In this episode, I interview my buddy Kurtis Frank, who’s the co-founder and former lead researcher and writer of Examine.com and the current Director of Research for my supplement company Legion Athletics.
This time around, Kurtis and I dive deep into the science and physiology of appetite, including the body’s primary levers for controlling it, how appetite is influenced by different types of foods and diets, easy ways to reduce your appetite while cutting and increase it while lean bulking, and more.
So, if you’d like to gain a deeper understanding of how your body’s appetite works and how to make it work more the way you’d like, you want to listen to this episode.
4:11 – What is appetite?
6:04 – What are some common factors that screw up natural appetite?
16:15 – How is appetite affected by different types of diets?
17:59 – What do you mean by handling carbohydrates well?
19:13 – What are some signs of insulin sensitivity?
21:04 – How does a high fat diet affect appetite?
22:44 – Is it true that your body is better at sensing food volume than caloric density?
24:46 – Is a high fat low carb diet what it tends to be lower in fiber?
27:35 – If you could cut on 2500 calories per day, should you add more carbs?
30:35 – How do you reduce appetite while cutting?
31:07 – Is it true that having water with food increases the satiating effect?
32:33 – How much water should you drink per day?
33:57 – What else can people do to reduce their appetite while cutting?
36:14 – Does caffeine suppress appetite?
37:38 – Can you sense caffeine tolerance?
38:41 – What are some tips when increasing appetite while bulking?
45:16 – What does the endocannabinoid system affect?
48:19 – If someone is hungry all the time what should they do?
Mike : [00:00:18] Hello, this is Mike Matthews from Muscle For Life and Legion Athletics and it is time for yet another episode of the Muscle For Life podcast. And this time around, I interview my buddy Kurtis Frank, who is the co-founder and the former lead researcher and writer of examine.com and the current director of research for my supplement company, Legion Athletics.
And in this interview, Kurtis and I deep dive into the science and physiology of appetite, including the body’s primary levers for influencing it, how appetite is affected by different types of foods and diets, easy ways to reduce your appetite while cutting, very useful, and increase it while lean bulking, very useful for some people and more.
So if you would like to gain a deeper understanding of how your body’s appetite works and how to make it work more the way that you’d like, you want to listen to this episode.
Mike: [00:03:22] My main man, Kurtis Frank, back on the show, what’s up, man?
Kurtis: [00:03:26] Not much, I am here and ready to talk.
Mike: [00:03:29] How is Canadian Thanksgiving? What is Canadian Thanksgiving anyway?
Kurtis: [00:03:32] Exact same thing as American Thanksgiving, except a month earlier for no reason I can think of, really. It just screws with schedules and working internationally.
Mike: [00:03:42] Interesting. And do you eat turkey?
Kurtis: [00:03:45] Oh yeah, everything the same as the Americans. Except my family is Italian, so I have lasagna for some reason with the turkey, it was quite nice.
Mike: [00:03:53] Interesting. All right, well, I just learned something. So today’s talk is going to be about appetite, which is something I actually haven’t written or spoken much about at all, at least I haven’t really gotten into the details already into here. And I think a good place to start is just physiologically speaking, what is appetite, what are the drivers, what’s going on in our bodies when we are feeling hungry or feeling full?
Kurtis: [00:04:20] There is a surprising amount of different factors that are at play here. And there’s some long term factors that sort of regulate, I guess, in relation to your overall body weight, generally speaking, organisms and I do use that word specifically here that have higher energy stores, a.k.a. obesity, should experience less appetite if they’re in a healthy state because they don’t need the food.
Whereas organisms that have less energy stores experience more appetite. But then there is also an acute, sort of daily flux that usually starts in the morning, although not always, where people just go to get food. Because, understand that in the past, like before we became sapient beings there were a lot of species out there that just kind of died out because they never got energy.
They had no impetus to get energy, they didn’t understand what the heck energy was. They just kind of swam around the ocean then they just died, so they’re not around anymore. But any species that has survived to this point has biological mechanisms in place that spur the organism to go and get food of some sort. That’s the basis of appetite.
When it comes to modern day stuff we understand that we have appetites and hunger and we just try to sort of micromanage it in this ever changing world because we do not evolve to be around neon signs, and marketing, and advertisement, and that can play around with our instincts a little bit.
Mike: [00:05:53] And to that point, you have obviously a lot of overweight people out there, the reason why they are overweight is because they have been overeating for some time now and continue to overeating, continue to gain weight, what are some of the common factors that screw up their natural appetites, why are they?
Because the body instinctively, right, it doesn’t want to be in a caloric surplus regularly, right? It just wants to maintain its current state or am I wrong there?
Kurtis: [00:06:24] Oh, no, you’re right. I don’t know all the reasons, but there is two that have been drilled into my head and I agree with. The first is when it comes to raising a kid. If you have a kid who’s like five or so years old and you instruct them to clean the plate, that is a big no no, you do not teach a kid to shove stuff in their face when they don’t want to. Secondly, there is just marketing commercials and all that stuff …
Mike: [00:06:51] Just to interject there, I assume there’s research on that?
Kurtis: [00:06:54] Yes, there is, it’s been a while since I looked into it but the general idea is that those who have been instructed to force feed themselves as kids, they have sort of dysregulated appetite and normally when your body says, “no, I don’t want any more food,” people who have been forced to force feed themselves as kids because their parents order them to clean the plate, tend to be able to override that accidentally, even. They’re more prone to accidentally eating the entire bag of chips at once.
