Meal Frequency and Intermittent Fasting Q and A

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Elizabeth Walling from http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/ and myself decided to get a little fancy on you guys and do a little Q and A on meal frequency and intermittent fasting.  As many of you know, there is fierce debate over what constitutes the ideal meal frequency for health, muscle building, metabolism, fat loss, and more.  In the past, it was believed by virtually anyone and everyone that 5-7 meals per day was the only sensible way to eat if you wanted to be a lean and ripped beast.  Hofmekler, Berkhan, Pilon (shown below) and others have issued formidable challenges to this dogma in recent years.

But as we have all discovered in many long-winded rounds in the comments section, intermittent fasting and reduced meal frequency – while very effective for blunting appetite and dropping fat, isn’t necessarily a happily-ever-after.  Here’s some lively discussion on it, and why no blanket statements can be made about high vs. low meal frequency for everyone. 

Elizabeth: Mainstream advice says we need to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day to keep our insulin levels low and keep our metabolism going strong. Is this true?

Matt: Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is mainstream advice, but there are many who recommend eating small, frequent meals (nibbling) vs. eating less frequent, much larger meals. As you know, there are endless ways to investigate the matter. Roger Williams, in Nutrition Against Disease, spoke candidly about the superiority of nibbling long-term in body composition (hypothesizing that it takes about 3 years in humans for low meal frequency to start adding extra body fat). This was found to be true in a wide variety of animal subjects of different species eating equal amounts of calories, and it makes sense on some level. There is not much impetus for the body to store anything extra if food is being supplied very often.

Going without food for 24 hours at a time definitely encourages the body to store fat when it encounters food, but it encourages fat burning during the long window without food as well. Likewise, a big meal once or twice per day will spike insulin through the roof, but will hold insulin lower throughout the rest of the day compared to someone eating 5-6 smaller meals.

In the animal kingdom it doesn’t seem to matter whether you graze all day like a horse, or eat a couple times a week like a lion or tiger. I suspect that, all things considered, it really doesn’t matter, and is up to a person’s personal preferences and what he or she has found to be the most effective, practical, and comforting for them. I would think someone with really shot adrenals would fare much better with small, frequent meals. Long periods without food cause a big rise in catecholamines (which has its advantages, don’t get me wrong), but this rise in catecholamines can do damage. Like anything, both approaches have benefits and drawbacks, so I guess the main thing is to not get blindsided by one theory vs. the other, but hold on to your own decision-making power – and make your decision based on your own biofeedback.

Elizabeth: Improving leptin sensitivity and insulin sensitivity appear to be top priorities if you want better health and body composition. I’ve heard from some experts that decreasing meal frequency helps improve leptin and insulin sensitivity. Do you think small, frequent meals contribute to leptin resistance and insulin resistance, or are there other factors that we should be more concerned about?

Matt: I doubt that meal frequency is the primary driver of leptin and insulin resistance as someone like Byron Richards (left), author of The Leptin Diet, suggests. If you look at any truly obese person with severe leptin and insulin resistance, you are unlikely to see someone who eats small, frequent meals – or hops out of bed in the morning to eat a huge breakfast to end the fasting period. In fact, you are more likely to see a breakfast skipper that eats 75% of their calories between 6pm and midnight.

In the short-term, I can see how a rise in catecholamines (adrenal hormones) from a long fasting period could increase leptin – and why so many intermittent fasters are witnessing a huge drop in appetite from it with great fat loss. But remember that ephedra and methamphetamine have the same properties – increasing fat burning and blunting appetite. Hell yes those worked amazingly well in the short-term, but did amazing amounts of damage to the adrenal glands of those consuming them over time.

Just because something appears to work in the short-term, even if there are oodles of studies to validate it, doesn’t make it the be-all, end-all. I’m sure you noticed while reading Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat on intermittent fasting that most of the studies supporting fasting were based on hormonal changes seen within 72 hours of fasting. That is not good enough to prove anything. The human body is an equilibrium machine, and repeated spikes in adrenal hormones from going long periods without food – while creating miracles in the short-term – are still fraught with Catch-22’s. The body’s adrenal glands can become fatigued, and/or adrenergic receptors (adrenal hormone receptors) can start to shut down so that your body becomes less responsive to your adrenal hormones, and the appetite-blunting/fat-burning effect of intermittent fasting and decreased meal frequency can vanish and be replaced by rebound. Not trying to scare anyone away from decreased meal frequency. I’ve had some success with it myself (3 meals per day with no snacking whatsoever), and it is incredibly more practical than eating 6 times per day. Just playing devil’s advocate – keeping the great benefits attributed to it, such as its impact on leptin and insulin, in perspective.

Elizabeth: Do you think there’s a safer way to use intermittent fasting for someone who is concerned about adrenal health? I personally was thinking that Brad Pilon’s plan was somewhat more reasonable simply because you aren’t fasting every day – just two days a week, in fact. Other days you would eat normally with your preferred meal frequency. Do you think that is enough to offset some of the possible risks involved? Can someone with adrenal concerns use intermittent fasting safely?

Matt: Good question. I think Pilon’s approach is pretty good, but people must remember it’s not a case of the more the better. Pilon does allow people to restore normal eating habits and give the adrenals a break. Thus, you have an opportunity there to lose a pound of fat per week and “get away with it.” Martin Berkhan of http://www.leangains.blogspot.com/ takes the opposite approach, where you fast a little each day by eating only between the hours of say, 11am to 7pm (8-hour feeding window). This he counters with other very wise approaches, such as huge post-workout feasts and short windows in which you eat way more calories than you are used to. This allows the body, during any given week, to experience short windows of losing body fat (with high catecholamines) AND periods of muscle growth and recovery in which catecholamines are low and in recovery. This prevents the body from adapting to constantly-elevated catecholamines, which is a beautiful thing for those looking to avoid the yo-yo scenario. He seems to have gotten it down to a science where when he eats too little he loses fat and no muscle – and when he eats too much he gains muscle but no fat. Thus, over the course of weeks and months, he gains muscle, loses lots of fat, and has no negative metabolic adaptation – such as having his sex drive crash, his energy levels plummet, constant coldness, poor workout performance, increased appetite, and so on.

Elizabeth: So, it’s all about balance and staying away from that chronic stress of constantly elevated catecholamines. How do you suggest coming to a personal decision about meal frequency? What factors should someone take into consideration? Do you have any suggestions for how an individual can determine what works best for them?

Matt: “Constantly elevated catecholamines” is an excellent phrase. Pardon me while I go off on a huge geekazoid tangent on this one. The trick is to get the fat-burning, metabolism-boosting, hunger-regulating effects of the catecholamines, but do so in a way that doesn’t allow the body to adjust to a chronic, steady-state of elevated catecholamines. That’s the biggest mistake that people make in dieting, with low-carb dieting in particular.

Low-carb diets, for example, raise catecholamines really well, suppress your appetite, burn fat like crazy with no lean losses, and can make you feel tremendously amazing with great mental focus and energy. But people often get seduced by these great feelings, and with the panacea attributed to low-carb diets that’s given by low-carb and now Paleo authors and health educators, people do low-carb diets until they hit the plateau of all plateaus and feel like absolute crap – often with health problems like food allergies, horrendous athletic performance, insomnia, and digestive problems – not to mention an uncanny ability to gain weight at the end of that rainbow.

This could all be called “negative metabolic adaptation” to anything that keeps catecholamines constantly elevated, which includes low-calorie diets with no reprieve or “re-feed,” low-carb diets without “carb cycling” (eating a big, high-carbohydrate meal once every 2-3 days), overexercising (particularly long-duration cardio without enough rest days), and so forth.

So to answer your question about choosing for yourself what determines a good approach to meal frequency, you really have to take the rest of your lifestyle, diet, and exercise habits into account to decide.

Let’s say there are 5 ways to elevate catecholamines:
1) Going long periods between meals
2) Eating meals with less than 30 grams of carbohydrates
3) Cutting calories
4) Exercise
5) Fasting

And there are 5 ways to lower catecholamines:
1) Sleep
2) Rest
3) High-carbohydrate meals
4) Excessive calorie intake
5) Eating frequent, small meals

From this list, the best way to lose the most fat in the shortest period of time would be to eat a very low-carb, low-calorie diet combined with fasting and lots of exercise. But this is adrenal suicide. Note that fitness competitors often do this a few weeks prior to a show – but at great cost.

For long-term success, and without undermining your health, you need balance between those two lists. If you want to take advantage of dropping carbohydrates, do so with eating big carbohydrate feasts once every three days. This is the premise of Rob Faigin’s (left) Natural Hormone Enhancement program, which is light years ahead of any standard low-carb diet.

If you want to take advantage of intermittent fasting, don’t pair this with 2 hours of cardio 5 times per week. Instead, you’d be much better off pairing IF with only 2, 1-hour anaerobic workouts (weightlifting) like what you see Martin Berkhan practicing.

If you want to eat two large meals per day, and don’t want to be bothered with the headache of the 6 meal per day plan, great! But these meals should contain lots of healthy, unrefined carbohydrates.

So, the moral of the story is to be patient, methodical, and wise about losing weight. You can’t sprint for the finish or the body will make adjustments that create an impenetrable wall between you and your weight loss goals (to say nothing of the catastrophic impact this can have on your health as well).

And your question about helping a person to determine what is right for them is perhaps even more complicated!!! Ha!

The simplest answer to that is this:

If you suspect any kind of adrenal problems, you better try to rehabilitate yourself before pursuing weight loss. That comes by doing a lot of what – in list #2 – helps to lower catecholamines. That is the basic premise of the rehabilitative strategy that I’ve created in a free eBook online that you can get at http://www.180degreehealth.com/

If your adrenal glands are healthy, you’ll respond to many things in the list of what raises catecholamines with a decline in appetite, a rise in energy levels and mental focus, very quick fat loss with no lean losses, and so forth. If that is what you experience, DO NOT get carried away with it. Take action to lower catecholamines at some point each week, preferably with rest and eating a lot of food – particularly carbohydrates. In other words, take 1 step back for every 2 steps forward.

As for me, I’m kinda done fooling around with catecholamines. I eat until I am full, when I am hungry (usually 3 times per day evenly spaced, starting with an early breakfast), and eat a very high-carbohydrate diet with very little cardio-style exercise. I did start out earlier this summer doing a lot of hiking, but I could immediately feel the negative consequences of it. Instead, my current focus is doing a couple of very high-intensity, full-body weightlifting/bodyweight exercise sessions once every 3-4 days. This, in and of itself, has great potential to force the body to adapt by increasing anabolic (muscle-building) hormones and decrease body fat. You won’t catch a sprinter or gymnast – arguably the two types of athletes with the best muscle to body fat ratios on earth – on a treadmill or Elliptical machine. You won’t catch Martin Berkhan or legendary trainers like Scott Abel or Rachel Cosgrove near one either.

Rachel Cosgrove after months of doing 20 hours of “steady-state” cardio per week (cycling, swimming, and jogging).  A.K.A. – “Cardio Cosgrove” 

Rachel Cosgrove after getting back to high-intensity resistance exercise with no cardio whatsoever.

144 Comments

  1. awesome post matt !!

    I'm a veteran ( at age 22 LOL) of decreased meal frequency from two meals a day to one big meal in the morning or evening and it did nothing good to me.

    I should have read your article before ever trying it.

    And I noticed that I get fatter from doing it, just a little bit but a bit fatter anyway.

    Martin .

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  2. Thanks Martin – granted, you were very low carb and very high exercise with a history of starvation dieting in the past. This is a good case in point as to when IF is NOT what the doctor ordered.

