(Breather) This could be the most important podcast you ever listen to when it comes to understanding the true dynamics behind losing excess body fat, especially breaking free from the flawed notions that underpin the fitness and diet industries.
This show is inspired by my two recent shows with Dr. Herman Pontzer (#1 and #2), author of the new book, Burn: New Research Blows the Lid Off How We Really Burn Calories, Lose Weight, and Stay Healthy. This show aggregates the breakthrough insights about energy expenditure with what we know about calories to uncover, simplify, and demystify the truth about weight loss and caloric intake.
This episode completely challenges the foundational premise of the fitness industry as I reveal that you actually burn the same number of calories per day, regardless of exercise level and break down the constrained model of caloric expenditure. You’ll learn why the “additive model” of energy expenditure (which entails figuring out your BMR with a calculator and then adding and subtracting the calories consumed and burned throughout the day) can be highly inaccurate, which can be explained by the Compensation Theory (your vigorous workouts cause you to not only be lazier, but also eat more the rest of the day).
You’ll also learn that homo sapiens’ genetics transcends the nuances of our daily lifestyles and training logs and that we are the highest calorie burners among the apes (and the best calorie storers): Gorilla’s burn 20% fewer calories than humans, and apes in zoos actually burn the same amount of calories as a heavily active ape in the wild. I also reveal that activity really burns only a tiny bit more calories: moderately active people burn 200 more calories a day than inactive people, and hugely active people burn around the same amount of calories as the moderately active people.
I also talk about what happens when you try to flaunt your Homo sapiens genes and burn calories like crazy in the name of fitness or weight loss, which can be best summed up by this quote: “Reproduction, growth, repair, and locomotion are a zero sum game.” This means that if you do more of one, you take away/borrow from one or more of the others. I explain why the consequences of that are no joke: you’re on the thin red line of suppressed immune function, suppressed cognitive function, suppressed general energy levels, delayed recovery, reduced reproductive drive, and reproductive fitness. I also mention that female extreme endurance amenorrhea is the most visible example of this, as sadly so many women become infertile all just to run more mileage.
One important point to take away from this episode: if you reject the constraints of the human and march forward with an unsustainable lifestyle, compensations will be taken for you. This brings to mind stories I’ve heard from amateur fitness enthusiasts who often pair 6 months (or 6 years) of heavy devotion to CrossFit, but need to take 6 months or 6 years off for recovery. Similarly, when you look at the Biggest Loser contestants 6 years after the show, they have dysregulated appetite and fat metabolism. The majority of them ended up gaining all the weight they lost back and then some, and I talk about how this happens frequently to bodybuilders as well.
So how can this be? How is it that an ambitious exercise regimen will not help your fat loss at all? Dr. Herman explains: “Possibly an athlete is undergoing an initial adjustment to a higher level of training. And before they get used to it, the athlete is in a temporary unsustainable physique,” like prepping for the Tour de France. Or it could be that the athlete is also changing their diet as part of lifestyle improvement.
But what is the deal? How and why do we gain fat so easily, and how can we actually lose it, long-term, and not as a temporary fix? While Dr. Herman admits that losing excess body fat is “tough,” the truth is that there is a high genetic component to body fat percentage, and a high lifestyle component to dysregulated eating and fat gain. This is why it’s so key to focus on cultivating healthy sleep and exercise habits. I bring up Dr. Herman’s point that it is possible that high or low daily energy expenditure is set early in life, just that we don’t know yet what the precise mechanism is. He’s also noted two groups that appear to have high expenditure: athletes and subsistence farmers. What do they have in common? They both tend to grow up moving a lot, as well as eating a lot.
Whether it’s your genes, your environment, or some combination, high energy expenditure in childhood may remain intact throughout life, but Dr. Herman says we don’t know for sure. Being predisposed to high energy flux may help some people respond quickly to workouts and have more success keeping their weight stable through exercise, while for some others no amount of exercise affects weight loss.
If you want to try to figure out if exercise can help you easily lose weight and keep it off, ask yourself if you fit into one or more of the following categories:
1. You were extremely active as a kid, but are mostly sedentary now.
2. Until recently, you could eat what you wanted without gaining much weight, if any.
3. Like Mick DiMaria, you’ve spent most of your life in pretty good shape and only recently let yourself go.
If any of these ring true, there’s a good chance you’re high flux. That suggests your body prefers to eat a lot of food each day, and until recently you matched your appetite with a high activity level. And it suggests your body may respond quickly to structured workouts.
The Best Strategy to Lose Extra Body Fat
The best starting point of all is to simply ditch processed, nutrient deficient food in favor of high-satiety, nutrient dense foods (protein especially). Then the next step, which is taking an under the radar approach so you get a mild calorie deficit, without prompting compensation mechanisms. There are one of two ways to do this: you can implement a slight deficit each day or occasional extreme fasting (24 hours, 1 day a week). I personally like to trigger hunger now and then to increase my appreciation of food. And why not throw in a big fasting day? (This is what Mark Sisson does on days he’s flying.)
Dr. Herman says it accordingly, “Find a diet that leaves you completely satisfied with not in excess of calories. Pick a diet with rules, restrictions and guidelines so you are not prompted to overeat. Any diet is essentially a gimmick in the end. Cut carbs, cut fat, cut plants, intermittently fast, go compressed eating window, go vegan. Just implement rules and guidelines so you don’t have constant unfettered access to hyper palatable foods and overeating. Find a diet that leaves you satisfied and happy.” My latest book, Two Meals A Day, offers a simple but highly effective strategy: to simply implement new rules and a new norm to follow, instead of following the ridiculous 3 meals a day habit, which only came out of the industrial revolution. The carnivore diet is not only extremely high satiety and low insulin stimulating, but it also has great potential for fat loss. Fasting is another rule to implement to promote automatic success: a smaller eating window simply means less potential to overeat. It’s simple, smart, and most importantly, it works.
It can seem overwhelming trying to implement all the necessary parts of a healthy lifestyle, but when you break it down, it’s simple: emphasize sleep, reduce stress, don’t overtrain, and get rid of sugar, grains, and seed oils as these drive the overproduction of cortisol and dysregulate appetite and satiety hormones. Exercise and movement are obviously hugely important, as these prompt a reduction in systemic inflammation. Dr. Herman says research reveals that if you sit too much, your body becomes inflamed. Humans have a genetic requirement for near constant movement.
The importance of checking your intentions can also not be discounted. Form a healthy body image, decide to turn things around, and reclaim your genetic potential. My colleague Amy Lucas says, “I’m sure I’ll never be fat, because I believe I’m a skinny person.”
You’ll also learn that major fluctuations in body weight can be mistaken for gaining and losing fat, but are almost entirely natural fluctuations in hydration, glycogen retention inflammation, and water retention in cells throughout the body make for most of your body weight variation. When we talk about body fat, we are best away from scale and tracking according to the fit of a tight pair of pants. And if you don’t believe me, watch Nick Symmonds lose 10lbs in 24 hours of mostly fasting, not much water, and a few hard workouts and hot sweaty workouts.
That’s a wrap for today, and good luck! One useful reminder is to ask yourself: How many times have I been hungry in the last 30 days, or 30 years? Pushing the boundary a bit of what you think of as hunger, as well as forming a set intention to change your body, can really help weight loss efforts.
