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Metabolism can be a nebulous topic.
Most people know that their metabolism is intertwined with their health, but people’s metabolisms aren’t just “fast” or “slow.” They’re adaptive systems that depend on a multitude of variables, including environment, nutrition, genetics, stress, training, past experience, and more.
To help make sense of it all and offer practical ways to apply our understanding, I interview Sam Miller in this podcast.
In case you’re not familiar with Sam, he’s an Amazon best-selling author with over 15 years of experience as a health, fitness, and nutrition coach, helping coaches and health professionals improve their clients’ results.
As an educator, podcaster, certified nutritionist, and licensed, board-certified health practitioner, he shares simple, strategic methods for physique and health transformation.
And because he recently penned a book called, Metabolism Made Simple, he’s the perfect guest for today’s topic.
In our metabolic deep dive, Sam and I discuss . . .
- The crucial relationship between metabolism and overall health
- The influence of genetics and past experiences on our current metabolic health
- The significance of non-exercise activity (NEAT) and strategies to boost metabolism
- The role of mindset, realistic expectations, and consistency in improving metabolic health
- Why being in a calorie deficit should be viewed as a phase rather than a lifestyle
- How to incorporate biofeedback into your lifestyle for better dieting outcomes
- The importance of micronutrients and their impact on metabolism
- And more…
So, if you’re looking for effective strategies to adjust your lifestyle and help you enhance your metabolic health more efficiently, be sure to listen to this interview with Sam Miller!
0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!
1:55 – What is metabolism and how does our metabolism relate to our health?
5:49 – Can my past or genetics affect my metabolism in the present?
18:49 Can you go more in-depth with non-exercise activity?
27:24 – Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching: https://www.muscleforlife.show/vip
30:10 – What are some things we can do to improve our metabolism?
34:01 – How do you like to set those phases up?
37:22 – Why is being in a calorie deficit isn’t a lifestyle and why it should be just a
42:37 – What is bio-feedback?
45:16 – How does bio-feedback affect dieting?
55:51 – Can a deficiency in micronutrients affect metabolism?
01:07:19 – Where can people find you and your work?
Mentioned on the Show:
Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hello, hello, and welcome to another episode of Muscle for Life. I am your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today to learn about metabolism, which is a word that everyone has heard but that many people don’t quite understand. Most people think of metabolism as simply something that goes fast or slow, and it has something to do with energy expenditure and body composition, and that a fast metabolism means.
A better body composition or less body fat than a slow metabolism. And often people think that their metabolism is either working for them or against them, and that there’s not much that they can do to change that. Many people think that we have the metabolism. That we were born with. And if it is fast, that’s a good thing.
And if it is slow, that’s a bad thing. Well, human metabolism is a very complex system and it responds to many different things. It responds to our environment, it responds to our nutrition, our genetics, our stress, our training. It responds to things that we’ve done in the past and more, and to help break it all down and help us understand these things and how to use this information to reach our fitness goals faster.
I interviewed Sam Miller, who is a best selling author. He is a fellow podcaster, a certified nutritionist, and also a licensed board certified health practitioner. And Sam shares simple strategic methods for enhancing our body composition and enhancing our health. And he recently penned a book called Metabolism Made Simple.
So I thought this would be a perfect time to get him on the show to talk about some of the information that he shares in the book. Hey Sam, welcome to my podcast. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I appreciate you having me. Yeah. Yeah. I’m excited to talk with you because we’re gonna be talking about metabolism, a perennially interesting topic, something that people have been asking me about since uh, I got into the fitness racket and we’ll always be asking me about and for a good reason.
We can start with the term and I think that’s rouge should probably start our discussion. Many people are confused about what the word even means. What does this term encompass? And then we can, I think, segue from that into how does our metabolism relate to our health, our fitness, our body composition?
How much of our metabolism is determined by our genetics? How much of it is influenced by fat loss? How much of our ability to lose fat and keep it off depends on our metabolism and other such things that many people wonder about. And if. They and, and I’m speaking now to listeners, if you get some of these things wrong, it can become very difficult to achieve your fitness goals, to achieve your body composition goals because there are certain things, non-negotiable principles that you really have to understand and understand how to apply to make all of this work.
Fortunately, there aren’t too many of those things. I would say really just in whether we’re talking about diet or exercise or supplementation or even lifestyle, that preto principles certainly applies. There are many more things that are much more negotiable and less important, but there are certain things, right, that are extremely important and they really work the same way in all people.
The only exceptions would be like disease dysfunction, rare conditions that are. Just not applicable to probably most everybody listening. So I think with that I’m gonna, I’m gonna stop rambling and uh,
Sam: listen to you. Sure. So when most people think of metabolism, I think it brings back probably some either childhood or early adult memories where we think of maybe a friend or relative or someone talking about someone having a fast or slow metabolism, but really metabolism.
If you were to look at the definition, you’d probably see something about like life sustaining chemical reactions in the body or some sort of. Fancy scientific jargon, but from a health and fitness perspective, really we’re talking about this sort of barometer of both stress and energy or a regulator of stress and energy and energy.
Mainly, you know, for us as human beings, we’re getting our energy from food, which provides calories and essentially food serves as these sort of pre-packaged instructions for our metabolism. And really, I think a lot of the misconceptions that exist around metabolism is because it’s used in a lot of different marketing terminology to maybe try to attract folks to different weight loss approaches.
And so with that, it tends to be sort of like there’s this like Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. We don’t fully know what’s going on or what things we really control. And people can have sort of, you know, in psychology was sort of referred to as a fixed mindset about their metabolism. Not understanding that one of the most important aspects of metabolism is it’s actually quite adaptive.
So depending on our environment and the stimulus that we impose on it through training and nutrition and the way that we. Live our life and essentially our lifestyle behaviors that’s going to drive the adaptations or changes. We don’t really necessarily have this like fixed metabolism at birth. It’s largely gonna be driven by a number of things.
You know, our childhood and our health history growing up. You know, things that we’ve eaten, our activity level, the amount that we get outside and move and strength train. So there’s so many different things that go into metabolism, but like from a very, very high 10,000 foot viewpoint, we really just want to think of it as really gauging, you know, stress and energy in our environment.
And for humans. This idea of energy availability is largely based on energy intake through the diet. And you know, we obviously look at energy expenditure as a huge portion of anyone’s fat loss or weight loss journey as part of that kind of T D E E equation that people often talk about. So, key points is just, you know, from a scientific perspective, we’re really talking about just life sustaining reactions.
But if you are someone who’s a health enthusiast or really interested in training nutrition, really what we care about most would be the stress and energy aspects of metabolism. Many people who are
Mike: concerned about their metabolism have this idea that because of various factors, sometimes they think of it mostly as a genetic thing.
It’s just a hardwired element of their physiology. Other people think that it. Has been driven by their poor decisions in the past, but that now in the present, they’re saddled with, they would say, a slow metabolism. So much so that it makes it very hard to lose fat, if not impossible. What are your thoughts on that?
Sam: So it’s interesting you mentioned the Pareto principle earlier and kind of the idea of 80 20. I think sometimes people give a little bit too much credit to our genetics or sort of our foundational blueprint in terms of our metabolism and not enough to the concept of kind of epigenetics or what happens in terms of our lifestyle and behaviors and how that impacts the expression of our, our genes.
So metabolism is much more a byproduct of your current habits, routines, rituals, and health behaviors versus just, you know, your health history certainly matters. And while your hereditary sort of family history certainly may play an important role in terms of your health and various risk factors for diseases, a lot of that can be mitigated and controlled by our lifestyle.
Right now it’s inherently empowering but also very frustrating. At the same time is if we’re experiencing any sort of frustrations with weight loss, fat loss, or feel as though we have this slower metabolism or that it’s adapted unfavorably. The tricky part is we have to sort of accept responsibility for the fact that we played a role in getting here, but it’s also.
