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Is calories in versus calories out “bad science”? Are all calories the same? Will dieting damage your metabolism? Do you have to eat big to get big? Does sugar make you fat and unhealthy? Does eating carbs at night cause weight gain? Answers to all those questions and more in this podcast.
In this podcast, I’m sharing an excerpt from the audiobook version of the latest fourth edition of my bestselling book, Bigger Leaner Stronger. In case you’re not familiar with it, Bigger Leaner Stronger is a fitness book for men who want to gain muscle, lose fat, and get healthy faster than they ever thought possible. In this episode, I’m sharing chapter 7, which is all about the biggest diet myths and mistakes that derail many people’s progress.
You’re going to learn about calories in and calories out, the myth that carbs and sugars make you fat and unhealthy, clean eating, and a lot more.
And if you like what you hear in this selection, you’re sure to enjoy the rest of the audiobook.
Let’s get to it!
0:00 – Get the BLS audiobook: https://geni.us/AefbLX
10:44 – The 10 Absolute Worst Diet Myths and Mistakes
Mentioned on the Show:
Bigger Leaner Stronger Audiobook: https://geni.us/AefbLX
BLS eBook: https://legionathletics.com/products/books/bigger-leaner-stronger/
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello. Hello, I’m Mike Matthews. This is Muscle for Life. Thank you. Thank you for joining me today for something a little bit different. Something I do, I guess every year or so, cuz I tend to release a new book or two every year or so. And I like to feature a few of the chapters from the audiobook here on the podcast.
Because if you like this podcast, if you like evidence-based health and fitness information, then I think you will probably, I hope you will like the audiobook and my, my selection from the audiobook. And of course, if you like my selection from the audiobook, you will probably like the rest of the audiobook.
Or if you don’t do audiobooks, if you are like me and you prefer to read, I like to read digitally. I read on my phone in the Kindle app, or if you like to read hard copies, which I actually prefer the most. As far as the reading experience goes, but I really like the convenience of reading in my phone and being able to make highlights and notes and then easily extract all that out into Google Docs and so on and so on.
But anyway, my point is if you like what I feature in the audiobook, you’ll probably like the book, and I hope that some of you will then decide to pick up a copy of the book and give it a full read or give it a full listen. And so today’s episode is a feature from the audiobook of the new fourth edition of my bestselling book, my number one bestselling book, period.
I’ve sold, I think I’m over 700,000 copies now of this book. And it is Bigger, leaner, stronger, which is a fitness book of course, specifically for men. Really, the, the target demographic is men aged, let’s say, well, 16 is probably where it starts to be appropriate. Let’s just say 18 2, 45 or 50. Uh, men and men who don’t have any major physical limitations that would prevent them from being able to do basic barbell and dumbbell training who are ready to get into the gym.
Or a gym. It can be a home gym, can be a garage gym and throw some weights around, pick some heavy stuff up and put it down. And for people who are older than that, particularly older than that, and out of shape, or people who are not ready to grab a barbell, grab a dumbbell, I would recommend my book, muscle For Life.
That is specifically for, let’s say the 40 to 45, maybe 50 plus crowd, men and women, particularly people who are very new to fitness, who are very out of. And who can’t do heavy squats and heavy deadlifts, or shouldn’t be doing that just yet, who need to work toward the squats and the deadlifts and so forth.
And so in today’s episode, you are going to hear about 10 diet myths and mistakes. And this is a chapter from Bigger, leaner, stronger 4.0, BBLs 4.0 as I am calling it. And you are gonna learn about calories in and calories out. There are many people out there who claim that’s just bad science and that is not true.
You also learn though that calories in versus calories out is not all that matters. There are people who claim that caco, or actually no, how do you pronounce the acronym? C I C O, calories in calories out. There are people who say that that’s all you need to know. That’s all you should care about. If you want to just maintain a healthy body weight or a healthy body composition and that is wrong as well.
Not all calories are the same. You do need to go beyond just calories in and calories out to maintain a healthy body weight. Uh, maintain a healthy body composition in particular, that’s more important than a healthy body weight. You are also going to learn about the myth that carbs and sugars make you fat and unhealthy.
That is not true. You’re gonna learn about clean eating. There are many people who say that you have to forever avoid certain types of foods. If you want to maintain optimal health that is wrong and other such diet myths and mistakes. And you’ll also notice that today’s episode is not me speaking. It is a professional audiobook narrator.
I decided to go that route primarily to save time because I, I needed to get this audiobook done, but I had too many other things on my plate. And this is a fairly large book. It’s about, I wanna say a hundred thousand words. 120,000 words. And as much as I would like to read it myself, again, it was a matter of time and also professional audiobook.
Narrators are better than I am. I, I think I probably could do a good enough job, but for the sake of expediency, I decided to hire somebody. And at some point in the future when I have a few more projects done, I may come back around and record the audiobook myself, because some listeners do really like to hear the author read their own book, although most listeners don’t really care.
So that’s a decision to make in the future for me, if it’s worth the extra effort. If enough people cared, then I would do it. Very few people care, then it’s probably not worth the time. And lastly, if you like today’s episode, then you’ll probably like the book. And if you want to pick up a copy of BLS 4.0, it is currently available as an ebook and audiobook.
