My Reasons For Going Gluten Free

The lack of willpower isn’t the only reason you might fail to reach your goals. To find out more jump back to part 2 of this expert interview series with Able James of the Fat-Burning Man Show.

Today, I share with you what I discovered after a gluten sensitivity test.

Click here to listen to the call.


Abel:    Let’s go back to training a little bit. I know that a lot of people out there are really focused on building muscle, for example. Especially being around the New Year, I’ve gotten a lot of emails about that lately. Craig, I know you have a great deal of experience in that regard. Let’s start with myths. What won’t get you muscle in an effective way?

Craig: That’s a good question. What used to be a myth that high reps would not build you muscle is now actually being challenged. A friend of mine who is a Professor at McMaster University, they did a study in beginners doing three sets of 30 repetitions to failure versus, I believe, three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, and they found that the subjects gained the same amount of muscle mass. Again, this was with beginners.

This was kind of based off a Japanese study that was done a few years back where they occluded blood flow to muscles and then exercised, so those muscles reached fatigue faster. Even though it was with light weight they still were able to build muscle. What they’re finding there is that for muscle building you have different ways of stimulating the muscle, you can have mechanical tension and you can also have these biochemical factors. Again, both are stimulus put on the muscle and the muscle adapts by getting bigger.

So really what doesn’t work? Probably it’s a lot easier to say that almost everything works, you just really need to train in different ways. You’re going to have to train through some pain when you’re doing that three by 30 repetitions, that’s going to be a little bit different when you’re training three by eight to 12.
You see guys gain muscle with the one set to failure back in the day, guys that have been doing three by 10, all these programs tend to work because you’re putting resistance on a muscle and the response of the body is, “I have to adapt incase this thing happens to me again.” That’s what the muscle is saying to itself, I suppose, that it has to adapt to be able to accommodate and work with this load so it’s not as hard next time.

Abel: Is that to the point of failure or right before that? How do you measure that, or how do you feel that?

Craig: That’s a great question. The lighter stuff you go to failure on and the other stuff I wouldn’t go to failure. Once you get below 10 repetitions I wouldn’t go to failure on them because then you start to mess around with central nervous system and you’re not going to get as strong. You’re going to need a different level of recovery when you’re training with heavier weights compared to when you’re training with lighter weights.

When it comes down to it, I know guys who are pro bodybuilders who train with relatively light weights compared to what they can handle, because what they’re looking for is safe hypertrophy without the risk of getting injured. They don’t need to be really strong. They get really strong because they have really big muscles, but they don’t need to be power-lifter strong so they don’t train the way a power-lifter does.

Really the bottom line here is a lot of training programs for building muscle work. We have people that just use bodyweight exercises and report building bigger muscles. Most people think that with bodyweight you wouldn’t.

Now, not everyone is going to. A lot of people will not, but some people do. You really need to be, as always, keeping track of how you respond to specific types of training. You need to be your own science experiment, you need to really pay attention to what’s working.

Abel: And what’s not working.

Craig: Yes, absolutely.

Abel: I like what you said there, the whole approach that almost everything works as long as you’re moving your body and putting stress on the muscles and getting to that point of stimulus.

Craig: Then as long as you’re eating enough food. In most cases that’s not too hard.

Abel:    Yes, especially with how hungry you get after you workout hard. But you do need to eat the right kinds of foods. What does your diet generally look like, Craig?

Craig: It has changed a little bit in the last year. I can kind of get away with eating whatever I want, but I have switched because I did do a gluten sensitivity test. Even though I never noticed any problems eating gluten, according to the genetic test that I did I have the genetic alleles that say that I am sensitive to gluten, so I took that out of my diet.

I didn’t notice any differences, to be honest with you. I didn’t notice any differences at all. But then in the wintertime the last three years I’ve actually experienced what’s called Raynaud’s Phenomenon. I don’t know if you know what that is, but it’s people with cold hands all the time. I’ve always had cold hands, but in the last three winters two of my fingers have started swelling up as soon as it hits mid-November. I didn’t know what it was until I went to the doctor this year and he had said that’s what it is.