Mike: [00:07:21] Interesting. I’m just thinking of my son, I have a six year old son, who doesn’t particularly have a big appetite and I feel like, for example, we don’t ask if he wants food, we make him food to make sure that he eats enough and it’s usually the only, I guess, types of food that I’ve myself been like, “you gotta finish eating that,” would be vegetables, which actually he does, which is nice.
He’ll eat broccoli, but if you make a bit of broccoli, he might eat half of it and then I’ll tell him, “okay, finish the other half,” he doesn’t get a reward for it, I just kind of tell him, “Lennox, you gotta finish your broccoli,” but anyways, I was just thinking that I feel like I have to do that a little bit with my son or he probably would under eat.
Kurtis: [00:08:07] Yeah, like I’m not an expert on child development and all that, but I do believe it’s okay as long as it’s kind of infrequent or at least at the very least tied to a sort of stimulant. Like, finish your vegetables means that he’s going to finish his vegetables. But if you get in the mindset of, “always finish everything on your plate under all conditions all the time,” that’s not what you want to do.
Mike: [00:08:31] Interesting.
Kurtis: [00:08:33] I was raised, Italian, so I have a lot of experience, and you eat all the pasta or else grandma’s going to cry. She never cried, I was just that scared of not doing it, so I over ate pasta and became a very fat kid.
Mike: [00:08:46] I see.
Kurtis: [00:08:47] But the other reason that I wanted to get into was marketing. And basically in the past, like we only age food when we are hungry and that makes sense, like you’re hungry, you eat food. But when it comes to marketing, particularly of fast food, but this does apply to all food, when you have like, those commercials where people eating yogurt and they’re smiling and they’re with their friends and it’s a social event, it actually takes the concept of food away from the concept of hunger.
And it’s to the point where sometimes you invite guests over and you’re not hungry, your guests aren’t hungry, you never confirmed hunger at all, and yet you still get food out for some reason. Like, with marketing, just food and hunger have become two separate issues and the more we introduce food into scenarios of which we aren’t actually hungry, then the more dysregulated we become over time.
Mike: [00:09:41] And that’s, of course, by design to associate, you know, positive social experiences, for example, with eating certain types of food or drinking certain types of beverages, like that’s the focus of Coca-Cola’s marketing 100 percent id, “drink Coke when you’re with friends and you’ll have a great time.”
Kurtis: [00:10:02] Yeah, like it’s not good from a health perspective but from a marketing perspective is absolutely genius.
Mike: [00:10:07] Right. And I’m sure one of the reasons why – I think it was, I’m trying to remember, I think it was – there was some research on it, I just want to say that the average person makes over 200 food decisions per day, something like that. And which if you think about it, like what a waste of mental resources.
And that’s one of the reasons why I just tend to eat the same foods every day is: I want to make as few trivial decisions every day as possible because they cost energy, and, you know, research shows that the more decisions you have to make in a day, the worse those decisions become and the more psychologically and then also even physically drained you become.
But you have, I guess, the average person, according to research, I believe it was in that book, Mindless Eating, which I know Wansink,a bit of his research has been shit on for funding biases, but as far as I know, this, in particular, was okay, it pass the sniff test and thinking about, I mean, a couple hundred.
I can’t even imagine thinking about food a couple of hundred times per day, let alone making some sort of decision, “should I eat this should eat that, when should I eat this, when you eat that?” And that is I’m sure, in a large part, a result of the nonstop food marketing.
Kurtis: [00:11:30] Oh yeah, even like a display at a bakery. If they have 20 muffins on display, you may unconsciously make 20 different decisions at once.
Mike: [00:11:38] Yeah, scanning over, “should I eat this one, that one?” Starting to narrow them down, I mean that could be a couple of minutes of mental processing that could be used on other things. I wonder how the world would change if, I mean it changes anyways, but specifically in this way where people would put the energy if food were gone and you just eat a couple pills and that’s it. That was a meal, is a couple pills and you swallow them and you’re done.
Kurtis: [00:12:04] Probably a lot more boring, to be honest.
Mike: [00:12:07] You think so?
Kurtis: [00:12:08] I have a little bit of connoisseur minded to myself. Like my diet that I tend to go on nowadays, all my meals are predetermined except twice of them a week, in which case I just get really fancy with my cooking. And like right now I’m trying to do French omelets and I suck at them, but I’ve designed a ghetto French omelet where everything is perfectly French omelet until I come to the flip, which I suck at, so I screw it up or whatever – tastes the same [laughing].
Like, there is some manner of like, emotional relation we have with food. In particular there’s probably some food that you grew up on that, you can even say objectively speaking, it does not taste that good, but you love it because like that’s something your parents made for you every Friday when they had a bit of extra time.
There is a deep emotional connection with food and we can’t just eliminate that with pills. But at the same time, that is something that marketing does capitalize on, they try to subterfuge or overcome your emotional connection with food to get a brand value on it. Which the more I speak about it, the more despicable it sounds.
Mike: [00:13:19] It goes even further than that, when you look into the world of food science and how engineered many highly processed foods are, Michael Moss’s book Sugar, Salt, Fat, I believe it’s called, is all about that. And as you can imagine, a lot of these food companies go to absolute extremes to discover what they call a food’s bliss point, which is the perfect amount of, mostly it’s sugar, salt, and fat, hence the name of the book, but there are other things, of course, as well that are put into foods to make them more palatable.