At the same time simultaneously, very em empowering that we have the ability to navigate out of it through shifting behaviors, improving things like our nutrition, you know, food quality, sleep training, even basic low grade movement like walking. All of those things can essentially shift your metabolism.
While you may not be happy with your current metabolic status quo, a lot of that is driven by, you know, past dietary decisions that we’ve made, depth, duration, and frequency of past diets. So if you’ve been kind of that chronic dieter, you know, we can ameliorate some of those things that have happened.
Basically, when people refer to kind of a slow metabolism, a lot of times, What they’re referring to is in the researcher literature. It’s this idea of adaptive thermogenesis, which basically just means we have sort of these transient changes that happen, uh, hormonally and metabolically that impact our energy expenditure.
Now, this can make weight loss more challenging in a way, but we can also do things through nutritional periodization, training periodization, and just really having an intelligent approach to how we go about things that can make our lives a little bit easier. So for folks who kind of attribute their difficulties or struggles to having, you know, a slower metabolism, sometimes it’s a matter of having appropriate education.
You know, around the topic, there’s definitely a newer area of research around metabolic phenotypes and how people may differ in terms of their, essentially their energy expenditure versus being a little bit more thrifty with that calorie burn. But that’s kind of a newer area of science that’s still kind of playing out.
So for most people, the biggest concept to understand is kind of where we’re at right now are status quo. Internal health metabolism, energy expenditure is largely being driven by choices that we’re making. And what’s great about that is we can shift those behaviors as early as today or tomorrow, but.
The challenging part then becomes making those changes, making those shifts, and ultimately adopting the practices that are going to put our physiology in the right place to then achieve the physical goals that we have. Another
Mike: misconception that many people have that is discouraging and I think can actively get in their way, maybe it is more of a psychological obstacle to just feel maybe motivated enough to and believe in their ability to succeed enough to just be consistent.
But this is the idea that a large portion of our total daily energy expenditure comes from exercise and also from muscle mass. I’ve seen vast over estimations of how many calories, muscle burns. I’ve seen people claim as high as 50 calories per day, per pound of muscle. Uh, I wish that would be fantastic.
Whereas research shows, if I remember the, the numbers closer to probably about six calories per day per pound of muscle. So you take. A guy and you put 40 pounds of muscle on him, he goes from normal to jacked and he’s burning, eh, a couple hundred more calories per day. Like that matters. But in the context of total daily energy expenditure, we’re talking about an increase of, I don’t know, 10% maybe.
Can you speak a little bit more to that?
Sam: Yeah, there are definitely some misconceptions. I think we missed the force for the trees a little bit when we’re looking solely, you know, obviously looking at energy balance and calories in calories out is very important. Looking at T D E E and various components, just to kind of break it down for the audience, for those less familiar, we can burn calories through what’s essentially resting metabolism or a basal metabolic rate.
We have non-exercise activity, which would be, you know, things that are not related to exercise. And then Mike obviously mentioned, okay, let’s say we go for that strength training workout or do some cardio. That’s like a deliberate exercise effort. We also burn calories there. We also have calories burn through the thermic effect of food, which is where protein can kind of be this powerhouse is compared to other macronutrients, we do get a little bit more energy expenditure just.
When we’re consuming that and have a balanced kinda macronutrient profile. Now, where I think there are certainly misconceptions is, you know, the benefits of building muscle aren’t limited to the calorie burn, whether it be at rest or even engaging in those solely just the day-to-day strength training sessions.
I think it’s the compound effect of when you build that muscle over time, we’re creating sort of this sync for glucose muscle also sends very different chemical messages in the body. In terms of, you know, our overall physiology versus if we have quite a bit of fat or adipose tissue on our frame, the messages that come from that tissue are actually inherently inflammatory, which creates sort of this vicious hamster wheel cycle.
In a way. It’s not very good for our blood sugar regulation and glycemic control. It’s not good for long-term disease risk and cardiometabolic health. So it’s not so much just the energy expenditure, but by building that muscle tissue, we’re quite literally, you know, waking up with a different physiological state each day and our response to our meals may be different.
And also the ability to uptake certain nutrients like carbohydrates. So there, there’s definitely some power to it that goes beyond, you know, that energy balance equation. Now, if we’re looking solely at weight loss and weight gain, Yes, we do need to come back to at least an idea of moderating our portions energy, balance, and caloric control.
But I think that overlooks the fact that muscle has very endocrine like effects. So for those less familiar, basically when we talk about the endocrine system or endocrinology, we’re talking about these different chemical messengers or hormones and so muscles so much more than just this aesthetically pleasing slabs of tissue on your body.
But it also has this cascade of effects, impacts what’s going on in terms of our transformation as a whole. So I would encourage people to zoom out and not look at, well, oh, I built five pounds of muscle so that means you know, I’m burning this many more calories. I think it’s the same folks who tend to do that.
Also, you will be disappointed.
Mike: The number’s not very big if that’s all you’re looking at. Even exercise. A lot of people, I’ve tweeted about this in various different ways and and it’s often gotten good engagement. Is that intense? Strength training doesn’t burn as many calories as we might wish. Wish that it did.
I mean, it’s, it’s a few hundred, probably for 45 to 60 minutes, like no more than four or 500 and it, it might even be closer to 300 depending on how you’re training, how long you’re resting. Yes, that matters that that is a significant amount if you want to compare it to going for a walk. But again, when you compare it to just your basal or just your resting metabolic rate, It’s now maybe 15%.
Sam: Yeah. And it’s also the fact, right, that people put the same folks who are, uh, maybe hyper focusing on this area of their transformation. It’s also maybe the same people who put a little too much stock in the fitness tracker, calorie burn. And we’re, we’re looking at the Apple Watch and every workout. And I would encourage everyone to kind of zoom out from that lens or that perspective and just understand that there are actually, you know, whole body systemic changes that come from the development of muscle tissue and, and losing body fat, highest level of control that you can sort of exert over.
This is largely going to be through, you know, keeping an accurate food journal and food log and having an idea of your intake and paying attention to essentially a seven day log where you maintain your scale weight and we have a better idea of your actual maintenance calories versus predicted maintenance calories.
And then we can, you know, also, Look at what was my current level of activity during that time period. And that would be a much better way to assess how to make changes in your transformation versus, you know, over or underestimating a strength training workout or a cardio workout, or looking at a tracker.
And then I think we just also need to look at the fact that like, I’m engaging in these. Behaviors because they’re health promoting, they’re good for me. They have benefits in terms of longevity as well, in addition to my current fat loss pursuits. Right. So when it comes to, you know, these, I’d say the current social media fitness environments, some of the things that we could lessen, you know, our focus on and, and shift our attention elsewhere is kind of these, the idea of kind of hyper focusing on the calorie trackers or Apple watch calorie burn during workouts.
And, uh, just understanding that when we shift our body composition, there’s different chemical messages that come from those tissues, which has, you know, There’s health benefits to that versus having more body fat on our frame, and that when you have more body fat on your frame and those messages continue over time, it compounds your health risks.
Whether that’s cardiovascular risk, whether that’s related to insulin resistance, type two diabetes, metabolic syndrome. You know, there’s much more to the story than just what we’re seeing in the mirror, but obviously a lot of us have these physical transformation goals. We do want to look better, but you’d be better suited exerting some of that focus and looking at the food log, the food journal where you’re maintaining your weight and just sort of auditing your current activity level and then titrating up or down based on what your current behaviors are versus worrying about a very specific calorie number from that activity.
I’ll second that
Mike: for calorie calculators too. Even, you know, like I have several over on Legion’s website set up for more for SEO purposes. Like a lot of people are searching for weight loss calculators, so we’re taking the same underlying research and the same underlying math, and then just putting it into a different package that’s related to weight loss versus somebody searching for total daily energy expenditure, t d e calculator.