This podcast shatters the basic elements of the modern fitness and diet industry. [01:40]
The truth is we humans burn around the same number of calories every day, regardless of our exercise level. [03:15]
How can it be that the lazy person next door burns the same calories as I, a gym goer, do? [10:21]
The brain burns most of our daily calories and then the other organs burning the rest independent from our activity level. [12:30]
When transitioning from the moderately active category to the incredibly active category, there is very little change in daily caloric energy expenditure. [14:00]
Muscle burns a bit more calories than fat. [16:59]
Calorie burning is happening, but we need to look at the compensation factor. When you are a hard driving athlete and burning lots of calories, you are spending less energy on your immune function, your reproductive function etc. [23:18]
Mark Sisson’s example is when he was running a hundred miles a week for seven years. He had many physical maladies which led him to become the Primal Blueprint guy. [26:55]
Burning the candle at both ends…burning more calories than you’re genetically adapted to could shorten lifespan. [32:25]
How can an ambitious exercise regimen not help fat loss at all? When you are super fit, you become super-efficient in burning calories. [33:48]
Your devotion to improving your fitness and working out inspires you to clean up your diet. [38:11]
So how does one lose excess body fat? Exercising more doesn’t really work, nor does prolonged caloric restriction. [42:38]
There are many cultural influences causing us to overeat. [50:04]
The best starting point is to ditch processed nutrient foods in favor of high satiety, nutrient dense foods. [52:12]
Pay attention to your hunger and satiety signals and notice when you’ve had enough. [58:21]
You can use almost any diet as long as it has rules and regulations that will keep you from overeating. [01:00:44]
Your exercise and lifestyle changes need to accompany the dietary transition. [01:05:14]
Gluttony and sloth are not the causes of obesity. They are symptoms of obesity. [01:08:23]
Start with forming a healthy image and then decide to turn things around with positive energy rather than disgust and self-loathing and all these flimsy motivators that only work for a short time. [01:09:55]
Your weight on the scale naturally can vary from day to day. [01:11:25]
- Everything You Thought You Knew About Burning Fat Is Wrong
- The Myth of Ripped Muscles and Calorie Burns
- Brad’s Shopping page
- Herman Pontzer Podcast (the Data Always Wins)
- Herman Pontzer Podcast (Human Metabolism and Fat Loss)
- The Secret Race
- The Paleo Thyroid Solution
- Wheat Belly
- Wired to Eat
- Hungry Brain
- Obesity Code
- Good Calories, Bad Calories
- Carnivore Scores Chart
- Fatty Popcorn Boy Podcast
- Nick Symmons Podcast
- How To Lose Fat
- “Reproduction, growth repair, and locomotion are a zero-sum gain.” (Dr. Herman Pontzer)
- “If you want to live longer, lift more weights and eat more protein.” (Robb Wolf)
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Brad (1m 40s): It’s all about the calories people. Yes, this show could be the most important podcast you ever listened to when it comes to understanding the true dynamics behind losing excess body fat. So we are going to uncover simplify and demystify the truth about energy expenditure. This show is inspired by my two full length interviews with Dr. Herman Pontzer, evolutionary anthropologist and author of the breakthrough new book about caloric expenditure called Burn. So please listen to our two full length shows about all aspects of his life’s work, studying the energy expenditure of humans and other great apes in the family. Brad (2m 27s): And, Oh boy, it’s going to recalibrate so many super important things, including pretty much shattering the basic foundational elements of the modern fitness industry and diet industry. So what we’re talking about here is the recent science that’s strongly refuting what we have long thought to be the path to dropping excess body fat. And that is to burn more calories every day, by working out a lot, speed up your metabolism by building more lean muscle mass and all that great stuff. And in tandem, reduce your caloric intake by a significant margin to achieve these miracle results that we see glorified on TV, like the Biggest Loser, or see the before and after photos on the internet of people dropping 20, 30, 40 pounds. Brad (3m 15s): Okay. So here’s the breakthrough insight that Dr. Pontzer has shared so beautifully and convincingly with the research and the data that doesn’t lie as Dr. Herman likes to say. The truth is we humans, homo sapiens, burn around the same number of calories every day, regardless of our exercise level Hello, what are you talking about? Yup. There goes the foundational premise of the fitness industry that you can increase your metabolism or burn the fat away by slamming down another workout or a double workout if you’re really serious. Nope. Brad (3m 55s): In fact, we are constrained by evolutionary biology and the realization that homo sapiens burn calories in a very narrow and constrained range. It happens to be around 3000 calories a day adjusted for your lean body mass. So that’s the main adjustment factor as a little bitty, a hundred pound female personal trainer that you see bouncing around the gym is going to burn a certain amount of calories. And then a big, giant massive muscle bodybuilder is going to burn quite a bit more based on that lean body mass. But after we adjust for lean body mass, the only thing left are tiny little adjustments based on our activity level. Brad (4m 40s): And as Dr. Pontzer details in our interviews and in the book burn, the adjustments are shockingly small for whether you leave a sedentary couch potato life, taking the subway to the high rise, taking the elevator, sitting at a desk, taking the subway back home and watching Netflix all evening, versus whether you’re out there training for a marathon or peddling your bicycle for hours every day, or in the case of Dr. Pontzer landmark studies of the Hadza, our hunter-gatherer primitive living population in Tanzania, they burn the same number of calories as an office couch-potato shockingly. So even though they’re active all day long, they’re walking between three and seven miles a day. Brad (5m 22s): And this was his original study work started around a decade ago, where they went down to Tanzania expecting to find these guys burning way more calories than average humans. And that was when we turned the corner and realized that this is way bigger than our workout logs. This is more to the homo sapiens species. And we are, we happen to be the biggest calorie burner in the great ape family. And a lot of that is devoted to our massively a ravenous brain that burns 20% of all the daily calories that we burn. So that advanced brain function and all kinds of other reasons that we burn more calories than let’s say a gorilla. Brad (6m 4s): And this is vastly more significant than the blank goals and our training log or the huge big weeks of training that we do. Thinking that, yeah, this is increasing our daily caloric intake. So I’m going to get into it with great detail here. There’s going to be a lot thrown at you, a very comprehensive show I’ve prepared for you. And hopefully you’ll walk away feeling after processing all the information and shaking away your fixed and rigid beliefs. You’ll have a better understanding and a better focus on what it really takes to drop excess body fat. So hang until the latter parts of the show where we’re going to just cut the chase. Brad (6m 44s): But first you have to understand these amazing breakthrough insights that are shattering our notions of how the body works. And what I described that you burn around the same number of calories per day, regardless of whether you work out or not is called the constrained model of caloric expenditure. And this replaces the flawed conventional wisdom model that we’ve held for decades, which you could call the additive model of energy expenditure. And this is where we go on to the online cute little calculator. And we input our age and our height and our weight, and they spit out a basal metabolic rate. I’m sure you’ve heard that term BMR. And it says, this is how many calories you burn per day at rest. Brad (7m 25s): And then you can go and plug in the 600 calories that you burn at your spinning class or what your smartwatch told you. You just burned on your hike or your bike ride, and then add those two together. And that’s your calorie burn for the day, weigh and measure all your food, put it into an app, realize that you’re eating 400 calories less than you burned. And, Hm, well guess what? That calorie burning calculation could be highly inaccurate because what it fails to recognize the additive model of energy expenditure fails to recognize these adjustments and compensations that occur to normalize your daily caloric expenditure when you work out like crazy. Brad (8m 10s): So this is called the compensation theory. That your vigorous workout will cause you to being lazier and also to probably eat more food for the rest of the day. And this compensation happens both consciously and subconsciously. So a few set your alarm, wake up, get to the spinning class at 6:00 AM, pound the pedals, sweat like crazy while everyone else in your neighborhood’s asleep, you high five your person on the bike next to you. And then you go through the rest of the day with permission to take the elevator instead of the stairs. Permission to not get to that yard project quite just yet, maybe another day when you’ll move the sand bags over to the side yard and plant some more plants and do some general physical work. Brad (8m 55s): The compensations also happen beneath the surface on a subconscious level. So maybe just, maybe you’ll be reaching for an extra handful of nuts and snacks and treats and trail mix over the course of the day. Maybe you’ll go for that extra scoop of ice cream at nighttime kind of subconsciously, but just sounds good and looks good because of that workout that you did in the morning, you give yourself permission. So when we have these compensation factors in place, the compensation theory suggests that the net effect of your devoted workout regimen is essentially a wash when it comes to dropping excess body fat resting expenditure. Brad (9m 40s): This is Herman explaining it, Dr. Pontzer, this is a dynamic and moving target, your basal metabolic rate. It can’t be easily extracted from an online calculator. It’s a dynamic and moving target