I mentioned that to my friend Dr. Peter Osbourne, who is a hard core gluten free functional medical expert in Houston. He knew that I was gluten free but he said, “Why don’t you take out dairy from your diet as well?” I am sad to report that taking out dairy from my diet has significantly helped reduce the swelling in my fingers. I say that I’m sad about it because I really do enjoy my whey protein shakes. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be using those things because I’ve been dairy-free for the month of February, so about 20 days now, and it has made a difference in these fingers, which will go back to normal in about a month from now when it starts warming up.

So my diet, I guess you would say, is quite real food; fruit, vegetables, steak, eggs, stuff like that, lots of nuts. That’s basically it.

Abel:    That’s really interesting about dairy. Have you taken out all dairy, including butter and the fats as well or just the proteins?

Craig: If there’s any dairy in my diet, I don’t know where it’s coming from.

Abel: The same thing with gluten, I would assume. You’re not eating out of boxes or having soy sauce.

Craig: The only thing that gets in my diet is those fillers in protein. It’s even in Vega Protein, which I’m playing around with right now. I’m looking at that label right now, xanthan gum, which is from corn and Peter Osbourne who I go to for my gluten information says no rice, no corn derivatives.

So there’s xanthan gum and a couple other ones that you see in a lot of protein shakes. I’ll look up one more here; guar gum, cellulose gum, those technically have a little bit of gluten in them. Those are the things that still get into my diet, but other than that I haven’t even eaten quinoa in a long time.

Abel:    Wow. That sounds like some pretty major changes to your diet just in the past few months and years.

Craig: It’s been since about June when I decided to cut out all gluten sources and then dairy just in the last couple of weeks. Before cutting out the gluten I was eating a couple peanut butter sandwiches a day, but I was not having any noticeable problems with it. But, Peter says – and I say that a lot because Peter really is my expert for it – Dr. Osbourne says that you wouldn’t start to see these types of things show up until you’re about 40 years old from eating this stuff if you don’t have a real problem. So here I am at 37 and these fingers started going a little weird on me around 35. Who knows? That’s the way it is.

I have tons of energy, I really enjoy the foods that I eat. I miss those peanut butter sandwiches, but I’m sure if I really checked things out there’s probably somebody making some decent bread with almond flour that I could get into if I wanted to.

Abel:    Oh yeah, we make it right here, it’s so good. My girlfriend is dangerous to have around because she’s such a good cook and great at baking, especially desserts. It’s really good stuff, but it’s all gluten free. We love almond flour, we use coconut flour a lot. Sometimes we’ll use some sprouted ancient grains, but we’ve been staying away from gluten for quite some time now and we’ve both experienced some great results in terms of digestive health.

That’s something that’s easy to overlook, because you don’t necessarily see it making you fatter or sicker, but it’s one of those invisible things that, like you said, can start to stack up on itself as time goes by.

Craig: Yes. I’ll add to that. My chiropractor recently decided to eliminate grains. He’s on his feet from 7:00 in the morning until 7:00 at night three days a week in his clinic. He said that his energy levels – energy is a catch all phrase – at the end of the day he just has much more mental alertness and physical energy.

In addition to that, I was with Jay Ferruggia at a seminar the other week and a whole bunch of other fitness guys were there. Jay and I stayed away from gluten and stuff like that, but a lot of the other guys did not. All the guys who did not ended up with colds within the next few days, whereas Jay and I did not.

Jay and I agree that we recover so much better when we do get a cold. I’m on an airplane almost every other week, so I get these things from time to time. I might have a cold for 12 to 24 hours, whereas in the past it would be three or four days and a little bit more lingering.

It goes back to the fact that your immune system is so connected to your digestive health. It’s possible that dropping stuff like the bread out of your diet could help people avoid colds and stuff like that.

Abel:    I know that’s definitely true in my case. I had been without a cold for like three years, I actually just got one a couple of weeks ago and I know it was from lack of sleep, traveling, speaking engagements, and all of that. It’s amazing what happens when you get out of your immune system’s way and allow it to do what it does best.

Craig: Absolutely!

Ok, lets pick it up tomorrow in part 4 with some Bodyweight Exercise Tips.

Stay Strong, eat clean and stay healthy!

Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer