Can You Get Too Much Protein?

Let’s break down protein problems into bite-sized chunks so that you can easily digest the info!

Today’s post will be a quick one in response to a question I received last week. The question was, “what happens when you get too much protein?” There’s not a simple answer because it’s really multiple questions all in one. For instance, is there such thing as too much protein? If so, how much is too much? What types of protein are we talking about, and how many meals? Are there negative consequences to over consumption, or positive ones? I could go on and on. However, I wanted to break down protein problems into bite-sized chunks so that you can easily digest the info!
Can’t Get Enough
For healthy people, there is no such thing as getting too much protein. You can eat and drink it to your heart’s content without having to worry about bodily injury (1). While dieting, an increased amount of protein will only help you retain muscle mass, and not be a tremendous source of fat mass gain (2). Below are some general recommendations; however, more is better.
If you are an athlete or highly active person currently attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean muscle mass, a daily intake of 1.5-2.2g/kg bodyweight (0.68-1g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target.
If you are an athlete or highly active person, or you are attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean mass, then a daily intake of 1.0-1.5g/kg bodyweight (0.45-0.68g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target.
If you are sedentary and not looking to change body composition much, a daily target of 0.8g/kg bodyweight (0.36g/lb bodyweight) and upwards would be a good target.
Inline image 3
Metabolism
Protein does have a positive role when it comes to the rate of your metabolism. However, your metabolism is incredibly complicated. The image below shows just how different individuals will respond to protein in their diets (3). So increasing your protein will not necessarily be a cure-all.
Inline image 2
Do Sources Matter?
In short, yes the source of protein matters. You want to get a wide variety of protein to get all of the essential, and nonessential, amino acids. Which is why taking BCAA’s is useless. With rapid absorbing sources, like whey, consuming up to 40 grams at a time is useful after a workout (4). Some sources are also better for appetite/hormone control (5). Regardless of the source, it’s important just to try and eat a little bit more protein.
Inline image 4

Summary

As short as this post may be, it’s important to recognize a few things. First, no, you cannot get “too much” protein. Second, there are a lot of nuances when it comes to protein ingestion so a broad overview such as this may not give you perfect information. Consult a registered dietitian, or other healthcare professionals, for details into exactly which sources and quantities you should be getting. Finally, don’t let fear mongering or sensational headlines deter you from doing the right thing. Unlike high fat or high sugar diets, it’s really difficult to gain fat from over-consumption of protein. So go grill up some chicken and be happy!
Resources
1. Leidy, H. J., Carnell, N. S., Mattes, R. D., & Campbell, W. W. (2007). Higher protein intake preserves lean mass and satiety with weight loss in pre‐obese and obese women. Obesity, 15(2), 421-429.
2. Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T., Vargas, L., & Peacock, C. (2016). The effects of a high protein diet on indices of health and body composition–a crossover trial in resistance-trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13(1), 3.
3. Bray, G. A., Smith, S. R., de Jonge, L., Xie, H., Rood, J., Martin, C. K., … & Redman, L. M. (2012). Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial. Jama, 307(1), 47-55.
4. Macnaughton, L. S., Wardle, S. L., Witard, O. C., McGlory, C., Hamilton, D. L., Jeromson, S., … & Tipton, K. D. (2016). The response of muscle protein synthesis following whole‐body resistance exercise is greater following 40 g than 20 g of ingested whey protein. Physiological Reports, 4(15), e12893.
5. Pal, S., & Ellis, V. (2010). The acute effects of four protein meals on insulin, glucose, appetite and energy intake in lean men. British journal of nutrition, 104(08), 1241-1248.

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Take a look at what we know and don’t know about recognizing and treating the enigmatic epidemic.

Are you tired all the time? Feeling mentally foggy all the time? Sleep just doesn’t feel as good as it used to? Well, you’re not alone. Up to 2.5 million Americans have similar symptoms, and as many as 1/4 are homebound or bedridden (1). These symptoms are some of the few that describe systemic exertion intolerance disease (chronic fatigue syndrome); however, little is understood about the issue. Several individuals have asked me about this topic recently, so I thought I would do my best to shed light on this tired topic. So let’s take a look at what we know and don’t know about recognizing and treating the enigmatic epidemic.
 
What Is It Exactly?
Let’s start out with talking about what a syndrome is. It is a set of medical signs and symptoms that are correlated with each other. This is different from a disease which is a health condition that has a clearly defined reason behind it. So, to be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, you need to meet the following criteria (2):
Diagnosis requires that the patient have the following 3 symptoms:
1. A substantial reduction or impairment in the ability to engage in pre-illness levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities that persists for more than 6 months and is accompanied by fatigue, which is often profound, is of new or definite onset (not lifelong), is not the result of ongoing excessive exertion, and is not substantially alleviated by rest AND
2. Postexertional malaise(aAND
3. Unrefreshing sleep(a)
At least 1 of the 2 following manifestations is also required:
1. Cognitive impairment(a) OR
2. Orthostatic intolerance
 a. Frequency and severity of symptoms should be assessed. The diagnosis of systemic exertion intolerance disease (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) should be questioned if patients do not have these symptoms at least half of the time with moderate, substantial, or severe intensity.
In other words, substantial reductions or impairments in the ability to engage in pre-illness activities, unrefreshing sleep, post-exertional malaise (general feeling of not being healthy or happy), and either cognitive impairment or orthostatic intolerance.
Orthostatic intolerance: hypotension, and symptoms, such as lightheadedness, that occur when upright and are relieved by sitting down (3).
 
What It’s Not
Chronic fatigue syndrome is not just the feeling of being tired all the time. If sleep is an issue because you drink a gallon of coffee a day, well then the problem is your nutrition. See the article Woman Who Drinks 6 Cups Of Coffee Per Day Trying To Cut Down On Blue Light At Bedtime for more details. The fact that you’re tired all the time is more than likely self-sabotage in one form or another. You could be anxious about work, nervous that your newborn isn’t breathing because she hasn’t made a noise in over 2 minutes, or jacked up on Mountain Dew. So, don’t go rushing to your doctor because you read this and realized that you’re tired during your work days after you eat lunch!
Chronic fatigue syndrome also is not adrenal fatigue syndrome. Although the reported symptoms are similar, the fact of the matter is that adrenal fatigue DOES NOT EXIST (4)!!! It is a made up disease, developed by quacks, that’s used to sell people supplements/treatments that they don’t need. The real issue probably has more to do with cortisol control, and by trying to treat adrenal fatigue, you are simply prolonging the diagnosis of the real problem. 
Chronic fatigue also is not leaky gut syndrome. Because leaky gut syndrome also DOES NOT EXIST (5)!!! Yes, the permeability of the intestines can be altered. However, there is a complex but dynamic association between mucosal permeability and immune system homeostasis. In other words, things in the gut happen for a reason, they’re not always good or bad, and we don’t know enough one way or another to say what exactly is going on. To be clear, leaky gut syndrome also doesn’t not exist either. But there is no use treating a sick leprechaun with fairy dust in the real world. 
 
