from Chase: this is our second article from Eric, who wrote last
week's fantastic piece "Making Your Seductions EFFICIENT;"
his article this time around is on weight loss. I've shed some
pounds myself, mainly by tracking every last calorie I ate and cutting
caloric intakes and portion sizes, but Eric's got far more info on
this subject than I've ever come across in one place, and he's pared
from a pretty substantial body weight, too. Second article straight
Eric's mustered up some roundly impressive stuff. Without further ado,
here he is.
As I’m laying here writing this article I’m really feeling one main thing: elation. I really love my life right now. The french use a phrase to describe this ethereal feeling; they call it joie de vivre (zhwä duh veev-ruh), and there’s really only a few things that make me feel this way:
- Diet, and
I didn’t used to be this way... in fact I used to be quite overweight. And I don’t mean just a little extra here or there, I genuinely was fat. My body mass index (BMI) was close to obese (28.5) and I hadn’t exercised in 2-3 years.
I just sat on my butt every day and played video games, eating potato chips and drinking sprite all day long.
What little social life I had was gone, or took place over the Internet. My life went to shit, and while I wasn’t necessarily depressed... I certainly wasn’t happy.
So one day, I decided to change.
Today’s article is all about weight loss for men, and how you can shave all the extra pounds you’re carrying around off (not just a few of them), whether it’s a lot (like me before) or even just a little too much around your waistline.
Because today, I want to tell you how I went from almost-obese to mean, lean, and trim instead, and why today I get women telling me how great my body is.
I wasn’t oblivious to all the messages society was sending me about
what “good-looking” is - or that my friends and family were.
I was tired of everyone giving me back-handed comments, and I was tired of being judged. I would go over to relatives’ houses and they would try to get me to walk with them. They would make suggestions like:
“You should eat this it’s quite healthy”
“You’re eating a salad? Good for you!”
“You really should walk, it’s great for your health!”
And it’s not just me, a lot of overweight people get this; this is where you get the pro-fat campaigns and the plus size models from. A lot of overweight people resent society for pressuring them into changing to be, well, normal, but I didn’t respond this way.
At first, for me, it was simply apathy, as I really didn’t care. But then, with time, I started to resent myself for my own stagnation. I became sick of my boring, unfulfilling life, and I wanted change. So I did what most people don’t have the courage to do, and I began to take action against all the uncomfortable feelings I was challenged with.
One day I went out and, on a whim, signed up for a martial arts class despite feeling strange, fat, and out of place. Just before I started I was 215 lbs, all fat, zero muscle. I would get winded simply walking around, and I hated it.
I also hated the attention I would get from others just from not just from being overweight, but also challenging my normal lifestyle of being sedentary. In the end, I pushed myself through all those pressures.
What was the result of all this hard work, self-challenging, striving, and struggle?
The result is this: I love my life
so much. Probably way
more than someone with an equally awesome life who never was all that
fat... you just appreciate being “normal” that much more.
I now sit comfortably at 165 lbs, with 9-10% body fat (well, 12% now after Thanksgiving.. I went a little crazy) even while eating like a pig, and I’ve trained my body to release all excess food as heat rather than storing it as bodyfat (in fact I was just out sweating in 50 degree weather in shorts and a t-shirt).
I lost 50-60 lbs while also gaining muscle. My waist is tight (I think I’m 30”, pretty good for my height) while having shoulders that want to rip out of large jackets. The only downside is the money I had to spend replace my clothes that I no longer fit into.
I’ve been through a lot and I love experimenting, so I’ve learned the ultimate path to weight loss for men who want to drop it off; the best way to drop weight while maintaining muscle. I’ve lost weight eating 4-5k (or more) calories per day, and I’ve lost weight eating nothing. I’ve done it with and without exercise as well (even with a broken foot). I’ve even gained 30 lbs on purpose, and lost it in a month or two. I’ve learned how to manipulate my weight in every imaginable way through testing everything, and I’m going to give you the best and quickest I’ve learned to do it (while also being incredibly healthy - no sacrificing your health for weight loss here).