And as somebody who has put money into creating quite a few different calculators, including calorie based calculators, even explain on these pages that people should understand that these are Evans based starting points. But what you said is the most important point. You have to actually see how your body responds and there are various factors that can make it.
Appropriate for you to increase or decrease your calories from this starting point. Don’t think that if you take that number and you stick to it, And you don’t get the intended result that there’s something wrong with you.
Sam: Yeah, I think the calculators can, can be a tool for what’s called essentially predicted maintenance.
Whether it was coaching or my own transformation or just, you know, helping friends and family. I think a powerful exercise can be and kind of look at the difference between the two. So let’s say you track your, you know, five to seven day food log, and then you look at predicted maintenance from a calculator based on your activity, and they’re drastically different.
You know, there might be certain things that have attributed to that over time, whether it’s a chronic dieting history, essentially meaning. You’ve attempted to restrict calories quite frequently over the course of your fitness journey, and I always encourage people to look at the depth, duration, and frequency of past deficits because that can impact what’s going on in terms of your predicted maintenance versus your actual maintenance calories.
So if I do some sort of fad diet, whether it’s like the H C G diet or Octavia, whatever the case may be, and I go very, very low with my calories, that would be depth in terms of how much I’ve reduced the duration, meaning if I’ve. Try to stay in this deficit. And it doesn’t always mean I’ve successfully accomplished the deficit, but I’m, I’m basically practicing restraint and trying to accomplish a level of restriction to reduce calories.
That duration would be okay, was this a matter of weeks, months, or longer? And then frequency would be, you know, are you constantly trying to hop on the latest diet that came out and we’re jumping from fad diet to fad diet. So you know, at one point it’s a certain type of fasting and then it’s keto and veganism and you’re essentially trying all these different dietary practices.
But we haven’t really accomplished, you know, our end goal. So I like for people to look at those three sort of toggles that may be impacting where they currently are. And then we can look at the two numbers and just use it as insights for maybe steering. The direction that we might want to go. It also can be a helpful tool to then look at, okay, maybe I’m not as active as I think I am.
Maybe I need to look at my daily step count. And you realize, wow, I’m fairly sedentary at work and I’m only getting 5,000 steps per day. Maybe I can bump that to 8,000. How would that impact my daily energy expenditure? So these are just sort of tools that you can use that are gonna give you some clues and insights as far as the next steps and direction that you can take to, uh, whether you’re trying to lose body fab, maintain your weight, or you know, maybe if you’re having a hard time building muscle, it can still give you some insights into maybe where you need to increase calories or make some adjustments.
Mike: Can you talk more about the non-exercise activity? You touched on it there with steps, which could be obviously related to more formal exercise if you are explicitly trying to increase your step count. But for many people, I don’t know if you’d really call going outside for a walk a workout. It’s a great thing to do.
But it probably more kind of counts as non-exercise activity. But there’s, there’s a lot more that goes into non-exercise activity. And the reason I want to hear your thoughts on that in particular is a lot of people comment on this and I, I’ve just seen social media, if you want to. Do really well on social media.
One way to do that is to just take extreme positions on things, say stuff that’s shocking, and especially if other people aren’t saying it, if, if it’s something that’s kind of new and shocking. And so with non-exercise activity, some of the shocking statements that I’ve seen or you could say are evidence-based, but mislead people into it, just misleads them about how much non-exercise activity thermogenesis is affecting their metabolism.
You’ll see people say things like, it ranges very widely and research shows that it, it can be up to a thousand calories per day that people are burning without even realizing it. And then in other people, it’s like a hundred calories per day. You are struggling to lose weight. You might be a low neat type and therefore to fix that, Take this supplement or buy into my diet
Or, or, or I, I mean, I can totally see where that would be used as a marketing angle. As far as the low grade activity, I tend to count intentional exercise and let’s say you’re following a four day split in your training. You know, training, being exercise activity, if you have some planned cardiovascular exercise, I think.
Research scientists and also clinicians, practitioners, trainers in the field. Like you could debate whether you want to count walking towards exercise activity or not. If I’m working with a perimenopausal female and she only strength trains twice a week, but the bulk of her activity is coming from walking and low grade movement is that it is sort of intentional and planned, but at the same time it’s not high intensity training.
In either case, it’s contributing to total daily energy expenditure and us arguing about it doesn’t help the woman anymore than, you know, re regardless of how it’s labeled. So I try to just. Take more of a, a practical approach and look at it as this is contributing to daily energy expenditure. It is not a high intensity workout that’s putting us in this very like sympathetic state as far as, you know, adding, you know, it’s not incredibly taxing, it’s not high intensity interval training.
It’s not a, you know, intense workout where we have limited reps in reserve and we’re pushing ourselves and there’s some exertion there from both a physical and neurological perspective. It’s just, it’s a little bit more casual, right? If you were to go outside and push your kids on a swing set, you’re technically burning a modest amount of calories doing that, but it’s still movement.
I wouldn’t classify that as exercise activity cause I’ve seen some folks online classify it as well. If it’s any type of deliberate movement, it’s exercise activity and only fidgeting and subconscious movement counts as your non-exercise activity, and that seems a little ridiculous too. So I would say there are certainly adaptations in, it doesn’t take, all you have to do is if you restrict your calories and you notice you’re a bit fatigued or your energy levels decrease, you’re probably going to be less likely to want to get up off the couch.
Or if you have a desk and you’re sedentary at work, maybe you sit a little bit longer and you don’t do some of the things that you would do otherwise if you had optimal energy levels. When you’re well fueled at maintenance, calories are in a calorie surplus. Some people tend to fidget more than others.
They move around, they talk with their hands, and those things will contribute to some calorie burn. But I think a lot of it is how the diet in itself and energy restriction will impact. How we feel in our quality of life, which then sort of impacts our behaviors. And then we have the net change in energy expenditure as a result of that.
If I feel pretty crummy and run down, or because I’m dieting and it begins to impact things like my sleep, I might be less likely to engage in some of that low grade movement than what I would’ve done probably, you know, without even really thinking about it, you know, otherwise. So I think it just makes us a little more lethargic in general through essentially what amounts to reducing energy in calories.
And as a result of that, you know, we see implications and it will add up over the course of days, weeks, months, et cetera, when you’re in a deficit. And we do have the aspect of if you’re in a fat loss phase, you are decreasing your weight as well. But a lot of times we see that the down regulation in energy expenditure exceeds just the weight loss alone.
And I think that was some of Eric Drexler’s research. But that’s kind of how I think about is I do classify low grade movement in more of that neat category. I, I don’t really view it as low neat types and high neat types. I just, I really just try to make people aware of the power of. Being active outside of your strength training workouts and how that can have a compound effect over time in terms of your health and also in terms of fat loss and just make it easier to maintain your weight in general.
Mike: It is true however, though, that some people just tend to move around more than others outside of their workouts. I,
Sam: I mean, few people watch who probably see some people fidget more, move more, get up more, maybe have, uh, likelihood to kind of get up and move from their desk or walk around or pace on the phone.
Uh, there’s a lot of things that can play into that. I don’t really classify them as any type of type, but I would certainly say some people fidget more than others. And then in terms of your energy expenditure, some people probably engage in more of that subconscious movement than others. I don’t have any like, tangible metrics on the actual, uh, caloric.
Differences between the two though.
Mike: Oh, okay. Yeah, just the research that I’ve read, uh, has shown it. It can vary quite a bit. Now details matter because some of that could be like if you have somebody who’s burning a thousand calories per day outside of their workouts, that’s not from just speaking with their hands and playing with a fidget spinner.
