One of the most valuable insights gained from my informative show with Dr. Herman Pontzer was that we burn the same amount of calories every day, regardless of whether we work out or not.
This revelation is nothing short of life-changing, as it allows you to see that pointing the finger at your output in the gym is just a waste of time, and that it’s far more helpful to look at our appetite and consumption habits in order to realize our body composition is mainly a function of how much food we eat. In order to optimize this concept, we must focus on the healthy lifestyle practices that offer the most metabolic benefits.
This show will reveal the four major lifestyle mistakes that compromise fat burning, stall weight loss, and push you to carbohydrate dependency, as well as how to correct them. We’ll talk about how stressful modern life results in an overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to, among other things, an increase in our appetite for more “quick energy” carbs, and we’ll also discuss how overly stressful exercise patterns do more harm than good by focusing on the way endurance and HIIT training can be exhausting and depleting for the body. You’ll also learn why you actually get lazier and crave more sugar when you train harder, as well as the reasoning behind Art de Vany’s warning of, “Don’t jog – it’s too dangerous.”
You’ll also learn the important link between sleep quality and fat storage, cortisol and sugar cravings, as well as the consequences that come from having a dysregulated appetite. I mention how longitudinal studies of large population groups have found that sleep deprivation leads to insulin resistance, obesity, and elevated disease risk. One important takeaway from this show is that if you’re not well rested, you will drift into sugar dependency. You’ll also learn why learning to breathe properly helps with weight loss, and how to change the way you breathe to improve all aspects of your health.
Finally, I touch on the importance of making informed food choices, citing books like The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat by Dr. Stephan Guyenet, Wired to Eat: Turn Off Cravings, Rewire Your Appetite for Weight Loss, and Determine the Foods That Work for You by Robb Wolf, and The P/E Diet: Leverage Your Biology to Achieve Optimal Health by Dr. Ted Naiman. Probably one of the most useful tips to remember when trying to drop excess body fat is that the combination of fat, sugar, and salt hijacks the appetite center in the brain, which leads to unregulated eating. Another is to make sure you are eating enough protein (and a lot of the time, this means more protein). Because it’s highly satiating and helps your body burn excess body fat, protein is the ideal food to consume when trying to lose weight. Also, be mindful of environmental triggers that cause you to overeat or stray away from your diet, and stay clear of eating at night! One last tip, and probably one of the most useful: check in with yourself and your emotions. Are you hungry, or going for instant gratification, a distraction, or a way to assuage emotional pain? Figuring out what’s really going on will help you identify the root cause, and sometimes, the issue is as much emotional as it is physical.
Good luck and if you have any questions, send them here!
We are going to talk about lifestyle mistakes that stall fat loss and how to fix them.
Stressful modern life causes us to be in chronically fight or flight response which is the centerpiece of overproduction of cortisol thereby causing a constant craving of sugar. [03:16]
Learn to breathe properly through the nose. [07:03]
If you sit even for 20 minutes without getting up and moving, you stop burning fat. [12:15]
Harmful and overly stressful exercise patterns are emphasized in the fitness community. [16:08]
Your organ reserve is directly correlated with your functional muscle mass. Do not overwork the heart. [25:34]
If you mess up your sleep, you will have difficulty dropping the excess body fat. [29:09]
Two weeks of sleeping only four hours per night creates insulin resistance. [37:40]
The highly palatable modern foods are most to blame for the obesity epidemic. It’s the combination of fat, sugar, and salt. [39:48]
Our instinct is to extract as much protein from what we eat. [44:16]
Focus your carbohydrate intake so that you can bank a lot of hours in the prioritized fat burning state. [47:54]
Watch out for environmental triggers that tempt you. When you are tired, your willpower is diminished, it is easy to make bad choices. [50:11]
Boredom or being emotionally upset can lead to looking for food to reach for. [53:19]
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- Breather Show: Basics of Nasal Parasympathetic Breathing and Improving CO2 Tolerance
- Breathe Right® Nasal strips
- Body by Science
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- Jogging 2.0 YouTube video
- Extreme Exercise Hypothesis
- Dr. Art DeVany
- The Primal Blueprint
- Life Changing Insights About Sleep podcast
- The Obesity Code
- Lights Out, Sleep, Sugar, and Survival
- The Hungry Brain
- The PE Diet
- Fatty Popcorn Boy Saga
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Brad (1m 40s): Okay. Hey, how about this for a hot topic title? Lifestyle mistakes that stall fat loss and how to fix them. And I think the starting point for the discussion, going back to my great shows with Dr. Herman Pontzer and his new book Burn. And keeping this insight front end hand, that we burn the same amount of calories every day, regardless of whether we work out or not. So instead of pointing the arrow to, “Gee, I haven’t been burning enough calories at the gym lately. So I’ve put on a few extra pounds.” We instead look at our appetite and our consumption habits realizing that our body composition is mainly a function of how much food we eat. Brad (2m 31s): And of course, the idea of optimizing this means that we have to kind of back into it with an assortment of healthy lifestyle practices, including regular exercise, including high intensity exercise and all these things that have wonderful metabolic benefits. But when the smoke clears, it’s this idea that we’re calorie burning is constrained. That’s strongly supported by science. So we’re going to go at our appetite consumption habits, and that’s going to be the centerpiece of how to correct these lifestyle mistakes and drop the excess body fat. As you desire, keep your body composition at a healthy, optimal, ideal level long-term. Brad (3m 17s): So I’m going to cover four different areas that cause us to overeat, gain excess body fat ,or not succeed with fat reduction efforts that dysregulate our appetite caused us to eat too much. Okay. And they are stressful, modern life, overly stressful exercise patterns, poor sleeping habits, and then maybe most important our food choices. So let’s start with stressful modern life because when we’re engaged in this hectic high stress daily pattern. We are going to chronically overstimulate the fight or flight response. Brad (3m 59s): Centerpiece to