(Breather) Did you know we humans have an upper limit on the amount of energy we can burn each day? Not only that, but we will engage in assorted mechanisms to stay under this limit when we try to bust out more calorie burning with ambitious workouts (in pursuit of fat reduction, for example).
An amazing recent study of the primitive living Hadza in Tanzania has cast more light on this subject. Our primitive counterparts who walk many miles and engage in many hours of physical labor each day burn around the same amount of calories (by sex and bodyweight) as a typical lazy modern human!
These insights have tremendous application to how you balance assorted forms of stress in your life. If you are trying to drop excess body fat, you best turn your attention to hormone optimization by lowering insulin production in your diet and kick starting the burning of stored body fat. The truth is, before you even think about how you’re going to go about losing weight, you’ve got to change your diet first. Then you can focus on calorie burning patterns, and start to simply MOVE. The more you move in everyday life, the better your body is at burning fat.
Not only that, but cognitive function improves when you move, so giving yourself regular breaks from work to just get up, take a walk outside, do some calisthenics, whatever it is that breaks up periods of stillness, is essential and incredibly helpful for refreshing your mind. We all know what it’s like when you’re in the zone, and you can’t stop working on whatever it is that you’re doing, and before you know it, it’s been over an hour, and you’ve barely moved! There’s nothing wrong with going with the flow when you get a good idea, but also remember this scary statistic: Just twenty minutes of sitting is known to increase insulin resistance and glucose sensitivity. Yes, sitting for long periods of time literally makes your body crave carbs and stop burning fat! So, try to find a good balance between accomplishing your tasks and avoiding prolonged periods of stillness. Just move when you can, wherever you can!
1) Cut nasty processed carbs out of your diet.
2) Move more throughout everyday life.
3) Incorporate fitness into your life: comfortably paced cardio exercises and briefly paced, explosive workout efforts are best, but the most important thing is just to MOVE.
Always remember to be mindful of overdoing it. Focus on a strategic blend of comfortably paced cardio, brief, explosive strength training sessions, and occasional all-out sprints, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly the fat starts to melt off!
What happens when we go out there and expend a lot of physical energy is our body finds ways to compensate when we’re at rest. [04:00]
When we burn a bunch of calories at strenuous exercise, is that the best way to reduce excess fat? [06:04]
The true path to fat reduction is through hormone optimization, primarily lowering insulin production. [09:56]
Move more every day. [12:00]
As you plunge into chronic patterns, when you overdo it, over exercise, your body finds assorted ways to slow down, eat more food, burn fewer calories. [14:13]
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Get Over Yourself Podcast
Brad: 00:08 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author and athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high stress modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balance that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Brad: 04:00 The compensation theory and the constrained model of energy expenditure. What is this stuff? It’s very, very important as you pursue the esteemed goal and modern life of achieving Stress. Rest Balance. I have a nice excerpt from not an excerpt, a cut from a Keto for Life, uh, the upcoming book from Mark Sisson and me and I thought you might enjoy it and get some reminder appreciation for the importance of balance and how, uh, burning the candle at both ends always ends up making you pay in some way. So this concept of the constraint model of energy expenditure has come to prominence recently with an amazing study of some of the last primitive living hunter gatherer populations on earth, the Hadza in Tanzania.
Brad: 05:01 So the researchers went down there and strap these peeps up with heart rate monitor, uh, mileage, uh, meter like the, um, Fitbit type of operation and tracked their daily, uh, movement patterns, exercise patterns, and did some calculations, uh, to determine their daily caloric expenditure, uh, based on body weight and so forth. Uh, food intake and so forth. So some amazing insights emerged from this study and apply to all of humanity. And that was that this highly active and primitive living population where the males were found to walk, I believe, something like seven, eight miles a day. And the females were walking three to five miles a day, working very hard, uh, picking berries, doing their gathering activities with the males, doing their hunting activities. I know, kinda traditional society, not quite into the, uh, uh, the modern age of, uh, balanced roles and evolved male/ female roles.