Like, and then you look into the details and you’re like, oh, it’s because they work in a warehouse and they’re picking and packing orders all day. Okay, I understand. Would that person move that much otherwise? No, absolutely not. Of course, like if you stick them in a desk job, even if they are somebody who tends toward, maybe it’s just restlessness, they’re not gonna be burning a thousand calories
Sam: per day anymore, then that’s where occupation’s super important.
So for any health professionals or coaches listening to this, if you work with any clients, you know, learning about. Kind of a day in the life and being like a fly on the wall for 24 hours is very important. And if you don’t have questions about the type of occupation desk, job, sedentary, et cetera, I mean, I like to include very active jobs as a factor in an activity multiplier.
You know, I’m not huge on the calculators. As Mike and I mentioned, it’s always helpful to have a food log alongside that and look at where you’re maintaining your weight. But if you are someone who, who really uses those calculators and, and you are planning on incorporating that as part of your transformation, you really do need to look at your occupation and the level of activity with that.
Because someone with a highly active job who’s also strength training four or five days a week, is gonna have very different caloric demands than someone with. A sedentary job training four or five days per week. Yep. I can
Mike: think of quite a few examples of people emailing over the years mostly and asking that question, you know, Hey, I’m a dog walker, I’m out walking six hours per day.
Do I need to account for that? Yeah, absolutely. Most people are probably gonna burn a couple hundred calories per hour of walking, so that’s six hours of walking. And if it’s dogs, maybe it’s kind of vigorous walking. That might be 2000 calories per day right there, just from their
Sam: job. Yeah. And if there’s any labor involved too, I think that definitely, definitely plays a role.
And it might be, you know, your occupational activity might be higher than someone who’s just getting into basic training. Right. So it’s like, you know, if we move beyond the confines of the gym, if we just look at like perceived exertion for the body, energy, expenditure, movement, and strain, you know, there are many things in life that will.
Burn calories. And so I think having a little bit more of a holistic 360 view of client transformation in that case is very important, right? Because maybe in the instance of that dog walker, if they were trying to build muscle, maybe they actually need to add a meal or calorically dense snack with, you know, good amount of macro micronutrients in order to achieve their goals versus the person who didn’t have that job, maybe they’d make just fine progress, you know, without that modification.
So definitely important to look into that aspect. And I think that’s where, whether you are doing this for yourself in your own transformation as a health enthusiast, or if you’re someone who works with others, you know, really auditing these different aspects that play into metabolism. And that’s where, you know, as a coach, like a power, you know, an intake form check-in forms that get into looking at someone’s lifestyle relative to their goals is so important beyond just a macro calculator and prescription of sets and reps.
Mike: I’ve worked with tens of thousands of people over the years, and the biggest thing I see with the people I have helped the most is they’re often missing just one crucial piece of the puzzle. And if you are having trouble reaching your fitness goals as quickly as you’d like, I’m gonna guess it is the same thing with you.
You are probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s something you’re not doing right, and that is what is giving you most of the grief. Maybe it’s your calories, maybe it’s your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s food choices. Maybe you are not progressively overloading your muscles and whatever it is, here’s what’s important.
Once you identify that one thing, once you figure it out, that’s when everything finally, Clicks. That’s when you start making serious progress. It’s kind of like typing in your password to log into your computer. You can have all the letters, numbers, and symbols, right, except just one. And what happens? You can’t log in, right?
But as soon as you get that last remaining character, right? Voila, you’re in business. And I bet the same can be said about the body you really want. You are probably just one major shift, one important insight, one powerful new behavior away from Easy street. And that’s why I offer v i p one-on-one coaching where my team and I can help you do exactly that.
This is high level coaching where we look at everything you’re doing and we help you figure out that one thing that is missing for you. And it can be a couple of things too. That’s fine. There’s no extra charge for that. But once we figure it out, that’s when you start making real progress. That’s when you start looking better and feeling better.
So if you’re ready to make more progress in the next three months than maybe you did in the last three years, and yes, that has happened for many of our clients, head on over to Muscle for life.show/vip. That’s Muscle, f o r life.show/vip, and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way is not a high pressure sales call.
It’s just a friendly chat where we get to learn about you and your goals and your lifestyle, and then determine whether our program is right for you. Because sometimes we do speak with people who just aren’t a good fit for our service, but we almost always have other experts and other resources to refer those people to.
So if you are still listening to me and you are even slightly interested, go schedule your free consultation. Call now at Muscle for Life Show slash vip. Let’s shift gears now, talk about improving metabolism. What are some of the things that we can do with our diet, with our training, with our lifestyle, if there’s anything meaningful at all with supplements, how does that
So as far as you know, I view supplements. I sort of classify this as a, there’s probably about, with semantics, somewhere between five to 10, evidence-based, various broad categories and reasons where we would add supplements in, whether it’s, you know, replenishing a micronutrient need or macronutrient need, supporting performance with something like creatine.
Potentially it could be, you know, reducing inflammation. We have, you know, evidence for that, whether it’s a supplement for joint health and so on and so forth. And obviously that’s something, it’s kind of your wheelhouse with Legion, obviously, but for the. Average person. A lot of times those main toggles that I bring people back to are going to be resistant to training.
And that walking or low grade movement, uh, obviously incorporating some cardiovascular exercise is fine. Or if you like to do some intervals here and there, that’s okay. But a lot of the same people who sort of cl self classify as having a slower metabolism maybe haven’t adopted the proper practices to, you know, move forward in, in their transformation.
So whether that’s, you know, going to solely like a group exercise class, but not engaging in like a formal sort of progressive overload strength training program and you know, tracking that kind of non-exercise movement, those are two really great pillars to start. I actually kind of classify those two things and view them as sort of a movement as medicine approach to lifestyle and metabolism.
And on the nutrition side, I think it’s really a matter of when we look at. Sort of optimizing metabolism. If you’re someone who is overweight or obese and has some body fat to lose, the best thing for our metabolic health is going to be to get to a place where we improve our body composition and we improve our insulin sensitivity, and we can achieve a place, you know, maybe we’re moving towards, you know, weight maintenance and finding that new weight maintenance at our goal, body weight, whatever that may be.
And that can vary person to person. For someone who’s been, you know, fairly active and wants to do this for a long time, I think the biggest thing we can lean on is nutritional periodization or seasons of nutrition. Meaning I’m spending time, you know, if I have a season of a deliberate deficit, I’m gonna balance that out with some type of maintenance phase or maybe a muscle building phase.
People go back and forth on whether they prefer or whether it’s efficacious to do a reverse diet or recovery diet. It’s probably gonna be dependent on how lean you’re getting your body composition at that point, whether you’re going stage lean or photo shoot lean versus just a lifestyle cut, if you will.
But in those situations, I just like to look at it as we need seasons where we’re deliberately dieting and there’s caloric restriction, but that’s not what we’re doing all the time. Right? It’s like, Starbucks doesn’t have pumpkin spice lattes year round. We should kind of take a similar approach and view when we’re looking at our diet phases and then kind of balance that out with some maintenance phases, and you can look at it in different ways.
Just like with your training, you might potentially follow different types of splits or progressions or include a D load. You need to do the same thing with our nutrition as well. This helps to hedge against that concept of metabolic adaptation. It is normal to see some transient adaptations when you are dieting, but we can, you know, avoid having that get to a place where it is more severe simply by having, you know, alternating phases.
We’re not solely just going only, you know, in this monophasic approach of always trying to be in the deficit. I think having a phase where it’s like, cool, I’m gonna go and lose these seven or eight pounds and then I’m gonna spend some time, you know, building strength, building muscle over here and then kind of going back into that fat loss phase again.
I think that’s, Probably one of the most powerful tools that people overlook or they’re simply not educated on. You know, there’s no like health and fitness starter pack that includes that. And when I say the term periodization, for anyone listening who’s maybe a little bit newer in their health and fitness journey, it’s really just this idea of planning, right?
