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By Daniel Gwartney, MD

People eat too much. Oops, the truth spilled out. There are far too many calories consumed by the general population, and laborious effort has been trimmed to the bare minimum in many people’s lives. Compound that with the decline in active recreation (e.g., exercise, sports), and the cumulative effect over time is… where we are as a society now. There are nearly twice as many overweight and obese people as normal weight.

People are educated about calories, and want to reduce how much they take in. They still want to enjoy the flavor and experience of eating, just in a way that is consequence free. Further, the interest and benefits of reducing carbohydrate intake – especially sugar – has allowed the sugar substitute industry to enjoy a healthy market demand. Sugar substitutes are also called non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NCAS), though certain ones do contain a caloric value. There is a long history of NCAS use, with the first commercial product, saccharin, discovered more than 100 years ago. Currently, there are a handful approved for use in the United States, more familiar by their brand names (e.g., Sweet’N Low, Splenda, Equal). Most NCAS are chemically synthesized, though plant-extract stevia products are also available.

The premise is logical – replace sugar and its simple carbohydrate calories with a substitute that provides the same taste (sweetness) but lacks calories. Genius! Nature OUTSMARTED… not. Recall, the golden years of sugar substitutes occurred DURING the obesity crisis that continues unabated today. Society as a whole did not enjoy weight loss, or even a prevention of further weight gain, with the availability of “non-caloric artificial sweeteners.” IT GOT WORSE. Individually though, did people who used artificially sweetened products lose weight? Certainly, they must have since they were not consuming as much sugar or calories, right? Umm, maybe not… probably not… well, no, not really.

The Body’s Response

A scientific review considered the use of NCAS and weight management.1 The authors attempted to clarify one area of confusion – that being, do people who use NCAS make up the calories in later meals? Well, there is conflicting evidence, but cutting to the chase, people don’t take in enough calories later on to make up for the calories they avoid from sugar by using NCAS. Not a whopping amount, as it results in maybe a half pound of weight loss per week based upon the calorie deficit. Of course, that assumes that the calories lost by substituting with NCAS actually make the diet hypocaloric. The review noted that NCAS consumers are generally people with a higher BMI, suggesting the calorie content of their diet is above their maintenance needs. So, with NCAS use, they are consuming fewer calories, but still too many. Perhaps gaining weight at a slower pace could be given and “honorable mention” award.

Researchers have rightly noted that NCAS are not just “sugar substitutes,” but chemicals that may have effects on various tissues, such as the intestines and brain.2 One aspect questioned is the “enteral-brain axis” or gut-to-brain communication. When you taste something sweet, but don’t get the increase in blood sugar and calorie availability, insulin release and suppression of fatty acid release that your brain expects from sugar – how does the body respond? It is confused, as sweet on the tongue should result in an influx of simple sugars that stimulate insulin release and begin to satisfy the appetite. Instead, it may lead to a greater demand for eating, as the body is told there is nutrition coming by the tongue, but not seeing it as available calories. Though the data is sometimes conflicting, it also seems that the intense sweetness triggers the “reward” pathways in the brain, and in susceptible individuals this results in bigger meals or more frequent food-seeking behavior (e.g., snacking).2,3

Bear in mind, the “five senses” – sight, smell, sound, touch and taste – are the brain’s direct connection with the environment. If the brain senses food by sight, taste or smell, it generates hunger and turns on behavior “programs” that result in eating. Fast-food restaurants know this, which is why they have brilliantly lit marquee signs and pipe the smell of french fries into the exhaust vents to be inhaled by drivers passing by. The sweet taste of sugary icings is what drives most to eat doughnuts, not the cake. Now, imagine if you smelled french fries, and the aroma was coming from an auto parts store. You don’t forget your hunger; you go looking for a nearby McDonald’s. If your brain tastes sugar, and it gets saccharin or aspartame, it sends you off to find food.4

The NCAS industry hasn’t been bothered by this, though, as people have a strong desire to consider themselves as iron-willed, capable of eating sugary snacks if they can indulge in a sweet, low-calorie treat instead. In fact, many people can utilize NCAS-sweetened beverages in place of a sugar-sweetened soda or other high-calorie beverage.2 [NCAS work best in replacing the sugars in beverages, as they are not suitable for high-heat cooking, and the “empty” calories are present in beverages. “Sugar-free” foods often have similar calories due to the use of non-sugar thickeners to provide the “mouth-feel” expected from sugary foods.]


