Start fat. Eat fat! Lose fat?

I am so sorry for the delays on my blogs. I have been kind of out of it, and have been researching and experimenting on a few different ideas. Needless to say, I have decided to take a stab at writing another blog about nutrition, with a twist. Any one who has known me from Adam, knows that I was a very fat kid, in fact I weigh less now than I did when I was 14, and that’s not because I was a super hench 14 year old kid. I have tried pretty much every diet under the sun, Atkins, Dukan, paleo, high carb, low carb, Cabbage. Ok I was kidding on the last one, but I have tried quite a few diets and the one thing that stuck with me is this. Nutrition is not a moment in time, its a life long commitment. However, there is a part of me that does love exploring new ideas, and I think that it is important to experiment with different nutritional ideas in order to find out what works for you.

Now, one thing that I know about myself is that I retain water like a sponge. So high carb for me is a damn site lower than what most people consider to be a high carb diet. As such, I use fat as a primary fuel source. Or at least I thought I did. The subject of this blog is going to be my research into dietary fat and how it can be used as a primary fuel source, and even help with fat loss.

 
So… fat… its good for you?
So, first things first, lets look at a few different things. Fat, or lipids, are long chain hydrocarbons found in plants and animals, which can be mono or poly saturated/unsaturated. The first thing to know about lipids is that they constitute the ideal cellular fuel because each molecule carries large quantities of energy per unit weight, e.g. 1g of fat contains roughly 9 calories. More than double that of Carbs and Protiens. Now, as I stated earlier, fats are ultimately the best/preferred fuel source for skeletal muscle system, and key organs such as the heart, liver and brain. It is not the lipids themselves that are the fuel, its ketone bodies. When the body has an excess of dietary substances, whether it be fat or carbohydrates, they are stored as adipose tissue, a.k.a. those annoying love handles that you can’t seem to shift. What dictates whether our bodies are filled with glycogen or not is what we eat, and the ability of our liver to facilitate the break down of what we eat into glycogen, which is then stored in the liver and muscles.

This is where the magic happens!
 

What happens when the livers glycogen stores are filled the body is forced to store what is considered to be excess as adipose tissue. Excess carbohydrates are converted to fat in the liver through a process called De Novo Lipodosis (DNL). DNL does not significantly contribute to a gain in adipose tissue, so long as muscle and liver glycogen stores are not filled. Ketosis is supposedly the natural state of the body. It is a state in which the body is forced into a state were it is forced to oxidize, or ‘burn’ adipose tissue and fat, either via an absence of carb’s, or an extreme calorie deficit. Obviously low calories are not the focus of my diet, not any athletes diet, so what we are focusing on is the ability of the body to use fat as a primary fuel source. When carbohydrates are removed from the diet, insulin levels decrease, and glucagon levels increase, which causes a breakdown of fat and adipose tissue into free fatty acids (FFA). Insulin acts as a storage hormone, which is responsible for the moving of nutrients out of the blood stream and into targeted tissue. Glucagon on the other hand is a fuel-mobilizing hormone, which stimulates the break down of glycogen. The increase in glucagon is what leads to a depletion of the bodies glycogen stores and leads to a need for an alternative fuel source, namely FFA’s. The accelerated burning of FFA’s in the liver is what ultimately leads to the production of ketone bodies, an alternate fuel source derived from the burning of FFA’s, and ultimately leads to the state that we call ketosis.

YUMMY!

So, in layman’s terms, ketosis is the end result of a metabolic shift in the insulin/glucose ration from a glycogen based metabolism to a fat burning metabolism. But wait, there’s more! So before you run off and get rid of all your carb’s and start a meat cleanse… mmm meat, be warned that your body is amazing at getting what it wants, and what it wants is glycogen. So before you start getting your meat sweats on, remember that true ketosis is not achieved in the human body simply by eating nothing but meat, because the body can get glycogen from meat. “Hang on! but protein doesn’t have sugar in it! Does it?”, I hear  you all saying. Well guess what, the body does not need a glucose based food (all form’s of carb’s), to get glycogen. Gluconeogenesis is the process by which the body breaks down protein into separate amino acids and creates glycogen.

So let’s look at how all this science stuff actually plays out into dietary sense. Lets be honest, we are always being told that carb’s are the enemy, and in this case its true… sort of. I like to think of them more as a back up, with fat being the soldiers actually on the front lines. Dr Mauro DiPasquale created a system known as the “ANABOLIC DIET”, which suggests a 60:35:5 ratios between fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Ultimately this means that you should follow a 5-6 day protocol of the suggested ratio, with a 1-2 day carb up which is supposedly, when combined with weight training creates an anabolic effect leading to a growth in muscle tissue and a decrease in adipose tissue. I have been following this protocol for roughly a month with a 24 hour fast thrown in once a week. I spent some time working out a few kinks here and there, because like all diets, training protocols etc, it doesn’t always work for everyone in the manner in which it is originally set out. For example the first time I had to carb up I did it for one day, and I ate clean and it was fine, I put on 3lbs of water and glycogen which disappeared the following day and a night. However, the second time I had to carb up I had had a really hard week, I felt washed out so I went for it, and consumed everything in sight for two days, cereal, porridge, bagels, rice crispy treats, you name it I ate it. This resulted in me gaining 10lbs, however, I did feel awesome afterwards, you know… once I worked passed the frenzy of panic and realized that its just water and glycogen, and that it would be impossible to gain 10lbs of fat in two days. So I started this little ketogenic experiment at 178lbs, and I now this morning weigh 173lbs, that works out at just over 2lbs a week when you take into account the mistakes I made along the way, which is pretty much par for the course in terms of my expectations, but what really fascinated me was the fact that I was never hungry,  my cardio has not suffered, I am getting stronger despite my lack of equipment, and I look more jacked after my carb up and this stays with my through the week, I don’t look flat like I suspected I would due to the lack of muscle glycogen.