that is the overproduction, the chronic overproduction of the prominent stress hormone called cortisol. And one of the things that cortisol does this drive this process called gluco neogenesis. That’s a conversion of amino acids in this case, lean muscle mass into glucose to provide quick energy. And so you’re going to be on this crash and burn roller coaster ride, where you are making a lot of sugar and then you’re kind of crashing and craving more sugar in the diet. And you’re basically a sugar fueled carbohydrate dependent, fast moving, shallow panting, breathing human beast. Brad (4m 41s): That’s constantly in fight or flight mode and running off of sugar. So these quick burning fuel sources, the stop at Starbucks or the quick inhalation of an energy bar in between the high carbohydrate meals will get you through the hectic days, but it’s going to lead to an increased appetite, especially for quick energy carbohydrates and a propensity to store extra body fat rather than burn it. There are an assortment of inflammatory consequences here, the chronic over production of stress hormones, the chronic consumption of food, especially high carbohydrate foods, creating more oxidative stress in the body because sugar is a quick and dirty burning fuel source in comparison to burning stored body fat, for example. Brad (5m 37s): And when you have this, these processes of oxidation and inflammation happening routinely as part of your lifestyle, these are the main drivers of disease throughout the body, especially heart disease. The, the formation of plaque in the arterial wall is a consequence of oxidation and inflammation of the cholesterol molecule. So the hectic high stress modern life is responsible in general for fight or flight patterns, consuming sugar, crashing out, having an appetite for more sugar or processed carbohydrates. It might be a bread in your case or potato chips or whatever. When I say sugar, we know that almost all carbohydrate when you consume it is very quickly converted into glucose to be burned in the bloodstream. Brad (6m 24s): And then the excess that you don’t burn off right away can easily be converted into triglyceride fat and stored as fat. So we want to get off this carbohydrate dependency lifestyle pattern, and transition over to becoming a fat adapted creature. And that is strongly associated with lower stress lifestyle patterns where you’re breathing comfortably through your nose, stimulating parasympathetic activity, rather than fight or flight sympathetic activity, where you’re doing this gluconeogenesis, converting amino acids into glucose, and burning through this glucose quickly, and then having a craving for more sugar. Brad (7m 4s): So if you’re experiencing energy level swings throughout the day, let’s point, not only to your food choices, but also to your ability to manage and regulate stress and slow things down a little bit. Breathing’s a big part of this listened to my recent breather show. The breather show about breathing, where it talks about, where I talk about The Oxygen Advantage the book from Patrick McKeown, where he’s asking you quick takeaway. If you don’t have time to listen to the show, his centerpiece assertion is that we want to breathe through our nose only at all times as minimally as possible for the rest of your life. Brad (7m 46s): That’s your assignment. And yet if you need extra air, if you’re doing an intense workout and you absolutely positively have to pull in more air to finish your running interval or your bicycle interval. Yes. Sure. Go ahead. Open your mouth, take some big deep breaths. And as soon as possible regulate back to nose breathing. And this is the low stress maximum efficiency way to breathe. And it has a lot of contribution to your fat metabolism, your appetite and your ability to regulate stress. So yeah, I think that should be sufficient to entice you to go listen to more information about breathing. But I love that takeaway. I like simple takeaways that I can remember breathe through your nose at all times for the rest of your life, as minimally as possible. Brad (8m 33s): Remember how when you were stressed and someone says, okay, calm down, take a deep breath, take a few deep breaths. When you take deep breaths you are actually stimulating the stress response. So when someone wants to help out and you’re feeling stressed, or you want to help someone say, take a shallow breath through your nose, take a very minimal breath through your nose, breathe even less, even less. And that’s how you truly calmed down. And the other thing that happens when you breathe minimally, rather than when you’re sucking in excess oxygen through these big mouth breaths that we’re inclined to take, if we’re not paying attention. When you breathe minimally, you improve your carbon dioxide tolerance in the body. Brad (9m 18s): And when you have improved carbon dioxide tolerance, when you can handle a buildup of greater levels of carbon dioxide, guess what happens? You dump off more oxygen to the working tissues and muscles that needed. So by breathing minimally, you give your body more oxygen, especially important for athletic performance. So since I had been exposed to this information, I have made a point to try to breathe through my nose during workouts as much as possible until I absolutely desperately need to open my mouth, suck down a few breaths, and then as fast as possible return to nose breathing only I’m liking those Breathe Right® Nasal strips Cause a lot of times my nose is a little bit stuffed and it’s hard to get all the air through there. Brad (10m 5s): You have to be careful with opening up those passageways. You can overdo it as Brian McKenzie said on our recent interview. But for me, I kind of work on those when I’m doing a sprint workout or when I’m knowing I’m going to be trying to pull a lot of air through my nose. And what happens when I do my drills, which are really intense and challenging, they take about 15, 20 seconds a jump sequence or a drill sequence of running drills. I can breathe through my nose during the drill. And then when it’s done, I kind of have that catch-up moment where I really need to breathe. And so I opened my mouth, I take two, three or four deep breaths, whatever I need. And then I immediately try to regulate back to nose breathing only. Brad (10m 49s): And I’m taking big, aggressive, deep nose breasts through my using full exchange of oxygen with my diaphragm. That’s, what’s great about nose breathing is that you’re forced to engage the lower lobes of the lungs by using the diaphragm muscle appropriately. That is inflating the abdomen first. And that’s showing that your diaphragm is allowed to inflate and have a maximum efficiency breath. So not only am I breathing minimally and improving my carbon dioxide tolerance, but I’m using the lungs to maximum efficiency instead of taking those shallow panting breasts through my mouth, as most athletes are inclined to do when they’re not paying attention during workouts. Brad (11m 32s): So that’s a plug for breathing to kind of