Treatment
It has been brought to my attention that the research I cited in this portion of the blog post has been called into question. It seems that the use of cognitive behavioral therapy is not a valid treatment. Instead of deleting this portion of the post, I am striking it out for transparency.
As of right now, there seems to be no gold standard for the treatment of chronic fatigue. However, if you suspect that you have some of the signs or symptoms, please speak with your doctor. You could be mistaking your symptoms ask chronic fatigue when they could be symptoms of a more serious issue such as thyroid dysfunction. Should a treatment become available, I will be sure to update this blog post.
To date, the only real treatment that seems to work is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) (6). CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. The fact that CBT works as well as it does, and other physical treatments like exercise don’t seem to work well, leads me to believe that chronic fatigue syndrome does not stem from a physical ailment (7). However, I am no expert on the subject of psychotherapy vs. physical medicines so I will leave it at that. I will say, that if you feel as if you are a prime candidate for a chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis, see your doctor and discuss the possibility of seeing a mental health professional. 
Resources
1. Marshall, R., Paul, L., & Wood, L. (2011). The search for pain relief in people with chronic fatigue syndrome: a descriptive study. Physiotherapy theory and practice, 27(5), 373-383.
2. Clayton, E. W. (2015). Beyond myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: an IOM report on redefining an illness. Jama, 313(11), 1101-1102.
3. Stewart, J. M. (2013). Common syndromes of orthostatic intolerance. Pediatrics, 131(5), 968-980.
4. Cadegiani, F. A., & Kater, C. E. (2016). Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review. BMC endocrine disorders, 16(1), 48.
5. Ahmad, R., Sorrell, M. F., Batra, S. K., Dhawan, P., & Singh, A. B. (2017). Gut permeability and mucosal inflammation: bad, good or context dependent. Mucosal Immunology, 10(2), 307-317.
6. Gluckman, S. J., Aronson, M. D., & Mitty, J. Treatment of systemic exertion intolerance disease (chronic fatigue syndrome).
7. White, P. D., Goldsmith, K. A., Johnson, A. L., Potts, L., Walwyn, R., DeCesare, J. C., … & Bavinton, J. (2011). Comparison of adaptive pacing therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, graded exercise therapy, and specialist medical care for chronic fatigue syndrome (PACE): a randomised trial. The Lancet, 377(9768), 823-836.

Organic Food: My Current Stance

Part of my job is to stay up to date with the latest trends in the health and fitness world and vet the information for quality. From shake weights, ketogenic diets, and fasted cardio to magic weight loss wraps, diet pills, and green coffee beans, I need to know what it is and why it does or does not work. My stance always comes from that of a skeptic, especially if the claims made about a particular trend are extraordinary. And because science is always pushing forward, my opinions can change over time. The topic of organic food vs. conventional food has been a real SOB to tackle. However, today I wanted to go over where I currently stand. So, is organic food really worth all the extra $$$, or are you buying a Ferrari when a Honda Civic is really all you need?
 
What Makes It Organic?
Let’s first take a quick look at what goes into making a particular food organic. Being certified organic is really a matter of farmers adhering to USDA guidelines. There’s way too much info for me to go over in this post, but check out this link for the specifics. For something to be deemed organic, it needs to be in the condition of being ordered as a living being, or of any chemical that contains the element carbon, regardless of its source. So that means there are chemicals that are allowed in organic farming other than cow poop, such as copper sulfate, boric acid, elemental sulfur, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), ammonium carbonate, and magnesium sulfate. But don’t be worried about all those chemicals. For you to feel any negative side effects of eating conventional herbicide, you would need to eat tons of it per day. I’m sure it’s the same for the organic stuff too. 
chem.png
Organic Food Health Implications
So I’m going to dive right into the heart of the matter and start off by talking about what’s good for your health. And I’m sad to say that there really is no evidence to say that eating organic has any positive, or negative, health outcomes (1). However, there are a bunch of indicators that suggest there may be benefits. For instance, organic food has been shown to have:
 – More Antioxidants (between 18% and 69%)
 – Less cadmium (on average, about 48 % lower)
 – Four-times less likely to contain detectable pesticide residues 
 – Slightly more omega-3 fatty acids (good for the heart)
 – Slightly less saturated fatty acids (good for the heart)
 However, conventional foods have been shown to have;
 – higher concentrations of iodine and selenium (iodine deficiency can lead to impaired fetal brain development)
 – higher concentrations of protein, nitrogen, nitrate, nitrite, respectively (these can have both positive and negative health impacts)
 
At the end of the day, organic foods are not really any more nutritious on a meaningful level but do have some small advantages (2). For instance, it may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria (3). Although pesticide residues for both conventional and organic crops are negligible compared to the safe minimum daily dosage, these are a small but meaningful difference for some individuals.
 