But to get to that point where it just perfectly – and it really comes down to, of course, just a neurochemical reaction, but where it gives you the maximum “feel good” per bite or per serving and they are very scientific about discovering that. In some cases you might have, take a chip or something, well that chip or that bag of chips, but it comes down to that flavor profile, actually, it goes beyond the flavor profile, it’s also the mouthfeel, so how thick should the chips be, how crunchy should they be, and then you have all the flavoring.
I mean there could have been hundreds and hundreds of scientific trials conducted with varying levels of both the textural stuff as well as the flavored stuff and just trying hundreds and hundreds of combinations to get to something where they go – beyond this, you know, we’ve taken it so far already, sure it probably can be improved slightly, but this is it, we’ve squeezed definitely the 80 percent out of how delicious we can possibly make this and that’s done with a lot of just mainstream foods that people buying eat.
Kurtis: [00:15:00] Oh, yeah. Then there’s also the psychological aspect, which in my mind is a bit more infuriating. Because like, with the scientific aspect, like it may seem a bit sketchy, but at the end of the day, you kind of respect the fact that they’re putting so much effort onto something.
But then there’s the whole commercials where it’s like a two dollars spaghetti sauce and they’re like, “just like your nana used to make,” and any Italian is just like, “no, that’s not what my nana used to make f-off with that.” [Laughing] Yeah. Like, it’s bloody insulting, “just like your nana used to make.” “No, your highly processed B.S. is not what my nana makes.”
Mike: [00:15:37] That ends up just getting poured over a pile of cold spaghetti and thrown in the microwave.
Kurtis: [00:15:42] Exactly. But at the same time, the only reason to do that is because it does work for a lot of people, particularly those who don’t have nanas us who be into their heads what a spaghetti sauce is. It works for them and they’re the majority demographic.
Mike: [00:15:55] Yeah, which is why marketing and advertising on the whole works at all. It’s not just food, it’s everything, really.
Kurtis: [00:16:04] As long as it increased revenue.
Kurtis: [00:16:06] [Laughter] That’s all that matters. Anything is fair game as long as it does that and no complaints. But if they complain and it doesn’t decrease revenue, it’s still fair game.
Mike: [00:16:17] Now you’re thinking, now you’re thinking.
Mike : [00:17:50] All right, so how is appetite affected by different types of diets, like, for example, low carb, high carb, and then, of course, you have high fat, low fat accordingly or respectively. Certain types of foods that – we could be talking about certain macronutrients individually or just actual foods, for example, apples are known to be particularly satiating, whereas other types of foods are known not to be satiating, how do these interactions work?
Let’s start with high-fat dieting, right, because that’s just the craze now. Ketogenic dieting is so absurdly popular, I’m actually amazed. I mean, just go look at, for example, like the top 100 books on Amazon, and you will be astounded by how many of them are about the Keto diet, keto cookbooks are dominating, it’s kind of strange.
Kurtis : [00:18:45] There’s some truth to that, I guess, because when it comes to how your diet affects appetite, there are two main factors that are important. One of them is a sort of balance between the intake of fats versus carbohydrates and how they interact with your own biology, it’s going to be different for each person.
But the other factor is more of a mechanical fiber-based one. When it comes to the fat and carbohydrate balance, there are some people who can handle carbohydrates very well. They tend to be younger, more athletic, and I don’t really think there’s a major genetic connection, it tends to be just people who ate a lot of carbs in the past and were always very athletic and they were never actually fat at any point in their entire lives.
Mike : [00:19:31] And what do you mean by handling carbohydrates well?
Kurtis : [00:19:36] So the hormone insulin, that is secreted when you ingest carbohydrates, actually suppresses appetite. A lot of people don’t really know this because every time insulin comes up in the conversation, it’s always the negative effects of insulin. But every hormone has positive and negative effects, and insulin is an appetite suppressant that increases cognition, so it’s pretty bloody cool.
The thing is, if you can’t handle carbohydrates well, you go insulin desensitized, which means that the positive effects of insulin are blunted. So it’s not able to suppress appetite as much, it’s not able to increase cognition as much. So when you eat a bit of carbohydrates, your body only gets like, let’s say, half the stimuli from that.
So then your body assumes we only eat half as much carbohydrates as you needed, we need to eat a bit more to get the full stimuli, so you end up eating double the amount of carbohydrates. These are the type of people who do well on a ketogenic diet because they just eliminate carbs from the entire equation. But for people who this does not exemplify, they can eat carbs just fine and have no problems with appetite or anything.
Mike : [00:20:50] So if someone’s listening, wondering, “do I do well with carbs or not do well, I’m not sure?” What are some of the – let’s say you have a problem with insulin sensitivity or you have somebody who has lower insulin sensitivity and they eat, let’s say it’s a decent amount of carbs, let’s say it’s 80, 100 grams of carbs, how might they experience that, especially after the meal versus somebody with high good insulin sensitivity?
Kurtis : [00:21:18] The major factor would be, sort of, blood sugar levels. If you’re the type of person who could eat, either a small or large amount of carbohydrates and not feel any different, like you just feel normal, then you probably have good insulin sensitivity, but if you eat a small amount of carbohydrates and you’re fine.
But you eat a large amount of carbohydrates and all of a sudden you go from a bloated to a highly energetic stage to a very lethargic downstate, and you have a big old curve of like, energized to lethargic, energized to lethargic that is completely based on when you eat carbs, that is a major sign of you probably not handling carbohydrates all that well.
And I guess another one would just be: if you would have a meal that has x-amount of calories, let’s say 500, and the protein is kept static, if you were to have a meal that has fats or you would have a meal that would have carbs alongside the protein, of course, they’re both kind of equally satiating, like they both fill you up kind of the same amount, you’re probably good on the instant sensitivity.