We’re gonna have a deliberate approach where we kind of go one direction and then we’re gonna have this other season or period of time or block where we’re planning to do something else, uh, in terms of our calories and macronutrient intake over time. And how
Mike: do you like to set those phases up?
Obviously it’s going to depend on people’s circumstances, but if you wanna give some examples of how you might go about that with a lot of the people listening, for example, I would say are probably lifestyle bodybuilders at most, not people who are trying to get stage lean and maybe not even photo shoot lean, and people who are maybe relatively new ranging to have gained most of the muscle and strength that’s genetically available
Sam: to them.
Yeah, so I use some terminology and it’s really just to help people frame this as a cyclical approach. It’s not necessarily, there’s nothing magical to this, this is just terminology. I don’t want anyone to think that this is the way you have to do things. But I sort of classify these seasons as like building phases, uh, burning phases and having breaks, right?
And that could be a number of different things. I’ll kind of dive into. When I say burn, I don’t just mean fat loss. Let’s say you are a passionate CrossFitter and you are going to do the CrossFit Open or the CrossFit games or something that’s physiologically demanding anything that’s putting significant demands on your body.
We kind of look at that as I would classify that in that sort of burn phase. You know, that could be deliberate, you know, building muscle, whether that’s building in the form of kind of ramping calories through a reverse diet, ramping up from a mus, uh, from a maintenance phase to, you know, more building muscle.
And then breaks are things where, you know, maybe we have a short deload or you go on vacation with your family, or we have a diet break. Now there’s some arguments in the space currently about the efficacy of diet breaks. I think the population involved obviously makes a really big difference. And uh, there’s probably.
Still need more research in that area right now. But it can also just help from a psychological perspective. So looking at this, the seasons where I’m gonna kind of cycle through, I would probably have one of each phase just depending on what my goal is, right? If I’m really trying to build muscle, I probably need to spend a little bit more time at maintenance and maybe in a slight caloric surplus.
If my main goal is fat loss, I do need to have some deliberate time in a calorie deficit and the length at which we are going to stay in that phase. May change depending on someone’s biofeedback and their quality of life. So if I get to a point where it’s just I’m miserable being in this calorie deficit, I may sort of pump the brakes on that shift into a different phase, go to maintenance, and so on and so forth.
Now, as far as what I would do after the diet phase, really the speed at which you ramp calories is partially going to be dependent on the person’s comfort level in terms of regaining some body fat, and also how bad the metabolic and hormonal adaptations are. So if someone is getting very lean, you know, they may need to increase calories and maybe gain a little bit more body fat a little bit quicker because it’s gonna help with the symptoms that they’re having in terms of their energy levels, fatigue, hormones, et cetera.
If I have someone who’s not really that affected and they want to take things a little bit more slowly or psychologically that’s more beneficial for them, that might look a little bit more like what’s conventionally named as as a reverse diet. But really there’s not a. One size fits all answer there because someone’s ability to follow any particular phase for a length of time is probably gonna be significantly influenced by what they have done up until this point listening to this podcast today.
So someone who was just dieting for 18 weeks probably needs to spend some time at maintenance, whereas the person who’s listening to this and they haven’t died in a year and a half, they could probably successfully move into that energy deficit. No problem. And cruise along for a while before hitting any sort of plateau and something
Mike: that you commented on.
But I just wanna bring it up again because it’s a good point and I think it’s worth discussing a little bit further, is this mistake that I’ve seen people I know firsthand make it is kind of a, a body composition trap where if you look at their. Caloric intake versus you look at their energy balance over time and you see that there are many days in a deficit, so there’s a lot of caloric restriction, and then there are many days of.
What almost just looks like binging in a week to week. I’ve seen it where somebody I know for, I don’t think he’s doing this anymore, but for some time he would eat around B M R, so he would severely restrict his calories throughout the week. So he could eat thousands and thousands of calories per day on the weekends, and he would just kind of rinse and repeat that.
That’s a bit extreme, but research does show that in, in just everyday people, a lot of the weight that they gain over time is gained on the weekends and over the holidays. And so you have these periods during the week where it’s kinda like maintenance calories, and then you have acute increases in caloric intake.
And so a more, I’d say maybe kind of fitness version of that is a lot of caloric restriction, even if it’s just smaller deficits. And then, Much less caloric excesses that over time kind of just evens out. But physiologically, how does that compare to, let’s say, doing it the other way around where let’s just say you have a lot of maintenance to slight caloric surplus, and then you have occasional deficits when maybe you look in the mirror and you’re like, eh, I’m a little bit too fat.
I’m gonna eat less this week. And you can get to the same place technically related to body composition, but physiologically, those are different
Sam: things, right? Yeah, the second person might be able to diet on slightly higher calories if they’re spending a little bit more time at maintenance. Just how I’ve seen it play out anecdotally is, is the person who spends a bit more time at maintenance and a slight surplus when they do go to diet, they can essentially be in an energy deficit, potentially on slightly higher intake.
Now, that can obviously vary person to person, but anecdotally I have seen that play out that way. The person who is, you know, no frequency of dieting is enough for them and they want to continue to drop back in. Or it’s like they consider two to four weeks as a a maintenance phase when it’s really more just like a extended diet break.
I think we have to look at, you know, there’s no magic ratio, but I would say that. For health and fitness, you know, passionate health and fitness enthusiasts for people who are really focused on being lean and, you know, dropping body fat. I, I would say the ratio does tend to be skewed a little bit more on the deficit side with less T L C, you know, to that, those maintenance phases we’re not only sacrificing potentially the ability to diet on higher calories in the future, that’s only a microcosm of what’s actually going on.
But the bigger picture is, you know, our quality of life, energy levels, biofeedback, but also performance. I think it’s not that you can’t maintain strength and muscle in a diap phase, you certainly can, but I would encourage someone to spend some time at maintenance and realize just how much their training improves relative to being in that calorie deficit.
So if you’re someone that does have goals in the gym, getting stronger, building muscle looking lean, a really great sort of, uh, anchoring effect that can come from, uh, and stabilizing effect that can come from those maintenance calories. And it, it’s not solely just, oh, I could eat a little bit more in my next deficit.
It’s also all the benefits that are gained. In the maintenance phase related to training and performance, but also just from like a quality of life, community and participation perspective in terms of your day-to-day. It’s a lot easier to, you know, uh, engage with friends and have outings and do stuff with family when you’re not constantly trying to be in the deficit.
So there’s something to be said about how that restraint can bleed into other areas of your life. And so having, you know, a little bit more kind of deliberate fat loss phase and then spending. Ample time at maintenance may have, uh, benefits in other areas of, of your life as well, whether it’s being able to do something with your kids on the weekends or just feeling a little bit less stressed about, you know, adhering to, to the current diet plan.
Mike: A calorie deficit should be seen as a, a weight loss or fat loss intervention, not a lifestyle. Right.
Sam: Yeah, there’s a difference. I think I have a, uh, we were talking about Twitter before this. I think I have a tweet or something that I put on Instagram that was like, you know, a deliberate or intentionally planned deficit is very different than like a perpetual attempt at a deficit for life, right?
So there’s nothing wrong with. Planning a season of restriction and maybe if you want to drop some dress sizes for a wedding coming up or you have a, a trip or a vacation that you’re going on or a photo shoot that you’re getting ready for, that’s totally fine. And I would encourage that. And anyone who wants to improve their body composition in any way, I would encourage you to do so.
I think the problem is when we lose sight of the fact that it’s meant to be that, like you said, temporary intervention versus it’s not this lifelong thing that I’m supposed to keep doing. And unfortunately people get that initial hit when they lose some body fat the first time into deficit, so then they keep playing that same chord over and over and over again versus toggling to a, a different side of transformation and coming back to that later on.
