Did you think we’d make it to the end of this series?

I was questioning it myself. The deeper I dive into other articles, research, and testimonies on fasting the more I want to say.

However, I realize that not everyone likes to nerd-out on this stuff like I do. I hope those of you that do, have gotten what you came looking for, and those that don’t—I hope you’re still hanging with me.

To tie a nice little bow on this box let’s look at the role growth hormone (GH) plays in making us a Metabolic Boss.

Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland that helps us grow as children and adolescents. As adults, GH aids in muscle growth and preservation, and it also helps regulate our metabolism among other functions beyond the scope of this article.

One of the prime concerns of anyone undertaking a fast is muscle loss.

For those of us who have weight trained for years and built an appreciable amount of muscle, the last thing we want to do is, lose all dem gainz. E...

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Weight loss is one thing. Fat-loss is another. But a change in body-composition is the ultimate objective of anyone who wants to look, feel, and function better.

That’s because a change in body-composition is not just assuming a loss of body-fat but an increase in muscle.

Does skipping breakfast hold the key?

I wouldn’t go so far to give a definitive, yes, but I’ll explain how it contributes.

All of this talk about skipping breakfast is really nothing more than a conversation around the concept of intermittent or extended fasting.

Here are the logistics and rationale for skipping out on “the most important meal of the day”, as it relates to fasting.

Firstly, people think fasting is hard. Secondly, they think “not eating” is "not good" for you.

And they would be completely wrong on both fronts.

Let’s say the last morsel of food you eat for the day happens at 8 pm. You’re in bed by 10 pm and sleep until 6 am.

During these 8 hrs of not eating you’ve begun to enter a post-absorp...

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Feeling hungry? That’s Ghrelin talking.

Not to be confused with gremlins—the nasty creatures that result from feeding a Mogwai after midnight, according to the 1984 film, Gremlins.

Some of you, including my wife, weren’t even born yet and probably won’t get the reference. But let me say, the way many people respond to a spike in ghrelin isn’t much different than how gremlins behave. (Go to YouTube and you’ll see what I mean!)

Ghrelin is known as, the hunger hormone.

When ghrelin is secreted by your stomach (because your stomach is empty) it increases your appetite and encourages fat storage.

Conversely, the hormone Leptin tells us when it’s time to stop eating.

Leptin—which is secreted by our fat cells—tells us that we have enough fat so we can slow down or stop eating.

However, like many of our beloved family members and friends—Leptin has so...

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There are several hormones that, when operating properly, will optimize metabolic function.

We’ll start with the more familiar, insulin. The job of insulin is to simply transport glucose (carbohydrates) out of the bloodstream and into either the liver, muscles, or fat.

Your liver is able to store approximately 100 g of glucose in the form of glycogen. The muscles can store between 325-375 g of glycogen on average. And you can safely have 25 g or so circulating in your bloodstream.

So what happens when the amount of glucose coming into your body exceeds the available storage space in the muscles and liver? It gets converted and stored as fat.

However, as I’ve preached for almost two decades—carbs are not the enemy. Crappy carbs in high doses are.

Much of our obesity epidemic directly correlates with the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars which leads to insulin resistance, which leads to obesity and Type-II diabetes.

To demonstrate just how powerful insulin resistance can be. Researche...

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Did the advice to “never skip breakfast” screw up all of our metabolisms and lead to unwanted weight gain?

Hate to say it, but it probably has.

It’s not all mom’s fault though. Guys like me are equally responsible—so here I am trying to "right" my wrongs.

Personal trainers, nutritionists, and health professionals have long suggested eating smaller meals spread throughout the day—starting with an early morning breakfast.

The intention being that...

  • Smaller meals are easier on the digestive system. (That’s a good thing!)
  • Blood glucose and insulin will fluctuate less. (That’s a good thing!)
  • Energy levels will become more stable. (That’s a good thing!)
  • The muscles will get a steady supply of amino acids throughout the day to aid in muscle recovery, development, and preservation. (That’s a good thing!)
  • And if you barely eat enough to make it to your next meal body-fat will be used to fill the energy gap. (That’s a REALLY good thing!)