I learned all this simply because I had to, but then I realized
something. I started to love it.
I loved seeing how my body would react to certain ways, and while everyone’s bodies may each be a bit different, different this guide will really help you change the way you look at food.
First, let’s look at the mainstream ways you’ll hear about from a variety of sources, channels, and directions how weight loss for men is best carried out:
- Eating low fat diets
- Eating high fat diets
- Caloric restriction / deficit diets
- Caloric surplus diets
- Juice / liquid only diets
- Juice restriction diets
- Low carb diets
- High carb diets
- Breadless diets
- Vegetarian diets
- Meatless diets
- Exercise more
- Exercise less
- Low glycemic and/or low sugar diets
- High glycemic and/or high sugar diets
- High protein
- Low protein
Notice anything in that list?
That’s right... everything you
hear about weight loss contradicts something else you hear.
This is so frustrating. These days you’ll hear everything, and you can pretty much lose weight on anything. So where do we start? Well, perfectionist that I am, I’ve experimented with nearly all of these... so you don’t actually have to.
Instead of looking at the diets themselves, I’ve found, we’re better served learning how the body actually responds to food (also the lack thereof). Let’s start with one of the main power houses of the body.
Your Body and Insulin
So what exactly is insulin? You may have heard of diabetics needing to inject it, but you may not know exactly what it is.
There are a few things that happen when you eat food. I’ll try to
sum this up shortly, sort of layman’s guide to insulin, and if you’re
really interested you can research this a bunch and find out more.
Insulin and your body works like this:
One of the first responders to nutrients is the pancreas. The pancreas is effectively the moderator of your blood sugar levels. It senses heightened levels of glucose (sugar in the blood) and sends a signal, also known as insulin, to your cells to store nutrients.
What I’m discussing here is not the latest diet fad or off-the-cuff conjecture... it’s basic biochemistry.
You also have different types of body cells:
- Fat cells
- Muscle cells
- Liver cells
- Brain cells
- Heart cells
- Skin cells
Etc. You get the point. Some of these cells have a limited propensity to store energy (usually stored as something known as glycogen, but not always), such as the liver or brain. The brain typically needs to sock away about 25 grams of stored energy, while the liver typically can store about 100g.
The amount of glycogen your muscles can store depends on your body weight and the amount of muscles you have. A safe estimate would be typically around 300g-400g, but you’ll often hear about 7g per pound (or 15g/kg) of bodyweight. This is typically the spillover range so that’s why 300-400g is a better figure to follow.
Unfortunately, your fat cells have almost an unlimited propensity to store energy.
And more energy is stored from fructose (one form of sugar) than glucose (another form of sugar) because your pancreas (that sugar regulating organ) tends to ignore it.
So what happens when you've got:
- Muscle cells at full energy storage capacity
- Liver cells at full energy storage capacity
- Brain cells at full energy storage capacity
- Heart cells at full energy storage capacity
- Skin cells at full energy storage capacity
... and everything else at
full storage capacity?
Well, what happens when you have full nutrient stores and you start spilling over is this: your fat cells, with their unlimited ability to store energy, take up the rest of the storage (called "de novo lipogenesis").
At this point, your pancreas, alerted to the high levels of sugars in the body, starts freaking out and flooding the body with insulin (henceforth called insulin spikes), and while this isn’t necessarily bad.. it causes some problems.
Particularly one problem, pre-diabetes, or another problem, type 2
diabetes. If you eat a diet high in
carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels are constantly high and you’re
constantly spilling over unused sugars.
Your body’s insulin levels are chronically high and your cells are always getting hit with the red alerts from the pancreas. Eventually they start to ignore it, and then the pancreas has to call out louder to the cells to deal with the blood sugar (your pancreas, and body overall, wants to maintain homeostasis, an optimal level of glucose in the blood).
