A Great Email (FTA tops Zone; Medical Professionals)

As I muddle around, trying to get back in sync from the long weekend — of which I took every advantage — here's an email from Eileen that came in last Friday that I was really pleased to receive.


I just wanted to let you know that you are certainly changing (saving?) lives with your blog.  I forget how I found Free The Animal, but it was shortly after I started my New Year's resolution to drop the 20 lbs I'd gained in the past 18 months.  I had the idea that I was going to Zone because it had helped me lose weight in the past, although I remember quitting because it was a hassle to weigh and measure every bite of food (and quite frankly, I was starving on 12 blocks/day).  Anyway, finding your blog coincided nicely with my Zone procrastination so I decided to follow your recommendations instead.  January 1st, I weighed 145 lbs and a week ago, 125 lbs.  The best part of that is that much of the weight lost was this big spare tire of fat around my waist and no starving.

Also thanks to you/your blog, I began to supplement Vit D heavily. I should mention here that I'm an RN, and since it was cold & flu season the topic came up with some of my coworkers regarding Vitamin D supplementation.  One of the older nurses was telling the younger girls how important it was to take "the recommended 400 IU per day".  If I didn't read your blog, I wouldn't have known that 400 IU isn't likely to do much for people with D deficiency.  I kept taking 6000 IU (and kept my mouth shut – can't argue with some of those old battleaxes and win).  D Action sent my test results in April and my level is 76.

My annual "physical" is coming up in a few weeks, and I am curious to see if my physician will check my cholesterol.  Last year my HDL was a pathetic 38. I'm hoping that after 5 months of healthy eating, there is an improvement.

So thank you, Richard.  Because of your drive to educate the rest of us, you have helped me make truly positive changes in my life and health.  Keep up the great work!


Pretty amazing, eh? The Zone, a working life amongst medical professionals, and all it really takes is some decent common sense to eat real food, plenty of natural fat, and the rest takes care of itself.

Hearty congratulations to Eileen.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Patrik on May 26, 2009 at 11:42

    I too am supplementing with Vitamin D per Richard's suggestion — any thoughts on this?


    May 12, 2009
    Vitamins Found to Curb Exercise Benefits

    If you exercise to improve your metabolism and prevent diabetes, you may want to avoid antioxidants like vitamins C and E.

    That is the message of a surprising new look at the body’s reaction to exercise, reported on Monday by researchers in Germany and Boston.

    Exercise is known to have many beneficial effects on health, including on the body’s sensitivity to insulin. “Get more exercise” is often among the first recommendations given by doctors to people at risk of diabetes.

    But exercise makes the muscle cells metabolize glucose, by combining its carbon atoms with oxygen and extracting the energy that is released. In the process, some highly reactive oxygen molecules escape and make chemical attacks on anything in sight.

    These reactive oxygen compounds are known to damage the body’s tissues. The amount of oxidative damage increases with age, and according to one theory of aging it is a major cause of the body’s decline.

    The body has its own defense system for combating oxidative damage, but it does not always do enough. So antioxidants, which mop up the reactive oxygen compounds, may seem like a logical solution.

    The researchers, led by Dr. Michael Ristow, a nutritionist at the University of Jena in Germany, tested this proposition by having young men exercise, giving half of them moderate doses of vitamins C and E and measuring sensitivity to insulin as well as indicators of the body’s natural defenses to oxidative damage.

    The Jena team found that in the group taking the vitamins there was no improvement in insulin sensitivity and almost no activation of the body’s natural defense mechanism against oxidative damage.

    The reason, they suggest, is that the reactive oxygen compounds, inevitable byproducts of exercise, are a natural trigger for both of these responses. The vitamins, by efficiently destroying the reactive oxygen, short-circuit the body’s natural response to exercise.

    “If you exercise to promote health, you shouldn’t take large amounts of antioxidants,” Dr. Ristow said. A second message of the study, he said, “is that antioxidants in general cause certain effects that inhibit otherwise positive effects of exercise, dieting and other interventions.” The findings appear in this week’s issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    The effect of vitamins on exercise and glucose metabolism “is really quite significant,” said Dr. C. Ronald Kahn of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, a co-author of the report. “If people are trying to exercise, this is blocking the effects of insulin on the metabolic response.”

    The advice does not apply to fruits and vegetables, Dr. Ristow said; even though they are high in antioxidants, the many other substances they contain presumably outweigh any negative effect.

    Dr. Kahn said it might be that reactive oxygen is beneficial in small doses, because it touches off the body’s natural defense system, but harmful in higher doses.


    Full study here:

  2. Richard Nikoley on May 26, 2009 at 11:53

    I got that in email and looked at it briefly. Intuitively, it seems to have some validity I think. Exercise is (should be) an ACCUTE stressor, so why try to short circuit all its gene expressing benefits?

    This is why I typically work out hungry or fully fasted and I don't eat until at least a couple of hours after. I also take my supplements (I'm currently giving Mark Sisson's Master Damage Control a try) with a meal, and it's not the one after a workout, but typically with breakfast. So, all I'm doing is turning a nutritious meal into a super nutritious one. I also don't take supplements at all during a fast.

  3. Don Matesz on May 26, 2009 at 16:00

    I tried Zone eating once upon a time. The restriction of fat, protein, and calories left me hungry constantly, despite Barry Sears's claims that "in the Zone" you never feel hungry. Of course a FTA/real food/paleo plan will work better.

    Great site Richard.


  4. Richard Nikoley on May 26, 2009 at 16:49

    I thought the original book was quite good, a very decent step beyond Atkins, as Sears really tried to cover the hormonal changes that come from RF (real food). But, it was just too high carb for me, and I also found it difficult to eat that many carb calories from mostly veggies. So, it was unappetizing, with the result of leaving me perpetually hungry as well.

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