Why You're Not Losing Fat & Building Muscle (Avoid These Mistakes) | Dr. Andy Galpin | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Why You're Not Losing Fat & Building Muscle (Avoid These Mistakes) | Dr. Andy Galpin".


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Intro (00:00)

The vast majority of people that go to the gym, they're in there working out all the time. They never see any substantive gains. Why not? What are people doing wrong? Well, I'd say in general, there are a few concepts that you need to hit and then there are infinite methods. So the way to frame this entire idea is regardless of your goal, gaining strength, losing fat, all those things you listed, there are always these fundamental concepts. If you hit those, you're going to see your goal. If you don't, it doesn't matter what method you're using, you're probably going to either not hit a goal or you'll hit it very shortly and then come back down and you'll have this yo-yo patterning. So all you really have to do is ensure at the most fundamental level those concepts are hit and then we can talk days and days and days about all the intricacies of the different methods because they are different, especially as we get to the level of nuance. But for most people at this level, it is that big stuff. So what does that look like? The number one thing is what we call progressive overload, such that you need to be asking a change in your physiology. And remember, probably the biggest advantage we have in biology is the fact that we are optimized for adaptation. And I want to reiterate that point. What that means is your entire physiology is based around a single goal of adapting the stimuli. It's the best trait we have. Why that matters here is if you're asking it to do something, it is going to respond. And so you need to be very careful with what you're asking it to do. If you are putting a stress on it, it's going to change. But if you're not stressing it, it's going to revert back to homeostasis. This is that baseline. So ask it to change and then be diligent about what you're asking it to do. In this context, we call that progressive overload. So you're going to continue to ask it to do a little bit more and more and more so that it will continue to adapt. It doesn't have to be harder or longer or more sore or more fatigued. It just needs to be overloaded. And there's a bunch of ways we can reach overload. That can be more weight. It can be more repetitions. It can be longer. It can be more complexity. It could be more novelty. There's a ton of ways in which we can ask our body to learn a new task. But that is the one that jumps out to me as the first fundamental issue is folks will go to their fitness routine and they'll sort of perform the same thing every time. And that's great. And you're going to get changes up to that level. But once that is a new homeostatic balance, you're not going to proceed any further. So progressive overload is the number one tactic there. Okay. And so I've heard you talk a lot about consistency. That certainly is a problem that a lot of people have. They are not, they're just not going enough there. Maybe they go work out once a week. It's super intense. But when I think about the problem of consistency, should I be thinking about it in terms of that even if you go in and do the same thing, you're going to make some mild gains, but it plateaus quickly. Cause I think most people are thinking about it in terms of, do I need to be in the gym six days a week? Do I need to be in the gym five days a week? Or can it be less than that? Like what is the amount that is sort of the baseline if we want to add muscle? So it's a great question because what you're actually asking is a methods question. And I say that to reiterate that actually, it's not that it doesn't matter, but this is a second level question. So that gives you options. If within your schedule or your preferences, you want to work out twice a week, that could work. If you want to do six days a week, that could work as well. You have the ability to do either one or anywhere in between and still reach most people's fitness goals. And so what it really comes down to is the question beforehand, which is what is that goal? If you're trying to say optimize strength and you're fairly highly trained, then you're probably going to have to work out more than once a week. But if you're saying, hey, look, I want to simply maximize my fat loss, that could be done plausibly once a week. Could be done, wouldn't be optimized, but it could be done. And so the other question is, again, are we looking for optimal or effective? Those are not the same questions. So we have a lot of room to grow. In general, for most people, if you're doing some sort of what we call structured exercise, a couple of days a week at a minimum, and then the other days you have some sort of baseline physical activity, then you're probably OK. This could be something like a step count. So you're hitting your 10,000 steps a day plus then two days a week of structured exercise. OK, that is probably enough for most people to get by. If that's all you're looking for, great. If you're saying I'm not interested in just getting by, well, now we're having a different conversation. So, again, ultimately, it really comes back to what is the actual goal and to determine what these steps are and the methods we need to execute that goal. But to go back to our first point, it's still progressive overload. I'm still moving and I'm still training. The other thing we need to discuss here is the difference between physical activity and, again, structured exercise. Those are not to be treated as the same thing for most people. Easy example, let's say you went to the gym really hard, 20 minutes exhausted at the end of your workout and you did that three times a week. And then the rest of the week you engaged in a thousand steps and sat the rest of the day. You could look at the science here. You could also look at intuition. They're both going to lead you to the same spot, which is to say this is not an optimal health strategy. You might feel great in those workouts, but you're not in a great spot. The polar opposite would be, oh, I don't really work out because I walk a lot and I move. Great. Also, strong science to show that that's not optimal for health either. And so the balance that you're going to play here between my physical activity and my movement, my taking the stairs, my gardening, my standing desk, like all those general things versus your more structured exercise, it's a balance game, but it depends on the specific goal you're going after. Maybe we could go through different goals if you'd like and I can give you more tangible examples, but that's the real answer. Before we do that, and I definitely, we will get into especially muscle gain and fat loss, but first I really want to nail down why most people don't make the kind of progress that they want. So we've got the progressive overload, we've got consistency. You're going to need to do both. My question is though, why don't people do that? So taking them one at a time. Well, one, is there something more than consistency and progressive overload? Yeah, there's a handful of other concepts. But the other big one that I think you're actually, you're getting to if I'm reading the right direction here is they don't necessarily have a specific plan. And so what the evidence will show you scientifically is having an actual plan, regardless of how great that plan is, is more effective than not having a plan. When you say plan, so I'll use my own journey as a mile marker. So my plan was look like Hugh Jackman in Wolverine. Amazing. Or in X-Men when it came out. So is that, are we calling that a plan? That was certainly a goal. That's a goal. But I had no idea how to get there. So I just bought Arnold Schwarzenegger's book, a bodybuilding and started going after it. Progressive overload, I understood. So I was really trying to push myself. I was trying to add more weight constantly. But this brings me to the big avenue I want to go down are the things like why are people lazy? How do they get injured? That kind of stuff, which I think plays into it. But I have a core thesis that I want to run by you that I think is a big part of this.

Understanding Muscle Gain And Performance

Why body is so hesitant to increase max and maintain it and gain mass (07:20)

So you started by saying that humans are the ultimate adaptation machine, my words, but that was your concept, which I agree with very much. But what I don't understand is why we have such a use it or lose it stance at a biological level. So the thing I don't understand you're fighting against constantly. If I let off the gas even a little bit, I slide backwards. So you get this, A, it's very hard to move forward. You have to put yourself in what I'll call an adapt or die state. I remember lifting. If I wanted to increase size and strength, I had to go in there like I was trying to kill myself. Like it's not like, oh, just do a little bit extra. It's like two hours in the gym to the point where I remember one time I put pressure on my hand, like I was leaning on something and my arm just collapsed because I had been doing tricep work. And it was like when I was working out like that, I made gains. When I stopped working out like that, I wasn't making gains. And so there is something that I don't understand about why the body is so hesitant to put on to increase VO2 max and maintain it, to put on muscle and maintain it. Like all these gains, lactic threshold and maintain it, like all these things that we can do, they just end up sliding backwards. So it would be easy to say, okay, people don't understand progressive overload. Fair. It would be easy to say people are lazy. Fair. It would be easy to say that people hate working out. I certainly do. But my question becomes, why does working out suck? And I think it's meaning it is physically unpleasant. At least if you're wired like me, it is not fun. There's nothing about it. I've seen you joke about people vomiting. Like it is a horrible experience for me from top to bottom. Now my body is telling me, stop doing this. That's the part I don't understand. Why is my body screaming, stop doing this? And then why does it slide back so fast if I actually do stop doing it? There's so many fun things there. I was trying not to smile interrupt the entire time. This is a topic I find endlessly fascinating, right?

Analogies in stressors (09:30)

The biological drive of what we do. I have a lot of things to react to on that and I'll try to stay organized with my response because that is very fun. Number one, I need to push back hard on you. It is absolutely not required to train that hard to make progress. I would actually love to go back to your training records and to see what you're doing, but I would be willing to bet a large sum of money that the training program you were doing or what you're asking your body to do outside of that was massively off. And so this could mean that your training program was terrible, technically, what you were doing or your other factors that go into your physiological adaptation. So the way that we characterize this is, remember adaptation happens as a result of stress. And people think stress, they think bad. That's not the case, right? It's pro stress, negative stress. There's scientific terms for these, but just think about it that way. Good stress, bad stress, right? So what actually happens is people use an analogy of like a stress bucket. So you have a certain size of a bucket, say this coffee cup right here, and there's some water in it right now. And the water is full at 60%. Now once that thing overfills, then it starts spilling out. Okay, so you have a couple of options. You can either increase the size of your cup, or you can reduce the amount of water in the cup. In this case, the water is the total stress load. This is called allostatic load or allostasis. That's a fancy science word for stress load. So if I want to be in a position where I can put a little bit more water in that cup, again, two options, make the cup larger or take the amount of water in there and reduce it. But remember, in order for me to adapt, I have to add water. That's the signal. That's the stress. So just not adding water means backwards adaptation, right? So what most people don't realize is that water is actually full of two types of stressors. These are what we call hidden stressors and visible stressors. The visible ones are the ones that you see or feel or react to. You know you didn't sleep last night. You know you didn't work out yesterday. You know you drank alcohol. You know you did things like this. But then there's a whole cascade of what we call hidden stressors. So these ones are not symptomatic. These are micronutrient deficiencies. These could be parasites. These could be inefficiencies in sleep or recovery. Tons of things going on that are outside of your perception. So one of the things that we do is to make sure that that hidden stressor is as low as possible. And so I've lowered that water line. Why do we care? Is it going to stop me from pushing myself? No. Great question. I'll come back. The more water I can put in your cup, the more adaptation I get. Got it. So the more stress I can put on you. But if your cup is already 90% pre-full and I can only put in that last 10% and then you start overflowing, overflowing would be injury, breakdown, fatigue, things like that. So this is why it's important to understand the two types of stress. I may be filling my cup with dumb stress and not useful stress. Yeah, exactly. And that dumb stress and useful stress could be, again, something you're aware of or unaware of. And so by simply reducing the amount of unwanted stressors, I've increased your ability to put more stress in the system, which increases your ability to adapt. It's targeted stress. It's saying, for example, you're having a stressor in your physiology because of a poor nutritional intake. If I can remove that, then I can add that same amount of stressor in by more exercise. I can do it and I can target where the stress is coming in, which means I can target the adaptation. What we're looking at here is saying, all right, let's make sure that that stress cup, that bucket is minimized with non-targeted stress so we can maximize our targeted stress, so we can maximize our targeted adaptation. So I would say, again, that either your training program is not great, which means the stress you're putting in wasn't great. Because you're saying your fundamental assumption is that I should not have to work that hard to make those gains. Yeah, no, technically that's an assumption, but I would say just because of our years of experience, all the science, I would not believe any other truth is that that training program was not great. Or something else that was going on in your internal physiology, your hidden stressors or your visible stressors was causing your cup to be pre-full too high to where everything was just blowing over and there was no ability left for an adaptation. So one of the actual markers we test for is adaptability. We can measure this through a bunch of labs and stuff. I would imagine your adaptability was extremely low. And so you had to push hard, hard, hard, hard, hard to get any moderate amount of change. And so this is kind of the equivalent of working extremely inefficiently. We would have came back and said, we're going to get you more progress by simply removing these other things and you're going to do the same work, in fact, less work and you'll make a lot more gains. Give me some of the standard bad invisible stress that build up in people's lives that they're unaware of. Yeah.

Standard invisible stressors (14:31)

The ones that I mentioned earlier, a very common to see either inflammatory markers, hormone profiles, micronutrients that tend to be off. There can be other things that are more difficult to ascertain like heavy metals, think pollutants in the air. There could be things in your sleep environment that are volatile organics that are coming out of your mattress like formaldehyde or out of your wall like lead. I've heard you talk about that before. So let's break down commonality of these stressors. Like, is it like you're just walking straight to people's bedrooms, testing the formaldehyde, leaking out of it and going, all right, we got to switch out your mattress or is that like, it's mostly people's diet and you're just eating a shit diet and that's the reality. Okay.

Performance anchors (15:15)

So I'll back up. So what our system is, is it's comprehensive. So we build stuff for these high performance individuals, whether they're athletes or non-athletes. And our approach is basically if we wanted to take money out of the equation and figure out the answer for everyone, let's do an unbelievable amount of diagnostics so that we could come back and say, you have a very specific and simple solution plan. And what we're looking for is what we call performance anchors. These are anchors that are holding someone's physiology back. The last time we had a conversation, we talked a lot about not wanting to overuse technologies and fitness, and that's still true. And so we believe in the power of your own internal physiology, which means I want to let your physiology do what it wants to do. With all the great technology we have right now, we still don't necessarily understand why physiology runs the way it runs. So that all being said, then we are looking for the things that are constraining your physiology. If I can remove those three to five performance anchors or constraints and then let your physiology do what it wants to do, then I'm in a much better spot and you're going to be in a much better spot. So I'm on the hunt for what those three to five things are, maybe seven, maybe two for each individual person. Do you approach them in the same order, meaning you just expect somewhere common? Not at all. No. Yeah. So this is answering your question directly. There's been plenty of people that will run these full evaluations on. You're talking well over 500 biomarkers, the environmental analysis. We're doing sleep tracking at the highest level. You're running full clinical grade sleep analysis. This is a sleep study done in your own bedroom every night, things like that. You're not going to a sleep lab. We're doing all kinds of other tracking and we're going to figure out, and this has happened plenty of times, "Yo, you just need a psychologist. Yo, you just need to eat a reasonable diet." That your performance anchor is all nutrition based. Sometimes it's the opposite. They're doing all the visible stressors. Great. Sunlight and stress and community and connection and purpose and good diet and exercise and all those things are great, but then something is happening internally that they just never would have spotted. This could be an inflammatory marker. This could be any brain chemistry things, like any number of neurotransmitters, something like that. So that person might be on a different protocol. Another person might be something like, "You need to find purpose in life. You need to find an activity or volunteer and you need to do this more style of training." Any combination. We're really trying to find, again, what are those three or four or five things that are going to make the most impact and then we can just get out of the way and let physiology do it. My brain, when you were saying that earlier, is, "Look, of all the ... I've dealt with professional athletes in probably 15 pro sports." This is at the highest level. You're talking NFL MVPs and Cy Youngs and All Stars and All Pros and Olympic gold medalists and world champions in the UFC and boxing and all these things. We've dealt with hundreds of people in our executive programs. I've never seen anybody that has to train that hard to get progress. I just don't believe that that is ... I believe that was true in your actual experience, but I would say something was not great with the program or something else in your physiology was constrained to a level that your adaptability was just smolderingly small. We would need to figure out what that was at the time. It could have been job stress. It could have been CO2 tolerance. Could have been connection to your own physiology. There's all kinds of areas that this could be in and we've seen them all. Or it could have been something else going on. We would have gone in, found those things and said, "We're having you do A, B, and C." Could be very simple. Could be not. Then here's your new training program. I'd be willing to bet a lot that your training would have resulted in much more effectiveness. Okay. I don't want to litigate in theory and I certainly don't want to argue for my limitations, but I do want to ... I'm going to pose some questions and you tell me where I'm crazy. Is there such a thing as a hard gainer? Absolutely. For people that haven't heard that phrase, somebody that has just a hard time putting on muscle. Yeah.

Physiological Factors for Hyper-Responders. (19:29)

There's actually ... We've spent a lot of time in this. There's a nice review paper on this, a handful ... There's been a couple of now that have come out on looking at simply the physiological factors, specifically in muscle. There's a whole host, probably over a dozen now of the cellular processes that go into muscle actually adapting that have been looked at. None of those are really jumping out. In fact, I literally read a paper this morning looking at muscle fiber type. This would be fast twitch or slow twitch. That didn't seem to predict hard gainers versus fast gainers either. Ribosomes are probably the most leading candidate, but satellite cells have been looked at, gene expression, signaling protein. There is clearly ... It's clearly happening and there's no question there are hard gainers, but we still haven't figured out in my opinion really any strong evidence to suggest what's happening inside the muscle cell despite a lot of research and a lot of papers on this topic, which again gives me more ammo to come back and say, "I don't know if it's muscle. It's something else potentially that's leading to it." There's no question that some folks will have an exaggerated response. Central dogma is basically this. If your muscle adapts, you have to have some signal coming in extra slow. This could be the cell wall, the muscle fiber stretching. This could be a hormone that's activating a receptor on a cell wall, say an androgen receptor, could be testosterone, any number of things, IGF-1, stuff like this. It could be mechanical stretching, exercise, stuff like that, or hormonal. That signal has to then transduce across through the cell into the nucleus, which holds the DNA inside the cell. That has to then activate what's called gene expression. That tells your muscle to express the genes that code the proteins that make your muscle fiber. That's a three-step process, signaling is one, gene expression two, and then protein synthesis actually is the third process. There's clear evidence that if we were to take all of us in this room, do the exact same workout, and then biopsy us, some of us would have an exaggerated either signaling response or maybe not, but it'd be an exaggerated gene expression response or maybe not, or maybe even just a more effective and faster protein synthesis process. In all three of those individual layers, there are differences between folks, but they don't seem to predict at this point which one is going to be the hard gainer or not. What I tend to come back to now, having taken so many people through our comprehensive process, is- You can reboot your life, your health, even your career, anything you want. All you need is discipline. I can teach you the tactics that I learned while growing a billion-dollar business that will allow you to see your goals through. Whether you want better health, stronger relationships, a more successful career, any of that is possible with the mindset and business programs in Impact Theory University. Join the thousands of students who have already accomplished amazing things. Tap now for a free trial and get started today. There's probably some other hidden stressor in those individuals. There has been some stuff on older individuals in studies where they try to look at this and what they find is they give them more volume and they tend to respond. They get the same gains as the other people once they've had more volume. Other papers- That feeds into my underlying hypothesis which is that I did need to work that hard or are you saying that, "Hey, yes, add more volume, but if you're going to the point of not being able to support your own weight, that you've gone too far." I wouldn't say that. I'm a straight training junkie. I love that part of it. When I say volume, I'm specifically referring to not necessarily how heavy or how hard you were going, but maybe you needed an extra day. Maybe your workouts were too long on one day and you needed to do it more frequently. Maybe the recipe for you was a total amount of sets that you were hitting or repetitions you were hitting per week. It's also possible that you were exceeding that. What you were actually doing was you were compromising your recovery capacity that was reducing performance in the next workout. By the end of, say, the month, you were actually getting a total tonnage less than you would have had you been saved a little more gas in some of the workouts and put it to the next one. It could be a combination of things that were expressing it. I did want to acknowledge though that it is still absolutely fundamentally true. Some people are simply going to respond better. There's clearly a spectrum of hyper responders to low responders. I'm not saying that that is false. What I am saying though is you could have made a lot more progress had things been dialed in. No question. Would we have put you in a position where you're the fastest muscle grower ever? No. Probably not going to happen, but we could have improved your status quo. For sure. I'll make that the default assumption. For the viewer's sake, I don't want this to be about me, what I did or didn't do, but I just want to better understand what the bracketing functions are. Heart gaining is a real thing, but probably don't have to worry about that is what I'm picking up from you. This might be a bad stress issue. It's a volume potential issue addressing those things. Yeah. Actually, can I give you two just real quick action points on that one? If you do feel like you're a heart gainer, number one is make sure everything else is truly dialed. Get the lifestyle stuff that's within your control as high functioning as possible before you start blaming the workouts or your own physiology. Make sure you're doing your due diligence and the things we talked about earlier. When I run through what I think you'll say is the sort of remove all those basic things. Make sure you're getting plenty of sleep. Make sure you're getting sun exposure. Make sure that your diet is all call clean. Maybe we'll get into that later, but you're basically eating whole food whenever possible. I'm sure you're going to say protein intake is going to be pretty important. If you don't have the building blocks for the muscle, you're not going to be able to build them. You mentioned purpose earlier, which I love hearing. I think that would be very important so that psychologically you have meaning and purpose in your life. You have loving relationships. What am I missing? That's probably pretty close to the 80/20 rule. Yep. You covered most of it. You can throw in a couple of other things like a social connection. Maybe you folded that into purpose. Maybe didn't, but loving relationships. Yep. That's it's great there. Maybe hydration. Yeah. We're going to get into hydration. I won't derail us now, but okay. Great. Understood. But you've hit most of them. One thing then, assuming that we have those basic things taken care of, I have maybe a misconception. You will blow my mind right now if you tell me that this is just a protocol problem. I will love you forever, but I have a belief that adding muscle is brutally difficult and that if you're not in the gym working really hard, really consistently, meaning you have a high volume of lifting and a high volume of days that you have lifted. So if somebody came to me and said, "Hey, I'm trying to add muscle. What should I do?" I obviously look at their diet first and then I would say, "You need to be working out probably six days a week." Is there anything in that assumption set that you think is broken in terms of the difficulty of adding muscle mass? Yeah.