But if the meal with fats fills you up, but the meal with carbohydrates actually sort of makes you a bit more hungry, makes you want more, then that’s probably a sign that you’re not the best at insulin sensitivity.
Mike : [00:22:36] Makes sense, that was the first factor, right, was the hormonal factor, was there anything else in addition to insulin on how a high-fat diet can play into appetite and how it can affect appetite?
Kurtis : [00:22:54] Not necessarily for the high fat and carb dichotomy. Like, fats themselves or satiating, so that is something to remember, but also proteins are satiating, so if all three are satiating, it does really mean much. Like, folks on carbs because they’re the ones that flip back and forth the most, but beyond that, there is a mechanical aspect.
And by mechanical, I quite literally mean physical pressure base. There’s a type of receptor in the body, known as a mechanoreceptor, now you hear about the insulin receptor, it reacts when insulin touches it. The testosterone receptor on the nucleus responds when testosterone touches it. Mechanoreceptors respond to physical stimuli.
A good example is if you have your arm and you slap it and you feel a bit of pain, but you didn’t disperse molecules when you slapped your arm, it was quite literally physical stressors. There have to be receptors on your body to perceive physical stressors. There’s a lot of them in the stomach and the intestines. Basically, your stomach is an organ that is quite small initially and can expand quite a lot.
But the more it expands, the more the mechanoreceptors are activated, and the more they suppress appetite. Because, I mean, if your stomach’s full, it kind of means that you’re eating a bunch of food, you don’t need to put any more food in your stomach, it might damage the actual tissue.
Mike : [00:24:17] And it’s true, right, that your body is better at sensing food volume than caloric density, right? So you could have high volume, low-calorie food and that can be quite filling, whereas a low volume, high-calorie food can be a lot less filling, even though you would think, you say, “well, body, you’re getting a lot more energy here, I don’t need to keep eating,” but that’s just how it works, right?
Kurtis : [00:24:42] Yeah, like, I am uncertain if one is more strong than the other, it probably varies from individual to individual. But generally speaking, if you can keep the calories constant, increasing volume will suppress appetite. If you can keep the volume constant, then increasing calories will also suppress appetite. They’re both independent factors that play alongside each other.
Mike : [00:25:05] Makes sense.
Kurtis : [00:25:06] And when it comes to just diet – when it comes to a stick of broccoli, you have the stick of broccoli in your hand, you’re looking at it, it’s probably not 100 grams of green right in your hand. But you look at it, at the nutritional label, and it’s like four grams of fiber and like two grams of protein, one gram of fat, there’s like 10 nutritive grams in the hundred grams of green you have in your hand.
That’s 90 grams of stuff that just has to go through your body and may contribute to appetite suppression. So as a general rule of thumb, when it comes to your diet, even independent of macronutrient balance: the more bulk you have, the better. And soluble fiber also plays a part because it’s just as gel-forming properties and one gram is soluble fiber may turn into like, 10 grams of soluble fiber grabbing all the water it can and just making a big ball, making pressure and all that.
Mike : [00:26:05] Wow, I didn’t know it could expand that much.
Kurtis : [00:26:08] I don’t think it’s a ten-fold expansion, it’s probably more like four to fivefold. But generally speaking, it has surprisingly expansive properties. Well, it depends on the soluble fiber, they’re all different.
Mike : [00:26:19] The point there then, right, is a high fat, low carb diet, what? It tends to be lower in fiber?
Kurtis : [00:26:24] Yes, pretty much because some keto diets have, let’s say, a 20-gram carbohydrate limit, and some people then just say, “whatever, there aren’t carbs in meat and butter,” and they only eat wheat and butter. But if you want to optimize the keto diet, you’re gonna need to have some really low carb vegetables.
So you have your meats, you have your butters, have your nuts and all that, but then you have some broccoli, some lettuce, some kale also and that stuff will help a lot in the long run. And so some people assume that vegetables are the carbohydrate source, like their low-calorie carbohydrate sources, but they’re still carbohydrate sources, so they avoid them, and that is not optimal when it comes to a keto diet.
Mike : [00:27:09] Yeah, if you’re really going to keep your carbs at 20 grams or under, you’re not going to get enough fiber in your diet. Even if you go, “okay, I’m just going to eat meat and broccoli,” you’re not going to have very many calories or grams of carbohydrate left for the broccoli.
Let’s say you’re a guy into weightlifting because you have to eat quite a bit of meat, depending on what it is, I mean, what would you think, for an average dude that’s eating, let’s say, 150 to 180 grams of protein a day from meat and then if you add in any other animal product, I don’t know if you can keep that under 10 to 15 grams of carbs because of the trace amounts, maybe.
Kurtis : [00:27:49] The only way would be like sugar-free Metamucil, but even then like, the entire point of eating vegetables is to have the bulk, not necessarily just the fiber. It’s a partial reason why I don’t personally like keto diets. I like low carb diets, they’re great. Because the 15 to 20-gram limit is up to like 50 or maybe even 70 and that allows a lot more veggies. It’s basically a keto diet where you triple the veggies. Like, that’s the type that I like, but it can’t be classified as keto at that point.
Mike : [00:28:22] Yeah, of course. And when you say that you like, you mean you like for you personally, or?
Kurtis : [00:28:28] For me, like, that’s the diet I use when I’m cutting because like, I wouldn’t say hyperthyroidic, but I do bulk on 1,800 calories a day. So food doesn’t like me all that much. That is the diet I use for cutting and when it comes to bulking I just add in a few carb sources.