And it can still be, you know, powerful down the road. You’ve mentioned
Mike: biofeedback several times and how that relates to body transformation. Can you
Sam: talk more about that? Sure. So biofeedback, I just refer to it as like physical and physiological signs and symptoms of how our body is doing in any phase of our training and nutrition.
But even if you weren’t necessarily training, uh, you would still have biofeedback. And the reason I like it is because it’s sort of this. Subjective way that, you know, we can look at how someone’s doing and combine it with objective data as well, like training performance. So let’s say last week you lifted a hundred pounds and it felt like you only had one rep left in the tank.
And then you go back to the gym and you improve. And that same weight, it felt like you had three reps left in the tank, or you were able to do more reps, or you know, you had better form. You know, with the given movement, it’s another way that we can sort of look at progression and assess things. So in combination with nutrition and training and everything that’s going on, my favorite aspects of biofeedback to look at when really this is just speaking to someone’s quality of life would be their sleep, their hunger, their recovery, their energy, their digestion, and their stress.
And so that kind of spells this nice little acronym for you guys of shreds, whether you are in a fat loss phase or a muscle building phase. Tracking those things on a little bit of a rating scale, you know, like one to five or one to 10, how they’re doing. And then having a bit of, you know, maybe a little blurb.
So if you’re a coach, checking in with someone, you know, kind of just having that blurb of, okay, I was a little bit hung this week because, or, but digestion was a little off because I was traveling and I had some different meal choices, or my stress was high because of additional demands at work this week.
So it gives context to why we’re feeling the way we’re feeling, and also how, you know, training might be. You know, adjusted accordingly. So let’s say there’s a, a new dad who’s got a, a young child at home, and maybe the, the baby’s not sleeping as well. Biofeedback will certainly be affected, and that could impact training performance, right?
Maybe we got a little bit less sleep. You know, we know that sleep deprivation can impact things like insulin sensitivity. Also our daily dietary decisions in terms of our ability to manage hunger and cravings. So I like to look at biofeedback as a complimentary tool. So some of the things we mentioned earlier, like a food log or you know, tracking your training, having an idea of what you’re doing with your training split.
It’s just this additional avenue where we can see how the body is responding to certain stimulus, right? Because as I mentioned earlier, metabolism is very adaptive. It’s going to adapt to our environment and the stimulus that we impose on it. But we have to ask ourselves, well, how am I responding to the current stimulus?
Is this an appropriate stimulus? Is this too much or too little? Do I need more training or less training, more movement or less movement, more calories or less calories? We can just use this as a nice adjunct to, uh, the other components of transformation that we’ve talked about in today’s show. Let’s
Mike: overlay that on dieting.
Let’s talk about how that applies specifically to dieting and the reason being that’s just an area, another common area of confusion, controversy. We can, we don’t have to waste time talking about metabolic damage. Anybody listening wants to learn about that, just head of legion athletics.com. Search for metabolic and you’ll find an article.
I think I’ve recorded a podcast on it, so let’s just say that you’re not gonna damage your, your metabolism, but when you’re cutting, your metabolism is going to adapt. I would love Sam to hear some of your advice for how people can understand. The severity of the adaptation, kind of a, a red flag, green flag way of thinking about it.
And, and just to throw something out there, you can start with a mistake that I see, and I’m sure you’ve seen many people make, interpreting almost any hunger whatsoever when dieting as a red flag, uh, either that metabolic adaptation is spiraling outta control, or that something is wrong with your diet or you’re training too hard and either stemming from the idea that you shouldn’t experience any hunger or, uh, what I would say is maybe hypersensitivity to hunger an inappropriate level of, of
Sam: sensitivity to hunger.
So just to kick us off, I think some of the nutrition and fitness industry buzzwords or things like metabolic adaptation, when we think about the word adapt, right, we’re talking about maybe modifications that are happening as a result of some of our behaviors, choices, practices. So one of those is, let’s say I’m tracking macros and I’m in a fat loss phase, as Mike mentioned, reducing calories and energy availability and because.
Metabolism, as we mentioned earlier, is sort of this miser of energy and it is a energy regulator. What it’s going to do is essentially become a bit more thrifty with resources. And so part of that is we’ll see down regulations in thyroid hormone, upregulation in, uh, our adrenal activity and potentially even the production of, of cortisol.
And this is normal, not anything that’s. You know, going to, to lead to any like massive, uh, health outcomes necessarily. Just these are normal adaptations that will happen to anyone who is dieting, and the degree to which it will happen will depend on the severity of the diet, the length of the diet, and a number of other factors and micronutrient deficiencies and things like that.
We’re seeing a downregulation in thyroid, which is kind of our master energy regulator, an important part of our endocrine system or hormonal system. We have an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which actually stimulates appetite and gets us to try to potentially eat more to offset the decreased energy consumption.
And then we’ll also see downregulation and reproductive hormones. And this is normal, right? Because if we didn’t have a lot of food in our environment thousands of years ago, it wouldn’t really make sense for us to reproduce and have a young child around that needs to be fed and is calorically demanding and you know, energetically expensive.
Same thing goes for pregnancy and breastfeeding are both very energy costly. So metabolic adaptation just means we’re downregulating. This, it’s a conservation of resources. Your metabolism’s not broken or damaged. It is just once again kind of adapting or, or modifying things as a result of the stimulus in the environment.
And so when we, uh, You know, have these, these sort of cases, it’s important to understand as, once again, kind of depth of calories matters, duration, and, and frequency certainly matters. Getting hungry is okay. In fact, it is a normal sign of dieting and people’s hunger may vary. And I would encourage you to play around with different things in terms of your macronutrient composition, your meal timing.
We may have worked for you in a maintenance phase to maintain your hunger and energy levels may not be the best approach for your diet phase. Some people like to potentially have certain fasting windows and that works for them if it helps them adhere to their daily intake. Other folks like to maybe consume and, and spread their meals throughout the day.
Maybe you make some modifications where at your maintenance calories you are at a certain. Level of grams per pound of protein, and you find that when you’re dieting, you need to increase that maybe by 0.1 or 0.2 to help with appetite management, or you’re choosing maybe certain more satiating carbohydrate choices or things that maybe provide more food volume.
So being hungry is totally normal and natural as part of dieting. The degree of hunger will vary person to person, but it doesn’t automatically mean that everything’s gone wrong or haywire. You know, actually, I have a video on this where it’s essentially like three unfortunate truths of your fat loss phase.
It’s like sometimes you will be hungry. And that’s why it’s also important, getting good quality sleep. Having, you know, adequate rest can also help with that. Hunger management and our daily dietary decision making and blood sugar control. And then as far as what we’re doing on a meal by meal basis, you know, simply observe how you feel maybe after a certain breakfast or certain lunch or certain dinner.
And notice how certain food combinations and recipes maybe lend themselves to you managing your appetite versus certain foods that actually may lead you to overeat later down the road. Or you find you’re hungry 30 to 60 minutes later, and that’s about finding what’s kind of best for your body. There’s not necessarily one right answer for everyone, but maybe you notice.
In the morning, like you’re good with, maybe you have a protein shake with some fruit or a small amount of dietary fat in there and you’re totally fine. For others, maybe that leaves them hungry and they notice, okay, I need to have a meal with some solid protein source like eggs, and I’m gonna consume this other carbohydrate source that’s a bit more filling for me and.
There could even be a difference between, you could have the same macros from rice and sweet potatoes. Maybe in your maintenance phase you opt for white rice or jasmine rice or something and you know that in a fat loss phase you’re gonna opt for the sweet potato because you notice you’re less hungry afterwards.
So part of it is our choices and how we’re choosing to accomplish the energy deficit. But being hungry is okay. Uh, what I look for more towards the red flag, green flag concept you mentioned earlier, to kind of bring it full circle, is if I am having pretty severe digestive issues or stresses just super high in my life and I’m talking about like potentially a traumatic event.
