Is rapid fat loss possible with very low fat/very high carb diet?

The biology says YES.

As long as it’s a nutrient dense whole foods diet that you are consuming, it’ll make it that much easier. (keeps you from being hungry. There’s hormones at play here too. A lot more going on than meets the eye)

But, here’s the kicker. Dietary fat MUST be extremely low, or ZERO.

Pancreatic beta cells require fat to produce the insulin necessary to regulate blood glucose. Loading up on glucose, with no or very little fat, and the fat to produce the insulin necessary to deal with the glucose is forced out of your fat cells.

Now you can do this the conventional wisdom way, and basically feel like you’re starving all the time, or you can do it the Paleo way, and avoid those feelings all together.

Check out the very detailed post at Hyperlipid. Tough to understand, but I got the gyst of it. If you feel like getting into the nitty-gritty details, I suggest you read that post a few times. (That’s about how long it took me, hahaah)

So. Eat only potatoes and no fat for a while to get that 6-pack?

Potatoes have a very low glycemic load, meaning they slowly release a gentle stream of glucose throughout the day as they digest. They’re also loaded with just the right amino acid profile to spare muscle mass. There’s a ton of other good micronutrients in there too. I mean, you can basically live off of potatoes alone….

Maybe worth a try once spring comes around…. Meh, we’ll see if I can work my courage up to go all out on that one. HAH!

It’s way more complicated than just “burning calories”…

…especially if you’re not working out the right way.

It’s frustrating to see people using those heart rate monitors and digital calorie counters in the gym. Are those things even accurate?? I think all they do is measure heart rate and make an estimate, which doesn’t even take into account what type of exercise you were doing, whether it was sprinting, cardio, or weight lifting, whether it was heavy and intense, etc. Lets get real. Stop trying to burn as many calories as possible in the gym. It’s a hopeless endeavor, even if calories burned even mattered…

It does not matter how many calories you burn while working out. That’s not how it works. If it were, once you ate a meal after your workout, you would have effectively undone all those grueling hours of useless boring cardio. Not only that, but hours of cardio has been shown to actually hinder long-term fat loss results, because it becomes a chronic stressor of the bad kind, increasing cortisol and inflammatory markers perpetually. Eventually you end up with that beer-gut or cortisol-gut as the inflammation catches up with you.

If we work out effectively, we will cause an adaptation. The correct type of exercise actually changes the way your body works. It normalizes your body fat regulating hormones, and makes better use of the nutrients you eat. You become more efficient, and along with the proper diet, become adapted to burning primarily fat for energy, instead of glucose. The best type of exercise actually raises your energy expenditure for days afterwards, increasing fat oxidation as well.

What type of exercise causes these beneficial changes? It’s the type of exercise that hits all the muscle fibers, not just the slow twitch type 1 muscles we use during endurance exercise.

mark post 2 pic 1 Copy

In order to cause the adaptation we are looking for, to increase post-workout energy expenditure and fat oxidation, we must exhaust all the muscle fibers, type one and type two.

First, high-intensity exercise training induces secretion of lipolytic [fat-burning] hormones including growth hormone and epinephrine, which may facilitate greater post-exercise energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Second, it has been reported that under equivalent levels of energy expenditure high-intensity exercise training favors a greater negative energy balance compared to low-intensity exercise training.”

B.A. Irving, University of Virginia

That’s right. High-intensity training, NOT cardio. Doing high intensity training enacts the same cardiovascular benefits as hours of cardio, in less time, and with better long-term results for health and weight management.

The development of type 2b muscle fibers leads to a reduction in accumulated white adipose tissue and improvements in metabolic parameters independent of physical activity or changes in the level of food intake. These effects occur independently of muscle oxidative capacity and are associated with increases in fatty acid metabolism in liver…The results from the current study indicate that modest increases in type 2b skeletal muscle mass can have a profound systemic effect on whole-body metabolism and adipose mass.

The metabolic improvement in this model cannot be entirely explained by a reduction in fat-pad mass, indicating that type II muscle counteracts the actions of excess adipose tissue on whole-body metabolism. These findings indicate that type II muscle has a previously unappreciated role in regulating whole-body metabolism through its ability to alter the metabolic properties of remote tissues.

They also noted that these muscle fibers improved insulin sensitivity and caused reductions in blood glucose, insulin, and leptin levels, and that, these effects occurred despite a reduction in total physical activity. Sounds to me like we should get the heck off the treadmill (unless you’re sprinting on it).