help minimize your stress levels and minimize the activation of the fight or flight, the sympathetic nervous system, and kind of be more chill. So slowing things down, breathe in through your nose, taken an extra beat rather than rushing around to everything. And that has a direct effect on your ability to be a good fat burner and to regulate mood, energy, appetite, cognitive function throughout the day, rather than being harried and stressed. Okay. So also in this category of stressful modern life messing up your fat burning goals is the prolonged periods of stillness that are so common with most of our daily patterns. Brad (12m 15s): Especially if we’re working in an office environment, a computer environment, and we’re sitting for long periods of time. It’s good scientific research suggesting that sitting for as little as 20 minutes causes a significant decrease in glucose tolerance and an increase in insulin resistance. In other words, if you sit even for 20 minutes, you stop burning fat efficiently, and you start to crater a little bit. You start to zone out, experienced a decrease in cognitive function and a decrease in fat metabolism. What happens when you stop burning fat efficiently? Brad (12m 57s): Yep. You start to get a little appetite for a little snack and you have to get up from your desk and walk down the hall and go have some hit of sugar drink or snack, and then go back to work and, you know, burn off that sugar in a short time and go through this energy rollercoaster that is not only contributed by your food choices, but also your sitting choices. Also it’s known that the brain can not truly function. The brain can not truly focus on a peak cognitive task for more than around 20 minutes at a time before it needs a break. That’s why the important work done by air traffic controllers and card dealers in the casinos. Brad (13m 41s): They have these crazy work schedules where they have frequent breaks for prolonged periods of time. And then back on where they’re on with 100% focus throughout the dealing. I believe the card dealers go on a 40-20 pattern for their eight hour shift. So they’re dealing for 40, they’re taking a 20 minute break and back to dealing for 40. The air traffic controllers have something similar where there’s nice chunks where they’re always going off and taking a break. So they don’t have to continue on for an inordinate amount of time because it’s known that the brain will zone out. If you try to go and go and go. And boy, I mean, we have to recalibrate our notions here because a lot of people think that Hey, three hours, that’s, you know, a normal amount of time to be sitting and focusing at my desk and then I’ll go out to lunch and I’ll have a nice break. Brad (14m 30s): No it’s 20 minutes. And if you don’t give yourself a break, guess what a break will be taken for you in some way, shape or form. And I can attest to that if I’m going strong and, and grinding away for a long period of time, guess what? Pretty soon the YouTube windows start to open and I’m studying HighJump videos instead of continuing on finishing a chapter, my book. It just seems to happen that way unless I get up and take a movement break and I say movement break, because then you’re getting the maximum benefits. When you get out of the chair, walk around, perhaps do a micro workout. And I’m so fond of those because they get the blood flowing, the oxygen circulating throughout the body, and they’re building up your fitness benefit. Brad (15m 13s): And they’re certainly contributing to your movement objectives for the day and giving you a nice break from sitting and cognitive function. So every 20 minutes get up and do some form of movement. Maybe it’s sprinting up one flight of stairs or doing one set of pushups or whatever it is that you want to do. It may be some stretches and then get back to work if you absolutely must after a one to two minute break. And that’s a fantastic way to go through the day, more productive, more focused. And again, trying to stick to the theme of the story here, also helping you improve your fat burning capabilities. So that again, backing into this goal of dropping excess body fat successfully so that your appetite is regulated instead of walking down the hall to get a snack after an hour and a half straight at your screen, you’re walking down the hall every 20 minutes and doing some skips on the way back to get a little workout. Brad (16m 9s): That’s your choice right there. Really interesting. Okay. So in the stressful modern life category, we have this harried hectic pace that leads to sugar cravings, and we have the prolonged sitting that also leads to sugar cravings and overeating. So let’s transition to the next of the four categories that I’m going to cover in this show. And that is, oh my gosh, the big one for fitness people, overly stressful exercise patterns. And what’s really distressing to me is that the predominant fitness programming out there is promoting this overly stressful approach to exercise. Brad (16m 50s): And what I see mostly is the endurance scene, right? People who are fixated on cardio as their main form of exercise and the main amount of time devoted to exercise is this steady state cardiovascular exercise. And of course, I’m talking about the endurance community, where people are participating in the running events, triathlon multi-sport adventure, racing, the people that are out there training and putting in hours and miles on the road. And then also it seems to be the predominant form of exercise inside the gyms. When you walk in the gym, the vast majority of the square footage is devoted to these banks and rows of cardio machines where people are heading in there and they’re turning on the TV or the TVs on the wall. Brad (17m 35s): And they’re climbing the stairs for 45 minutes and calling it a day and going home. And that’s better than sitting around, of course, but when you’re kind of overemphasizing this steady state cardiovascular activity by and large, most people are performing these workouts at a slightly too elevated of a heart rate. So they’re transitioning outside of the predominantly aerobic exercise zone and into this no man’s land this black hole, they call it where you’re burning a little bit more glucose and a little bit less fat than you potentially could if you slowed down a little bit, thereby making the workout a little extra stressful and somewhat depleting and exhausting, maybe mildly depleting and exhausting, not to the point where you’re some extreme exercise, endurance freak, that’s doing track workouts and collapsing on the side of the track. Brad (18m 30s): But no, if you’re climbing the stairs for 45 minutes or pedaling the bicycle or doing a Peloton workout. This steady state cardio that is slightly too difficult and slightly too stressful will lead you right back in the direction of guess what? Yes, carbohydrate cravings overeating as a natural and programmed response to a depleting exercise session. And so you think you’re doing yourself a solid by jogging your five miles a