The result of this arms race between the pancreas telling the other body cells to batten down the hatches and prepare for a glucose deluge, and the other body cells getting tired of being told what to do and tuning out the pancreas until it shouts loder and louder, leads to something called "insulin resistance," and while this is good at low bodyfat levels (you resist storing excess energy), it’s quite bad at higher levels.
Another problem with insulin resistance is that while the liver and muscles quickly become resistant, your fat cells do not. You get stuck in a scenario where your muscles don’t absorb nutrients, and you continually get fatter even despite eating less.
It’s worth noting that you are also most insulin resistant in evening as your cortisol (stress hormones) levels from waking settle, and you’re the most sensitive to insulin in the mornings. It’s actually quite a good idea to skip breakfast because of this. I’ll go more into this later in the article when I get into hacking your body.
How the Body Responds to Fat,
Carbs, and Protein
Interestingly enough.. the body responds quite differently to different types of nutrient, and often in ways we might not expect. The 23 most surprising tips I’ve learned about weight loss for men are these:
Testosterone levels drop after eating, but NOT after eating fats
Fast digesting foods create the largest spikes of insulin (whey protein, MCT oil, carbohydrates)
Some protein is converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis
Both deprivation and surplus of glucose causes insulin resistance
Large boluses (food in stomach) at once result in a 14% net caloric reduction
Your body becomes more energy efficient the larger you are (think of an elephant with a slow metabolism, compared to a rat with a high one)
Protein and carbohydrates both elicit an insulin response but typically fats do not
Fiber from plants is fermented into digestible fat. Herbivores such as gorillas have larger bellies and cows have multiple stomachs to do this. You’ll also find herbivores to be quite larger in mass
Whole foods (non-processed) are harder to digest by the body and have lower net calories
Protein stays in the stomach until digested, and slowly at that. This is the reason why protein is so sating, and the recommended daily allowance of 25g of protein per day idea is a myth. Whey protein has an absorption rate of about 10g/h
Vitamins have trouble being absorbed by the body without accompanying fats (hence the name fat-soluble vitamins). Vegetarians often have malnutrition problems because of this
Higher fat intake is associated with higher longevity, while carbs are associated with higher mortality
Insulin serum levels are at their lowest when fasted (10-30 pmol/L) and growth hormones may potentially be at their highest (1000%+)
Your stomach has its own nervous system (essentially, a brain). The meaning “gut feelings” is quite literal. Fat seems to cure sadness, although it doesn’t seem to prevent it. It’s why you get people eating tubs of ice cream after breakups
Body fat levels are the greatest indicators of health
Cholesterol has little to no negative correlation with cardiovascular health. In fact, cholesterol is needed by the brain and on top of that plaque buildup in the arterial walls might even have a stabilizing effect on the cardiovascular system and prevent acute heart problems, such as myocardial infarctions (heart attacks)
Grass-fed butter has a ratio close to 1:1 of omega 3 fatty acids to omega 6s. It optimizes your cholesterol levels and is perhaps one of the healthiest things to eat aside from seafood. Its vitamin K2 content is also vital for bone health, and it also contains CLA which has a myriad of other benefits
Starvation mode is a myth. Your body’s metabolism actually rises until approximately 72 hours after its last meal. It reaches its peak at this point and slowly tapers down
Fasting upregulates most bodily functions. This can be thought of as being in a “hunting mode” where the body needs maximal power to find food. Senses are heightened, appetite is actually suppressed (real hunger is not felt in the stomach, but rather the throat), productivity is increased, and stubborn fats (subcutaneous, on men it’s around the stomach. On women it’s the thighs and hips) are mobilized
The heart’s preferred energy source is fat, via ketones (20% more efficient than other sources)
Loose / excess skin is typically just subcutaneous fat (although there are some exceptions)
Fructose bypasses the pancreas and is very easily stored as fat
After heavy exercise (powerlifting), for about two hours your fat cells are resistant to nutrient uptake, and as such it’s literally impossible to put on fat in this period
Now, there’s a lot of information there that flies in the face of
the conventional wisdom you hear on TV... or at least, the wisdom
tossed at you by people marketing their diet pills and diet strategies.