Or maybe you have something that comes up during your planned fat loss phase and you’re moving across the country or you’re a primary caregiver for a parent who’s sick or potentially passed away or something like real life events that happen, I think are reasons to switch out of those phases. If I had someone who’s having trouble sleeping and they cannot recover from their workouts, might be an indication to shift.
Phases. Hunger is interesting in that it can certainly, you can manage it, you can mitigate it to a degree and people will vary in their tolerance of that. But that wouldn’t necessarily be my sole reason to shift out of the fat loss phase. I would also look at recovery, uh, like if I’m just really struggling in the gym, that might be an indication to take a deload or to look at what’s going on from a nutritional perspective.
If energy levels are very poor and you know, you will naturally, uh, potentially see a decrease in libido during these fat loss phases. But if everything’s just completely tanked across the board, across the sleep, hunger, recovery, energy, digestion, and you have high stress, that would be an indication to me that we need to modify things.
So really looking more towards the recovery component, the digestion component, the stress and sleep component, versus solely using hunger as a reason to move from one phase to another. Yeah, that makes
Mike: sense. And it almost takes care of itself unless you have somebody who’s very stubborn and very determined, because when you have each of those red flags, You feel so bad that like just physically, psychologically, it’s very difficult to just keep sticking to your diet, sticking to your exercise routine, especially if you’re doing strength training and cardio.
Now, that’s not to say that people don’t, there are certainly people’s more of the fitness fanatic type of person who will, and if they continue too long that way, then they can dig themselves a deep hole. But in my experience, the wheels, they just start to fall off because of what’s going on. And then workouts start to get skipped and off plan eating becomes more frequent and.
So on, which is understandable and I is not even the wrong response. It’s just smart to, to, I think do it in a strategic way as opposed to letting the wheels completely fall off and then feeling guilty and maybe finding it hard to
Sam: restart. Yeah, I’ve definitely seen that happen both ways. So I think the more that we can plan for it, if we acknowledge like, hey, you know, I think we got as much, you know, mileage or kind of this was good to the last drop, and we’re at our very like, wits end here.
Uh, and I think that’s more relevant for the lifestyle client versus if someone is, you know, potentially cutting weight for a sport, uh, whether that’s
Mike: natural body building even where. You’re gonna feel awful at the end. You’re gonna step on that stage, you’re gonna look cool, you’re gonna feel terrible.
Just know that.
Sam: Yeah. So natural body building, weight restricted, m m a style sports, weight restricted power lifting or Olympic lifting. You know, there are going to be times if you’re really cutting a weight class or if you’re looking good on stage, uh, you may feel pretty bad in the weeks leading up to the event.
And ideally that’s where a post show or post competition health phase becomes so important. And then for the lifestyle client, it’s really the question becomes, okay, is that extra one to 2% body fat worth, you know, sacrificing quality of life work performance. You know, if this person’s a business owner or their quality time with their family and they’re tired all the time, there begins to be a sort of a ProCon or just kind of a.
Cost benefit analysis and really the person has to decide. And so if, if you’re working with a coach, you know, having that conversation talking about it, okay, you know, we can always come back to this later. And that’s also where sometimes people just need that psychological break where having a, you know, something like a maintenance phase and there could be good or some people really enjoy doing more of.
Uh, I think what’s been sort of credited to Bill Campbell is more of that like five, two method of dieting. Like different people need different approaches to be able to continue the diet for the length necessary for it to be effective and efficacious. But there’s certainly gonna be times for, you know, the average person where it’s like, it’s okay to stop the diet phase.
And the exception where people have to push is really, if you’re doing this for competitive reasons, it’s going to be uncomfortable. And that’s part of the nature of, you know, the sport. I’ll
Mike: also joke that, uh, something that shredded people often don’t want to admit even to themselves is they would feel a lot better if they just had some more body fat.
Sam: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I think anyone with some level of physique competition or body building experience can probably attest to that. Or if you’ve gotten ready for a photo shoot, it’s like sometimes you don’t realize how bad you feel until you begin to feel better. And then that contrast is like a mirror for, wow, these symptoms were really, you know, I didn’t realize that I really felt like garbage.
Then things improve a little bit and it provides a bit of perspective, you know, especially if you’ve been dieting for a long period of time. So sometimes people think they’re okay, but in reality, uh, you know, things have sort of gotten to a, a low point. Yeah, that’s
Mike: a great point. Last question for you.
You mentioned micronutrient deficiencies that can contribute to metabolic insufficiency, I guess you could say. What does that look like
Sam: exactly? So it’s not necessarily a direct, you know, it’s more of looking at like physiological mechanisms. And so even something like selenium is important for thyroid function and thyroid conversion, and we have selen proteins that play a role in that.
So let’s say someone, just a very basic concept, high level for the audience is anytime you’re reducing calories and macronutrients, unless you make very deliberate substitutions of foods that are very micronutrient dense, we have this likelihood, increased likelihood that we will reduce micronutrients when we reduce macronutrients.
So let’s say I went from, you know, 2,400 calories to 1800 calorie. These are. Completely hypothetical examples, so please, no one used this as actual basis for what you’re doing. But let’s say I, I just subtracted, you know, certain number of calories, a significant volume of calories, just in doing so, even whether I was cognizant of it or not, I’m reducing my micronutrient intake.
And vitamins and minerals are just essential nutrients that we need for. Really hundreds or thousands of bodily processes on an ongoing basis, and it’ll contribute to how you feel, how you look, you know, with hair, skin, nails. So micronutrients are just vitally important for our overall health. There’s not necessarily like one direct thing that’s going to make all the difference, but whether we’re looking at men’s health or women’s health, we really just want to be at optimal levels of these things in general, which is where adding some nutritional support from a supplement, we can replete the deficiency that we may be predisposed to as an athlete or as someone in a calorie deficit.
Also, folks who are maybe overweight or also predisposed to certain deficiencies, whether that’s vitamin D or magnesium. So micros should be important for any phase, whether you’re at a maintenance phase, fat loss phase, or muscle building phase, because they’re just crucially important for overall health and longevity.
But if we were to get into like the nitty gritty, I mean some of those micros will play a role in thyroid function in terms of being optimal there. You know, you could. Make a bit of a, a tangential argument around, you know, when we have optimal micronutrient status, it’s better for the microbiome and so on and so forth.
But it, it’s not necessarily a direct like if a game of operation of like ifx then y and I’ve therefore, you know, reduced my metabolic rate by so many calories. It’s more of just, we should just be conscious of this as responsible individuals, you know, engaged in our fat loss pursuits. I
Mike: remember years ago reading some research done, it was case study, I believe it was a female.
College or two or three female college volleyball players. And they were looking at zinc status and metabolism and a zinc deficiency in one of the women who was profiled in this case study was, that was enough to reduce total daily energy, Spanish or by a couple hundred calories. They fixed the zinc deficiency.
She was now burning a couple hundred more calories per day. Maybe that’s an outlier example.
Sam: Yeah. I’d say that’s on the high end. She’s also an athlete, so athletes are probably gonna be more prone to those mineral deficiencies for sure. So I, I don’t want, and obviously I don’t think you’re saying this Mike at all, and No, I’m not telling people
Mike: just Papa Zinc every day and, and you’re gonna burn a couple on your calories.
It’s just, uh, A shocking example of how micronutrients can impact metabolism.
Sam: For sure. Yeah. And even let’s say you take, let’s say you find that you get more restful sleep, or you seem to have less sleep disturbances, or you feel more relaxed with like a magnesium supplement, maybe that sleep leads to.