and it adjusts to make room for changes in physical activity to keep daily energy expenditure in the same ballpark, regardless of lifestyle. Now, I have to mention that this is a highly controversial point of view because of course it’s shattering the foundational elements of the diet and fitness industries, but Pontzer is a hardcore guy. Anyone who’s in the sciences and risen to the top of academia has to fight these battles. And so he says straight up, look, the data always wins. Brad (10m 22s): This is his life’s work: energy expenditure of humans and other apes. Eh, the 10 years of studying the Hadza combined with over a hundred great, highly validated studies from modern living citizens across the globe validate this idea that we burn around the same number of calories every day. So your next question is, of course, how the hell can this be? That my lazy ass neighbor next to me who sleeps in, he’s not even awake when I get home from spinning class. And then finally he emerges, walks 50 feet down the driveway. He gets the newspaper, maybe we’ll walk the dog. How the hell can he be burning the same number of calories as the bad-ass gym goer? Brad (11m 4s): Who’s also out there taking a pace walk with the friend in the evening and also foam rolling and fidgeting while watching Netflix instead of just laying there, sunken into the couch. So the first insight that made a lot of sense to me, that I pulled from the interviews with Pontzer is that homo sapiens genetics transcends these seemingly are relatively minor nuances of our daily lifestyle. Like I said, we’re the highest calorie burners among the apes. Gorillas burn 20% fewer calories than the human. And guess what a gorilla in the zoo, a chimpanzee or an ape burns the same number of calories as a much more active ape in the wild. Brad (11m 46s): So it’s more of our genetics rather than getting up and burning a hundred more calories, another 10 minutes of extra bike riding, extra credit after the workouts over. So how do we break this down? I give you a little tip there with the brain and the insight that the brain burns 20% of all daily calories, regardless of what we’re doing with it. Okay. So there’s a very, very surprisingly little variation between going to Hawaii on vacation, getting your lounge chair and gazing at the ocean for hours on vacation versus, for example, intense brain activity, like taking a lengthy professional exam where you’re sweating out every single question. Brad (12m 31s): And you’re in there in the exam room for the same six hours that you are on that lounge chair in Hawaii later that same month. Your brain does not change that much calorie burning. Herman said maybe it’s around four calories, extra per hour. And what does that equate to? An M and M, his favorite measure of caloric expenditure. So when you’re stressed and working on that deadline project in the office, and you’re really concentrating and your hands reaching for the M and M bowl over and over, think about that. One M per hour is the difference between that and vegging out. So we have the brain, who’s a voracious calorie burner with very little variation, and then we have the other organs and systems in the body that contribute to burning our total daily expenditure independent from our activity levels. Brad (13m 19s): For example, the gastrointestinal track burns around 15 to 20% of our daily calories. The liver, the control tower for all energy dispensation into the bloodstream in the body, again, burning around 15 to 20% of our total daily energy expenditure. The muscles, yes, the muscles are burning calories while you exercise, but it rests on the other 23 hours a day that you’re not working out. Those muscles are burning around 15 to 20% of your total daily energy expenditure as is the heart. The heart speeding all the time, I hope. So there’s another 15 to 20% that adds up to around a hundred percent of your basal metabolic rate. Okay, then we can talk about activity, right? Brad (14m 1s): So I don’t want to be that lazy ass neighbor guide described. I want to be the active, adventurous working out devotedly in the gym and getting up and moving instead of sitting doing a standup desk instead of a sit down desk, all this great stuff. Okay. Guess what? The moderately active human burns around 200 calories per day, more than the inactive human, which is surprisingly little, Oh my gosh, divide that 200 calories by 24 hours. Right? And it’s, it’s nothing it’s again, a couple of M & Ms difference between being a moderately active human and a couch potato. Here’s another big, shocking insight. What about when we go from moderately active to hugely active to the CrossFit gold star for attendance record or the marathon runner that’s putting in 30, 40, 50 miles a week. Brad (14m 51s): So when transitioned from the moderately active category to the incredibly active category, there is very little change in daily caloric energy expenditure. So we’re just taking that first bump up from being a couch potato to moderately or hugely active. And you’re only burning another 200 calories more per day. Ah, okay. What about that muscle mass burning more calories? So again, we’re making that adjustment compensation to the amount of mean body mass that you have regardless of your body fat percentage. So a lean mean 165 pound human in comparison to someone who’s 200 pounds, But has 165 pounds of lean body mass. Brad (15m 38s): Very little difference in energy expenditure. In fact, the heavier person might even burn more daily calories than the lighter person, because even fat requires energy burns has caloric expenditure every single day. So did you get that? We both have 165 pounds of lean body mass, but the 200 pound person with all that extra fat is burning not only around the same, but maybe more than the lean active athletic person. Okay. What about if you have two people that weigh the same amount, but one person’s lean and active and the other person is a much higher percentage body fat. Yes. There’s going to be more calories burned by the lean person. Brad (16m 18s): My dad was famous for maintaining his body weight throughout his entire life, but let’s say that he gradually lost a bit of muscle mass with each passing decade. So he’s still weighs 165 his whole life, but with less muscle mass, his calorie burning is going to go down. Okay. Here’s the thing about muscle mass. If you read the glitzy magazines or even listen to major authorities, popular voices like Dr. Oz, a best-selling author, Jorge Cruz, or the, a very popular book back in the nineties Body for Life. This edition of muscle mass was touted as the huge, magical secret to get lean drop that excess body fat and keep it off because your muscles are burning so many more calories than fat. Brad (16m 59s): This has been completely destroyed by emerging science. And the truth is the realization here is that muscle burns a little bit more calories than fat, but not much more a pound of muscle. And let’s say an inactive pound of muscle over the course of the day burns around six calories per day. A pound of fat like I said, the obese person is needing to burn more calories and a pound of fat burns around two calories per day. So we’re talking about, let’s say gaining 10 pounds of muscle and losing five pounds of fat, which in real life would be a dramatic physique transformation. Brad (17m 44s): Imagine how you would look if you put on 10 pounds of lean muscle mass and lost five pounds of fat. Oh yeah. You’re going to get those six pack coming out. You’re going to look different, feel great, look fantastic. But guess what? You’re only going to burn 60 additional calories per day with that new muscle mass. And you’re going to burn 10 calories fewer because you drop some of that spare tire, right? So the net is 50 K calories difference per day from a dramatic physique transformation that occurs in the gym. You may have heard about this highly lauded concept of “excess post exercise oxygen consumption” E P O C. Brad (18m 24s): And if you Google it and look for the most glitzy landing pages, people are talking about this as the wonderful, magical end all to drop excess body fat and get that six-pack glistening. Because if you do a workout for a half an hour, or guess what? Because of epoch EPOC, you’re going to burn more calories for hours and hours afterwards. But the truth is when it comes to your daily caloric expenditure, this concept of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption is insignificant to your total calorie burning. Okay? Huh? Maybe this isn’t flying with our long-held belief systems that if you go out there and train like crazy, you’re going to get lean and mean, right? Brad (19m 7s): I mean, I have, I had Dr. Pontzer with that pretty much exact question of back in my memory of extreme triathlon training you put in more hours of training and you get leaner and you get faster if doing it right. Of course. But if we’re talking about here, flaunting your homo sapiens genetics, and going out there and burning calories like crazy in the name of fitness or weight loss, what is going to actually happen to you? Here’s a fantastic quote that I would like you to remember for the rest of your life. Reproduction, growth repair and locomotion are a zero sum gain. Brad (19m 47s): Do you know what zero-sum gain means math students? That means it adds up to the same number, no matter what. So reproduction, growth, repair and locomotion are a zero sum gain. If you do more of one, let’s say locomotion, right? You’re training like crazy to get lean and mean and get fit. You’re going to take away. You’re going to borrow from the others. So if you’re in this crazy calorie burning mode, whether it’s from extreme exercise patterns, or let’s say running around like a harried soccer mom, where everything’s at full speed and you’re multitasking and you’re running into the house because you forgot something and dashing back into the car. Brad (20m 30s): And then when you get to the park for soccer practice, you’re going to jog a few laps around instead of just sit there and relax. And then you’re going to go onto your own workout. That’s later that day, you know, that kind of person I’m talking about. Okay. So if you’re a crazy calorie burning high energy, go, go, go type a person. You are going to be borrowing from these other critical human functions, reproduction, growth, and repair. So you’re going to be in the example of an extreme training athlete, such as myself, when I was a triathlete and training for hours and hours every day, burning, you know, tons of calories during those workouts, I