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  3. I have found that for me, a good compromise is to eat 3 meals around 6 hours between the end of one to the beginning of the next.
    This allows for the stomach to clear and build a proper hunger as well as blood glucose to return to fasting levels.

    I think that, depending on the amount of calories you need to eat in a day, this should determine the amount of meals that you eat.

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  4. Me too Riles, for the exact same reason. It works great for me, and keeps appetite incredibly well-regulated.

    I also tend to taper my meals, eating the most at breakfast and lunch while eating a smaller dinner. This is not really forced or anything. It's just natural to eat light and not have much appetite when you are overfed for the first half of the day.

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  5. Hi Matt, Just some remarks / questions:

    Would you agree that we are part of the animal kingdom and that our digestive tract resembles more that from a lion or tiger than that from a horse? And wouldn't that make humans more suitable to eat fewer meals per day?

    Do you think leptin resistance often plays a role of importance? Or does in most cases the hyper insulin action simply overrule the leptin signal?

    I'm starting to get a fan of Martin Berkhan too. His approach makes sense. I'm trying it out.

    Does a very low carb ketogenic diet, thus with plenty of ketone bodies, keep catecholamine’s constantly elevated in your point of view? If yes, do you think the adrenal glands of No-Carbers are worn out per definition?

    What were the negative consequences of hiking you felt?

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  6. Great post, Matt & Elizabeth!

    I'm trying to be good and keep my eye on long-term healing & slow weight loss. I eat 3 meals a day, which is easy as long as I eat nourishing food. If I eat crap, I end up snacking (usually on more crap). My body isn't ready for IF. When I tried it I got really tired once I ate and was groggy the rest of the day. Not my cup of tea.

    Anywho, OT but I was at the store the other day and I decided to look at the baby formula. First ingredients in every bottle was CORN SYRUP or VEGETABLE OIL, followed by sugar and hydrolyzed milk powder. I can't believe people feed that stuff to their kids! I wonder what the outcome of the "Milk Diet" would be, if formula was used instead? Any takers?

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  7. @CoconutMama: That's been my experience with some versions of IF as well. When I delay breakfast for a few hours I notice that when I do eat I get lethargic. I think that's why Berkhan and Ori prefer to have eating hours late in the evening. Being tired isn't such a problem at bedtime, lol. But either way delaying breakfast on a daily basis doesn't seem to work for me either. Occasionally, yes. Every day, no.

    The Formula Diet? Ew, that sounds gross. I shudder to think of the health implications of eating only formula for weeks at a time. But then again we put infants on that diet all the time, right?

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  8. The Formula Diet! Classic! Somebody call Morgan Spurlock for that one. I call "not it."

    Yes, IF advocates love to talk about the increased mental acuity, energy, etc. during the fasting period. That's the catecholamines talking, but what happens when you eat? Crash and burn for me, which seems to be the commonality on a Facebook thread I've got going now too. It's definitely not a happy medium, but a friggin' roller coaster ride.

    Hans-

    Humans are omnivores. We have all kinds of telltale physiological traits of both herbivores and omnivores. A solid argument can be formulated from either side of the fence.

    But it does seem that the more plant-based the diet is, the greater the meal frequency. However, that is to be expected when plants are everywhere and easily-accessed vs. low meal frequency creatures that have to kill a giant wildebeast and eat as much of it as possible, as quickly as possible, before competition moves in.

    As for leptin resistance, I tend to think that it dominates over insulin resistance, as insulin resistance is a state that prohibits muscle from being built and fat burned and instead ensures more efficient fat storage while fat burning is blunted. I think it's pretty clear that these are mechanisms deployed in response to the "starving" signal coming from the hypothalamus.

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  9. I know, really gross! I think a Morgan Spurlock style documentary on the "Formula Diet" would be interesting though.

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  10. CoconutMama – most infant rice cereals are full of hydrogenated vegetable oils and hfcs too

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  11. I tell anyone who wants to feeds their kids formula if they wouldn't mind getting all of their daily calories from Slimfast. It's almost the same thing. An adult drinking 10-15 cans of Slimfast per day (assuming 150 kcal per can) would be just like an infant getting all of their calories from formula. Not very appetizing at all.

    Scott

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  12. Oh yeah, negatives of hiking…

    It was making it very hard to build muscle and lose fat, and also making me feel kind of "spent."

    I have done tons of hiking in the past, and my body adapts to it pretty quickly by halting fat loss, decreasing metabolism, and increasing hunger.

    This brings up an interesting conversation, as hiking is the perfect activity for mechanically burning fat. Your body uses fat as fuel for hiking at a moderate pace, especially after a couple hours of doing it without food.

    You would think that encouraging the body to burn fat as fuel would be a good thing. Many low-carb authors like Barry Groves rely on this logic, as did I when I wrote version 1 of 180 Degree Metabolism.

    But you also become very proficient at storing fat when your body is using it as a primary fuel source, so you can tread water with this kind of logic.

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  13. Thnx for the answers. One answer on the ketogenic diet would still be appreciated. VBR also to Elizabeth Walling who I forgot to mention in the previous comment.

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  14. It's hard to say on a low-carb, long-term ketogenic diet exactly what would happen to the adrenals. My guess is that over time the adrenergic receptors would either shut down or adrenal glands would start to peter out.

    But who knows. Perhaps lots of ketones, or great proficiency with gluconeogenesis could prevent hyperadrenal activity and health and balance could eventually be achieved. I suspect not though, as most low-carbers tend to get worse health-wise, not better, as they continue with strict versions of the diet.

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  15. Good article, Matt. However, Berkhan DEFINITELY used steady state cardio to achieve his current state of leanness. Not sure if he still does this to MAINTAIN, but this is irrelevant, as his calories are now in balance. In fact he talks about its [steady state cardio] advantages in a couple different posts here:http://leangains.blogspot.com/search?q=steady+state+cardio

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  16. My experience tells me that if you eat high-carb / low-fat with unrefined foods I think it's impossible to eat less than three meals, especially when overeating. I mean say you are eating potatoes with a little fat and protein aiming at 4000 kcal, that means 4kg potatoes. How can you eat that in one meal? Is it even physically possible to stuff all that in the stomach? Thinking about competetive eaters, does the food just get pressed into the abdomen or do they have incredibly huge stomachs or something?

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  17. Yes, balance – adrenaline (breakdown) on the one hand and insulin (building) on the other, it all comes back to Schwarzbein. I believe intermittent fasting can be a sustainable practice as long as sleep, calories and carbohydrates are sufficient in relation to activity levels. You just counterbalance a period of elevated catecholamines with a period of equally elevated insulin, but the net balance probably isn't different from a scheme where you divide your intake into more frequent meals. The long-term sustainability of a diet ought to be most dependent on whether you're giving your body all it needs, and less on when you're giving it (within reasonable limits…)

    When I did IF before (prior to HED) it was indeed a roller coaster between alertness and tiredness, so bad that I stopped eating lunch because I couldn't follow an afternoon lecture after breaking the fast.

    But surprisingly, it hasn't been like that at all now that I've taken up IF again. I'm neither exaggeratedly energetic during the fast (maybe since I don't drink half a gallon of coffee every day any more), nor do I crash when I do break the fast. I'm thinking that the impact of a meal has more to do with general metabolic health than meal frequency. When I started the HED I was eating 4 meals a day evenly spread out, and I still got very tired and groggy after each meal in the beginning. In time this wore off until I reached a point where eating big meals didn't phase me at all – likely reflecting gradually improving glucose tolerance. Now that my metabolism is running in full gear, eating large meals doesn't cause a significant energy dip, regardless of whether I do IF or not.

    One thing I have to concede is that the psychological benefits of IF seem to have more to do with the low meal frequency than the prolonged fasting. In terms of hunger and energy levels, I haven't done any worse on the few occasions in which I have had lunch at 12 and dinner at 22, as opposed to my usual of "lunch" at 18 and dinner at 22.

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  18. Great insight Matt. I think the take away with any and all conversation about nutrition/exercise is chronic anything is not a good for the human body. I also agree with you that people who perhaps don't have good adrenals should tread very lightly with IF.

    People who just crash after big meals especially high in carb should also consider their leptin/insulin sensitivity.

    I have the opposite "problem?" in that I get loads of energy after I eat, especially when its a high carb meal. Problem being, if I eat too close to bedtime its difficult to get to sleep.

    People also need to consider when choosing a style of exercise how sustainable is it. 1-2 times a week for a total of an hour or so is way better than hours and hours of "working out". Of course if you enjoy that type of thing then awesome, do it, and enjoy it, but don't do it just for changing your body image.

    Can't tell you how many P90X DVDs I have seen laying around friends houses. I always ask when was the last time you did it; "well it's been a couple (6) months."

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  19. my experience is mixed. I hated the way food dominated my life for the 2 years i did 5-6 meals per day. I found IF easy but very ineffective. I just tried it again this spring and lost 0 weight in five weeks of two 24 hour fasts per week changing nothing else. marathon training and weeks of hiking cause rebound fat gain in me. To lose fat even after HED I still have to lower calories below 1200 per day. What is working for me at the moment is variety; Sometimes i eat more carbs sometimes more fat, sometimes i skip breakfast, sometimes I eat a lot in the evening sometimes not, sometimes i play tennis, sometimes I weightlift and sometimes I hike… in all of this i am trying to chill and accept i can only lose around 1 pound a month but that's OK.

    Great post Matt and Liz )

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  20. First off, LOVE the tag team posting!
    And I want to know more about Rachel the Cardio Queen. I fear I may be going in that first pics direction.
    Second: Matt, I love when you go into geekazoid tangents, it's my favorite part.

    off to pump up and carb out,
    deb xo

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  21. Excellent article Matt …

    I'd say few health, wellness & fitness professionals understand this point, including IF

    Many people arent taking into account the current un-health (hormonally imbalanced) of the person before making generalized IF or exercise recommendations for that person.

    Most people I have worked with in NYC are adrenally exhausted. I would say its safe to assume 90% of New Yorkers are in adrenal fatigue, in my experience (20 yrs in the industry in NYC)

    I use salivary hormone testing as well as biofeedback to determine where people are at before I recommend anything .. and then I have different levels of programs to accommodate the person to meet their level of recovery/health.

    For these people (which was me a few yrs back) , little or no exercise other than SOFT (mind body, chi gong, yoga, breathing exercises, etc) and several mineral rich, saturated fat focused meals (pro, fat, carb) throughout the day works best.

    I wont do strength training or intervals until someone is measurably better and then we progress carefully.

    Even the next level up, Strength training programs, can be designed for those progressively recovering from adrenal fatigue: longer rest periods, shorter sets & reps and limited time working out total, working out in mid day or morning as opposed to evening, etc

    I've used IF since I was a teenager – Fasting can be great when your healthy – but disastrous for those that are unhealthy, esp with adrenal & thyroid issues.

    I think the best point of the article – ' If you suspect any kind of adrenal problems, you better try to rehabilitate yourself before pursuing weight loss.'

    thanks! will repost …

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  22. Excellent stuff Matt, as I noted on Elizabeth's blog.

    I only eat one to two meals a day, depending on a few factors. I am able to do that no matter the macro-nutrient content. I am able to get away with it because when I do eat, I eat a lot, even when its a high carb meal. I can knock back 4000 calories and even more. Then drink some wine to top it off. :-)

    I don't eat as much as during my WD days, but still a lot of food. :-)

    Then usually once a week I eat a lot several times during the day. That is Sunday normally.

    Never had a problem with IF. No fatigue. No energy dips. No adrenal issues.

    My diet is cyclical throughout the year, but I never consciously drop below moderate carb anymore.