Why Fat-Phobes Struggle to Build Muscle. (27:03)

I say you're again exaggerating the need for training. Let's pick a physique. So here's more base assumptions that Tom has. When I watch a Hollywood star get jacked like Hugh Jackman in a call it six month period that they almost certainly did steroids. Reasonable assumption? In that community, that's pretty reasonable. Now, I'm fortunate to know many individuals that actually are the ones behind those folks and I'm going to maybe not say names. Although I'm actually decent. Although I'll take it if you do. He may appreciate it. I have very good friends with the gentleman responsible behind Henry Cavill and his stuff for Superman and things like that. Sorry, Michael Blevins. That's his name. Sorry, Mike, if you don't want me to say your name or not. We can always bleep it out if you want to ask him. He spoke about this at length. He juices them up? No. In that case, I don't know if Henry does or not. It doesn't matter. My point is though, he's gone through a number of those things and I know a lot of these things. Many of those individuals are on anabolic agents, which fine, who cares, right? I don't have a beef with it. I just want to better understand how hard muscle is to gain. Some of those folks are not. I can tell you though, we've worked with plenty of individuals that to our knowledge are not on that. I've seen countless people add to their physique without needing any things like that. The challenge, Mike would say, would be if you want to use that as an excuse, great. There are that excuses right there. If you want to use the excuse that all those folks have all the money and the time to train and to eat and the chefs and all like that, and that's the excuse you need to have in yourself to not go through your own body transformation, then great. Use that excuse because plenty do. All true. Why does it matter to you though? Do you want to make the journey or do you not? If you want to make the journey and you don't want to go on the anabolic agents, no problem. We've done that personally countless times and across the world, it's been done millions and millions of times. Can you get to the level based on your starting point to finish looking like Arnold? No. Can you, again, you go through your own transformation? Absolutely. Can you improve your physique? Sure.

Can you look like X without drugs? (29:24)

Can you look like Henry Cavill? I don't know. Without drugs, I don't know. Did he use it? I don't know. I don't even really care for the most part. The question should be framed back on you. Is this something you're willing to go through? Do you need to get dialed in a little bit? Sure. Do you need to work two and a half hours a day in the gym six days a week? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Again, we have extensive evidence for that. Are some individuals going to have to work harder than others? Absolutely. Are you going to have to make other changes in your life? Potentially. But if you don't want to necessarily go all the way to Hugh Jackman level, but you just wanted to make some improvements that are noticeable in your physique, that can absolutely be done at a much more reasonable timeframe. To also be clear, it won't be easy either. We're not going to just add a bunch of stuff at 45 years old by just eating a couple of protein shakes a day and lifting a little bit harder. It's very ageist of you and you're helping. It's not going to happen, right? And so there's a truth here in between.

How much muscle can I add? (30:19)

Let me ask you, assume I'm 27, how many pounds of muscle without anabolics can I add to my lean muscle mass? Can I add to my physique in a year? I would say in a year at 27 years old, 10 pounds would be very conservative of lean muscle mass. Conservative, okay. That would certainly be done. That's going to be a standard deviation, right? Some folks a little higher, a little less, but I would think the average person 10 pounds would be very reasonable. You can certainly do that in a much shorter timeframe, but given life and all those things trying to factor in a practical answer, that also scales. If you're coming in at 145 pounds to start or 215 pounds to start, that number scales.

Did Hugh Jackman use drugs (31:01)

It's harder to put on muscle when you're 40% in size. Already big. Yeah. Well, when you're already big in terms of just physical size. So for somebody who's 215 pounds to put on 10 pounds, it's not a high percentage of their total body mass. So that wouldn't be that hard. Somebody who's 150 pounds- It's easier for the big guy. Definitely. Got you. Definitely. Because absolute size matters a ton. For someone 145 pounds to put on 10 pounds of pure muscle, that's a big percentage of your body weight. So that would be a much slower process, but you could be done. Interesting. So we have a guy here at Impact Theory that has really been trying to put on muscle and he's very solid. Like if you touch his shoulders, they feel firm. But he's like, "If I don't concentrate all of my energy on eating all the food that I'm supposed to eat for a day," he was like, "Over a weekend, I'll lose five pounds." And I'm just like, "That is so weird to me as somebody that if I look at a photo of a dessert, I'm going to gain weight. I just find putting on a specialty fat is so easy." This kid shovels food into his face nonstop and just can't add. Yeah. I've been answering those questions for 15 year career now. Again, I will always acknowledge the uniqueness of physiology. There's always weird things that happen. What's your guess though? My guess is, I'm going to call it a guess. I'll be more arrogant than that. You're just not doing it right. The lifting or the eating? Both. Both. And my other thing would be not to harp on this, but something else in your physiology. Hmm. Is constrained. And that is the answer. Once that thing is constrained, then you just take off like a rocket ship. No question. So a lot of folks do things that make them feel like they're smashing food all day, but the food choices are incorrect or they're actually at just totally unnecessary volumes or something else is happening. Unnecessary volume of food? Yeah. So, okay. Interesting. Now he is, I don't want to derail us on diet just yet, but he's eating the standard one gram of protein per pound of lean body mass that he, uh, I don't know if he's doing it for where he is or where he wants to be. Does that matter? Uh, it's sort of pedantic at this point. Could be, could not like probably pretty close. Meaning you're just not sure what the thing is that's constraining. I mean, it is close enough. Probably is a rough one, whether it's, you know, you're talking, you're splitting hairs of 10 or 15 grams, maybe 20 grams of protein a day. It's close enough. Okay. So if I'm trying to add or he's trying to add as 10 pounds of muscle over the next year, um, is he going to be able to do that with the three days a week or does he need to? Yeah, you could, you could for sure.

What Are the Advantages of Having More Days to Perform Hypertrophy Exercises? (33:41)

Um, is there any advantage to more days or is it just volume in the days that you work out? So the, the most strong predictor of muscle hypertrophy, and again, we're not talking fat loss or strength or endurance or any of the other goals, but for hypertrophy, total volume is, is the answer. So whether you want to get that done across three days or six days a week, there may be a small advantage to breaking it up. And actually more recent research has gone back and forth in this point of frequency, right? So if you equate for volume, uh, and you just, the only variable is three days a week or five days a week or six days a week, you could find evidence on both sides of that equation. Probably practically it's easier to do it six days a week because the volume needed on three days a week is then double on each individual day. So it's just hard to get that all in. But that being said, again, I don't want, I really don't want people at home listening thinking, well, I don't have six days a week to lift weights and I'm not going to do it for an hour and a half. So there's just no way I'm going to try to add muscle. And I like, I really need to dispel that. Absolutely. Cause it's not true. It's absolutely not true because they can spread it out. Cause a minute ago you said, Hey, it's a question of whether you want to go on this journey and whether you're willing to put in the work or not, which I think remains the fundamental question. But now I feel like you're backing off that. So help me understand. Okay. So here's what I'll say. There's a difference between trying to improve your physique and trying to maximize and do the most possible ever for the fastest and largest gains. And so I guess I'm differentiating there. If you want to go to optimize, then that's great. Technically, it's probably easier for you to execute that volume over more days per week, but it doesn't have to be if three fits your schedule. Fine. So if you're like, look, I'm 80 20 in this thing, I don't need to get the most amount of muscle gain possible in six weeks. I just want to gain 80% of it. Can I back it down to three days a week and do an hour? Can I do four days a week and 45 minutes? The answer is yes. You can absolutely gain lean muscle, a noticeable amount in three to four workouts a week. If you give yourself three or four months or some reasonable time to me. So that that's maybe the differentiation I'm drawing. That's absolutely possible. What I don't want people to do is think that that is binary. If I can't do six days a week, 90 minutes each session, then I might as well do nothing. And that is very much not true. Again, we have people that do this very routinely. And if you look at the research that has looked at a variety of volume, so total amount of volume per week, if you want to count the amount of sets that you do, the number you're going to look at there is about 20 to 25 sets per muscle group per week. So if you think- 20 to 25 sets per muscle group. Okay. Now, that seems to be about optimal. Having said that, the groups that did 10 still grew muscle. And so that's why I'm saying, you can still, if you take the example of 10, let's say you did three sets of biceps three days a week. That's 10. I mean, you're at nine right there. So like 10 sets a week is not an insane volume. If you did three sets of 10 of two different bicep exercises on one day, that's six total sets, do that twice a week, now you're already at 12. So you're already getting there and you're going to grow muscle. It's just not at the same rate maybe that those folks that did 20 or 25 sets. And so it's a question of are you trying to maximize or are you just happy with some statistically significant scientifically measurable progress in muscle mass, which is still very important. And so it's to give people options and to not scare them away of saying, if you can't go to all the way to the end, that doesn't mean go nowhere. You can still go somewhere and have effect. That's also kind of what I was referring to when I was saying, if you're not willing to do the work and you don't even want to go to the first couple of steps, well then don't expect anything. But don't think that just because you can't have a full team, a chef at your house, anabolics and all these things, then that's an excuse to do nothing. If you want to do nothing, do nothing, but you can still make a lot of transformations and or whatever constraints that you really have. I'd like to take a moment to do a PSA for anybody out there considering lifting and adding muscle mass there and getting lean. I think both are going to matter there. There's something fascinating psychologically at work for the human animal as you, uh, both sexes, but from a guy's perspective, I will just tell you when you transform your physique, when you get stronger, when you add muscle, there are going to be few things in your life. If anything that will make you feel better about yourself. I don't know why it is, but it is, it is unreal. Now I'm not at as big as I used to be and we will get into injuries in a minute because hopefully live here, you're going to be able to help me overcome some that I've struggled with for a long time. Um, but there was a period when I was younger, I could bend over and pick up almost 400 pounds. It was amazing. I loved it the most. I've told this story, my, my poor listeners, uh, a million times, but, uh, I once I was at a pool party with my wife, a woman climbed up out of the pool and asked my wife if she could pet my abs. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Petty. Yes, for sure. But it was amazing. Uh, and so it's worth it. And I want people to hear that before I say what I'm about to say, it's really worth it. It will do something deeply to you psychologically to get strong, to have a physique that you're proud of what you have to do to your own mind, to be consistent, to show up every day, to progressively overload, to get your diet right, to do all those things, to care enough over an extended period of time. The rewards are tremendous. And even though I absolutely despise working out, the results are so unbelievable psychologically and physically, but psychologically, the results are so incredible and they apply to so many areas of your life. Look at Schwarzenegger. He's been able to apply it to all these different areas of his life. Same for me. Some of my biggest breakthroughs in business were born of the discipline I developed in maintaining a physique. All right. Hopefully everybody heard me say that. And now I'm going to say when somebody comes to me and says that they want to add muscle, I'm just like, you're never going to do it. They're never going to do it. And it's interesting because I don't know as much as you, I take a totally different approach to why they're going to fail. To me, people do not want things badly enough. Because they don't want it badly enough, they will not suffer. And while you are making it sound easier than my experience leads me to believe, you're the expert. I want to completely acquiesce to that and I cannot wait to learn more about how to do this more easily. It's difficult. It takes a lot of time. Nobody will stick with it. The vast, vast, vast, vast majority of humans will give up long before they make gains. And P.S. because of this reversion to the mean that you're going to slide back. If you take two weeks off, you're going to notice. And so if you take two months off, forget it. Three months and it feels like you never worked out in your life. It's bananas how fast you will go backwards. Because of all that, dear listeners, the vast majority of humanity will never do this. Do you agree with that? I would agree with much of that. OK. What's the part you don't agree with? I still think the charge is worth the effort. Yes. I started with that. Yeah. I started with that, Andy. Totally agree. There are many other benefits of strength training that are going to pay off dividends the rest of your life. Yes, I get that. But what I want you to get into is what breaks people. So we've covered that they've got these hidden stressors. Cool. We're going to address those. And I'm talking about stressors and their approach probably isn't right.

Why Most People Eventually Quit Trying to Add Muscles (41:37)

But now talk to me about the mind game of this all. What factor do you think that plays? Because you work with elite athletes, man. They've already walked over some sort of threshold where they're like, I'm committed. I'm going to do this. But do you encounter the sort of average person and where they trip themselves up? Yeah. So our entire rapid health and performance companies, all non-athletes for the most part. So we've been through this plenty of times, gone through this transformation. The folks in here range everything. But you've got people running billion dollar companies in there. No time is my point, right? You've got mothers of three kids and running companies and startups. And so these folks do not have the time. They're not committed. They're not 25-year-old. And they're not even on antibiotics for the most part. Some are, but some aren't. And so we face this challenge plenty of times. A couple of processes that we go through. But number one actually is, we can actually come back and talk about kind of the biology. We started this earlier and be happy to come back to that. That's a fun conversation. But our process looks a lot like this.

