In the last two health blog posts I’ve written about how and why we store fat. This post is going to cover the easiest way to get energy out of the fat cell.
To quickly recap
- Insulin is ‘the fat storage hormone’.
- Eating carbs will cause insulin to go up in body.
- Any excess energy not used from what is taken into the body will be stored in the fat cell.
- If Insulin is always high, you will not be able to use your stored fat.
- The only way to use the stored energy from the fat cell is to
- be in a caloric deficit when the metabolism is still high
- glycogen in the liver and muscles constantly needs to be replenished
- have low insulin level
- The easiest way to get into the state where all three of these conditions are met, is fasting. Fasting is when you don’t eat anything at all.
Let’s examine how fasting accomplishes this.
Fasting doesn’t slow down your metabolism right away.
If you don’t eat enough calories, your body will slow the metabolism to compensate, almost immediately. This effect is seen in every single person who goes on a calorie restricted diet for an extended period of time. The longer the calorie restriction, the lower the metabolism goes.
The body does this to conserve energy when food is scarce during periods of famine. The body responds to dieting the same way it does to famine.
When the dieter begins to eat the same amount of calories they did before dieting started, all of weight that was lost is easily put back on and usually with some extra.
If you don’t eat anything at all your metabolism doesn’t slow down, and for some people it even increases slightly. The body does this so that you have the ability to go and get more food.
This doesn’t mean a whole lot for civilization, but it did mean something when you had forage, hunt, catch, or kill your food for every meal.
You can see this effect in just about every single person who doesn’t eat breakfast in the early morning. Most of these people do not suffer from a lack of energy, but most of them do get ferociously hungry by lunch time.
Technically whatever time of day you have your first meal you’re ‘breaking’ your ‘fast’ with “breakfast”. Some food for thought as to why our society conveniently forgot about fasting.
Fasting is the ultimate caloric deficit.
In the previous health post, I used Dr. Fung’s money-energy analogy.
- Stored energy in the body = money.
- Energy stored in the muscles and liver (as glycogen) = money in your wallet; easy to use, short term storage.
- Energy stored in our fat cells (as triglycerides) = money in the bank; more difficult to use, long term storage.
- When there is room for money in the wallet (short term storage), we make a withdrawal from from the bank (long term storage) to top it up so that that we can use it more easily.
When the metabolism is at a normal level there is about a day worth of glycogen stored in the liver and muscles ready to be used instantly for energy (money in the wallet/short term storage).
We need to use short term storage of energy before we can tap into the long term storage of energy.
When we eat normally, most of energy we take in will get used right away. Then the excess energy tops up the short term storage until it’s full and then the long term storage.
The problem is when the short term storage is full already, the energy gets put into long term storage.
If we don’t take in any energy (fasting), we’re in a caloric deficit by using the energy in our short term storage.
When we use the energy in our short term storage more rapidly, the body will start transferring the energy from our long term storage to our short term storage, but this only happens when the hormone insulin, is low.
If insulin is high, the body will not transfer any energy from long term storage to short term storage.
Fasting keeps insulin low.
If we aren’t taking in any calories by fasting, especially carbohydrates, insulin stays low and all of the conditions are then met so that the energy stored in our fat cells can be transferred (as fatty acids) to the liver to be converted into usable energy (glucose) and short term storage energy (glycogen).
Fasting, the easy way.
All the fasting that we need to make the fat extraction process happen is about 16 hours. This is what is referred to as Intermittent Fasting.
During the first 8 hours, we’re using the energy from the food we’ve eaten and the last 8 hours we’re using glycogen from short term storage. All at the same time new glycogen is being made in the liver from the fatty acids that were stored in our fat cells to keep the glycogen levels up.
We can take advantage of the 8 hours when we’re sleeping. You can’t feel hungry if you’re not awake to feel it. Perfect, so there is half the time we need.
The other 8 hours depends on when you go to sleep and what meals are the most convenient for you to eat.
If you go to sleep at 9 pm to wake up for 5 am, then you might want to move your breakfast time to your first break so that you can still have dinner at the normal time around 5-6pm. If your first break is between 9-10 am, this will be 16 hours.
If you like to eat later on in the evening at 8 pm and go to sleep around 12 am, just skip breakfast. It doesn’t really matter as long as all of the fasting time is together.
I usually skip dinner because I like breakfast so much. I also do this so that I have higher performance and better recovery when I’m weight training at the gym in the early afternoon.
But, there are days when I want to have a dinner or go out with friends to eat later in the day, so I change it up. Just plan out when you’re going to eat, and everything will fall into place easily. Fasting longer is always better than fasting shorter, but there is no need to overthink or obsess over it.
It’s a good idea to allow 3 hours before sleep and before weight training after eating for the first part of digestion to happen. This is what I try to do so that I get the best performance and the best sleep I can.
Next week I’m going to write more about fasting and the hormone leptin and what it’s all about.
I expected that my weight was going to go up for Friday’s weigh-in, just as it had in the previous diet cycle.
The reason I’m measuring my weight so frequently is so that I get a good idea of my body weight swing. If I was only to measure on Friday’s like I’ve normally done in the past, I wouldn’t see any weight fluctuation at all.
At The Gym
Yesterday’s workout was pretty awesome! We worked on shoulders, biceps, and triceps. I always try to put in some extra effort on Friday’s to end the week of a high point.
After some stretching, here’s what we did.
- Got warmed up with Single Arm Dumbbell Rotations, 3 x 15, 8 lbs.
- Super Set 3 x 12
- Barbell Shoulder Press, 50 lbs.
- Single Dumbbell Side Raises, 10 lbs.
- Super Set 3 x 12
- Single Arm Cable Pull Downs, 30 lbs.
- Single Arm Hammer Curls, 25 lbs.
- Cable High Rows at eye level, 3 x 12, 30 lbs.
- Super Set 3 x 12
- Preacher Curl, 15 lbs.
- Standing Cable Tricep Extension, 25 lbs.
- Treadmill to finish up the workout
- 5% Incline at 5mph, 4 x 3o seconds.
- I paused between each burst until my heart rate recovered to 130 bpm.
- 5 minutes, at 3% Incline at 2.8mph, changing up the step frequency fast to slow, crouching, sneaking (tippy-toes). It’s lots of fun and mixes up the boring old treadmill routine into a very HIIT type of training.
- 2 minute slow pace cool down, 0% incline at 1.8mph.
After I picked up a few things from the grocery, I went home and broke out the manual push-type lawn mower. I’ve had it for years, but I rarely use it. I did the front and side yards, about 15 mins or so.
My heart rate didn’t recover under 80 bpm for another hour afterwards. I got it good today.
The Next Meal
I think a keto pizza of some kind needs to be made this weekend. I picked up some mozzarella, pepperoni, and sauce. I’m going to try making a cauliflower crust.
Thanks for reading (or listening) and have a great day!
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Check out some of the awesome books below to dive deep into the science of what causes obesity, and how a fasting regime and a proper diet can help.*
I am not a medical professional and I don’t claim to be. Any health-related things that I write or talk about in my blogs, emails or how ever else you get the information from me should NOT be taken as medical advice. Make sure you check with your health-care provider that whatever it is that you want to do, is safe for you. Any health-related information is intended for entertainment purposes only. Use at your own risk.