So wherever you buy eBooks and audiobooks, if bigger, lean, or stronger is offered, it should be the fourth edition, all the production files. Been uploaded everywhere they need to go. So if you are having any issues, some people who have bought previous editions on Amazon in particular are running into issues updating to the newest edition because they don’t have to rebuy it, but they do have to update and that should happen automatically.
But if it does not, if you’re one of those people contact Amazon and they can help you out, they can force the new addition into your library. And as far as the hard copy goes, all of my work is done and the order is placed. It has been placed for. At least a month now with the printer, however, I am currently selling through the last batch of third editions that are sitting at Amazon, and then I can start selling the fourth edition.
And so it’s hard to say exactly when that will be, but I think within the next month or two. So I am recording this on January 11th, 2023. So I’m gonna say, March, middle of March, I should be completely sold through the three point ohs and able to then just switch right over to the four point ohs. So if you want a hard copy, unfortunately you’re gonna have to wait a little bit, but it is done.
It is coming. Oh, I should also say for any women listening, yes. I also have a fourth edition of Thinner, linear, stronger Coming, which will also get some features here on the podcast. The audiobook work is underway and should be done by the end of the month, and the ebook and the hard copy production work is almost done as well.
I think I’m waiting on like two illustrations that I need from the illustrator, and then the InDesign expert can just wrap up the files that need to be uploaded to the various retailers, and then the print-ready file to send to the printer. And so TLS 4.0. Uh, the ebook and the audiobook should be live, let’s say, within the next, uh, four to six weeks is probably a, a fair estimate, and then the hard copy mm is probably gonna be closer to like May because again, I have to sell through, uh, a lot of three point ohs that I have and I have not placed the order yet for the 4.0.
And I think the lead time right now in books is about two months. So let’s just say May or June, the TS 4.0 hard copy should be available. And when everything is live, when all formats of both books as well as their workout journals, uh, the year one challenge for men and women, those are being updated as well to correspond to some of the changes in both of those books.
Once all of that is done and ready. So let’s say now we’re into summer. Maybe June, July, August, I’ll do a, a little mini launch. I’m not gonna do as big of a, an affair as I’ve done for my previous books, but I will do something fun. So anybody who does buy a copy this year can just enter with their receipt.
They don’t necessarily have to buy right during the launch, but I will make sure that anybody who pays attention to my emails and social media posts and podcasts and so forth knows that the books are available. And there are some cool prizes or some cool little perks for purchasing these new fourth editions.
And at that time, I also, I will also explain, Why I wrote these fourth editions and how they are different than the third editions and why I humbly think that people who own the third editions should get the fourth editions, if nothing else. Just for the programming, because I’ve tweaked it a little bit, I think I’ve improved it a little bit, and I’ve reorganized the book and I’ve explained certain things better I think, and I’ve taken some material out that probably wasn’t crucial and put some new material in that I think is more important based on the ongoing reader feedback that I get.
People reach out to me all the time to share their thoughts on the book and how they’re doing on the program and so forth, and so it’s almost like a, a never ending beta reader type of experience, which is great. I’m always getting. Good feedback from people, and people often are sharing great ideas, and that’s why I create these new additions.
At least half of the ideas for improving the book come from readers, and so I just keep a list. I already have the next list for what probably one day will be 5.0. And once that list gets long enough, once I think it warrants a new edition, I do it. Chapter seven, the 10 Absolute Worst Diet. Myths and Mistakes, the Big Ideas, one, understand the importance of energy Balance Two, diet properly, and your metabolism will be fine.
Three. Ignore rigid dietary dogmas and fads. The road to nowhere is paved with excuses. Mark.
Since time immemorial, the highest hallmark of physical status and attractiveness has been a lean, toned, athletic body, a stamp of the ancient heroes, gods and goddesses. A fit body is still idolized today, but with obesity rates over 42% here in America and still rising. One could assume that looking like a paragon of fitness requires youth, top shelf genetics or super ordinary effort, discipline and sacrifice.
This isn’t true. The know-how is easy enough to grasp. You’ll learn everything you need in this book, but it doesn’t require as much grit as you may think to help you better understand the real science of getting and staying fit, lean, and strong. I want to first disabuse you of some of the biggest diet myths and lies that tie people up in knots.
One, calories in versus calories out is bad. Science two calories in versus calories out are all that matters. Three. Dieting can damage your metabolism. Four. Carbs and sugars make you fat and unhealthy. Five. You have to eat clean to be fit and healthy. Six, vegan and vegetarian diets are healthiest. Seven.
You have to eat huge to get big eight. You should or shouldn’t skip breakfast. Nine frequent eating speeds up your metabol. 10 eating at night can cause weight gain. Let’s hit these fictions head on. If you’ve bought into any of them yourself, like I once did, you may be skeptical even scornful of what else I have in store for you and thus less likely to give the program a fair shake.
Think of this chapter like a construction project, clearing away the dietary debris before we pour the foundation and build the super structure. Myth number one, calories in versus calories out is bad science calorie counting doesn’t work. The overweight MD says in his latest, best-selling book, it’s a relic of our ignorant dietary past.
The pretty woman who has been skinny her entire life tells the morning show hosts. It’s time we realized food quality is what matters, not calories. The former triathlete turned guru says in his popular podcast, eat the right foods and you can unclog your hormones and supercharge your metabolism, and your body will take care of the rest.