1. Are you choosing the right goal? (42:40)

Number one, are you choosing the right goal? And this is really not us trying to play a psychologist or therapist, but is really making sure based on your physiology, this is where we think you need to go. So let's say the example is muscle growth. And they come in and they say, I want to add muscle. I want to add 15 pounds of muscle. Okay. And the answer is, why? If this is just a personal goal, great. That's fine. Is there something else going on that you think you need to add 15 pounds of muscle? And when we run this complete analysis, and this is top of mind because this just happened with one of our clients. And we looked at it and his aerobic capacity, his metabolic efficiency was very, very low. And there's actually good research recently showing that going through a bout of six weeks of pure aerobic exercise prior to hypertrophy-- >> Cardio? >> Straight up cardio. Just cycling. Just steady state cycling. Not intervals, not anything like that. Six weeks of lower moderate intensity cycling prior to going through hypertrophy training resulted in more muscle growth by the end of the study than those folks who did not do that aerobic part before. >> Do they have to keep doing the aerobic part? >> Nope. So six weeks-- >> So some sort of primer. >> It's primer and it's most likely an improvement in aerobic capacity. >> Which makes the workout less painful? >> Recovery. It's all recovery from the training, right? So now you have the mechanisms that allow you to actually enhance your recovery, which allows adaptation to occur. If you dig too deep down that hole of fatigue, all you can do is come back to baseline. But if your recovery is higher, then we can actually get the results that we're earning. And so in this individual, it was a similar story where we were like, you need to go through some basic aerobic fitness first before you start launching into hypertrophy because number one, you won't even get through the training. You'll be so fatigued, you'll be so sore, you'll have all these problems. And so we need to set this foundation of aerobic fitness prior to getting into that. So that would be one of the things that I would say is what are we looking at here and what's truly why you want to get there? And if you want to get there, let me guide the ship on how we get there. Just trust the process. If you were willing to wait six months, we will get you farther by the end of the six months than you would have had you gone to your own. It's going to look like we're going off course here, but this is what we need to do to get you there. So that would be reaction number one, right? Is to say, why do you want to get there in the first place? Is it just a personal goal or do you think it's something else going on? And so the process then says, okay, we've decided we want to get 10 pounds of muscle in the next six months. That's the goal. And we went through the whole process and we're all in agreement that's the goal. Okay, great. Second step is, and all right, let's look at what we call your quadrant. So your quadrant is take everything in life and we're going to put it into four unique buckets. Okay. Now I got this from my colleague, Kenny Kane, so I always like to make sure I give him credit. He created this, I did not. But bucket one is what we just call business. Okay. This is whatever work, finance, things like that. And the one is what we call relationships. It's going to be family, friends, social time, going out, concerts, parties, whatever thing it is for relationships that you do, social connection, volunteering, whatever. Bucket number three, your physical training. Again, this could be walking, hiking, gardening, exercising, lifting, kickboxing. I don't really care. The fourth one is recovery. And recovery is everything from mental recovery, emotional recovery, physical recovery, et cetera, et cetera. And there's huge crossover, something that lands in a recovery bucket for me, might not be recovery for you, et cetera. So it's just, it's personal, right? In those four buckets, you get 10 total points and you can allocate those 10 points total, not per category, total, however you'd like. And so we run through this assessment and we say, okay, you're putting five in your business right now. You're putting three into your kids. Okay, great. Now we have two points left. You're going to go one training and then two into training and no one recovery. Not going to work, right? And what we're trying to do is run them through a very high level analysis of allostatic load. All stressors are stressors, right? We have to account all these things, business stress, all this stuff matters into the system. And so we look at that and we say, where are you at now? And we come to an agreement. And then we say, where do we need to be to allow that actual goal to happen six months down the road? We need to make adjustments. All right. And so we're going to take a point off of business. We're going to take a point off of maybe relationships. Maybe we're not hanging out with friends as much, maybe whatever it is, right? And recovery has to be at least half of training, right? So if you're going to put three into training, you can't put one into recovery. It's not going to work, right? You're not going to have enough recovery to actually get the adaptations, right? You're just going to be stress, stress, stress, no adaptation or no recovery, no adaptation. So we build that thing out. We come to an agreement. And then that agreement goes on a postcard, literally, physically, if possible. And that goes to three unique people. Person one is you to you. And that thing goes, it is a contract between you and yourself of where we actually need to be to allow that adaptation to occur. That's the goal we set. We agreed on that. You made that goal. We're going to do the work. We're not going to do the work. Here's how we get there. This is how we have to allocate that. And I encourage them to put that in the place of vulnerability or weakness. So if they're addicted to work, then that goes on their laptop or that goes in their computer screen. If it is addicted to Netflix, it goes on their TV. It goes in some place when they start violating that rule, they see it. It also goes to person number two, which is the person most likely to ask you to violate that rule. This is your friend who always wants you to go out. This is your boss. This is your, someone else is asking you to work late. This is the person who's going to push you against it. And that person knows this is Tom's new deal. Like, this is not negotiable anymore. Three, the person most likely to be hurt besides you by the violation. So this could be again, your kid, this could be someone else who says, dad, like you committed to X amount of time with me and you're not following you. You did that meeting. You did that other thing you weren't supposed to. Whatever it comes down to, right? And that's an accountability system. If a person is going to violate you, you're going to violate yourself or the person who's going to be most hurt by this. And then the last step is, okay, great. We know where we're going. We know how to get there. Now, all we have to do now is set very specific boundaries, which are extremely specific. And there are things that we call what life actions do you need to take to ensure those things actually happen? And so just to give a random example, say we have agreed to take one point off of business. Amazing. What are we going to take to ensure that it's not just like, oh yeah, I'm going to try to work a little bit less. That's never going to work, right? It is, okay, I'm going to commit to never working on Saturdays or I'm going to commit to never working before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m. or something, right? Whatever makes sense for you in your scenario. Same thing with recovery. I'm going to commit to doing X amount of recovery minutes per week, period. I'm going to commit to this much dollar investment, whatever it takes for that thing. Once you have all those, you're still going to have some failure, no question, but you have very specific guidelines and then when you do fail, it's very clear what happened and why. And so that's the process we take our folks through and we don't have a 100% success rate, but I'd like to think it's pretty high. Well, I know it's pretty high and I'd like to think it's higher than most folks. So this is kind of the soft part of coaching, right? Not the X's and O's, but this is the reality of what we take our folks through. And I think that would be what I would recommend to the scenario you set up is going through a process like that. So it's very clear on where we're going. And when we started the conversation, one of the major concepts I said, if people not having a plan, I was really talking about like actually knowing what to do in the gym, but this is also part of your plan. So that you ensure when you get to the gym, you're in there in the right frame. You're not rushing to get out of there in 15 minutes because you've got to go to work or you're not rushing there. So knowing exactly what to do. So you're not making your workout up as you go based on what machines are just open that minute. But then making sure you have the space, like this is the commitment I'm going to spend or not, right? I'm only going to commit to 45 minutes in here. I can't drag this out to an hour and a half. So I have to get off my phone immediately. I have to get right to my warm-up. It doesn't matter if my playlist isn't right because I have to be out of here in 45 minutes because I committed to this other thing I have to get to. So there's no time to drag this on. So that means I have to have a very specific training plan, which means I need to either have a professional helping me ahead of time or some other thing. But tomorrow's success is based on today's preparation, right? So having that plan in place, just simply having that plan will take your execution so much higher than not having something written down. So having that done ahead of time is what's needed.

Balancing Delayed Gratification And Instant Gratification In Fitness

Homeostasis and reversion to the mean (51:48)

That's a great process. I like that a lot. I'm going to point a lot of people to that clip. So now talk to me about the final piece in this people just don't make gains movement here. So homeostasis and the reversion to the mean, take me into the biology of it. Why like I understand muscle is calorically greedy. Yeah, expensive. Perfect. So that I get what the body doesn't want to keep more muscle than it absolutely needs. But like VO2 max? I don't understand why that would ever, especially if it is Peter Attia is right, and it's the number one predictor of longevity. Why on earth would we revert to less? Why would we revert to a worse resting heart rate? Why would our heart rate variability drop? Like all these things are good. So why do we revert to a mean that is suboptimal? Well what I'd say is I'm going to poke a little fun at Peter here. I consider Peter a friend so I can do this. Even what study you look at, you'll actually find that leg strength is a stronger predictor than VO2 max. Interesting. Yeah. I'm really teasing him there. They're both incredibly important. Obviously I'm a strength training guy, so I'm going to give most of the credit. A little bias. Just a touch, right? I'm biased towards lifting and physiology if you haven't picked that up. So interesting. Well I think the biggest issue is you're personifying the approach. You're good in batting physiology. There is no good in batting physiology. Ooh. Andy, are you sure about that?

Sam's North Star (53:23)

Very sure. Okay, give me your North Star. See, that's the point. The North Star is adaptation. That's the thing. It doesn't know good or bad. Chemistry doesn't know good or bad. There are no toxins. There are things. That's just what they are, right? So we don't have bad inflammation. We don't have good inflammation. We don't have inflammation. We don't have toxins. We have chemicals. Like, this is not how the world works. So number one, you're fundamentally approaching this as good and bad when that's not actually what happens. Because, why would physiology do it if it is bad? And the answer is, it wouldn't. Step back. It's playing a game. Over here, you have immediate gratification. Over here, you have delayed. We call this optimization. We call this adaptation. You're pushing one end of the spectrum with every single thing you do. The better day you have today may make it worse later. Immediate gratification, delayed gratification. This is what your physiology is doing every single second. Every interaction, every thought, every insult, every injury is all pushing further on one side of the spectrum. And so when you're asking, like, why is it doing this? Why is it doing this? If you're not pushing for delayed gratification, you're pushing for immediate gratification, which is rest recovery. So it's saying, if you don't need this VO2 max up here because it is expensive, then we're going to conserve energy now because we don't know when the next slot of energy is coming. And so it backs down. Think about it. I'll give you another way.

Your Autonomic Nervous System (54:58)

You're probably familiar with the autonomic nervous system. Parasympathetic versus sympathetic. This is rest and digest versus fight or flight. Now, which one is better? Obviously, it's not, right? It is a situation of you want to be able to maximize both. If you said right now, like, why is my body fighting me? I have such low energy. Like my body is, and you would have all these negative words and I would say, it's not, no, no, no. It's doing exactly what it needs to do. It's going there on purpose. You just haven't figured out why it's going there. You have the car pointed down the wrong street. Don't blame the car for driving down the street. Blame you for not pointing it in the right direction. It's not going to drive there and be a moment. Now, this bad car, the car is just driving where it's being told to be driven. So if you don't tell it anything, it's going to revert back to, we don't know if we're going to live 10 or 20 or 50 years. So we're maximizing for this current moment. That's what's happening. Until you convince it to maximize down the road, it's going to maximize for right now. So why is it going to reduce muscle mass? Muscle is expensive. There are also resources in that muscle that it can be used for something else. Think about it this way. What do you think the body will choose to give an advantage to? Muscle or organ? Organ? Definitely. You're going to die tomorrow or today if your organ is going to failure. You are not doing anything with your health if your muscles get weaker right now. You have years to work on poor muscle. And so it's always going to revert towards, number one, your brain. All things default, we're going to keep your brain alive. Second thing, keep your heart beating. Third thing, keep your organs alive. Fourth thing, organ systems. Skeletal muscle, nervous system, etc. etc. Those will be preserved last. And so you have to understand the choice you're making right now. You need to be convincing your body, do this adaptation that is expensive and it is costly. It is using resources and it is using energy. Now we're specifically talking about ATP and then resources like amino acids. Now you think about this in the context of building muscle, but amino acids are also needed to build red blood cells, to build immune cells, to build any other tissue in your body. And so it's not that it's holding onto them or preserving them so you can get more jacked, but it is saying we're going to conserve these so that we can rebuild your liver. There's damage happening there, right? The liver just notoriously gets kind of the crack kicked out of it all the time, right? Especially by some people, more so than others. But things like the kidney are not as resilient. You don't want a lot of adaptation, you don't have a lot of adaptation happening there. And so that's what's actually fundamentally happening. You're pushing it there. If you make choices that maximize current optimization, that maximize immediate gratification, think about those two as the same thing. Optimization and immediate gratification. That's slightly different, but they're representing the same idea right now. What's happening is you're going to feel better in the current moment. So this could represent yourself something like, "I feel less stressed right now. I'm more relaxed. I'm more down-regulated, more parasympathetic. I'm more recovered. I'm not sore. I have a lot of energy because I'm super chill." That's great. But if you continue to be in that super chill moment, you actually start regressing back down to inefficient because your body's like, "Yo, we don't have to be this inefficient." Let's take a give cardiac output, a very specific example.

Delaying Optimization To Get Better (58:35)

So cardiac output is calculated by the amount of times your heart beats, multiplied by how much blood is coming out of the heart per pump. That's your cardiac output. So when you get very exercise trained and you get really fit, your resting heart rate goes down. Why is that? Well, because you can actually have a stronger contraction per contraction. So you get more blood out per squeeze. So you don't have to squeeze as often. So the aerobic demands of you sitting here are the same, whether you are fit or unfit. Aerobic demands are identical. You're not using any more or less energy, basically. So your body says, "I can get that same amount of blood pumped in less pumps." So don't pump as often. So resting heart rate comes down. But if you lose that strength in the contractions because you weren't training it, then it has to bump, bump, bump, bump, bump more frequently to keep cardiac output the same. And so as you go into recovery mode, you feel better, but you're automatically not putting stress on the heart to be strong. So it starts regressing back to being weaker. So your resting heart rate has to then come back up. If you are in a state of overtraining, whether we're talking about nonfunctional overreaching or actual true overtraining, this is how you recover. This is how you peak for performance. This is how we get people to have these end of the periodization tapers and peaking on the right day or the right year or the right month, like in the case of the Olympics, making sure they are being perfect for that world championship fight and they feel the best they've ever felt on that day, not a week earlier or a week later in that exact moment. So we can time physiology to be correct. The other spectrum, if you're always choosing delayed gratification, you're never going to be feeling as good as you can in the current moment. And so if we think about this from the same perspective, going all the way to the end and saying training, training, training, training, training, training, training, training, train as hard as I can, more adaptation, more adaptation, more adaptation doesn't give you the recovery capacity to actually see the changes. And so then the system breaks.

Delayed Versus Immediate Gratification: The Balancing Act (01:00:49)

Last example, and I'll pause here. Think about this from the perspective of happiness, such that if you choose delayed gratification all the time, you tend to not be present. You don't celebrate wins and you're not happy in the moment. Something great happens in your company or success and you just want to move to the next thing because you're choosing delayed gratification. Those folks don't tend to do very well. If you're- They don't do well in what? In terms of they're not maximizing longevity. They're going to struggle because they're never present. A delayed gratification person? Definitely. So you're always choosing delayed gratification. And so what I mean is like the current win just moves to the next thing, just moves to the next thing. You never celebrate. You're never in the moment. You're never right here because you're just thinking about the next thing already. It's not a win right now. I'm not tracking how that would add up to- Let me back this one. The opposite is those that choose immediate gratification all the time. So all they do is sort of celebrate in their current present right now and they're not paying any attention to the next step down the road. Those folks are going to struggle because nothing is planned out ahead. There is no drive. There is no forward progress. They're very, very present, but there is no leaning forward. So what you clearly need to have is both of these things. They're not good or bad. They're just two different things. Depending on how you want your life to go, you may hedge a little bit more towards being more present. You may hedge a little bit more towards, "Great. That was awesome. Mini celebration. Now we got to get back to work and do the next thing." I'm not judging either side here. People have been wildly successful and happy in both approaches or somewhere in between. But it's a fundamentally different approach to how you're going to handle the problem of immediate versus delayed gratification, right? I would think most would argue you don't want to be fully on the end of the spectrum of either one of these things, right? There has to be some worry and planning for the future, but then there also has to be some enjoyment of the current moment. An ideal scenario, you're able to flicker back and forth between both, right? Some present and then some forward stuff and then potentially even some password leaning stuff there. But that's the psychological equivalent of the same thing your physiological body is doing when it's saying, "Yo, do I need to maximize today or am I banking for the future?" But if you continue to bank and you don't allow recovery processes, there's going to be a problem that occurs.

Evolution's Optimization North Star (01:03:18)

Okay. So man, really interesting idea that what we are optimized for is adaptation. My gut reaction to that is that we are the dominant apex predator because of our ability to adapt. There's no doubt about that. I'm a huge believer in humans as the ultimate adaptation machine. That seems though to me like a path and not the North Star. So when I think about what is evolution optimizing for, it's optimizing for you surviving long enough to have kids that have kids, adaptation is the way in which the human animal achieves that. I see you have a reaction to that. Tell me about it. Yeah. So, all right. The North Star thing is so fun because let's take stress. Now I would argue the entire existence of the human race has had one fundamental goal outside of reproduction, which is clearly the absolute number one, right? And this is really how do we get to reproduction? And that is stress. And we spent our entire existence trying to mitigate stress. So initially it was thermal stress. So let's create housing. And then it was stress of attacks. Let's create communities. And then it was stress of food. So let's create more sustainable agriculture and farming and better hunting and all things like that, right? And then earlier in this century, in the previous one, it was let's create more safety nets.

Personal Goals And Success In Fitness

Minimizing stress might have been misguided. (01:04:49)

So this is cities and governments and economies and things like that so that less people have less extremes, less likely, right? So we've been charging dead head at this path of minimizing stress. And we take this one step further and I know you know exactly where I'm going here. This was probably not a great idea. It probably was for the first hundreds of thousands of years we were around, but it's very clear whether you look at the astronauts that are coming back from space or you look at any of the films or literature or just the thoughts that are going through people's head is just like, oops, maybe minimizing stress was not the right actual North star. When we come back and we put ourselves in a position where we actually have eliminated stress in the context that we understand stress to be, we get really unhealthy very, very quickly. You've talked about it multiple times now. That happens when you take training stress away just for even a few weeks. We come crumbling back to baseline, right? That's how important stress is in our life. If you take an astronaut and put them up in space for a minimum of like seven days and they come back, you see massive physiological changes. I think the numbers are something like 30 days of bed rest is equivalent to 30 years of aging and skeletal muscle. This is how big a deal stress is. There's no joke about Mars getting there, but that's a human problem. That's a physiology problem more than it is a rocket problem. Obviously, I'm a physiologist. I'm quite biased. How do we get people alive in a situation up there? This is where we're spending billions of dollars trying to figure out. That's how critical stress is. We've had to re-engineer, put exercise back in our lives. We've had to now figure out, oh my gosh, we can't be isolated. That's not good for human mental health. We're engineering all these things that are stressed back into our life. Maybe we should actually go out of our way and spend tens of thousands of dollars to get hot again, to get cold again, to get hungry again. We have to do all these things because we realize, again, for most of our life, our species existence, that stuff was good. We absolutely needed to keep people away from those things. Now, once we got there, it's like, oops, we need to figure out how much that stress needs to come back into our system. So figuring out what is the right amount of stress that's on the biological system to make it actually live as long as possible, as healthy as possible, is an unanswered question at this point. I was sort of smirking so much when you were talking about that earlier because I don't think we have any idea what the North Star really should be. We thought it was stress reduction, but I think that that's pretty clearly misguided. Is it optimizing stress in and out? I guess that doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel profound. I don't know if we've learned anything there besides the fact we realize if we don't have any stress in our life, this is a problem. I think the reason I defaulted for adaptability being the actual North Star glider is because if we drill down on stress, why do we even care to have it to begin with? Going back to first principles, why is stress even necessary? I think it's because our body functions best when it is pushed to adapt. I actually think right now the best process I have come up with is that the optimal state is adaptation. Andy, this is very interesting. I have a maybe slightly different take on that. I think it was Lisa Feldman Barrett that said this to me and it was really eye-opening. She was like, "Tom, you're asking me the classic, is it nature or nurture?" She said, "The reality is we have a nature that requires nurture." I was like, "Oh, that is so true." When you were talking about stress, I don't know that stress is the ... I don't think that we have optimized to remove stress. I think that's a result of two different factors. One, I think that we have a nature that requires stress. The reason we have a nature that "requires stress" is because there is stress in the system for an animal. Nature is completely indifferent. It does not care if you survive. But if you put a gene, apparently, under the rules of evolution, it will adapt or it will develop a survival instinct because the ones that have their survival instinct are going to be the ones that survive. People are even saying that this may happen to AI, which is one of my fundamental pushbacks about AI. I won't derail this conversation for that. But that to me makes a lot of sense. If a gene's response to being in an environment where it is the survival of the fittest, then it will develop a survival instinct. To survive in an environment that is replete with stress, an organism that has a survival instinct will develop the ability to adapt to that. That's why as the greatest adaptation machine that nature has ever created, we have gone farther than any other animal and we have a level of control that they do not. The other part of the equation is that nature only has pleasure and pain. To get whatever behavior it wants, those are the only two levers that it has to pull on. This is really the thing driving my initial question of why does working out suck? If I should be doing it, why isn't it fun? If nature only has pleasure and pain in order to get me to survive, then the question becomes what did it leverage to make sure that, "Ooh, I want to do this thing that's going to keep me going?" As far as I can tell, that thing is progress. What you're saying is us optimizing for stress, I would say, is the pleasure principle at work where nature had to make something pleasurable so that we would move towards. It gave us this freakish desire for progress in our lives. The reason that I think that this ends up playing out weirdly where it looks like, "Ooh, we're now without stress and that was a huge mistake," is because if you have this incredibly strong desire for progress, you will make problems to fight against in order to feel like you're progressing. That devolves into madness. This is one of my earliest insights about people. When I first got into business, this random thought popped into my head, which is some people need to be chased by a lion. Because I was just like, "Dude, people are getting up in arms about some bullshit." I'm like, "Why are you even worrying about that?" Then I realized, "Whoa, it's because they have the cycles to worry about it.

Lack of incentives for people to succeed in personal goals. (01:11:41)

The food is there. They're not struggling with temperature. There is no lion around the corner that's about to eat them." All of that desire for progress, they're optimized to overcome stresses simply because it's been in the environment. Now, there's an almost weird derangement of like, "I'm going to find a thing to freak out about because things get too good." Then you get into collapses of civilizations.

What do people need to succeed (01:12:06)

It is rarely when they are galvanized against an external enemy/stressor, to your point, that they collapse. It's when they don't have something from the outside galvanizing them. Internally, they're all in total disarray. When times have been good for too long and they've gotten weak, then the enemy comes and they're no longer prepared for it and boom, they collapse. At least the Roman Empire, which is the one thing I've started looking into, the collapse was distressingly slow. It was, anyway, this is going to really derail this conversation. That to me is a really fascinating take on why people end up failing because that's where this started. Why does the body default to backwards sliding and you're saying from an evolutionary standpoint, it would make sense that they would want to go back to that. Okay, so that's a really interesting sort of how it plays out at the psychological level. Can I jump in here? Actually, I think there's a nice tie in. The reason current people probably, I'll say that maybe this way, one of the reasons people are failing in this scenario you outlined, there's just not enough incentives. To what? To succeed. Why do they really care about adding muscle? If they don't really, really care, there's no lion chasing them to do so, it doesn't matter enough to them. If this is a personal goal for just looking a certain way so that you'll get somebody to pet your abs, if the person is wired mentally the right way, that might be enough. We certainly have plenty of crazy ass people on our program. It's like, okay, great. If they're not, then that's going to be exactly the scenario you laid out. A few weeks, a few months, don't care enough for. Because their family doesn't depend on it. Their survival is not depending on it. Nothing matters. If you fail in your physical fitness journey right now, how many folks out there are really going, "God, if I don't do this, I'm screwed." Versus how many people are saying, "If I don't do this, yeah, medicine will probably catch up. There'll be gene therapy. Someone else will take care of this eventually. I know I need to work out, but I'm not going to die." I think actually when you're saying there's no lion chasing them, that's probably in big part what it is. These are, again, we had to add in exercise as a fake stressor. This is a very recent thing. The history of structured exercise has really fascinated me. There's a whole arc you could take it through, but I'll kind of jump through some of the ends. One of them where you see this catastrophic rise in specifically strength training is post pumping iron. It's pumping iron, it's Conan, and then all of a sudden Terminator, and then it's just a rocket slide. The whole thing launches off. I think what happens, and it's my position that people looked at this, and prior to those things, exercise was something you did either for sport. Great. Small segment of the world playing sport. Or you did it because you liked it, it was pleasurable, the reward, all those things. Small percentage of people. More people probably more like you. I do it because I know I'm supposed to, but I don't really particularly enjoy it. That's the bulk. Okay, well, now you've inserted a new thing, which is, "Yo, I can make you a superhero." Wait, what? Oh no, literally. Look, the picture, prior to that, there is Adam West's Batman. That's what a superhero looked like, right? And then we saw that thing, and it's like, "Yo, how did that happen?" It's like, "Oh, protein shakes and lifting." Well, even if I can't get all the way there, that's pretty fucking rad. Like I can literally become a superhero. So if you think about that consciously or subconsciously, that grain is planted going, "Yo, you could literally become a superhero." Some percentage of the world was like, "Whoa, that's incredible. I can take that, and I can grab that, and that is my new lion. That's the chasing thing, because it's like, "Yo, I'm going to be a superhero, and this is all the things that are there and whatever mentally is going on for that desire. I don't know who cares. Healthy or not healthy, irrelevant, right?" But you've got a big push going on there, and that's all great. Where we're at now, though, is like we've still left a giant bucket of people who are just like, "I don't care about being a superhero. I don't care about kicking a ball better or fighting somebody better. I'm not doing any of those things, and I don't like working out. It doesn't feel good." Okay, great. Where's the net to catch those people? Well, the net initially was scare tactic. It is, "If you don't do this, you're going to die earlier," quality of life, et cetera, et cetera. I think we have enough evidence to suggest that doesn't work very well. Whether it was scaring through food, whether it was scaring through death, people just are not motivated by not dying. It's the wildest thing, right? They're just not motivated by not dying, particularly probably because they've already bred or passed their breeding window. So maybe that instinct is just gone. I don't know, but even folks prior to that just don't seem to care so much. And so it's trying to figure out what is the thing. And I don't think we've ever... Well, actually, I think it's pretty clear that anything we've tried so far has just epically failed, whether this is information, guidelines, whether this is monetary. Nothing really works for people. So I don't know what it would take to figure out that button to push on people. Well, we haven't got it there. And it would be... again, my current thought would simply be the fact that there's just not enough on the back and there's no payout for these folks. There's no instinct to go, "If I don't do this, I'm going to lose my job or I'm going to have some other suffering." And so the suffering of, "I'm comfortable now. I have income, housing, friends, engagements, social media, I have all these other rewards," exercise only represents something that I don't feel good right now. And secondly, something that is going to potentially help me maybe years and years from now, but someone else will probably come fix that anyways, would probably be why most folks don't have a lot of desire to exercise.

How to improve VO2 Max (01:18:10)

I think those are all wrong, but that would be my guess. Okay. There's something I want to wrap up. Is VO2 max expensive? You said that the body will back off of the things that are expensive. Is VO2 max expensive? It depends on how you want to look at it. So in general, VO2 max has a couple of components. There's a central component and a peripheral component. Central being that first thing, cardiac output. So it is the heart has to squeeze with a certain amount of strength and then it has to pump a certain amount of blood per pumps. Well, the second half of that equation is what's called AVO2 difference. A stands for arterial and V stands for venous side. So it's the part of your vessels that go into tissue and then the part that leaves tissue and goes back to the heart to get re-oxygenated. So it's the arterial versus the venous O2 and the difference in sides. What that means is, let's just give it a number. If 20 molecules of oxygen came into the tissue, just call it 20, and then it went into the muscle and we'll just call muscle for now, comes back out, goes back to the heart and instead of 20 being in there, because muscle took some, there's five left. So the difference between 20 and five would be 15. The higher that number, the better, the higher the VO2 max, because you're multiplying it. Cardiac output multiplied by a VO2 difference. So if I come in with 20 and I leave with 10, that difference is 10. Good number. But if I come in with 20 and leave with five, that difference is 15. That's a bigger number. If I come in with 20 and leave with zero, that number, if your two difference is 20, that's an even bigger number. The bigger that number, the higher your VO2 max, meaning you took more of the available oxygen, extracted it out into the muscle and didn't have any just circulating back in the tissue, which is you're more efficient at doing that. So how do you improve a VO2 difference? Well, a couple of ways. Number one is you increase the amount of capillaries. So you put more capillaries because what happens is these vessels go into tissue and then the way they actually get into tissue, again in this example, call it muscle, is they diffuse through capillaries. And the more these capillaries, the more that it slows the blood flow down because now, picture a river. You have a giant river coming in and all of a sudden it's moving at this rapid rate and disperses into 50 little tributaries. By hitting that, because the surface area and pressure changes now, it just slows way down. The blood then moving through that muscle slower allows muscle to grab the oxygen out of it just based on physics, right? Moving fast through an area or slower than an area, we can grab more things out of it. Circulates back out and then has to be recycled, right? So increasing the amount of capillaries you have in that particular space is the primary adaptation there. Secondarily, you have to have mitochondria because the mitochondria are the part in the muscle cells that are going to actually be able to use the oxygen to power recovery or any other process. All of aerobic metabolism happens in mitochondria. There is no other way in all of biology, certainly in humans, right? So we have a demand for extra capillaries. We have a demand for strength of contraction of our heart and we have a demand for mitochondria. Those things require maintenance, right? I have to keep up the capillaries. They get damaged and recover repair. Mitochondria have themselves the demand for energy to stay alive. We have to repair them. We have to build them. We have to increase them. And then the strength of the contraction, we have to produce the energy for that and we have to produce the recovery capacities for that. So all of that is quite costly. Now having said that, your instincts are actually quite good here. So I'll ask you a question and see if you can get it there. If we take muscle mass, muscle strength, and VO2 max and you stopped training all of them, which one goes away the most, the fastest and which one is the most stable? In other words, holds on for the longest amount of time? Strength size or aerobic capacity? I'm going to guess, Oh God, I don't know. So this is just a guess. I'm going to guess. Your instincts are good here. So take a second and think about it. Cause your instincts are, the bad news is all I have is a gut instinct. So you lose fitness really fast, meaning VO2 max. So my guess is that one goes first. Then I'm going to guess that I would, I would say that, God, strength and size. That's my gut instinct, but you do lose size pretty fast. I don't know. That's my rough gut instinct. You said VO2 max first and then choose strength or? Then strength, then size. Okay, great. You perfectly screwed that all up. Yeah. I'm not surprised. So this is what's interesting. So you lose size first, then strength, then VO2 max will hang on the longest? Strength is probably going to go first. Yes. So that was my mid. So I didn't get it completely wrong. Then, okay. Then you're going to potentially lose some muscle size. And VO2 max hangs on the longest. It's extremely stable. Interesting. Really? Very stable. Whoa. Yep. I'm shocked by that. Yep. So in fact, if you see this, if you look at things like a maintenance dose, if you reach a certain level of muscle size, a single dose of training per week is enough to maintain that current level of size for a very long time. Really? Mm-hmm. Wow. And that's actually pretty clear. Until you're at the extremes, like you're very high level bodybuilder or something like that.

How To Maintain Muscles (01:23:52)

But for the majority of people, a single dose a week will maintain size. So if you can do that initial work, add some muscle size, and you can do something to keep it around, one session a week is enough. We actually know more and more about the mechanisms of that. The other benefit is the second time you go to grow that muscle, it will come much faster than the first time. This is the cellular side of what's called muscle memory. And so again, we know a lot about the mechanisms behind that with what's going on with satellite cells and some things there. But the first time is hard, and it's long. But once you get there, it doesn't take much to hold on. And two, if you ever have to slide that slide and come back, it will come back much faster the second time. When you compare that to strength, strength is thought of well as a skill, which means just like if you take a professional golfer, we work a lot with PGA golfers. They'll be on the PGA Tour for seven or eight years. They'll have won tournaments and majors and stuff, and they take two weeks off and they come back and they feel like they don't know how to get a golf ball. That's how fast their skill slides down, right? And they'll be like, "Oh, I'm just so terrible." Yet they're still top 10 in the world, but they're not one in the world because that's how much they've progressed by taking a few days off, right? Jesus. We have one golfer that I've worked with for a while, very high profile guy. Last year, he told the media, "Hey, I'm just going to take a bunch of time off." And everyone's like, "Oh my gosh, what's going on with him?" In his mind, that was eight days. So he took like, anyone's thinking he's going to be out for months or a year or whatever, and he was like, he played in the next tournament, and they're like, "What the hell?" And he's like, "Yeah, I took like eight days." It was a ton of ... So he's just like, that's how fast skill comes out. Now, will skill come back quickly? Absolutely. Okay. But it's very sensitive to what you do within the day almost, right? Our major league baseball players will say the same thing, right? Do you know what's hap- Is that a neurological? Neurological is exactly right. Yeah. So it's a very, very tight switch. You also have to remember, they're trying to execute motor control with unbelievably small margins of error. And so it's not that they forget, it's just that they don't have that fine tuned precision that's unrealistic to most of us ever. And skill slides quickly, and strength is a skill. So your timing, the neurological sequence, muscle firing, activation patterns, the position you're in, that stuff requires a lot of skill. Not as much skill as a golf swing or a baseball, anything like that, hitting a baseball, but more skill than just being big. More skill than running. I've never heard anybody call strength a skill. That's a total reframe for me. It is absolutely a skill.

How to Get Mind & Muscles Connected (01:26:39)

Is this, I've heard you talk about intent, intent a lot with gaining muscle. And I wrote a note saying, does he mean like, you're literally folk, Arnold used to say, I think of my biceps becoming a mountain. Is that what you're talking about? That's exactly what I'm talking about. Okay. Yeah. So there's a couple of ways. One of them is called the muscle mind connection. And there's, again, science behind this as well. But literally thinking of the muscle is funny. You mentioned that, but like Arnold nailed it. A hundred percent thinking of the muscle, watching it grow in your mind. There's been studies looking at whether or not you watch the muscle in the mirror while you're training or not. Right. So you've seen people that are like lifting and looking at their biceps in the mirror. And that's quite effective. It helps. Absolutely. Interesting. I did not expect that. Yeah. Now it's not going to work for skill-based movements. So it's not going to help your deadlift, right? It's not going to help your, your snatch or your clean and jerk. It's not going to help you perform any better. In fact, I would argue as a skill coach, that's going to make things worse, right? But from a muscle growth perspective, that connection between your mind and the actual muscle is very important and is a great way to add percentage increases of your results by doing nothing different. Strength or size or both. Mostly size. So the mind muscle connection is clearly important in strength, but what we're talking about here is muscle size and development. So this is when we would say intent matters. Now there's actually good research on intent for speed and strength as well, such that what we're saying here is it doesn't actually matter how much you lifted or how, what speed you achieved, but the intent to go as fast as possible will lead to greater adaptations than lack of intent. So intent matters across all of these things. No question about it. But in this, this part of the conversation, we're talking more about thinking about the muscle you want to grow, watching it, paying attention to it, and having a strong mind connection will enhance your results for muscle growth as well. Very, very interesting.

Science Behind Muscle Growth

VO2 max benefits (01:28:44)

Okay. So long and short, going back to VO2 max, it is expensive. So there are reasons why the body is going to back off all of that. It's really interesting. Now let me run that out though. Sorry, I never finished. No, please. There's reasons why if we work our way all the way up to VO2 max though, it is expensive, but it is not nearly as expensive as holding onto an exaggerated muscle mass or as nearly as expensive as the neurological motor control. Very difficult to keep those patterns alive and that feel alive, very difficult to keep muscle a particular size relative to simply maintaining capillary density, mitochondria density. This is not as much. And so if you look at, in fact, we've done this, we did a project with a cross country team years ago and they did a three week taper. And for this project they got down to 50%. Total of weekly miles were dropped by 50%. This is a lot if you're a competitive runner, right? College level, cross country runners. And we biopsied them before and after. We did VO2 maxes. We did actual, this is in seasons, this is the NCAA season. And what we saw is despite a 30% reduction in training, there was no change whatsoever in VO2 max, no drop. There was no change in any of the molecular and cellular enzymes responsible for aerobic capacity. So any of the site-shaped synthase or any of those things that are important for aerobic metabolism, despite the fact you had a huge reduction in training volume, those things did for almost a month now. They went nowhere. Race performance went way up. So they all had more improved performance. And at the muscle level, the fast twitch muscle fibers increased their size and strength by almost about 10% over the course of the taper. So to reframe that, all they did to increase their fast twitch size and strength was to train 50% less. Now that's probably because that they were like a little bit pre-fatigued in the prior, in the three week one. But the point is nothing changed in their aerobic capacity at all. And if anything, things got a little bit better. Now taper for a competitive runner is not the same. That's just like an average workout for the average person. They intentionally do too much volume on purpose to have this kind of super compensation. But the point remains the same. Aerobic capacity will hold on for a very long time if you just give it a minimal dose. So it is what we would call one of the most stable physiological parameters. So it is expensive, but not nearly as expensive as the other ones, which is why we say you really do need to invest in the strength training and the hypertrophy training because those are harder to maintain and just do something if you absolutely have to, to maintain your VO2 max and that'll hold on pretty tight. That's interesting.

Losing Fat and Gaining Muscle (01:31:38)

That's good news. Cause I, if somebody like me, I much prefer lifting to doing things that really stress the cardio system that is not nearly as fun. Can you add muscle and lose fat at the same time? You can reboot your life, your health, even your career, anything you want. All you need is discipline. I can teach you the tactics that I learned while growing a billion dollar business that will allow you to see your goals through. Whether you want better health, stronger relationships, a more successful career, any of that is possible with the mindset and business programs and impact theory university. Join the thousands of students who have already accomplished amazing things. Tap now for a free trial and get started today. You can, it depends on how specific you want to be. If you are fairly untrained or lowly trained or sedentary, however you want to call that, more possible. You get to moderate to decently fit and that becomes basically fundamentally impossible. If not physiologically, practically pretty impossible.

Basics of carbons, fats, carbs, and protein synthesis (01:32:44)

So a challenge to do for sure. All right, so what are the environments that you need to create in your body in order to add muscle? What's the environment you need to create to lose fat and why do they collide? Well you're going the opposite direction. It's basic physics or basic chemistry, right? So fundamentally we are all organic compounds. What does that mean? We're all made of carbon. That's what organic chemistry is, carbon based. All life when we go looking for signs of life, effectively we're looking for carbon. Carbon based life forms is what we're after and why that matters. Everything in your body that we use for substrates for energy are big carbon chains. So your carbohydrates, that's what they are. It is a carbon that has been hydrated. So one carbon molecule attached to one water molecule. That's the chemical formula for like glucose is C6H12O6 meaning it is one carbon attached to one H2O. Glucose is six of those carbons. So it's six. C6 double the hydrogen and six oxygen. Other forms of carbohydrate are smaller chains like fructose and starches or longer chains, smash them all together. But fundamentally all carbohydrates are just carbon chains attached to water. Fat is the same thing. Fat is also just big long chains of carbon. Whether you're a free fatty acid, now in fact that's what we call different fatty acids, depends on how many carbons they have. So if it has six carbons or eight carbons or 12 or 18, then it has a different name, stearic acid or whatever else. If it has any breaks in the bonds between the carbons, we either call them polyunsaturated or unsaturated or monounsaturated or saturated. If all the bonds are perfectly saturated, we call it a saturated fat. If there's one break, it's monounsaturated. If there's more than one break, it's polyunsaturated. If it's stored as a triglyceride, you have three, that's why we call it a tri, one, two, three fatty acid chains and you have a three carbon glycerol backbone. So it's a triglyceride. So it is one three carbon glycerol backbone and three fatty acids coming out. Big chains of carbon is all we are. So when we're talking about manipulating, wait, what we're talking about is more carbon going out than carbon coming in. You can split hairs and talk about how much fat versus how much carbohydrate or whatever you want, but it doesn't matter fundamentally because it's all just carbon. And when you take a breath in, that's oxygen coming in basically. When you take a breath out, that is carbon dioxide going out. The difference between O2 and CO2 is the carbon. Where that carbon come from? It came from you. Whether that carbon came from fat that was stored behind your neck and a triglyceride, fine. Whether that came from glucose that was in your blood, fine. It doesn't really matter. Carbons are going out. Carbons are only coming in in humans when we then consume foods. So we eat carbohydrate, we got carbons. We eat fat, we got carbons. We eat animals, we get like- You haven't mentioned protein. Is there- Protein is not a very effective fuel. So you want to think about- But it's still carbon. Not really. Interesting. So give me- I know nothing about organic chemistry. You're looking at nitrogen. That's really what you're looking at, right? So you're basically consuming a whole host of nitrogen and amino acids for protein. So you can technically take those, convert those into carbohydrate molecules, gluconeogenesis in the liver or different ways like that. But fundamentally, protein is a very poor fuel source. If you want to look at your metabolic process, you're looking at maybe 5% of your calories or energy is going to come from protein. If you're using protein as a fuel, you're probably in a pretty bad spot. Something is going wrong for that to happen. It's kind of like a little bit of a backup system, but you want to think about this. If you're going to build a shelter and I said, "Okay, great. I've got some metal pipes and things like that. And then I've got some paper and I've got some wood and things like that. And great. Go ahead and build a shed." You would almost certainly say the structure of this shed is going to be made out of metal. Can you technically melt metal and make a fire? Yeah. But if your goal to stay alive is melting metal to make a fire, you're not in a good spot, right? Something really bad has happened. What you want to do is say, "Hey, we have tons of wood. This light's on fire very quickly. It's easy to manage. We're going to use that as our fuel to make our fire. And then we're going to use the fire to melt down some of that metal and reshape it and reform it into the exact structure we want." The analogy here is the protein is the metal. It's hard to break down, hard to rebuild, and you don't want to do it very often. But when you do it correctly, you can get an awesome structure that should stay there for a very, very long time. Wood is very easy to manipulate back and forth. Now what is wood made of? Carbon, right? If you were to take a log and you were sliced off a very thin slice of a log, you would use that and you could write on it and you could call that papyrus or now we would call that paper, right? Amazing. Well, if I take that thing and I slittle down a tiny little sliver of that and I put a little bit of stuff on the end of it, I can make a match out of it. It's all carbon. It's all coming from wood. In this analogy, a match is great. I can light that thing really quickly and I can get a few seconds of usable energy. Fire. That's phosphocreatine. That's the role of creatine in your body. Very, very quick but burns out in however long it takes a match to burn out. I don't know, seconds, 30 seconds, something like that. Great. If you were to take that thing, though, and get the paper going, if you were made of fire in the woods and you used paper, you realize, "Well, that's great. It will last a lot longer than the match will but it's not a permanent fuel source either." That's carbohydrates. If you were then to throw the wood on the fire and you said, "Hey, look. If you want a sustainable fire, use the match, get it going, light the paper, take the paper, light the logs on fire. It takes forever to get the logs going but they're going to stay there for a very long time." That's fat. Now, obviously, I made a bunch of physiology and chemistry errors there on purpose. It's an analogy, folks. Just getting to a rough idea here. That you have different ways to create fuel. The point is, like we talked about earlier, it's not bad or good. It is simply giving you options. We can have faster fuel sources. We can have more sustainable fuel sources. There are pros and cons to both sides. If you are maximizing carbohydrate only metabolism, you're going to have major limitations. If you're maximizing fat metabolism, you're going to have major limitations. This is just the nature of our world. Pros and cons to that. Ideal scenario for either one of your cases, fat burning or muscle growth, is we have the proper fuel from those sources, fat and carbohydrates, to then reform and rebuild the protein into the shapes that we want it to be in. We used our metal for that and we don't keep ripping off our siding to put it in the fire when we should have just got more wood. That's a bad spot to be in.

Ideal scenarios for fat loss and muscle growth (01:40:15)

The conditions that you need to have to have both of those goals are fairly similar. If you want to lose fat, you have got to be in a negative caloric balance. That's just simply going to have to happen. More carbon has to be coming out of you than carbon coming in you. Now, how do you make that happen? You have two options. You consume less carbon. Option two, you expel more carbon. Option three, I guess you do a little bit of both. If you want to reduce the amount of carbon you're eating, great. You want to increase the amount of carbon you're expelling, i.e. more work, more energy, more movement, great. Fundamentally, that's all you have to do. If you can do that while holding on to enough of your protein, then you're not going to lose as much muscle mass, but you'll lose fat. That's the key trick. This is why people will say, "Hold your protein fairly high. Keep that around, but then reduce your calories from fat or carbs or both or some different way which it's almost irrelevant which one you choose or what combination for this goal alone." Then, you're going to be able to lose mostly fat and not lose a ton of muscle along for the ride. You're going to lose some muscle. That's just the nature of being in a caloric deficit, but you can try to lose as much fat as possible. If you want to gain muscle, then you go the inverse direction, which is to say, "I need to have the cellular energy to power the workout to drive the stimulus we talked about earlier. I need to have the cellular energy to go through protein synthesis." Remember, when you break a chemical bond, these carbons are attached in a chemical bond, you break that bond that's either going to give off energy or require energy. In the case of humans, that's going to give off energy. You broke a bond and that gave off energy. Now you want to reform a new bond that doesn't exist. You want to put two amino acids together. You want to synthesize them. That's protein synthesis. That synthesis process requires cellular energy, not just energy for the workout, but you actually have to have the fuel, mostly in the form of carbohydrates, to power that connection process. You have to have the supply, the amino acids, and you have to have the fuel to form that connection. That's what we're really going after. So sorry, I'm going to pause you there because there's something broken in the way that I'm tracking this. If I need fat or glucose, fat or carbs, so I need one of those to make the muscle.

Why fat is used to fuel muscle growth (01:42:31)

Yes, primarily carbohydrate for that. So then maybe you just answered it. What I was thinking is if I need the fat in order to build the muscle, why do I not naturally get leaner as I'm building muscle? Because it uses carbohydrate as a preferred fuel source for that. Why? Just because it burns faster. It's just like a quicker thing. A couple of things. It's faster and it is immediate. So you store your carbohydrates in the actual muscle tissue. You don't store much fat in the actual muscle tissue. Interesting. Is that why you store? Wait, so you're using carbohydrate both to build the muscle and to work out. So there's something in the contractile process that it needs carbohydrate for?


Yeah. So effectively, the way that muscles contract is you have two major filaments is what they're called, myosin and actin. And just think about it as the myosin reaches up and grabs the actin and it squeezes the actin together. So in the actin molecules, if you're watching on the video, sorry audio friends, I'll try to describe this, but you have two, I'm pointing two of my hands at each other, pointing my fingers. So my middle fingers are touching each other. My thumbs are pointed in the sky. That's the direction. So if I were to slide my fingers past each other and stack them on top of each other, you see how the height of the bottom of my pinky to the top of my pointer fingers increases because I'm stacking them on top of each other. That's the actin molecule. So if I flex my bicep and I pull the actin over top of each other, the height gets larger. I'm stacking the molecules rather than being end to end, they're now stacking. Length gets shorter, but they stack up. Exactly. Right. So for that process to occur, that requires ATP, which is cellular energy, right? Now if I want to, if I have all the time in the world, I can break down that triglyceride stored behind my neck. I can go through what's called my pulse. You use that example all the time. Why always behind your neck? It's just the one that like, I think I want to make it differentiated from the exercising muscle. Got it. Right. It's not coming from, when you, if you use this analogy and you talk about it just like a different part of the bicep, it doesn't make, um, I don't think it sticks out in people's head as much that it's coming from all parts of the body basically equally, right? So there's no targeting of fat loss specifically in the exercising muscle that much, um, relative to carbohydrate burning. So if I'm using my bicep, I'm going to burn the carbohydrate in the bicep, but if I'm using fat for some part of this process, it'll come from wherever. It's mostly coming from everywhere else in the body, which is why when people lose fat, they don't just lose it in the area that they were working out. They lose it equally in their face and their jaw, their fingers and toes and all these places. Very upsetting that I lose it in my face, but yeah, I feel your pain. Yeah. So if you wanted to use fat to power that protein synthesis process, you'd have to go through that delay. You have to liberate it. You have to put it in tissue. You have, or you have to put it in muscle. And it burns more slowly, right? Um, kind of. So it's only getting it available in the body that makes you call it a slow fuel, right? So think about it. That's a storage mechanism thing, not an actual 100%. If you want to think about this from the bigger perspective, it's not exactly right, but carbohydrate is your immediate, immediate fuel source. Fat is your backup. This is why I can only store so much carbohydrate. The capacity is very limited with how much it's limited by physical size of my muscle and my liver and my blood, right? The only other, if my muscles full. Three places is stored period. Three places. Give me ratios. I'm guessing the vast majorities in my muscles, unless I'm really small. You've got a couple of tablespoons in your blood total, right? This is it, right? So if you run through the actual math, you probably have gone, wait a minute, I've got some blood done. And they said it was like 80. Okay. What that really means is the equivalent of a couple of tablespoons of total glucose in your body, in your blood. If you think about your liver, kind of this right side there, and you just, you know, if you ever had a whole liver and you pull it out, it's kind of like the size of a hand, you know, a little, maybe a flattened softball or something like that in humans, you know, a little bit bigger. It's pretty big. But muscle's everywhere. So it's physical dimensions wise. If you just take the ratio of physical size, that'll explain to you exactly how much. So if you said, okay, my liver is about the size of my right glute. Well, every other part of your muscle then is storing glycogen all over the place, right? So we can store way more in the skeletal muscle. And the more muscle I have, the more I can store. The more trained I am, endurance trained, the more I can store. So it scales that way. This is one of the reasons why you mentioned Peter earlier, Atiyah, but you know, in the podcast I've done with him, we talked a lot about the importance of muscle for health. And one of the major factors there is it is your primary glucose storage place. People don't realize like this is the biggest place to store glucose and carbohydrates. So if you're worried about blood glucose levels or things like that, if you don't have enough muscle, you're just adding to the challenge of being able to handle and manage your glucose. So you want to put it there. Going kind of back earlier, when we were talking about you have to mobilize and liberate the fat. It's got to go into blood, it's got to go into blood, then it's got to get into the tissue. Then it's got to go through tissue into the cell. It's got to get into the cell, then it's got to get into the mitochondria. And there are rate limiting steps specifically on the cell wall of the mitochondria to be able to get it into that thing and then actually use it. Now is fat slower at the mitochondrial cellular level than- So the beauty of it is once you get into mitochondria, aerobic metabolism between carbohydrates and fat is identical. But what about getting into the mitochondria? Is that slower? So it's already in the cell tissue for carbohydrate. So you can stay outside of the cell, not have to worry... Using fat as a fuel source is 100% aerobic, meaning it requires oxygen. Carbohydrate is both anaerobic and aerobic. So you have way more flexibility. So not only is it stored in the actual tissue, but if you don't have the time to even wait for oxygen and you don't want to wait for it to get into the mitochondria to go through the aerobic side of the equation, you just go anaerobically. You go right now. Now it is a lot less efficient. So this is what we call anaerobic glycolysis, splitting lysis being splitting glycogen or glucose. It doesn't really matter. You're splitting glycogen or glucose. Boom. You're getting a couple of ATP, like two to four ATP total. Very small. When you take that molecule though and you put it through the aerobic side of the equation, so the second half, now you're going to get like 25, 28, 30 ATP. You take one molecule of fat for that entire equation, you're getting 300. Jesus. So you're going-- it is getting you way more packed because think about it this way. Glucose is six carbons. But if you had a triglyceride that was three fatty acids that had 15, 16 carbons each, you got 16, 16, 16, plus you got the three glycerol backbone. Well, you have so many more carbons to deal with every time you break the carbon, ATP, ATP, ATP, ATP. So you just have way more carbon to break. So you're going to get a lot more pack for it. But it requires oxygen and requires that mobilization and movement process. Anaerobic glycolysis can happen immediately. It happens right now. To round the story out, have to have a signal, have to have gene expression, and then you're going to go through protein synthesis. There's an actual time component here. That signaling process happens within seconds. And it is over. You stretch a muscle, then that cascade happens immediately. You go through a workout. You go through some sensor or receptors attached. Signal happens. And that process is over in seconds to minutes. So if I were to biopsy you 25 minutes post exercise, those signaling cascades are probably back to baseline. They're done already. That signal's over with. The gene cascade kicks on. And that is elevated, depending on which marker, something like three to four hours post exercise. Now the protein synthesis part is elevated still up to 48 hours post. So my point is saying I don't necessarily have the time to wait because the genes are expressed almost immediately. And the signal is already dead after a few seconds. So if I have to wait to mobilize and use fat, I'm going to slow down that process when it is ready to go and it is trying to get going. Much to say, that doesn't mean you cannot grow muscle in a low carbohydrate state. And I'm certainly not making any claims about low carbohydrate diets. This is not what we're referring to at all. But are you optimizing growth? Well, that's a different story entirely. So difference is there between possible versus optimal.

Protein Diet And Weight Loss


Okay. You have made a very bold assertion. In terms of my layman's understanding of carbohydrates versus fat, the implications of what you just said is that me putting on fat doesn't really matter if my diet consists of high carb or high fat. Doesn't matter. It's just total intake of carbon. So what you just said makes some predictions. Let me go through them. I'm going to have a very hard time getting obese on a high protein diet if I'm not intaking fat and carbs. True or false? I would say true. Okay. So something called rabbit starvation. I tested this. When I got my leanest, I was basically eating protein only. It was miserable by the way, and I was inflamed just an unimaginable amount. It really sucked. But I got lean. Okay. So that's interesting. That's just an anecdote, but it's interesting certainly in keeping with what you just said predicts. But it also- I would say by the way on that point, that would be a pretty common finding. That will hold. Yeah. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. We have seen a ton of problems in inflammatory markers with folks that tend to be very, very, very low on a particular either nutrient, either macro or micro. So when you pull things away like that, some people can be fine with it apparently, but the folks we've seen, they don't do well on things like that. They may feel okay initially, but their biology is pointing the wrong direction pretty quickly. So I would say what you experienced going on, it was basically like a protein, but very low carbohydrate, very low fat diet. Is that what you're saying? Yeah. So it was basically just boiled chicken, breast and steamed broccoli for two years. And look, it wasn't it obviously I was taking in occasional fat, but it really was pretty rare and it was- That'll mess you up. Yeah. My wife pulled me aside and was like, "You are not fun to be around anymore." Like, "You need to change strategies." And before I went on the... Because I really wanted to get lean. And before I went on it, I said, "Look, I am hyper-disciplined. So if I set my mind to something, it does not matter the amount of suffering, I'm going to keep going." And so I said, "That means you have to be in control. If it gets to the point where it's gone too far, then just signal me and I will change." And so she did and ultimately had to find a far better strategy. You cracked me up because you do things the hard way. I do things the hard way. That is a very astute- We call that the robot mode. Yes. I like going into robot mode. That's great. But if you're going to do that, you better make sure that that robot is pointing in the right direction. Yeah, that's a really good point. I don't want to derail us and I will bring us back. But as a quick... No, no, no. It's very interesting, at least to me. My wife has said... I finally had to decode her language. And the more I go into robot mode, the more she's like, "I want my husband back." But, because I value robot mode and virtually everything except my relationships get way better the more time I spend in robot mode, I can't help but value my ability to stay in robot mode. But anyway, my wife keeps me as human. You just need somebody who's guiding that step for a minute. Well, from a, "Don't go too far," that would definitely be my wife. I wouldn't say, "Don't go too far," but I would say, "Let's make sure we're getting there in the right path." Yeah. In terms of what's your goal, is this really the best way to get there? The tactics. Yeah. We can get people extremely lean and not have to eat like that.

Weight loss for fat loss (01:55:14)

Very interesting. Okay. So that's where we're headed right now because the other prediction that what you just walked through made is that calories being equal, it will not matter if I'm on a high fat diet or a high carb diet. That one breaks several of my assumptions. This is anecdotal, but let this be the jumping off point for your dismantling of my assumptions. If you give me somebody and say, "Tom, you can either control this person's diet or their exercise and they are going to do exactly what you say, but you have to improve their body composition." So I have to reduce their fat and I need to positively impact biomarkers that would lead one to longevity. So things that occlude the arteries, for instance, that's going to be bad mojo. I would say, "I don't care about exercise whatsoever. Just let me control their diet and I'm only going to need to pay attention to one variable and 80% of people, I will get 80% of the way there through one variable and that will just be blood sugar." And if I keep their blood sugar, call it 85 or less, they are going to stay a reasonable body comp just period, end of story. I'm not even asking how many calories they are eating. Could they stuff their face full of fat? Yes, but they probably won't. So it's really, my assumption is, it's really only when you start elevating your blood sugar that you run into a cascade of problems. But that means that carbohydrates matter a lot. Okay, so I would say a couple of things. What you're talking about is a question of practicality versus physiology. Okay. So, a lot of things you put on there are issues of, well, this will be more practical. More people will do this, they'll execute it better, they'll get better results because they're adhering more. If you look at any intervention for nutrition, adherence will be the number one predictor of success. So you're not wrong in that charge, right? To say, "If I can set somebody up for more adherence, I'm more likely to have success." That is absolutely the number one starting criteria. A diet not done is irrelevant, right? You can talk all the theory you want, but if they don't do it, it's completely irrelevant. That is separate from physiology. And I would say physiologically, it's very, very, very clear. You can manipulate either one of these things and have success. If you want to look at chemical signaling, if you want to look at randomized control trials of outcomes, you're not going to see any difference in successful weight loss by manipulating carbohydrates more or fat more if protein is health consistent, right? That's very, very clear scientifically. Again, though, what you feel like is more realistic for people who will execute higher and more success, that's a separate question. And again, as I argued a second ago, maybe more important, I'll give you that. Whether or not you can fundamentally base this exclusively on blood glucose, I think if you want to put this across 30,000 people, I think the mission you laid out there would probably be pretty successful. Actually, I'd say it's probably really successful. At the individual person, I'd say that's also something that's not really that important. So you can see tremendous progress in folks by not worrying about blood glucose at all. I've actually encountered, we go back and forth in this, we'll use things like a CGM, sometimes and sometimes not. Some people, it is really, really helpful in a lot of ways. And then other folks, it's just an utter disaster with what happens to them. When they see that, they get so fixated on it. I was going to say orthorexia, is that the only- That can be it. They just freak out. There's a lot of assumptions built into CGMs that are false. So the assumption that you should just never be over a certain number and things like that, we certainly go into that, but those things are all really wrong. So people will make all kinds of weird things and do things because their number went to a certain level one time. And so we're very cautious when we use CGMs. Other folks, it's a game changer. It's a complete game changer. You throw that on them and you just walk away and then they're like, "Holy cow." And they just stop eating Doritos all day and stuff. You're like, "Sorry if Doritos is a sponsor."

