Fasting for Fuel…

Fasting: Fasting is the process where you abstain from food and/or water for a set period of time. In water fasting, you do not eat but you are free to drink as much plain water as you want. Fasting should not be confused with starving, where one suffers from severe lack of nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. During fasting, your body burns your fat reserves (adipose) for energy. The person does not suffer any deficiency of protein, vitamins, minerals or fatty acids. Starving happens when a body has no reserve fat fuels to burn (happens for anyone with body fat from 7-10%; I will elaborate further below) and starts eating into its own muscles and organs for energy instead. Carrington (Physical Culture, 1915) put it well in these words:

 

“Fasting is a scientific method of ridding the system of diseased tissue, and morbid matter, and is invariably accompanied by beneficial results. Starving is the deprivation of the tissues from nutriment which they require, and is invariably accompanied by disastrous consequences.”

 

The amount of time one can fast without going into starvation mode varies from individual to individual, such as the fat %, body weight, body condition and so on, but the average person can actually last 40 days just drinking water alone (please do not attempt to do this yourself without doing due research first).

 

Why Fast? (Benefits of Fasting)

Why fast? That’s a perfectly valid question.

1.Immense Mental benefits of Fasting: Mental Clarity, Increased Creativity, etc.

My interest in taking on fasting is multiple-fold. People feel heightened levels of mental clarity, significantly increased creative output, inner calmness, a new-found relationship with themselves, supremely vivid dreams, and so on during their fasts. These tend to happy from Day 3 onwards of their fast. One of the big reasons is because since there’s nothing to digest, our body stops diverting energy to our digestive systems and instead directs them to our brain, leading to higher level output (i.e. thinking and creative work).

2.Purging Toxins

Secondly, I personally am quite keen on the physical purging process. Our bodies have many toxins piled up from all the years of eating processed and unhealthy food. As we talked about earlier having the ability to rest the digestive system and give it time to repair itself can go a long way to reducing toxins and improving gut health. So fasting is a strategy to do some major cleansing in system through this fast, kind of like a system reboot.

3. Improved Immune System

Fasting basically helps your body to reset its immune system, kicking it into high gear by the end of your fast! A fasting cycle results in the depletion of white blood cells and creates changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. In particular, it reduced the enzyme PKA, which is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into regenerative mode. “It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” per say. When you fast, your body once through the glycogen stores burns body fat as fuel to find nutrients and energy. This means that a lot of the inefficient or damaged parts of the body are eliminated during the fasting, basically resetting your overall health at the same time.

4. Enabling Others To Learn and Grow

The third reason is that I’m always looking to explore new territories of growth and to share them so others can learn from my experiences. By taking on the fast and publicly sharing my experience, I can imagine that this will be a helpful resource to those who might be interested to try this for themselves in the future.

5.Weight Loss/Fat Loss

Weight loss is another obvious benefit from a water fast. Those who have fasted properly, broken the fast the right way, and maintained a healthy diet thereafter have actually kept the weight off, so that’s definitely a very big plus. Depending on the length of the fast there are two reasons for this…initially is the reduction of inflammation causing the weight loss. With longer fast you are tapping into fat stores and actually pushing the body into ketogenesis where we are burning body fat as fuel creating the weight loss which we will discuss further here in a bit.

6. Building a New Relationship with Food

And last but not least (somewhat related to the second reason), fasting can help people to build a new relationship with food. So many people are using food as an emotional outlet. It also made me personally understand on a completely new level what it really feels to be hungry and require food, vs. when it’s just a desire to eat and fill out an emotion. The answer is that probably 99.9% of the time it’s the latter and not the former. Fasting, not eating food will probably make you see food in a different light than you are seeing it now. The people who have undergone fasting talked about how they felt hunger in the first 1-3 days and stopped feeling any physical hunger after that. It also made them realize what true hunger really felt like. Real hunger isn’t the feeling that most of us think it is – signs like emptiness of stomach, stomach growls, thinking that you need to eat, gastric pain, etc. are just what we think is hunger. Real hunger is felt from the throat (not stomach nor head). The average body has fat reserves (complete with the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals) that can last one at least 40 days without food. (Unless you’re very thin, pregnant, emaciated, etc.) This shift in our relationship with food can be invaluable as people stop looking at food at anything other than fuel and breaks some of those negative relationships with food.

 

How Long Should One Fast?

As I’ve mentioned above, our body has sufficient fat reserves to last us for 40 days, with some even stretching as long as 10 weeks. Our body will not burn muscle as an act of natural preservation. By default (Read Stage 4 as to why), our body gets energy in this order:

 

Stage 1: Daily food

Glucose from our daily food consumption.