None of this is completely illogical which is why it’s been such a widely prescribed nutrition strategy for decades.

If someone can actually keep the meals small and/or tracks their macros to ensure they are in a caloric deficit this works absolutely great. Unfortunately, it isn’t ideal for the overwhelming majority of people who are not bodybuilders or physique competitors that prep, weigh, pack, and time all 28-42 meals for the week.

So what does this have to do with eating or not eating breakfast?

Great question!

If most people lack the discipline to regulate their food intake then the next best thing is to help them modify behaviors that accomplish the same outcomes.

Skipping breakfast may j...

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When Ben Franklin leaves you a piece of advice it's probably smart on your part to listen.

Widely considered one of the most intelligent men in American history if not all of history, Franklin's knowledge spanned many different areas, including science and medicine.

Today there is an abundance of research supporting his claim that fasting is a legitimate and highly effective form of health care.

What makes it so effective can be summed up in a word--autophagy.

Autophagy, comes from the Ancient Greek word autophagos, meaning "self-devouring" or "self-eating". It's your body's natural way of eradicating damaged or dysfunctional cells and recycling them to create new and healthier cells.

Here's the challenge.

When we are in a "fed" state (either eating or functioning off the food we last ate) we are actually feeding and promoting the growth of...dysfunctional cells!

(And you wonder why you don't feel healthy despite exercising and following a "healthy diet".)

Autophagy is constantly occurring in our body but on a very scant level. In order to get the full benefits, we must be in a "fasted" state.

What does that look like?

  • On a regular basis, it means fasting anywhere between 12-18 hours a day or at least a couple times per week.
  • On a macro level, it's undergoing a 60-hour water-fast a few times a year. However, this is often difficult for those not accustomed to intermittent fasting.

Recently I did a 60-hour Reboot which I and others are planning to do once a month.

The difference between this and a traditional water-fast is that it's supported by exogenous ketone products that tap into your own body-fat to sustain energy and curb hunger.

Unlike when you occasionally skip or miss a meal you won't get hangry or feel like you'll die if you don't eat soon.

Not only is this "keto reboot" a practical way to switch on autophagy it's equally if not more powerful in resetting your metabolism and helping you become a better fat-burner. And we all want that! ;-)


What does it mean to be in ketosis?

Why do you want to be in ketosis?

How do you get into ketosis?

Find out here!

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In our last installment, we covered Carb-cycling as just one of the three strategies for deriving keto-like benefits without following a strict ketogenic diet.

Intermittent fasting offers another effective strategy.

In a previous article, I outlined the various forms of IF. For the sake of discussion (and because many studies use this particular version), I’ll stick with the “Lean Gains” version.

What is it?

16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour feeding window.

For example, if you ceased consuming any calories after 9 P.M. you would not begin eating again until 1 P.M. the following day. When you factor in sleep you’re talking about 8-10 waking hours without eating.

Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of IF on fat-loss, muscle development, blood glucose, insulin and a number of other health markers.

But a recent study really brought it home when the IF group and the non-time restricted group followed the same meal and training plans.

The result?

The IF group lost approximately 13% MORE body-fat while maintaining their muscle mass!

Can you say, "Holy crap, Batman!"

It’s been theorized in the past (including by myself) that IF is an effective fat-loss strategy because it naturally encourages people to eat fewer calories. And this is often true.

IF also appears to have an appetite suppressing effect. So, for those who have a voracious appetite, this alone could be a game-changer!

Though IF does not hold any statistically significant physiological advantages over standard energy restrictive diets (SERD) it’s primary benefit seems to be in the arena of behavior modification.

Integrating it with the already discussed carb-cycling methods or on its own twice per week can help achieve keto-like results without following a strict ketogenic diet.

Exogenous ketones are emerging as the easiest and most effective means of achieving ketosis.

Science is, amazing!

After nearly 100 years of experimentation, research, and empirical evidence science uncover that achieving and maintaining a state of ketosis can have positive life-changing effects for nearly the entire population.

But we also have a strong body of evidence proving the “maintaining” part to be extremely difficult. A little bit of apple pie at Thanksgiving dinner and you’re knocked out of ketosis—and it will take several days if not weeks to get back in ketosis.