If you don’t believe me on one or more or even all of these that’s quite alright; just search on Google using any of these bullet points.
But, once you’re back from combing the Internet, let’s look at some takeaways from these interesting facts.
The body’s preferred energy source is fat
The body is meant to fast
Fat loss and mobilization (de novo lipolysis) is stalled by insulin (de novo lipogenesis)
Carbohydrates are excellent for growth (as well as fat gain)
Sugars are treated as a scarce commodity and stored quickly
Whole foods are important
Well now that we know these things, we can optimize our diet and lifestyle to hack our body.
I’ll go through three different things you can implement to build yourself a better body, all being optional. Choose which ones you want to do yourself of course... but the best solution for health and physique would be to combine all three.
I’ll arm you with three heavily-researched and heavily tested (by me personally, in my journey from fat to fit) methods for cutting rolls of fat off yourself in record time... and keeping it off, and not reverting to the yoyoing of fad diets that don’t stick.
These three methods are:
- Eating whole foods for healthy eating
- Using ketosis for big time weight loss
- Intermittent fasting for metabolism/hormone hacking
We’ll start with what you can best feed your body with for optimal health (and physique).
Eating Whole Foods
Here’s your rule of thumb for this: if it’s packaged or processed, throw it out.
- Milk/dairy that’s not raw and whole
- Grains (bread, pasta, etc)
- Butter that’s not grass-fed
- Processed/vegetable oils (soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, canola, cottonseed, etc)
- Foods with HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup)
- Foods with PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats)
- Foods with added sugar (usually non-fat stuff like yogurt)
- Whole raw milk and full-fat yogurt
- Unlimited saturated fats (fish,beef,pork,lamb,unprocessed cheese, etc)
- Unlimited vegetables
- Unlimited grass-fed butter (irish kerrygold is best)
- Healthy plant fats (avocados,olive oil,cocoa butter,etc)
- Moderate to low amounts of fruits, rice, starch
- Moderate amounts of nuts (careful, these are very calorie-dense)
Now this is the part where I get looks and people think I’m weird. They give me social pressure to conform to their beliefs and call me crazy.
That’s fine, and what I find hilarious is that the people who tell me this stuff to the contrary of what I’m telling them are usually overweight themselves. Meanwhile, I sit at a low body fat percentage (now), and these people end up not having a whole lot to say when I tell them this. Their only defense is usually to go straight to the cholesterol argument and how I’m going to have a heart attack if I keep eating like that.
With a bit of research, though, you’ll find that cholesterol is quite healthy (search for ‘HDL and saturated fats’). Funny.. my entire family eats the way I do now, and my mother has been complaining to me that she’s having trouble keeping weight on.
For those who know diets such as Paleo and the like, this is quite familiar. However, the problem with Paleo is that it’s based on conjecture and emulation of ancestral diets. I’m not speaking from conjecture but rather just plain biochemistry. I’m also not entirely anti-bread or anti-sugar, as they both can be useful in their own ways. There’s not enough evidence to definitively support some of the viewpoints from Paleo.
The benefits of eating like this are many, but some important ones:
- Naturally lower in carbohydrates
- Naturally higher in fat
- Cholesterol optimizing
- Higher fat options simply taste better (rib-eye cooked in butter for example)
- Fat is very sating
- Effective for moderate weight loss
- Very low inflammation
- Less frequent insulin spikes
- Naturally lower in calories, no need to count
The downside is that it can be quite expensive if you don’t properly buy in bulk, and it’s quite easy to gain weight binging on carbs like fruits/starches. Also, when I say unlimited saturated fats I really mean it. I’ve lost weight eating 12 eggs per meal cooked in sticks of butter, as well as entire packages of bacon. In fact that’s what gave me the best recovery time for my sport.
However, let’s look at some better options for fat loss and body recomposition. Again, feel free to combine these.