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  23. I did IF for years and never had any problems. Actually growing up, I always petty much ate this way naturally without even having to try. Then as i got older and found the Warrior Diet stuff I did it more strictly. This worked out well for my social life in college because I could fast all day then go workout and have a huge post-workout feast of pizza and beer!

    Even though I never had any problems, I also never received any benefits, especially concerning body composition. I definitely looked better with frequent meal frequency. 99.99% of people that have great physiques eat with more frequency.

    I didn't start having the adrenal problems until I started eating low carb and paleo. IF combined with low carb/paleo is probably the worst combo if someone is having adrenal issues.

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  24. Thanks Antonio. Really glad you stopped by to give your input, as this is exactly what many of us have experienced as well, and many pursuits, whether low-carb, or IF, or veg*n, or overexercising – have all led to a place of adrenal ass-whoopin'.

    Hope to see you around more often, as we could use more input and insight from those involved in adrenal testing and adrenal rehabilitation beyond what can be done with diet (my dietary recommendations for adrenal rehab are obviously on par with yours).

    Michael-

    That sounds fun. I doubt I could get away with that kind of regimen, but it sounds pretty badass and very enjoyable. I'm also a big fan of the cyclical and ever-changing nature or your diet. No diet is "the one," and each type of diet has its advantages and disadvantages. Only those that are not declaring war with any kind of macronutrient like yourself are able to have the benefits of each form without the drawbacks of being in one chronic dietary state all the time.

    Amen to not consciously dropping below moderate carb anymore. Wish I hadn't exhausted my ability to drop down in carbs by being on a low-carb diet for too damn long. Low-carb could be useful if used wisely, which it very rarely is.

    Jedi-

    Me too. I just don't really think about it all that much. I have been loving carbs though, but I have no set approach to anything really. When I crave fat and meat, I still eat it with gusto.

    One thing I always found interesting was that when I do a lot of hiking/running/cardio I gain rebound fat incredibly fast and furiously. After all, it was excessive cardio that enabled me to gain fat on the HED whereas previously (before cardio with a higher body temp) I could not seem to gain more than 5 pounds on it – pizza and all.

    If I go from a light activity level with some weightlifting, I lose fat the moment I stop – unlike hiking and cardio which causes me to gain fat rapidly the moment I stop.

    Right now everything is casual, non-regimented, and is very effective. I workout when I feel like having a good workout. I go on walks when I feel stiff and am sick of looking at my computer. I eat big meals with a couple pounds of taters and a couple cups of brown rice drowned in salsa with a little cheese. And wake up leaner every day. I'm relying on my own biofeedback more and more and preconceived notions about diet and exercise less and less. It's awesome.

    Collden-
    Those are some very reassuring differences. I suspect that when you dipped below your setpoint in round 1 of IF that all of your metabolic problems started coming out of the woodwork. Keep doing what you are doing wisely – mindful of anabolism and catabolism, and you'll be able to achieve a great physique with good health to go along with it.

    Anonymous-

    Didn't realize Berkhan did some steady state cardio, but thanks for correcting me.

    Nathan-

    P90X. Nice. This blog has been going steady for nearly 4 years and don't think P90X has been mentioned yet.

    I file that into the "wouldn't do it even if it promised eternal youth" category along with bathing in ice water, drinking my own urine, and eating a low-carb diet.

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  25. Jt said:

    "IF combined with low carb/paleo is probably the worst combo if someone is having adrenal issues."

    Not "probably."

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  26. Matt,
    True, I would say certainly, but there might be a few out there who do well on it even though it almost killed me.

    The problem is that the low carb/paleo diets can blunt appetite so severely that you just end up doing IF without even trying.

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  27. I agree on the low-carb/IF combination. Unfortunately the first time that I tried both low-carb and IF I tried them together last fall. Took me out in six weeks flat. *Shakes fist at Mark Sisson*

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  28. Matt,
    Are you still doing the Maximum Nutrient Partioning ratios? What is you biofeedback so far?

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  29. @JT

    I don't recall the effect on body composition all that much when I was deep into the WD. I do remember getting leaner but I was also playing a lot of ball, so who knows.

    One thing the WD did is give me incredible amounts of energy during the day and that is saying a lot because I am a very high energy person to begin with.

    But there was really no way to maintain the incredible amounts of food I was eating on a social basis. I won't go into details but it wasn't happening. :-)

    @Matt

    I was consciously low carb a couple of times but never for long. I was immediately drawn to carb cycling and then once I did the WD low carb was forever removed from my vocabulary as a personal strategy for me.

    I may one day, just for kicks and giggles, experiment with a high fat, low carb, and low protein diet. 80-10-10

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  30. Whaddya expect when following the advice of someone that states that daily carbohydrate intakes above 150 grams per day will cause "insidious weight gain?"

    That's like saying:

    "Going to college will cause insidious poverty."

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  31. JT-

    I'm fairly close to MNP ratios, but I am not overfeeding actively. I'm not keeping precise track, but I'm probably 70:15:15

    Michael-

    Low-carb will probably give you a similar feeling to prolonged fasting. But many people crumble under this kind of stress, especially given sufficient time and done without any mindfulness of carb re-feeds.

    Reply
  32. Great post! It answers a lot of questions. One I've been wondering about for the last few posts, though, is – if you're still in adrenal recovery, when should your heaviest meal be? And what about when you're better?

    What about bedtime snacks? I've always liked to eat right before bed. Good, bad, or ugly? And if you do eat before bed, what is the best kind of snack? When I was high fat, low starch, high fruit, it was usually fruit. Then I was more low-sugar, so it was home made, barely sweet ice cream. Now I'm trying to be more low fat, high starch, so I'm usually having plain popcorn.

    Since flip-flopping my macro-nutrients, I find that I'm getting shaky when hungry, which hasn't happened since I first went high fat. Now that I'm trying to lower fat (and trying is the word, I'm still not low fat, just less fat!), I've been ravenous and shaky. Will this pass? Or should I go back to high fat?

    Reply
  33. The shirtless gentleman in the photos included in this post is more than just low bodyfat. He is low also in water retention.

    Optimizing and/or manipulating the nutrients and hormones that help regulate water retention and electrolyte balance is the main factor in attaining the ripped look. A person with 5% bodyfat could not look very ripped if they were retaining water.

    I would venture to guess that the guy in those pics is either naturally prone to retain less water or he is somehow augmenting his levels.

    My .02 cents.

    Reply
  34. Michael,

    I was able to stay fairly lean on IF as well, you can be lean on any diet as long as your calories aren't too high. There are a lot of people on IF that are smaller and lean, but there are not any that are really big, muscular, and lean. Even Ori switched to having smaller protein feedings throughout the day.

    I also had high energy and that is why I liked doing it while I was in college. Adrenaline and cortisol go up while you are fasting and this is where the energy comes from. This is also why people get into problems down the road.

    You should have tried getting more of your calories from beer. This would make it much easier on the social life!

    Reply
  35. Like Hawaii girl, I like to eat something in the evening. If I eat carbs, I seem to sleep better, not knock out like a corpse, just easier to get to sleep. High protein or fat foods actually keep me awake.

    Maybe it's a girl/carb thing?

    Reply
  36. "Going to college will cause insidious poverty."

    With tuition hikes and loans, this might be true for me :(

    Reply
  37. Off topic but any advice appreiciated. I had one of those sophisticated blood spot tests done and it showed I was very low in Essential Fatty Acids. Now contrary to all I read here and Ray Peat's advice I decided to go with the nutritionist's advice and take some fish oil and borage/flax mixture – I was mainly swayed by the fact that my skin is so bad at the moment and I have a problem with my wrist – feels as if I have sprained it when I use it but fine when I don't use. Anyway, the first day I took the oils it took me forever to get to sleep and then I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep at all – it was as if I had downed a dozen shots of espresso. I hadn't and my diet had been normal that day with nothing unusual occurring. Do you think this is terrible if my EFAs are so low? I eat tons of butter/coconut oil and although I have been trying to cut down on avocados I love them so much I eat those too and yet all my fatty acid levels were low – even AA. Any thoughts/advice anyone?

    Reply
  38. Oh gosh… Imagine poor Martin Berkhan when his adrenergic receptors kick the bucket then! Which will happen eventually if what you're saying is correct. Can't fool the body forever with such repeated abuse, it will adapt. Right? As you say, the body is a long term equilibrium, homoeostatic machine. But I'm not sure I buy the idea…

    So a person becomes resistant to catecholamines like you would become insulin resistant or leptin resistant? Makes sense but then again not really. It's confusing. I guess I'm having a hard time rationalising how it would help IF'ing hunter "grok" to slowly develop obesity with progressively less capacity to access stored fat?

    Adrenal fatigue? Are we not delving into the realms of quackery here? Wouldn't my doctor just look at me like I was an idiot if I queried my "adrenal health"?

    Where is the hard evidence for all this coming from?

    Reply
  39. @Anon: I think the whole point of this post was to say that Berkhan's adrenals are *not* going to kick the bucket. His plan is fairly balanced, does not include overdosing on cardio, and does include regular refeeds. He stimulates catecholamine release through decreased meal frequency and high intensity workouts, which he then balances out with rest days and refeeds.

    And I'm pretty sure your doctor would look at you like an idiot if you mentioned "grok" to him, too.

    Reply
  40. My brutal "steady state cardio"-routine = walking around on the city streets for 30-60 min/day listening to audio books on my iPod.

    Also do not use cardio in the traditional sense w clients.

    Reply
  41. That was directed to Anon btw.

    Reply
  42. @JT
    I know that you have said that you don't consider Martin's approach "IF" and merely reduced feeding frequency, but what is your definition of IF?

    @Dinosaur
    Did your joint problems change? How long have you been low pufa/"EFA"?

    Reply
  43. Anonymous,
    Who is Grok? A mythical paleo man? Why do all of the paleo-ideologues always refer to this imaginary person as Grok? I really wish paleo guys would look more carefully at the modern tribal people who eat plenty of carbs instead of fantasizing about a low carb IFer. It't not that hard to verify this, just watch a a few documentaries on the amazonian hunter gatherers who sit around and eat manioc or bananas all day, and occasionally kill a little monkey that the whole tribe shares.

    Regarding adrenal insufficiency, only ignorant people would deny this. Schwarzbein is a famous endocrinologist and she has written several books on it. My doctor and many others i have spoken with have all told me it is becoming a major problem. It was actually a well recognized condition in the past, even JFK was even treated for it. I will agree that most people say the have it, when the have no idea, but I have verified it with multiple tests.

    Reply
  44. Riles,
    Defining our terms is a problem. Since I started the IF journey on the Warrior Diet and Ori was the first to popularize it, I pretty much view that as the standard. It was fasting all day and then just eating a really huge dinner. So, I guess my cutoff for something to be considered IF is a minimum of 21 hours. Almost everyone I know that isn't into fitness eats a late lunch and then again around 6-7 pm. About an 8-10 hour feeding window, they are not doing IF.

    I think Berkhan's program is better than real IF. His program has more feedings during the day which will provide better results.

    Reply
  45. JT,

    But even Ori ate during the day, sometimes quite a bit. He described it as "undereating". He was very much opposed to a total fast during the day, even though thats how I did it cuz I was never hungry, given the HUGE amount of food I was eating, and yes it included beer. :-)

    Reply
  46. Michael,
    Yeah I know Ori eventually started recommending small feedings throughout the day, but I think originally he marketed his plan as a real fast during the day, but I may be wrong. This is not real IF, because you are not fasting. To me this just proves the point that IF is not a viable program for most people, especially since Ori, the godfather of the whole movement can't even stick to it.

