Metabolism and Fasting Questions

Alright, we’re back with Brad Pilon the author of the controversial book “Eat Stop Eat.” In part 5 of this expert interview series, Brad elaborates on sugar as an enemy to fat loss, but we also discovered calories are just as harmful as sugar.

As we continue our discussion on calories. Today, Brad examines the difference between calories that are stored in fat and calories you just took in.

So let’s begin.


Craig: Awesome. That kind of leads me into a few questions about the fasting and stuff from Facebook as we’ve been going through. You simply are recommending just minimizing the calorie intake. Actually, there’s a question I have before we get to that.

So many nutrition programs recommend this forcing of food after workouts, before workouts, I know you kind of talked about that in your answer. Can you maybe simplify an approach like, “I have to get up, and I have to eat breakfast right away,” because of the myth that it boosts your metabolism, and then “I have to eat right before training. I have to eat right after my workout, even if I just do 30 minutes of off day exercise.”

There’s just so much push, like you said, about eating and a lot of endurance training and I blame all the runners for it. So, why don’t you talk about that a bit?

Brad: Absolutely, yeah. It comes down to intentions. So, why are you working out is the question. If your goal is to be burning body fat and building muscle, the two best goals, but let’s concentrate on the body fat for now, why are you following the approach of someone whose goal is completely different? A true performance athlete, endurance athlete, someone who is trying to win the Iron Man and wants to go to Hawaii, their goal is performance. They’re FEEDING the machine.

I know it’s a giant cliché to use, but I should break that down. They want the machine, their body, to burn the energy, the calories, from the food, they’re eating to keep them going longer. Right? Most of us want our bodies, the machine, to burn the calories stored in our body, so we can be leaner. So, if the whole purpose of exercise, not counting building muscle, is to burn some calories we want those calories to come from our body fat because that’s why we’re doing it.

I don’t understand the idea of pounding back a shake pre-workout, so I can go for a two hour workout to burn off that shake. That’s not my goal. My goal is to get six pack abs, so I want to BURN OFF this area of fat over the top of those six pack abs.,which means I’m going to workout burning off those calories, the stored.

So, we have to realize that not all health and fitness is inclusive to our goals. People who are trying to perform at the top level in an endurance event are going to have different goals than someone who just want a six pack. So you wouldn’t take nutrition advice from someone who has a distinctive goal.

It’s breaking down and really knowing your intentions. “I am in the gym today to do X.” If X is to build muscle and burn body fat, why am I force feeding myself before, during, and after adding calories in that I have to get rid of? That’s what we have to think about. Just stop and really investigate our specific goals.

On the flip side, if you are an endurance athlete wanting to win the Iron Man then looking to Brad Pilon to ramble on and on about how to lose weight by eating less is not your specific goal. If you don’t actually care what you look like or how much you weigh, you just want to win that bloody Iron Man, you wouldn’t be taking my advice.

So, it’s paying attention to your specific intentions for what you’re doing and then MATCHING UP YOUR ACTIONS to meet those intentions. That’s really what happens. Once you realize “I’m going into the gym, and I’m going to burn some calories, and I’m going to get rid of some of this fat, and I want to get a six pack,” then you realize that the idea of eating 500 calories before, 500 calories during and 500 calories after is 1,500 calories AWAY from your goal.

Craig: All right. So, you’re pretty like me, it’s simple, eat when you’re hungry and then your program also includes the fasting. Now, there’s a couple questions.

A couple of readers asked because people are always giving them a hard time because they don’t understand, you’re simply introducing a new concept of fat burning and it sounds crazy to people. What is the general polite way of trying to explain it to them? People say, “You shouldn’t do that. You’re messing up your metabolism.”

Jessie on Facebook mentioned here and Jordan asked also as well, What’s the number one argument for making people be open to the idea?

Brad: That’s an interesting one. You can go back to the fact that the act of fasting for 24 hours greatly predates the health and nutrition industry. It’s been around pretty much as long as we have and people who had been fasting for cultural religious reasons are thriving in society, and they’re doing just fine.

So, the actual health evidence is abundant. However, really you’re not going to make that argument. You’d seem kind of like a weirdo if you threw that at them. Other things I like to do, one is you don’t call it fasting. The thing I like doing is when someone asks me if I want to go out for lunch or dinner, and I’m fasting my answer is, “No thank you.” When they ask why my answer is, “I’M NOT HUNGRY.”

That kind of throws people for a loop, because typically what people realize is that they’re not hungry either, but it’s lunchtime so it’s time to eat. Then you can get onto a bit of a different conversation there, generally if you’re trying to lose weight, and you’re not hungry. Why are you going to eat just because it’s noon? You fall into maybe that conversation.

Avoiding the TERM fasting because it’s the one that has a negative connotation is probably your best bet. Really, it’s a 24 hour break from eating. So, if you just say, “I’m not hungry. I’m not eating right now. I’m busy. I’m doing something else.” Those should all be acceptable reasons not to eat. By putting it back on the person generally at least you make them think about why they’re going out to eat.

You’re never going to win the “it’s bad for you” argument, because it’s kind of like a childish argument. No matter what you argue back the answer is going to be, “No. It’s bad for you.” So, it’s almost counterproductive and pointless to argue that one.

Then of the course the metabolism one, with the exclusion of suddenly  pulling out a deck of research papers to prove it. You’re going to say, “Well, I heard Brad Pilon say it doesn’t affect your metabolism.” They’ll say, “Well, I read somewhere it did.” Again, you’re not going anywhere with it.

Just turn it into a bit of a game, it’s the only thing you can do because trying to convince people that fasting is okay is from personal experience. I will tell you it is an uphill battle, which then to me proves the shape of the health and fitness and general population’s understanding of nutrition. If you have to force people to go and overeat with you then we obviously know something is wrong.

We’ll touch on a few more questions about this approach tomorrow in part 6, with Brad Pilon as we continue with this expert interview series.