was always treading on the thin line of suppressed immune function, suppress cognitive function, right? Brad (21m 12s): You get a little bit of brain fog when you’re burning too many physical calories and also is suppression of general energy levels during the day. So how, while I was on the bike or swimming or running for hours every single day, I didn’t burn very many calories in the rest of my life. I was asleep for 12 hours a day, as I often like to reminisce on the show that was 10 hours every night and a two hour nap every afternoon. So it was burning arguably significantly fewer calories outside of my workouts than someone who was following a more sensible training schedule. Furthermore, I was routinely and chronically suppressing immune function. Brad (21m 54s): I was challenging my body’s ability to grow and repair muscles, right? So it was always in kind of recovery mode. And of course on the reproduction side, it’s very common for high stress people, whether it’s extreme training athletes or people who are out of balance to have reduced reproductive drive, reduced libido and a diminishing reproductive fitness, the most extreme or graphic example. This is the very common occasion among female extreme and elite endurance athletes to have the cessation of menstruation. Amenorrhea is just hand in hand when the female gets super lean and is going for a national caliber times, or what have you. Brad (22m 37s): All the energy is devoted to running or training to the extent that they cease reproductive fitness. And this is kind of a hard one to swallow, but I can totally relate to it with my triathlon example because of all the ways that I conserved energy outside of the workouts, including reproduction, growth and repair. So my burn rate, going back to the science and how the data doesn’t lie was around the same as my buddies who had the same amount of lean body mass, but were studying hard in law school and hopefully getting out for a 30 minute jog between their medical school or law school or business school studies. Brad (23m 19s): Yeah. So this one is a hard hump to get over, to just shake your head and acknowledge that this tremendous devotion and attention that’s been a lifestyle strategy for you, the devotion to getting out there and burning calories during exercise in the name of maintaining a healthy weight or in the name of dropping excess body fat really doesn’t matter that much. At least it doesn’t matter directly. And we’re going to talk about the number of ways that it indirectly, but wow. Yeah, that’s a heavy one. So here’s a bunch of examples that might be swirling through your brain. And this list was compiled. When I woke up in the morning for days after my interviews with Dr. Brad (24m 1s): Pontzer thinking about all these counterexamples and trying to understand and come to terms with, with this wild paradigm shifting insight. How about the Tour de France riders? You might think, yeah, these guys are known to burn what six, seven, 8,000 calories a day. Don’t get me wrong. The calorie burning is happening. What we’re talking about out here with the science is the compensation factors. So indeed your watch or your device is correct that you just burned 600 calories during your 40 minutes spinning. When I worked for Spinning, we actually did research and, and tattered that research and write that a 40 minute class burns an exciting 650 calories or something like that. Brad (24m 43s): So that’s happening. We’re just talking about what’s happening when you get off the bike for the other 23 hours a day. And again, in comparison to that lazy ass neighbor who can barely get his dog out for a walk every day and doesn’t do nothing just sits around around, but guess what? Your vigorous workout, if you’re cranking for an hour, every single day, like a true devoted CrossFit enthusiast, those extreme high performing workouts, let’s say they’re going to burn 750 calories in an hour. That’s a lot of calorie burning. That’s a big person, but let’s use 750 for argument’s sake for a super awesome workout that you do let’s say five days a week. Brad (25m 23s): Well guess what if you divide that by 24 hours, that’s 31 extra calories per hour in comparison to your lazy ass neighbor. And I already mentioned the compensation factors where you might be moving a little more slowly and less apt to get up and do some yard work and burn regular every day, physical energy expenditure calories. Furthermore, we have those important compensation factors. So you’re going to spend less energy on your immune function, your reproductive function, your growth and repair of muscle tissue and all kinds of other things. So the Tour de France riders are basically walking zombies where their existence is completely devoted to burning those calories during the daily stage. Brad (26m 14s): And it’s completely unsustainable, which is why after the 25 day Tour de France, these guys are pretty much toast and they require a lot of downtime where very likely they’re eating a bunch of food, sleeping a lot, still exercising. And I know they have to go and continue to race and, and do all that, but they’re not doing a Tour de France style binge for more than a two, three times a year when they come to the grand tours and race a month. Furthermore, the elite athlete. Well, and an interesting example, we also have to acknowledge that they’re so incredibly fit that doing a five-hour bicycle race at high speed, doesn’t require a lot of caloric energy for them. Brad (26m 55s): It’s much easier for them to go and slam out a stage of the Tour de France than someone getting on their bike and riding the stage. You know, they have those guided tours in Europe where it’s either the day before or the day after you actually do the same stage of the Tour de France that you’re about to watch, or that just watch. It’s kind of a cool experience for a cycling enthusiast, but that’s going to require a lot more calories for someone who let’s say is racing 200 pounds up the Hill, rather than 139 pound Tyler Hamilton dancing on those pedals and getting the whole stage over with, remember in four hours and 25 minutes or something like that. Okay. How about Sisson’s example, where he talks about running a hundred miles a week week for seven years when he was training to be an elite marathoner and talking about all the health disturbances he had, which led him on his journey to being the, the Primal Blueprint guy. Brad (27m 50s): So he had impaired gut function, immune function that was trashed. He had recurring injuries that weren’t, you know, healing, right? He had things like arthritis in his hips and tendonitis in his ankles that pretty much ended his elite running career. So this was a sign that he was devoting excess energy to pounding the pavement and putting in those miles while the rest of his body was pretty much falling apart because it didn’t have the energy to repair. And boy, you can also see this in the amateur ranks where you’ll get a highly motivated goal oriented type person. I coached a lot of these people in the triathlon scene or they’d come to me, they’d say, here’s my schedule. Brad (28m 32s): I’m doing a couple of half iron mans this year. And next year I’m signed up for the big daddy of them, all the Ironman. And I want to train, train, train, and I want to do really well. And you’d see this period of life probably healthy too, that this was a temporary period of life that happened from ages 37 to 43. And then after that, that kind of like me. And when I put all those miles in and all those hours training, I shifted over to being a, super-duper a youth sports coach in soccer, basketball, and track with much less caloric output during the workouts, but a nice healthy phase of life to transition to something that wasn’t so extreme. And when it’s done poorly, when you go on these binges that are, I will advise, and you’re not prepared for them very well. Brad (29m 18s): We will often see someone who put in six months of heavy devotion to CrossFit requiring six months of extreme recovery, where they can’t even get into a basic fitness experience because they’re so tired, injured, broken down, whatever. Maybe it’s six years that they went hard, hard, hard as a competitive ultra running person or something. And then you’re going to see six years of recovery time, often taken on the back end. Speaking of six years. Oh my gosh, this is one of the most disturbing researches you’ll ever come across. Biggest loser contestants, six years after their appearance on the show and their binge experience of starvation paired with extreme exercise, six years later, they still showed signs of dysregulated appetite and fat metabolism. Brad (30m 8s): And the vast majority of them, almost all of them gained all the weight that they lost back. And then some, in many, many cases. So same thing in the bodybuilding scene. This is the, the best kept secret of the magazines you see on the shelves. And maybe the guy you see walking around at your gym, they’re known to kind of spin out of competition season with a major weight gain and complete exhaustion, to the extent that they’re just sitting around eating, instead of going to the gym for four, six, eight weeks after they got cut up to 3% body fat and flexed on stage, because it’s just so incredibly unsustainable. Brad (30m 48s): And as you probably know, there’s so many unhealthy aspects of cutting the weight and training to that extreme level. My favorite example came from my former podcast guest Wade Lightheart host of the BiOptimizers podcast and former competitive bodybuilder participating at the level of Mr. Universe, Mr. Olympia. And he says after his Mr. Olympia experience, he gained 42 pounds in 11 weeks because his digestive system, his overall health was just destroyed. He became bloated unhealthy. And that led him down to the path of becoming a nutrition expert, especially with probiotics and digestive enzymes that he sells at his BiOptimizers company, but he was just a mess and he couldn’t figure out why he was gaining so much weight in such a short time after his extreme binge of training and unhealthy eating habits. Brad (31m 46s): So yes, it’s possible. And these compensations occur if you tempt your homo sapiens genes and try to live in an unsustainable manner. So most everything I’ve talked about is strongly validated by science and my shows from Dr Pontzer. But one thing that I kind of put in as an aside in which we don’t know enough yet, but if you live this lifestyle of burning the candle at both ends, let’s say I’m sustaining my triathlon training patterns that only lasted for