The Cost Of Organic
While everyone knows that the price of organic is greater than conventional foods (by about 47% in fact), what are the other costs of eating organic? Well, the thought of paying more to help out your local farmer is certainly noble, and I highly recommend buying from a farm that you trust and want to support. However, simply buying organic from the supermarket does not help out the little guy despite all the advertising. Organic farming is also bad for the environment
environmental impact
 
Growing organic means you get 35% less food per acre when compared to conventional methods (4). It also means greater ammonia emissions (eye & lung irritant), nitrogen leaching (gets into our water), and nitrous oxide emissions (greenhouse gas) (5). Organic farming can be better for soil health, however. 
 
Final Thoughts
At this point, it may seem like I have been bashing organic foods, but I want to be clear that I am laying out the facts and not making this about one ideology vs. another. The reality is that everyone should be eating more fruits and vegetables regardless of where they come from. No one should feel ashamed because they can’t afford to eat organic foods. Making the choice to eat organic should be about preferences. Although “organic” doesn’t mean it’s any healthier or tastes better if you prefer it over food stuff then go for it (6,7). Don’t let the PR firms fool you; you won’t have any worse health outcomes by eating non-organic foods. Just choose whole food sources from the produce section, and if you want to ensure the highest quality, grow it yourself and/or get to know your local farmers. 
References
1. Barański, M., Rempelos, L., Iversen, P. O., & Leifert, C. (2017). Effects of organic food consumption on human health; the jury is still out!. Food & Nutrition Research, 61(1), 1287333.
2. Dangour, A. D., Dodhia, S. K., Hayter, A., Allen, E., Lock, K., & Uauy, R. (2009). Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 90(3), 680-685.
3. Smith-Spangler, C., Brandeau, M. L., Hunter, G. E., Bavinger, J. C., Pearson, M., Eschbach, P. J., … & Olkin, I. (2012). Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review. Annals of internal medicine, 157(5), 348-366.
4. Seufert, V., Ramankutty, N., & Foley, J. A. (2012). Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture. Nature, 485(7397), 229-232.
5. Tuomisto, H. L., Hodge, I. D., Riordan, P., & Macdonald, D. W. (2012). Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts?–A meta-analysis of European research. Journal of environmental management, 112, 309-320.
6. Fillion, L., & Arazi, S. (2002). Does organic food taste better? A claim substantiation approach. Nutrition & Food Science, 32(4), 153-157.
7. Johansson, L., Haglund, Å., Berglund, L., Lea, P., & Risvik, E. (1999). Preference for tomatoes, affected by sensory attributes and information about growth conditions. Food quality and preference, 10(4), 289-298.

The Cellulite Fight!

Cellulite is a condition that can be found in 80-90 % of post-pubertal women and attracts a wide range of products and treatments.

Cellulite is a condition that can be found in 80-90 % of post-pubertal women and attracts a wide range of products and treatments (1). Marketers take full advantage of the prevalence of cellulite knowing that women, in particular, will try anything at some point to get rid of it. But what really works? In fact, just what the heck is cellulite anyway? Well, like many questions about the human body, the answer is complicated. But the good news is that I’m here to break it down into smooth elegant terms for you.
 
What Is Cellulite?
Cellulite is really just an accumulation of fat cells close to the skin. But, because the fat cells are arranged vertically and are interspaced by blood vessels that connect two layers of fat separated by a coating of fascia, there can be an appearance of lumpiness at the surface of the skin. Cellulite can start as soon as we are born, but most often develops after puberty. Cellulite appears in women more often because estrogen drives fat cell activity of thigh, buttocks, and abdomen. Additionally, prolactin (the breastfeeding hormone) also makes cellulite more visible because it increases water retention in the fatty tissue. Finally, prolonged periods of sitting or standing may impede normal blood flow worsening microcirculation of cellulite prone areas, and decrease insulin control which increases fat storage (2). 
Inline image 1
 
