Biohacks: Fat-Loss, Famine, Fasting, and Feasting.

This is an excerpt from the LTTalk delivered at Life Time Fitness in Schaumburg, IL on 10/28/2017

Welcome to F-Words!

Walking out of here today, I’d like you to understand a little bit more about fat-loss, famine (calorie restriction) dieting, fasting, and best of all, feasting.

I want you to understand a little bit more about how to hack your own metabolism.

Part 1 – Solar vs Fossil Fuels

So, let’s talk about the human metabolism. When discussing metabolism, I like to know about two things: 1) metabolic health, or the amount of energy you produce on a daily basis (your calorie burn or metabolic rate), 2) your metabolic efficiency, or how much energy you conserve by using sustainable and renewable fuel sources.

When it comes to fuel, we’d love to crack the magic code of solar energy.

solar-flare-sun-eruption-energy-39649

Think your fat as solar energy. It’s nearly unlimited. I’ve seen a lot in my days as a metabolic tester performing indirect calorimetry. The average person might have around 200,000 – 400,000+ calories of fat on the body.

Holy cow.

Unfortunately, that person may only be burning around 50% fat at rest.

Super-bummer.

Contrast that with glycogen (carbohydrate, a.k.a sugar) stores. The average person referred to above might hold anywhere between 1,500 to 2,000 calories of sugar.

If fat is equivalent to the abundant fuel source of the sun, then glycogen is equivalent to the dirty fuel source that we know as oil. The most unfortunate part of this is that we’re hooked on it.

We’re hooked on sugar like we’re hooked on oil.pexels-photo-325526

Like the best hybrid cars, you’re always running on a combination of fat and sugar (50/50 if you’re lucky), but how much fat you burn is dependent on a few things.

Obviously, if we want to lose fat, we need to burn more of it (at least 80% at rest).

So how do we do that?

Let’s answer the easy question. How do we burn more sugar?

  • Eat sugar, and lots of it.pexels-photo-325451
  • Exercise at high intensities.
  • Put yourself in stressful situations.
  • Manage your stress poorly.
  • Rise and grind – get inadequate sleep.

Okay, now that we have that out there, how do we burn more fat? Well, let’s just flip the script.

  • Eat less sugar, and more fiber.pexels-photo-290164
  • Exercise at lower, restorative intensities.
  • Relax.
  • Have effective stress management techniques.
  • Get enough sleep.

I could run a seminar on each of these topics individually, so I apologize that I can’t go into more detail on them here and now.

Part 2 – The Fridge and the Freezer

Unfortunately, that’s only part of the fat burn story. Many people have a separate refrigerator and freezer.

We buy things in bulk to store in the freezer for later use.

Consider this your fat store.

Your body is storing fat for later use.

We keep things in the refrigerator for immediate use. Consider this your sugar store.

Unless you’re a little weird, you’re not going to pull a steak out of the freezer if you already have one defrosted, marinated, and deliciously ready-to-go in the fridge.

If you’re an inefficient fat burner, you’re most definitely not going to burn stored fat when there’s easier, tastier sugar ready to use in the fridge.

How do we get fat from the freezer?

Deplete the sugar refrigerator.

How do we deplete the sugar refrigerator?

If we want to burn that magical solar energy that is fat-fuel, we want to eat less sugar, exercise hard, relax, manage stress, and sleep.

Part 3 –Famine

This is the standard calories in vs calories out model. This is based on our body being an extremely simple machine.

It should be easy. Burn more than you eat, and you’ll lose weight. Right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Unfortunately, your body is an amazing organism, evolved to protect you and keep you alive in periods of famine or calorie restriction.

During periods of prolonged restriction, your body will slow down your metabolism in order to ensure that you don’t run out of gas on the highway.

pexels-photo-320956

This is your body’s famine response, and it’s amazing and frustrating.

Take the hit show, The Biggest Loser as an example. Large calorie deficits paired with extreme exercise volume and frequent, albeit low calorie feedings, yield huge weight loss.

Unfortunately, they also yield huge metabolic damage. 93% of TBL contestants regain their weight, and more. Unless you’re part of that 7%, the famine model doesn’t work.

Why is that?

For starters, it’s that amazing and frustrating famine response.

The second part is the frequent feeding model. Eating 5 or 6 meals throughout the day ensures that insulin remains elevated.

Insulin is secreted when sugar is present in the blood. Insulin tells your body to stop breaking down tissue (burning fat) and start building tissue (storing sugar, building muscle, and storing fat).

If we’re constantly eating, we’re keeping insulin high. Unfortunately, that means that we’re never giving our body permission to burn fat effectively.

Bummer.

So how do I make the famine model work?

Part 4 – Biohacks: Morning eating and Intermittent Dieting

Biohack 1: Morning Eating

Researchers have shown that those who eat the majority of their food in the morning tend to lose more weight than those who eat later in the day, even with total intake being equal.

Why is this?

This is likely due to insulin sensitivity. Your body listens to insulin better in the morning than it does in the evening. This means that you can shuttle sugar into muscles and the liver quickly, returning to fat burn when insulin diminishes.

In the evening, insulin sensitivity is lower, meaning that more sugar is stranded in the blood. When sugar is stranded, your body pumps out more insulin, prolonging the DO NOT BURN FAT signal.

Clearly, then, we want to eat at a time where we can keep insulin and sugar levels lowest.

How do I make the famine model work?

In short, eat most of your food and sugar earlier in the day.

