Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The SuppVersity Student Spotlight: Johan Otterström - Learning the "Bitter Truth About Sugar" Cost Johan 120 Pounds of Body Fat and May Have Saved His Life

Image 1: Johan Otterström after
shedding a mind-boggling
120 pound of fat - awesome, man!
I knew, or rather I hoped that you, my dear 'students', would be similarly interested in seeing, how useful all those small pieces of a puzzle, which, somewhere in the distant future, may finally deserve the appellation "exercise and nutrition science", actually are in the hands of someone who understands how to combine them in a way that makes sense for him, as an individual. Nevertheless, I was surprised by the overwhelming and, except for a few of the usual jealousies, positive feedback, Duong Nguyen received.

I am thus especially happy that today, two weeks after the first installment of the SuppVersity Student Spotlight was published, I have another story to tell you: It's the inspiring story of a hungry Swedish kid and his in both senses Super Human (listen to Johan @ Carl Lenore' SHR) transformation from an ailing 330-pounder into the epitome of a physical culturist - Johan Otterström.
The SuppVersity Student Spotlight! I want your stories! You do not have to be as ripped as Duong to inspire others. Maybe you are the admirable former fat guy, who fought off diabetes, the cancer survivor or former anorexic, who is about to start a new healthier life or "just" a geeky physicist like me, who loves the way working out and eating healthy makes him/her feel - whoever you are, tell me your stories and give others the chance to be inspired by your success!

Johan Otterström's 'Fat Approach' to A Fitter, Healthier and Happier Self

Image 2: The "old" 330 pound Johan.Despite working out
and dieting like mad, for each pound he lost, Johan gained
two or more pounds back. It was more than just another diet,
it was a lifestyle change that finally turned things around
and transformed Johan into a walking advertisement
of physical culture.
Looking back, now that I am 44, I must say that I have always had problems with getting too fat. Even when I was still a little child my appetite must have been enormous. At least this is what my mother keeps telling me. Time and again, she had to hurry to get home and prepare my baby formula, because I got so angry from being hungry.

For a major part of his life, hunger was Johan's constant companion

Two years ago I was close to 150 kg or 330 pounds and not exactly happy with the situation. I’m 180 cm tall, which is less than 6 feet, and had, during that time, occasional problems with my heart racing like crazy - scary stuff, but I brushed it off as being related to stress.

I have been working out for almost 20 years, and had really begun to take it seriously over the past 2 years. Even at my heaviest, I was still working out in the gym 5 days a week. I had tried a lot of different diets. Some had even been successful... in the short term, but eventually I always gained the fat back and ended up a few pounds heavier than before.

Until a "bitter truth" dawned on him

Things began to change, when I stumbled onto the a YouTube video called “Sugar the bitter truth”, an excellent presentation about obesity by Dr. Lustig, where he elaborates that the fundamental reason for the western obesity epidemic were high fructose corn syrup (in the US) and plain table sugar, which has almost as much fructose. Taking the same amount fructose as opposed to glucose caused a lot more to be stored as fat.

Video 1: Watching Dr. Lustig's video on the intricate relation of the western obesity epidemic and the ever increasing consumption of sugar in general and high fructose corn syrup, in particular, brought about some 'fat' changes in the way Johan was thinking about the food he ate.
I started eliminating the sugars from my diet and later I found the LCHF diet, which stands for Low Carb High Fat. I was a bit skeptic at first, but I started following this diet and was amazed at how little food I started eating because of the satiety from protein and the high amount of fat, including saturated fats. During the two years I have never counted any calories and have never gone to bed hungry.

Fat and protein finally satisfied Johan's insatiable hunger

After hearing Conelly, Andrich, Lenore, Norton and Dr. Andro talk about the importance of protein on the BodyRX show I gradually increased my protein intake to about 300 grams per day over the last 6 months or so. At first I was worried that I would add on fat but it doesn’t look like that and what's more, my strength is coming back up! Last week started doing 6 raw eggs in my shakes and feel good and full from them.

I have not been so interested in the figures on the scale. The mirror is what will tell you the truth about what's going on with your body, so I check my weight only sporadically. In fact, it has been quite stable during this year. What's amazing though, is that I keep seeing more and more veins popping out, which tells me that I am probably gaining some muscle while loosing some fat, at the same time.

"Checked last week and was now 98 kg on creatine and a week of beer drinking on holiday."

Image 3: The stubborn fat a-
round the midsection is Johan's
body's last line of defense, but I
bet won't take him another two
years to get rid of that.
I probably don't have to tell you that I lost most of my weight during the first year. My goal, right now is to keep the fat off and to gain back the strength I lost - I am not quite there, yet, but I am getting close.

Brief and with perfect form, that's the way Johan enjoys to work out

I usually walk to and from the gym 2 x 20 minutes, that’s the extent of my cardio. I train one body part at the time five times a week in what most people would call a bodybuilding rep-range (8-12), where I try to make the most of the weight, in order to train the muscles, not the tendons and to avoid further injuries. I keep my workouts short (30-35 min, 12-15 sets) and have found that this type of training suits pretty well with low-carb dieting. Furthermore the combination of an active lifestyle, strength training and low-carb dieting makes the arduous and boring cardio sessions many people still think necessary for weight loss redundant.

"I take a hand full of supps year-round and add one or two to experiment with from time to time"

Image 4: While he was first
afraid, it could make him fat,
Johan could not go without
his three whey protein
shakes any more. They
have become a staple to
which he has lately added
two raw eggs, as well.
As far as supplements go, staples of mine are
  • 3 whey protein shakes a day,
  • some fish oil,
  • a basic multi-vitamin,
  • one of the standard thermogenic fatburners,
  • a preworkout with creatine, and
  • 10-20g of BCAAs (10g intra-workout)
Lately, I've been enjoying the good mood from d-aspartic acid (cf. older SuppVersity news on DAA) and started taking a combination of 100 mg DHEA and PES' Erase to keep estrogen at bay - we will see if that will help with shedding the stubborn fat that is still covering my abs. Honestly, I feel like I am one of those "creatine non-responders", but I take it anyhow, primarily because the research on its various benefits, including recovery, is solid.
How to get in touch with Johan: If want to reach out to Johan, to get to know more about him, his training, his supplementation or whether he is married already or would like to go on a date with you, you can do so via Facebook. His screen name - who would have guessed - is Johan Otterström ;-)
Changing your lifestyle will change your self

Everyone can lose weight. To lose fat and keep it off is yet way more difficult. If you make the appropriate lifestyle-changes, the fat will be melting on its on. Your progress will be slow, but steady, and, what's even more important you will find that it is much easier to sustain. Making drastic changes, may not be easy, at first, but I have found that with the low- but not not zero carb diet, I am embracing right now, I don't sacrifice much, for all the benefits I am getting in return.