nine years, but I’ve been doing it for 40 years. It’s possible that that burning the candle on both ends and burning more calories than you’re genetically adapted to, to thrive and be healthy from, could shorten lifespan. Brad (32m 26s): That’s what I think anyway. So back to the list of insights and examples, you might’ve heard Mark Sisson on his second appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast here in 2021. And they talked about all kinds of interesting topics. One of the things that came up was this research showing that chess masters burn around 6,000 calories per day, when they’re in tournament mode. And it was thought to be that their brain function is so intense during those chess masters matches that it upregulated and burn way more calories than the person sitting on the beach in Hawaii. But this is actually not true. It’s what was happening during these intense chess match experiences. Brad (33m 7s): As all other kinds of metabolic and hormonal systems are put on high alert, high calorie burning due to the massive stress involved with competing at that level. So throughout the day, they’re experiencing increased heart rate respiration, their endocrine function, their stress hormone production is off the charts. And that’s why they’re burning 6,000 calories per day. And again, this is highly unsustainable in the same refrain as Tour de France cyclist. So the chess master might’ve burned a ton of calories that day, but they’re not competing in a high stress high calorie burning a chess tournament day after day after day. Okay. I know, I know you’re still trying to get your head around it. Brad (33m 49s): How the heck can this be? How can an ambitious exercise regimen not help fat loss at all? At least directly a lot of indirect benefits coming up. So I talked about that CrossFit king or queen burning an extra averaged out only 31 calories per hour. And guess what, you know, the lazy neighbor we’re making fun of. They’re going to catch up to the CrossFit king or queen and that extra 31 calories per hour divided by 24 that you burn at the CrossFit workout. They’re going to catch up because they’re less fit. So walking that dog around the block is a nice calorie burning experience for an unfit person or climbing two flights of stairs. They’re going to be winded at the top. Brad (34m 31s): They’re going to have that excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Unlike a super-fit person, who’s going to float up two flights of stairs and burn far fewer calories. Same with going shopping at the grocery store, whatever basic level of activity you’re doing. When you’re super fit, you become super efficient. Same with the Tour de France bike rider, riding, you know, what they do on their off days, their, their off days from the tour. There’s a couple off days. They actually have to pedal the bicycle for two and a half hours to keep the blood flowing in the legs. Otherwise they will feel flat and beaten up when they get back on the bike. So that’s their off day. They’re still peddling, but that easy two and a half hour ride is nothing to them. Brad (35m 13s): And very few calories are burned. Relatively fewer calories are burned versus someone imagining riding a bicycle for two and a half hours. Okay. So when an athlete works out and works out more and works out more and gets nice and lean and gets all the compliments from their training partners, here’s, what’s happening explained by Dr. Pontzer. Quote, possibly the athlete is undergoing an initial adjustment to a higher level of training. And before they get used to it, yes, they’re going to be shedding some body fat burning, some extra calories, and then the body will adapt and it will become normalized. That’s one idea. The other one is in is that the athlete is in a temporarily unsustainable physic ala the Tour de France rider. Brad (35m 57s): So the tour guys, they make a devoted practice of dropping two, three, four, or five extra pounds in the month of June to get on the starting line as lean as possible because body weight is such a huge, important factor when it comes to the mountain climbing. So if you drop a low that’s 2.2 pounds of body weight, your performance on a sustained climb is going to mean the difference between staying with the pack and getting dropped, or the difference between the yellow jersey and getting fourth or fifth place, and who remembers who’s fourth or fifth place? Oh, man, these Tour de France writers have it down to such a fascinating science. You can read more in Daniel Coyle’s book The Secret RaceT but they can pretty much determine who’s going to win the tour de France in the training period, leading up to the Tour de France and specifically they’re identifying the amount of wattage. Brad (36m 50s): A rider can deliver per kilogram of body weight at anaerobic threshold. So you can prick your finger and get a blood sample on the fly. When you’re out there in the field and determine that you’re working at anaerobic threshold, then you can identify it and also in a laboratory and use your heart rate. So you’ll have a cyclist in training, going out and climbing a hill at 173 heartbeat climbing a mountain. Let’s say it’s a seven mile climb that’s going to last a half an hour or something. So they’ll go up that will at anaerobic threshold and notice their wattage output on the wattage meter on the bike, and then make a calculation according to their body weight. Brad (37m 32s): And the higher that number is I believe it was something like if you’re a 7.0, you’re going to win the tour. If you’re a 6.8, you’re going to be a top contender. If you’re 6.3 or below, and I might not be exactly accurate with the numbers, but you can get my point here. You know, that you’re going to get dropped on the big climb in the Tour de France. So pretty fantastic how science has come into the, the endurance sports world. And of course, doping is another factor that will help you put more watts out at a certain body weight. But putting that aside for a moment, just being able to pinpoint that pretty fascinating, but back to our discussion about why the heck does exercise not contribute to a body fat reduction? Brad (38m 12s): Those were the factors that Dr Pontzer was mentioning first athlete undergoing an initial adjustment, dropping some fat, getting used to the training load, and then normalizing, in fact, even possibly gaining some weight back to get back to that set point or in a temporarily unsustainable physique for the Tour de France, or interestingly here, if you’re that workout person or you see that person who’s working out more and getting lean, this is also attributed to the athlete. Changing their diet as part of an overall lifestyle improvement. So your increased devotion to fitness and working out has also inspired you to clean up your diet. Brad (38m 55s): Okay. Then I asked Dr. Pontzer about these outlier examples that don’t fit with the formula. For example, athletes who work out a lot and eat a lot of food. And I’m thinking of my son who is, you know, trying to pack on extra body mass. He’s been doing so for several years now, you know, college age or out of college age, but has been putting on 40 pounds of lean body mass in the last four years, let’s say so quite a, an unusual example in the massive adult population here. But why isn’t he getting fat if he’s burning the same amount of calories every day? So the first thing is when you’re putting on all that lean body mass, you are indeed burning more calories. Brad (39m 38s): And secondly, if you’re a big workout person and consuming extra protein to support that muscle growth, that hypertrophy and also good recovery from challenging workouts, a protein in particular has a very significant thermic effect. That means that around 25% of all the protein calories you consume go toward digesting the protein. Okay. So if you do four scoops of protein into your smoothie, that last scoop is totally devoted to digesting the other three scoops. And so it’s not as many calories as you think because of that thermic effect of food Pontzer says that 20% of all the calories that you eat have a thermic effect. Brad (40m 25s): In other words, just like the brain burning 20%, 20% of all calories, the food you eat requires 20% of the calories to digest the food. Other sources go a little lower saying that a protein has a thermic effect of 25% and fat and carbs have a thermic effect of only 8%. But if we get in there somewhere up to around 20%, now it’s starting to make sense that regardless of whether we work out or not, there’s a lot of energy going toward working that brain and digesting protein as well as the other macronutrients. So this is kind of reminded me of Robb Wolf’s wonderful quote, when he said, if you want to live longer, lift more weights and eat more protein. Brad (41m 9s): So that goal of maintaining sufficient muscle mass, especially as you age, is extremely huge, and it has all kinds of health ramifications to it. So we’re trying to maintain lean muscle mass. And that means eating sufficient protein, maybe even a little extra protein, knowing that the thermic effect of protein is going to be unlike less likely to have you packing on extra body fat. Okay. So I mentioned my son, the calorie eating machine, who’s working out eating a meal, cleaning up the meal, and then starting to make a second meal. No joke. Oftentimes what about someone who’s got a heavy manual labor job works in construction all day and also loves to do triathlons in his spare time versus the guy in the wonderful suit. Brad (41m 52s): That’s hanging out on the subway, the elevator, the high rise office, and then back to an evening of Netflix. Okay. Well guess what? That person’s going to burn several hundred additional calories per day than the completely sedentary person again, let’s say these guys have the same amount of lean body mass overall. So we’re not going to make any further adjustments, but we also can conjecture that the extreme active person is taking away from reproduction, repair and growth. Okay. So now that we understand the compensation theory, the constrained model of caloric expenditure would be the official title of this idea that we burn around the same number of calories per day. Brad (42m 39s): How the heck are we going to drop excess body fat then if it’s not about cranking up the spin bike? Oh, okay. What about crash dieting? Well, here’s what happens if you severely restrict calories for a prolonged period of time, the survival instincts kick in that we’re so familiar with, you’ve heard this as why diets don’t work is your body goes into