    Reply
  47. JT said,

    "Anonymous,
    Who is Grok? A mythical paleo man? Why do all of the paleo-ideologues always refer to this imaginary person as Grok? I really wish paleo guys would look more carefully at the modern tribal people who eat plenty of carbs instead of fantasizing about a low carb IFer. It't not that hard to verify this, just watch a a few documentaries on the amazonian hunter gatherers who sit around and eat manioc or bananas all day, and occasionally kill a little monkey that the whole tribe shares."

    LOL! I agree, the whole paleo ideology is nothing more than myth and fantasy. Their beliefs about what paleo-age man ate is based on nothing more than speculation. And they want to pretend that their approach is scientific! This is why people like Ray Peat are light-years ahead of them in terms of understanding human health; Ray Peat does not believe in myth and fantasy, his approach is scientific. He looks at metabolism and hormones, the true drivers of ones health –he reads well designed papers on the subject, and conducts his own research– and from this draws reliable conclusions. People like Matt; Ryan Koch; Chris Masterjohn; etc, are also scientific in their approach to human health.

    It's amusing to watch the paleo quacks ignore/evade evidence that some paleo tribes might have indeed been gathering significant amounts of starches, mostly in the form of root vegetables/tubers, but also, "gasp!" in the form of grains, including the most evil thing on earth, wheat.

    http://www.stonepages.com/news/archives/003656.html

    When challenged with such evidence, they just rationalize it away, or mock it, or ignore it. No rational individual or community acts this way. And then they want to act like they are oh-so-rational-and-intelligent-and-fit-and-just-all-around-incredible…. Anybody who doesn't believe they act this way just needs to go spend time at "Marks Daily Apple;" "Freetheanimal'; or pretty much any paleo website.

    Ultimately, however, JT is right: The most damning evidence against the paleo dogma are the current tribal societies –whether they are hunter-gatherer based or agrarian, a majority of the tribes eat significant amounts of carbs. Most of them are "lean" –which seems to be one the most important issues in the befuddeld minds of the paleo community– and, more importantly, most of them seem to enjoy good health. Even as they continue to eat carbs and "neolithic" foods! How, I want to know, does this not cause paleos to pause and look twice at their beliefs?

    Those caught in the net of myth and fantasy rarely look very hard at their own dogmas. Instead, they try to find ways to avoid the fact that they are indeed in a net. In their twisted perception, they convince themselves that those still free are the ones that are trapped! It's actually kind of pitiful when you think about it…

    Note: There are good paleo bloggers/thinkers out there, Don Matesz of "Primal Wisdom" comes to mind.

    Reply
  48. JT,

    He always marketed it that way from the beginning. His idea, really quite similar to Martin's, was that you could simulate the effects of fasting without going all out, thus the undereating in the day. He considers water fasting, even short term, as catabolic.

    I don't know who is the godfather of the current movement, but IF has been around for many centuries.

    I have an upcoming blog post on the subject.

    Reply
  49. DML,
    We are definitely on the same page man! The sad thing is that I was one of these ideologues as well. I feel guilty thinking of all the people who might have been harmed listening to my rantings on the true way to an evolutionary correct diet.

    Michael,
    I always interpreted Ori as implying that the total fast during the day was optimal, and the "undereating" was a compromise when necessary. Here is part of his interview with Testosterone Magazine which was when he first got noticed:

    T.C. So is the ultimate goal of one phase of this diet to actually work down to one meal a day?

    Ori: That's the ultimate goal, yes, but there's room for some leeway, depending on an individual's goals or circumstances. For instance, even I introduce small protein meals during the day at times.

    http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_interviews/the_warrior_diet_an_interview_with_penthouse_editor_ori_hofmekler

    Reply
  50. JT,

    Sounds like you and me should start our own WD thread, lol.

    Yes I remember reading that article, but in numerous other places (including both his books), the protein meal is a compromise as over and against eating fruits and veggies (or their juices) in the undereating phase, not a total fast, which he categorically rejects.

    We had a LONG thread on the Native Nutrition yahoo group where we broke all his stuff down and there were lots of people following his program and involved the thread.

    Reply
  51. Matt, here is another question for you – say you've been eating pretty well for a few years, including loads and loads of vegetables. How important do you think veggies are? Like you and milk, I'm feeling kinda pissed at vegetables right now and don't want any.

    Reply
  52. Lorelei, I kinda have been feeling the same way. Too over-hyped in my opinion- no magical level of health has been attained in all my years of veggie pounding either. Plus, I can't get in enough calories if I eat too many. I pretty much just use them for garnishment.

    Reply
  53. Just to share my experiences and clarify my position: I've been eating a ketogenic diet during two years now. I hike a lot (every day studying with the IPod). I feel great, I'm lean and noticed that I gained a lot of muscle and even (from graying) got the color of my hair back. BMI is 19.8. Don't have the idea that my adrenals are under pressure. I have the 4.5 pack, but not yet the 6 pack from Martin. I'm now looking at what Martin's IF does for me. I study a lot and I'm very open for new insights, that is why I follow you Matt. I don't comment your answers, I'm just curious to know what your thoughts are.

    Reply
  54. I eat just one meal per day at 6pm and then fast for 23 hours. every single day. is ridiculously easy for me because i also sleep a lot, like 11, 12 hrs a day, from 4AM to 3PM (artist, work at home) i do my work outs fasted, just 1 hour, 4 times per week, chin ups, sit ups, push ups, etc) i have been doing this for over a year with great results.aka, im ripped, my heath, libido, immune system, sleeping , stamina are all flawless, and i look / feel stronger than when i was 18. (stats >175cm, 65kg, nice pecks, 8 pack abs, not bad for an old guy)
    my diet? low carb i guess, no fruit, no vegetables, no refined carb, just a big chunk of fatty meat + cheese one day, fish, eggs, cream, the other + 2 big glasses of ice cold milk my regular dessert)

    so,catecholamines? lol. btw sorry for the shit English

    Reply
  55. ups, i meant, squats, sit ups are useless btw.

    Reply
  56. I'm assuming Hans and anonymous above are the same spamming dude fwiw. But congrats on the 4.5-8 pack bro

    Reply
  57. wtf spam? Im not selling anything here, just the truth ( at least my truth) btw, i think the 8 pack "philosophy " is kinda retarded, i didn't actually look for my abs, they are just there, but i really dont care XD

    Reply
  58. No spam here either kirk. What is your problem?

    Reply
  59. sorry, just jealous of your 4.5 pack I guess. CUT THE CARB!

    Reply
  60. Nice thread peeps,

    Martin-

    Thanks for stopping by. I knew you weren't a cardio man. You have the body, health, and dietary flexibility that most strict eaters and Grok worshipers can't even conceptualize of. I know there is great intelligence in your approach, a deep desire to make it functional and synergistic with the modern environment, and we all appreciate it.

    DML-

    Incredible Paleo summary.

    Hans-

    We appreciate having you here. Realize that I too had a full 6-pack with no physical activity whatsoever on a ketogenic diet. I understand it's ability to induce fat loss, and my 6-pack was at a BMI of 25 – a pretty thick and solid physique.

    But I could have saved myself a lot of trouble by doing big carb refeeds, and potentially could have kept that physique without rebound. No matter, I'm only a few months away from being that lean once again, but with greater musculature and no health issues like sleep problems, dark cicles under eyes, digestive complaints, and so on that all eventually emerged after prolonged low-carb eating without reprieve.

    Anonymous-

    That was awesome how you undermined catecholamines while talking about your low-carb "8-pack." How did you get that lean? Magic? No – a rise in catecholamines. Consider reading some Lyle McDonald to actually understand the physiology of weight loss.

    Dinosaur-

    Ray Peat would award you a medal of honor for getting your EFA levels so low. But virtually no other researcher shares his views on EFA's. I am open to them enough to have tried PUFA restriction for 7 months now, but I'm not in the business of propagandizing and annointing Ray Peat in all his holiness.

    I'm very curious to hear what the results are when you reintroduce some EFA's into your diet. I know actual practitioners like Poppy Daniels have noticed good results when supplementing EFA's among actual patients.

    I plan on 2011 being a "Brian Peskin" year in terms of my approach to EFA's for a little comparing and contrasting, which is very different from Ray Peat's approach.

    Hawaii Girl-

    Switching to very high-carb with a big fat reduction is not easy. Your feelings are normal. Don't push it too hard. Eat some low-fat meals if you want to or are curious about how you will react to it, but eat a big slab of fatty meat if you are feeling too cracked out on high-carbs before resuming a lower-fat approach.

    I personally enjoy vegetables, but not all the time. I go through phases. You don't have to obsess over them or eat absurd amounts.

    Reply
  61. Matt,

    "Thanks for stopping by. I knew you weren't a cardio man. You have the body, health, and dietary flexibility that most strict eaters and Grok worshipers can't even conceptualize of. I know there is great intelligence in your approach, a deep desire to make it functional and synergistic with the modern environment, and we all appreciate it. "

    I only recommend cardio when there is a sound reason for it – such as improving conditioning for sports. Cardio used as a fat loss tool is a perverse waste of time.

    Your average guy and girl that wants to be lean, strong and healthy will get all the cardiovascular conditioning they need with weights 2-3x/week.

    Fat loss is managed with diet, not the treadmill.

    Reply
  62. Kirk: No problem. And CutTheCarb does not per se mean Cut All The Carb.

    Matt: Interesting. Again I'm open minded and very interested in your experiments and thoughts.

    Reply
  63. Matt,

    If you get a chance it would be great to get your thoughts on Hawaiigirl's question about bedtime snacks. As she said, "Good, bad or ugly?" I've wondered about that as well. I know some like Byron Richards advocate against it.

    Coincidentally I like plain popcorn as well (air popped) and frequently a few spoons of whole milk yogurt with it.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  64. Martin-

    Re: my previous comment about you and steady state cardio:

    I realize that diet–not cardio– is the centerpiece to a fatloss strategy; however, as a former client of yours, you DID have me do low intensity cardio to create a deeper weekly caloric deficit. And, in Martin Berkan's 2008 alter ego's defense, I dont see why this is a bad idea when it doesnt exceed an hour and the intensity is low. It is comparable to a long, barely uphill brisk walk.
    You have mentioned in articles, as well, how much better an idea it is to use steady state low intensity for dropping fat, vs. HIIT (due to the heavy burden put on the CNS in addition to that from high intensity weightlifting.

    Same Anon

    Reply
  65. I can't wait for the time I'm able to exercise again. But for now I'm still on RRARF rest and really loving it! I for sure won't ever do any intermittent fasting.

    "If your adrenal glands are healthy, you'll respond to many things in the list of what raises catecholamines with a decline in appetite, a rise in energy levels and mental focus, very quick fat loss with no lean losses, and so forth."

    This is probably why I never did respond well to the low carb diet. My adrenals were shot long before I began low carb, so I never got to feel the honeymoon period at all. Went straight to:

    "health problems like food allergies, horrendous athletic performance, insomnia, and digestive problems – not to mention an uncanny ability to gain weight at the end of that rainbow."

    thanks for the double rainbow reference…it made me laugh cause I wasn't prepared for it….that video has totally made my week…

    Double rainbow, all the way…

    Reply
  66. Lisa, I was the same adrenals were shot before even starting low carb paleo (stress, dieting throughout my teens etc….) but LC and IF it f-ed them up even worse…… Now they are re-building, thanks to Matt's advice and e-books.

    Matt I would also love to know about pre-bed snacks and your opinion on them. My dilemma is that potentially going to bed light will cause better fat utilisation and maybe hormone production but it can potentially make sleep worse as oppose to having a small snack before bed…. Not sure if this is a quick reply or potentially a longer topic for you to cover at some point.