Living life without slip-ups or occasional indulgences is just not pragmatic.

Enter, exogenous ketones.

As you know, ketones are produced in the body by the liver as consequence of insufficient glucose availability. Ketones essentially fulfill the role glucose in its absence.

Looked at from a slightly different angle, ketones act as a fourth macronutrient.

We have carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—all macronutrients that supply energy needs of the body and its various systems.

If we were to introduce ketones into the body—without going through the arduous process of making them—they would be the body’s preferred source of energy.

That’s what exogenous (defined as, originating outside of the body) ketones are. They are a nutritional supplement that—within an hour—puts your body into the same state of ketosis that would typically take you weeks to achieve.

And it does it, every time!

Regardless of whether glucose is available the body will bypass this energy source and use ketones instead.

The advantages being...

  • Longer lasting energy by unlocking fat for fuel.
  • Improved mental focus (the brain functions 70% more efficiently with ketones).
  • Muscle preservation and improved athletic performance.
  • Appetite control, and
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogen properties

There’s not much to it when it comes to exogenous ketones—ingest em and within an hour you’re in ketosis!

Circling back to the very beginning, you don’t need to be in ketosis to derive ketosis-like benefits.

It’s true that nothing beats the real thing.

But if the "real thing" is a unicorn there won’t be many who go chasing after it. And if they happen to chase and catch it, they probably won’t be able to hold on to it very long.

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Just to recap from Part I

  • I’m not a “keto-hater”.
  • Love the benefits. Don’t find the diet practical.
  • Lower blood sugar and improved insulin sensitivity is keto’s greatest accomplishment.
  • Great for diabetes prevention, fat-loss, and lowering the risk of related diseases.
  • Fat is a more abundant and longer lasting fuel source than glucose.
  • In the absence of glucose the liver converts fats into ketones to supply energy.
  • Ketones are a preferred source of energy for brain function.

Our mission here is simple...

Derive keto-like benefits without strict adherence to a ketogenic diet.

There are three (3) strategies I’m going to recommend. They can either be used individually or in conjunction with one another. The latter will yield the most significant results but implement any one of them will undoubtedly improve your current situation.

The three strategies are carb-cycling, intermittent fasting (IF) and exogenous ketones

None of these strategies require you to count calories or track your macros but once again, doing so will yield a significantly greater result especially if you want to maximize fat-loss.

Our prime objective is to get blood sugar and insulin under control.

Considering the standard Western diet most of us follow it’s no secret we tend to overconsume calories in the form of carbs, fat, and alcohol, and we tend to be deficient in protein.

That’s why low-carb diets work so well (initially) for nearly anyone that tries them.

The body finally has a chance use what’s circulating in the blood stream and tap into glycogen stored in the liver. After that, fat can be more easily accessed and used to supply energy. (It also gets people to eat more high protein foods.)

But here’s the kicker—for those that exercise regularly, especially at a high-intensity or for long duration's, research shows that we burn more (body) fat and performance is greater with adequate amounts of carbs in our diet.

As per the Krebs Cycle (a series of chemical reactions in the body that generates energy), "fats burn in the flame of carbohydrates". Meaning, fat oxidation is more efficient when glucose is there to "kick start" the process.

In the absence of glucose, the body uses ketones to take over glucose’s job in the Krebs Cycle.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet will not impair performance for long-distance endurance athletes. Conversely, the many studies have shown that higher-carbohydrate diets are still superior for short high-intensity exercise or where maximizing muscle mass and strength development is the goal.

Carb-cycling offers a reasonable and easy to implement way to lower insulin resistance and improved fat oxidation.

Here are two ways to approach carb-cycling.

One is on the macro level where for 1-2 weeks you consume a minimal amount of carbs each day (25-75g. depending on activity level and/or exercise intensity) followed by a carb-loading day.

Your carb-loading day would have you consuming 55-65% of your calories from carbohydrates. Think, pasta night!

Another way is on the micro level in which you cycle carbs over the course the day. This method is intended only for those who regularly exercise—particularly those performing high-intensity anaerobic exercise (i.e. resistance training, H.I.I.T., CrossFit, spinning) or long-distance endurance exercise (i.e. marathoners, triathletes, cyclists).