few days a week, or getting on that stationary bicycle and performing a class a couple of days a week, but when it’s slightly too difficult or you do it for too long, a period of time, there’s all kinds of ways to get into the burnout phase rather than the truly nourishing and energizing phase. Brad (19m 18s): And most people are making that mistake with their steady state cardio. And then on the other side of the coin, we have the ultra popular HIIT type of workout, programming, high intensity interval training. And that’s what the vast majority of a group exercise and classroom programming. It is featuring where you’re going in there and instead of just going along at a steady boring state, cause you don’t really need an instructor to take you through a 45 minute pedal at a heart rate of 140, right? You can do that yourself while you’re watching TV. So when you’re in this classroom group exercise setting and the high intensity interval training modality entails performing some work efforts, resting, performing more work efforts, resting, performing more work efforts and resting. Brad (20m 4s): And by and large what’s happening is these workouts last too long. And they’re asking for too many work efforts that are slightly too significantly, too difficult with not enough rest periods in between them. So you’re not really honoring the acronym high intensity interval training because pretty soon because of the cumulative fatigue happening when you’re doing 10 times, 30 seconds, hard and 30 seconds rest or whatever the workout is what’s happening is you’re no longer producing a high level output because you’re getting tired. So you’re kind of just dragging through the workout, trying to hang on, trying to do what the instructor says in the name of fitness. Brad (20m 47s): And you’re ending up to have again, a depleting and exhausting workout. And I’m going to contend very strongly that most fitness programming is driving you right into this hole of burnout and the ensuing sugar cravings, overeating, and increased laziness for the rest of the day because the workout was too stressful. So as we’ve talked about a lot on the show, a properly formulated high intensity exercise session is very short in duration and extremely explosive and high quality in nature. Brad (21m 28s): So that each work interval that you perform is of similar quality. It doesn’t last that long because you’re going for maximum output. You’re trying to push the body to the maximum, to achieve this fitness benefit from stressing the body and having it come back and adapt stronger. But you’re quitting. You’re walking away long before the cumulative fatigue kicks in and you start performing worse on your ensuing reps. So if you’re doing something 15 times in a certain class or going over and over for workouts that lasts, you know, 25, 35, 45 minutes, an hour of high intensity interval training, you’re way past the point of maximum benefit and into diminishing returns and consequent increase in appetite, especially for quick energy carbohydrates and this propensity for the rest of the day to being less active lazier and by all manner engaging in compensatory behavior compensating for that overly stressful event that was the workout. Brad (22m 32s): So instead of a HIIT session that lasts 45 minutes, it’s far superior to go and contemplate a workout where you’re being truly explosive. Dr. Craig Marker calls it high-intensity repeat training as opposed to high intensity interval training, where you’re doing some very, very short sprints. I’ve talked about the sweet spot lasting between 10 and 20 seconds and taking long rest periods in between these brief explosive efforts so that you are fully recovered and re-energized to go and perform another one and another one. And once we get up to somewhere around 10 efforts, so somewhere between four and 10 efforts lasting only 10 to 20 seconds and with a six to one rest to work ratio. Brad (23m 22s): So my favorite example, going out to the running track, I like to do six to eight times 80 meter all out sprints. Those are going to take me somewhere around 10 seconds, and I’m going to rest at least one minute in between these sprints, which is a long time when you’re only sprinting for 10 seconds. So it’s certainly not this no pain, no gain type of suffer-fest that we’re so accustomed to performing. When we have the peppy instructor at the front of the room telling us to once again, spread, here we go. One more time. Okay. I think you can do one more after that. I tricked you ha ha. Here comes another one. Oh gosh. That workout was so brutal. I’m dripping with sweat after I feel great. I’m full of stress, hormones and endorphins, but guess what? Brad (24m 3s): 12 hours later, you’re gonna be the person reaching for the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream because of that, a depleting, excessively stressful workout in the morning. So most of fitness seems to be steady state cardio. That’s slightly too elevated of a heart rate. So it’s kind of difficult, not super hard, like an interval workout like a high intensity interval training session, but just a little bit too difficult for your own good. Or it seems to be this high intensity interval training protocol where they’re taking you through the Peloton workout or the bootcamp class. And they’re asking you to do too much with insufficient rest between the efforts. And it turns into exhausting depleting. Brad (24m 45s): So the greatest fitness benefits come when you challenge your body with brief explosive, maximum all out efforts. Dr. Doug McGuff great book, Body by Science references a lot of research showing that unless you challenge your muscles with maximum output, you don’t get the maximum organ reserve benefits which promotes longevity and delaying and aging gracefully. So organ reserve refers is a term that refers to the functional capacity of your organs to work beyond their baseline capabilities in order to save your life. Let’s say, if you were involved in a trauma like a, an accident, you needed surgery and your, your lungs are putting, being put to the test of your heart, all that kind of thing, but also just the ability of your organs to stay strong throughout your lifetime. Brad (25m 35s): Your organ reserve is directly correlated with your functional muscle mass. So if you maintain muscle mass throughout your life, you’re going to have good organ function correspondingly, obviously, because you’ve tried to get big biceps. You need to ask your heart and lungs and other organs to, to kick into gear when you’re doing a workout. So when yo the takeaway point here from Dr. Doug McGuff’s his book, other guys are talking about this too, like Ted Naiman, coauthor of the PE Ratio Diet with William Shewfeldt. They’re talking about challenging your muscles to failure, right? To doing something so difficult that you’re done. So you get up on the pull-up bar. You can only do five. Brad (26m 15s): You try to do the sixth one. You’re trying as hard as you can. And then you drop to the ground when you