    Reply
  67. On evenin' snackage –

    I too gotta have my carbs in the evening if I have any hopes of going to sleep. I have tried to have a small starchy snack before bedtime a la Kathleen DesMaisons but the dream intensity is too high for me to handle, and digestion isn't as good when I throw a little nibble of something on top of my dinner 2-3 hours later.

    This has everything to do with getting tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier, and a little rise in insulin in the evening raises serum tryptophan and serotonin levels. This is also one reason why alcoholics often need a drink to be able to calm down and go to sleep at night.

    For me personally however, I just prefer to eat until total fullness at night. My dinners are usually pretty early – like 6:00, and I'm typically in bed by 9pm (grandpa style).

    Carb based dinners = corpse-like sleep. 8-9 hours goes by with a snap of the fingers.

    Chris and Lisa-

    Glad you understand that. Adrenal health often determines what we can and can't get away with. Despite an incredible low-carb honeymoon myself, I quickly return to feeling the worst I felt on LC within days of dropping my carb intake.

    Anonymous on steady-state cardio-

    Fair enough. Just like I allude to in this post, some people do great with low-intensity exercise in large quantity and their bodies simply cannot withstand high-intensity exercise in any form. Individualized needs based on a person's metabolic state and overall health.

    Reply
  68. @Martin,

    I only recommend cardio when there is a sound reason for it – such as improving conditioning for sports. Cardio used as a fat loss tool is a perverse waste of time.

    Your average guy and girl that wants to be lean, strong and healthy will get all the cardiovascular conditioning they need with weights 2-3x/week.

    Best comment in this entire thread. Love it!

    Reply
  69. Matt,

    Thanks for the snack comments and the reference to Kathleen DesMaisons – didn't know about her and liked learning about her.

    Reply
  70. Matt, thanks but right now my rainbow is looking fine, dont need to read anything, ( panu maybe?) my approach is easy, and it works phenomenally. i tried to toy around with that refeed idea and imexp is total crap. Maybe im fked from my previous years of shity eating, maybe is an insulin kind thing, but the minute i touch potatoes, the minute i touch rice, the minute i eat pizza, etc my hunger goes to hell, and a completely loose control, (and the pizza fks me really bad) it just doesnt work- for me.

    now, my "low carb" approach? it works. (i drink a shitton of milk, every day, almost a liter, so i dont know if its low carb btw)
    food allergies? nop. horrendous athletic performance? nop insomnia, nop (unless 12 hrs is not good enough) digestive problems? nop
    (i get those i touch gluten/ refined crap) also i dont drink alcohol, coffee, or do drugs, so that might help to.

    you know what makes me sleep like dead, a even more than 12 hrs? refined sugar. that dsnt mean its good!so i try to avoid it. from time to time, i indulge, i know its bad, but dsnt take to long to recover. anyway, a have a few weighted push ups to do, (5:43PM here) almost time to eat, and im not even hungry. i love that.

    Reply
  71. Ok Matt, I am seeing the light here.
    Eat good food.
    Get Good Sleep.
    Exercise efficiently, not excessively.
    Weights GOOD (frankenstein voice here) Excess Cardio BAD
    High carb dinners are dandy for sweet dreams.

    But Anonymous, what is 'nop'?
    ;)

    Reply
  72. Anon,

    "I realize that diet–not cardio– is the centerpiece to a fatloss strategy; however, as a former client of yours, you DID have me do low intensity cardio to create a deeper weekly caloric deficit."

    If your schedule allowed it, I probably added some daily walking to rest days if your goal was fat loss.

    If you wanna call that 'cardio', that's cool (heck I do that at times). But it aint what most people would consider cardio.

    The reason I do this has as much to do with wellbeing and increased diet compliance than fat burning per se.

    And going outside to take a stroll is a different animal than packing your bags and driving to the gym in order to get on the treadmill, which is how most people approach cardio on a diet.

    Reply
  73. Hawaiigirl
    "How important do you think veggies are? Like you and milk, I'm feeling kinda pissed at vegetables right now and don't want any."

    I think some of the old teachings of the Orient sum this up nicely.
    Food is medicine.
    It is easy to fall into the notion, that if its a vegetable, its good for you, and the more you eat, the gooder it is.
    Yes, vegies have particular vitamins, minerals, nutrients. But, an excess of these can have implications and ramfications in other areas.
    Vegetables also have various inbuilt toxins such as phenols, salicylates and amines, which ironically often can be used for medicinal benefits.
    Too much veg can be a real pisser too! :)
    For what its worth, vegies have benefits, so to animal products, grains, fruits, etc.

    Wattlebird.

    Reply
  74. I know this is a very basic question, but how do you time weight workouts with meals?

    Reply
  75. Why are you guys advocating training only 2-3 times a week for the average person. You would be better off dividing the volume and spreading it out for 5-6 sessions a week. Most average people don't have the ability to stimulate their muscles in short infrequent training. They need to practice to get good at it like any other athletic endeavor.

    Also, 2-3 weight training sessions a week is not enough conditioning for the average person living in north america. Most people have almost zero physical activity during the day, they don't even walk anywhere. It's not the same as people living in Europe, unless you live in the northeast.

    Matt,
    Are you advocating carb cycling? My experience with this has not been good. The body doesn't do well switching fuels like that. Many people will get pretty sever hypoglycemic symptoms.

    Betsy,
    There are no rules for timing workouts and meals. Some people do best on an empty stomach, some need a few meals. Its currently fashionable to have the big post workout meal, but I think this is just marketing from supplement companies. You just have to figure out which way allows you to feel the best while training.

    Reply
  76. Thanks JT

    Reply
  77. Riles,

    I would like to see your comments regarding IF? And the HIT, low volume, low frequency training that the people on here think is optimal.

    Also, are you going vegan now?

    Reply
  78. Dr Poppy here. Adrenal recovery is annoyingly slow. I usually don't bother to repeat saliva cortisol levels before a year. The skinny gym rats with adrenal fatigue refuse to give up their cardio because…they start to gain weight (healing phase) and they can't stand that, so they get back on the hamster wheel and they can't ever get their body temps up and despite their rock hard abs and pride at their gym dedication, they are still fatigued…it is a psychological barrier. In women, when there is no cortisol, there is this concept of "progesterone steal" to try to remedy the situation, causing mood disturbance and menstrual problems. However, with healthy adrenals, is there a benefit to weight training followed by cardio 2-3 times weekly? Muscle failure first to maximize fat burning? I actually disagree with all the anti-caffeine/caffeine causes adrenal fatigue crowd as long as source is coffee/tea and not "Diet Mountain Dew." And BTW, Dr. Schwarzbein used to routinely test for omega 6 and 3 levels…finally gave up because EVERYBODY was high in 6 and low in 3 and just began supplementing with omega 3s.

    Reply
  79. Matt,
    Barry Groves is doing a damn good job of treading water. What's he, 75? And pretty active, huh? I guess HIS logic works for HIM.
    Actually, it was a good move for me and got me out of the VLC obsession….decreasing protein, as well.

    Here's a site you might have a look at….afibbers.org.
    If you go to 'cardiac arrythmias' you'll find some good studies cited.
    What interested me and pertains to chronic cardio is the study about long term vigorous exercise causing lone arterial fib.
    Is that what killed Jim Fixx(?) and the power bar guy died of(what was his name)?

    You can tell that these guys left an impression since I can't even remember the names…..

    Reply
  80. I have done a little IF'ing in the past. My first trial was low carb eating 2 meals 8 hours apart. It worked well for me at that point because I had a good amount of weight to lose. Then I went to a warrior diet that was practically zero-carb that made me feel like shit and would end up binging on peanut-butter. Then I reintroduced carbs and found that IF was sustainable but I wanted to build a bigger physique and it is much better to do that eat more often.

    In my opinion Low Volume is not optimizing your training time. The training density is very important in recruiting motor units. I have found that increasing your work capacity leads to better muscle development.

    My diet is not vegan, but I eat only modest amounts of animal protein now. I have increased my starch consumption and my definition increased without a change in weight(fat loss). This happened while I was on vacation for 2 weeks with ZERO exercise laying around in the sun.

    Reply
  81. Riles, JT,

    Great comments on intensity and density in a training routine. I have a little different perspective (maybe). I think that for people who are not at a more "advanced" stage in their muscular development, higher intensity and lower volume is a better approach, allowing for a good stimulus rest ratio.

    Things start to change when you get closer and closer to your "natural" genetic muscular potential. At which point shifting/spreading the load that it takes to push into very advanced muscle development is advantageous, and somewhat necessary.

    I assume that both of you are at or well passed you natural genetic potential for muscular development. This is something "most" people are not interested in.

    Also you have to consider compliance and sustainability. People with full time jobs and young children need to make "me" time as efficient as possible.

    JT also I don't think that anyone is advocating that someone on a lifting routine that is 2-3x a week be completely sedentary otherwise. Walking, house chores, etc. should never be discouraged.

    IMO

    Reply
  82. JT:

    You wrote HIT did not work for you. What has your HIT-routine been like? How often? What exercises? To failure or ntf? Single or multiple sets? …
    There are quite some people who are progressing pretty well with HIT. Maye it´s an individual issue, just like diet. Some prosper with HIT and some with high volume and lower intensity.

    Riles: What do you mean by training density? Do you mean more volume is needed recruit motor units?

    Reply
  83. Very true Nathan,
    I guess when I hear HIT training I generally think of Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty or similar with 1-2 sets to failure and once or twice a week. This is absolutely worthless for a beginner. These types of programs are ok for maintaining muscle mass, but building requires a different type of stimulation. Programs that claim making gains with "Only 20 mins A Day 3x A Week!" are also worthless. If someone is only able to workout 3 times a week, I would look at some of the full-body programs used by Steve Reeves, John McCallum, Peary Rader, Reg Park, Earl Liederman all the men from the 30's-60's.

    Reply
  84. Riles,
    You're not eating much meat?!?!? Disappointed… lol

    Reply
  85. @Riles, thank you. It's a book by Raymond Bernard, right? I looked that up and found other interesting books, too. I had read that potatoes help dissolve uric acid from reading Alexander Haig's books, but he didn't spend alot of time on the subject. I never thought to google uric acid+potatoes, and that did bring up a whole lot of new and interesting information. When I first started to get rid of the uric acid in my body, I couldn't eat a potato without getting a terrible migraine. I thought it was some sort of potato poisoning! But it's not the potatoes, it's the uric acid! I still can get sick if I eat too many. And I tried eating small amounts of meat and eggs two weeks ago and I was sick all last week. I go back and forth with cutting the potatoes out and then adding them back in. When I cut them out I add in wheat, but that's very acidifying. One of the books from that search said that fruit juice and distilled water are good for getting out substances that cause aging. Also, tomatoes. Wow, lots of interesting stuff, thanks.

    @Dr. Poppy,

    I am one of those women who has a hard time resting and letting myself gain weight. The weight goes on around my waist and the rest of my body is very thin. Besides the weight around the waist being annoying, as soon as I get a little energy I do the stuff around the house and yard that "needs" to be done. I also walk my dog two times a day, every day. I feel like I'm always taking two steps forward and two steps back. Would you mind expanding on what you said about "when there's no cortisol there's this concept of progesterone steal". I don't know what that means, but it sounds very interesting. Thank you.

    Reply
  86. Riles,
    I agree with all that you are saying. My experience with IF is the same too, as long as i ate plenty of carbs I was OK, but it never improved bod composition. I also would like to decrease my animal protein consumption and increase starch, so let me know how it goes.

    Nathan,
    I understand your reasoning, but the truth is actually the opposite. Beginners should focus on increasing workload capacity. Beginners do not have the ability to generate intensity like an advanced person does. An advanced trainee could probably get more out of 1 set than a beginner could out of 10, after years of practice they have developed the mind-muscle connection and can really generate great intensity. An advanced person may be able to get something out of the HIT type of training, but a beginner will only get poor results, and injured. Remember that injury is a big problem with HIT training.