What To Do About It
Because cellulite is made up of a layer of fat interwoven between the muscle, skin, blood vessels, and fibrous connective tissue, there isn’t really a way for many therapies to efficiently work to get rid of it. However, there is no shortage of snake oil salesmen out there willing to take advantage of your insecurities. Here are some examples of the garbage people will try to sell you (3):
🤦‍♀️Foam rolling
🤦‍♀️Iontophoresis
🤦‍♀️Acoustic wave therapy/ultrasound
🤦‍♀️Thermotherapy
🤦‍♀️Pressotherapy/Massage therapy
🤦‍♀️Lymphatic drainage
🤦‍♀️Laser therapy
🤦‍♀️Elecrolipophyresis
🤦‍♀️Mesotherapy
🤦‍♀️Supplements to burn the fat – (theobromine, theophylline, aminophylline, caffeine)
🤦‍♀️Supplements to increase micro-circulation – Ivy and Indian chestnut extracts, ginkgo biloba and rutin, pycegnol
🤦‍♀️Antioxidant and immune modulatory supplements – Vitis Vinifera, borage oil
🤦‍♀️Asiatic centella extract aka guta cola
🤦‍♀️Sillicium
🤦‍♀️Topical creams/lotions (4)
So what does work? Well as tricky as that answer may appear to be, it’s really quite simple. Exercise, healthy lifestyle, and pick your parents wisely. Let me break those down for you a little bit more:
Kick your bad habits – decreasing smoking and drinking will ensure that your microcirculation near the skin is at healthy levels.
Exercise – a lack of exercise will lead to increased fat retention, decreased vasodilation, increased weight gain, increased water retention, increased risk of diabetes. All of which worsen cellulite.
Stress less – too much stress can decrease your ability to renew the structural parts of the skin.
Genes – if your mother and grandmother had it, chances are you will develop it, as well.
Hypothyroidism, diabetes, & high estrogen, low progesterone – While these can be passed on genetically, they can also be managed with help from your doctor. Get these issues under control, and you will see your cellulite go away as a bonus!
The bottom line is that we all know someone who has struggled with cellulite. The good news is that there are practical and easy steps that can be taken to help them, or yourself,  manage and possibly eliminate cellulite without wasting boat loads of money on nonsense treatments. As with many other ailments, the first step for most people is to exercise a little bit more. Just another reason to work your butt off at the gym!
Resources
1. Luebberding, S., Krueger, N., & Sadick, N. S. (2015). Cellulite: an evidence-based review. American journal of clinical dermatology, 16(4), 243-256.
2. Khan, M. H., Victor, F., Rao, B., & Sadick, N. S. (2010). Treatment of cellulite: part I. Pathophysiology. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 62(3), 361-370.
3. Adis Medical Writers. (2015). Cellulite: no clear evidence that any type of treatment is effective. Drugs & Therapy Perspectives, 31, 437-440.
4. Turati, F., Pelucchi, C., Marzatico, F., Ferraroni, M., Decarli, A., Gallus, S., … & Galeone, C. (2014). Efficacy of cosmetic products in cellulite reduction: systematic review and meta‐analysis. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 28(1), 1-15.

You Don’t Know Squat?!

Training the prime movers of the squat is essential for maintaining fitness, a fine physique, and independence into old age. So we ALL need to practice/enhance this skill through exercise.