This is music to many people’s ears who believe they can only get lean and fit without ever having to restrict or even pay attention to how much they eat. Only what? This is malarkey. In fact, it’s worse than that. It’s a blatant lie because as far as your body weight is concerned, how much you eat is far more important than what you eat.
Don’t believe me. Just ask. Kansas State University Professor Mark Hobb, who lost 27 pounds in 10 weeks eating hostess cupcakes, Doritos, Oreos, and whey protein shakes. Or a science teacher, John Csna, who lost 56 pounds in six months eating nothing but McDonald’s or Kai Sedgwick, a fitness enthusiast who got into the best shape of his life following a rigorous workout routine while eating McDonald’s every day for a month.
I don’t recommend you in their footsteps. The nutritional value of your diet does matter, particularly for health, but their stories speak to an indisputable point. You can improve your body composition or how much muscle and fat you have while eating copious amounts of junk food. The key to understanding how this works and to understand what really drives weight loss and gain is energy balance, which is the relationship between energy intake, calories eaten, and output calories burned.
Technically a calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. Various foods contain varying numbers of calories. For example, nuts are very energy dense containing about 6.5 calories per gram on average. Celery, on the other hand, contains very little stored energy with just 0.15 calories per gram.
If you added up the calories of all the food you ate in a day and then compared that number to how many calories you burned, you’d notice one of three things. One, you ate more calories than you burned, you’ll gain weight. Two, you ate fewer calories than you burned, you’ll lose weight. Three, you ate about the same number of calories as you burned.
You’ll maintain your weight. This is the first law of thermodynamics at work, which states that energy in a system can’t be created or destroyed, but can only change form. This applies to all physical energy systems, including the human metabolism, which is the series of physical and chemical processes that keeps us alive, namely the production of energy, as well as the creation, maintenance, and destruction of cells and tissues.
When we eat food, its stored energy is transformed by our muscles into mechanical energy movement by our digestive systems into chemical energy, body fat, and by our organs into thermal, energy, heat. These scientific axioms explain why every controlled weight loss study conducted in the last century has found that meaningful weight loss requires energy expenditure to exceed energy intake.
Why decades of obesity? Research has concluded that energy intake exceeding expenditure is the main driver of weight gain and why bodybuilders dating back just as far from the father of modern body building, Eugene Sando to the Sword and Sandal Superstar, Steve Reeves to the iconic wunderkind, Arnold Schwarzenegger have been using this knowledge to control their body composition as desired.
Your checking account is a trite but apt metaphor for how this process works. If you deposit eat more calories into the account, then you spend burn. You create a positive energy balance, and your body will save store a portion of the surplus energy as body fat. If you put fewer calories into the account than you spend.
However, you create a negative energy balance or energy deficit. And your body will turn its energy savings, body fat, mostly to make up for the shortfall and get the energy it needs to keep functioning. And what happens if you consistently make small withdrawals from your savings account? That’s right.
The total gets whittled down to lower and lower levels. And in the case of fitness, this is what makes you leaner and leaner. We’re lucky our body works this way too, because if it didn’t and we missed a meal, our energy supply would run out and we die. Luckily, when food energy isn’t available, our body can break down body fat and other tissues when necessary and use the constituents to produce cellular energy.
Now, none of this means you have to meticulously count calories to lose weight. But you do have to understand how the calories you eat influence your body and manage your eating according to your goals. What you don’t have to do, however, is follow a fad diet that eliminates foods or even entire food groups from your diet.
This can work for some people because forbidding the delicious high calorie foods that people love, the ones that are easiest to overeat and prescribing less palatable, lower calorie fare can lower calorie intake enough to produce weight loss, but it can fail just as easily if it doesn’t result in a large enough calorie reduction to produce the energy deficit to achieve weight loss.
Put differently. The people who have lost weight with restrictive diets didn’t succeed because they stopped eating carbs, sugar, gluten, or any other boogeyman per se. They lost weight because doing away with certain foods or substances helped them keep calories out over calories in long enough to reduce their weight.
This is why studies show that people who eat the least lose the most weight, and those who eat the most, lose the least, or even gain weight regardless of the dietary protocol used, which has included Mediterranean, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, weight Watchers, slimming World, south Beach, best Life, Atkins Dash, and others.
So know this. No matter what type of diet you follow, you’ll lose weight only when you consistently eat fewer calories than you burn. And the only way to fail to lose weight is eating too many calories too consistently, not flouting or following the wrong arbitrary eating rules. Still skeptical. I understand.
Maybe you’ve heard that recent scientific research has contested or even confounded the energy balance model. Or maybe you know of individual stories that seem to refute it. Like people who apparently can’t lose weight with a very low calorie diet bill ate a thousand calories per day and worked out like a fien for a month and gained weight.
How can energy balance explain that Hormones? Puzzling indeed until you realize the culprit is almost always human error, not haywire. Hormones are metabolic whooo virtually every time. Such people don’t understand what hormones are. Chemicals transported by the blood or other bodily fluids to cells and organ.
Where they cause some action or have some specific effect and are making one or more of the three most common weight loss mistakes, one underestimating calories in Most people are bad at estimating and even tracking how many calories they’ve eaten. For instance, studies show that people can think they’re eating 800 calories per day, starving themselves when it’s actually 1200, 1500 or more.