Ketosis and Fat Burning
Here’s where the first part of the body hacking starts. While eating whole foods keeps you healthy, prevents you gaining weight, and allows you to maintain it quite easily.. the next two I’m covering are great for body recomposition and weight manipulation.
Ketosis? The heck is that? Isn’t that some Atkins fad thing or whatever? Well no, this has been around since the late 1800s, and is incredibly effective.. if you do it properly.
It has only been since the 1960s that the low-fat craziness started, and as it were this is about the same time obesity rates in the United States began to significantly increase. From 12% of the population to today’s whopping 35%.
Even more saddening is that 17% of all children are now obese. Not just overweight, but clinically obese. Whether this is a result of low-fat diets, or sugar companies pushing their products, or some other reason would be conjecture so I’ll just leave that there for you to speculate.
Let’s get back to the chemistry of it all, rather than the statistics.
What exactly happens when your main source of energy is fat? We know that with carbohydrates the body elicits an insulin response to shuttle nutrients (insulin is only the signal; GLUTs are the shuttles, short for glucose transporters. These are also dependant on dietary cholesterol). Protein is the same, as it gets turned over through gluconeogenesis. So what about 80% fat? 100%? Is it possible? Is it sustainable?
While 100% fat isn’t too great to do, as the body tends to prefer a little protein.. it can do without carbs.
To do this, the body needs to create a way of mobilizing fat and using it as energy. The liver senses a lack of glucose, and feels like it’s starving. In response to this, it starts breaking down fatty acids into something called a ketone (plural would be ketones or ketone bodies). This process is called ketogenesis, and as an energy source ketogenesis has some big benefits that you simply can’t get from glucose:
- It’s the preferred energy source for the brain and heart
- It’s one of the most energy inefficient processes in the body
- It suppresses hunger
- It mobilizes body fat
- It prevents de novo lipogenesis and promotes lipolysis
So on top of mobilizing our body fat for energy, it’s incredibly inefficient at it so our metabolism needs to be higher to process it, thus burning energy simply to get at the energy in it already? Awesome! Sign me up.. Wait no! What about the evil cholesterol from eating fats?! Oh right, never mind. Go on..
So how exactly do we get into ketosis, and what can we do to optimize ketogenesis?
Well here are some requirements and things to keep in mind:
Ketogenesis is highest in the morning after waking and also exercise
Fats (especially a mid-triglyceride called MCT oil) promote ketone production
Carbs prevent and knock you out of ketosis, and must be kept to less than 30g per day
Fiber gets converted to fat so you may have an unlimited amount
Protein needs to be moderated, as too much will raise your glycogen stores
So what’s a ketogenic meal look like? First let’s take a normal meal.. let’s say 3 eggs..
Now cook it in 2-3 tablespoons of grass-fed butter and some heavy cream. Voila. Holy fat, Batman.
Let’s take another meal... taco meat. Take some ground chuck (not the lean silliness that’s ground sirloin)... Cook in 2-3 tablespoons butter. Add melted cheese and a bit of salsa. Skip the taco shells and voila!
It’s really that easy but you just need to remember to keep carbs below 30gs per day and you need to offset protein with lots of fat. I’ll leave the rest of the meal planning and research up to you, so just search for stuff like “low carb meals,” “ketogenic meals,” etc.
Snack on some bacon if you’re hungry. Sounds awful doesn’t it?
Meal Timing and Intermittent Fasting
One of the things that doesn’t make much intuitive sense is the idea that we need to eat to lose weight. You’ll often see top 10 lists showing the best foods to eat to burn or lower body fat. Wait a minute... How the hell did we mess this one up?
Make sure you eat a large healthy balanced breakfast every day! No. This is making you fat(ter), and is one of the worst things you can do if you’re trying to lose weight.
But why is this? What makes breakfast so evil and fasting so great?
