Last month I didn’t eat for three days. I did this to demonstrate how badass we humans really are. I wasn’t bent over in debilitating hunger or in hyper-sleep with Lieutenant Ellen Ripley (corny movie reference). I was winning at life and felt pretty darn good. I cared for my newborn, went to work, studied and continued my strength training program per usual…all my normal activities. My girlfriend said “You seem like you’ve been in a really good mood.” I asked her opinion of me specifically for this article.
I’m not unique in my ability to fast, nor do I possess excessive will power. What I do have is an understanding of the human metabolism. It’s actually very simple. I’ll share the main tricks with you here.
Humans are the most hard core species this planet has ever known. Paleolithic man survived cataclysmic extinctions and murdered Wholly Mammoths. We are the Shiznit! You wouldn’t guess that by looking at your average American. Most of us are pretty out of shape, unmotivated, farty…basically weak bitches.
Compare the next 5 guys you see to a Viking…Yeah, same exact species. What the fuck happened there?
It’s not modern man’s fault. It’s not a lack of motivation or will power. The answer isn’t 6 meals a day or some complicated workout plan. You don’t need any pills, potions or powders. You think hunter gather tribes used pre-workout? You think Spartans drank post battle protein shakes? Fuck no! You already have everything you need inside your DNA…with a little help from the food Mother Earth provides. Think about it…it worked that way for 100,000 years.
The problem? Your fuel source has been completely hijacked by the American Food Industry. Would you put regular unleaded in a Ferrari? It might actually drive but it sure as hell wouldn’t do what it was designed for. Eventually it would break down. Well, why the hell are you putting anything less than premium into your fuel tank? Probably because it’s on every corner, in every grocery store and you didn’t know better…until now.
I’m going to teach you to unlock your Viking badass-ness. This is not a motivational piece. This is an informative article on the fundamentals of what fuels you. As I said above its actually very simple. There are only two options.
Today is my 31st birthday. I’m stronger, faster and leaner than I’ve ever been. I know because I track this stuff like a nerd. I’d outperform my 21 year old self in every way. I only exercise 3 times a week and don’t have a complicated meal plan to manage. I eat basically what I want, as much as I want, when I want. I have a shit ton of energy every day, the libido of a jack rabbit and enough focus to write articles like this for you lovely people. My biology is almost effortlessly on point and I can feel it in my competitive drive and when I hold my baby. As far as I can tell, this is the way the Human animal was designed to operate. If you want the perks, I want to help, so let’s get into it.
You are a Hybrid
A Toyota Prius can use gasoline or electricity and you can use sugar or fat. When driving a Prius, gasoline is great for accelerating up a steep road and electricity is best for basically everything else. It’s quieter, more efficient, inexpensive and clean. Same goes for us. Sugar is excellent for sprinting up a mountain and fat is best for everything else. The problem is, we are not taking advantage of our hybrid metabolism. Would you purchase a Prius and only use the gasoline engine?
The Human Energy Crisis
If you’re like 99% of Americans you fuel your daily activities with mostly glucose. In the interest of brevity, I’ll use the term “glucose” when referring to any sugar, carbohydrate, glycogen and protein; simply because they’re all converted to glucose within the body. Glucose is excellent for instant energy. Powerlifting, sprinting and fighting of a pack of wolves are the types of activities that require glucose. We only really need it for all-out effort, but we use it for everything we do. There are huge disadvantages in this and I’ll explain why…
The average human can only store about 1,500 calories of glucose in the body. This will last a few hours. Once those calories are depleted the individual must restore them by eating more glucose. The more active the individual, the faster these calories are depleted.
The Glucose Rollercoaster – anti-flow state
Eating glucose raises our blood sugar and we feel energized…“Yeah let’s do this, I love my job!” Elevated blood sugar triggers the release of insulin into our blood which reduces our blood sugar and causes fatigue…“My job sucks and so do you, I’m starving!” To regain energy we eat additional glucose…“Fuck-Ya!” which releases insulin, reduces blood sugar and causes low energy and hunger…“Fuck this!”…
This cycle repeats throughout the day until we go to sleep. This is what I call the glucose roller coaster. Severe ups and downs in energy levels block our daily creativity and productivity. It’s like driving a big rig with a go-cart fuel tank. As soon as you get on the highway, get up to speed and start making good time you have to exit and refuel.