    Most of the people I know are completely sedentary office workers. They hardly ever walk or get any other physical activity. Like I said before, if you live in europe or some other place where people actually walk a lot on a daily basis, then it may be different.

    Sven,
    I did various forms of HIT for years. Started out with Mike Mentzer, and tried out all of the other types as well. I am a big fan of Jones who was the founder of the HIT movement because he was such an interesting character. Jones original material is the best of the HIT stuff, and I would say that the slow burn training is the absolute worst.

    The only thing I ever got out of HIT was injured.

    Reply
  87. @JT: Just curious, what type of training would you recommend for a beginner or intermediate? And I'm sure you've said it before (but I can't recall where), what type of training do you do now?

    Reply
  88. JT,

    Just out of curiosity how did you get injured?

    I don't agree with injury being a big problem with HIT. I do agree that injury is a problem with improperly lifting whether it be with HIT or high volume.

    I have only been injured when I played around with olympic style lifts thinking that coach google was all in needed.

    Reply
  89. Thanks Dr. Poppy.

    Riles, Nathan, Sven, JT, Betsy…

    This is a great conversation that I hope we can continue over the coming months. Since I have read Abel I understand fully what you are saying JT.

    By increasing workload I assume you are talking about target training 2-3 muscle groups per day, 5-6 days per week, with lots of sets?

    I agree that HIT, slow burn, etc. – and in the past I too seemed to get worn out and often ill from doing such a workout with no results. However, I attributed much of this to being on a low-carb diet and not having the muscle glycogen stores I needed for such work. I will say that I respond better to those type of workouts now.

    Riles-

    Interesting insights about removing a large portion of your animal protein and becoming leaner. I too have noticed a similar trend. I have consumed less animal protein this month than I have in 3 years or more. Body fat is pouring off at a pretty fast pace for someone eating to appetite and exercising 3 hours per week.

    JT and Riles-

    Perhaps the two of you might be interested in emailing each other back and forth interview-style about the proper way to exercise for a beginner looking to improve body composition safely… and passing it along to me to post here. Either that or each of you could write a guest post on your exercise beliefs. My next post will probably be on Abel's ideas on MET, so this would tie in quite well.

    Reply
  90. So how can overfeeding be modified further to minimize rebound carnage in damaged persons? Other than the current high-carb low-fat reccommendations. And plenty of fiber ;)

    Whey protein bombs? Sip on whey all day long? (For an insulin fed-state effect, thinking of that sort of thing.) In conjunction with resistance exercises?

    Reply
  91. what the hell is RRARF ?

    Reply
  92. Matt-

    Great idea about getting out info for beginners' exercise.

    Also, Matt and Riles-

    Have you replaced your reduced animal protein with a comparable percentage of plant protein or just reduced your protein in general?

    Reply
  93. JT:

    "The only thing I ever got out of HIT was injured."

    Actually I thought that was one of the proposed advantages of HIT, not getting injured. At least while moving slowly. The "body by science (BBS)"-crowd claims that after training clients for years they haven´t had any injuries.

    That low volume training won´t result in meaningful gains for a beginner is my line of thinking too. But the BBS-crowd is claiming quite the opposite. Is this marketing only? They seem pretty convinced that this is the way to go. What about the guys claiming success after years of futile high volume training? Is this all fantasy? Or does it come down do genetics? Some grow big with high volume while others don´t? Only because someone like Arnold grew massive with truckloads of volume (and steroids) the average Joe most likely won´t (without roids).

    Reply
  94. Whats the rationale for cutting animal protein? I would suppose protein is low in veganmasters approach because it´s quite hard to eat lots of protein the vegan way.

    Reply
  95. So, since the fish oil/borage/flax keeps me awake at night do you think I should try Brian Peskin's EFA capsules then? I was into his book until he got to the low carb bit which even before I followed your blog didn't make (common) sense to me – so I rather disregarded evertyhing he said. So you really think Peat could be way off on the fats – even though you have been advocating low PUFA (PUFAs being what are in Peskin's capsules)?

    I agree with the snack too soon before bed causing crazy dreams and restless sleep – it seems that if I eat at 6.30 then I need my bedtime snack at 8.30/9 if going to bed at 10.30. The problem being that I don't feel hungry at 8.30/9 so have to make myself eat something because I know otherwise I will be hungry at 10/10.15. By the way having a pre bed snack has really helped with my temperature going up.

    Reply
  96. Sven-
    I think that most of the people that fail at training have one thing in common. That one thing is consistency. Scott Abel talks about this as well. I see people at my gym changing "routines" every 3 weeks to confuse the muscles. It's bullshit!
    If you look at all the greats, they built their physiques with volume and stuck pretty much to the same exercise scheme their entire carriers and beyond.
    I would say that you should pick a routine and do it consistently for at least 6 months. If you are constantly changing exercises/intensities/variables you are not giving your body a chance to adapt to the routine and grow.
    I have personally and know of others that have followed a routine for 12+ months and continued to grow without much of a plateau.

    Reply
  97. I just ate more potatoes in place of the animal protein. So I was receiving a portion of protein from potatoes but not enough to replace the animal protein that I took out.

    At first I was apprehensive about lowering protein but to be honest, I feel better, better digestion, better sleep, increased libido. I hear all about "you need lots of fats for hormones" but this doesnt seem to chime with observations I have made. I do have "meat feasts" occasionally which is always great when I am really craving a steak.

    I will keep updates as I follow no dogmas one way or the other.

    Reply
  98. Dinosaur,

    This is what Ray Peat says about EFA deficiency and skin problems:
    “The early studies showing "essentiality" of unsaturated fats, by producing skin problems and an increased metabolic rate, have been criticized [18] in the light of better nutritional information, e.g., pointing out that the diets might have been deficient in vitamin B6 and/or biotin. The similar skin condition produced by vitamin B6 deficiency was found to be improved by adding unsaturated fats to the diet. A fat-free liver extract cured the "EFA deficiency." I think it would be reasonable to investigate the question of the increased metabolic rate produced by a diet lacking unsaturated fats (which inhibit both thyroid function and protein metabolism) in relation to the biological changes that have been observed. Since diets rich in protein are known to increase the requirement for vitamin B6 [19] (which is a co-factor of transaminases, for example), the increased rate of energy production and improved digestibility of dietary protein on a diet lacking unsaturated fats would certainly make it reasonable to provide the experimental animals with increased amount of other nutrients.”

    I guess the blood spot test did not say anything about the level of Mead acid in your blood? Vitamin B6, biotin and some minerals are necessary for the body to make Mead acid (and also AA and DHA). When there is enough omega 9 PUFA and eventually omega 7 PUFA, it's not clear how much AA and DHA are actually essential for a non-pregnant adult.

    When the diet is low in EFA, we might need more monounsaturated fat. The body will usually make more monounsaturated fat on a EFAD diet, but there might be things that can impair this conversion or there are individual differences.
    Maybe it can be helpful to eat macadamia nuts and bananas (B6) or liver, but I think it is unlikely that your skin problems are due to lack of EFA, because the EFAD animals that have shown these symptoms were fed an almost complete fat free diet or the fat source were fully hydrogenated coconut oil. As Ray Peat says, there might be a greater demand for nutrients and calories when the diet is low in EFA, which strengthen the importance of good digestion, like having enough stomach acid which is important for the assimilation of many nutrients.

    Reply
  99. Fjoraro – thank you that was a very helpful comment. In fact the blood spot test did reveal that I was low in B6, B12, carnitine (is that a B vitamin?) and B2. I have been eating a 180 style diet so I don't know why I'm not absorbing these nutrients (plus a banana most days by the way). I suppose I will have to resort to an isolated vitamin supplement of the B complex. No, there was no mention of Mead Acid – unless this has another name ? – but it did say my AA/EPA ratio was too high i.e.too much inflammatory fat v. the anti inflammatory EPA but since the AA was low and the other omega 6s very low I don't know that this ratio is that relevant! So, more monounsaturated fats for me you think? I have been using coconut oil instead of olive oil so perhaps I should switch back to olive oil. I'm afraid I find macadamia nuts incredibly bland – so they are not a realistic addition to my diet (they will just sit in the freezer and get forgotten!).

    Reply
  100. I'm slightly confused here on what is best for losing fat and for gaining muscle. Low carb seems the best way to lose weight but high carb seems best for increased muscle mass with potential slight fat loss. Would it be best then to eat low carb the majority of the time and then do a carb refeed to become lean in the sense that you are becoming thinner without losing much muscle mass? Or would you recommend mainly high carb meals with the occasional low carb day for fat loss?

    Elizabeth,
    I believe you mentioned doing Callanetics on a previous post. How is this working out for you? Seeing any more results in the "bottom line?"

    Reply
  101. JT you said…"The only thing I ever got out of HIT was injured."

    I was in the Static Contraction study that was done by Pete Cisco and John Little. The premise was to hold a weight in the strongest range for 15 to 30 seconds per "set". When you could exceed that time frame, you added weight. I was getting pretty strong but by the end of the study, I couldn't do all the testing because my shoulders hurt so bad. I had joint pains and flu like symptoms from overtraining. I was in the overtraining group by the way. This was an advanced type of HIT training and it really took a toll on me.

    Reply
  102. Someone asked what training density was. That is the time factor. If you do 10 sets in 60 minutes but then the next workout do those same 10 sets in 30 minutes, you have increased your density by a factor of 2 (considering that you are using the same reps per set and same weight).

    Reply
  103. Will:

    "I was in the Static Contraction study that was done by Pete Cisco and John Little. … I was in the overtraining group by the way."

    That´s interesting. There was a group that was supposed to overtrain? How often did you exercise?

    What is your overall experience with HIT (and with John Little)? What he says sounds reasonable to me and he seems to use scientific methods to evaluate his ideas.

    Regarding "density": Isn´t HIT supposed to be quite dense?

    Reply
  104. Riles:

    "If you look at all the greats, they built their physiques with volume and stuck pretty much to the same exercise scheme their entire carriers and beyond."

    Actually I think what the greats have done/are doing is exactly what average Joe should NOT do. To become great you have to be genetically gifted. Most of us are not. The volume one of the greats can handle (and let him prosper) would break anybody else.

    I´m more interested in the training method that brings a whimp into good shape than what is needed to become a champion bodybuilder. Maybe it´s the same but I would suspect it´s not.

    Reply
  105. I thought the anorexic effect of LC/HF-diets is responsible for slowing of metabolism. But maybe that´s not all.

    "TSH also requires the presence of Insulin or Insulin-like Growth Factor to stimulate thyroid function (1) When thyroid hormone is present without either insulin or IGF-1, it has no physiological effect (ibid)."

    http://mesomorphosis.com/articles/anthony-roberts/thyroid-and-growth-hormone.htm

    LC = low insulin = low thyroid?

    When I remember correctly Ray Peat said that carbs are needed for proper thyroid function.

    Reply
  106. @Anon: I've been doing a little less Callanetics, but I still notice a difference in my inner thighs and "bottom line" as you so eloquently put it. ;) I think it's a good addition to a regular strength routine because Callanentics does a great job improve flexibility and stretching the muscles. A lot of people equate it to yoga or Pilates, and while it's somewhat difference I guess I would place it in that category.

    @Sven. You said, "I´m more interested in the training method that brings a whimp into good shape than what is needed to become a champion bodybuilder. Maybe it´s the same but I would suspect it´s not."

    I feel the same way from a woman's perspective as well. It's always more convincing to see a success story from someone who's an average person rather than someone who's been a fitness pro all their lives.

