He sat at the next table choking down grilled chicken breasts. That wouldn’t be unusual were it not 7:00 AM, breakfast time. He explained to the skinny waiter that the key to building muscle was protein, protein, protein. Mike, the heavily muscled personal trainer who hadn’t learned not to speak with his mouth full seemed to be enjoying the chicken as much as I’d enjoy eating the placemat.
While I believe I had better table manners, I understood Mike’s evangelistic promotion of protein. I was there once. Obsessive. Bodybuilding is an excessive pursuit and bland egg whites, grilled chicken breasts, and cold baked sweet potatoes carried in a cooler (protein sparing) are regular fare for those in quest of muscle. Yummy? No. Functional? Yes, if muscle is the goal. Bodybuilders eat for function and the desired function is protein synthesis, the development of new muscle.
My concern in listening to Mike’s morning monologue wasn’t for the skinny waiter. He could afford to make chicken breast milk shakes with ice cream and coconut oil if he chose to, as his body clearly was not about to store fat. My concern was for the three overweight women at the next table listening in, especially when Mike’s amplified conversation with his server went on to announce, “I have all of my clients eat six times a day, proteins and veggies. If they won’t eat that way, I fire them.”
Yes, while I understood Mike’s maniacal protein raving, my concern extended to anyone who might be in search of weight loss who intentionally or unintentionally wound up on the receiving end of Trainer Mike’s advice.
Bodybuilding nutrition, obsessive or otherwise, is great for bodybuilders, but in cases such as I witnessed, it inadvertently lends itself as an answer to the question, “what diet is best,” and that is a very flawed question opening the door to a host of flawed answers.
THERE IS VIRTUE IN FREQUENT MEALS AND ADEQUATE PROTEIN
For years I encouraged people to consume frequent meals, balanced servings of lean protein, slow-release natural carbohydrates, and vegetables, and it worked incredibly well . . . when it was combined with a strategic exercise regimen incorporating resistance and aerobic exercise . . . and . . . periodic dietary shifts.
Weeks into my programs I used strategies for “glycogen depletion” during select periods to amplify fat loss and prevent adaptation. Anyone who has ever gone through my TRANSFORM program has a love-hate relationship with “Protein Days.” Also, of paramount importance was the avoidance of simple sugars and bleached and processed carbohydrates. Habitual insulin spikes prompted by sugars were the single greatest culprits in creating resistance toward fat loss.
The “synergistic” relationship between the exercise and eating plan worked well, as long as the program wasn’t stagnant. It moved. It changed. It used a cyclical system of going through distinctive phases to keep the body from adapting . . . and in that lies the key to finding “the right diet” for weight loss.
It has to move. It has to change. Not randomly. Scientifically. Strategically. By design.
THE BODY ADAPTS AND SO . . . YOU GET STUCK
The sole reason bodybuilders can add muscle via a path of exhaustive weight training workouts is . . . the human body miraculously adapts. If you ask it to do more than it can handle . . . granted it’s provided adequate material from which to build new cells and adequate fuel, muscle develops to handle the new load.
Conversely, the 30-something man who comes home from work, plops himself on the couch with a soda and the remote control, finds reverse-adaptation. Because the body is asked to do very little in terms of physical output, it “mal-adapts,” sacrificing muscle, softening, and becoming less calorically efficient. Feed that mal-adapting body more nutrients than it’s going to require and it fattens, weakens, and speeds the process of cellular entropy, reduction in cellular integrity.
So what does this have to do with dieting for weight loss? Everything.
It’s that innate ability of the human organism to adapt that creates the phenomenon of the dietary plateau. “Cutting calories” is the most common approach to “treating” weight excess, and inevitably, after a brief period of weight reduction, the weight loss ceases.