This mistake is all too easy to make when you review the delicious foods. Many people like to eat, take a single slice of pizza or cheeseburger, for instance, which contained 300 to 400 calories, or about as many as you would burn in a 30 minute jog or 60 minute weightlifting workout, two overestimating calories out.
Physical activity, including exercise, doesn’t burn as many calories as many people think. In a York University study, people overestimated how many calories they burn during vigorous exercise by 72% on average. This error alone could prevent weight loss even when energy balance is understood and eating is well regimented.
Three, overeating in the extreme, too many cheat meals or worse cheat days can make meaningful weight loss impossible. Let’s say you ate about 300 fewer calories than you burned Monday through Friday, creating a total calorie deficit of 1500 calories. Hasa, that’s enough to lose half a pound of fat.
Saturday, however, is your cheat day, and so you eat about a thousand more calories than you. Sunday is a cool down, but you still eat a few hundred more calories than you burn. What just happened here? Run the numbers. You’ve just wiped out the cumulative calorie deficit and thus the fat loss of five days of dieting in two days, and now you’re back to square one.
Along with complete ignorance of energy balance, these three missteps are responsible for most weight loss failures and explain the unreliability of diets that deal in rules and restrictions instead of hard science and numbers. Again, you can lose weight without counting calories, but it can be difficult to maintain a consistent calorie deficit if you have no idea how many calories you’re eating and burning day to.
Another popular argument against the primacy of energy balance is the claim that the human body is far more complex than the simple heat engine that powers our lawnmower or car. So it’s silly to assume they operate according to the same principles. This is pseudoscientific. So sophistry. The human body is certainly more intricate than the combustion engine, but that doesn’t confound the weight of nearly 100 years of evidence.
In the scientific literature, energy, balance works just as I’ve described in the lean and obese, the healthy and diseased, the old and the young in the body composition show energy balance is the hero. It isn’t the whole cast though, which brings me to the next myth. Myth number two, calories in versus out are all that matters.
For all its majesty, the secco calories in calories out model has feet of clay. It accounts for how much energy you’re eating and burning, but not where the energy is coming from as critics of energy balance will often point out. This detail is vital because our body doesn’t process all calories the same way.
Protein, for example, has very different effects on the body than carbohydrate or fat, which explains why some foods are more conducive to fat loss and muscle building than others, but don’t have special properties that make them fattening or slimming. Sico also neglects the nutritional dimension of eating, which must be considered for long-term health, fitness, and vitality.
While it’s possible to get and stay lean, eating like a 12 year old boy on vacation, body composition isn’t a perfect barometer for health. Just as you can be slightly overweight and healthy if you eat well and exercise regularly, you can also be fit but unwell if your body is starved of key nutrients because you forsaken fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and high quality proteins for cookies, chips, pizza, and ice cream.
Therefore, if you want to optimize your body composition and your health, a carefully controlled diet of junk food won’t cut it. Instead, you’ll want to follow a system that scientists refer to as flexible dieting, which you’ll learn about in the next chapter. Myth number three, dieting can damage your metabolism.
If you poke around online, you can find many stories about people, typically women who say they aren’t losing weight with extremely low calorie dieting and hours of exercise every week because of metabolic abnormalities caused by calorie restriction. Essentially, the story goes like this. Dieting dramatically decreases your metabolism, eventually halting fat loss, and if you go too far, you’ll need to follow a lengthy recovery protocol to fix the damage to have a healthy metabolism.
Again, hence the term metabolic damage. Also, when your body is experiencing the physiological adaptations that apparently cause metabolic damage, it’s said to be in starvation mode. This apparently kicks in the first day of your diet and gets progressively worse as time goes on. How true are these claims though?
While your metabolism does decrease slightly while dieting, the drop isn’t nearly as dramatic, significant, or prolonged as many people make it out to be. Metabolic damage isn’t real, has never stopped someone from losing weight and doesn’t need to be fixed with special diet techniques. Starvation mode is sort of real, but it isn’t nearly as dramatic as it’s often portrayed and naturally resolves itself after you stop dieting.
A salient example of this comes from a scientific study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In this experiment, 171 overweight women lost an average of 26 pounds in five months, and the researchers measured the participant’s body composition and resting metabolic rate. The number of calories your body burns at rest in 24 hours, four times over a two year period.
The scientists found that after five months of dieting, the women’s Rmrs had only dropped about 50 calories per day. And a year later when measurements were taken again, their metabolisms had recovered to where they were before. Other studies have shown that the metabolic decline associated with dieting, including long periods of very low calorie dieting, ranges from less than five to about 15%.
Furthermore, it took about a 10% reduction in body weight to produce the larger double digit drops, and most of the research on the matter was conducted with people who made every mistake in the book. They ate too few calories and two little protein, and did no resistance training. So while scientists have known for decades that dieting checks metabolic rate, which can make it harder, but not impossible to continue losing weight.
They don’t refer to this effect as metabolic damage. Instead, it’s known as metabolic adaptation. As you know, energy balance alone explains why meaningful weight loss requires that you eat fewer calories, less energy than you burn for an extended period of time, and why? The essence of effective dieting is eat less and move more.
What many people don’t realize, however, is their daily energy expenditure can change significantly once they start dieting. By reducing calories in calories out also naturally drops because restricting your calories doesn’t just cause weight loss. It also leads to a cascade of unfavorable changes in hormones like leptin, grelin, thyroid hormones, and testosterone.