The most simplistic way to apply this method is to time carbohydrate intake around your workout.

  • If you train late morning, afternoon or evening you would consume the majority of carbs in the 2-4 hours before training and restrict them after training.
  • If you train early in the morning you would consume the majority of your carbs at dinner and restrict them from after workout till dinner.

This accomplishes two things. First, restricting carb intake after a workout that depletes glycogen improves fat oxidation. Second, the period between workouts serves to sensitize you to glucose so that when carbs are consumed they result in improved performance.

However, I must repeat...improved fat oxidation does not mean you eliminate the chunk in your abdomen or on your thighs if you are in a caloric surplus.

In Part 3 we'll explore intermittent fasting and exogenous ketones as strategies to optimize blood glucose, lower insulin resistance, improve fat-loss, and maximize exercise performance.

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As you’ve probably gathered from reading previous articles, I like to educate AND entertain. I also like to keep my articles (and the paragraphs within them) short.

I’m keenly aware of my own attention span, thus I assume I probably have a window of time to keep yours.

Trouble is, many of my thoughts and opinions get misconstrued since I don’t take the time explain the nuances or situational exceptions.

One of these points of misunderstanding relates to keto and carbs.

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of ketogenic diets. Why? Because for most people they are not sustainable over time and restriction typically leads to over-consumption when strict adherence is no longer tolerable.

I much prefer a flexible diet where carbs, as well as protein and fats, are consumed in controlled measurable amounts. Psychologically it’s easier and is more adaptable to a person’s lifestyle (it's realistic).

Ketogenic diets and other low-carb diets work and are very beneficial.

For a moment, let’s separate the “lifestyle” component from the “physiological”. From a purely physiological and health standpoint keto accomplishes two things that high or moderate carbohydrate diets cannot.

They give you greater control your over blood sugar and insulin.

That’s a major accomplishment!

Insulin resistance—marked by an overabundance of glucose in the blood stream—is a main cause of obesity and type II diabetes which are risk factors for cancer and heart disease, among others.

Most people are not active enough to utilize or eliminate this excess glucose so over time it accumulates without notice, and eventually leads to health complications and disease.

Later I’ll give you strategies for depleting glycogen without complete elimination of carbs from your diet.

Another advantage of a ketogenic diet is that in the absence of glucose...

Your body uses fat as its principal fuel source.

Because we have an abundance of fat (even if a person is not overweight or obese) it’s like having a never-ending fuel source. Some people could probably go on for a lifetime with the amount of stored fuel they have!

One guy almost did. In a carefully monitored study, a man fasted for 382 days straight, consuming nothing but water and electrolytes!

Okay, okay, it might not have been a lifetime but that's pretty freakin' long.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Just because your body is using fat for fuel does not necessarily mean you’ll miraculously lose your gut. Losing body-fat still requires you to be in a caloric deficit.

Conversely, glucose gets used up quickly which is why it needs to constantly be replenished if being relied on for fuel. This is the reason why after a sugar crash—we've all had em—your body craves more sugar (in addition to the dopamine release).

Such crashes and cravings don’t occur with fat. And this “leveling off” effect doesn’t just fare better for your physical energy.

One of the most notable benefits of a keto diet is mental energy and clarity.

The brain, like the rest of the body, requires glucose for proper function. But what happens when glucose is not available? Does the brain stop working?

Of course not!

What happens is, the liver breaks down fats and converts them into a usable form of energy called, ketones (bet you would’ve never guessed that!). And this doesn’t just happen when you intentionally eliminate carbs from your diet. It happens every night when you lay your sleepy head down on the pillow and fast for the next 6-8 hrs.

Research shows that our brains function 70% more efficiently when it is using ketones for energy.

With all this evidence—and additional benefits I haven’t even mentioned—it’s hard to knock keto when your goal is to burn fat, have more energy, and think more clearly. Then again as I alluded to earlier, the physiological benefits have never been disputed. It’s the practicality of living a keto-lifestyle which is called into question.

In parts II and III we’ll examine some of the ways you can, have your cake and eat it too—metaphorically and literally.

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