What is your ‘Why?’
Welcome back to my three-part weight loss series, where I go over how to achieve your ideal weight while still maintaining good and healthy habits in your daily routine. You may have started practicing intermittent fasting and slowly applying it to a few days out of the week. Or you may be waiting for some more information to see what the finale of this blog series might be, or perhaps still a little unsure of starting the process. This blog will tie in everything that we’ve gone over thus far…
- Why intermittent fasting isn’t just a healthy weight loss habit, but a healthy lifestyle habit
- How science has proven that this method constantly works
- What a healthy style of living is supposed to feel like
- The difference between intermittent fasting and calorie reduction
- All the benefits of starting an intermittent fasting routine:
- More money
- More time
- A natural, non-stressful, transition to a healthier diet
- How you can start
…but also touch on an extremely important point. This is a fairly simple, but also powerful point, that can really be applied to doing or starting anything. It’s a simple question, but is the source of all motivation, initiative, and energy to keep going. It’s the question that you need to ask yourself to remind yourself the reason you started doing anything, and the reason you still need to keep doing it. It’ll pick you up and send you off when you’re starting to slow down, and will help you keep focused on your path to success. Why?
Why have a ‘Why?’
I feel that it is important to have your own reason of doing things. If you just do what I say, time passes and you forget why you are doing it and, subconsciously, see no reason to continue, see no reason why you even started, even if it’s working.
Think of any habits you started to take on. Maybe you wanted to start eating healthier. Maybe you started working out. Maybe you started writing down tasks in a notebook. Remember why you started doing those things? You felt motivated; you weren’t happy with the current state of things and you needed change. One day, you were unhappy with your weight. One day, you were unhappy with the fact you couldn’t life that heavy box. One day, you were done forgetting about your responsibilities because it was having unhealthy effects on your personal and professional life.
But unless you constantly remind yourself of the reason you do something, you’ll start to forget, and then eventually stop doing it.
Do it. Ask yourself why you stopped doing those things. The next day, you weren’t unhappy with your weight. The next day, you were satisfied with the amount you could lift. The next day, you remembered just enough to get by. And you fall off… And suddenly you haven’t done it for a day, a week, a month, and then the next day plus 365 you’re unhappy with it again.
The purpose of these three posts is to give you the steps, strategies, and reasons to consider this program, but most importantly help you find your “Why?” Your personal reason for starting this transition. Because without a clear goal in mind and constant reminders of this goal, I can guarantee you that you will fail. That’s the only way to move forward and attain the weight you are trying to have and have a long term lifestyle and relationship with food that is healthy and enjoyable.
It’s also important to get the small things in focus before you start digging for the core reasons, for the sake of clarity.The word you want to avoid the most is ‘diet’. Your goal is to create a permanent lifestyle. Click To Tweet
A diet carries a connotation of a temporary change, and something that most people seem to fail at anyways. Following a pattern with the right mindset is necessary to get to a point of success and that should last about 90 days. After 90 days, you would have altered your internal chemistry, changed your insulin and cortisol responses and have created a biochemical and neurological environment that you are well used to and that is as part of your routine as brushing your teeth in the morning.
You will still enjoy the foods you love, the only thing that changes is the frequency that you enjoy them. Unless you go into this with commitment in mind, you will find yourself in the same place you started. Do not commit without deciding to make some permanent behavior changes. During this 90-day process, you will experience what it is to eat and function at what could arguably be the most scientifically efficient way.
But let’s be honest here, as the year progresses and you are faced with holidays, birthdays, vacations, parties, etc.., you may find yourself deviating from the optimal practices.
And that’s perfectly fine! It’s alright! After all, we often deviate from our adopted three-meal-a-day routines when we skip a breakfast or a lunch, or maybe overeat or under eat here or there. Without letting too much time pass you can reset fairly quickly and get back to that optimal level. If you get it right 80% of the time, the other 20% can be as enjoyable as ever. Or, if you want, you may want to adopt the 100% experience as your new way, although just like following the three-meal-a-day routine, life might knock you off of that perfect score. But remember, that is perfectly okay. Your body is built for it.
Although I can’t give you your own ‘Why?’, I can at least give you more information to help pad out your knowledge base, so the next several paragraphs contribute to your knowledge in order to develop your ‘Why?’, as well as your feed your need to know how or why this will work for you.
Those with difficulty managing their weight may be genetically superior to those who don’t have difficulty. Sounds crazy?
If you believe you’ve failed at keeping your weight where you want it because you lack willpower, have a character flaw, or you were dealt a bad hand because of genetics, you may be mistaken.