Effect on Metabolism

This would mean that NCAS are a valuable tool to losing weight, right? What do you think? Newer research (appearing after most NCAS have gone off-patent) suggests that NCAS might actually be sabotaging your metabolism. Our body is host to many bacterial colonies, so many that the number of bacteria cells actually outnumbers the “human” cells. The gut is a major locale, but as these bacteria come from nature, they work. In healthy, non-obese people, the bacteria help maintain the metabolism and health of the person, including ways that function like another endocrine organ. The gut “microbiome” has been shown to be altered by the diet, and the changes alter the human metabolism.5 But NCAS are not “food,” just sweeteners, so they should not affect the gut microbiome, right? Have you learned yet?

NCAS are not sugar, and their effects as chemicals have been sparingly researched (perhaps intentionally). However, now that research published in the eminent journal Nature has surfaced, it may be time to look at those little packets as more than pretty pink, blue and yellow sachets of sweetness.6

A series of experiments revealed some exciting (for scientists) findings. First, in mice given one of three NCAS for a week, compared to mice given water, there was a distinct and rapid onset of insulin resistance. This means they could not shuttle glucose (blood sugar) into their muscles and other tissues as well. The researchers suspected this was due to a change in the gut microbiome, so they treated the mice with antibiotics to kill all the gut bacteria, and the negative change was gone. Genetic analysis of the gut microbiome showed that the NCAS-fed mice developed an “unhealthy” population. Further, when the scientists transplanted feces (poop) from the NCAS-fed mice to a separate group of mice that were raised without a gut microbiome, the same changes occurred in the mice that received the fecal transplant – without being exposed to NCAS. This supports the idea that NCAS alter the gut microbiome in an unhealthy way, rather than affecting the organ function in the mouse.

Then, the researchers looked for evidence of the same effect in humans. Using data from an ongoing nutritional study revealed that NCAS users had a higher body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio, increased fasting glucose and HbA1c 9 (a marker of long-term glucose control, so higher is bad), as well as a gut microbiome that differed from those who do not consume NCAS. Of course, it is possible that those who are already obese are more likely to use NCAS as part of a weight-loss effort.

Sabotaging Weight-Loss Efforts?

The authors tried to repeat a mini-study on humans, similar to that performed on the mice. Human subjects who did not consume NCAS routinely were given saccharin for a week, and tested before and after for signs of negative changes in how they handled sugar (aka glucose tolerance or insulin resistance), or changes in the gut microbiome. In four of the seven subjects, changes were noted. Finally, the researchers transplanted feces from subjects who showed changes, using stool samples from the day prior to receiving saccharin and after seven days of saccharin use. The pre-saccharin stool did not cause any negative changes in the mice, whereas the mice who received stool from the same human subjects after seven days of saccharin use developed signs of glucose intolerance. The pre- and post-saccharin feces had significant differences in the bacteria present, after just seven days.

While certainly not enough evidence for a conviction, it does suggest that NCAS may not be entirely benign as a food additive. NCAS may even be sabotaging weight-loss efforts in those who depend upon diet foods and beverages to a great degree.


1. Bellisle F, Drewnowski A. Intense sweeteners, energy intake and the control of body weight. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007;61:691-700.

2. Ferreira AV, Generoso SV, et al. Do low-calorie drinks ‘cheat’ the enteral-brain axis? Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2014;17:465-70.

3. Griffioen-Roose S, Smeets PA, et al. Effect of replacing sugar with non-caloric sweeteners in beverages on the reward value after repeated exposure. PLoS One 2013;8:e81924.

4. Kelley AE, Schiltz CA, et al. Neural systems recruited by drug- and food-related cues: studies of gene activation in corticolimbic regions. Physiol Behav 2005;86:11-4.

5. Sanz Y, Santacruz A, et al. Gut microbiota in obesity and metabolic disorders. Proc Nutr Soc 2010;69:434-41.

6. Suez J, Korem T, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature 2014;514:181-6.

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Mens Health

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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Panatta Super Rowing Page 1

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