Doritos (01:59:33)

Is the problem with Doritos just that people overeat calorically? No, you're never going to find things being a single explainer. So probably issues of overeating calorically, sure. Basically compromising, reducing other items that they should be eating that are now not coming in. So now you have fiber deficiencies or you have micronutrient deficiency or other issues there. So it's not just what they're eating, it's what they're now not eating.

Superficial relevance (02:00:01)

Because this isn't tracking with my understanding of what you were saying. So when you say the difference between carbohydrate and fat for fat loss doesn't matter, does that assume that you're not eating highly processed carbohydrates? Okay. When I say it doesn't matter, what I mean is not that it's irrelevant. I'm saying you have options either way. That's really what I mean. You can lose weight on a high carb diet. Absolutely. You can lose weight very successfully on a high carb diet. You can lose weight very successfully on a high fat diet. I would say that there's so many studies on this. Again, whether you want to look at the mechanistic data, whether you want to look at the randomized control trials, and they basically are all showing the exact same thing. Does that mean it's irrelevant and there's nothing else to consider? Absolutely not. There's thousands of things to consider. Methods are many, concepts are few. Very basic fundamental concept. Calories are going to have to be accounted for one way or the other. If you have a different method you like to get to that calorie thing, you showed your method, great. You want to track and weigh out your food, great. You want to give another simple heuristic, just do this, just don't do that, great. Those are just different methods to get to fundamentally the same concept of calorie balance. Whether you're saying, "Yeah, I ate this more food so I'm more satiated so I'm less likely to ..." Okay, fine. Those are just different systems to all get to the same spot. I apologize if I said this earlier or didn't clarify, but it's not irrelevant. There's a ton of relevance to all those variables. It's just fundamentally you're going to have to get to the same place. If you get to the same place, you'll have the same net result. There's a lot of different ways to get there and some are more successful than others and certainly many are more successful than others at the individual human level. There's no question some people respond better to different micronutrient switches. Absolutely. Whether that is actual physiological, whether that is now behavioral, of course. All those options are on the table. If the strategy you'd like to employ to help people regulate is just simply monitor blood glucose, great. Sure, that could be effective. If you're taking other proteins saying, "I don't care at all about measuring blood glucose, but I'm going to have them weigh their food and we're going to have a ..." Great, that works too. All that stuff will work. It just depends on now we're at the level of, "Well, what other factors are we considering? Are we considering how their digestion feels? Are we considering how their food preferences? Are we considering their cultural aspects? Are we considering their income and their cost?" Now those are all just different levels of nuance that we want to get into. I'll give you an example.

Intermittent fasting and muscle growth (02:02:57)

We just recently completed a study on intermittent fasting and we actually wanted to look at whether or not it did anything for muscle growth. People are really interested in this topic from a perspective of fat loss, but we were like, "Well, what about somebody who's trying to maximize muscle growth? Does the 16/8 intermittent fasting approach help muscle growth? Does it harm it or is it irrelevant?" I can't share the exact results right now because it's in review, but what was very important to me is exactly what I'm saying. I don't want to just know the answer at the muscle level, but I want to ask them about their fatigue. I want to ask them about their digestion. I want to ask them about how hard they felt it was and all these things. I can tell you this much. There's no clear-cut winner here. There's never going to be. It is, "Well, okay, maybe this adds in muscle growth or doesn't, but it was harder to do." Or it made them more bloated. There's always just going to be pros and cons to these approaches. It comes down to you saying which ones you want to optimize for and which of the downsides do you not care about or are less important to you or don't affect you as much. That's the game you're constantly going to play. When you talk about dietary stuff, when I say, "Laws day fair," it doesn't really matter what you do. What I just mean is fundamentally, you just got to get to the same kind of place and you'll get there. Then from there, you got to coach your people.

Law of fat loss (02:04:18)

Describe the same kind of place. Is that just calorie balance? In this particular instance, yeah, would be calorie balance for fat loss. You're just going to have to get to a negative position. That's just going to have to be how it goes. There is no other way to go about that. Again, different systems to get to negative calorie balance, but you're going to have to get there. It's kind of a circular argument because one is actually just the definition for the other. There's no really way outside that matrix. All right. I want to talk about if it fits your macros and the idea that you can eat whatever macros as long as you have a target, you're worrying about calorie balance, all that. Before we get there, I think we have to understand the mechanism by which you add muscle and the mechanism by which you lose fat.

Fat Loss And Muscle Growth At A Molecular Level

Losing fat and building muscle at the molecular level. (02:04:59)

When I started researching you for this episode, you really changed my understanding of how fat is actually liberated. In this interview, the idea of the glycogen being stored in the muscle so it's really readily available versus fat, which is a backup mechanism which has to be liberated first, make its way through the blood, all that is really helping me understand the sort of hows and whys of this all. Walk us through the fundamental nature of, I don't know which you think is right to start with, but walk me through the building blocks of building a muscle. Walk me through the building blocks of losing fat. Just to re-anchor everybody because I had never thought about it before that carbs and fat have more in common than protein has to carbs and fat. That's very interesting. That being more about nitrogen, the other two being carbon, I had never put two and two together, even though I knew, "Oh, if you're building muscle, you can check the nitrogen levels in your urine." I just never stopped to ask why. So yeah, mechanisms please. Sure. We've laid a lot of the foundation here so this shouldn't be too difficult for us to get through, but really, you're breathing in O2, you're breathing out CO2, right? That carbon is coming again either from carbohydrate or from fat. So really to answer your question, one of the ways we set up how we analyze our focus is I want to know four fundamental things. Number one, I want to know everything that goes in your body. So I want to know what you eat, what time you ate it, how much you ate it, where you got it from. I want to know where you get your drinking water from. I want to know what kind of toothpaste you use. I want to know how you clean your tiles and your floor. If it goes on or in your body, I want to know about it. Number two, I want to know everything that comes out of your body. I want to take... We take saliva, we take urine, we take blood and blood and blood. We take stool, we take hair if needed. We take every single thing that comes out your body, sweat, hair, all of it. There are different markers that are better in different biological samples. So in my world, we don't treat... I don't treat anything, I'm not a doctor, a medical doctor, but I'm not going to develop you plans and protocols based on labs. We do it based on humans. So how you feel is most important. And then four, how you perform. So how you're functioning. I take all those things and now I know exactly what's happening and I can create and find those performance anchors, find those constraints, and then I can actually set to you your very specific plan. Why that matters here is all that's happening in your body is input in, input out. So fat then, when you're losing fat, has to come out of your body in one of a few places. It either has to come out in your feces, your urine, your sweat, your saliva, or your hair. But it's none of those places. The only thing I left off that equation is your breath. And so you lose a very minimal amount of fat through your urine, some through your feces, you pee fat. You can pee anything. Right. But we're basically, you might as well count that as zero. Interesting. Little comes out of your stool. The overwhelming majority is coming out of your breath. Do you remember those chips that they put some weird thing in it that made you not digest fat? And so it was like, beware may cause anal leakage. Oh yeah. I'm so mortified by that. I never even tried them. The anal leakage thing is historic. Oh God. Anyway. Yes, it can certainly, hopefully not a lot is coming out in your stool, but it can happen. Man. I wonder. It's been so many years since I thought about that. I would love to know what actually was in there. I will also tell you bad things happen if you take too much fish oil. Oh, it can. Yeah. Woof. Or MCTs or any kinds of things. Yeah. Depends on how high you went on your fish oil. There's a part of medical physiology you go through in med school and then they'll teach you all about what happens with excessive fat intake and especially in the form of oil. I found the upper limits.

Measured by breathing out CO2 (02:09:02)

I'll just say that. Yeah. Amazing. Um, so it's mostly coming out through your breath and if that makes no sense. So we are losing fat by exhaling. That's right. That's crazy. It's nuts, right? But it is exactly what I explained earlier. You're breathing in O2 and breathing out CO2. The C is coming from carbs and protein. You cannot burn fat alone. It's not possible, right? So you're, you're sorry. It comes out as carbohydrate or fat. I think I said protein a second ago. What I meant is those two. You can't burn fat alone. So it's coming from a combination of those two things. And the fundamental answer is it doesn't even really matter which one is being used for exercise. It doesn't matter which one is being used for exercise in terms of your fat loss. So people will really be worried about do doing the types of exercise that burn the highest percentage of fat versus carbohydrate because they think that's going to aid in fat loss. It doesn't matter. They had just called the molecule in food something different than the molecule on your body and I get why they didn't because they are the same. They are. But it gets really confusing when you mean dietary fat versus stored body fat. Okay. So when you say it doesn't matter what you use, what do you mean? It doesn't matter what I use when I eat. It is not because your dietary fat is just another animal stored fat. Correct. It's the same thing. Yes. When I'm trying to lose fat, the fat that I eat has implications in terms of priming my body as to what to use for a fuel source. So when you're talking about this, because I've heard you describe this mechanism before and literally, thankfully you stopped and said, but that doesn't, burning fat does not mean you're losing fat. And I was like, what? Because I can be burning the dietary fat. Yeah. Well, you can even be burning your own endogenous fat. Yes. So whenever you say burn fat, I think if they're anything like me, they just assume you mean off my love handles. You would think it's not necessarily what you need. No, it's definitely not the case. So you have a difference in terms, one of them to be called oxidized. So you oxidizing the fat. Okay, great. That's what means you're using it, using that oxygen to burn the fat as fuel. That's great. I'm oxidized. Does oxidizing imply that I am burning my own body fat or that's what I do to fat? I have. It actually doesn't matter whether you're using the dietary fat or your own endogenous fat. If you're using a high fatty meal and then you were go train right then, then your rate of fat oxidation would go up. But you've also increased fat intake. So yeah, you're burning more fat, but you ate more fat. Does the, does the fat have to make it out of the food into my bloodstream before I can burn it? It must. Yeah, yeah, of course. Okay. So I have eaten the fat. It's then not in the shape that I would recognize it from the animal. I'm assuming it's broken down and something triglycerides, free fatty acids, and then that crosses over and your blood can be free fatty acid floating around. Yep. So you ate it. You ate that wonderful, delicious fat, however it came and it was in the storage form because it was an animal stored form or a plant. Doesn't matter, right? It's going to get into your belly. Your belly isn't going to break down into the free fatty acids, put it in your bloodstream as the free fatty acids. It's the exact way that you take it from your storage and put it in your bloodstream as free fatty acids. Okay. That was, I was going to ask, I didn't want to interrupt, but if you took my blood, could you tell whether I was releasing fat into my bloodstream from stored fat or whether I had just eaten it? Is there any difference or it is identical once it hits the bloodstream? Well, we would be able to, depending on the marker you look at, if you're looking at somebody on markers, it'd be identical. We wouldn't be able to differentiate, but if we looked at other food particles stuff, you'd be like, oh, you just ate food. So it's kind of a cheat answer. So there are other things going on in the blood if I've just eaten, so you can presume. Totally. Got it. Yeah. But fundamentally, the fat itself is the same. If you want to give the, cause you could say the same method for blood glucose. I wouldn't know necessarily if we get your blood drawn. I wouldn't know if you just necessarily had, you know, some carbohydrate meal right before it, or if this is just your normal blood glucose, you wouldn't be able to, from that marker alone, if I just looked at blood glucose levels, I wouldn't be able to see. Okay. But I have, God, this is fascinating. I had never thought about this before, but what you're saying is, um, when I, cause there's only two ways for me to get glucose in my blood. If I understand this correctly, I eat and then the carbohydrate is broken down or I break down my own protein through gluconeogenesis. You're shaking your head for those listening. Okay. So how do I get glue? What are the ways that I can get glucose into my bloodstream? Certainly number one, you can eat it. Yep. Any form of carbohydrate, whether that's in the form of, so let me give you this real fast.

Glucose, glycogen, starch and more (02:13:41)

I'll try not to take a tangent. When you have glucose in your blood, we call it glucose or blood sugar. Okay. When we store that glucose, we call it glycogen. Okay. So the glucose is a six carbon molecule. If I stack a bunch of those six carbon molecules together and store them, then we call that glycogen. Yeah, sorry. I should have been more clear. Uh, so does it take a different form when I eat it and it gets stored in the muscle or is it literally? Because for instance, when you say I store glucose, I always think about it as being stored as fat. Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. So this is, let me, let me just hit with a little bit more chemistry here. So in your muscle, it is stored as glycogen and in your liver. Is that a different thing than glucose? It is the, it is the exact, um, like imagine if we made this like physical thing. So imagine you, can I say it's parked in the muscle? Because when I think of storage, I think of it transforming. No, no, no. Storage is not transformation. Storage is not transformation. All it is literally storage. If it was, let's imagine these as Legos. So you gave me one Lego block and there was, you know, six notches on that one Lego block. Each notch is a carbon. I have one Lego block and that Lego block has glucose floating around, right? And then you said, okay, store that, put that away, put your Legos away. And you took it in the next Lego and you attach it onto it. And the next Lego and test it onto it. You could call that entire structure, your Lego block. But each individual one is still its own block. It's just being stored more efficiently. So if your kid is putting away their Legos in their box and they just took all the Legos and dumped them in there, you wouldn't be maximizing the efficiency. If you store them and stack them on top of each other, exactly the way they're built, you could get way more in that same box area. Does that make sense? Yes. I'm still waiting for that's glycogen. It is saying, yo, rather than just dumping a bunch of Lego blocks in our space, let's stack it together perfectly. Each one is still its own individual unit, but it was all perfectly stacked together. So if you want to break out and open up your, your storage area and pull one Lego block out, you can, there's nothing different. That's only in the blood, liver or muscle only in the muscle and the liver. Okay. And the blood is just, it is only, it is never going to be packed together in the blood. It is only in that free forwarding. My bad. Yes. In nature though, we have another word. So if we take muscle glycogen, and if it's an animal, we call it muscle glycogen. If it's in our liver, we call it liver glycogen. It's in the blood. We call it glucose. In a plant though, we don't call it glycogen. We have a different term for it. You know that is carbohydrate starch. Oh, okay. Yep. Makes sense. That's what a starch is. So biologists, same thing in a plant, different name. Don't go nuts here, but I'm going to give you, I'm going to violate some stuff, but just as a framework here, we typically use what we call those shorter forms of carbohydrate. So monosaccharides is the first, glucose, fructose, galactose, things like that. You take polysaccharides, starch, glycogen, things like that, right? Stored forms. There's monosaccharides, polysaccharides, disaccharides, and all the way down. Okay. So transportation and immediate utilization is done in the monosaccharide form. So you're going to use fructose, glucose as fuel sources for the most part, plants and animals, right? You're going to use glycogen as a storage vehicle. That's the point. So in a plant, it'll say, "Yo, we're going to collect a bunch of sunlight and then we're going to breathe in carbon dioxide." The sunlight is where we get the energy from and we're going to collect the material. The food they're eating is the air. So they're breathing in CO2, breathing out O2. They're collecting their carbons through the air. We can't go through that process. That's called photosynthesis. So our only way to get carbon is to eat the plant who just took all the carbon out of the air and stored it. Or the animal that ate the plant. Or the animal. Yeah, right. We have to eat the thing that did it, right? So now it's going to bring in those carbons one at a time. It's going to stack them together and make the glucose molecule. Then that glucose molecule is going to be running around that plant and it's going to say, "Great. We brought in more carbon. We have enough to now store that current glucose that's floating around you." So go store that as a starch. They tend to go down, which means they're going to store it in the ground, which tend to be things like root vegetables. So a potato is a starch. Tubers are starches because they're putting all those glucose molecules together and they're burying it underground. If it wants to fruit then or flower, it's going to start breaking down that stored starch back into its monosaccharide, just like you take down your broken down storage or your storage in the liver glycogen and you need a little bit of it. You pull one Lego block out at a time, put it in your blood. It pulls one Lego block out at a time of its starch, puts it in the plant, sends it back up the tree, goes all the way up to the branches and gets in the flower or the fruit in the form of a monosaccharide, which is why most of your fruits are actually fructose and glucose. That's the carbon cycle, right? If the plant wants to store it, it puts it in the root. That's why most root vegetables are starches. If it wants to put it in a more immediate access use, it turns it back into a monosaccharide. That's why if you eat a banana or an apple that's not ripe yet, it tastes terrible because it is mostly still starchy. It tastes sweeter when it is converted those starches into fructose and is now a sweeter flavored monosaccharide. Okay, hold on. This is so interesting. So I get the root thing, that's their storage mechanism for energy. The fruit will, and so they will use the energy stored in the root occasionally. Will they reuse the energy that they store in the fruit? I always thought that- No, because the fruit's gone. So it gets even more fun. So it isn't then fruit, because you said they store it in the fruit if it's available for immediate energy. I assume the fruit is a way for them to pass their seeds. There you go. Okay. So the root is we're exiting, we're letting that thing go. But when it's a root, they are storing it for its own flowering purposes. To make more fruit. Yeah. Exactly. And on the way up the chain, by the way- So same idea. Wow. Very interesting. It goes from a polysaccharide to a monosaccharide at the end, right? But on the way up, it goes to a disaccharide. And in some particular plants, you can stick a needle halfway through them and you can collect that and we call that syrup. So that's why those are- That's so interesting. Right? This is why you're like, why the hell do some trees make this unbelievably sweet little thing that we can get out of it? Not all plants do all this, it's different. But you're getting the point here, right? So polysaccharide in the bottom stored, convert it into disaccharides, move it up the tree, get it all the way to the end, convert that into monosaccharides, make that a sweet, delicious tasting thing that then other animals will come eat to spread our seeds, put it in their digestive tract, excrete it later throughout the forest, and get our seeds out there, right? Fascinating. We do the same thing. We say store our starch, our glycogen in our liver and our muscle. Keep the optimal amount in blood so that we can power brain activity and transport it back and forth where we want. Don't go too high, don't go too low, right? You need more? Great. We're just going to kick it either out of muscle in the blood or out of the liver and in the blood. The way that you keep your blood sugar optimized is muscle and the liver constantly sort of dripping out glycogen or you eating your own food source to put it back in there. So those are the three ways that you can keep your blood sugar elevated or more consistent. So this is why, again, we say the more high functioning skeletal muscle you have, the little bit better blood glucose control you have is because it's that storage depot that can say give or take. You have some extra? Give it to me? Great, we'll take it. You need some extra? We can technically give it back. The liver is probably doing most of the giving rather than muscle. Muscle's probably doing most of the taking, but that's really where we're at. Now when it comes to fat, this is the backup supply. Okay, sorry, before you do that, I need to understand when glucose becomes fat because if I overeat glucose, it is going to become fat and it's my understanding, perhaps erroneous, but it's my understanding that the way that the body pulls the glucose out of my bloodstream, so preferentially the muscle will grab it if it needs it, brain will grab it if it needs it, liver will grab it if it needs it, but if none of them need it and it's in the blood, the blood's like, or the body knows I got to get this out of the bloodstream and it's going to store it as fat.