But I personally would recommend that diet to any non vegan person who wants to lose weight. Like when it comes to just eating meat products and a ton of veggies, you can’t really go wrong with that, unless you have some like, manner intestinal disorder that your doctor cautions you about eating certain veggies.
Kurtis : [00:29:05] Sure. I mean, I guess it also depends on how many calories you’re working with, right? So if you could cut on 20, let’s say you would start your cuts on 2,500 calories a day, I’m assuming you would add some other carbs and it wouldn’t just be vegetables, right?
Mike : [00:29:19] Well, if I were to cut on, 2,500 then I would personally add more carbs. But since I cut on 1,800 or whatever, I have like, maybe one grain sauce a day. And honestly, about a week into my cutting diets, I switch out that grain source for just having sugar during my workouts, because, oh my God, does it preserve strength so much.
Mike : [00:29:40] Yeah, I mean that’s a good tip for anybody who has to cut, well first I’ll say this: if anybody has to cut on lower calories is: have your carbs around your training. Especially have some calves before your training.
Kurtis : [00:29:53] I personally make a drink. Like, I have some Pulse and then I just mix in some carbohydrates. I drink half of it about 20 minutes before my workout, then I just bring the bottle with me just to sip it throughout. It does a lot. Just the sugars itself, do a lot to preserve strength during a cut.
Mike : [00:30:10] And you probably also get the acute performance benefits, right, that haven’t been shown with just having carbs in your mouth. You have like the mouth swishing studies, for example.
Kurtis : [00:30:19] Oh yeah, but again, I mean, and cutting diet, so it’s not like I’m …
Mike : [00:30:22] No, not at all. But you’re doing everything you can too – I mean, I’m happy if I can get through a cut, like a real cut, you know, that takes 8 to 12 weeks with only having lost a few reps on my big lifts and not even having to go down and wait necessarily – I’m happy.
Kurtis : [00:30:38] Well, yeah, that’s kind of what I’m at. Like, every now and then I break a new record on a cut, but it’s not frequent, but at the very least, I have my pride intact. Like my lifts don’t go down 20 percent, which is like a sad lump of muscle then, not fat anymore.
Mike : [00:30:57] Less muscle [laughing].
Kurtis : [00:30:58] Less muscle, but more or less fat.
Mike : [00:31:00] So do you cut on 1,800 or do you bulk? Previously you said bulk but maybe you misspoke.
Kurtis : [00:31:06] Okay, so I may have been a bit facetious back then. So when I cut, I tend to be in the 1,400 to 1,800 range. When I bulk I tend to be in the 2,000 to 2,400 range.
Mike : [00:31:17] I see. Does that depend on how much you’re training?
Kurtis : [00:31:21] But even then like when I’m on 2,400 calories a day I do start to pack on fat which seems very unfair given how hard I train like, I’ve seen people just downing 4,000 calories a day is like, “you motherfucker, I want to eat McDonald’s.”
Mike : [00:31:36] Yeah, until you do it for a little bit and then it gets real old.
Kurtis : [00:31:40] Yeah.
Mike : [00:31:40] I haven’t done a real lean bulk in a while because I haven’t really wanted to, but the last time I did, in the end, I was eating – I had to eat 4,000-ish calories a day just to keep gaining weight.
I was gaining a quarter to a half-pound a week and it sounds nice, and it was kind of fun, but then at the end, I actually couldn’t – I had to force-feed myself, that’s what it felt like. I couldn’t wait to cut just so I could cut my calories in half and just not have to eat two dinners every day.
Kurtis : [00:32:09] Reducing appetite when cutting – the first go to first of all is water. It’s kind of a basic one, like anyone who’s already in the know and drinking a lot of water shouldn’t need to drink more water.
But when you’re doing your first cut, sometimes people just forget to drink a lot of water and they would be surprised at how much it actually increases appetite when you’re not having your belly filled with water. Beyond that, I would aim for the general idea of increasing the bulk of your diet without increasing calories …
Mike : [00:32:40] Regarding the water, just to ask, is it true – I feel like I’ve heard this and maybe even seen some research on it, but I can’t remember exactly – that having water with food actually even increases the satiating effect?
Kurtis : [00:32:53] I think those studies are based more on the temperature of water. The idea that if you drink ice-cold water, it would increase the metabolic effect that your body – like, your body, would need to expend more energy and heat to metabolize the water. And those studies ended up being technically true, but so insignificant that it didn’t really matter that much.
Mike : [00:33:14] Sure, no, this was actually just on the satiating effect of water when combined with food. Anyways, it just randomly popped in my head. I think I was writing a long-form article on water and I came across and I was like, “oh, that’s kind of randomly interesting,”
I don’t even know if I mentioned it because I was like, “yeah, it may just be increasing the volume of meal,” like whatever, it’s not worth diving into because it’s insignificant one way or the other, but I thought I would ask.
Kurtis : [00:33:39] Well, if anything, related to the whole soluble fiber expanding aspect, because even though soluble fiber expands the most, all carbohydrates expand a little bit when paired with water. So eating carbohydrates along with drinking water could very well increase the amount of mechanoreceptors activated, and could increase the satiety. But at the very least, the general rule of thumb: just drink water all the bloody time and you won’t need to care much about this.
Mike : [00:34:06] So, yeah, exactly, just drinking, what? Three-quarters of a gallon per day is probably a fair recommendation for most people?
Mike : [00:34:13] I tend to go on a clear urine analysis. If you piss and it looks like water, you’re drinking enough water. If you piss and it looks yellow drink more water.