Which all work to reduce energy expenditure and increase energy intake. This counterpunch can be frustrating when you want to lose fat, but it’s also been vital to our survival as a species. For most of human history, calories were scarce. We’d regularly go for days without eating, and so our body adapted to favor the storage of excess calories as fat.
In other words, humans physically and psychologically evolved to endure famine by storing and conserving calories. And when you decide to diet to get rid of your belly fat, your body responds the same way as if you were truly starving. It employs defense mechanisms to keep you alive. Thus calorie restriction acts as a physiological trip wire that increases hunger, decreases motivation to move and exercise, and reduces metabolic rate.
And these phenomena make getting leaner increasingly difficult as time goes on. The important thing to remember though, is that while metabolic adaptation can slow weight loss, it can never stop it entirely. Additionally, these adjustments quickly reverse themselves once you’re no longer in a calorie deficit.
And there are simple steps you can take to mitigate metabolic downsides of dieting, like doing strength training using mild to moderate calorie restriction and eating enough protein, all of which are part and parcel of the bigger, leaner, stronger program. Myth number four, carbs and sugars make you fat and unhealthy.
People love simple explanations and compelling conspiracies, and these two quirks explain the popularity of most mainstream fad diets. The three step formula is simple. One, it’s not your fault. You’re overweight and unhealthy jerks keep saying it’s because you eat too much and move too little, but they’re wrong.
You’re a victim of bad science and worse food. Two new research shows you what to blame. Behold, the heinous methods or molecules responsible for all your woes, take your weapon, strike them down with all your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete. Three, avoid this at all costs and you’ll live happily ever.
Renounce this hobb goblin, escape its wrath. Dream your quest and bring your visions into fantasy, blah, blah, blah. Green tea, Infiniti. Will that be cash or credit? These emotion-based tactics are how marketers sold us on low fat dieting a decade ago, and how they sell us on low carb and low sugar dieting today.
Cut the vial carbohydrates and sugars out of your life, they say, and the pounds will just melt away. It all sounds so neat until someone like me comes along and points out examples of the glitches in the matrix, like randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of scientific evidence that have found no difference in weight loss whatsoever between low and high carb and low and high sugar diets.
For instance, scientists at the following institutions found similar results. An Arizona State University study found no difference in weight loss or fat loss between people consuming five and 40% of their calories from carbohydrate for 10 weeks. A study published in the journal Hypertension found no difference in weight or fat loss between people consuming four and 30% of their calories from carbohydrate for six weeks.
A Harvard School of Public Health study found no difference in weight loss between people consuming 65, 45, and 35% of their calories from carbohydrate for two years. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no difference in weight or fat loss between people who consumed 50 and 25% of their calories from carbohydrate for one year.
A Duke University study found no difference in weight or fat loss between people consuming four and 43% of their calories from sugar for six weeks. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found no difference in weight loss between people consuming five and 10% of their calories from sugar for eight weeks.
Although the anti carb and anti-sugar hysteria has reached a frenzy pitch in the last several years, as the studies above show it’s completely unwarranted, carbs and sugars aren’t nearly as dangerous or fattening as you’ve been told. They don’t make you fat or unhealthy. Only overeating can do that, and ironically, most people achieve their fitness goals faster with more carbohydrate in their diet.
Not less. But what about insulin? People often ask me, Don’t carb spike insulin levels, and doesn’t that make you fatter? Not quite. Eating carbs among other foods triggers insulin production and insulin triggers fat storage among other physiological reactions. But fortunately, none of that can make you fat.
Only overeating can. Insulin is a hormone that causes muscles, organs, and fat tissue to take in and use or store nutrients like glucose, a sugar in many carbs, and an important source of energy and organisms and amino acids, the molecules that make up proteins. When you eat many types of food, including protein, insulin levels rise, and this allows your body to use some of the energy provided by the meal to power the many physiological processes that keep you alive.
Depending on the circumstances, your body can also use some of the energy to increase its fat stores, which is why some people call this state the body’s fat storing mode. Then after you finish digesting, absorbing, burning, and storing food, you ate insulin levels fall to a low baseline level, and your body must now rely primarily on fat stores for energy.
This state is often called the body’s fat burning mode. You flip between these states every day, storing small amounts of fat after most meals, and then burning small amounts in between them. Insulin’s roll in this system makes it an easy scapegoat for unwanted fat gain, but this makes about as much sense as blaming the mailman for receiving too much junk mail.
Without the excess calories needed to physically grow fat cells, no amount of insulin or insulin producing food can significantly increase body fat levels. In the final analysis, you have nothing to fear from insulin, so you can achieve peak health and fitness while eating many of your favorite foods.
If you’re still skeptical, maybe because some experts claim otherwise, that’s okay because before long, you’ll have firsthand proof in the way of rapid muscle gain and fat loss, as well as improvements in just about every health biomarker you care to monitor. Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome.
Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend or a loved one or a not so loved one even who might want to learn something new? Word of mouth helps really bigly in growing the show.
So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. Myth number five, you have to eat clean to be fit and healthy. The cult of clean eating is more popular than ever these days, and while its heart is in the right place, its brain is a muddle. For starters.
Many gurus disagree on which foods are clean and which aren’t. One’s trash is another’s treasure, so there are many sex to choose from that. Prescribe wildly different protocols. Will you go vegan or carnivore, for instance, keto or fruitarian, gluten free, non gmo, raw or organic, or all of the above? Choose carefully because no matter which philosophy you pick, someone will claim, it’ll eventually ruin your body, mind, and soul.