Can high glucose deposits alone cause obesity? (02:22:03)


Lipogenesis (02:22:32)

Not really. Really? What the hell? My whole world is clumbering. It's all been a lie, Andy. What are you talking about? So that process you're describing is called de novo lipogenesis. So this is the formation of new fat out of nonfat sources. Conversion from carbohydrate, despite the fact that they're big long carbon chains, it's not efficient. It's not as efficient as it needs to be. You're talking in the order of five to 10% is what's going to happen there. What's going to mostly happen is partitioning. Here's what that means. If you were to be in that exact scenario, we have excess blood glucose, you could convert some of that to fat and store it. Hard to do though, right? What's easier to do is just change the amount of fat that you're burning and shift your metabolic energy demands more towards carbohydrate and lower on fat. So think about that now. If you say, look, making up a scenario, at rest, you're burning half of your energy from fat. Half of it's coming from carbohydrate. Now you have too much carbohydrate. I say, yo, yo, yo, we have excess carbohydrate. It's a pain in the ass to store it. It's full pain in the ass to convert it into new fat. Just burn more carbohydrates and start burning less fat. So shift my bias towards more carb burning. And there's really that much flex in the system that way easier than converting an entire molecule.

Monophasic Carbohydrate (02:23:57)

I live off of 5,000 calories of pixie sticks. There's no fat, but I thought that person would get fat. That person will get fat. But how? They're shutting down fat burning. They're not necessarily adding- That's what I mean. So there is that much flex in the system. There's so much going on that if I just start cramming my- wait. But okay, so if they stop burning fat, fair enough. But if they're only intaking sugar, there is no- okay, so everything makes a prediction. Now, if I understand what you're saying correctly, which I may very well not, but if I understand what you're saying correctly, the person that eats only pixie sticks, they are- are they going to get fat? Yes. How are they going to get fat? They stop burning fat, but they're not intaking anything other than glucose. Sure, but they're not getting rid of anything else. So their fat reduction is going nowhere. They have no fat burning. There is some de novo lipogenesis. You can do that process. Do they start sweating at some point? At some point, something has to give. Do they just die? Because you've talked about this. The body will regulate the life out of blood sugar. It can't have the blood sugar. It's toxic. It does not harm that. I don't know what word to use, but it will gum up, literally gum up your system. The blood cells start sticking together. It's inflammatory at that high of a level. It's not good. For sure. So man, I always thought that you pulled the glucose out of the bloodstream and put it into fat. Wow. Again, that can happen, right? But it's very hard, super inefficient. We're probably not going to survive doing that. Yep. So the best way is to simply flex up and down as you called it. Where are we getting our fuel sources from? But how are they going to keep getting fat? Well, they're going to continue to add to that mass, right? So any extra calorie is going to go somewhere. And so if you're really going to that extreme where literally fat intake is sort of zero, right? Every amount of energy they're expelling is coming directly from that carbohydrate, right? Yes. That's all coming in. Any extra small amount of lipogenesis that can occur is just going to add to that total sum. So even if that is a small amount, if you're literally taking this to the reduction of absurdum here and that is zero, zero fat burning, a small amount of de novo lipogenesis is going to result in a lot of fat gain over enough time. Wow. But it really does have to go like that. Now I'm not aware of any studies that have taken it to like an incredible extreme like that. So perhaps when you get to certain levels, that percentage increases from like five or 10%. But in most normal circumstances, people aren't that extreme. Yeah, no. Look, I get that and I understand that this is very much just a thought exercise, but it's helping me map the realities of the biology. Yeah.

Balancing Diet And Exercise

Low Fat, High Fat, High Carb, Low Carb (02:27:10)

It goes the other direction too. By the way, if you were to go on a very low carbohydrate diet and go on a very high fat diet, that doesn't mean you store extra fat, right? Because the opposite equation will be like, wait a minute. Like we tried that game 40 years ago, right? I think that wall's over. Burning more fat again of calories are balanced does not result in additional fat mass gain for the exact same reason. What you're just simply burning fat, you switch over. And this is also why some of the marketing behind that side of the equation is confusing, give it the most charitable term because I can be burning more fat, but that doesn't mean I'm losing more fat. All I've done is I've shifted my metabolic balance from carbohydrate oxidation to fat oxidation. Great. But it doesn't mean necessarily you're going to lose more fat. Doesn't mean necessarily anything else about performance either. Folks can perform at a very high level physically, even on a moderate amount of carbohydrates or low amount of carbohydrates if their calories are high enough. So you won't necessarily even lose performance by going on a small to low amount of carbohydrates, depending on the exact sport. Some sports there may be more influence, but just because you're not eating enough carbs doesn't mean your brain won't function, right? Things like that. I'll eat carbs for, you know, or I'll have no blood glucose. That's not true either, right? So we've seen this equation play out on both sides. You have the flexibility, but it wouldn't work only one way, right? So it wouldn't work just high fat or just high carbohydrates. If it's true on one side, it's going to be true in the reciprocal as well.

Dietary fat. (02:28:50)

Would it not be easier to get fat eating fat because at least I know that can be stored as fat. So even if I'm in burn mode, if I'm in, okay, I'm intaking way too many carbohydrates, so I'm just eating pixie sticks. Again, I get that that's an absurd thought experiment, but if I'm just eating pixie sticks and I'm not intaking fat, very little fat will be created from the carbohydrate itself, from the glucose, but some will. Okay, that stacks up. But other than that, like I'm just burning. So it just becomes that every little bit adds to my body. Still feels like something is going to break down there if you overeat, but setting that aside on the fat side, if I am, I'm only intaking fat, so now I switch over and my body's like, okay, I'm just going to burn this because it's all I'm getting. But I assume that there is an easy path from dietary fat to stored fat. Is that not true? Is there an easier path from dietary fat to stored fat? Yeah, it's a direct route there, but it's still not going to matter if total caloric expenditure is balanced. Yeah, no, that I understand. So what I'm holding in my head is a morbidly obese person and I would have predicted that that morbidly obese person is closer and closer to eating pure pixie sticks. But what I hear you saying is actually that's probably not true. What they're doing is they're obviously over consuming calories, but the calorie that they're having the easier time storing is fat. And so what's going on for them, I think is what your hypothesis predicts or your theory, because I'm sure it's well tested, predicts is that they are eating so much carbohydrate that their body switches over to just burning carbohydrate. So every bit of fat that they get, and they're probably getting a lot is stored as fat. Cool. That sequence makes sense to me. The sequence that now I'm having a bit of a hard time wrapping my mind around is they're not eating carbohydrates. The body starts burning fat, but they're still over consuming calorically. And so it seems like it would be easy to shuttle the excess fat into fat cells. No. Yeah. So if you want to look at folks who are excessively fat, okay, you'll see actually problems on the carbohydrate side of the equation. You'll see problems on fat equation. If you look at a standard American diet, they're going to be very hyperchloric on both of those. And what typically happens when we do this in my nutrition class, I've been doing this for 12 years where I have all the folks track their nutrition. What is obnoxiously clear, it's very rare, very rare for any of my college students to ever hit even close to the minimum RDA recommendations for protein intake. Never even come close to it. It could be one or two people per 40 person class that even hits the minimum RDA numbers, which I think are way too low. They're eating way too much of fat and carbohydrate. That's the issue here. So could you find folks who are eating too much fat? Yes. That's easy to come by, right? If you are looking at any of the accessible food things, they tend to be very, very high in fat, right? So fast food, any of these things. They're even more accessible. You go to any vending machine, it's going to be mostly carbohydrate based things, right? You're not going to find any protein there. Maybe they have some high quality protein bars, but that's the best you're going to hope for, right? And so you have accessibility problems on both side of that equation. It would be, I think you're responsible to blame it, which is not what you did, but just to clarify, to blame it on either one of those as the primary cause for excess calorie intake. So if their carbohydrates are in check and they're eating more fat, going to be a problem. If their fat is in check and they're eating too much carb, going to be a problem. You're going to find people across our 350 million Americans that are violating that in the droves across all of that spectrum. So I don't know, like I'm not sure what the, I guess I'll say this is kind of why I'm generally like, I'll just say laissez faire again. Cause I'm like, if you're eating too much, I don't really like for 350 million of you, there's a hundred of you doing it this way. A hundred of you doing it that way, a hundred million, you're both doing it wrong. They've got big problems on both sides of the equation. If you want a solution, okay, great. Now we're talking tactics. We know where we have to get to. I think it's generally best to flag yourself against protein for all the reasons we talked about. And then whatever other system helps you personally, there will be hundreds of millions of people who function better on this system or that system or anything else because there's so many of us. And now it's coming down to things like practicality, execution, adherence. And if you want to make arguments that some systems are more or less effective than others, great, we can do that. But fundamentally like at this level of physiology, it's not super important at the global scale, if that makes sense. It does because they're all making a fundamental mistake. But from my own understanding of biology, I have another question, which is who's going to get fatter? The person that, and let's assume calories are the same in either scenario, the person that eats all carbohydrate and the person that eats all fat, who's going to get fatter? If they're both eating 10,000 calories a day, let's say, and they're sedentary.

Who's going to get fatter? (02:34:33)

If you're to lock in calories and you're locking in protein, I would say you're going to have very minimal differences between the two groups. Interesting. And we have evidence on that. Understand. Yeah, because again, if you look at whether you want to pull these randomized control trials where they take people through this and they put them on very high carb or very low, they get to the same place. Okay, so the mechanism by which the glucose over consuming person gets fat is that the little bit of lipogallosis, I forget what you call that, the turning glucose into fat that what is it called again? Denovo lipogenesis. Okay, I'm never going to remember that. Lipol like lipolysis, like lipid, genesis is making of creation. It's creation of fat. If it was lipogenesis, I could get behind it, but you throw another word in there. Denovo. Denovo. New, of new. So you're making new fat. Got it. Yeah. Okay. So that just seems like it would be a much slower process, but you're saying no, I'm gonna let go of this. Well, I don't know. I think this is pretty fun stuff to talk about personally.

Muscle vs. Fat Synthesis. (02:35:49)

To hell with them. They don't like it. I just can't wrap my head around how that isn't. It depends on what you mean by time, right? So are we looking at this end of a 16 week trial or six month trial or a six year trial? Yeah. We're six years down the road, like is a little bit of speed difference. It's not going to matter, right? Really? Yeah. It's just like, that's fast enough. If you want to look at like a six week change, you might pick something up. Six day change for sure. But what you're talking about generally is years of work here. And so by that point, subtle differences in speed are going to be equated for. Very, very interesting. Okay. So I legitimately feel like my understanding of fat just leapt forward. Give me the same breakdown now on muscle. So unlike fat, which does not require a stressor to force my body to, well, you're going to say with adding muscle, it's unique. And then I have to go work my ass off in the gym. I am never going to, I can't just eat a bunch of protein and add a bunch of muscle. I wish. Not true. Really? What? Totally not true. So Arnold Schwarzenegger could get to his size just by cramming chicken breast. No, no, no, no, no. I didn't say maximize. I didn't say optimize. You said you can't add muscle by just eating protein. So if I just bite my protein. 100%. Really? 100%. How much? Give me a percentage. 2%? 15%. You mean change the total muscle mass? Yes. Well, it would be an asymptote. So whether you know what that means, meaning the first minute you do it, it's going to be much higher. By day five, that'll be lower. By month five. Wildly diminishing returns. Total. Well, yeah, of course. That's what asymptote means? Asymptote is a line that goes sharper and more vertical as you get closer to the end. I like how somebody else is. Over time is how they summed it up. Yeah. Okay. Anyway, got it. Yep. Diminishing returns is another way that's an asymptote, right? Understood. So this is classic data from probably the mid 1990s looking at protein synthesis. And what you'll see is some cool things. If you simply do a bout of resistance, okay, we'll back up. At all times, you are actually going through protein synthesis. So you're making new proteins right now. You're also going through protein degradation. So anabolic is when the net result, the protein balance, is positive. Catabolic is when the protein balance is net negative, right? So right now I could biopsy you. You would be going through some protein synthesis and you would be going through some protein breakdown. At rest though, most likely you're going through more breakdown than you are synthesis. So your protein balance is probably net negative, which means you are technically catabolic right now. If it was the opposite, you'd be anabolic. Okay, great. So one of the things that happens is when you go through a bout of exercise, strength training, you go from a net balance of negative to a net balance of positive. Now it's not much, but it is technically positive. The exact same thing happens by just eating protein. That is enough alone. Eating a bolus of protein right now would take you from a net negative to a net positive in this next few minutes to hours without question. If you then do a bout of exercise and eat the protein, the effects are additive. So you take the exact amount of benefit you got from protein, the exact amount of benefit they stack on top of each other, and you get a double bump there. If you add in carbohydrates to that meal, it is another additive effect. So you get up there, right? Now that's acute. That is like literally right now we go do it. We biopsy you. You go do that intervention, and I biopsy you after that. The protein synthesis process is not necessarily 100% predictive of net muscle gain eventually. Science is not perfect. So just because I can measure the rate of incorporation of new amino acids in you, that's not the exact same number. So you asked for a percentage number. If I told you it increased protein synthesis by 25%, that would not mean you gained muscle 25%. It is a small number, and there is no actual good relationship between that protein synthesis number and the resulting amount of whole muscle you'll have eight weeks later. There's no number to give on that one. It wouldn't equate. In fact, the protein synthesis numbers are going to be greatly exaggerated. I'm going to go so far off track here, but it's your job to pull me back in a second. This is a really good another. This is a PSA. It's my turn to give a PSA. When you start going into molecular biology, folks, those numbers do not translate into whole human existence. And what I mean is if you go to protein synthesis, I just gave you the example, a 25% increase in protein synthesis may result in a 3% increase in muscle growth eight weeks later. You go back up the chain and you would go to cell signaling. If I was measuring the gene expression and I saw a 20% increase in gene expression, I would say that basically nothing happened. Some molecules need to go up three or four hundred percent before it's actually physiologically relevant. You can see a paper. Somebody can post something or share something and tell you, "Oh, this mechanism, this gene, this signaling activity increased by 80%." And that can be total bullshit. The science can be great, but it could mean absolutely nothing because we know that that actual marker needs to be up 300% before it's clinically meaningful. And so this is why when we say things like be very careful of mechanism and don't let mechanism be more important than whole outcomes, if we have a whole outcomes. If we don't have whole outcomes, meaning how much stronger do they actually get? How much longer do they actually live? How much more muscle when we measure the actual muscle mass? Those are always more important than molecular mechanism. If we don't have those, we can look towards mechanism. That's great. That's insightful. If I'm creating a drug, fine, look towards mechanism. I don't have whole body data, but don't let people trick you with these molecular numbers because they don't scale to human existence if that whole little tangent sort of makes sense. It does. It makes a lot of sense.

Can You Gain Muscle Without Lifting Weight? (02:42:04)

The finish line is, and I'm going to have a hard time eating my way there. It does at a cellular level. It really does have a response, but I'm still going to have to go get the additive benefit of actually lifting. You don't have to. What do you mean by that? Think about a sumo wrestler. You think they have more or less or the same amount of muscle mass as you and I. I think they have a lot more, but I don't think they would ever get that just from eating. I think they have to train. It may not be with weights. Sumo wrestlers are not really traditionally lifting weights. They're fighting. They're in there doing their thing. I'll give you a better example. Pick the random person on the street that weighs 300 pounds. More or less muscle than you and I. More. No doubt. Not doing a single thing of exercise. They're carrying all that fat. They're walking, right? You get a little bit of their, but mostly they're sedentary. Is the amount of walking ... You spent 20 minutes trying to convince me you have to train your ass off to lift muscle. Now you're also making the argument that just walking around ... Damn you, Andy Kelpin. It's not stacking up, right? It's really interesting, man. It's both, right? You're correct. You walk around with a 150-pound backpack on, that's going to stimulate some muscle growth eventually, right? But you're saying that their muscle mass is more attributable to just the massive amount of calories. I'm not saying this is really more. Protein? It has to be protein. Protein. It has to be some part.