Brad: 06:04 Anyway, these are Hunter gatherer peeps in Tanzania and can’t blame them. So they’re burning a lot of calories out. They’re working much harder than the average commuter office worker, Netflix superstar, modern human. But the insight that arose was that there is a maximum, uh, T E E total energy expenditure. It’s called a upper ceiling of how many calories we can burn each day or like to burn each day. So what happens when we go out there and expend a lot of physical energy is our body finds ways to compensate when we’re at rest. So the active human will genuinely burn fewer calories at rest to make up for all that activity and tried to recover from it. In the example of a hard training, a fitness enthusiast in modern society. So when you wake up at 6:00 AM and punch the clock at the gym and get in that awesome spin class from six to seven and we know from research and spinning that you burn about 650 calories during a 45 minute spinning session.
Brad: 07:13 Oh boy, isn’t that great. And isn’t that going to be the wonderful path to uh, reducing excess body fat and getting lean mean? Actually not, because the constraint model of energy expenditure suggests that because you burn those calories during your workout, your body will find ways to compensate and bring you back toward that upper maximum limit ceiling of calorie burning each day. This happens consciously, subconsciously on so many different levels, such as if you did that workout, you’re proud that you did it. You’re going to go celebrate with a Jamba Juice on the way to work, maybe a little scone as well. And so you’re going to eat extra calories sort of in celebration mode for conducting that awesome workout and perhaps because you have a sense of feeling depleted after a strenuous workout, especially when we, when we exercise in chronic patterns and those trigger the appetite hormones to have you eat and indeed overeat to rebalance and replenish a depleted body so your activity patterns will change if you are working out ambitiously and taking this to the extreme level, and I can certainly reference this during my time when I was training for triathlons and spending many, many hours day after day out there on the roads, on the water, on the trails, and burning a ton of calories and workouts.
Brad: 08:37 Guess what? The rest of my life featured very minimal activity and extreme laziness where I really had to motivate myself to go roll the garbage out to the street. Or I often reference the ridiculousness of the idea that every afternoon I would actually drive my car to the mailbox, which was six tenths of a mile away. Granted there was a very steep hill on the route, but this was back in one place that I lived and I was so lazy that even if I had written my bicycle 84 miles or ran 20 miles on the trail, I didn’t really want to go an extra 0.6 round trip 1.2 just to get the mail. So that’s kind of the extreme example of a total energy expenditure constrained model of energy expenditure where the more you burn in workout, you find ways to compensate and then hand in hand with this is the scientifically validated compensation theory, which suggests that your energy expenditure and in terms of your goals to reduce excess body fat, the body will find ways to compensate when you exercise such that your overall workout efforts are kind of a net wash when it comes to fat reduction.
Brad: 09:56 And the true path to fat reduction, as you’ve heard many times and read in the, uh, primal paleo keto associated books is through hormone optimization, primarily lowering insulin production, which allows body fat to return to center stage as the primary fuel source rather than when you’re eating a high carbohydrate, high insulin producing diet, you lock fat away and storage stored body fat is inaccessible due to the high insulin levels because insulin is a storage hormone, right? It’s taking energy out of the bloodstream and putting it into storage rather than, uh, insulin has a counter-regulatory hormone and opposite hormone called glucagon, not glycogen, but glucagon and glucagon’s job is to, uh, take fuel out of storage and dump it into the bloodstream so you can burn it for energy. So it takes triglycerides, that’s the storage form of fat and converts it into free fatty acids.