    And I tend to agree about low-carb and thyroid function as well.

    Reply
  107. I am sorry but the whole genetics card is a bit overplayed. We all, as humans, have the same basic physiology. You are telling me that Larry Scott had good genes? What applies to learning a sport or an instrument applies to building muscle; and that is practice.
    Also, the "pros use steroids" excuse is asinine The drugs only "enhance" the effect of the training. So what the "drugs" prove is the actual rule of volume training, because they show the "enhanced version" of that effect. Therefore, the same routines apply but the level of development will not be the same. Obviously you can't take a beginner and throw them into a program with 30+ sets per body part from the start. But to progress, you must raise work capacity in order to further "adaptive stress".

    Reply
  108. Riles:

    "I am sorry but the whole genetics card is a bit overplayed."

    I don´t think so. Do you really believe everyone can become the new Jay Cutler with the right training program (and without steroids)?

    The "power of genetics" is pretty evident in cattle breeding. Through selective breeding they created a strain of bull that carries two to three times more muscle mass than standard beef cattle. Examples would be Belgian Blue or Piedmontese.
    Those bulls don´t grow huge because of perfect training.

    Reply
  109. Obviously no one will reach the level of Jay Cutler because his body is the result of steroid and growth hormone use. I never said anything about achieving that type of physique naturally.
    Of course there are differences in the muscle size and shape, joint size and such between peoples which differentiates physiques. But, the point is that training, just like nutrition, can overcome genetics predispositions.
    Its very hard to compare elites with normal people, as elites have a desire and train intensely for what they are trying to achieve.

    Show me an everyday person who trains 5+ hours a day with the same intensity as an elite athlete for the same amount of years and we will then see how much genetics play into it.

    Reply
  110. Riles,

    "Also, the "pros use steroids" excuse is asinine The drugs only "enhance" the effect of the training. So what the "drugs" prove is the actual rule of volume training, because they show the "enhanced version" of that effect. Therefore, the same routines apply but the level of development will not be the same. Obviously you can't take a beginner and throw them into a program with 30+ sets per body part from the start. But to progress, you must raise work capacity in order to further "adaptive stress"."

    Could not agree with you more.

    "Show me an everyday person who trains 5+ hours a day with the same intensity as an elite athlete for the same amount of years and we will then see how much genetics play into it. "

    Also correct (somewhat).

    Somewhat because I, no matter how hard I train or how much I eat, will ever be a 6'8" 325lbs NFL defensive tackle.

    There are genetic limits and certain genetic propensities that will project people in a direction that makes them want to train 5+ hours a day.

    Reply
  111. "There are genetic limits and certain genetic propensities that will project people in a direction that makes them want to train 5+ hours a day."

    I agree.

    While I sympathize wit HIT I would suspect even with the best genetic potential you would not get near champion level with 1-2 times a week 30 min HIT-training.

    Reply
  112. A beautiful page. I liked.

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  113. I don't know why, but the "I used to think Matt Stone was a douche" post made me incredibly happy. I used to get so angry when the tunnel-visioned low carb junkies on Sisson's forum would bash Matt and totally write off any validity he may have. Truth is, Matt has more to offer us than all those paleo bloggers combined! Go Matt!

    (By the way, Matt- fasting blood glucose was 92 yesterday morning!)

    Reply
  114. Random question: now that I am eating all these potatoes, I like them mostly hash browned, almost hash burnt. Burnt potatoes taste oh so good! But are they bad? I like burnt onions and veggies too.

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  115. Do you really believe everyone can become the new Jay Cutler with the right training program (and without steroids)?

    Do people know that Cultler is a type I diabetic who takes insulin injections — that alone has the potential for huge muscle growth.

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  116. Katerina,

    That is a good point.

    On a side note. I guess when something does not fit within our realm of "beliefs" we attempt to discredit it, wright or wrong.

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/hypothyroid/

    It does seem amazing to me that some people actually want to have lowered metabolisms. I mean really?

    Reply
  117. Hey Matt,
    In your comment about hiking, it led me to think that the best scenario would be to eat a lot of carbs when doing HIT and cut back (increase fats) when not doing HIT. So if one does one or two Crossfit WODs (not Squat 5×3, more like a Fran or Helen) you would eat a lot of starchy carbs and then on a rest day, cut down the carbs and eat more fat. What do you think?

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  118. I am sorry but the whole genetics card is a bit overplayed.

    I'm with Riles on this one. My feeling is that most of what commonly gets attributed to "genes" is actually the result of inherited or acquired nutritional deficiencies or surpluses, as well as inherited or acquired (im)balances in gut flora.

    I do believe nutrient deficiencies and gut flora imbalances during critical growth years will ultimately limit what kind of muscular bulk we can achieve as adults, no matter how much we may train. But the attribution of these limitations to genes strikes me as a rather mystical form of explanation, not unlike how people used to blame diseases on "evil spirits" (which, in fact, may have been closer to the truth if you take that to mean bad bacteria!).

    I do not have, and do not think I could ever acquire, the muscular bulk my father has. But I would say that's because I ate a more processed diet and took more antibiotics growing up, not because I didn't inherit his genes.

    Reply
  119. You all are killing me on this exercise thing, and this coming from a man who loves to train and workout and likes looking jacked!

    The truth of the matter is that most people don't want to be jacked, don't want to take the time to be jacked, and unless they are young and single probably don't have the time to be jacked.

    They want to be slender for sure but not put in the time otherwise. Being slender can be largely accomplished through diet, what exercise you do beyond that is really just a matter of personal choice in my opinion. If you want to look a certain way, then you will exercise a certain way.

    The modern preoccupation with bodybuilding style workouts is simply the triumph of Joe Weider, a fantastic businessman, over Bob Hoffman, a prickly ego-centric, controlling character who simply didn't understand how to take his philosophy to the masses.

    Don't get me wrong, I like the modern look, but it is a personal preference, not a necessity for optimal health.

    You can be ripped and lean, as some of the primitive tribes have shown, but none of them carry much muscular mass, and obviously none of them had/have a preoccupation with their bodies that is reminiscent say of a group like the ancient Greeks (and my guess is that the majority of the population did not look like some of those statues).

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  120. Katerina-

    Good. Let's hope the BG numbers keep moving in the right direction.

    Nathan-

    I understand your "creepy" comment on the latest post better now in context of that Sisson post.

    Anonymous on taters-

    Not ideal to scorch your food, but it does taste better. I'm of the opinion that it's best to make scorched homemade food that you love than to force yourself to eat bland stuff that leaves you wanting to order pizza and crush Ben and Jerry.

    Mark-

    Sounds good, and very similar to what many figure competitors do.

    Michael-

    You da man as always, and right as rain.

    But there are some fun conversations to be had there. I ain't afraid to go there, and there are certain types of training that may have a more beneficial effect on metabolism and health vs. others that detract. That's worth having a brain boner about.

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  121. @Sven…"That´s interesting. There was a group that was supposed to overtrain? How often did you exercise?"

    Believe it or not, the overtaining group was a 2 day split, working out 3x per week, 3 sets per exercise. That was training each set to failure for 15-30 seconds. It took about 7 weeks to be severely over-trained. But keep in mind that when you are training to failure in your strongest range, you can use some pretty heavy weights. I'm not that big of a guy, right now I'm about 175lbs, but I was training with close to 500 lbs on the incline bench press…I have to dig up my old training sheets but the numbers were pretty big. I remember gaining some size but one of the things that really sticks out in my mind is the pain that I was in all the time.

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  122. @Matt (or anyone else who might know): What's up with burnt food tasting good? I like some of my food blackened (like onions–yum), but let me tell you my husband can down some burnt food with gusto. If I accidently burn the bacon, I get compliments. If a his burger isn't charred on the outside, it ain't done. Is there something that drives this or is it random?

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  123. Elizabeth,
    I like MET (metabolic enhancement training), this is especially good for people who are more interesten in looking lean and feeling good instead of looking like a bodybuilder. For a beginner I would reccomend getting one of Scott Abel's DVDs and working up to the volume slowly over 4-6 weeks before getting into the full program. A dvd is important because most people have no idea how to train themselves properly. The best thing of course would be to hire a REAL expert and have them guide you through the process, but this is a lot more expensive.
    Again, I want to advise getting checked out by a doc first and make sure you are good to go. I have known people to severely injure themselves.

    Nathan and Sven,
    Injury is very common among HIT jedis. This is widely known, so I wont debate the subject. Look at Dorian Yates, who all HITers point to as being proof of HIT even though he didn't do pure HIT. He was constantly plagued by very severe injuries due to training HIT style.

    Will,
    Again, we have similar histories!

    Michael,
    You are right, you don't have to spend hours every day to get a slender physique. But, there are other benefits to daily exercise besides just getting jacked. And, having a higher activity level means you can be more flexible with your diet.

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  124. Dinosaur,

    You might check out if you have enough stomach acid, because being low in vitamin B12 is an indication that the production of stomach acid might be low. This is because stomach acid is necessary for B12 to be released from the proteins in food. The widespread treatment for this is to take betaine HCl capsules with meals. It can also be of help to eat something acid like vinegar or lemon juice and eating more salt, since HCl is made from the chloride from salt. Some of the B vitamins, zinc and the amino acid histidine are needed for the production of stomach acid, but there are claims that some of these nutrients may not be properly absorbed when there is too little stomach acid.

    Mead acid (20:3n-9) has the chemical name all-cis-5,8,11-eicosatrienoic acid and is produced in larger amounts by the body when the EFA intake is very low. The AA/EPA ratio I believe is not very relevant when the level of AA is low. We anyway need to have some inflammation (for example healing of wounds), but the Mead acid can provide both inflammation (“less potent” than AA) and anti-inflammation. I don't think you need more monosunsaturted fat after all, it seems to me that your problems are probably due to low B vitamins since those are important for the skin. There are animal studies which demonstrate that EFAD symptoms can be cured by supplementing with olive oil, but then we can't really tell if the effect is because of the EFAs in the oil or if the monounsaturated fat could have cured the symptoms alone.

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  125. I think part of the issue here is that there isn't a lot of hard data about what happens long term on IF. There is a group of people though, in the Fast-5 group, who have been doing it long term. The success rate is very good, and it's a nice lifestyle. Some people in the group are in fact athletes and do well on it.

    I can say for myself that thyroid trouble and adrenal fatigue have NOT been an issue. My body temp is higher than ever, I need less sleep, my energy level is great, my blood sugar is lower than before, and so is my blood pressure. Only downside is social pressure.

    And I've been doing it for years. I don't gain weight quickly if I go off it, but I do feel lousy.

    I think as more people adopt this lifestyle, there will be more data. If it doesn't work, it will die out … like the Atkins diet did.

    Reply
  126. Jay Cutler the football player is the one with Type 1 diabetes, not Jay Cutler the bodybuilder.

    The guys that apply HIT aren't applying the original principals. HIT really was meant to be a full body workout. To failure in most sets. It used to be two sets but it seems more fitting to just be 1 set an exercise IMO.

    Bruce Lee was in the best shape of his life when he adopted HIT from Mike Mentzer:

    http://www.mikementzer.com/blee.html

    P90X is a good example of the benefits of cross training but it's way too time consuming. 9 hours a week. A routine like what Bruce Lee did would likely be 4 hours a week at the most. An hour and a half of weightlifting a week and two and a half hours of yoga, calisthenics, martial arts, etc.

    Can't say if you could compete as a competitive bodybuilder with his routine, but you definitely could compete as a top level fighter with it. He had an impressive physique himself and if he gained more weight maybe he could have looked like a competitive bodybuilder with that routine.