How important is actual strength (02:43:31)

Uh-huh. It has some part. Actually, can I- Have people looked at this? Are there numbers to give on this? In terms of what number? The amount of muscle that an obese person adds. Okay. All right. So check this out. I'm trying to decide how much I can tell you on this one or not because we have a- Because this is like secret? Is this like aliens? What are we talking about here? No, this is science. You're not supposed to talk about results while they're in review. It's that thing. I was going to say you're not supposed to talk about results. The first rule of science, you don't talk about science. Yeah. Got it. Here's what I can say. Okay. Understood. So my colleagues and I have- I'm sorry. I'm just going to apologize to my co-authors right now. It's impact theory. I'm going to have to go above and beyond, right? So if you look at the national databases, so whether there's a thing called the UK Biobank, there's one here in America called NHANES, and these are these national databases. These are 10 to 20, 30 year studies where they collect people every single year and they put them in and they make these data openly available. And if you look at things like that, you will see that muscle mass has kind of an inverted U regarding mortality risk, such that if you are under muscled and you add muscle mass, your mortality risk goes down. And then if you add too much muscle, it is detrimental. That does not stack up to me at all. It doesn't make any sense, right? There's just no way adding muscle mass is deleterious outside of very rare bodybuilders and things like that. But these are not the folks in these national databases, right? These are Mayo Clinic folks and things like that. And so my colleague Tommy Wood and I and Dan Garner and some other guys dove in and said, "I don't know if that's just true." So we ran some modeling against these things and one of our papers is in review right now. And one of the things that we found was if you look at the association between strength and muscle mass in these databases, you will basically see none. You will also see that these folks have almost no connection between their muscle mass and their physical activity, meaning the folks in these groups added their muscle mass, not through physical activity, which says they added it somewhere else, food. By being larger, you tended to have more muscle, which made you at a higher risk of dying. It had nothing to do with the muscle mass. We did though see a direct association between the strength training and brain health, which is the first finding really ever to find a direct causal link between strength training and brain health, not mental health, physical brain health. In addition, what's called the strength residual.

Protein Intake And Injury Management

How much protein is too much (02:46:17)

And so if I take your muscle mass and I look at how strong you should be just based on your muscle mass, again, the big database stuff, and then I actually measure your muscle mass. The residual is the difference between your predicted strength of that given muscle mass and your actual strength. The farther you are off that line, then the higher your risk of death becomes. So there's a standard for the amount of strength you would expect with muscle mass. And are you saying that people that gain their muscle mass through just massive caloric intake, they get the mass, but they don't get the strength and that... So these people are not, the way that we phrase it scientifically is they're not accruing their muscle mass from training. That's what's happening. They know how they're doing it, but there's not a lot of options left. So that going back to your initial question, I don't know what number that is. I don't know what protein these folks... Like we could go back and I guess probably we run that pretty quickly. But the point is if you eat more and even if you don't exercise at all, you're going to add some muscle. It's going to be there. Now, are you adding all lean muscle? No, no, no, no, no. Are you adding some muscle though? Yeah. Are you mostly fat? Yes. This is not a good way. A similar note, if you're trying to gain muscle and you want to gain lean muscle, which means you want to gain as much muscle as you can with the least amount of fat gain, what you don't want to do is eat excessive calories. And so the typical number we'll say is like maybe 10 to 20% calorie increase. Don't do the whole thing of like, "Oh, my standard calories are 2,000 a day, but I'm trying to bulk up, so I'm going to eat 6,000 calories." Great. If you're willing to have a whole bunch of fat come along for the ride, go for it. If you want to add as much lean muscle, you're probably looking at a 500 calorie increase, maybe making sure protein is super high, training that height. That's probably going to put you... Now, there's actually a couple of studies that are being run right now trying to figure out what that exact percentage is, but those data are not out yet. But it's probably something in that neighborhood of 20 or so percent caloric increase rather than what some folks will do, which is actually like a doubling or even tripling of their calories. So all that to come back to the original point of, yeah, just eating protein probably does add to a lot of muscle growth. It's also adding protein alone is not going to bring a lot of fat along for the ride either. So it's a pretty easy way to go about it. One gram per pound of body weight is a starting place. You would have no issue going way higher than that though. So I would typically say if you are a hard gainer, one of my first stops would be we're going way up in protein. I'm going to do some other stuff timing-wise, nutrition, and just other things training-wise course, but going way up in protein is... There's a very low risk potential for reward. From a protein perspective, does animal versus plant protein matter at all? Yes, everything matters. Where it starts to matter is when you are below or not as sufficient. Where it matters the most is when you're below or not as sufficient protein intake. When you're at that one gram per pound or higher, those things start to matter a lot less. In fact, a study came out very recently in the last few months directly comparing this. Once you hit that number, they saw virtually no difference in amount of muscle gained over the animal versus plant protein, which is to say you have options. If you are like my students and you're eating 60 grams of protein a day, 80 grams of protein a day, the protein quality and the protein type starts to matter a lot more. My general recommendation is if you want to be very diligent and pay attention to your food intake and really plan things out, then a plant-based approach can be fine. If you want to just not worry about it though, just eat a ton of plant-based protein and you're going to be fine, most likely, as much as we can tell, if that's the strategy you're trying to take is plant-based. Man, so fascinating. Okay, talk to me now about I want to be optimal. I want to add like real quality muscle. I want to get strong. We talked earlier about some of the protocols in terms of 20 to 25 sets per muscle group per week. That'll make sense.

Diet (02:50:44)

Give me a little bit more information about the protocol, especially as it relates to diet. Yep, great. So setting that protein as a minimum number there, probably even going higher. On that again, so I eat a lot of eggs, egg whites, whole eggs only, chicken breast. Like if I'm open to animal protein, so assume I'm not trying to do, if plant is better for adding muscle, definitely let me know, but I'll eat whatever source of protein you tell me I should, whey protein, casein, whatever, I'll do it. But what's that optimal like thing? Sure. We actually ran that study though, egg white versus whole eggs. I've ran through that thing. In general, many similar findings. This was only one study, by the way. We'll probably need this to be repeated with different circumstances. There's just very limited things you can ever glean from one paper, but in that particular case, the whole eggs outperformed the egg whites. Interesting. Even though I'm going to intake a lot more calories per gram of protein because of the fat. Yeah, but you also now have a lot of the nutrients coming along for the ride. You also have fat soluble vitamins that are needed and you're having the fat. Just more calories. You're trying to go up in scale. If you wanted to go egg white only, that's fine. It could totally be done, but I don't worry about that too much. If you want to do a thing where you have a handful of whole eggs and then add some egg white to that, just to increase there while keeping calories under control, that's a strategy as well. I typically am just mostly a whole egg sort of person. Then I will keep my fat a little bit lower in other places so that my protein can stay high to not go to, again, too excessively high in calories. What you're going to want to do is to set that protein marker as set number one. Then you need to make sure that your micronutrients are under control. If we have any blood work to go off, we're going to get all that stuff dialed in, whether that is from whole foods and/or supplementation stuff, ideally mostly from whole foods. That's the target. Let physiology do what it does. What do you think about protein powders? Totally fine with them. Love them. Absolutely love whey. It tends to be very digestible. It is very practical. It is very transportable, so we can use it on the road when we have other limitations and things like that. It tends to make it easier for people to hit their protein targets. It's very, very effective for muscle growth. It's also not required. If you hate it, you don't have to use it at all. We will use it pretty often unless somebody requests not to for all those practical reasons. It is no more magical outside of the fact that it's very easily digested and absorbable, but whole foods can get you there as well, no problem. If your total protein intake throughout the day is equivalent, then your protein timing doesn't matter that much. It doesn't matter that you have your protein immediately post-workout or things like that. As long as by the end of the 24-hour period you get to the same total amount of protein, you're good. That's when I say it's easily digestible, fast absorbing, things like that, great. If you don't like it or have some reason why you don't want to use it, no problem. We can get there through whole foods just as easy, or the inverse. If you're just like, "Yo, I love it. It's great." I certainly have seen people that are five to six servings a day of that easily. You can get there. I don't think you necessarily need to, but we also deal with some professional athletes that are 300 pounds. The numbers are a little bit different for them, but that's even for moderate people, 185-pound, 200-pound sort of folks. I just see it as a viable option. We consider it to be powdered food basically, and nothing really more than that. Really effective. Protein and total calories there. Micronutrients getting where it needs to be for your unique physiology as we were to go. We need to have enough carbohydrate to support training, and then to support and maximize recovery because if we're going to be training harder, we want to not just do the bare minimum, we want to maximize recovery. What you're looking at there in terms of numbers, probably something in the ballpark of three to six grams per kilogram of body weight, roughly. That would be a carbohydrate number. If you weigh 180 pounds, you're probably looking at the neighborhood of 350 grams carbohydrates a day, plus or minus, something like that. If you're training really, really hard, some of our competitive UFC fighters, we're training multiple times a day. Six, 700 calories or 600 grams of carbohydrate a day is totally normal. Just because the amount of high intensity workout that they're doing. We also have folks- Do you have the keto athletes? I don't think we have any at the current moment. Because it's not very effective? I can't ever remember a circumstance where I told somebody who's not on a ketogenic diet that they needed to go on one. And we certainly had plenty that came in and said, "This is what I want to do, help me do it better." Which we have no problem. I'm not going to talk them out of that. That's what they want to do. But I have not ever seen that. And I can't honestly envision myself ever taking an athlete and saying, "You need to go on a ketogenic diet." Because the rate at which you can liberate fat and spark it is slow. Well, even just from a performance perspective, there's no evidence whatsoever that it is performance enhancing. So now I'm changing your diet. Time for endurance. No, I've never seen data support that. If somebody said that they feel like they perform or had data, I believe them. But physiology is physiology. We don't also work with endurance, like ultra endurance runners or anything like that. Just candidly, we don't... Not that I wouldn't, I just haven't had a lot of those come across our desk. Probably a handful, maybe. In that case, I would think about it more seriously. But for the sports we typically work in, the NHL, the NFL, Major League Baseball, things like that, it's not going to be a great fit for those folks. Unless they, again, came in really hell-bent on doing it, we'd help them get better. But I'm not going to change... It's a very hard thing to change to. There's going to be an adaptive phase. I'm going to miss six weeks, six months of high quality training to just get them right back to the same performance. It doesn't make any sense to do that. For non-athletes though, boy, there's a ton of potential sense to do that if that's an easier system for you. On the carbohydrate thing as well, we also have people that do very well on much lower amount of carbohydrates, 200 grams, 150. I personally, I don't see any drop in performance with my own training and in my own ability to add muscle mass, even at like 100 grams a day. I'm totally fine there. I don't feel any drop in performance. I'm not obviously training as hard or as much as our pro athletes are, but I have no issue putting on muscle at that low of a number. It can be anywhere up and down. Then basically, you fill in fat behind all those things. Once you set protein, once you set carbohydrates, you can fill in fat. You do want to make sure you don't go too low. That can be a problem. If you're getting that area of concern, we'll step in for sure. Being too low will be problematic. Being too high is only really an issue of just gaining weight too fast, but there's really no harm to having extra fat. There's lots of many important benefits of having fat in the diet for muscle growth. For sure. Have you seen people on a high carb diet, regardless of exertion, have inflammatory issues? Define high.

High Carb Diets (02:58:40)

North of 300 grams. Not necessarily. In general, I wouldn't say that. If you're looking at more of like, if you're north of five to seven grams per kilogram body weight and you don't have any physical activity, then there I would be much more likely to see an association with that. That is also to say, I don't think many people have reason to be that high. They're not training very hard. Whether or not it's causing additional inflammation or not, it's certainly not necessarily needed. I would not, even for our folks in our executive program that they don't exercise much, I'm not putting them at 600 grams of carbohydrate. If they are, I'm probably trying to talk them out of that. Even if their inflammatory markers look fine, I'm probably pulling them down on that pretty good. Why would you want to pull them down? What's the knock-on effect you're worried about? It is very easy to over-consume carbohydrates because of availability. My concern would be in that direction. We're also going to be checking for other markers of dysfunction. If they're totally fine, as I said earlier, we don't coach labs. We coach people. If they feel great, if their performance is great, and by performance I mean their physical performance, their cognition, their focus, their energy, their ambition, all that is exact, their sex drive is all where they want it to be and they feel amazing, and they're at 600 grams of carbs a day, totally fine. I have no issue with that. If they don't feel great though or have something going on and the other things we tried aren't working then I might say, "All right, let's pull the carbohydrates down a little bit." You don't have that energy demand, so why be there? Lastly, if they're at that number and they're not hyper caloric, that probably means something else is very, very, very, very low. That would be more my concern. Not that the carbohydrates are evil, but the fact that it's taking the place of something, either fat is way too low or hopefully not protein. Makes sense.

Weightlifting and brain health. (03:00:48)

Earlier you mentioned that weightlifting was good for brain health. Why? I could spit out to you some different mechanisms, but why it's actually mechanistically improving brain health, I don't necessarily know. Very intriguing. Okay.

Steps to take when you are injured. (03:01:05)

I have to ask this question. The thing that has held me back in developing my own physique, nothing has slowed me down more than injuries. I know it's going to be impossible for you to diagnose, but when you see people that have routine injuries, what is your go-to checklist for figuring out what's causing the problem? Number one, you want to start actually Occam's razor here. If your shoulder hurts, you're probably doing something with your shoulder that it doesn't want to do. Right? Now, what is that case? Look, I would love to tell you, "Well, there's this secret hidden stressor in your immune system." The reality is you're probably doing some shit with your shoulder that it doesn't like. That's going to solve the overwhelming majority of people's problems. Now we have a quest. Now we're going on a little game going, "Okay, why?" Now is the pain localized? Is it there? Is the injury in the same spot of the pain? Yes or no? Okay, we're going to find that out. What's causing the pain? Just like earlier in our practice, we don't resolve symptoms. I don't really go after symptoms. We go after, if we can, what's causing the symptoms. Sometimes you have to remove symptoms to allow you to then work backwards, so no problem. The reality of it is I'm not just going to say, "Put an injection in there." Not that I can again. I'm not a medical doctor. What I wouldn't advise is just resolving the pain. Don't just take Advil, blah, blah, blah. If you need to right now because you can't work, you can't sleep, cool, no problem, but that's not your long-term solution. You're just masking the pain. We need to work backwards and figure out why is the pain there. Is it actually there in the thing? Let's just say your shoulder. Or is it actually an injury you had to your neck? Is it an injury you had to your foot? What happened that caused some sort of altering of positioning or movement or stress load that then resulted in a net chain up into your shoulder? That's almost certainly the cause of dysfunction. It typically is an acute injury or something like that that leads to some sort of compensation. It's a compensation pattern that then results in wear and tear somewhere else. It's four tires on a car. If you have 80% of your weight in the back left one, it just wears down. The problem is not the tire. You can keep replacing the tire all you want, but until you figure out the car is off balance, you're going to keep wearing something down there. Then the left tire blows, so you put another one on, and then that one hurts. Then you put more stress on the front left, and that one, you get it. You just keep running the circles. We would need to step back and look and say, "Okay, what is the actual pain? Is it soft tissue? Is it joint? Is it muscle? Is it a sharp pain? Is something damaged in there, or is it actually movement-based? Is it only happening when you're doing a certain activity, or is it all day long?" This is a whole evaluation you would go through, much like a physical therapist would take you through to figure out what's causing it. From there, once we can identify what we think is actually the core problem, then we go on a mission to actually solve that. With things like, "Hey, my shoulder just started aching," it tends to be a pattern, a groove pattern. What I mean by that is this. There can be an injury there. There can also be an injury that's long gone, but pain is sensory. That can be a learned signal. What we need to do is desensitize the signal and teach the brain, "We're not in pain. Not protecting." That's all you're doing. The brain signal is telling you, "You're in pain. Protect," because it thinks something's injured. Sometimes even when the injury is gone, it continues to send that signal. Not typically the case in the shoulder, though it could be. That is very common in things like the low back, like low back pain, low back pain. Despite nothing being wrong, it is a learned signal that you need to desensitize. You see a lot of the chronic pain going away for forever. One, if they aren't in a bad position, but the other one would be again the pain signaling one. If the shoulder, there was no acute injury there, you said, right? It was just more of like a – No. I've had trap problems. That's been my chronic thing. This is the first time I'm having a problem with my shoulder. Historically, it's been my traps, specifically my left trap. Okay. Left trap. Right shoulder. Right shoulder. For sure. That's how it goes, right? Then we would walk backwards to figure out what's the dysfunction in the left trap. Why is that happening? Is it simply motor control? Okay, great. Then we fix that and that problem is there. Is it actually something else going on? Is the left trap dysfunctional because actually it's the lower trap that's off? Is it maybe the rhomboid or infraspinatus? Is something else happening there that's pulling the – and you feel the pain in your left trap and you're getting that work done and massaged and rolled out, but the dysfunction is actually happening in the shoulder girdle. That's the problem, right? I'll give you an example. One of the professional athletes I worked with, Tatiana Suarez, UFC fighter, undefeated, neck pain, neck pain, neck pain, right? When we started having all kinds of back problems, because she actually had an acute injury to the neck, the shoulder blades are being protective, so they are pulled way down and tight. So she's constantly right here, which is straining the neck, which is straining low back, right? So having to work back through the chain, starting with the low back, resolving that pain to let the traps or the shoulder blades relax a little bit to let the traps relax a little bit to let the neck finally go through a two-link process, right? So you have to kind of come backwards and figure out, is there a starting place that I can get to? My guess is with your left trap, it would be – like probably wasn't something injured in there, but you probably had some sort of, again, what we'll globally call dysfunction. This could be weakness. It could be a firing sequence. It just could be neural activation, not on at the right time. Lastly, it could be a compensatory pattern because of some activity. So every time you go to lift weights or do something like that, something else is pulling in the wrong direction. With the shoulder specifically also, the very last thing we would evaluate is sleep. So the sleeping position you're in, obviously, if you're a side sleeper and you're rolling in that position, not necessarily bad, but the mattress may not be fitting perfectly for your shoulder, and that may be contributing to it as well. So lots of things we could tinker around with there.

Conclusion And Further Contact

Follow Andy for more. (03:07:12)

Brother, this has been so fascinating. Where can people follow you and learn more? Sure. My social media, Twitter and Instagram, Dr. Andy Galpin, those are pretty much exclusively science communication. So I don't do anything else on that, but if you like to hear about science and this kind of science, that's what I use those for. And then any links to any of the companies that I have, our sleep company, Abs At Rest, or Rapid Health and Performance and all that stuff, you can Google it. Or I think it's all on my personal website, AndyGalpin.com, but it's not really what I do with my time mostly. So it's probably all there if you Google it. I love it. All right, everybody, if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. Peace. Click here to learn the daily hacks you need to melt away fat and build muscle. For lack of a better term, self hate, I want to change who I am, but it's kind of this negative motivating factor, which you have to move out of into a self love state of mind.

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