Squatting is an exercise that we must do everyday. I’m not talking about putting loads of weight on your back and squatting up and down in front of a mirror. I’m talking about the motion itself! We squat when we get in and out of the car, sit down and stand up from dinner or the couch, use the toilet, and in many other daily situations. We squat while doing tasks like picking something off of the ground, getting out of bed, dancing, picking up groceries, and almost any type of athletic movement. Training the prime movers of the squat is essential for maintaining fitness, a fine physique, and independence into old age. So we ALL need to practice/enhance this skill through exercise.
There are dozens of ways that you can squat, and there are hundreds of people who claim to know the “best way” to squat. But for all intents and purposes the squat can be broken down into two basic forms. These two forms are the front and back squat, that can be further distinguished by three basic heights: partial, parallel, and full. Proper form for squatting requires keeping your back flat, heels on the floor, and knees aligned over the feet. And when we talk about the safety of squat variations you don’t just have to consider how far back you sit, how far your trunk leans, or how far your knees travel over the toes; you also have to consider how far you shift forward or backward with the bar relative to the feet, as this influences joint torques considerably. So everything considered, squatting can be very complex. If you want to ensure proper form, it may be worthwhile to seek professional advice.
Inline image 2
Pros And Cons
There are many benefits from squatting in any fashion, but there can also be negative outcomes. The Back Squat is good for increasing tendon, ligament, and bone strength as well as developing speed, power, and strength in the lower back, hips, and knees. The bad news is that it can cause joint degeneration, osteoarthritis and osteochondritis, muscle strains, damage to the ACL, and knee instability.
The Front Squat may be a good alternative for those with knee pain because it is just as effective regarding overall muscle recruitment with significantly less compressive forces on the knees. However, there appears to be no difference between front squat and back squat regarding shear stress on the knee, which is actually fairly low -– a lot lower than, say, knee extensions. Squat depth has been shown to have a significant effect on muscular development at the hip and knee joints. To optimize development of the gluteus maximus (the butt muscles), squats should be carried out through their full range of motion. To target the quadriceps (the thigh muscles), a squat depth of 90 degrees appears to be optimal. Hamstring activation / development are generally unaffected by squat depth. The drawback seems to be that although deep squats seem to be safe in healthy folks, those with PCL disorders should refrain from squatting below 50 to 60 degrees, and those suffering from chondromalacia, osteoarthritis, and osteochondritis may also need to avoid deep squats. Where you place the bar can also be a factor. So after a hip injury, high-bar squats should be used at the beginning to minimize the risk of hip overload. After a knee injury, a squatting technique more similar to the low-bar technique should be preferred. Finally, research shows that box squats and powerlifting squats could be “safer” for the low back compared to traditional squats.
From Noob To Pro In No Time
In this section I will go over how to learn to squat correctly for beginners, progressively squat more for novice squatters, and how to kick it up a notch for the squat masters.
Noobies
Before you go out and throw a barbell on your back, consider learning these basic moves first if you’re a beginner.
1. The hip hinge requires flexibility of the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine and stability in the feet, knees, and lumbar spine. Therefore, hitting the foam roller, or using some preparation exercises might be required pre-hip hinge. To perform this motion, start by shifting your body backwards, place your weight through the heels, and keep a neutral spine position. Practice first with hands on the hips, then add the simultaneous movement of both arms straight forward and above shoulder height.
2. Body weight squats are next. Begin by looking at a mirror to ensure your head is in a neutral position with your gaze forward or slightly up, thoracic spine (mid back) slightly straight and mobile, lumbar spine (low back) neutral and stable, hip joints mobile and bending backward behind heels, and knees stable and in alignment with your hips and feet. Additionally, your feet should be at shoulder width, in a neutral position, with your heels are firmly on the floor. Start the squat motion by beginning with a bend in the hip joints, followed by bending knees to the desired depth while ensuring that your trunk angle (from the floor) is stable in each movement phase.
3. Functional squatting exercises are important for us all. So once mobility, stability, and strength have been developed, we can get creative! See the next section for more on this.
Inline image 1
The novice squatter is someone with established form and proper mobility, stability, and strength. If you’re a novice squatter, you should:
1. Begin at the top by training loaded partial squats to the desired sets and repetitions. Gradually increase your range of motion while keeping in mind that the deeper you squat, the lighter the load should be.
2. Start adding more volume by increasing the frequency you squat per week. To keep it simple, squatting 3 times per week with 3 working sets per session for a total of 9 weekly sets will be plenty for the average gym goer.
3. Gradually increasing weight will be inevitable. The general rule of thumb here is to increase your load by no more than 10% each week.
The advanced squat star (squar?) will want to change things up a bit and get jiggy with it. Shake things up by going for exercises such as single leg squatsplyometric squatssquats with a band around your kneessquat burpiespistol squatsgoblet squats, and unstable squats.