Stage 2: Glycogen from liver (Glycogenolysis)

Glycogen from our liver. Converted via Glycogenolysis; this happens when we don’t eat for four to eight hours. This lasts us for about 12 hours.

Stage 3: Glycogen from our muscles

It’s easier to get energy first from glucose, then protein, then finally fats. This is why our body tries to get energy from glycogen from our muscles after it finishes burning the glycogen from our liver. This can happen for a day or two before our body realizes that something is amiss. It then switches to ketosis.

Stage 4: Full Ketosis (Fasting)

Stage 4 occurs when our body realizes that it needs to stop wasting muscles since it’s needed for survival. It then switches to ketosis, where it burns fat from our adipose tissues, i.e. our fat resources. This is known as the protein or muscle sparing mode because our body knows that our muscles and organs are important for the proper functioning of the body, and upon realizing no more energy is coming in, now switches to fat as the energy source. Our fat is converted into ketone which is used for energy. This happens as long as there are no more fat reserves left — equivalent of less than 7% or 10% body fat for males and females respectively.

Since each pound of fat is 3,500 calories and our daily energy expenditure is about 1,500-2,000, that’s quite a lot of calories for the body to burn during the fast before it’ll move to the next stage (starvation). For most people, it’s around four weeks to 10 weeks (or even longer) depending on your fat percentage, body weight, body condition and so on. Girls tend to have higher fat reserves/percentage than guys, while guys tend to have a higher absolute body mass. During water fasting, it is said that full ketosis is usually reached at approximately 48 hours for women

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You aren’t hungry you’re bored…

You aren’t hungry you’re bored…

So I may very well irritate or flat out anger some people that read this…You aren’t hungry, you aren’t addicted to sugar nor are you going to die without carbs. These are all excuses people use to justify them eating like crap and not reaching their goals. It is very easy for people to blame other things than take responsibility for their choices…its all choices. We have the choice of what we eat and how much of it we eat. Quit blaming everyone else for you current health and body.

The good news is…You’re not alone. Better news…You’re in control.
Eating an ice cream sundae, Warm bread or Sweet releases dopamine that lights up the brain’s pleasure center and makes you feel amazing… for about five minutes. After you are left needing more of these substances to nurse the subsequent feelings of guilt and shame with yet more food. This is a fact and now that you know it you have the choice to avoid it and make a better choice…or at the very least understand what you are getting yourself into by eating it. Neurologically, the sensation of craving is considered to be a sensation of “need” that we experience as a “have to have it” feeling, arising out of dopamine and b-endorphin circuits in the ventral striatum and other midbrain areas, and is distinct from hedonic pleasure, which is just about loving the taste of food.

Sound familiar? And there’s more. Not only are your food cravings a result of pleasure and reward seeking, but they can also be tied to your brain’s memory center. Craving a specific food means that your brain could be tying that food to a memory. So this isn’t a rant to beat you down about making poor choices or letting your emotions control your eating.

There is hope. The first step in putting a stop to your triggers and cravings related to emotional eating, comfort eating, or binge eating is to identify your personal triggers. Which situations, places, or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food and in doing so steer you off your course?

“I’m bored, I’m alone, I have nothing to do” – Boredom or feelings of emptiness and loneliness Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do? Does eating fill a void in your life? I am personally guilty of this…I spend a lot of time by myself and due to this there are times where I am eating out of sheer boredom. For me I have replaced this boredom with more constructive things…like this blog and other outlets.

“It’s rude not to eat the food at this party” – Social functions and peer pressure – It’s easy to overindulge simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. This goes for alcohol as well as food. This is where choice comes into play…if you aren’t hungry then why are you eating? More than once I have been to an event and not eaten or even had a drink. I made a choice based on my goals to not let other people determine my success in reaching those goals.

“I am so stressed!” – Stress – Ever notice how stress makes you hungry? When stress is chronic, as it so often is in our fast-paced, on-the-go world, it leads to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for foods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. Managing stress in your life ensures that you are less likely to turn to food for emotional relief. How do you manage stress in your life? For me it’s the gym….but it can be anything that brings you enjoyment…gardening, reading, hiking or anything!

“I don’t want to feel sad, I don’t like my feelings “ – Stuffing or pushing your emotions down – Eating can be a way to temporarily way to “stuff down” uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While you’re numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the emotions you’d rather not feel. I did this with alcohol which isn’t any better than hiding those feelings with food. Neither is a long term solution to those feelings…at the end of the day we are in charge of how we feel, our outlook and our happiness. No one else…just you.