When we do high-force and short-duration exercise we don’t exclusively work our type 2b fibers, we work all of our less forceful fibers and our type 2b fibers. We try to lift something heavy, and our muscles try to generate enough force with our weakest type 1 fibers first. Those do not generate enough force, so our muscles also activate our more forceful type 2a fibers to help. If that’s still not enough, we keep the type 1 and type 2a fibers going, and add the stronger type 2x fibers. Keep going and don’t stop working the other three, and bring in our most powerful type 2b fibers, until finally we reach what’s referred to as positive which we have absolutely exhausted all muscle fiber types to the point of being unable to lift another repetition. Thanks to this cumulative activation of all of our muscle fibers (known as orderly recruitment), we have caused an acute stressor which will cause our body to adapt. Here is where the magic happens! In the 6 days (at least) of recovery, your energy expenditure goes up, as well as fat oxidation, your muscles heal, you start to get leaner, and you grow stronger!

This is why olympic sprinters are lean and muscular, and long distance runners are frail, sick, and emaciated. This is why those lean ripped dudes at the gym never have to step foot on an elliptical machine. This is why Michael Phelps can eat 20K calories a day and stay ripped. This is why you only see tortured tired looking people on the treadmill who never seem to lose weight. This is why people who do CrossFit and olympic weightlifting are lean, mean, Paleo-eating machines.

Don’t want to get huge, bulky muscles? Don’t worry about it. It won’t happen unless you do steroids. Here’s why.

Myostatin (GDF-8), a member of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) superfamily of secreted growth and differentiation factors, is a negative regulator of skeletal muscle growth. Loss of myostatin function is associated with an increase in muscle mass in mice, cows, and humans.

– M.N. Elkasrawy, Medical College of Georgia

That means that as you get more muscles, you naturally down-regulate your ability to gain more muscle, so that over time you get diminishing returns, until you eventually reach the physiological limit of your muscle-building capacity. For women, that’s pretty low. Same is true for a lot of guys too. Most of us just are not naturally able to build and maintain tons of muscle.

The base levels of myostatin and muscle in most women and most men make it impossible for them to naturally build bulky muscles. It does not matter how much resistance we use. The majority of us, especially women, do not have the genes to build bulky muscles via any form of exercise.

Those few people who are able to get big, they’re athletes, they naturally gravitate to sports, because their physiology allows them to build supernatural-ish capacity. If this was you, you’d know it. If you’re reading this, it’s pretty safe to say that you’re one of us normal folks.

What types of workouts do I do to stimulate all my muscle fibers?

Here’s an example of my most recent setup, scroll down the page in [this post].

Heavy weights, that cause positive failure. I use about 6-8 reps-to-failure on compound lifts, and about 8-12 reps-to-failure on isolation lifts. I work out 3 times a week, and I do the same exercises each monday, for example, to allow a full week of recovery for those muscle groups. I.e. Monday is squats, Wednesday is shoulders, Friday is back. Something like that. 

I do high intensity interval training about once a week. Windsprints on a bike or running. Doesn’t matter. This stuff is brilliantly better than any type of conventional cardio, and usually only takes about 15 or 20 minutes.

Lots of active recovery: walking, hiking, biking, etc. (Super low-level stuff has a lot of benefit too).

~ Dan

Related Posts:

It’s way more complicated than “counting calories”…

My Progress. Growing Triceps.

How does fat make you fat?

How does fat make you fat?

For most foods to make you gain excess body fat, you have to over eat them.

Saturated fat is your body’s natural storage form for excess energy. You were designed that way, over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. Excess food, from sugar, carbs, fat, and even some protein, gets stored as saturated fat, because it’s what your body likes to burn.

So, what causes us to over eat fats, or anything for that matter?

One proposed cause has to do with nutrient density. Eating nutrient void foods may fill you up temporarily in the tummy, but due to their lack of useable vitamins, minerals, proteins, or whatever, you tend to become more hungry more often. This makes you eat more. And let’s face it, it’s probably more of the same stuff you ate before.

What types of fats are void of nutrients, and would tend to make us over eat them?

Unsatrated and hydrogenated fats from vegetable oils (the industrially processed kind, the kind we cook and deep fry with, and use as an additive in most packaged foods) are guilty of this. They contain little or no vital nutrients for your body. These are the unhealthy fattening fats you want to avoid. Not to mention, they oxidize very easily, causing systemmic inflammation, and therefore many modern degenerative diseases.

Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated (yes even trans) fats, from naturally raised animal and plant sources that are unprocessed and unadulterated, contain many vital nutrients that your body needs, including fat soluble vitamins and minerals that you can’t get in a pill or supplement. There are in fact hundreds of different types of vitamins A, D, B, E, and K, all found in natural animal sources, and all that do something a little bit different in your body! None of these types can be supplemented, because most of them have barely even been discovered yet, let alone synthesized. And usually, the synthetic forms of vitamins don’t even do what they’re supposed to! (see: Folic Acid)

Due to this healthful nature of natural fats, it is much harder to over eat them, because you are kept sated for longer. These types of fats are also near impossible to oxidize. Even the more easily oxidized polyunsaturated fats come pre-packaged in natural form with antioxidants! Brilliant!

Conveniently, one of the most filling factors in natural fat rich foods is protein. Protein also keeps you from getting hungry. And complete proteins are necessary for building and maintaining everything in your body. What a two-for-one deal we get here! How can you go wrong? Eggsandbacon eggsandbacon!

How convenient, that mother nature put all this good stuff in nice natural healthy little units called animals. And we can eat ’em too!?!! omfg!!

You may also want to read here about food reward and how that tricks our bodies to over eat!

Now what about this inflammation nonsense?

Chronic and systemmic inflammation has also been shown to cause excessive fat gain. How does this happen?

Inflammation confuses your normal systems, and causes a disregulation of your healthy body fat regulating devices. One system of note is the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls metabolism, nutrient uptake and expenditure, and hormones. Chronic inflammation throws it all outta whack, so your key hunger and body fat regulating hormones also get outta whack. We’re talkin’ about leptin, insulin, ghrelin, and a whole bunch of others you may not have even heard of!

Now we’re gettin’ into what causes insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and stuff. Too much sugar in the diet, and other inflammatory foods like easily oxidized processed fats and grains, causes a whole lotta systemmic inflammation. An unhappy hypothalamus indeed!

See? Where would you be without me, making all this stuff so easy to understand?

So, we’ve talked about nutrient density, and we talked about inflammation. Is there anything else I’m missing?

Ah yes. A lack of dietary fats, the healthy, natural, unprocessed kind, can make it more difficult for your body to burn off excess body fat. So again, it seems it’s in your best interest to ditch the margarine and canola oil, and pick up them ribs baby!

We in America have a chronic unnatural avoidance of dietary fats, which leaves our natural fat burning mechanisms out of practice! If you want to burn of excess body fat, you need to train your mitochondria how to burn it primarily for energy. It is what they want, after all! So you need to eat a range of healthy natural unprocessed fats, while avoiding the industrial ones, and avoiding nutrient void crap foods like Oreos ‘n’ stuff. Once you stop burning mostly sugar for energy, your mitochondria will by happy to burn mostly fat, and you’ll be happy too, because fat metabolism creates less free radicals! Cool Beans!

Oh yah, walking around a lot and lifting heavy things also trains your body to burn fat primarily for energy, instead of sugar. Bonus!

Still not convinced? Still think there’s too many calories in fat? You really should read this post here: You wanna talk calories? Lets talk calories.

Cutting out all the excess garbage, and eating only whole real natural foods will get your inflammation down, your fat burning mechanisms practiced and in place, and will make sure you aren’t hungry or tempted to over eat! See how easy this is? It’s super stoneage common sense!

Oh yah, I almost forgot! (how could you let me forget?) Atherosclerosis and heart disease is now widely recognized as an inflammatory disease, which means cholesterol is off the hook! woohoo! Read about it here.

Get Stoneage!

~ Dan

Throw the scale out the window!

Your goal should be to get lean and burn fat, NOT to lose weight.

When you are lean and have put on some sexy muscle, you will weigh more. And you will be healthier. Who knows, you might even be able to help grampa off the floor, instead of having to call for help!

Relying on a scale to measure your progress is bull.

“Gaining, not losing weight, makes you sexy.”

“…Probably due to the unreasonable and (if you asked me) utterly unsexy ideal of the “beautiful” female model, whose major features are skinniness and a severe lack of skeletal muscle tissue, this obsession not with how much, but rather with how little you weigh, is rampant within the community of female fitness junkies. Based on the misunderstanding that weight loss (at least for females) would equal improvements in body composition, thousands of women starve themselves into what Dr. Connelly often refers to as an “reduced obese state” …”

Read the rest of this article.