Do you really think your friends, family and neighbors are genetically superior to you? That’s a joke. As a matter of fact based on the latest research related to how we utilize and store energy (Particularly in our cellular energy producers, the mitochondria), you may actually be more efficient with your ability to use, create and store energy making you arguably genetically superior. Weight gain and associated health problems may be the consequences of not putting your genes (DNA) in an environment where they can thrive.
I actually used to “brainwash” my children (don’t judge me) by telling my daughter, when we pulled her off of gluten due to severe stomach pains and positive blood tests, that her genes were far superior to her friends. I said, ‘when you have great genetics, it means that you are more likely to suffer symptoms of putting those genes in an environment where they cannot optimally express themselves, so your symptoms would cue you to always be in the most optimal environment possible for the time and place where you live.’
I used to add; ‘On the other hand, those people, like your friends, who have no symptoms when they excessively eat sugar, processed and fast food, basically those who live in a more genetically toxic environment, can go decades feeling fine, with no symptoms. They are unfortunate because their body does not tell them there is a problem until they are diagnosed with a disease much later in life.
You see the ones who easily gain weight are more likely to change their behavior at an early enough age. Those who can eat whatever they want without limits for decades are the ones who do the most irreversible damage.
This started as a form of ‘brainwashing’ as a way to make them feel good that they have different needs for foods than the standard american diet (S.A.D.) I like to motivate my kids to be different. The old saying is ‘if you do what 90% of people are doing, you’ll get the results that 90% of people get, be the other 10% if you want a great life. But as I started to look at the research, the more I realized my little anecdote to my children is not too far from the truth. The research and theories will be presented in greater detail upon the publication of my book (I’ll let you know when, just stay on our email list).
The Big Picture
- How much?
- How frequently?
- What type?
The Physics of Food: Food is energy and energy is electron flow and storage.
To make it simple, think of food as a source of energy and the ultimate energy unit of food is the electron. Remember that word from high school science class? In case you forgot, an electron is a charged particle of energy that spins around the nucleus of an atom. Those electrons are used to make the bio-chemical unit of energy called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) and this occurs inside of the cell, in all of our cells, in a cell structure called the mitochondria. The powerhouse of the cell, that was also from high school. Electrons we receive from food that our body doesn’t use to power itself are stored to use later.
We have two systems of energy storage. The first is our immediately accessible source of stored energy called glycogen. Glycogen (literally stored sugar) is stored in our muscles, liver and brain (smaller amounts are stored in the kidneys, red blood cells and white blood cells) and is the first thing our bodies tap into for extra energy when our main reserves run low. The second energy storage system is more difficult to access, and is well known as fat. It is more difficult to access because it requires multiple steps to use it, as well as the issue of the appropriate conditions being present for it to be used to its maximum.
Two Systems of Energy Storage: Glycogen & Fat / Oil & Gas
Think of glycogen as gasoline that is used for your automobile: it goes from the gas station into your fuel tank and is immediately burned for fuel. Think of fat as the oil that comes out of the ground: it has to first go to a refinery to be converted to gasoline and then transported to the gas station before it can be used for fuel. You can keep a limited amount of gas in your tank that’s ready to use (glycogen). You can store a lot more unrefined oil in barrels to be later converted to gasoline at your refinery (Fat).
Insulin prevents the release of stored energy (fat)
Insulin is a hormone that directs us to increase our energy storage. The presence of insulin ensures that the oil pulled out of the ground is stored in barrels and not released to be refined into usable fuel immediately. If insulin is not present, then the stored oil will be released from the barrels to be converted to fuel at the refinery for use. Oil in barrels is our stored fat and as long as the gas station has easy to access gasoline that you can fill your tank with anytime, there is no reason to tap into the barrels of stored oil. Insulin is the signal to either store more oil in barrels or release the oil to be refined and used as fuel.
However, there is a limit to the amount of glycogen we can store (a gas tank can only hold so many gallons). There does not seem to be a limit to the amount of fat we can store, which is unfortunate because cutting down on that supply of barrels is our goal when getting to a more desirable weight and body composition. Intermittent fasting is a method of “closing the gas station” so running your vehicle requires a trip to the refinery where oil is converted to gas. Insulin prevents this. Insulin shuts the doors on the refinery. Closed for business.
Quantity of Insulin Release
The popular conversation in the doctor’s office about weight loss, diabetes, heart disease and other associated chronic diseases has been all about insulin resistance. Insulin resistance dictates when our cells require more insulin to be released in order to have the same storage response as you used to. Imagine that cells become “deaf” to the presence of insulin and therefore require more of the hormone to be present, which forces more energy storage to occur. This happens when our body recognizes an imbalance in energy intake (food) and energy burned (physical activity).