Mike : [00:34:22] I mean, what I do is I just keep – what is this flask? It’s probably a liter and a half, it’s just metal, and I fill it up and I’m always just kind of sipping, so for people listening 0 there was a bit of government research just on basic recommendations for macronutrients and then water.
It was about three-quarters of a gallon, so you already get water from your food as well, but just have water nearby and just kind of drink – I just kind of drink as I get thirsty, if I notice, and then I drink a little bit, and I drink a little bit, and it probably comes out to about a gallon per day.
Kurtis : [00:34:54] How much does a gallon in Canadian terms? You imperial scum [laughing].
Mike : [00:35:01] I was going to say, three and a half liters, something like that?
Kurtis : [00:35:03] Yeah, because like I remember back when I first started lifting, people said to drink two liters of water a day, I was shocked at how to watch water that was like, “how could anyone do that?” And now I’m sitting here holding a 1.5 Liter bottle thinking, “I go through three of these a day without trying.”
Mike : [00:35:19] Exactly. You just get into the habit of it, you don’t even think about it anymore.
Kurtis : [00:35:23] You just adapt. Like, you don’t sip, it just kind of falls down your throat like half a gallon at a time.
Mike : [00:35:30] [Laughing] So what else can people do to reduce their appetite while cutting?
Kurtis : [00:35:35] Beyond the whole, finding the micronutrient that works for you and focusing on the bulk in your diet and then drinking water.
Mike : [00:35:42] I think that’s a good tip, I think that should be highlighted that people – if you do have appetite problems while cutting, if you do tend to be hungry, and if it is at a level where it’s annoying, then doing that test that Kurtis was talking about earlier would make sense to find out, I guess, really what you’re trying to find out is how …
Kurtis : [00:36:02] Whether you’re a fat person or a carb person.
Mike : [00:36:04] Yes, exactly, and then adjusting your diet accordingly.
Kurtis : [00:36:09] And then, of course, increasing protein intake is always beneficial. Protein does not contribute to fat gain but contributes to satiety. Given how both carbohydrates and fat could potentially contribute to fat gain, the third micronutrient doesn’t do that, so increase that to about 40 percent of calories or 150 grams, whichever is easier.
But beyond those are the last avenue would be anything pertaining to adrenaline or the fight or flight response. The more adrenaline you have circulating through your veins every now and then, the better. Because adrenaline-like, when it comes to the fight or flight response, you could fight, you can flight, and recent evidence suggests you can also freeze, but in none of those situations are you eating.
This is because all the catecholamines suppress appetite and if you can stimulate your body in such a way, it will suppress appetite. And if there are certain times of the day of which your appetite peaks, if you time exercise at those specific times, you could potentially negate the increase in appetite.
So if you have your lunch and all of a sudden at 3:30 pm, you get really, really hungry, you could potentially just have a workout at 3:00 pm and completely oblate that hunger. So timing, when your body becomes stimulated by adrenaline, could potentially go a long way in having a successful cut. It will need some practice, however, because there’s a difference between ablating and just stalling the hunger for an hour. So to each their own, you need to like, play around with it a bit.
Mike : [00:37:47] And what about for people who can’t go work out at 3:00 pm, I guess you could maybe have some caffeine if that’s not going to interfere with your sleep?
Kurtis : [00:37:58] I’m not sure if I’m going to recommend that anyways to you, even if I can’t. Efrogin would probably be the better one because efrogin reliably increases catecholamines. Caffeine only does it when you’re not tolerant to it. If you take caffeine daily, then taking more caffeine won’t suppress appetite. But if you never take caffeine and you want to take it once a week, it could be a very viable option to suppress appetite.
Mike : [00:38:22] You think just once a week, you couldn’t go a few times a week and still maintain your sensitivity?
Kurtis : [00:38:28] The thing is, with caffeine, like there is the whole intrapersonal variation, so each person is going to differ a bit. But caffeine tolerance is kind of like a guy waiting around the corner with a brick, it just bloody hits you and you’re out for two weeks. Some people can only have caffeine once a week.
Some people can have 150 milligrams four times a week and still be tolerant. But as soon as you cross your individual line and you become tolerant, it is the insurmountable tolerance, so it’s kind of like a light switch, it’s like, “bam, you’re tolerant now. Okay, wait a month and maybe you can try again.” So when it comes to this topic, it’s best to be a bit more prudent and slowly inch up.
Mike : [00:39:11] Am I correct in that: that tolerance is not something that you can sense because you can still get the energy, the boost in energy, but now it’s no longer going to give you the, you know, the fat loss effects are not going to be there, the appetite suppressing effects are not going to be there, but you still feel it.
Kurtis : [00:39:29] You can sense it, but at the same time it’s very easy to accidentally ignore it. Because caffeine both has pro stimulatory effects and anti sedation effects. And when you’re tired, any anti sedation effect will feel like a stimulatory effect. The anticipation effects, caffeine will always persist.
So if you’re somebody who wakes up in the morning and you’re tired, caffeine will always work for you. But these anti sedation effects are not the fat burning effects, nor are they the appetite suppressing effects. It is the pro stimulatory effects that have those properties and these are the ones that could potentially become tolerant to if you take a bit too much caffeine.
Mike : [00:40:12] I see, makes sense. Okay, I think we should flip to the other side now of increasing appetite while bulking. What are some tips for people who struggle to eat enough when they’re bulking?
Kurtis : [00:40:24] Weed and cookies, basically.
Mike : [00:40:25] Weed or wheat?