challenge your muscles to failure. That’s when all these amazing health hormonal metabolic benefits kick in. So once in a while, you don’t have to do this every single day, of course, but we want to have these workouts where you’re doing these brief all out explosive, maximum efforts that don’t last for very long, have a lot of rest between them and the workout doesn’t last very long in general. And that’s vastly superior to this trudging along, trying to put in a certain number of minutes or hours in the name of health and fitness. These are the workouts that are going to be exhausting, depleting, and causing all these compensations to kick in. Brad (27m 1s): Okay. I know I’ve been labored that point and hit you hard because I’m so passionate about encouraging, inspiring people to alter their exercise routines, to be something besides just straight forward marching in one direction at one heart rate. This is simply not going to give you the same fitness benefits as engaging in the brief explosive high intensity stuff, and backing off from the exhausting depleting workouts. Please go to Mark’s Daily Apple.com and look at my two-part article titled. I think we called it. Don’t Jog. It’s Too Dangerous or jogging 2.0. You can see my video on YouTube Jogging 2.0, and we’ll put the links to the article and the videos in the show notes. Brad (27m 48s): That was a quote, the quote “Don’t Jog. It’s too dangerous” came from Art DeVany, one of the forefathers of the paleo movement. It was a witty little quote but he was saying that the heart does not like to be pegged at a high level for minutes and hours at a time day after day after day, it’s not healthy for cardiovascular function. There’s all kinds of research. It’s called the extreme endurance exercise hypothesis. It’s showing that health problems can ensue for people that are extreme devotion to long-term years and years of endurance training, where they’re pegging that heart rate up high or up in the medium zones and going and going for hours and hours. Brad (28m 29s): And then you start to get this atrial fibrillation, fibrillation, and other conditions associated with overuse of the heart muscle. Just like if you do too many bicep curls, you’re going to overuse your bicep curl and it’s going to be scarred and sore and inflamed. Same thing happens to the poor heart people. So the way around this is to move frequently at a very slow pace, right? So you’re just comfortably walking and moving around. You’re not overly stressing the heart, but you’re giving it some activity rather than sitting. And then combined with that, these brief explosive efforts and, Gee! Where does this sound familiar? Oh yeah. Brad (29m 9s): That’s what Mark Sisson and original Primal Blueprint have been talking about since 2008. Remember the three primal blueprint, fitness laws are move frequently at a slow pace, lift heavy things, and sprint once in a while. So we’re talking about this, this kind of polarity between a ton of low level movement as a lifestyle, and then going in and hitting it hard once in a while and doing things that really put your body under resistance load or maximum all-out sprinting effort. And that is your key to fitness. Let’s move on to sleep. Yeah. If you mess up your sleep, good luck dropping excess body fat and keeping it off sleep is so important for fat metabolism, appetite regulation, hormone balance. Brad (29m 57s): And remember hormone optimization should be considered the key to dropping excess body fat successfully and keeping it off because when your appetite’s regulated, when your energy levels steady, that’s when you feel fine, you’re not depriving yourself. You’re not on some stupid, crazy crash diet, and everything just flows along nicely. You eat just the amount of food you need to feel alert and energized. And it, boy, it’s not that hard. But if you compromise your sleep, that’s when you experience this drift back toward carbohydrate dependency, that’s sugar, cravings, propensity for fat storage hormonally, and dysregulated appetites. Brad (30m 38s): You’re going to eat more food than you need every single day, because you have created sleep deficiency. Listen to my show with Jeff Khan. It was great. He had this very simplified insight that we want to track our sleep debt and try to keep sleep debt at zero. So if we know that we feel best on eight hours a night sleeping like most humans, and we kind of tend to compromise that once in a while, let’s say on that busy, crazy wild weekend, you only slept six and a half hours on Friday night. And then on Saturday night, you only slept seven. So guess what? You just created an hour and a half of sleep debt, plus another hour of sleep debt. Brad (31m 18s): So now you’re looking at two and a half hours of sleep debt, and there’s some way to make that up in the future through napping. So let’s see if you napped for five days in a row, you’d be back at zero with your sleep debt. That’s great. Or maybe getting an extra hour of sleep here and there. And you want to kind of get back to zero as that ultimate goal of optimizing sleep. We’re not doing very well. Research cited in The Obesity Code, the book by Dr. Jason Fung reveals that American slept for an average of nine hours per night in 1910. Average of nine hours per night. Can you even imagine that today? Brad (31m 59s): That’s fantastic information. Wow. I mean, they had nothing else to do, right? They probably, the candles were burning out at a certain time of the evening. There was no more light. Blow out the candle, go to sleep. What else are you going to do that changed by 1960? So then we had televisions coming into play, whatever other things that were getting us going and preventing us from having that, that truly nourishing an optimal nights of sleep back in 1910. So by 1960, the average was between eight and nine hours per night. And then by 1995, it went down to seven hours per night as the American average. Brad (32m 41s): Today 2021, 30% of adults sleep for fewer than six hours per night, with all kinds of downstream health, hormonal metabolic problems ensuing from this pinching of sleep. And we’re going to mostly blame excess artificial light and digital stimulation after dark for this compromising of sleep habits. So when we engage with screens, after it gets dark, we suppress this important hormonal circadian process called dim light melatonin onset D L M O. Brad (33m 22s): And what that is is a extremely powerful genetically hardwired inclination to wind down and eventually get sleepy in the hours after the sun sets in our environment. And this has been a circadian function for millions of years, all living things on earth adhere to a very powerful circadian rhythm. So we’re all influenced by light and dark cycles. Maybe you can reference a time when you went on a camping trip, so you didn’t have a ton of artificial light. You just had the campfire and sure enough, you got sleepy a couple of few hours after the sunset. And you went back into your tent, went to sleep. And when the sun came up in the morning, yep. Brad (34m 2s): It woke you up right around sunrise because that’s how humans are wired to awaken when sunlight hits, not just our eyes, but all the skin cells in our body have receptors to sunlight. So that’s how you can kind of still wake up around sunrise. Even if you have blackout curtains and a blindfold on it’s because the tiny bits of light streaming through the blackout curtains are hitting your skin cells and your body somehow is really highly calibrated to wake up upon sunrise. If you’re going to bed really super late and you need more sleep, you can do the best you can to kind of sleep through those early morning hours. But the ideal here is to have mellow evenings with minimal artificial light and digital stimulation so that you can allow dim light melatonin onset to ensue and get you sleepy and get to bed soon after it gets dark. Brad (34m 56s): So reflecting on that statement carefully, you’ll realize that your sleep habits might vary quite a bit between summer and winter, especially if you live further from the equator and you have a disparity in the type of day. In Seattle in the summer, it gets target 9:45 at night and gets late at four something in the morning. And in the winter, it gets dark at 4:00 PM. And so you have a much, a great disparity in your daily patterns, because if you want to get optimal sleep, what this means is that you’re going to require, or it’ll be optimal to get more sleep in the winter and less in the summer. Brad (35m 37s): Yes, our bodies can totally handle this. One of my favorite books on the subject is called Lights Out, Sleep, Sugar and Survival by Formby and Wiley. And it’s a great book. And it talks about how the optimal sleep in the summertime might be around eight hours. But in the winter time, it might be around nine and a half hours for most people. So we’re designed to slow things down in the winter to exercise and move less, sleep more. And this is on account of less sunlight, less daylight hours, less activity. Not necessarily needing to hibernate like a bear, but definitely slowing things down in the winter. Brad (36m 18s): And that even means probably backing off your extreme fitness regimen and just having a more low key chill winter also aligned here as an aside almost is the minimal intake of carbohydrates in the winter. Again, adhering to our evolutionary example, Dr. David Perlmutter says that you should not eat any fruit in the winter time because it’s against our ancestral experience where fruit, it did not exist. It didn’t ripen in the winter time. So winters are dark, cool, more sleep, less carbohydrate. And this is all going to calibrate to optimize your appetite, your energy levels and your body composition. Brad (37m 0s): Certainly we are genetically inclined to increase body fat in the winter months, but that’s because we are going through these dark cold winters, which no longer exists. So right now, since we don’t have these dark cold winters, we probably don’t need to pack on any extra pounds to stay warm anymore. Right? We can just turn the thermostat up. So there goes that excuse you could probably expect or aspire to maintain a pretty healthy body composition year round. Maybe with a little bit of fluctuation as you desire. But with this show talking about the mistakes that we’re making and how we can turn them around. Brad (37m 41s): Just try to optimize your sleep year round, especially in the winter time. Guess what happens if you have a single bad night of sleep? You spike cortisol by a hundred percent. This is a cited by Dr. Fung in his book. And when cortisol is high, this leads to sugar cravings, fat storage, and dysregulated appetite. High stress lifestyle leads to sugar, cravings, fat storage, and dysregulated appetite. We can get there in many different ways. We can overproduce cortisol because our training program is too stressful. Like I just described in the previous section or when we’re screwing up our sleep habits. Brad (38m 23s): Research showing that two weeks of sleeping only four hours a night, two weeks results in you officially becoming insulin resistant. Oh my gosh! And I think it was these poor college students. I think they were from Northwestern if I’m not mistaken, but these poor guys volunteered to go four hours a night and get woken up apparently. So they’d only sleep four hours a night for two weeks. That’s a pretty brutal experiment. I hope they paid them well. But at the end of two weeks, they all developed insulin resistance. That’s on the road to type two diabetes and dysfunction and disease. Of course, they’re going to finish the experiment and go back to their normal ways and hopefully assumingly regain your health. Brad (39m 9s): But boy, that’s a pretty eye-opener eye opening stat to think that in just two weeks of sleep deprivation, you’re in the insulin resistant category. That’s brutal. There’s all kinds of longitudinal studies on large population groups showing that sleep deprivation leads to insulin resistance, obesity, elevated disease risk in all forms. And any time you are not well rested, even temporarily like that one bad night of sleep spiking cortisol a hundred percent. So anytime you’re creating sleep debt, as I mentioned before, you are drifting into carbohydrate dependency rather than a healthy fat burning. Brad (39m 48s): So I covered stressful modern lifestyle circumstances, especially too much sitting overly stressful exercise patterns, especially the steady state cardio at too elevated of a heart rate and high intensity interval training workouts. And then I covered sleep. And now last but not least, and maybe this is the most important is our food choices. Two great recent books. One of them is called The Hungry Brain by Stephen Guyenet. And one of them is called Wired to Eat by my former podcast guest, the one and only Robb Wolf. Oh, another great book I should mention is the PE Ratio Diet written by former podcast guests, both of them, Dr. Brad (40m 29s): Ted Naiman and William Shewfeldt. And the premise here is that the, the highly palatable or the hyper palatable modern foods are really possibly most to blame for the obesity epidemic. The frustration, the inability to reduce excess body fat. So we have these foods laying around lingering in our diet, and generally it’s the combination of fat, sugar and salt. So think about all the decadent indulgent foods that we eat, or even our favorite meals. So if you talk about combining fat, sugar and salt, we’re talking about a plate of pasta with meatballs and, and a marinara sauce. Brad (41m 14s): We’re talking about a cheesecake. We’re talking about ice cream. We’re talking about potato chips. Combining fat and sugar together is a combination that’s virtually unknown in nature. There is no natural food from the animal kingdom or the plant kingdom that does this. And it’s known that we combine these two intense, savory and sweet together. It hijacks the appetite center in our brain. It stimulates the same opioid receptors that the hard drugs do. And this leads us to want more and more and