survival mode. It’s absolutely true. And what happens is over time, your body is going to adjust to a new normal level of caloric intake. So we have this data on burning a certain number of calories as homo sapiens, but homo sapiens who starved themselves strategically starved themselves, right? Brad (43m 23s): With a long-term calorie restriction diet are going to burn fewer calories than their normal expected genetic baseline. And your body finds all kinds of different, clever ways to down regulate and adjust to the new normal. By being less generally active down-regulating important metabolic functions, reproduction, repair, growth, and locomotion. So you’re going to just tone down all four of those, including your desire to locomote to work out. You’re going to be too lazy, too tired to work out. And if you do work out, you’re going to have crappy workouts. I’ve had Elle Russ on the podcast before, and of course she’s hosting all the Primal Blueprint shows and talking about her experience. That’s detailed in her book, Paleo Thyroid Solution, where she was killing it. Brad (44m 7s): She was checking off all the boxes. She was living this wonderful paleo lifestyle, cutting out all those nasty carbs and eating really cleanly, doing hot yoga several days a week, going for long hikes, swimming every morning. And what was happening was her body was not getting sufficient nutrition. And so her thyroid was putting on the brakes. And this is when she went into tailspin of poor health driven by the well-meaning well-intentioned desire to be super active and not eat an excessive calories. So exercising more doesn’t really work nor does a prolonged caloric restriction. Brad (44m 49s): So how are we going to do this? Let’s ask Dr. Pontzer. I love his quote here about losing excess body fat. And he says, quote, it’s tough, especially as you get older. I said, I don’t see a book deal there, man. I don’t see an angle. He’s like, yep, that’s right. It’s really, really tough. And there’s also research showing that there is a high genetic component to the percentage of body fat that you’re currently carrying. There’s also a high lifestyle component to dysregulated eating and gaining excess body fat. So that’s where we can focus on all kinds of parameters, like getting sufficient sleep. Brad (45m 33s): All the research is showing that sleep deprivation even minor or short-term sleep deprivation triggers an increase in insulin resistance. So you’re going to be less adept at burning body fat and probably experience increase in appetite increased co-work intake. If you skimp on sleep, same with, if you don’t get enough general everyday movement. So if you’re sitting around and you have a noticeable increase in insulin resistance, decrease in glucose tolerance in as little as 20 minutes. So you start getting worse at burning fat and your cognitive function goes down. And generally that’s going to trigger an increase in appetite, especially for quick energy carbohydrates. So if you’re not moving much not sleeping well or over exercising, these are going to cause appetite, dysregulation, excess overeating and gaining excess body fat. Brad (46m 23s): We also have those hyper palatable foods, which are such a big problem because they hijack the dopamine reward pathways in the brain and stimulate us, trigger us to overeat. Check out Dr. William Davis bestselling book Wheat Belly, where he talks about the addictive properties of the modern day, gliadin protein contained in the modern day wheat product. And this gliadin stuff hits the opioid receptors in the brain and has the addictive property that prompts us to consume an additional 300 calories of food per day, because we have wheat in our diet. Trip out on that. And of course the addictive properties of sugar and the penchant for consuming a little sugar and wanting more is very well known and very validated by the great work of people like Dr. Brad (47m 12s): Gary Taubes, Dr. Robert Lustig. So we have these addictive foods and these dysfunctional lifestyle patterns that we can blame for the human pension to add excess body fat throughout the adult life. So here’s an interesting concept. It’s called “energy flux.” And this is believed to have genetic influences as well as childhood rearing influences. So it’s both your genetics and how you were raised. Whew! There’s a great article on men’s health. And it’s kind of identifying that we have these categories of whether you’re a, a high energy flux person, a high calorie burner, or a low calorie burner just by nature. Brad (47m 53s): Here’s a quote from the article, Dr. <inaudible> thinks that the human body seeks a preferred energy flux rather than a preferred body weight. Indeed studies of identical twins have shown that they typically have the same energy flux even when their body weights and activity levels differ. So the identical twins, the same genetics, right? They’re either high calorie, burners, or low calorie burners, the higher body mass of the less active twin. So let’s imagine two identical twins separated at birth. One guy got fat and lazy. The other guy’s an athlete, but the higher body mass of the less active twin allows him to burn the same number of calories as his lighter sibling. Brad (48m 34s): Who’s also fitter. In our example, Dr. Pontzer who was quoted in the article, he says, it’s possible that high or low daily energy expenditure is set early in life. Whether we have an active childhood or an indoor childhood playing with screens all day. We still don’t know the precise mechanism, but he’s noted two groups that appear to have a preponderance of high energy flux people, high energy expenditure type people. And those would be athletes and subsistence farmers. So they have a long history of moving around a lot and burning a lot of calories and eating a lot of food. So whether I’m still quoting from the article, whether it’s genes, environment, or some combination, high energy expenditure in childhood may remain intact throughout life. Brad (49m 20s): But Dr. Pontzer says, we don’t know for sure being predisposed to high energy flux may help. Some people respond quickly to workouts and have more success, keeping their weight stable through exercise. Well, for some others, no amount of exercise affects weight loss. To gauge if exercise would help you easily lose weight and keep it off, ask yourself if you fit into one or more of these categories. So we’re kind of tracking to see if you are a high energy flux person or a low energy flux person. Question number one, you were extremely active as a kid, but are mostly sedentary now. Question number two, until recently you could eat whatever you wanted without gaining much weight If any. Brad (50m 5s): And question number three, you’ve spent most of your life in pretty good shape and only recently let yourself go. If any of these ring true, there’s a good chance you’re in high energy flux. This suggests that your body prefers to eat a lot of food each day. And until recently you matched your appetite with a high activity level, and it suggests that your body may respond quickly to structured workouts. So get back out there if you’re a kind of lost yourself in recent years. Okay? So that’s the end of the insights about the energy flux article and let’s get back and zero in on this plan of how we lose excess body fat. I talked about how we gain the excess body fat. Brad (50m 47s): So now we talk about how to lose it, which Dr. Pontzer says is tough. And you know why it’s tough. It’s mainly because we have a whole bunch of modern genetic disconnects that we’ve blasted ourselves with in everyday life. Like the hyper palatable foods. I mentioned my brother, Oh, look, my son and my brother both get plugged on the show. Thank you for doing the transcription notes. So my mom gets a plug there too. How about that? But my brother came to me. So he gets, he gets her repeated on the podcasts for, for eternity when he said, yeah, I have a problem. I eat so healthy. Everything’s really doing clean. We’re making good meals, but every night around 11, I just have to have a bowl of cereal. And I just can’t, I can’t stand it. Brad (51m 28s): I wish I could cut it out. What do you think? Do you have any ideas? And I said, yeah, I can guarantee that will never happen again. Just go to bed at 10 30. Okay. So there’s the cereal at 11 example. We talked about the foods that were, that are thrown in our face all day long and all night, everywhere we go, the cultural traditions around eating and having lavish desserts, and then having some more and having to go to the movies and buy something in line. Before you sit and watch a movie, you got to have something in your hand, all of those kinds of cultural influences that are prompting us to overeat, and especially this concept of these modern foods that hijack the dopamine reward pathways is super interesting. Brad (52m 12s): And I think one of the biggest factors in the gaining of excess body fat difficulty dropping excess body fat. So check out Robb Wolf’s book Wired to Eat for more details. And Dr. Stephan Guyanete book, Hungry Brain talking about how these foods that combine typically the combination of sugar, fat and salt are what hijack these reward pathways in the brain, because these foods are completely non-existent in nature and over the course of evolutionary biology. So the great study of the Hadza that Dr Pontzer has done, and you might’ve heard content from Paul Saladino, Anthony Gustin went down there and spent some time with the Hadza, and yes, they will find a beehive and they will raid that puppy and binge on the honey. Brad (52m 57s): But it’s not typically at the same time, the same meal as when they get fresh kill from their hunting success. So when we pair these sweets and treats and lavish foods, and we can talk about all the dessert category, ice cream essentially is the pairing of sugar and fat. Cheese cake, potato chips, a baked potato with butter, even a bowl of pasta, right? With a meat sauce or the protein and some fat sources with all those carbohydrates. Those are the things that dysregulate our appetite. And again, we’re going against our genetics because we are genetically adapted our survival as a species has depended upon binge eating and storing excess body fat to get ready for the harsh cold winters. Brad (53m 41s): We did it every single year. Most humans on the planet, right? We’re really good at storing fat and then saving it for later use. So perhaps the best starting point of all, if you have an ambition to drop excess body fat is to ditch processed nutrient deficient foods in favor