This sucks for entering your mental flow state, aka “The Zone”. This is where musicians compose, where engineers design, where the sales team closes deals and where Bo Jackson scores. It requires mental energy and clarity to enter flow state and when your ass gets there you want to stay there. It takes me a good hour before I can even begin to write anything worth reading and I’ll be damned if I let low energy and hunger interrupt that.
As mentioned above, elevated blood glucose stimulates insulin secretion. Insulin turns food into fat and stores it in your tissues. We can see this first hand in Americas obesity epidemic. If you’re riding the glucose rollercoaster daily, chances are you have high blood glucose and high levels of insulin.
Elevated blood glucose causes inflammation. Inflammation is linked to pretty much every shitty disease known to man. It gives me headaches, brain fog, joint pain and swollen feet. I lost a half a shoe size after clearing my inflammation. Just give “inflammation” a google, I dare you. Chances are, you are inflamed right now.
Exercising on Glucose
Joe Blow wants big muscles and a six pack. Joe must eat a bunch of glucose and take a pre-workout for energy, before going to the gym. Joe’s workouts quickly deplete his glucose stores and cause him to be seriously hungry, so he eats a lot of food and takes a post workout protein shake. Eating a lot of food isn’t working for Joes six pack. Joe decides to work out more, which increases Joes hunger…which murders his sick pack…and so on. The end result? Joe must work out twice a day and eat 6 meals to manage his fitness goals…Joes life now largely revolves around eating and working out.
I understand there are some Joe Blows out there that enjoy working out constantly and eating all day long. What if suddenly, Joe no longer had an intense appetite? Would he really love eating all day long or would it seem like a waste of time and money? What if one day Joe realized he could maintain his sexy arms and six pack with 2 workouts a week rather than two workouts a day? Would Joe find a more rewarding way to spend his newly liberated free time, say, with family, learning something new or building a business?
Running on Premium – Ketones
Here’s where things get interesting. Here’s the alternative to the Glucose Roller coaster. If you’re like me, my baby, or the early humans who murdered wholly mammoths, your primary fuel source is fat. Ketones to be exact. A ketone is a molecule our body makes from fat we eat, or stored fat in our body. These molecules are essentially the foundation of “Fat Burning Mode”, aka Ketosis. It’s a metabolic state.
Yes, my baby is in ketosis. All breastfed babies are, and they grow and learn faster than anything on the planet. This fact alone was enough to catch my attention. Babies are humanities most precious commodity, the future of mankind, and nature thought they should be in ketosis.
Everyone produces at least a small amount of ketones, but Fat Burners produce a lot! There are varying degrees of ketosis which include; Nutritional Ketosis, Optimal Ketosis and Therapeutic Ketosis. I spend the majority of my time in nutritional and optimal ketosis. You can measure your ketones in your blood and breath.
Measuring blood ketones – using Precision Ultra glucometer
Blood ketones are measured in millimolars per liter of blood (mmol/L)
· Below 0.5 mmol/L is not considered ketosis, however, this is likely where fasted morning cardio may place you.
· Between 0.5 – 1.5 mmol/L is nutritional ketosis. Improved cognition and weight loss, decreased hunger, reversing diabetes.
· 1.5 – 3.0 mmol/L is optimal ketosis. Rapid weight loss, high levels of cognition, excellent for aerobic fitness, long periods of no hunger, cellular repair, boosted cellular respiration.
· > 3.0 mmol/L is therapeutic ketosis. Used to treat cancer, epilepsy, MS, diabetes, and many other degenerative diseases (check out this video)
Measuring breath ketones - using Ketonix breath analyzer. Similar to an alcohol breathalyzer.
· Blue: none-minimal
· Green: low amounts of ketones
· Orange: Moderate ketones
· Red: high levels of ketones
Below are measurements I took at the beginning and end of my three day fast. As my blood glucose drops my blood ketones rise. This is my body switching into fat burning mode.