more. So when you’re looking at that pint of ice cream, and you want to have one bite, it’s very difficult to restrain yourself because of the intense flavor sensations that the combination of fat and sugar bring to your very highly refined dopamine receptors in the brain. Brad (42m 6s): So I, I think the, the main takeaway here, if you read through these books and realize what they’re doing to our brains is get this stuff out of the house, get it out of your sight and resist that temptation by choosing out of it, or just making some rules and guidelines here saying I’m not going to consume these foods at all, because I know that they’re a slippery slope downhill when you allow them back into your diet, go back and listen to the show. titled The Fatty Popcorn Boy Saga, where I talk about my increasing fascination, devotion to an evening bowl of popcorn that got out of hand, because at one point it was a celebratory experience. Brad (42m 49s): Hey, we’re having a gathering. We’re going to watch a good show. We’re going to pop up some popcorn. I happen to make a really mean bowl of popcorn, where I put a drizzle, olive oil, as well as melted butter in there, and a lot of salt and it tastes delicious. But then it went from celebratory event to evening habit. And that unregulated incredible flavor intensity led me to unregulated consumption. So I’d eat a lot of popcorn rather than a little. And so it’s something to think about that these hyper palatable foods are a very difficult thing to resist. Here’s an insight that Dr. Ted Naiman shared from his book, the PE Ratio Diet, and also on our podcasts. Brad (43m 30s): This protein to energy ratio of food is what he argues is the key to losing excess body fat, maintaining healthy body composition. The protein to energy ratio in your diet or the protein to calories, right? Total energy ratio wants to be optimal because our basic survival need is to consume sufficient protein. So that’s our strongest cravings. And our highest natural calibration is we’re going to one way or the other consume sufficient protein in order to survive in order to support a muscle growth and maintenance and all kinds of bodily function, maintenance levels, immune function, all that kind of stuff. Brad (44m 16s): Organ function is predicated on getting sufficient protein. If we don’t get enough protein, we’re going to shrivel up and die literally, right? So we have super strong cravings and calibrations to consume sufficient protein. So if we have to extract protein from a massive amount of calories, because we’re consuming a lot of these hyper palatable foods that combine sugar and fat, we’re going to eat more and more and more. And Dr. Naiman argues that deep down, all we’re trying to do is extract our protein needs from our, our dietary choices. And so if you think of a bag of potato chips, Naiman mentioned this as an example on the show, a bag of potato chips is like 5% of the calories are protein, right? Brad (45m 1s): It’s mostly carbohydrates and fat. And so you’re gonna finish the whole bag in a, a futile attempt to get your protein needs met. Now, if you prioritize protein in the diet, which by and large, almost all experts are, we’re going to recommend this because protein is the most important. So you want to get your protein needs met first. Hey, even if you’re a vegan, the vegans are definitely going for the, the bean and rice combinations to get their protein. So if you can get your protein needs met with a minimal amount of total energy, if you can keep that ratio low, you’re going to feel great. You’re going to be highly satiated because protein is the most satiating of all, all macronutrients, even more satiating than fat. Brad (45m 47s): And you’re going to easily or efficiently, effectively drop excess body fat and be able to keep it off by prioritizing high quality dietary proteins. That would be pretty obvious if we can reflect on some of our satiating satisfying meals. If you order an omelet for breakfast, you’re going to feel great for hours afterward because you got a lot of protein and you also got a lot of natural, nutritious fats and overall nutrient density of something like an omelet or a steak or a plate of eggs. It’s hard to overeat and go down this hyper palatable food route when you’re talking about steak or eggs, right? Brad (46m 31s): You have maybe one steak, maybe two, if you’re super hungry, but you’re not going to want three. You’re going to be fine. You’re going to be stuffed. Unlike when we’re looking at the hot fudge sundae options and the bowls of popcorn. So keeping this protein to energy ratio optimal is a great tip to escape from, I suppose, the opposite would be a diet featuring a lot of hyper palatable foods that combine sugar and fat and cause you to eat more and more and more, and still don’t address your truly deep and hard-wired nutritional needs and cravings. So you can’t live on just protein, right? Brad (47m 11s): So you’re going to want to have some natural, nutritious fats in the diet. And many people are going to want to have some level of carbohydrate intake for assorted reasons. One of them being enjoying life, one of them being a performance and recovery. So interestingly Dr. Naiman and Ben Greenfield, both talk about this, this idea of perhaps eating all your carbohydrates at once and at the same time, and this will allow you to bank a lot of hours in this low insulin, fasted like state where you’re prioritizing the burning of stored body fat. And then if you do enjoy carbohydrates and you feel like they’re good for your thyroid adrenal athletic function, go ahead and enjoy those in the evening. Brad (47m 54s): Ben Greenfield talks about this, where he has evening family time, where they make wonderful concoctions in the kitchen. They enjoy family bonding experience and he’s consuming in many cases, a lot of carbohydrates, but this ensures that he recovers from his bad-ass workouts that he performs during the day while also benefiting from hours and hours in fasted like state making ketones, right? He’s doing a fasted workout earlier that day in the morning, but the nighttime, he lets it all hang out, enjoys those carbohydrates and gets the best of both worlds in that sense. And Dr. Naiman said too, he said, you know, focus your carbohydrate intake so that you can bank a lot of hours in the prioritized fat burning state, but you don’t necessarily have to swear off carbohydrates overall in general, like a lot of ketogenic messages saying, Hey, keep your carbs at 50 grams a day forevermore. Brad (48m 46s): And now that’s being criticized as unnecessary and possibly having some detrimental effects, including metabolic insulin resistance. That’s the idea that if you’re producing insulin so minimally all the time, because you’re extremely strict ketogenic person, your body may be desensitized to the effects of insulin signaling. And it might be helpful once in a while to do a, what they call a carb refeed. So go ahead and enjoy some sweet potatoes or a big meal. That’s emphasizing carbohydrates once in