Cortisol levels are highest in the morning due to your body moving out of a hibernative state. This is considered a stressful event from a physiological viewpoint
Cortisol and insulin work together to store energy as fat (kind of)
Growth hormones are highest while fasted
Your insulin resistance increases throughout the day, so insulin-spiking foods should be saved for the evening (unless you’re a powerlifter and need to get fat and strong)
Insulin (and food) interrupts fat burning and promotes lipogenesis
Ketogenesis is highest after waking and eating foods (except fat) interrupts this process
Fat mobilization / burning starts to become very effective 14-16 hours after your last meal. Eating breakfast stops you at around the 8-10 hour mark
Fasting can suppress hunger (after adapting to it) and teaches you to know when you’re actually hungry instead of just craving carbs / sugar
Strictly based off this, meals should go something like this:
Have fatty lunch
Have protein and fat for dinner
Have carbs late at night
There’s another thing we can do to benefit from fasting however, and that’s condensing feeding windows. So for example if we allow an eating window of 8 hours, we need to fast for 16 hours (including sleep). If we allow only 4 hours we fast for 20 hours every day. There are different timings and such but here are a few benefits of condensed eating windows:
Uninterrupted fat burning for long periods of time
Allows for larger meals which make it difficult to overeat, and just in general are more satisfying
Large refeed meals have a 14% reduction in overall calories, due to metabolism upregulation to deal with the surplus of food
Tighter eating windows result in making it harder to reach your caloric needs, resulting in weight loss
Large amounts of food cause a thermogenic effect, which causes the body to dissipate excess calories as heat
Anyhow.. there are many different ways to do intermittent fasting, and while it isn’t a magical pill... it is still an effective weight manipulation tool nonetheless.
For more of this, just Google phrases like “intermittent fasting,” “lean gains,” and “alternate day fasting.”
The important part to note is that you cannot ingest more than 50 calories during this time, so basically just drink things like coffee/water/tea with no caloric additives. This includes diet soda.
An exception would be something like.. Bulletproof Coffee, I’ll get to that in a bit.
Keto Adapting and Hunger Pangs
So all this is great.. we’ve got whole foods for a healthy eating lifestyle, ketosis for MAJOR fat mobilization, and intermittent fasting for metabolism/hormone hacking. What’s the downside to all this? It seems so easy...
Unfortunately... if you’re like most of the population... you’ve never once been in ketosis. From the moment you’ve come out of the womb you’ve been fed, but never very high fat and ultra low carbs. This means this is foreign to your body, and that also means your body is NOT going to like that.. not one bit.
It’s not pretty. Some of the side effects that can be incurred while keto-adapting are:
This is usually not real hunger. The hunger you feel, that feeling of NEEDING food, is not real hunger. Real hunger is felt in the throat, and you’ll start feeling it after a week (that’s right... a week) of deprivation. Typically, when you feel hunger it will feel like a nagging sensation, rather than full on GET SOME FOOD OR YOU’RE GOING TO DIE. This is a sign of withdrawl from a carb addiction, and will occur when you restrict carbs.
You need to eat a lot of fat during this period... this is so important. The main reason people fail on low-carb or ketogenic diets is that they ingest way too much protein, and stay away from fat. Eating too much protein is essentially like eating sugar and defeats the purpose.
Hyperthermia and Sweating
Things that could be contributing to this are foods and the lack thereof. Foods tend to have a thermic effect, especially in large quantities. Your body is also shifting it’s energy system from glucose burning to fat burning. Enjoy the benefits of having a heightened metabolism and caloric expenditure.
This is quite possibly the worst of it. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:
“Symptoms vary according to individuals' hydration level and sensitivity to the rate and/or magnitude of decline of their blood glucose concentration. Some of the food-induced hypoglycemia symptoms include
- double vision or blurry vision
- unclear thinking
- sleeping trouble
- heart palpitation or fibrillation
- craving sweets
- increased appetite
- nausea, vomiting
- panic attack
- numbness/coldness in the extremities
- coma can be a result in severe untreated episodes”
Now.. anyone who has keto adapted before will tell you need not worry too much. If you eat food and hydrate yourself, you’ll be fine. I went through this, my dad went through this, my sister, my sisters friends, etc. The worst you’ll typically get is light-headedness, sleeping problems, irritability, etc.