Second, binary labeling of food as clean or dirty, healthy or unhealthy, or good or bad, is simplistic and inaccurate. Just as it’s incorrect to stamp high calorie foods as fattening and low calorie ones as slimming, it’s incorrect to designate more nutritious foods as good and less nutritious ones as bad.
Instead, it’s far more useful to think of foods in terms of their key characteristics, calories, macronutrients, nutrients required in relatively large amounts, specifically protein, carbohydrate, and fat, and micronutrients, nutrients required in trace amounts. Also, instead of judging whether an individual meal is healthy, it’s more constructive to think about whether your diet on the whole is healthy, which depends on energy balance.
Is your calorie intake calibrated properly? Macronutrient balance? Are you eating enough protein, carbohydrate, and fat, and micronutrient balance? Are you getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to preserve health? For example, if you get most of your daily calories from nutritious foods like high quality protein, Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, et cetera.
Your diet is healthy regardless of which foods the remaining calories come from. Ironically, this style of eating produces a diet that looks fairly clean because it adopts what’s useful in the clean eating paradigm. The more accurate rendition of this myth then is you have to eat cleanish to be fit and healthy.
Myth number six, vegan and vegetarian diets are healthiest. There’s no denying that plant foods are vital for maintaining optimal health and performance. A large body of evidence shows that people who eat higher amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are generally healthier and more likely to live longer disease-free lives than those who don’t eat enough of them.
Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, but they also contain other types of phytonutrients that benefit health in various ways. Two good examples of this are sulforaphane and anthocyanins. Phytonutrients found mainly in broccoli and blueberries and known to reduce cancer risk, cellular wear, and tear and cholesterol levels, but are not found in food labels, which list only vital to life nutrients.
Many of these additional nutrients aren’t in multivitamins or other supplements either, so pills and powders can’t replace the real McCoy. Fiber is another often overlooked component of plant foods that deserves attention. Fiber is an indigestible type of carbohydrate found in many types of foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains.
Its importance has been known for a long time. The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, who famously said, let food be thy medicine and medicine, be thy food, recommended whole grain breads to improve bowel movements. And modern scientific research has confirmed that eating enough fiber increases your chances of living a long and healthy life.
While healthy eating necessarily includes a wide variety of plants and vegetables, ranging from dark leafy greens to garlic, to cruciferous vegetables, to cereal grains, and more, that doesn’t mean eating only those foods is ideal, and especially if you’re trying to improve your body composition. For instance, gaining muscle is trickier as a vegan or vegetarian because it’s difficult to eat enough high quality, well-absorbed protein.
This partly explains why studies have shown omnivores tend to have more muscle than vegetarians and vegans. You can work around this issue by carefully choosing certain plant foods that are rich in suitable protein, but even then, you’ll likely have to eat quite a lot of these foods or include supplements in your regimen to meet your daily protein needs.
Studies show that certain micronutrient deficiencies are more common among vegans than omnivores, too, including vitamin b12, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, calcium, and others. You can mitigate this problem by consuming a variety of different micronutrient dense foods, but you’ll also need to supplement strategically.
There’s another, and arguably better way to get enough premium protein and key nutrients. Simply include animal foods in your diet and specifically red meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and eggs. Some call this a flexitarian diet. That’s controversial advice nowadays though, take red meat for instance, which many plant-based apostles liken to cigarettes, just a serving or two of red meat per day, they say is enough to markedly impair your health and wellness.
A cursory review of the scientific evidence doesn’t offer much insight. Some studies seem to show that red meat is indeed bad for you. Others suggest it’s benign and others indicate it’s actually good for you un riddling. The matter would require a book unto, unto itself, but the long and short is twofold.
One. The argument against eating red meat relies on evidence that shows an association between red meat, particularly processed red meat, and cancer and heart disease. It’s worth noting though that much of this research is based on relatively low quality studies involving sedentary, often overweight people following a standard western diet, a wash with highly processed foods.
Thus, it’s hard to say how eating red meat or even processed red meats would affect active, lean, healthy people who are also eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Two, the highest quality research available on red meat eating shows that it isn’t unhealthy, and that reducing red meat consumption has no significant.
Moreover, meat also provides a good source of protein and nutrients difficult to get with vegetarian and vegan diets like iron, zinc, and creatine. Dairy and eggs are two more. Animal foods often wrongfully attacked as unhealthy despite claims. To the contrary, studies show that milk doesn’t cause weight gain, or cancer doesn’t degenerate your bones and doesn’t contain unhealthy amounts of hormones.
Plus, or blood research also shows that eggs don’t raise cholesterol levels or increase the risk of heart disease. While you can get and stay fit, lean, strong, and healthy on a vegan or vegetarian diet, it’s easier to mess up with this kind of diet rather than with a well-designed omnivorous.
Myth number seven, you have to eat huge to get big. You’ve probably heard that big muscles require a big appetite. You’ve probably also heard that bulking is unnecessary and even counterproductive because of excessive fat gain. There’s a measure of truth in both of these claims. If you want to maximize muscle building, you need to eat quite a bit of food.