The body learned to live on fewer calories. Adaptation, in this case, equals an innate program for survival. The hypothalamus, the control center of the brain, doesn’t understand why the dieter isn’t getting as much food as was “usual,” so to prevent starvation, an adaptive process activates. Pituitary output of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone may be reduced. Metabolism-regulating thyroid hormones become less active. New biochemical conversions take place to reduce metabolic energy.
When the adaptive process is undesired, we can call it mal-adaptation. When it’s allowing for betterment, we can call it progressive adaptation.
Whatever you do habitually, will lead to an adaptation. Without an understanding of how changes in nutrition will be perceived by the brain, endocrine system, and digestive system, outcomes become random.
We can adapt positively, if we align our nutrition, energy, activity, and desired outcomes, or . . . we can mal-adapt by failing to understand the relationships between our bodies and our food programs.
HERE’S THE PROBLEM FOR THOSE SEEKING WEIGHT LOSS
A majority of American adults have some level of hormonal mal-adaptation resultant from inactivity, ingestion of unsupportive foods, and . . . stress. Once the endocrine system is corrupted, or imbalanced, movement along a continuum has begun. The body abandons its innate fat-release programs and develops a host of conditions including but not limited to insulin resistance, blood sugar elevation, adrenal fatigue, and reduced thyroid output and any disruption in nutrition may drive the mal-adaptation rather than correct it.
If someone who has progressed along that continuum adopts Mike the Trainer’s system, some improvement is possible, but adaptation is inevitable. If the dietary approach is stagnant, adaptation will in all likelihood prevent a return to balance, a restoration of metabolic excellence. It isn’t Mike’s system that’s at fault. It’s an attempt to repair a flawed metabolism with an inflexible approach.
In short, a systemically maladapted body will “plateau” on any program unless there is a strategic methodology of change.
ENTER CIRCADIAN NUTRITION
I’ve created a nutritional and exercise intervention that works to restore balance by driving continuous change. It relies upon a 3-part approach, cyclically shifting from a program aimed at metabolic efficiency to one aimed at mobilizing toxins and healing the maladapted systems of the body.
It begins with a balanced consumption of 3 – 4 meals per day, free from energy disruptors (sugars, grains, bleached and processed carbohydrates) blending proteins, protein sparing carbohydrates or fats, and vegetables. I call the approach “Supportive Eating,” as it’s supportive of metabolism.
Before the body adapts, while it’s responsive to adequate material for cellular healing and adequate substrates for metabolic energy, as it’s re-balancing pancreatic hormones and reactivating blocked insulin receptors, we shift. We move toward short bouts of glycogen depletion, replacing slow-release carbohydrates with valuable fats and Omega 3’s, coaxing lipolysis and creating mitochondrial hunger for fatty acids. In plain English that means, by manipulating carbohydrate intake by design, we coax the body to release and burn more fat.
The third phase or “season” of Circadian Nutrition uses a type of intermittent fasting incorporating high fiber organic smoothies to stimulate cleansing of the digestive tract and consumption of meals ample in natural fats (including grass-fed meats for those who consume animal-based foods) during limited windows each day.
This rotational approach, combined with exercise routines allowing for stimulation of the body’s healing and recovery systems delivers results that clients often perceive as miraculous. The miracle is the human body. It’s amazing ability to adapt can be the key to repair or the slippery slope leading to ongoing challenge.
In my recent experience, a strategy integrating varied modalities of positive change is the platform upon which we find “the best diet.” I know that isn’t the quick and easy answer. People want a single diet, a mindless “follow-the-diet” approach, or a trendy plan based on avoidance of a given nutrient or integration of a “super-food.” As long as the desire for “a diet” pervades within the weight loss wanting community, diet programs will prosper, unfortunately, at the expense of people seeking change.
In conclusion, I have little condemnation for Trainer Mike. When he speaks to the right audience, he’s clearly a force of direction and motivation. It’s important, however, that the “specialist” be positioned before those who seek “the specialty.”
Speaking to the masses is an entirely different story.
Circadian Nutrition is seamlessly integrated into the 21 Day Metabolic Reboot