of high satiety, nutrient dense foods, especially protein, because it has that tremendous thermic effect where you’re going to be highly satiated. When you have a high protein meal, let’s say some, some scrambled eggs and steak and an avocado on top, and you’re going to eat this thing and you’re going to be full. You’re not going to overeat a second pan of scrambled eggs and steak and avocado much less likely than you would be to overeat with ice cream, cheesecake, whatever sweets and treats you’re doing. Brad (54m 31s): So getting rid of those nutrient deficient foods is the very sensible and powerful first step in the direction of succeeding with dropping excess body fat. Hey, what about these great dietary popular trends of recent times, Primal, Paleo, low carb, keto, carnivore? Pontzer points out that any diet will be successful if it’s restrictive, right? Same with all the intermittent fasting and the protocols. And it looks like two meals a day has good timing and good central premise because we’re capitalizing on all these new insights to make it simple and realize that, Hey, look, if you just kind of look at your lifestyle as a two meals a day maximum without snacking, that’s gonna put you in a winning position because you’re putting some restrictions. Brad (55m 17s): You’re putting the brakes on this constant access to hyper palatable foods. And of course, in the book, our first step, the right out of the gate, I believe there’s even a quip in there that if you can’t handle this, then you might as well just close the book and move on with your life. But that is to ditch the big three toxic modern foods. And those would be refined grains, sugars, and industrial seed oils. So back to the question of these specialized diets, like low carb keto, and this very popular carbohydrate insulin model of obesity, we’ll call it. And this is the premise advanced by leaders in the movement like Dr. Brad (55m 59s): Jason Fung, author of the obesity code, Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, why we get fat and the case against sugar. So these guys have done tons of research and promoted this carbohydrate insulin model of obesity. The Dr. Pontzer not necessarily directly refutes, but he’s not a hundred percent on board that this is the end all. So we’re kind of talking about how this carbohydrate insulin model of obesity does not transcend the simple insight that we are constrained with daily calorie burning. So that’s as polite as a big time people can strongly disagree where Pontzer saying that you can’t extract an idea like that, that flies in the face of evolutionary biology. Brad (56m 45s): So he’s standing on his position that we’re constrained by calorie burning where the, the carb insulin, model of obesity is implying that it’s the carbohydrates themselves that are causing the insulin spike that’s causing the excess body fat. Dr. Jason Fung says that 95% of your success or failure with fat reduction goals depends on your ability to control insulin in the diet. And Dr. Pontzer says that 100% of your success or failure to lose excess body fat comes from the amount of calories you eat. So I think the reconciliation here is that if you are consuming a lot of carbs, spiking insulin frequently, you’re going to have an increase in appetite, and you’re going to consume more calories, especially carbohydrates if you’re on that carbohydrate insulin rollercoaster. Brad (57m 38s): So, so we can embrace the idea that it’s all about calories consumed, and then go looking at ways to optimize appetite, optimize lifestyle patterns so that we, as Dr Pontzer says, find a diet that you enjoy and leaves you satisfied without eating excess calories. And that’s the secret to maintaining a healthy body weight, or dropping a few excess pounds, if that’s your goal. And we’re going to finish off the show with some tips and tricks to do just that. So it appears to be, remember that we can’t starve ourselves, or we’ll do all these compensatory mechanisms. And we cannot out exercise our homo sapiens genetics and our constraint model of energy expenditure. Brad (58m 21s): So it appears that the strategy to drop the excess body fat is to implement an under the radar approach. So you obtain a mild calorie deficit without prompting these compensatory mechanisms and without disturbing reproduction, repair and growth. So there appears to be two basic ways to achieve this, right? One would be to, to achieve a slight calorie deficit each day, or perhaps once in a while, engage in an extreme calorie deficit, such as a 24 hour fasting period one day a week, or something like that, where you’re going to burn a lot of fat calories that day to get your get through the day because you didn’t eat, but then you’re going to recalibrate and return to a normal eating pattern. Brad (59m 10s): And yes, it’s almost impossible to identify or pinpoint that you’re eating in a slight calorie deficit on each day or most days. So it’s mainly a matter of being more mindful, more intentional, and making an effort to eat less food than you normally do, or to pay more attention to your hunger and satiety signals and realize that yes, you’ve had enough, you’re satisfied and you can push the plate away rather than all these emotional and reflexive behaviors that we have toward eating where we’re eating way more than we need or reaching for those hyper palatable foods. Personally, I’ve found it useful to trigger sensations of hunger now, and then just to remind myself that I’m a human and increase my appreciation of food that I do eat, and also hone my fat burning capabilities. Brad (59m 58s): And I’ve talked about how cold exposure facilitates that because when you get your body cold, whether it’s going in the chest freezer or going for a swim in Lake Tahoe, your body has to work hard to rewarm and return the body to homeostasis afterward. And that extra caloric expenditure triggers an increase in appetite. And when you ignore that increase in appetite, you’re going to turbocharge accelerated fat burning. And then when it is time to eat, Oh boy, you really enjoy the meal because you’ve worked through a minor sensation of hunger now and then. Of course, people can overdo it here and get into that crash diet category where all kinds of bad things can happen. So it’s really thinking about that concept. I just came up with that term under the radar, because it, it’s a nice way to approach this, where you don’t have all this pressure on you. Brad (1h 0m 45s): You’re not feeling stressed that you missed a day of exercise, and now your fat reduction goals are going to be compromised. It’s none of that. It’s just a matter of having a greater appreciation for the natural hunger and satiety signals of the human and not being a modern day, unbridled, undisciplined pig who’s always around food and can eat as much as they want without even making any effort besides clicking a button and having Door Dash come to your door. So you can pick virtually any diet that has rules, restrictions, and guidelines that will not prompt you to overeat. Any diet is essentially a gimmick. In the end, you can cut carbs, you can cut fat, you can cut out plants like the carnivore movement. Brad (1h 1m 28s): You can get into intermittent fasting. You can go with a compressed eating window. You can be a vegan, but if you have these rules and guidelines in place, you won’t have constant unfettered access to hyper palatable foods and potential for overeating. That said, after blasting you with all these different, different options, keep in mind that is something like a vegan pattern should be described as extremely risky because you’re cutting out the majority of the most nutrient dense foods on earth. You also want something that’s going to be sustainable. So if you’re getting sick of keto after two weeks, because you feel better when you consume sweet potatoes and other sources of carbohydrates or whatever the case is, you don’t like to eat a certain foods that are a centerpiece of a certain diet, You’re going to have to find something that works for you. Brad (1h 2m 22s): That’s sustainable and leaves you satisfied without the need to overeat. And that’s why low carb primal paleo keto has become so popular, particularly keto because that’s taking it to the extreme, right? But if you limit your carbohydrate intake to 50 grams per day or less, you are going to produce a minimal amount of insulin. You’re going to rarely be hungry. And if you do it right, and choose a really nutritious foods as the centerpiece of your ketogenic experience, you’re going to be highly satisfied. But we’re going to broaden the lens a little bit from these popular diets and strategies of the day to realize when it comes to the context of losing excess body fat, that anything or a variety of things can work. Brad (1h 3m 8s): That’s why my next book is going to be titled the CNC diet that’s right, carnivores and chocolate, because I feel the carnivore diet has a lot to offer. It’s extremely high satiety. It’s low insulin stimulating. It has a tremendous nutrient density. You can go look for the carnivores scores firstname.lastname@example.org. And we ranked the various categories of the most nutritious foods on earth in the carnivores spirit. So a carnivore-ish diet that provides sufficient carbohydrates for your athletic performance and recovery needs in many cases, including mine. So it’s not super strict because that would be too few carbohydrates for my preference. And the chocolate comes in there because it’s one of my favorite foods. Brad (1h 3m 49s): It’s got a lot of nutritional benefits and that arguably is as good as any other diet when it comes to dropping excess body fat. Because all we’re talking about is regulating your caloric intake and feeling happy and satisfied. Fasting is also super fantastic strategy, because again, it’s another rule. Maybe it’s a gimmick. You can call it that if you want. But when I made the rule to not consume any food until 12 noon, go listen to the fatty popcorn by boys’ saga for details. There wasn’t any magic to it. It was just putting some rules and restrictions on me so that I didn’t have unregulated and unfettered access to all the food that I wanted all the time, every single day. Brad (1h 4m 33s): So a smaller eating window arguably gives you less potential to overeat, less likelihood to overeat. But again, you can certainly get the job done by overstepping yourself, even if you’re eating in a compressed eating window. So all of these things can be really helpful because they tighten up this, this free for all modern world, where we have a tendency