The key is to identify these feelings and find others ways to soothe them that don’t involve food. Feeling lonely? Instead of finding friendship at the bottom of a Ben and Jerry’s tub, go for a walk with a friend. Feeling bored? Instead of reaching for those cookies, stimulate your mind by investigating subjects you are interested in, take a dance class or read an amazing book. Stressed? Exercise! Find something you enjoy, and commit to your health. Make time for yourself and put your needs for self-care first. Most importantly, always remember that you are not alone.
While we all have triggers that set us off, we all have the choice on how we respond.

 

Balance: It doesn’t exist…

Balance: It doesn’t exist…

The very concept of work-life balance is misleading…balance is based on two things being equal. Nothing in our lives is ever fully equal for very long if at all. Hell night and day is only equal twice a year. If we look at a scale and we do actually get it balanced what happens when someone bumps the table, opens the door and gust of wind comes through or you decide to add something to one side…it becomes unbalanced. This is life…this is the world we live in.

Not only that, but there’s a fundamental problem with the way the antidotes to overworking and burnout are presented in tidy, bullet-point form. It is very easy for someone on the outside looking in to tell you how to “balance” your life. The heart of the problem, which is that for too many ambitious people, success is inversely related to failure in other, “personal” aspects of life. They feel to be successful that their personal life has to suffer or vice versa. In the normal home or relationship…it will always be a matter of give and take. We do not have to sacrifice one thing for the other…just like we will never be able to give them equal amounts of effort or attention. Do what you need to do in each area to be happy…this back and forth is what may seem like chaos but in the end will end up being the overall calm.

Balance is a weird, abstract concept, The way I interpret it is, sometimes we focus on one or two areas in our lives more than others, whether that’s for a day, a few months, even a year. But things change; seasons change. So instead of it being a pie chart where I have to giving a little bit of my time and energy to everything, every day, I’m learning to better communicate my current focus to people around me. I find that once I stop thinking about the balance, and focus on priorities then the rest takes care of itself. Our priorities will change overtime and that’s perfectly okay…you want to achieve “balance” then make sure those people who are important you in life…loved ones, friends or coworkers all understand what your priorities are.

What in the F%@K is Ketosis…

What in the F%@K is Ketosis…

What is Ketosis? What is it not?

This topic has been flying around the internet for several months now so let’s get down to what it is…what it’s not…and dispel some of the myths, falsities and just plain out bad info.

What is ketosis…simply put it is the state of having elevated level of ketones in your system. That’s it…It’s a state. Not a process, not some magical trick nor is it some unnatural thing. We are born in a state of Ketosis as an infant and stay in that state until we get fed some formula that is full of carbs (Mostly sugar). An infant breast fed will stay in Ketosis until the introduction of carbs.

How to get into Ketosis. Ketosis occurs when liver glycogen gets depleted and the body burns fatty acids for fuel. This is a process called Ketogenesis. The primary driver of this process is a very low carbohydrate intake. Often, it also requires a low protein, higher fat intake. You can also achieve a state of ketosis by fasting. The creation of ketones is a byproduct of this metabolic process putting you into a state of ketosis. Ketones are a source of fuel, just as glucose is a source of fuel. Ketones tend to have some added benefits, though.

Ketosis allows our bodies to function in the absence of carbohydrates, both physically and mentally. Instead of burning carbohydrates, or converting protein to glucose, the body burns ketones. It allows your body to function in a caloric deficit. There are potential benefits to be had. Let’s cover a few of them…

Fat Loss…imagine a person who is avoiding carbohydrates, keeping protein to moderate levels, and getting adequate levels of fat. Assuming they’re eating quality foods, they’re getting all the micronutrients they need. Assuming they’re also eating enough calories, they’re not starving themselves. The diet is meeting their needs and their blood sugar is remaining very stable in the process. Following this high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate model can induce ketosis. Where your body’s main interest is to create the ketones it can use for fuel in the absence of glucose. In other words, your body’s main interest is to burn fat.

Inflammation, Pain and Chronic Disease…Behind most chronic diseases, such as nerve damage, arthritis, or diabetes, is a high amount of inflammation. This often comes with a lot of pain, too. There are many factors involved in chronic inflammation, including a sedentary lifestyle, high stress levels, exposure to toxins like tobacco smoke, or having a family history of inflammation. Not only does a ketogenic diet and being in ketosis help in reducing inflammation, it can also help ease related pain through. After we eat something with excess carbohydrates (which are broken down to sugars), our blood glucose levels remain higher than usual. With constant intake of high-sugar foods, glucose can build up in the blood, which can cause inflammation. If the inflammation is chronic, it can lead to serious problems like insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Ketosis, Disease Treatment, And Health…Besides turning on your fat burning furnace, dipping into ketosis may be beneficial for health and disease treatment. One of the most interesting areas of study has to do with ketosis and starving cancer cells. Many cancers feeds on glucose, which leads to the obvious question, “What happens when you take away the glucose?” For normal cells, they switch to using ketones for fuel as we discussed earlier. But there are studies that show cancer does not have the ability to use ketones for fuel, thus they starve.