8 Reasons your weight loss might be stalling, and what to do about it

So you’ve done everything right. You’ve dropped grains, industrial veggie oils and sugar, and started eating whole real foods. You’ve started lifting heavy things once in a while. You get healthy amounts of sunshine. You try to avoid stress. Everything seems to be going as planned.

But you’ve hit a stall in your fat loss goals. Your tummy just won’t budge, or you’re having trouble losing those last few pounds to really be lean and get that beach body in time for summer. How will you ever fit ito that bathing suit?

Are you actually doing everything you can? Here’s some questions to ask yourself before you throw in the towel.

Are you actually eating healthy?

You might think just sticking to the Paleo 80/20 rule is enough, but if you’ve reached a stall, it’s time to assess that other 20%. It’s possible you’re allowing a little sugar in your coffee here, and a little veggie oil there, all the while thinking that it’s “ok” because it’s within that 20%, but it really does add up, and chances are if you’re not paying attention, you could be consuming way more “crap” than you realize. Add that onto a few alcoholic drinks each weekend, and a cheat meal at a restaurant that includes grains, and we’ve slipped suddenly into 50/50 territory, or worse.

The solution is to go full 100% paleo. Don’t let that sugar into your coffee, get a bit more picky at restaurants, and keep alcohol to a minimum during the weekend. Kick that nagging sugar addiction to the curb by going cold turkey. Don’t go near any grains. Cook at home as often as possible. You’ll save money and feel better, and more often than not, start to see the fat go away. This is one of the most common problems for weight loss stalls. More often than not, once you really dial in your diet, you’ll see progress. Everything else is just (coconut oil) icing on the (gluten free) cake 😉

Are you still smoking or drinking?

It’s obvious that smoking and too much alcohol do have adverse health effects. I really shouldn’t have to go into detail here. But the bottom line is, even if diet is dialed in, drugs like these have an overwhelming effect on our ability to lose fat. Modern tobacco is coated in pesticides, for instance, which has been shown to cause chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. Not only is insulin resistance the gateway to lifelong fat-gain, it’s the gateway to diabetes.

The act of smoking also causes chronic inflammation from carcinogens. Not only is this the main determining factor in the hypothalamus’ health and ability to regulate fat mass, but chronic inflammation leads to a number of health issues in the long run, cancer being an obvious big one.

Alcohol also inhibits your body’s ability to burn fat. When alcohol is in your system, it becomes your body’s priority to metabolize the poison and get rid of it. The more you consume, the more lipolysis is inhibited. Since our goal with Paleo is to become fat-burning machines, it makes a lot of sense to keep alcohol to a minimum.

Are you eating too much?

Paleo isn’t dark magic. Your body is still able to absorb and store excess energy as fat. That’s the wonder of our hunter-gatherer genes that helped us to survive times of scarcity. We’re designed to be thrifty and store energy for emergencies. Obviously finding food nowadays isn’t an issue for most of us, actually the problem we face is too much food.

Are you consuming too many carbs? If you are mostly sedentary (chances are if you’re reading this, that’s you) your ability to handle lots of glucose diminishes. Taper your fruit and starch intake down if you are taking time off from activities. Even if you are active, the conventional wisdom for how many carbs we “need” is vastly overstated. Try to dial them down to no more than 100g per day, higher for very active people like athletes (200 plus, depends on the individual) then see how you feel. If you feel good, bring them down more. If your activity performance decreases, try going higher. Everyone is different. But if the goal is rapid fat loss, make sure you’re not polishing off an entire carton of berries every day.

Are you only eating when you are truly hungry? Like I said above, we have a problem these days of having too much food around. Everything around us is designed to override your natural satiety and pleasure signals to get you to consume more. Become conscious of this, and attune yourself to your own hunger signals. Eat only when truly hungry, and don’t let anyone tell you that you have to eat. Paleo makes this easier by removing food toxins that mess with your satiety signals, but external pressures still abound. Take note, and remember, Summer is coming! Reach that goal!

How active are you?

Most people today just are not active enough. We spend hours at our desks, then we go home and do it in front of the computer or TV. It’s a huge problem. We are designed as fat-burning animals, and our bodies need lots of low level activity like walking, hiking, or swimming. Lifting heavy things also creates more fat-burning muscle tissue, by making muscles larger and increasing the amount of fat-burning mitochondria (the powerhouses of our bodies that make ATP from fatty acids). Muscle also looks better, and makes it much easier to maintain a low body-fat percentage.