Compounding over time, better choices with your diet and supports your fat loss phase. You know, there’s so many different things that happen in this world of health and fitness that, you know, one thing does impact the other, but really it’s in that grand scheme of things. Just understanding, okay, if I’m an athlete or I’m someone who’s in a fat loss phase and I reduce calories, I either need to make food substitutions and choices that are more micronutrient dense with the caloric allowance and energy budget that I have.
If I can’t be spot on with those substitutions and really get some micronutrient dense, you know, single ingredient whole foods in there, I probably should look into either a multivitamin or getting in some additional nutrients. Not to mention most peaceful in the Western world could probably benefit from cer, you know, ingredients anyways.
Whether that’s D three, K two, magnesium, you know, there’s so many things that are helpful to include as part of your routine, even if it’s not solely for fat loss. But I think just where a lot of people in the health and fitness, social media sphere miss the boat. It’s just the fact that. If I reduce my calories and I kept my foods the same and I decreased my portion sizes, I’m just directly now taking in less micros, right?
So it’s just like very, even at that surface level, even if you don’t wanna get into any nutritional biochemistry or talk about, you know, zinc or thyroid conversion or anything like that, it’s like just at a very basic level, that’s just a simple truth, fundamental truth that a lot of people miss. And so we can just do a better job either with planning our meals or we can, you know, add some good quality supplements that have the appropriate doses of the, you know, vitamins or minerals we need to kind of sustain optimal health during these more physique minded phases.
Mike: always been my argument from the beginning for including a good multivitamin in your regimen. Not that you have to, but I think that you can make a good evidence-based argument, particularly when you look at individual ingredients. There are vitamins and minerals, and then there are other goodies that if it’s a well formulated multivitamin that the producer is willing to spend some money on.
That’s one of the problems with many multivitamins is they tend to be viewed as a profit center because if you just stick to vitamins and minerals, and if you go with the cheapest forms and you even leave out a couple of things, You now have a cheap product, you have something that costs maybe $5 per bottle.
You can sell that for anywhere between 20 and $40 a bottle depending on your brand. That is how many supplement companies view a multivitamin. They’re not interested investing in their multivitamin in the same way that they will invest in a pre-workout because there are different expectations with pre-workouts and it’s more competitive.
And if you want to put something out there that is going to attract a large amount of a certain type of consumer, you you’re gonna have to spend more than $5 a bottle. And Legions, multivitamin, the costs have been all over the place since Covid, but to get a bottle of our multivitamin two. People, it’s probably to a person, it’s probably about 16, $17 a bottle.
That’s what it costs me to produce it and get it to somebody. From a business perspective, that’s not a great margin. But as I’ve said many times in supplements, you can choose great products or great margin. That’s it. You don’t you, you pick one. You don’t get both. If you want great products and you can figure out how to get to good enough margins, you’re doing a good job.
You are an efficient operator, but many supplement companies, they would rather just have the great margins,
Sam: unfortunately. Yeah. I think part of that too is, you know, inclusion of. Supportive or adaptogenic compounds or different things that could be helpful, whether you’re in a fat loss phase or just kind of managing stress in general.
You know, as you mentioned, the formats make a big difference. So, you know, someone using good quality mineral formats to ensure absorption can make a really big difference. And then, you know, with, with your vitamins, just make sure you have the right doses. But then it’s, it becomes a, uh, formulation challenge in terms of fitting things.
In capsules and also having, uh, efficacious dosage, dosages at the same time. Hence,
Mike: hence many customers. Uh, why, why do you say that we should take eight of these things today? Why, why do you want me to take four in the morning and four with dinner? That’s why I, I, I’ve, I’ve gone back and forth on this and since the beginning have always worked with people who know a lot more about supplementation than I do, scientists and PhDs and people.
There was a point where I was thinking, okay, we could go down to six caps per day and still have a great product. You could argue that those additional two caps per day are not part of the 20%. That gives you 80%, however, Is there really that big of a difference though between taking six versus eight per day?
Not really. You’re gonna split it up into two doses and you’re either swallowing three at a time or a four to really make a difference in terms of how it’s perceived. You’d have to cut that in half. I think you’d have to go down to four per day and, and then customers would definitely perceive that differently.
But I just wasn’t happy with any formulation that was just four per day because then it became just another multivitamin. Much like what I just mentioned, that’s not the type of product that I
Sam: want to make. Yeah, totally understandable. And it is a challenge when you’re balancing different audiences and avatars.
You know, maybe for my dad, he might struggle with a certain number of capsules, whereas, you know, for the person who’s. 25 to 47 years old and very active and wants the best thing for their body. You know, maybe willing to take a larger number of capsules, things like that too. So I think context certainly matters, but also we do know, you know, okay, these are the ingredients that we need at certain doses, and that’s what’s, you know, gonna be optimal to kind of support us, uh, if we’re lagging in certain micronutrients based on our dietary choices.
And most people, even if they are eating a relatively, you know, relatively quote, you know, air quotes, I feel like you can’t even say the term healthy diet or healthy foods eating like an adult. Uh, you may still have some micronutrient deficiencies, especially if you’re active. So if you are active, if you’re athletic, definitely worth include.
And that’s just even from a lifestyle perspective. And then folks on the other side too, if this is a newer part of your transformation and you need to potentially, you’re working to get to a healthier weight, there are some consequences from micronutrient. Perspective of carrying some of that extra weight around.
Plus we have to think from a health history perspective, you know, the number of months and years that we’ve been consuming a diet that maybe was less nutritious and not providing the micronutrients that we needed. So I think on both ends of the spectrum, there are a lot of people who can benefit from kind of the unsung heroes, the non, it’s not as sexy as the pre-workout product, but you know, vitamins and minerals are certainly very important for, you know, all of us.
It makes me
Mike: think of a point you made early in the podcast about building muscle and how sure having more muscle burns, more calories. But it also does many other things in your body that you could say, I is just conducive to having less body fat rather than more, uh, as opposed to having very little muscle and a lot of body fat is conducive to minimally staying that way, if not, You know, gaining fat over time.
Similarly, meeting your body’s most important nutritional needs is just conducive to, uh, of course, good health, quote unquote, but is also conducive to a robust metabolism that is conducive to being able to achieve and maintain your body composition goals.
Sam: You know, this is that biofeedback component we talked about earlier too, just quality of life as well.
So body com, quality of life, and, and also playing a role in so many things that our body does even when we’re not. Thinking about it, you know, underneath the surface. So definitely, I think can’t be understated, but it’s one of those things, it’s not as popular to talk about and it’s not necessarily the quick fix.
Mike: Well, I’ve kept you longer than I asked for, so I don’t want to, don’t wanna push this into the, what was it? The, uh, the Huberman territory.
Sam: Yes, yes. I thought you were going for like a Lord of the Ring sequel, where you’re gonna have multiple, or you know, something that was gonna be like, oh, we got a trilogy now.
But I appreciate you having me and it was, uh, definitely fun to hop on the show and talk about all things metabolism and biofeedback. Yeah, I, I
Mike: appreciate it again. And why don’t we just wrap up quickly where people can find you, find your work, if there’s anything in particular you want them to know about.
Sam: Of course. So most of, uh, my platforms are just Sam Miller Science on Instagram and my podcast. I spend the most time on the podcast, Sam Miller Science in terms of the episodes that we release each week, which are largely nutrition and lifestyle centric. We will occasionally include some fitness stuff in there for you.
And then my website is sandler science.com. There’s some different resources and blogs and free materials for you. And my book that covers a lot of the things that we talked about today on the podcast is called Metabolism Made Simple, uh, making Sense of Nutrition to Transform Metabolic Health. And you can find [email protected] or through that sandler science.com website, you’ll be able to find the book as well.
Mike: Well, thanks again, Sam. I really appreciate it.
Sam: Thanks, Mike.
Mike: Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.
And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have, uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com, and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.