Kurtis : [00:40:28] [Laughing] Weed and cookies. Let me start with the cookies ones because it’s a bit more interesting. The hormone insulin suppresses appetite, but the sensation of sweetness stimulates appetite. If we are to eat normal food, these two things balance each other out.
And this is the dichotomy that sometimes comes up a lot when it comes to artificial sweeteners that have a sort of perception of sweetness which stimulates appetite, but then don’t increase insulin so they don’t have a refractory suppression of appetite. And I bring this up because when it comes to a lot of bodybuilders who bulk on high calories or simply have low appetites, a common technique is: have ginger cookies.
Because ginger, first and foremost, has a bit of anti-nausea effects. And the anti-nausea effects can help if you’re just cramming a bunch of food in your stomach. And ginger cookies are also very sweet, so you take a bite of your actual meal, then you nibble on a ginger cookie, and it just kind of slowly stimulates the appetite a little bit because you perceive sweetness.
And maybe it reduces nausea just enough for you to shove another pile of steak in your face. That’s like a sort of a, I’m not sure if I can say “ghetto” solution, but it’s totally a ghetto solution, just get some ginger cookies.
Mike : [00:41:48] It’s a simple one. What about something like diet cola or diet soda?
Kurtis : [00:41:53] I do not think that would be a viable option because they are carbonated. Unless you can burp large amounts at will, carbonated beverages will increase the pressure in the stomach and activate the mechanoreceptors.
Mike : [00:42:05] And so on the flip side, then when you’re cutting, that may help, or?
Kurtis : [00:42:10] Oh, of your cutting, yes. Especially if you’re somebody who just cannot burp, then like, diet sodas can increase pressure in the stomach and suppress appetite.
Mike : [00:42:19] Well then it can be any carbonated beverage, it could be sparkling water or just straight soda water or I guess if you don’t want to be drinking a bunch of artificial sweeteners if you’re concerned about that, it could just be some naturally sweetened like, what is there, Zevia, I think that’s one of them, right, that’s out there?
Kurtis : [00:42:37] I think so. Like actually I did a test in the past about how effective pressure was when it comes to regulating appetite, and, you know those weightlifting belts, the ones that you just tie around your gut and tighten? I basically did that like, just at the dinner table, put on a weightlifting belt, tightened it, and chugged two liters of Diet Coke. I do not recommend this. It hurt. A lot.
Mike : [00:43:02] That sounds awful.
Kurtis : [00:43:03] Yeah, I didn’t want to eat for an entire day so I guess it worked.
Mike : [00:43:06] [Laughing] New diet.
Kurtis : [00:43:08] Yeah, pressure is a surprisingly strong regulator on appetite.
Mike : [00:43:14] Science.
Kurtis : [00:43:16] Beyond that, I casually mentioned weed earlier. It’s because when it comes to dietary supplements, appetite stimulants, there’s no good supplement option for that stuff. All potential dietary supplements to stimulate appetite, they just bloody suck. Just go on a casual walk around the neighborhood surpasses any appetite stimulant on the market, except marijuana.
Marijuana is the only thing that actually seems to have an honest to God appetite stimulant effect. It may be like a small amount of alcohol, I know at our retirement homes they say that a little bit of sherry helps everything go down and it’s because a small amount of alcohol could also stimulate the appetite.
But generally speaking, when we’re in the health and wellness field and the only two potential beneficial options are alcohol and weed, it’s a bit of a weird category to get into.
Mike : [00:44:11] I don’t have much to comment there because I’m not into either and I haven’t really looked into – it’s pretty well established now that drinking alcohol regularly is just bad for you, period. And I guess there’s more and more evidence coming out that indicates it may just be bad, even if you’re just drinking intermittently, that may, at least have no health benefits, really.
But as far as weed goes, I don’t know, I mean, obviously, it’s a thing these days and it’s becoming more and more of a thing and people are talking about cannabinoids and I don’t know. I haven’t looked into it, it’s not particularly interesting to me, so I don’t know what to say.
Kurtis : [00:44:47] Well, it is interesting to me, so can I ramble?
Mike : [00:44:49] Are you into it? Do you smoke it yourself?
Kurtis : [00:44:53] No I don’t, because basically when someone does smoke marijuana, they list off a few effects, a few benefits for them: it reduces anxiety, it makes them more chill, it reduces pain or whatever, but I’m never anxious, I have like, minimal motivation at times, and I am highly resilient to pain, so the effects of weed are basically like, my basic position.
If I were to actually use marijuana, then I would just become like a bump on the log, completely unmotivated POS, so I don’t use it. But it’s interesting because there is weed and it had effects. And like, weed is Cannabis Sativa. And the system of the body is called the endocannabinoid system.
We literally found weed affecting a system that we did not even know existed and then we figured out that the system existed and it was just like an entirely new realm of science because people started smoking weed and refused to stop. So it’s a bit interesting because stuff like this almost never happens, we usually know of the systems before we know of like, a prime inducer of that system.
But the endocannabinoid system is literally named after marijuana, so it’s just really interesting from a scientific perspective. But beyond that the endocannabinoid system is one of the major regulators of appetite and not just for marijuana or things you put in your face that influence it.
But it turns out fatty acids in the body, a major reason they suppress appetite is because they turn into different sort of fatty acids that influence the endocannabinoid system. There is one called and then anandamide, which is, I believe, a metabolite of an omega-6 fatty acid, but it is a major appetite suppressant and the human body at just normal levels.
Mike : [00:46:49] What else does this system affect?