And your doctor will tell you, “If we can reduce insulin resistance, we can prevent insulin resistance diseases like Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.”
This conversation is partial at best. The goal is not to just to not be a diabetic. The goal is not to just not have a horrible end stage disease. The goal is to be healthy.
Now don’t get me wrong, how much insulin you release can make a difference in delaying the onset of preventing a horrible end stage disease, but how often in a 24-hour period you release the insulin is one of the two missing pieces. If you release less insulin and improve insulin sensitivity, you can lose some weight and prevent disease, however that point of improved insulin resistance due to better food choices and calorie restriction may help you get closer to your goal, but what if it’s not close enough?
Frequency of Insulin Release
What if we ask a different question? What would happen if we released the same amount of insulin per meal but ate fewer meals in a 24-hour period. As opposed to releasing significantly less insulin per feeding, but having the same (if not more frequent) feedings per 24 hours, as is the case when you are told to eat many small meals per day.
This question goes to the heart of this entire discussion. Eat less frequently, but eat enough. Snacks aren’t necessarily healthy either! Snacking causes small doses of insulin release, not enough perhaps to cause insulin resistance or diabetes but enough to prevent the release of stored fat for energy use (oil to be released from the barrels to be refined into fuel).
When we release the fat for energy production we are changing the kind of fuel we use from glucose to ketones. Most of us have been using glucose for energy 95-100% of the time for decades. We have engines that are genetically adapted to burn alternative fuel sources and there is benefit to each type of fuel source:
Ketones (fat): Contribute to endurance, mental clarity, stabilized neurons (Think of unstable neurons found in disorders like epilepsy, forms of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, parkinson’s, dementia, and alzheimer’s to name a few).
Glucose: Readily used for bursts of power, speed, getting out of bed, etc…
But there are also a few other misconceptions to debunk:
Is it Low Carb or Slow Carb?
Insulin is a hormone that is released when we eat, not just when we eat carbohydrates. Of course we know that insulin is released when we eat carbs, but we also release insulin when we eat other macronutrients like protein. As a matter of fact, many low carb, high protein diets do not take into account that protein can release insulin as well.
Slow carbs come from foods that are high in soluble fiber, specifically vegetables. For example, an orange has a 4:1 ratio of sugar to fiber; A carrot has a less than 2:1 ratio of sugar to fiber. The purpose of soluble fiber is to time release the sugar into the bloodstream. A carrot is therefore a slow carb. It is a common mistake to label a vegetable rich diet a no carb or low carb diet.
Low carbohydrate eating habits are usually moves in the right direction (the first thing people do is cut out many processed, nutritionally empty foods like breads, pasta, and other grain derived foods) but it’s not the solution. Low carb diets get you started, but they don’t get you to the finish line.
Does low carb equate to high protein?
No. It does not. Protein will release much less insulin than carbohydrates, just as eating fewer calories will. But as we discussed in the first blog of this series, we said that eating fewer calories is precisely why people fail to maintain a healthy desired weight. Protein can easily be converted to glucose (sugar) and join the same storage story as the carbohydrates. Low carbohydrate and high protein diets get you started but leave you on the plateau, which is better than when you started, but not where you want to be. Not to mention it’s difficult to stay on that plateau, so not only is it not worth it to stay on it fundamentally, but it’s also not worth to stay on it out of principle. You’re halfway there, so you might as well finish the race.Eating fat does not make you fat! Healthy fats are a necessary part of your diet. Click To Tweet
Steps to follow.
- Be conscious of eating slow carbs not just low carbs.
- Eat seasonally. Be aware that during winter months it is not necessary to eat fruits, unless you live on the equator where fruits can grow all year round. Do not eat according to what part of the planet your genetics or your ancestors are from, eat according to where you live. There is no reason to eat cantaloupe in February if you live in New York City.
- Eating healthy fats. Eating fat does not make you fat. It’s a well-known fact. Eating saturated fats, the ones that have no nutritional value is what makes you fat. Stop looking for things that are low fat. If anything, INCREASE your fat intake. I will say it again, eating fat does not make you fat. Fat can contribute to your body availing itself more alternative fuel sources like ketones. Important fats to increase are:
- Omega 3 supplements: Adults can take 2-3 grams per day. Preferably from high quality fish oil source, but vegetarian source from flax seeds is acceptable. Contact our office for recommendations.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: For dressing and not for cooking.
- Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: For cooking and for supplementation. 1-4 tablespoons of coconut oil per day can have dramatic improvements in cognition, energy and more.