Brad: 10:55 The reason it says free is because it’s floating around in your bloodstream ready to burn for energy. So that’s the action of the hormone glucagon. So when you lower insulin in your diet, you will trigger a rise in glucagon and you’ll be an energy burning machine a fat burning machine rather than a carbohydrate addict. And we can reference this certainly throughout life and modern times, modern standard American diet where if you skip a meal, you feel tired, hungry, lacking energy. Even though you have hundreds of thousands of calories, tens of thousands of calories of fat stored on your body, it’s inaccessible due to your high insulin eating patterns. So what we want to do is modify dietary habits first and foremost before we look at calorie burning patterns. And then when we look at calorie burning patterns, instead of going for the big score, like the 6:00 AM spinning class and the 650 calories you burn, they’re the first goal in priority is to simply move more in everyday life.
Brad: 12:00 Because when you move more, you tend to burn more fat, you tend to be better at burning fat, your cognitive function is improved when you move. So regular breaks from periods of stillness, such as sitting at your desk or entertaining yourself after a busy long day. Uh, it’s a great idea to get up and do some calisthenics. Take short walks around the office, courtyard, walk a couple flights of stairs, go back to your desk. And this keeps fat burning alive. In contrast to uh, periods of stillness have been shown in as little as 20 minutes. You will experience, uh, an increase in insulin resistance and glucose sensitivity. So that means that you will stop burning fat and start to crave carbohydrates if you sit for long periods of time. And if that’s your daily pattern from your commute to your job, to your evening leisure time, you are going to be trending back toward carb dependency even if you do make some, uh, healthy devoted dietary restrictions.
Brad: 13:09 So number one is cut those nasty processed carbs out of your diet. Number two is resolved to move more throughout everyday life. And then finally, the fitness component comes in. And of course, you’ll benefit from doing comfortably paced cardiovascular exercise as well as the brief, intense, explosive workouts that, Hey, they don’t last very long, so they don’t burn a ton of calories, right? A 25 minute weight training session or sprint workout is not burning hundreds or thousands of calories such that would have a measurable direct impact on body fat reduction. But the hormonal signaling that it sends when you hit that high end, when you do that brief explosive effort, uh, it’s triggering, uh, the reduction of excess body fat in preparation for, uh, future bouts of the same exercise. Right? Same with, uh, resistance training, lifting weights, working with stretch cords, whatever kind of resistance you’re doing, body weight exercises, it’s helping you, uh, get leaner and reduce excess body fat because you’re training the body to do these things that don’t require fat but do require muscle.
Brad: 14:13 Okay, so kind of that insight about total energy expenditure, T E E the constraint model of energy expenditure and then pairing that with the compensation theory. Whoa. Boy, it’s turning the corner and realizing how easy it is to get and maintain your ideal body composition. So when it comes to workout planning, it’s especially important to respect these concepts of the constraint model of energy expenditure in the compensation theory and avoid anything that has any whiff of being a chronic pattern. As you plunge into these chronic patterns, when you overdo it over exercise, your body finds assorted ways to slow down, eat more food, burn fewer calories, and there you go. You’re back at square one or even worse. I just a quote from Dr Phil Maffetone on the Get Over Yourself podcast where he was talking about a modern society is either people who are under-trained, the inactive crowd, the masses or the fitness enthusiasts who are most likely or most often over-trained because of these prevailing high stress exercise patterns that are sold to the public with the popular fitness programs regimens, group training programs, a group classes at the gym, and just the mentality that gets people out there pursuing these ambitious goals.
Brad: 15:40 It’s typically the type a, the hard driving, goal-focused person that’s going to get off the couch with no problem and then possibly overdo it. So Maffetone said there’s really not many people in between in that sweet spot of being fit, healthy, not overdoing it, but certainly doing plenty to protect your health. So why don’t we strive to be some of those people where we have a strategic blend of comfortably paced cardio brief, intense strength training sessions where you put your body under some form of resistance load regularly and occasional all out sprints where you work that top end and stimulate that massive hormonal benefit of the adaptive hormones, flooding the bloodstream, testosterone, human growth hormone and delivering that profound fat reduction message to the genes and hormones to get you where you want to be.
Brad: 16:31 Thanks for listening to this breather show. Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback at email@example.com and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop, iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars and it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves cause they need to. Thanks for doing it.