to overeat. And then that’s where the lifestyle factors come in. So just as I try to wrap up this show, bullet number one is pick a diet, probably with rules, restrictions, and guidelines, to help you and guide you toward a high state tidy diet that doesn’t prompt you to overeat. Brad (1h 5m 15s): Then we have to get the lifestyle habits nailed because these have a tremendous influence on our appetite hormones and our state tidy hormones. So we want to get a sufficient sleep. We want to have good stress management. I want to absolutely positively avoid any whiff of over-training because when you’re in a pattern of exhausting depleting workouts, you are going to prompt extreme appetite spikes to replenish yourself due to this overly stressful unsustainable lifestyle pattern, not just to replenish and get back to normal, but most likely to overeat because you’re most likely be having access to food for more hours than you’re exercising, right? So even if you go out there and do a killer two hour run, Epic run in the mountains, you’re going to be home for the next eight with access to food. Brad (1h 6m 4s): And you’re going to overeat if the workouts are too stressful. So we want to nail those, those primal principles that we’ve talked about for so long, where you’re doing plenty of low level movement and aerobic pace for your cardiovascular exercise, rather than exceeding that maximum aerobic heart rate. And then also getting in the brief explosive sessions that have a lot of wonderful metabolic benefits, including turbocharging fat burning. Again, this is assuming that you’re eating a sensible diet rather than stuffing your face, just because you went to the track and did a sprint workout. So we want to become a fat burning beast in all ways, in all areas of life, especially managing the stress response, because when you’re producing a lot of cortisol, such as staying up late, looking at a screen, you’re going to want to reach for that cereal bowl. Brad (1h 6m 53s): So the stress hormone spike is directly associated with a dysregulation of appetite and satiety hormones and living a balanced, relaxed, chilled lifestyle, where you enjoy meals. You eat at a sensible pace. You’re not chewing your food too quickly. You’re not watching TV while you’re eating all these things are going to contribute to a sensible caloric intake. And in the case of trying to drop a few pounds of excess body fat, they’re going to contribute to that because you’re going to notice these satiety signals more likely than if you’re watching a freaking basketball game while you’re stuffing your face with food. Another wonderful benefit of exercise and increase general everyday movement is that these prompt a reduction in systemic inflammation. Brad (1h 7m 33s): And Dr. Pontzer talked about some good research on our second show. If you sit around too much in general, everyday life, we know this from many, many articles sitting is the new smoking. You can Google that and see all these dangers of inactivity, but your body becomes inflamed. The, the human, the homo sapiens simply is compelled to move around a lot throughout the day and go and look at the Hadza and their behavior and their movement patterns to inform how we have lived for millions of years until only recently. So if you sit around too much, this is a unhealthy practice that causes systemic inflammation in the body. Now, when you have this state of chronic inflammation, this is going to cause overproduction of stress hormones, appetite, dysregulation, hunger spikes, and of course, eventually overeating and excess fat. Brad (1h 8m 23s): And like this quote from Gary Taubes book, where he says gluttony and sloth are not the causes of obesity. They are the symptoms of obesity. When you become obese, when you have metabolic damage, you are too tired to exercise and you’re hungry all the time. The symptoms of obesity are gluttony and Sloss. Okay. Also, exercise is wonderful to help reduce your stress reactivity to all other forms of stress in hectic high stress, fast paced, modern life. So you can probably envision or maybe think of yourself on a bad day where you’re running around and agitated, harried, hectic full of dysregulated energy. Brad (1h 9m 9s): And this also prompts systemic inflammation, this spike of stress hormones, or the chronic overproduction of stress hormones in the case of a constantly harried human. And that’s going to bring in appetite dysregulation, excess hunger, excess eating, excess body fat. Chill people know how to fast. They eat sensible meals, they enjoy themselves, and they just tone down this hyper the stress reactivity problem in modern life. And I’m going to throw one more bullet in here inspired by Dave Rossi. Who’s very interested in the topic of weight loss. He’s the spiritual guru. That’s been on the show three times and we’ll call it intention. Kind of a wild card here. Cause it’s outside of the mechanics of the science and the insights from Dr Pontzer. Brad (1h 9m 56s): But Rossi talks about this a lot, where if you form a healthy image of yourself and your body, and you have some gratitude for wherever you are today, even if you will acknowledge that you’re not at your, at your best weight or whatever it is, or your best fitness level, start with gratitude. Start with forming a healthy image and then decide to turn things around with positive energy rather than disgust and self-loathing and all these flimsy motivators that only work for a short time. And this will help you reclaim your genetic potential. So you form an intention. I am going to drop a few pounds of excess body fat. Brad (1h 10m 36s): I deserve it. I feel great about myself now. And I’m so happy that I’m not suffering in the hospital and dying of a global pandemic, whatever you want to do to form a positive intention. And then you start from that point. My primal colleague for a long time, Amy Lucas, actress writer in Hollywood, and she made this memorable qAuip. We were just having a meal in a restaurant and I’ll never forget it. She said, you know what? I’m sure that I’m never going to be fat because I believe that I’m a skinny person, a slender person. I have the identity of a slender person. And if anything interferes with that self image, I will automatically correct course without even, without even realizing it and quote, and that’s a pretty heavy quote. Brad (1h 11m 25s): You get the difference between someone who’s had a long battle with self-loathing and negativity and whatever other emotional disturbances that have led to dysregulated eating yo-yo dieting and all this crazy stuff. Okay. One other thing to note, when we’re talking about dropping excess body fat, we have to understand the difference between moving your body weight, changing your body weight, and actually reducing excess body fat, getting a lower percentage of body fat, because we have a surprising ability to fluctuate our body weight on a day-to-day basis. And this is often mistaken for gaining and losing fat, but instead, what it is is almost entirely natural fluctuations in hydration, glycogen, retention, inflammation, and water retention in the cells throughout the body. Brad (1h 12m 15s): And these are what cause our body weight to vary routinely five pounds in a single day. So when you haven’t exercise much and been on a nice cruise and went to the buffet and stuffed your face and came back a week later, and it shows that you gained seven pounds, it’s possible that you gained maybe one pound of excess body fat. If you really did yourself, a good job, but mostly that’s inflammation, full glycogen retention, water retention throughout the cells in the body. And you can go and get rid of several pounds with one amazing session in the sauna or one sweaty hot spinning class workout. Brad (1h 12m 56s): And then you recalibrate, if you don’t believe me, check out YouTube video with my former podcast guest, Nick Simmons, and you can search the title. We’ll have it in the show notes where he lost 10 pounds in 24 hours on a hundred dollars bet. And how did he do it mostly through fasting, right? Because even when you consume a meal, a one gram of carbohydrate in the meal binds with three to four grams of water fluid in the body. So it’s easy to gain weight after a single meal, right? When, when you’re talking about retaining a lot of that. And so he was doing some fasting for the 24 hours, kind of cutting back on his water intake on the second day and did a couple of hard workouts, including a final, hot, sweaty workout, where he was pulling the concept two rower wearing the, the trash bag over his sweatsuit and boom, back on the scale and 10 pounds gone in a single day. Brad (1h 13m 50s): So that’s an extreme case where he’s playing with a tiny bit of dehydration and depletion from not eating, but again, all of us will cycle up and down five pounds. And if you want to get obsessive about it, you can go weigh yourself, you know, 20 times over the next five days and be regaled at the, the fluctuation of weight. So maybe the best way to measure progress here is to get a tight fitting pair of pants or take a picture of yourself with minimal clothing and look for the muscle definition or lack of muscle definition and the changes that you make when you drop excess body fat over times and expect to do it at a very gradual and sensible rate. So it will be sustainable realizing that these big numbers that people put up are mostly a reduction in inflammation and glycogen retention from extreme exercise, extreme dieting, and all that crazy stuff. Brad (1h 14m 40s): That’s unsustainable. All right. Good luck. Hope you enjoyed it. Hope you got some insights from it. And Hey, how many times have you been hungry in the last 30 days or 30 years? Yes, it’s okay to tip toe out there and push the boundary a little bit, especially if you want to drop a pound or two or five of excess body fat. And when it comes to exercise, it doesn’t have that direct application from the calorie burning that we always thought. But when you exercise sensibly, when you get a lot of low level cardio and those brief explosive workouts, Oh my goodness. It’s going to have a super positive effect on your appetite and on your eating habits. So it’s a comprehensive lifestyle approach. Brad (1h 15m 20s): And now, you know, you can zero in on it. You can relax, breathe a sigh of relief that it’s actually not too hard to drop excess body fat. You just got to form that intention and go out there and do it. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you for listening to the show. 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