But if you follow a cookie cutter body building bulking program, you’ll probably gain a lot more fat than muscle. Why? Because how much food you eat, energy balance strongly affects muscle growth. Put simply your body’s muscle. Building machinery runs best when energy is abundant. So if you don’t eat enough calories every day, you’ll struggle to get bigger and stronger.
When you restrict your calories for fat loss, you won’t gain much muscle or strength because muscle protein synthesis rates drop hormone sour and workout performance suffers. That is, unless you’re new to resistance training, but more on that later. Thus, if you want to build muscle effectively, you need to make sure you’re not consistently in a calorie deficit, even if it’s slight.
Instead, you want to do the opposite regularly, feed your body slightly more energy than it burns, provide it with a calorie surplus. How big of a calorie surplus is required to grease the skids, though? This is where people often go astray. They mistakenly assume that more food means more muscle, and so try to eat like a Clyde stale 2030 or even 40% more energy than they burn every day.
Unfortunately, research shows that the sweet spot for gooing muscle gain is between five and 10% more calories than you burn. And eating more than that will only cause you to gain more fat, not muscle, but won’t a small calorie surplus like five or 10% cause fat gain? Two, you may be wondering, yes, it will, but the fat will accumulate slowly at about the same rate as muscle, approximately one to one ratio.
But why not instead, strive to eat the exact number of calories you burn every day to avoid any fat gain whatsoever? First, because a calorie surplus is inherently anabolic. To a degree, overeating alone stimulates muscle growth. Second, because your total daily calorie expenditure is a small moving target that’s basically impossible to find, let alone hit.
The best we can do is accurately estimate calories out using methods like those you’ll learn in this book, and then overshoot it by a bit, five to 10% to ensure we’re not habitually in a calorie deficit. Fortunately, however, any fat added while lean gaining is easily stripped with a proper cutting phase, and you’ll learn all about those techniques soon.
And this process of alternating between phases of lean gaining to get bigger and stronger, and cutting to get rid of excess body fat while preserving lean mass is how you transform your physique. With every round you get a little fitter until finally you have the look size, symmetry, and definition that you want.
Myth number eight, frequent eating speeds up your metabolism. You’ve probably heard that you should eat many small meals when trying to lose weight to stoke the metabolic fire, accelerate fat loss and better control your appetite. The theory is simple. When you eat, your metabolism speeds up as your body processes the food.
Thus, if you eat every few hours, your metabolism will remain in a constantly elevated state. Right? And nibbling on food throughout the day should help with appetite control, right? While this may seem plausible, it didn’t pan out in scientific research. In an extensive review of diet literature, scientists at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research looked at scores of studies comparing the metabolic effects of a wide variety of eating patterns ranging from one to 17 meals per day.
They found no meaningful difference between nibbling and gorging because small meals caused small short metabolic increases, while large meals caused larger, longer increases. Therefore, when viewed in terms of 24 hour energy expenditure, eating pattern has no significant effect. Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition echoed this finding.
In this case, there was no significant difference in weight, fat, or muscle loss between groups of people eating three meals in three meals, plus three snacks per day. And what about meal frequency and appetite? This can go both ways. Scientists at the University of Missouri found that after 12 weeks of dieting to lose weight, increasing protein intake, improved appetite control.
But meal frequency three versus six meals per day had no effect. A similar experiment was published in the journal obesity, investigating the effects of meal frequency and protein intake on perceived appetite, satiety, fullness, and hormones. They also found that higher protein intake led to greater feelings of full.
But surprisingly, six meals resulted in generally lower levels of satiety than three. On the other hand, research shows that some people are less satiated by three meals per day versus more, and that increasing meal frequency can also increase feelings of fullness and make it easier for people to stick to their diets, as you’ve likely gathered by now, in many ways, the best dietary protocol is the one you can stick to, and that’s very true.
In the case of meal frequency, most people I work with enjoy eating four to six meals per day. I’m the same way, but some enjoy eating just two or three meals per day.
Myth number nine, you should or shouldn’t skip breakfast.
Breakfast is a controversial meal these days. Some experts say it’s vital for preserving health and preventing weight gain while others claim skipping it entirely is the trick to staying lean and healthy. Scientific research cuts both ways as well. For example, one study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that men who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from heart disease.
Another study found that skipping breakfast was associated with a higher risk of weight gain. On the other hand, an extensive review of the literature published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that missing breakfast has either little or no effect on weight gain. In fact, the data showed that breakfast eaters tend to consume more calories than those who skip it.
What’s the deal then? Does skipping breakfast make it easier or harder to lose weight, or does it have no effect whatsoever? And what about muscle building? Does it help or hinder those of us looking to get fitter and stronger? Let’s take a closer look at the studies I just referenced and see what we can learn.
The first thing that jumps out in the Harvard research is the people who didn’t eat breakfast were generally hungrier later in the day and ate more at night. Eating food at night isn’t a problem, per se. See the next myth? But research shows that meals skipping can lead to overeating and an increase in total overall energy intake.
Overeating leads to weight gain of course, and as overweight people are at an increased risk of heart disease. Skipping breakfast can be associated with an increased incidence of cardiac events and heart disease, but that doesn’t mean that skipping breakfast causes heart attacks. How about the review study?
The researchers found only a handful of rigorous well-executed studies on the effects of eating and not eating breakfast, and you have to go all the way back to 1992 to find the only long-term, carefully controlled trial that randomly assigned people to routinely eat or skip breakfast, and then measure the effect on their body weight.