Kurtis : [00:46:52] Endocannabinoids, anxiety, it dips into. The major ones are appetite and pain sensation. I’ve had an opinion for a while that businesses, like large scale businesses, have everything wrong with giving a golden watch to people who retire. They should give a golden watch to people who just get hired with a company because that’s when you care about status.
But when you retire they should just give you a big bag of weed because weed is the perfect old person drug. If your joints are going downhill, weed can help with that. If you have muscular pain, weed can help with that, “oh, you have glaucoma?” Weed can help with that. “Oh, you have a little bit of mental degradation?” Weed can help that. And old people even have a suppressed appetite, so weed can help with that. Like, weed is the perfect geriatric drug.
Mike : [00:47:42] [Laughing] I did not know that, but it makes sense. We can all look forward to our later years. Just live in a weed induced stupor. “I’m old, what do you want?!”
Kurtis : [00:47:53] Some of the oldest people in the world – because I remember there were a few times in the past, people tried to unlock the secrets of longevity, and so they tried to find the oldest people in the world and how they lived so long. But it was hilarious because it’s not like all these people just like, fight for one hour every day and eat healthy food.
No, there’s like one Frenchman who smoked two cigars every day and just said F off every other sentence, which I love, he was like 110. And then there’s a bunch of people just like, “yeah, I don’t know why I’m still alive, I just smoke weed.”
Mike : [00:48:27] [Laughing] You know, I have no interest in writing this book so I’ll just openly say, there’s a book that could go supernova because anything related to longevity, it’s a hot, hot area, that stuff sells, as we see, the marketing machine is constantly churning stuff out, and weed is super popular right now, and you have a lot of people that would love to just have another reason to smoke a bunch of weed, so there’s a book.
Kurtis : [00:48:53] Two dozen people probably already writing it.
Mike : [00:48:56] Yeah, it’s true, actually.
Kurtis : [00:48:58] Yeah, you have weed plus marketable term, put them together, write the book.
Mike : [00:49:02] Exactly. All we need is some fake science to show that smoking weed can help you lose weight or something, then that’ll be a whole thing.
Kurtis : [00:49:12] It’s epidemiological research, so survey-based. And pretty much you have two groups of people, those who smoke weed, those who don’t, and they self report the same amount of caloric intake, the people who smoke weed have better insulin sensitivity and lower body fat.
Mike : [00:49:28] That’s all that’s needed for some headlines and there’s a whole brand right there. There are your diet and weight loss book and there’s the cannabis cookbook to go with it.
Kurtis : [00:49:36] You say correlation. I say scientific evidence.
Mike : [00:49:40] [Laughing] Correlation, causation, whatever “tomayto, tomahto.”
Kurtis : [00:49:43] [Laughing] Yeah. So, yeah, weed could be good for stimulating appetite, but check the legality of it in your area. Don’t blame me if shit goes wrong.
Mike : [00:49:52] All right. Well, the last question I had was: if somebody’s hungry all the time, what should they do? I don’t know if there’s anything actually to add in addition to the strategies you’ve shared, but if you do have anything, now would be the time to spit it out.
Kurtis : [00:50:06] Well, if you were in that position, first and foremost, this is actually a technique that I have used a lot and it’s video games. And it’s not necessarily just because it’s video games, it’s because sometimes when I’m really hungry …
Mike : [00:50:19] First weed now video games. [Laughing]
Kurtis : [00:50:22] Oh, yeah, you know exactly what type of person I am now. But it’s because sometimes when I’m really hungry, it’s literally because I’m bored. Like emotional eating is an entire spectrum of science.
Mike : [00:50:35] Yes. I think a lot of people, we’ve all experienced that. I mean, I know a couple of guys at the office will openly say that. They’ll say like, on the weekends, they have to make sure that they’re basically not bored, that they’re doing things or they’ll just end up eating random food.
Kurtis : [00:50:48] Yeah. And for me, video games was my unique spot, because every now and then there’s a video game that I could pull myself away from if I wanted to, but if I have no reason to, I’m not going to. For me, Minecraft was the example because it’s basically zombie apocalypse Lego.
And a lot of times I’ll just like, intentionally not play the game, so my desire to play it increases, then when I’m cutting and I get into one of those days where I’m like, I really just want to shove stuff in my face, I’ll intentionally play a somewhat addictive game, just take my mind off it. And it turns out that the vast majority of the time, just taking my mind off a situation works completely.
Mike : [00:51:29] So there’s yet another diet weight loss strategy in the making. Give people a reason to play more video games. [Laughing] The point, though, is anything that takes your mind off of food, right?
Kurtis : [00:51:44] Exactly, like it could be a walk, it could be doing some chores around the house, but you just have to play around with it just to find what’s most successful to you. It may not necessarily be productive, but, you know, as long as you enjoy doing it or you need to do it otherwise, then it could work.
And beyond that like, the only stuff’s really worked for me, aside from keeping protein intake high, which is not really an acute thing, is sometimes just eating vegetables with a carbonated beverage. I wouldn’t say it’s all that pleasant, sometimes it does cause a little bit of gastrointestinal pain, but I can’t recall the last time that I was in gastrointestinal pain and was also hungry. It just completely negates my desire to put more food in there and just make the problem worse.
Mike : [00:52:26] There’s also something to be said for making sure you’re getting enough sleep as well. If you’re not sleeping enough it’s going to make it rough.
Kurtis : [00:52:32] Oh, definitely. As a general rule of thumb, every problem in life is worsened by lack of sleep.
Mike : [00:52:37] Yes, that’s true. All right, well, I think that’s everything. That was great. That was very insightful, as always, my friend.