health outcomes for employees, which in turn can lead to reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

Increased Engagement: According to Gallup, workers who are engaged and have high well-being are more likely to be attached to their organizations and are more productive.

Enhanced Learning & Flexibility: Research in the field of positive psychology has shown that positive emotions can facilitate adaptive thinking and flexibility in cognitive processing. This helps employees adapt to new situations and learn more effectively.

Higher Levels of Satisfaction: A study by BrightHR found that happiness is a key indicator of job satisfaction. Happy employees are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction with their jobs than those who report low levels of happiness.

Creates a Positive Feedback Loop: A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that experiencing positive emotions leads to higher levels of resilience, which in turn leads to increased positive emotions. This positive feedback loop has a myriad of beneficial effects in the workplace.

How about parenting?

Same thing. PRAISE YOUR CHILD! Make sure they know you love them. While bad behavior should be addressed, be sure to also reward good behavior. Kid had a good day at school? Get him ice cream! Tell him you love him. Say you’re proud of him.

As my mother said, “You catch more flies with honey than with crap.”

And one can’t deny the lifelong impact of a good coach. As the sign in the office says, “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

Be positive and be a winner!

556494785 img 1682 2

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