I am keeping my calories at roughly 2,500 and my sample diet, which was in fact what I ate couple of days ago:
Breakfast:
– 3 X whole eggs
– 2 X rashers of bacon
Snack 1:
– 2 X chicken wings
Lunch:
– Rump steak 350g
– Steamed green beans 50g
Snack 2:
– When Protein shake: two scoops post workout
Dinner:
– Roast chicken leg 240g
– Steamed green beans 50g
– 80g Blue berries with double cream
* I also put cream in my coffee through out the day so I roughly used 100ml
cals: 2334
fat: 159g
carb: 31g
protein: 190g

I lost an lb over night despite chugging loads of water through out the day and roughly 3 pints of aqua before I went to bed. The system works! However, despite the fact that I am enjoying this diet so much, and am reaping the benefits, there are a few things I need to discuss critically. First off, Dr DiPasquale used animal testing results when human studies were available. Secondly, the book itself actually has very little to substantiate its claims in terms of putting down the good hard science, but this is more to do with DiPasquale’s writing style. Thirdly, the protocol is split into a weight loss, weight maintenance and mass gain phases, which suggests eating up to 5-6000 calories a day. Now the thought of eating that much fat makes me ill, like violently ill. Fourthly, if you have lead a high carb lifestyle in the past then the metabolic switch around is going to be rough for you. Luckily I did not suffer with this as I have led quite a high fat low carb lifestyle prior to his, but DiPasquale says that you may get sugar cravings, mood swings, constipation, but as long as you cut your carb’s down slowly over a period of time which allows your body to acclimatize to the metabolic shift then these side effects can be mitigated.

I’m just sayin…
However, despite all this the proof is in the pudding, the diet does work, at least for weight loss, I am skeptical about the mass gaining concept for a number of reasons, but primarily due to the fact that the diet as a whole reduces insulin levels which are crucial for muscle gain, but I will probably try it one day. DiPasquale is not the first to suggest a high fat low, carb diet, Atkins, Zumpano and Duchaine to name but a few, however most if not all have been criticized by  science, funnily enough not for their claims about weight loss and the importance of a high fat diet, but rather because of their research methodology.

While a few being supported by those who actually followed their protocols. So where do I stand on this whole high fat, low carb diet thing? Well, in all honesty, I am on the fence. I think that there is no such thing as bad food, only bad food relative to your goals. Am I going to tell a powerlifter who needs to eat 8,000 calories a day to remain on weight and competitive not to chuck down cream and steak, happy meals, pizzas etc? Hell no! I am not going to tell someone not to alter what works for them. I don’t understand why you would want to do that to your body, but I also don’t know what its like to squat a grand, I don’t know what its like to bench 600lbs. If this is what they need to do, to get to the places that they want to be in their sport, as long as they are not breaking the law and not killing themselves, go for it. with out getting religious, “There but for the grace of God go I.” These men, and women, are smart athletes who know the risks of what they do to their bodies both nutritionally and physically and they have deemed the risk worth it. Isn’t it funny that more people seem to have a problem with the way that you eat than you do?

So lets look at the facts, fat is a better fuel source for the body as it as a greater potential energy than carb’s. It increases testosterone and GH levels. It has been the primary fuel source of Paleolithic man, and the contemporary Inuit’s. Fat, does not make you fat, refined sugars and high fat in combination with excess carbohydrate and glycogen makes you fat. Just as with the paleo diet and its assumption that everyone is gluten intolerant, they just don’t know it yet, its very easy to say that these high fat diets are a load of nonsense because they fly in the face of conventional knowledge, cause I will let you in on a dirty little secret, most ‘conventional’ knowledge is wrong. Some key examples being (and anyone will who trains will get these) if a woman lifts weights she will turn into a Bulgarian shot putter (no offence to the Bulgarian shot putters), that you can get jacked and keep your abs all at the same time. Cover models looks like that year round, and my personal favorite, I honest to god heard this once, “you don’t need steroids to look like Jay Cutler”. Regardless of what the fitness industry wants you to believe, Cutler did not get to that size because of genetics, good diet, and nitrotec.

This…
does not equal this…
this does!

I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of athletes within the world of strength sports, and from theym I have learnt that nutrition and weight training is mostly science, with a handful of mysticism thrown in. I know a guy who has thrived on the GOMAD (Gallon of milk a day) style of bulking. Now I couldn’t do that, but for whatever reason, this guy can. So I urge you, before you start making all of these accusations about high fat diets, firstly, try it, you might like it. Secondly, look at the science and see if it supports the claims of the diet. We have public libraries and the Internet so it’s really not that hard. Thirdly, don’t be a lemming. Tweak the diet according to your needs, as long as the basic science is correct it’s a case of making it work for you. Your goals are important. They are part of the reason why you are training, dieting etc, so find ways to make science work for you and your goals. Sometimes you have to accept that you may have to get a little instinctual and throw caution to the wind to get what you want.

“Madness is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results” – Albert Einstein 

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Rogan

For any information or questions regarding the blog, or for any information regarding my services as a Personal Trainer, please contact me via my Facebook Page, Twitter, Email, or in the comment section below.

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