Me though? I jumped right into this, as well as intermittent fasting. I also tossed in some fat burners (caffeine, green tea extract, yohimbe, etc) to boost metabolism and lots of exercise to accelerate the process. I don’t recommend this.
I had every symptom above, with the exception of having palpitations and being put in a coma (fortunately on that last). I’m also quite sensitive to caffeine and the like, so this wasn’t the greatest idea.. I had to hyperventilate in the car ride to school so I didn’t blackout (and also the panic attack)... Just for the record, I’m glad I did this and do not regret it at all.
But again, this is incredibly abnormal and completely due to my extreme measures.
If you’re worried, search for “keto adaption.” Worth checking out if you have any pre-existing conditions that concern you, but if you’re like 99% of the population, and you don’t go Eric-extreme when you decide to go keto, you’ll be fine.
Anyhow, these only last from about a few days, to multiple weeks. Typically, once you’ve done this before you don’t really get reinduction symptoms. Often it’s described just as a feeling of “fogginess.”
Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D
So we’re getting near the end of the article and I just wanted to add some extra pieces here on supplementation as it impacts weight loss in men.
There’s always the big topic of omega fatty acids and health. Some say you want a 4:1 ratio of O3:O6 fats, while others say 1:1. I think generally it’s accepted that omega-3s are bad, and that having many O6s without O3 is asking for trouble.
There are various ways of supplementing with omega-3s... You’re doing well if you get fish in about 1-2 days a week. You can supplement with fish oil pills, too.
Grass-fed ruminants (beef, pork, etc) and butter (Kerrygold Irish butter) have nearly a 1:1 ratio, which is superb (but expensive).
As for Vitamin D... get it. I don’t care how much particularly, just get enough. The RDA recommendation is very low, and typically people can ingest 10k+ with no problems. My family’s dermatologist has prescribed 50,000 IUs per day to my mother.
Coffee, Butter, and MCT Oil
I felt like this deserved a separate section, because it’s one of my favorite tools in my toolbox.
This was made particularly popular by Bulletproof Coffee, but this is also similar to yak tea. Other farming cultures would eat sticks of butter before going out to heat themselves up. My Swedish side of the family back in the olden days used to have their coffee this way as well.
Basically, you want to get a quick way to ingest a good sum of fat. This’ll do a few things:
- Stir up metabolic systems
- Put you in deeper ketosis
- Act as an appetite suppressant (caffeine + fat + ketosis)
- Give you a lot of energy (with no crash)
Heavy cream also works here too. It even tastes amazing.
MCT oil is an extract from coconut fat, and is absorbed by the body incredibly fast. The liver likes to churn these into ketone bodies.
You’ll have to blend or froth everything together. I use a hand mixer (aerolatte, $18), but prior I used a blender.
So Where Do I Start?
Well... it depends on your
lifestyle. There are ways of success and failure for each
person, but I’ll give some recommendations to use for different people
currently in different places:
If you have trouble with suppressing your appetite and experience ravenous hunger during dieting, start with intermittent fasting. Work on shortening your eating window. If you normally allow yourself to eat from 8am to 8pm every day, change this to 1pm to 8pm. Then you’ll keep making this window smaller and smaller. Next you’ll eat from 3pm to 7pm. Next 4pm-6pm. Before you know it you’ll be eating one meal per day and the drinking water for the remainder of the time.
If you need to drop significant weight, do ketosis. This won’t work if you’re a huge glutton, but it will suppress your appetite. This isn’t sustainable long term, so you need to transition into intermittent fasting or eating whole foods. Those two will help you reinforce healthy eating happens.
Transition into eating whole foods to make it easy to maintain your weight and health.
Now, I think some points should also be brought up on how you can fail, and some things you should not do.