  • Breakfast = Large.
  • Lunch = Medium.
  • Dinner = Small.

cook-food-kitchen-eat-54455

Biohack 2: Intermittent Dieting

Researchers have also found that those who diet in an intermittent fashion lose more weight than those who diet constantly.

Two weeks of hard dieting followed by two weeks of ad libitum eating was found to negate the effects of the body’s famine response, keeping metabolic rate high.

pexels-photo-95212

Participants in the study lost a little bit more weight than those who dieted consistently, despite taking two weeks off.

Six months later, they had maintained their weight loss, where the constant dieters had returned closer to their beginning weight, and were found to have slower metabolic rates than when they started.

In short, it may be beneficial to alternate your feasting and famine: diet hard for two weeks and take two weeks off. You’ll lose the same amount of weight, but you’ll be morepexels-photo-70497 likely to take it off. With the quick turn-around and ad libitum eating, your body is less likely to initiate the famine response to the same degree as constant dieting.

 

Part 5 – Biohack 3: Fasting

The part you’ve all been waiting for.

The part that makes you pause and think, “wait, you’re really out of your mind.”

Let’s talk about the biggest F-Word of them all. Fasting.

holidays-dinner-eating-lunch

Let’s get one thing straight, when you’re fasting, you’re restricting calories, much like the famine model we’ve discussed.

You deplete the sugar fridge and give your body the signal to tap into the fat freezer.

Without periodically re-feeding, you’re keeping insulin low, telling the body again to burn that solar-powered fat.

Won’t my metabolism slow down? What about famine response?

Well, here’s the thing. You just tapped into near 400,000 calories of unlimited solar energy.

There is no energy shortage.

There is no reason to slow metabolic rate when you have all the energy you could ever need. Your body keeps burning the same amount of energy. Fat energy.

There’s no famine response in the short term.

As fasting research picks up, studies are beginning to show that with calorie intake being equal, those who time restrict their feasting window lose more weight than those who eat throughout their entire waking period.

Mouse participants in the study ate like this:

  • 24-hours ad libitum eating.
  • 24-hour fast.
  • 24-hours ad libitum eating.

versus

  • 24-hours caloric restriction.
  • 24-hours caloric restriction.
  • 24-hours caloric restriction.

Their calorie intake matched the intake of mice that ate constantly over the study period.

1 day of fasting yielded more weight loss than constant caloric restriction.

Why? Researchers think that it may be due to conversion of white adipose tissue into brown adipose tissue. BAT is more metabolic active, which burns energy and generates heat.

I could talk about fasting forever, but we don’t have that much time today, so I’ll leave you with this.

Interested in trying it? Do it. It’s one day. If you feel sick, eat food.

As we head into the holidays, fasting is an interesting proposition.

Instead of being that guy – “oh I can’t eat cranberries” – at holiday feasts, you can eat whatever the hell you want.

Simply balance your feasting with fasting.

 

Part 6 – Putting it all together

  1. If fat is like solar-power, then sugar is like oil. Burn more fat by doing the following:
    1. Eat less sugar, and more fiber.
    2. Exercise at lower, restorative intensities.
    3. Relax.
    4. Have effective stress management techniques.
    5. Get enough sleep.
  2. In order to get fat from the fat-freezer, we need to deplete the sugar refrigerator by doing the following:
    1. Eat less sugar.
    2. Exercise hard.
    3. Relax.
    4. Manage stress.
    5. Sleep.
  3. During periods of prolonged famine, your body will slow down your metabolism. This is your body’s famine response.
  4. If we’re constantly eating, we’re keeping insulin high. This means that we’re never giving our body permission to burn fat.
  5. Biohack 1: Early Eating
    1. Eat most of your food and sugar earlier in the day when your body is better at listening to insulin.
  6. Biohack 2: Intermittent Dieting
    1. Alternate feast with famine: diet hard for two weeks and take two weeks off. With the quick turn-around and ad libitum eating, your body is less likely to experience the famine response to the same degree.
  7. Biohack 3: Fasting
    1. Sugar fridge = depleted.
    2. Fat freezer = activated.
    3. Without periodc re-feeding, insulin stays low = burn that solar-powered fat.
    4. You just tapped into near 400,000 calories of unlimited solar energy.
    5. There is no famine when you have all the energy you could ever need.

Lastly, I’m not a doctor. This is not medical advice. I’m just a nerd who likes to read research, and I figured I’d be productive by sharing it with you.

I’m a nerd, I know.

I read it so you don’t have to.

-RB3

ps. If there’s anything you’re curious about, and don’t have the time, patience, or know-how to learn about it, let me know. I’ll be sure to post on it if it’s worth-while, or I’ll answer you directly!

If you’re still reading and want more, please subscribe to my blog. You can also follow my daily doings on Instagram.com/robertbilljr, or find me at Life Time – Schaumburg.

This presentation and post draws heavily from resources contained in previous blog posts: you can find those here:
  1. https://rb3wod.health.blog/2017/06/09/the-diet-that-shreds-fat-is-it-good-for-the-long-term/
  2. https://rb3wod.health.blog/2017/09/16/dieting-and-the-f-word/
  3. https://rb3wod.health.blog/2017/10/01/alpha-nutrition/
  4. https://rb3wod.health.blog/2017/10/03/periodizing-your-diet/
  5. https://rb3wod.health.blog/2017/10/16/lions-bears-breast-cancer/
Images courtesy of InvisiblePower, Leah Kelley, Freestockpro, ScottWebb, Kat Jayne, Negative SpaceArtem Beliaikin, Lukas, Pixabay, and Sam Forson.
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