Some people are just too active. Doing too much cardio is common. When you stay above 75% of your MHR (max heart rate) for long periods of time you are burning glycogen, causing you to crave more sugar in order to replenish those stores. Clearly a problem if we’re trying to minimize excess carbs. The other issue with too much cardio is that it causes excessive release of cortisol, so over the long run you will gain weight, lose muscle, and cause chronic wear issues like joint pain. This is a common issue for other types of exercise too. Lifting weights too often will also release too much cortisol and can stall fat loss.

You have to find your happy medium, and make sure to allow proper recovery time between workouts. Muscles have to heal to grow, in order to burn more fat and create more mitochondria. I prefer to allow 5-7 days between muscle groups when I lift, and I usually lift 3 days a week, with one weekend session of interval training each week. Which leads me to the next section…

Have you tried sprinting yet?

I have a number of posts about sprinting, or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The benefits are numerous, and the time commitment is minimal. Basically, providing an occasional high-stressor for your body causes an array of adaptations to fat-burning and metabolism, while keeping cortisol to a minimum and allowing plenty of recovery time between sessions. It increases insulin sensitivity, causes HGH secretion, increases numbers of fat-burning mitochondria, and makes way for growth spurts in muscle that can have overarching benefits in your weight lifting. If you haven’t started doing this each week, why the hell not?!

Have you tried intermittent fasting?

I also have a few posts about this topic. IF is shown to increase longevity and a number of health markers, as well as induce autophagy, allowing your body to clean, detoxify and reboot itself. IF also allows you to eat a few large meals a day, and still provide a large window of time for your body to burn primarily fat for energy when you are not eating. Eating Paleo makes this 100 times easier, because you don’t actually get hungry during the fast. If you haven’t made this a regular part of your routine, now is the time to make it happen!

Are you managing stress properly?

Too much stress can hinder fat loss via excessive release of cortisol. It can also cause you to crave junk food, over eat, and lose muscle. The best ways to manage stress is to get outside and enjoy nature, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep, and make sure you have healthy ways to let it out. Working out, playing, laughter, being with friends. All good ways to make yourself happier and less stressed.

Have you been sick recently?

Things like antibiotics are overused by the medical establishment. Good thing Paleo makes us as healthy as possible, so that if we do get sick, we can overcome it very fast. Antibiotics are handed out for everything from a sore throat to an ear infection. They are very damaging to your gut flora, which has a large part to do with your ability to lose weight. Your gut flora determines largely how you digest foods, and having a healthy population can help keep you lean. There have been a plethora of recent studies done. For instance I recently read one where they transplanted gut bacteria from lean people to obese people, and the obese individuals all lost weight without any other intervention. This study did the same thing with mice.

Lean human guts contain more flora from the bacterial phylum of Bacteroidetes and less from the Firmicutes phylum, whereas obese human guts contain flora more heavily weighted toward Firmicutes. Furthermore, both mice and humans with “obese” gut flora (high in Firmicutes) derive more energy from food and have an increased ability to “harvest energy.”

Martin Blaser, an NYU microbiome researcher, speculates that not only does antibiotic usage permanently change our gut flora, it also promotes obesity. Blaser examined the effect of antibiotics on Helicobacter pylori, a common member of the human gut biome. While there’s evidence that H. pylori increases the risk for ulcers and gastric cancer, it’s also been living in human guts for at least 58,000 years.

Blaser used US veterans who were scheduled for upper GI endoscopies. Of the 92 vets, 38 had no H. pylori, 44 tested positive for H. pylori, and 10 were indeterminate. 23 of the H. pylori positive were given antibiotics, and all but two had total eradication of H. pylori. So, the 21 subjects who were initially replete in H. pylori but who eradicated them through antibiotics gained the most weight. Their BMIs increased by 5% + 2% (The other vets had no weight change). Leptin levels increased by 20%. Postprandial ghrelin increased sixfold. Ghrelin increases hunger, but high levels have the ability to increase abdominal fat.

So before you think you’ve done all you can, check yourself and your habits to see if you are letting a few too many things slip by. It could also be a certain food holding you back. Some people can handle dairy for instance, but some people might find it hinders their fat loss. With Summer approaching it’s time to get your rear in gear to get that beach body! Take a real good look at this list. Try to reach that 100%, or as close to it as you can. Your body will thank you!

You might also like to read:

Is high-rep weight training a waste of time?

Thoughts on High Intensity Interval Training

How bad is saturated fat and cholesterol?

Why women should deadlift

Get muscles, burn fat faster