Another area where ketogenic diets are being heavily tested is in the treatment of Diabetes. Both Type I and Type II diabetics seem to respond very well to being in ketosis. Keep in mind this is separate from the condition of ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition for Type 1 diabetics. We will touch on this later!

There are dozens of studies targeting the treatment of a range of health issues using ketogenic diets. I won’t cover them all here, but I’ll give you three more: ketogenic diets have shown to be beneficial for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Epilepsy. This appears to be due to the neuroprotective nature of ketosis, its ability to slow or halt cellular death, and its positive effects on inflammation. I will put a link at the end to some awesome research on all the things listed above.

Ketosis & Improved Focus And Brain Function…One of the mechanisms that causes so many brain issues – seizures, migraines, bipolar, ALS, dementia – is neurotoxicity. One cause of neurotoxicity is too much glucose. So, by reducing the glucose supply and asking the brain to burn ketones for fuel, a leveling out of sorts occurs. There’s another byproduct of all this. Brain function. How clearly you focus, think, and recall information. Ketogenic diets improve brain function through the mechanism of clean fuel production. It appears that ketones are a more efficient and cleaner form of fuel for the brain than glucose and produce less free radicals.

Now that we covered what Ketosis is…lets talk about what it is not.

Ketosis is not Ketoacidosis…Despite the similarity in name, ketosis and ketoacidosis are two different things. Ketoacidosis refers to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and is a complication of type 1 diabetes mellitus. This is not a condition found in healthy individuals…Several things can lead to DKA, including illness, improper diet, or not taking an adequate dose of insulin. DKA can also occur in individuals with type 2 diabetes who have little or no insulin production but is very rare.

Ketosis is not for everyone…The only hard and fast rule of health is that health is personal and what works well for one person may not work for someone else. Aside from that rule, there are “frameworks” that seem to benefit large groups of people. One more level down from that are alternative strategies that benefit smaller groups. Ketosis is likely one of those alternative strategies that works well for certain people with the right mindset. So, right off the bat I want you to understand that Ketosis might not be for everyone.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7790697

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21130529/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23680948

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903931/

Trendy nutrition…

Trendy nutrition…

 

A lot of people are just follow the heap of trends in nutrition without ever doing any research of their own. The similarity of success in these situations is that they’re consistent and eventually people find ones that suit them and they last longer on it. If it doesn’t work, it’s like fight club. They don’t talk about it. Hell even some people talk about it working when clearly it didn’t.

People succeed this time because you did something consistently better than you did before. If you’re burning off more calories than you consume you lose weight, the trick is to make sure a high ratio of that is fat not muscle. This is the simplicity of it.

They’re just an array of different ways to put you in a calorie deficit and if you look through some of my other blogs you will see examples of them. The ones that succeed have one common similarity…You enjoy them and they are sustainable.

Your physique is like a small spoilt child, it will cry out for all this stuff it wants but doesn’t actually need. YOU as the “parent” of this physique need to make sure you don’t spoil it too often. The more you spoil it the more it cries. In most cases that crying spoilt child wins out. When it comes to nutrition and this happens people binge on what they have been restricted from eating. This is why one of the most important things of any diet is sustainability.

The butter, the olive oil, the coconut oil, the super berries the super foods, much like the fads people have done over the years are because they sold the benefits of consuming something in epic quantities as it was ‘magic’……NO! NO! NO! NO! It’s FOOOOOOOD. Nuts, seeds, oils, grains, legumes, beans, dairy, fruit, veg, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, roots, leaves, herbs and spices…..eat them.

Just eat a varied and interesting diet consisting of different sources of fat, protein and carbs in a decent amount and ratio for your goals…There are tons of ways to do this and to lose fat you must be in a caloric deficit. Use them in cool combinations and voila you have an interesting diet with the right amount of macronutrients in it for what you need. Find the diet that fits your goals and don’t be dogmatic about the style of diet. I use a targeted ketogenic diet and it has worked great for me. The style of diet isn’t near as important as long as it preserves and/or improves your health. We have found that limiting carbs can be very beneficial for some but this never means we go without them. Fat is not the enemy, carbs are not the enemy, gluten is not the enemy…lack of nutritional knowledge is the enemy. Knowledge is power.