Double The Metabolism Mayhem!

Today’s post is a follow up to last weeks discussion where I went over the basics of metabolism science.

Today’s post is a follow up to last weeks discussion where I went over the basics of metabolism science. As we know, our metabolism is complex and there isn’t much we can do to greatly change it. However, today I wanted to talk about how gaining and losing fat can change the way your brain regulates your body weight. This is a complex area because our body composition can be influenced by a myriad of factors including sex hormone levels, macronutrient intake (especially protein), exercise style / frequency / intensity, age, medication use, genetic predisposition, and more. No ones body defies the laws of physics. So if the calories in calories out equation isn’t working for you, it’s because the equation is more complicated than it sounds.
Calories In
This part is easy. You eat food, so you gain calories from that food… right? Well not exactly. For starters we aren’t very accurate at guessing how many calories are in foods. In fact, food labels can be off by up to 20-25%! Secondly, the amount of energy we absorb, store, and/or use isn’t even close to being uniform! For instance, processed foods (cooked, chopped, soaked, blended, etc.) are broken down plant and animal cells, which means we absorb more energy from them. Have a gut feeling that there’s something more to it? Well you’re right! The bacteria in your gut can also influence the amount of energy we take in from foods. In the end, don’t count on counting calories to correctly calculate the quantity of calories converted to energy. Say that three times fast and receive a free high five!
Calories Out
I would first like to make a correction to last weeks post where I stated “with digestion we use a maximum of 43% of energy from the foods we eat.” Although it is true that the thermic effect of eating consists of burning 0–3% from fat, 5–10% from carbs, and 20–30% from protein, these numbers actually only represent roughly 5-10% energy out. The point here remains that meat sweats are real. Protein requires a lot of energy to digest!
As a refresher, our resting metabolic rate (RMR) accounts for about 60% of our calories out per day. But guess what… that figure can be off by about 15%! That means while I’m a 200-pound guy with an RMR of 1905 calories, another guy just like me might burn 286 more (or fewer) calories each day with no more (or less) effort. Tack on variable from the last two sources of energy out (physical activity and NEAT), and now have a 50% disparity between what can be calculated to calories in and out vs. reality. Ultimately the Energy Balance Equation will look like this.
Damage Done
Because our bodies enjoy consistency (homeostasis), it will respond negatively when you restrict your calorie intake. So what happens when you go on a restrictive diet? The thermic effect of eating goes down because you’re eating less. Resting metabolic rate goes down because you weigh less. Calories burned through physical activity go down since you weigh less. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis goes down as you eat less. Calories not absorbed goes down and you absorb more of what you eat. Hunger signals increase, causing us to crave (and maybe eat) more. A rise in cortisol from the stress of dieting can cause our bodies to hold onto more water. Bad things also happen when you over exercise as well. For instance, over exercising can cause an increased appetite and more calories eaten, absorbing more of what we eat, decreased RMR, and decreased NEAT. YIKES! The good new is that losing weight won’t “damage” your metabolism. Your body simply makes adaptations in response to fat loss (to prevent that fat loss, in fact).
The Bottom Line
 – How your metabolism reacts to changes in energy balance will be unique to you.
 – Food labels are way off, so 1,600 calories eaten daily could really be 1,200… or 2,000.
 – By eating a diet rich in whole, minimally processed foods, the number of calories you absorb can be significantly decreased and require more calories to digest.
 – Eating lots of highly processed foods will increase the calories absorbed, burn fewer calories in the digestive process, be less filling, more energy dense, and more likely to cause overeating.
 – Energy out for those who have lost significant weight will always be lower than for people who were always lean, so keep in mind that exercise provides tremendous health benefits and should be done for more than just weight loss purposes.
 – Losing weight, and keeping it off, is accompanied by adaptive metabolic, neuroendocrine, autonomic, and other changes.
 – Even if your body might defend against weight loss, you can still lose weight, gain muscle, and dramatically change your body.
 – TAKE ACTION by eating plenty of protein, eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, quality carbs, and healthy fats, adjust portions as you plateau, or to prevent plateaus, create an environment that encourages good food choices, do a mixture ofresistanceHIITcardiovascular, and recovery activities, find ways to increase NEAT, create a nightly sleep routine and manage your stress, and eat slowly to enjoy your meals and decrease the total amount of calories consumed.