- Avocado Oil: for cooking due to the high smoke point.
- MCT oil: For supplementation in coffee or tea.
- Pick better meat. is extremely important in this regard; healthy meats have healthy fats. For example, the fat found in grass-fed and finished beef is Omega 3 Fat, same as you would find in wild fish. The fat found in corn or grain fed factory based meats is Omega 6 Fat, a type of saturated fat we are getting too much of and therefore can be considered toxic. Cows are genetically supposed to be eating grass, not corn. The animals we eat should be living in their genetically appropriate environment as well. It matters.
- Experiment with Intermittent Fasting.
Four Common Fasting Methods
- The 16/8 Method.
Try doing it at least 3 days in a row per week. Most people will do Monday through Friday and eat normally on the weekends, it’s really a lot easier than many people might think.
This involves a 16 hour fast followed by 8 hours of normal eating, as discussed in part two. This method comes naturally to people who typically skip breakfast. Breaking the cultural myth about breakfast being the most important meal of the day.
A typical pattern is to eat your final calories for the day at 8PM and then not to eat again until noon of the next day. This is a typical two meal and one or two snack day.
You may want to begin with 12 hour of fast followed by 12 hours of eating. Then move to the 14/10 method followed by the 16/8 method. If you’re just jumping in now, make sure to read Part Two which talks more about the benefits and applications of this method.
Some other tips to consider:
- True Fast: Drink water before bed, upon waking and in hours leading up to your 1st meal.
- Modified Fast: The first 12 hours of the 16 hour fast should be water only. The next 4 hours of the fast can use the MCT or coconut oil as described here.
- Begin the day with an extra virgin coconut oil (2 teaspoons) or MCT oil infused hot tea or coffee. If you are not dairy free you can add a tablespoon of grass fed organic butter or ghee to the coffee or tea and make it “bullet proof”. Adding coconut oil or MCT can be done more than once between waking and eating your 1st meal.
The modified fast using MCT (and/or coconut oil) is a way to drive the ketogenic energy burning process we want to promote. Bone broth can be used as well. Keep in mind bone broth, because of the amino acid and protein content may prevent or suppress ketosis. Ketosis may be more desired for some and less important for others.
- Caution: Oil and fats must be infused into the tea or coffee using a handheld infuser. The oil will not mix well otherwise and can cause an upset stomach feeling and unpleasant taste.
- For Weight Loss: As stated above, it is very important, when not fasting, to eat normal sized meals. Eat until you are full! We are not calorie counting! No! Calorie counting works against you in the long run!
- The 5:2 Method.
This method involves 5 days of normal eating in a given week, with 2 days of the week where you would eat 500-600 calories per day. These two days could be any days of the week, like Tuesday and Friday, or Wednesday and Sunday. Typically, you would separate the 2 days from each other by three or four days.
If you do not have time to be creative to find 500-600 calorie meals, you can get your 500-600 calories from 2 avocados. Add some olive oil, lime salt and pepper for flavor and you’ll be right around your needed calorie count.
During the fasting period between the 2 avocados you will consume water, as well as some coffee or tea to drive ketosis and prevent hunger.
- Eat-Stop-Eat Method
This method involves a full 24 hour fast 1 to 2 times per week. This is a tougher method and we usually recommend getting comfortable with the 16/8 method mentioned above instead, at least before attempting this one.
Perhaps the progression can slowly rise. This is how your progress should go:
- 18hr-20 hr./4hr-6hr.
It is very important to those who want to lose weight to eat normally (normal sized meals) when not fasting.
- Alternate Day Fasting. This is definitely not for beginners and this method will likely induce more frequent hunger pangs. The reasoning for this method should be discussed with your doctor who is trained in these principles to make sure your goals are appropriate for this type of fasting.
This method involves fasting for 24 hours every other day, with either 500-600 calorie meal or Zero calorie meals. The oils in the modified version are calories but they are liquid calories and they are typically MCT from MCT oil or coconut oil, and they will be used for ketosis based energy production.
Feel free to follow the recommendations in these posts. However, if you feel there are health concerns and you are not sure if this is right for you, it may be worth having a brief consult with your doctor. Some people like to have blood markers measured to document changes as well as body composition measurements that go beyond height and weight, both things that a doctor could help you with. And of course, we are happy to be a resource for you!
Thank you for turning into my blog series. I truly hope that you’ve learned a lot, and can take at least a few things away from this that you can incorporate into your routines to improve your style of living. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me. I’m available as a resource, as a coach, and as a connection.
Thank you again, and have a healthy day, healthy life, and healthy diet!