awhile. And in Ben’s case, I believe since he’s a pretty active exerciser, he’s probably getting a dose of carbs every day or most every day in the evening. Brad (49m 30s): So interesting to think about, but the main takeaway here in category four is your food choices and staying away from those hyper palatable foods that will hijack the appetite center in your brain and throw off all your best efforts, all the hard work you’re putting in to try to drop excess body fat. And you think about it over time when you’ve had these bouts, periods of time, of unregulated eating, we can trace those to the, the dopamine receptors and the incredible flavor sensations of the good stuff out there. There’s also an assortment of environmental triggers. One of them is just a plate stuck in your face, right? Brad (50m 12s): Hey there, waitress waiter comes by and says, can I attempt you for, with our dessert tray? And you’re full you’re stuffed. You just had a fantastic meal, but they stick the dessert tray in your face. And you’re like, wait, maybe I’ll have a small, just a tiny little slice of that creme brulee. Okay. Yeah, I’ll try it. So environmental influence triggers are huge. Same with, you know, the, the cultural significance of heading out for a trip to the ice cream store. So when we go to Seattle every year and they have these wonderful handmade ice cream shops, oh my gosh, it’s delicious. It’s all part of the experience of going on vacation and visiting the great town of Seattle. Brad (50m 55s): And so we also, we want to put in a plug for celebrating and enjoying life and making these rituals an acceptable part of a wonderful life, but that’s a whole different deal than restocking on your grocery list to make sure you always have pints of ice cream in your freezer. That’s a huge difference from enjoying vacation and going out on a destination. And by the way, we’re walking to these places and sometimes it’s a mile away. So we’re pretty much enjoying the ice cream and then walking it off after to some extent minimizing the insulin response. So we have the profound dopamine stimulating effects of hyper palatable foods. We have the environmental triggers like a plate stuck in your face or being on vacation and having be part of the cultural experience. Brad (51m 42s): And then another thing on the list here would be times when you’re tired, fatigued, undisciplined, your willpower has been diminished over the course of the day when you had to make all kinds of choices, decisions, and limitations. And at the same time, craving a little extra energy because you’re so tired. Maybe this might be when you’re propped in front of the television at 9:30 PM. And if you didn’t have artificial light and digital stimulation happening, you might be retiring to bed and blowing out the candle like your grandfather or great-grandfather did in 1910. But instead you need a little energy boost and that’s when you go for the popcorn machine. Brad (52m 25s): So especially late in the evening, what you’re doing when you have a little treat is you’re spiking your energy for a temporary period. You’re going to promote the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, and you’re going to suppress melatonin. So you’re not going to get sleepy. You’re going to enjoy another episode in your binge watching experience, thanks to the, the dose of the hyper palatable food. But of course, that’s going to unwind and compromise your fat reduction goals. So on that, at that juncture best choices to go to sleep, right? And the second best choice is, do you know, ride it out and have yourself a wonderful glass of kombucha or something and realize that, yeah, I’m maybe feeling a little hungry, could use a little energy boost, but it’s mostly because of my long, stressful, exhausting day and the late hour. Brad (53m 20s): So we’ll just try to manage these occasions where we tend to turn to the hyper palatable foods. And then finally on this list, along with the others, the environmental triggers, the dopamine stimulating, and the times when you’re tired and disciplined craving quick energy, especially at night, we have the category of emotional dysregulation. So if you’re bored, if you’re looking for instant gratification as a, a stress outlet. If you’re feeling somehow dysregulated experiencing emotional pain or disturbance, a lot of times we reach for food, because again, it gives us that dopamine hit takes us away from our problems for a brief moment, we enjoy it. Brad (54m 2s): And then we go back to real life. So just paying attention and noticing how emotional dysregulation can lead to cravings, especially for quick energy carbohydrate and trying our best to kind of recalibrate and get away from the emotional dysregulation, the cause in the first place, okay. That our lifestyle mistakes, that stall fat loss and how to fix them, the four categories, once again, stressful, modern life, overly stressful exercise patterns, poor sleeping habits. And finally, maybe most importantly, our food choices, especially our penchant to consume hyper palatable modern foods. Brad (54m 46s): Thank you so much for listening. Let me know what you think. Let me know how things are working for you podcast at Brad ventures.com. Would love to hear from you. And we really appreciate you spreading the word about the show. I’ve mentioned my cool podcast app that I use called overcast, where you can with the push of a button, create an audio excerpt of the show and text it to a friend who needs it. Excuse me, deserves to listen to this audio clip. So try that out. And if you can take the time to leave a review, oh my gosh, that really helps the show rise up the rankings and get more attention and more listeners. Brad (55m 26s): So appreciate you being part of the part of the scene here and look forward to hearing from you via email is best firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day. Thank you for listening to this show. I love sharing the experience with you and greatly appreciate your support please. Email email@example.com with feedback, suggestions, and questions for the Q and A shows, subscribe to our email list to Brad kearns.com for a weekly blast about the published episodes and a wonderful buy monthly newsletter edition with informative articles and practical tips for all aspects of healthy living. Brad (56m 7s): You can also download several awesome free eBooks when you subscribe to the email list. And if you could go to the trouble to leave a five or five star review with apple podcasts or wherever else, you listen to the shows that would be super, incredibly awesome. It helps raise the profile of the be read podcast and attract new listeners. And did you know that you can share a show with a friend or loved one by just hitting a few buttons in your player and firing off a text message? My awesome podcast player called overcast allows you to actually record a soundbite excerpt from the episode you’re listening to and fire it off with a quick text message. Thank you so much for spreading the word and remember B.rad