Metabolism Mayhem!

Almost everyone has heard that our metabolism does… something.

Almost everyone has heard that our metabolism does… something. If you have a high metabolism, you can eat a lot and stay lean. Or maybe, you put on weight just looking at a piece of cake because you have a slow metabolism. But what the heck is the metabolism anyways?!?!?! Well that’s what I’ll be answering today, and I will go over some common misconceptions that I hear all too frequently.
Calories enter your body one way (om nom nom!), but there’s many ways for them to leave it. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) accounts for 60–70% of daily calories burned and included doing things like breathing, thinking, filtering waste. You know… bodily functions required for living. However, your BMR can be subject to many things including your size, composition (body fat%), age, genetics, hormones, and health status. This means even the most accurate way of calculating your metabolic rate (Mifflin-St Jeor equation), can still be about 10% off! Other ways we burn calories include food thermogenesis (digestion) which accounts for 10% of daily calories burned, and physical activity which accounts for 20% of daily calories burned.
Magic Bullets
For health “Guru’s” each area of metabolism is a way to sell a particular magic bullet for fitness or weight loss. But magic bullets don’t exist, so here are a few common myths that have cropped up over the years.
More Meals = More Metabolic Burn – The thought behind this is that if we burn calories by eating, then eating more frequently will burn more calories. While this, in part, is true, it is also very far off point. This is because to help with digestion we use a maximum of 43% of energy from the foods we eat (0–3% from fat, 5–10% from carbs, and 20–30% from protein). In short, eating more frequently means we are doing nothing more that increasing the total amount of calories we eat throughout the day. So if your goal is weight loss, this myth is busted.
I Moved More = I Eat More –  This may be the worst myth because it creates a bad habit! While movement is about 20% of our metabolic demand, only a small portion of that (7-9% daily) comes from the gym! This means if you reward yourself for going to the gym you are doing nothing more than consuming more calories than burned. Most of the calories burned from moving are from doing NEAT things like walking, doing chores, and even fidgeting.
More Muscles = More Food – Another common myth is that as you grow more muscles you burn significantly more calories. Again, a partial truth that has been blown out of proportion by the likes of Dr. Oz, fitness magazines, and other nonsense peddlers. They have claimed that 1 pound of muscle burns an extra 50 calories a day. In reality, a pound of muscle burns 6 calories a day at rest and a pound of fat burns about 2 calories a day. So getting shredded doesn’t mean you have the luxury of eating everything in sight!
Fat Burning Exercise = Weight Loss – As we exercise our body metabolizes fuels like carbohydrates and fats. Someone had the great idea to start burning fat instead of carbs to lose weight! But that’s not how it works. Our fuel source for exercise doesn’t matter at all if you are eating more calories than you are using on a daily basis. So don’t pay any attention to the “fat burn” settings on the cardio machines or fat burning supplements. Just make sure you are working hard to burn as many calories as you can while exercising!
Taking Metabolic Actions
Before you get too down on yourself and think there is nothing that you can do to help stay metabolically fired up, there are a few simple ways to “boost” metabolism. The first thing you can do is simply move more. Take the stairs, park far away, exercise regularly, even standing more will boost your metabolism throughout the day. My second tip is to eat more protein. This simple action will increase thermogenesis as well as muscle mass which are two small things that when put together will have enhanced results. But more importantly, increasing total amounts of protein will make you feel fuller more quickly/longer which will decrease your total caloric intake! Finally, having the perspective of “you lose weight in the kitchen, you gain health in the gym” will help you avoid scams and place focus on the things that are most important.