No! No! You don’t want to change…

You don’t want to change…

No, no you don’t. If you don’t want to change then you won’t. I resisted so many changes for so long. Change means leaving a comfort zone. I retreated back to my comfort zone more than once. But it doesn’t change the facts. Somewhere in my deepest inner being I know that change was needed. This touches all aspects of life…

You KNOW eating all the junk food consumers eat is horrible for our health and longevity. But despite knowing, we have a hard time with change and accepting something is bad or wrong for us. We will make every excuse in the book to continue eating something that’s so wrong but tastes so good.

We KNOW that relationship is toxic but we stay or go back to it anyways. We always say that they will change or we dismiss it all together. We struggle mightily to let those people in our lives go even though we know they are not benefiting us.

You KNOW that you need to exercise regularly to improve your health. We make excuses about not having time. We make excuses about our lack of effort. We will continue these excuses until we reach a point that we are ready for a change.

Just my opinion but here are the steps to change…real change. Change that benefits you.

  • The initial motivation for change starts with a sense that something is no longer working as well as it once did. This awareness can be extremely subtle at first. Maybe you feel uncomfortable with a long held belief, or with your current way of dealing with certain situations. Sometimes it’s not subtle as you feel like you have hit rock bottom and don’t know where to go from here.

 

  • What’s your why? Everyone always wants to brush over this step with a vague answer. I suggest you think it through a bit more. Why you need this change. This provides the opportunity to articulate to themselves some in-depth reasons why they are making this commitment to begin the difficult process of change. When it feels challenging to stick to your commitment, you can often reflect back on these reasons to help you hang in there. You’re why only has to be important to you. It’s your why and no one else’s.

 

  • In this stage you have to take responsibility for our own discomfort or actions. That means that we fully accept that we are the source, rather than some external force. At this point we consciously acknowledge that it is our actions, feelings, habits, perception, emotions, limiting beliefs, or faulty reasoning that needs to be adjusted.

 

  • In the world of personal transformation, this is the only way to achieve results. If you don’t act, nothing will change. In fact, your discomfort with the current reality will increase because you have a much greater awareness of it. Before, it was just a subtle sense that something is no longer working. Now, it has a face and that face is your’s…

 

At the end of the day it is up to us to elicit our own personal change. Other people cannot fix us…they can only support us once we make the decision to make the changes we need to make. It’s Tuesday so if you want to see a personal #Transformation then it is solely up to you…so do you really want to change?

Stop chasing numbers…

Stop chasing numbers…

Too many people worrying about numbers…numbers on a scale, meter or piece of paper.

I still see and talk to people at 20 percent body fat with barely an ounce of trained muscle on their frame worrying about what the best time to train is, which supplement is best for fat loss, for muscle building or what style of training is the best. The industry and people in it seem to indulge these people and come up with answers instead of being straight and saying ‘right now’ it isn’t probably isn’t worth worrying about.

I’m all for details. In fact I’m a details kinda guy.

People love a good statistic but the notion that your obese client requires a body fat assessment to confirm what they already know is, in many cases merely for the marketing necessity of the facility ‘if’ that person happens to make a statistical change. The usefulness of a BF assessment with use past helping to develop a starting point for caloric need is pretty much zero.

The fact that society has told them they’re obese and they may have spent their life being told it does not need to be reinforced by a number. They came to you for support and to start a progressive journey. If ou start by using numbers you are just confirming their biggest fear.

I often hear people new to the industry getting engulfed in pubmed studies and worrying about details like what the ‘best’ time to train is and if taking a post workout will blunt GH production. When people are starting out…the starting part is the most important and you then can work twords details. The biggest limiting factor with client results is compliance. Not if they have or don’t have a post workout drink.

If they intend to lose fat they need a caloric deficit brought about by a slight caloric restriction and/or increased activity. Adequate protein and that’s about it. A calorie deficit. That’s all most of our demographic needs until the day they’re lean as hell, carrying a good amount of muscle mass or been training for multiples of years.

If they intend building muscle they need progressive overload and a calorie surplus. It’s a simple as that even though simple is not always easy. Believe me as I continue to work to add quality muscle and it has yet to ever get easy.

Experience, basics and getting people to comply is the thing that will make you a better trainer and get you results in the onset, that’s pretty much all you need. 80% of the general clientele I would deal will need 20% of my knowledge and experience to get results. 20% need the other 80%.

Eat quality foods, be consistent with your training and learn how to sustain and comply to plans. If you’re a trainer observe, learn and if you don’t understand it, pick up a book, speak to someone you respect and knows more than you and ask.