In the 1992 study conducted by scientists at Vanderbilt University, eating or skipping breakfast had no significant effect on weight loss. What mattered weren’t breakfast habits, but overall eating habits and dietary compliance. Which merely confirms what metabolic researchers have been saying for decades when you eat, is far less important than what and how much we can find more support for these findings and the research available on the intermittent fasting style of dieting.
In case you’re not familiar with it, intermittent fasting revolves around eating, feeding and not eating. Fasting on a regular schedule with particular emphasis on fasting with a normal type of diet. You eat food every few hours from, let’s say 8:00 AM until 9:00 PM That is every day you eat food intermittently for about 13 hours and eat nothing for about 11 hours.
With intermittent fasting, however, you flip this around by eating food intermittently for with some methods about eight hours and eating nothing for about 16 hours. For example, with intermittent fasting, you might start eating every day at 1:00 PM and stop at 9:00 PM. In fact, that exact protocol 16 eight is particularly popular among bodybuilders who enjoy intermittent fasting, and it’s basically just skipping breakfast.
And what about scientific evidence? Several studies show that intermittent fasting is just as effective for improving health and body composition is eating more frequently. That said, contrary to the claims of many intermittent fasting fanatics, it also doesn’t appear to offer any inherent advantages.
The bottom line is this, if you enjoy breakfast, eat it, and if you enjoy skipping it, skip it. Many people like eating breakfast because they just like breakfast food. Others find that a hardy breakfast helps perk them up or reduce hunger levels throughout the day. On the other hand, just as many people prefer to skip breakfast and break the fast closer to lunch because they aren’t hungry or don’t like Standard Morning fair.
The key is knowing what works best for you.
Myth number 10. Eating at night can cause weight gain for years. Personal trainers, weight loss gurus and fake doctors on the internet have claimed that your metabolism is fastest early in the morning and gradually slows throughout the day before bottoming out in the evening. Thus they claim you should eat more calories in the morning and fewer calories in the evening to avoid fat gain.
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a popper, as the old saw goes. Well, research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that metabolic rate doesn’t change significantly while you sleep much less in the evening hours beforehand. And studies show that in people who are a healthy weight metabolic rate can actually increase slightly while you sleep.
What’s more, even if metabolic rate did decline as the day wore on, this wouldn’t make eating at night more fattening than eating earlier in the day because of you. Got it. Energy balance. The only way to gain weight fat. Is to eat more calories than you burn regardless of when or what you eat. Now, while eating at night doesn’t cause weight gain, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any benefits to eating less at night.
Specifically, research shows that eating more calories earlier in the day can lead to less hunger and cravings in this way. Eating a large breakfast and successively smaller meals can help with weight loss or maintenance. For some people see the previous myth. Conversely, however, other studies show that in some people the opposite is true.
They’re generally less hungry when they eat smaller meals during the day and a large dinner. As with eating breakfast, eating larger meals at night is purely a matter of personal preference. Do what works best for you.
In reading this chapter, you’ve taken your fitness knowledge to a whole new level. A level. Very few people, including many doctors, athletes, and even scientists, rarely achieve, and we’re just getting warmed up, pun intended. In the next chapter, I’ll build on everything you’ve learned here and introduce you to the easiest and most effective approach to dieting in the world.
Flexible dieting. In fact, as you’ll soon see, it barely even qualifies as a diet in the way that most people understand the term because it enables you to transform your body eating foods you want to eat seven days per week. Even better. Once you experience the power of flexible dieting firsthand, you’ll thrill at the realization that you’re now immune to the diet, frustrations and anxieties plaguing most people.
And that you’re finally free to develop a positive, healthy relationship with food. Big promises I know, but flexible dieting will deliver on them in spades. Keep reading to find out how
key takeaways energy balance is. The relationship between energy intake, calories eaten and output calories burned, and it’s the basic mechanism that regulates weight, gain and loss. If you consistently consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. If you consistently consume fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight.
No individual food can make you fatter. Only overeating can. The three most common weight loss mistakes are underestimating calories in overestimating calories out, and overeating in the extreme. Some foods are more conducive to fat loss and muscle building than others, but none have special properties that make them fattening or slimming.
Metabolic damage isn’t real and has never stopped anyone from losing weight and doesn’t need to be fixed with special diet techniques. Starvation mode is sort of real, but it isn’t nearly as dramatic as it’s often portrayed and naturally resolves itself after you stop dieting. Carbs and sugars don’t make you fat or unhealthy.
Only overeating can. And ironically, most people achieve their fitness goals faster with more carbohydrate in their diet, not less. It’s more useful to think of foods in terms of their key characteristics, calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients, than to label them as clean or dirty, healthy or unhealthy, or good or bad.
Your body’s muscle building machinery runs best when energy is abundant. So if you don’t eat enough calories every day, you’ll struggle to get bigger and stronger. The sweet spot for gooing muscle gain is eating between five and 10% more calories than you burn, and eating more than that will only cause you to gain more fat.
Not muscle meal frequency has no significant effects on metabolic rate or weight loss. Skipping breakfast doesn’t appear to offer any inherent advantages, so if you enjoy breakfast, eat it, and if you enjoy skipping it, skip it. Eating at night doesn’t cause any more weight gain than eating during the day.
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