Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Simplest Change

Each of our clients wants to lose fat, except maybe one.  Most are already working within the paleolithic model of nutrition.  Some are having spectacular results, and that is putting smiles on both of our faces.  Some are stalled out.  Today's post is about the simplest change one can make to reaccelerate fat loss.

That change is to have a breakfast of only protein (some, 15-30 grams) and fat (a lot).  Why will this help?

First, let's get into how you body fuels itself.  The number two metabolic priority (in terms of urgency) is getting sugar to the brain.  The brain needs approximately 600 calories worth of fuel daily.  That's about 25% of the total caloric requirement for most folks.  If the brain does not get the necessary fuel, it will cease to function, you will fall down, and the ghost might leave the machine, depending upon how fuel deprived the brain is.  To keep this from happening, you were engineered with a redundant fuel system, that allows you to make brain food from fat, carbs or protein.

Most of your body runs best on fat as fuel.  The engineer's intent seems to have been that you would not need to eat or store much sugar, and that the sugar (not in large supply until very recently) you ate or stored would be used primarily by the brain.  The first contingency for lack of available carbs/sugar is that your liver will convert fat into ketone bodies, which can be an alternate fuel for the brain (in fact, there's some evidence the brain is most healthy when fueled by both sugar and ketones).  This system is what lets a person survive day after day with no food available (remember those stories of 60+ days in a life raft?).  If you ever face that situation, the body will also catabolize muscle to make protein and sugar for the brain.  So in all you have three ways to store energy - fat is the biggest source and the best fuel.  Sugar is the smallest source and is a preferred fuel for the brain.  Muscle is the desperation fuel, "for emergency use only."

Now let's get back to why keeping carbs out of your breakfast will help you to burn fat.  First, all night long, since you are not eating, your body has to start converting to fat burning (you know people have a serious sugar problem when they cannot sleep through the night without sugar cravings).  When you "break your fast", if you give the body sugar, it will stop running on fat.  If you give your body too much sugar, it will get busy converting that sugar into fat.  If you give yourself a moderate protein, high fat breakfast, this can keep your hunger at bay but let the body keep burning stored fat for brain fuel.

So the easiest, simplest, change to start burning more fat is to have a carb free breakfast.

If you want to take this one step further, stop eating by 7 or 8 PM.  That way, you may go as long as 12 hours from last meal of the day until first.  That also invites your body to get good at burning fat, and if you don't eat carbs until lunch, that's a 14-16 window of no "carbage".  This kind of carb fasting is very useful for those who want to get healthy and lean.  Why does this help with health?  In short, the number one driver of disease in our nation is metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by loss of glycemic control (that is to say cycling high and low blood sugars).  The above described carb fast interrupts the cycle of excess sugar/carbs, and restores normal blood sugar levels for many who are dangerously close to metabolic syndrome.

This is also why exercise alone does not work for fat loss or health - if you continuously over-eat sugar and carbs, you will not get glycemic control and you will not have your best health no matter how intense your daily workouts are.

If you want to take this another step beyond a carb fast, push your breakfast back by one hour each day, until you can go food free for 14-16 hours.  This path can be risky for some, so if you want to do this, come talk to me first.  You can also search this blog to find prior posts about how to start intermittent fasting.

Are you ready to make the simplest change?  If so, get going and let me know what you learn!

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