These diets/lifestyle work particularly well because they force you
to change your lifestyle, and promote habits that allow you to keep
weight off... however, they don’t
always work, and if you find yourself overeating there’s not
much else that will happen besides weight gain. If your body is at an
energy surplus, it is inevitable that you WILL gain weight. The reason
these three things help you are because they provide extremely inefficient (e.g., energy-wasteful)
ways of using energy. They make your body throw away much of what you
Ketosis is naturally harder to expose yourself to huge amounts of calories, as it’s hard to eat pounds and pounds of fat. There’s appetite suppression, and caloric inefficiency when using fats for energy.
Intermittent fasting prevents you from overeating, because the time allowed is quite shorter. Ghrelin levels are also manipulated, and your appetite is suppressed. There’s also the caloric reduction in large amounts of food eaten at once (from thermogenesis, and also from metabolism regulation).
Whole foods has a caloric reduction as well, because your body needs to process the foods (whereas pre-processed foods are simply uptaken by the body). 800 calories of unprocessed food is more like 700. The whole food diet I introduced also has a bit higher fat content, which is also satiating.
So let’s look at some things you should watch out for:
Being a glutton is a recipe for disaster. Focus on keeping the amount of energy you ingest low, as this will allow you to mobilize fats. The diets above make this easier, but if you’re chugging down heavy cream on ketosis don’t expect to lose weight (and maybe even gain it).
Don’t add in more fats to your diet without lowering your carb intake. Another recipe for disaster. Not only will your carbohydrate intake spike your insulin, but you’re adding fat to the mix as well. Lots of nutrient uptake possible here, which is an easy way to get fat.
If you’re not in ketosis, don’t think you’ll get away with lots of fat. Just because I said I eat unlimited fats does not mean I do it all the time, or when not in ketosis. Focus on a balanced diet, and try to eat less.
Don’t eat past satiety. If you’re satisfied and sate, stop. Another rule that some follow is the drink rule: if you’re thirsty and need a drink, stop. Don’t go eating every meal to complete fullness.
Now, that being said: here also some things you can do if you do somehow manage to start gaining weight, or stall:
Start portion controlling by establishing a caloric limit using a basal metabolic rate calculator. Weight your foods, and don’t pass that limit. The tools I gave above will make this easy, but if you also stay at a caloric balance, you’ll have success.
If you’re in ketosis, consider taking away some saturated fats and substitute them with MCT oil. This’ll cause thermogenesis, and rev up your body.
Increase or decrease exercise and different types. Heavy lifting is better for nutrient partitioning than say.. running long distances. If you’re not exercising, start walking up hills or do sprints. Likewise, If you’re exercising too much and feeling weak you should taper down instead.
Check for any pre-existing conditions that may be disrupting your hormone regulation, such as hyperthyroidism (or hypothyroidism), and evaluate with your physician.
While I covered most of the important parts, I missed A LOT. There’s a lot of research to do and reams of data and information that I just couldn’t include in my article for you here without it being needlessly long or going on too many sidepaths. There simply is not enough space to do so.
Instead, I’ll give you some great links so you can start on this journey yourself:
Dr. Lustig’s video on fructose is good as well (but if I recall, demonizes it a bit):
Ultimately, learning how your body works is a lot like learning how a car works, or a computer works, or any other piece of complex machinery integral to your life. It’s a big mystery why things are going wrong when they are until you figure out the underlying mechanics of the entire system... but then once you’ve got that, it’s a snap: you know what’s wrong, how to fix it, and what to do right now.
This article was designed to be your guide to hacking your own body: health, energy levels, physique, and, yes... fat.
Because it makes a big difference. It really does.
And if I can go from being an all-but-obese video game jockey whose relatives used to try and push him into going for a walk all in the hopes of getting him shedding a pound or two, into a guy with minimal body fat and an attractive physique that gets him compliments (and not complaints) from nearly everyone he meets...
... then I really don’t see any reason why you should be hanging onto a little extra weight around the mid-section.
Time to get fixing that.