    In order to alleviate the extra stress on the joints with HIT you should do some high endurance and flexibility to balance it out. You should first develop those strengths before becoming serious with HIT. HVT wouldn't have these issues because with all those sets you're working a greater level of your slow twitch muscle fibers. The slow twitch is what best develops joint and cartilage strength. I had done calegic wrestling myself before I got into HIT. With wrestling you develop a lot of endurance, joint strength, and flexibility. When you come off of wrestling season you also put on massive amounts of strength as you gain weight.

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  127. So you not only lose massive amounts of fat, you gain far more muscle in the process. These are results from a 3 day a week full body work out. I was watching some youtube video of Casey but their wasn't enough footage available in order to better judge his muscle quality. It appears there isn't any good chest work in this routine and his chest didn't appear to be that impressive in the videos. Though I haven't seen enough about him to say if that's true.

    My personal opinion is that you don't need to do all that leg work. One set of squat ass to heels at full intensity would seem like enough to me. No leg presses or leg extensions. Maybe some dead lifts added in though.

    RESULTS . .
    First subject (Casey Viator), 28 days
    Increase in bodyweight……..45.28 pounds
    Loss of bodyfat…………..17.93 pounds
    Muscular gain……………..63.21 pounds

    Second subject (Arthur Jones),22 days
    Increase in bodyweight …….13.62 pounds
    Loss of bodyfat……………1.82 pounds
    Muscular gain……………..15.44 pounds

    The Colorado Experiment

    http://www.musclenet.com/coloradoexperiment.htm

    Casey Viator's experience with the Colorado Experiment

    http://www.wannabebig.com/forums/showthread.php?76304-The-Colorado-experiment-routine

    This has some gossip, more details on the routine, and Casey's opinion of the whole subject.

    Tim Ferriss

    http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/can-anybody-gain-34-pounds-of-muscle-in-4-weeks/

    He has an interesting explanation for putting on lots of muscle during the month too. That and there are no doubts that he doesn't take any steroids. He claimed 34 pound muscle gain in 1 month.

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  128. Mike Mentzer didn't help with Bruce's routine, my mistake. But it was a HIT routine.

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  129. Can anyone tell me how you get your heart rate up to 220 beats a minute during a weightlifting session? That's where Casey's was.

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  130. the takeaway for me so far is thus:
    exercise and fasting increase perceived energy and alertness through various means.
    eating/binging increases rest and relaxation.
    best of both worlds? eating smaller meals to 80% satiety during a set timeframe consistently. never stuffing yourself or over-carbing unless you plan on being sleepy soon after.

    still trying to make it work…

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  131. @JT

    Michael,
    You are right, you don't have to spend hours every day to get a slender physique. But, there are other benefits to daily exercise besides just getting jacked. And, having a higher activity level means you can be more flexible with your diet.

    I agree but this discussion was going in a certain direction (as exemplified by Dan's comments) that is really just a very small niche in the overall scheme of things.

    Exercise does not have to equal being in a gym, and by getting jacked I'm simply referring to hypertrophy as a primary goal.

    Strange as it may seem, that simply isn't where most people are, and they don't need to be to achieve optimal health.

    Now if certain types of training can be shown to be more beneficial for metabolism as Matt says he is looking for, then I'm all ears. But I still think at that level you will always be speaking to a very small audience.

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  132. I've read alot of Lyle McDonald and Ephedrine being bad in the long run, adrenal fatigue and all that jazz you're talking about. You're full of shit man, cya.

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  133. Thank you for your advice.I learn a lot from it.Keep sharing ideas.

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  134. Hi Matt,

    Let me share my experience with you. I’ve been using frequent feeding for almost 20 years. And at least for me, I guess it messed my adrenals. Not allowing yourself to feel hungry during so many years is also dangerous. This is what I think: When you are hungry and give no food to your body, you run out of glycogen in the blood stream but you have a homeostasis mechanism that turns body fat into glycogen , right? What if during 20 years you haven’t used this homeostasis mechanism? Can it literally disappear? I mean can you run on an empty stomach and pass out after 11 minutes? It did happen to me This is my feeling that if you don’t use it you lose it I switched to the WD and have been on it during a year now. Honestly, I would love to say that I have found the solution but this year I have been colder than ever. My hands are cold all day long and they only get warm after my over eating phase. However, I have to say that I display and still display great energy during the day, my digestive problems from frequent feeding are definitely gone and the constant headaches after my meals are gone too. Doesn’t it make sense to you that we have to give the digestive system a rest? Maybe something in the between is the solution for me, I mean eating 3 consistent meals a day and nothing in between with carbs in each meal. I am really confused. I guess I must have or maybe always had some form of hypothyroidism and the WD had made it worse despite getting some benefits. Any feed back would be appreciated. Forgive my English. I’m French. My admiration and gratitude for all the people out there having balls to experiment and find out the truth about health and kind enough to share it with others

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    • I am very interested in exploring this topic. Studies show that the less often you eat, the more cortisol exposure you have. But this is only one limited viewpoint. Not eating for a while also increases autophagy. Most importantly, the longer you go between carb feedings, the more you increase your glycogen reserves when you do feast on them. So there’s that component to it too. Most professional athletes have very large glycogen reserves. Most diabetics have very small glycogen reserves. So perhaps it may be beneficial to increase glycogen reserves by depleting and replenishing glycogen again and again. It’s all interesting and something I think about quite a lot.

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      • I think they don’t have their lab set up right, maybe if they are testing little mice sitting around. I would say if anything skipping food periodically while pounding it to make up later has cortisol dropping effects. why they hell would anyone avoid eating for a while and then avoid eating enough food when they did eat. never made any sense to me.

        I think you do have it on the right track with increasing glycogen stores while fasting, I don’t think it’s the only thing happening but I have always had it arranged to maximize that in conjunction with rest and workouts an buffet pounding. I’ve seen more than a few people mess up bad by doing IF with an atkins diet figuring it seemed logical by popular anthropology expert’s opinions.

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      • Hi Matt,
        Sorry for not having said thank you for your quick reply. You must put me on your Omega 666 list now!
        I’ve read your ebook and a lot of your threads. I guess, I haven’t jumped into your RRAF immediately because the idea of losing the nice slim waist that I’ve pulled off being on the warrior diet didn’t seem very appealing. Yes, it is true that the WD has some benefits. On the warrior diet and on the control fatigue training that Ori proposes, I have experimented the following benefits: 1 improving my digestion power. 2 losing those so much hatred love handles and getting a perfect slim waist, 3. Pain that was lurking in my knees and elbow disappeared 4 I’m much more resilient to fatigue if I ski or do any other sport. Drawbacks 1 acne, 2 I ve lost eye sight, blurred vision, 3 the biggest one: being cold even in summer. I’m only warm after overeating. Gosh! I can’t stand it anymore. Ive suffered so much this winter that I got white fingers, then blue fingers, kind of Raynaud syndrome , it scared the shit out of me! 4 poor sleep So when I stumble onto your RRAF it made sense to me that it was what I needed. Like you said, I’ve been fooling around with the catecholamines. It looks like my catecholamines honeymoon is over. I’ve been one year and a half on the WD and usually 3 days a week I feasted on protein, veggies and fats, the other 4 days on carbs, veggies and protein. One big feast at night , the rest of the day, whey shakes, fruit and veggies. lunch was two eggs or raw fish and salad. One coffee a day, 3 teas a day 1 hot cocoa at night. Sometimes, instead of a whey shake, I would snack on raw cocoa beans and that stuff is the most amazing thing I’ve discovered. It would give me such an energy. What’s your take on those? They are so packed of phytonutrients and stuff like this, or so they say.
        Well, on the 14/9, I’ve started your RRAF program. Ive experimented no positive changes yet. I’m still pretty cold all the time. I really have to stuff my self a lot to feel warm. I’ve gained fat, it was expected, I had a cold the first week, no complication though. The worst thing is that my knees hurt. I stress myself out about getting enough sleep and the earlier I go to bed, the less I sleep. I’m kinda expecting not being able to sleep and that I am messing up the program because I’m supposed to sleep a lot and am not. When I eat too much, I got heartburn, burping and gas. Even though it doesn’t t look good for now, I want to give it a full month trial. I am wondering if I could start some exercise before the rraf month is over because I feel my knees ask for it. Matt, are all those negative things to be expected? Shall I go back to exercise? Am I in a moment were I should listen to my body or my body is at the moment out of whack and I should listen no you, no matter what?
        I really wish I was that little girl again who ate without thinking, without worrying, when she wanted and never thought about what is good, what is bad, when to eat, not eating when hungry, having to eat when not hungry… I’m not sure there was something wrong with me but in the pursue of perfection, I guess you loose the perfection that you had already and that you couldn’t see back then.
        Thank for your time Matt.

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    • Chistine, it may need to be rebuilt up or turned back on. but I have yet to see someone who can not recover from a slow metabolism. (you can’t lose it except in death) I have not ha a chance to work with someone who is morbidly obese but I would jump at the opportunity as I don’t think they have “lost it ” either.

      unless you literally have no function left in your digestive track you can not run out of energy in 11 minutes on an empty stomach. there should be at least 200 grams in your muscles and 800 calories is more than enough to last you 11 minutes unless your pushing a bus or some crazy shit I do. It is more likely lack of blood sugar and your system is not responding correctly. It’s highly possible that you have very little in the way of glycogen reserves within your muscles. for simplicities sake glycogen isn’t made from fat it’s made from carbs and mostly hangs out in your muscles ( 80%).

      It;s hard to say what the best course is for you with very little information about your prior lifestyle or issues.
      personally I would not recommend jumping into fasting before getting other things squared away with your body. It’s something you should ease into.

      en passant ton anglais est tres bon.

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      • Hi Chiefrok,
        Sorry for answering so late. And thanks for your quick reply. Your French n’est pas mal non plus!
        I used to jog 3-4 days a week when I was a teenager. Never experimented any problem. I am 45 yo. I have been on all sort of diet. Guess what? I’m not obese, I’m ectomorph type. When I met my husband 19yo I stopped running. When I was 23 yo, after my second baby, I did body building and ate bodybuilding style. I got myself a nice rounded butt and a pair of biceps. I haven’t stopped training since then, mostly lifting weight. I used to jog occasionaly like onec a week, 35 minutes, and 5 years ago, i realised that if i stopped, i would be unable to run more than 15 minutes without, loosing balance, feeling dizzy, and sometimes throwing up if i pushed myself. Lately, i have been doing sprints and jog, 20 minutes without stopping, always on an empty stomach, like 1 minute sprint, followed by 2 minutes jog and no matter how hard i try and how consistant i am with my training, i almos always end up passing out . I feel dizzy and if i push myself, i loose balance and end up throwing. I guess it is like you said . Not enough glucose in wherever I should have it. I’ve tried all type of diets in the pursuit of improving health, physic, strength… Well, Ive done some really crazy things like picking grass from my garden and making grass juice with manual juicer to keep enzymes alive… I have to honor myself for the amount of commitment I have grown over the years! But my health is not better than before. I did the WD and got great benefits like the ones ive told above but my body is freaking cold all year round and I am at the end of my rope. Maybe I’ve done the WD too long, Maybe the WD Stressed me out like I had feelings of deprivations during the day but anyway, I messed up. It really cheered me up to have you say that I can rebuild my metabolism up . I’m doing RRAF but for now it is not looking good . I guess it may take quite long to rehabilitate yourself. I don’t mind waiting if I was sure of what I am doing. I’m just plainly fed up of fooling around although I might have learnt quite a lot along the way.
        Cheers

        Reply
  135. I do love the way you have framed this specific situation plus it really does present me some fodder for consideration. All the same, thank you for this superb point.

    Reply

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