Fung says fasting doesn’t slow metabolism – Comparing apples to nothing

As anyone that has every read anything I’ve posted likely knows, I think fasting is stupid and Fung is a flake. He has the right idea about insulin lowering and weight loss but has this fasting thing totally blown out of proportion. The problem is that he sounds credible and people hoping for a miracle will jump into the fasting pool hoping to swim but will only end up drowning. Here is an example of how anyone can make anything sound logical if they don’t compare apples to apples.

This is the article I will reference.

In this article Fung claims that fasting not only doesn’t slow metabolism but speeds it up! Wait, what? This is where you have to use a tiny bit of common sense.

If metabolism speeds up during fasting would Ghandi have survived his many fasts including one for 21 days. If you’ve ever seen Ghandi he didn’t have a bunch of weight to lose.

What would happen if Ghandi’s metabolism where to speed up as Fung suggests? He didn’t have much fat to get him through so he would have quickly died. This just doesn’t hit very high on the old common sense meter does it? We have evolved a brilliant system over the years to deal with a lack of food. It was never intended to be used as a weight loss tool but as a survival mechanism for a harsh environment where food availability was not always a certainty. The metabolism must slow in order to preserve ourselves and if it did not then anyone lean, like most where for almost all of our evolution, would not make it long. This is just the first place where Fung’g logic falls flat. This can be seen easily by measuring the thyroid levels in someone who has fasted for any substancial amount of time. Thyroid is what controls metabolism for the most part and thyroid levels tank when fasting. Here is a measure from Peter Attia when he fasted. Look at the drop in Free T3 during the fast. His metabolism is in the shitter.

Now lets look at his major failure. Comparing data. He starts by talking about the metabolic adaptation of the contestants of the biggest loser in a 6 year follow up.

This study shows that the caloric restriction and intense exercise caused a dramatic decrease in metabolic rate that persisted for 6 years after the contest ended. Great. He then tries to say that this is because they were calorie restricted and that if they had of fasted they would not have seen this happen. He uses some interesting logic about insulin being high or low to explain it but he does not support this with any actual science. He actually states that after 4 days of fasting the metabolism increases by 13% but conveniently does not site any literature to support this. I did find an article that shows a similar result.

The explanation of this is pretty much what I would expect. The increase is due to an increase in the adrenal hormone norepinephrine. As this adrenal hormone increased so did metabolic rate. This rise only continued for 4 days and reduced there after despite the continued rise in epinephrine.

“We cannot explain the decline in energy expenditure on day 4 of our study, even though norepinephrine was still rising. Although not studied by us, it has been suggested that energy deprivation has suppressive effects on the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis that diminish the metabolic rate.”

What do we think would happen if one continued this fast past 4 days? That is right, metabolism would drop. Another important thing to note is that apparently Fung has never heard of adrenal fatigue. This is real and there are millions of people that can attest to that. Chronic fatigue is rampant and the direct cause is adrenal fatigue. What do we think years of forcing massive increases in adrenal hormones is going to result in? Funny enough caloric restriction also results in increased adrenal output. Unfortunately I have not been able to find any studies showing the result of 4 days of caloric restriction on metabolic rate but I would predict you would see similar results as far as energy expenditure and norepinephrine concentration.

He goes on to talk about a study that showed metabolism didn’t drop after 22 days of alternate day fasting. He again fails to site the study because god forbid anyone be able to actually read the study and see if what he is saying is true. I was able to find it though.

Well this is hardly a bolster to his hypothesis. The results showed that after 22 days of alternate day fasting the metabolic rate in fact did drop. From 1594 cals to 1512 cals. While that sounds like very little it is still a drop and this is only after 22 days of alternate day fasting. So only 11 days of fasting. that is 82 calories in 22 days or about a 3.72 calorie a day decrease. The biggest loser study was after 30 weeks of caloric restriction and showed an average drop of 610 cals after 210 days. That is a drop in metabolic rate of 2.9 cals per day……Less than fasting. Imagine that. Lets see a study of alternate day fasters after 210 days. Now that would be interesting wouldn’t it.

Here is the reality of all of this. Fasting is caloric restriction. It is just broken up differently. Essentially the results will be the same long term depending on what the average calories are. The metabolism will slow the same and the weight loss will be the same.

Person A eats 3 meals a day every day and eats 1800 cals a day. Their metabolic rate is 2800 cals per day. That is a 1,000 calorie per day or 7,000 calorie per week deficit. They will likely lose about 2 lbs a week until their metabolism slows. The weight loss will slow as the metabolism slows and will eventually stop.

Person B does alternate day fasting and eats 3600 calories on eating day and no calories on fasting days. Their metabolic rate is 2800 cals. This results in an average caloric intake of 1800 cals per day which is a 1,000 calorie per day deficit or a 7,000 calorie per week deficit. They will likely lose about 2lbs per week until their metabolism slows. The weight loss will slow as the metabolism slows and will eventually stop.

They are exactly the same. They will have the same long term result and this is why all of these long term fasters like Jimmy Moore and Carl Franklin can no longer lose weight.

This study comparing Alternate day fasting (ADF) to straight caloric restriction (CR) shows this directly.

“At 8 weeks, ADF achieved a 376 kcal/day greater energy deficit; however, there were no significant between‐group differences in change in weight (mean ± SE; ADF −8.2 ± 0.9 kg, CR −7.1 ± 1.0 kg), body composition, lipids, or Si.”

The only benefit this study might have shown was that in the 24 weeks after the initial 8 weeks the ADF group seemed to gain more lean mass and less fat mass back. The difference was minimal and could be confounded by measurement techniques. The test used only measures fat and not fat so depending on hydration levels this could swing wildly. Water will show up as lean mass making the fat mass % seem larger. Overall weight regain in the followup was again, the same.

So to close, Fung compares apples to nothing. He looks at a 4 day result in metabolic increase from fasting, which was actually related to an increase in adrenal output and not to lowered insulin, and compares it to a 6 year long study of caloric restriction. He also tries to compare a 22 day study on alternate day fasting with a 3.72 calorie per day drop in metabolism to a 210 day diet contest TV show that resulted in a 2.9 calorie per day drop in metabolism. Fung needs a small lesson in statistics here. I fail to see how any of this proves his point.

Remember, friends don’t let friends do stupid things like fasting and listening to people that say fasting is a good idea.

Keto ON Friends,

Coach Jack

If you want to get your Ketogenic Diet back to a place of Common Sense and learn how to heal your metabolism you can get personalized coaching from Coach Jack.

Check the details here:

Personalized Coaching with Coach Jack

Melatonin (Sleep hormone) reduces insulin secretion and why that is important

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate our wake and sleep cycles. It is released at greater and greater amounts the later in the day it gets. What does a sleep hormone have to do with insulin? Let me explain. It’s fascinating. At least to me. 🙂

We have been told for years that it is a bad idea to eat at night. Nobody was ever really sure why but it was just one of those bits of advice that has always floated around. Sometimes these bits of wisdom passed down are exactly right and what we should be listening to. Here is some science to back up this particular gem.

The study below looked at the effect of melatonin on insulin secretion. It was found that melatonin binds to receptors on the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas and limit the amount of insulin they can secrete. In addition to this, about 30% of the population have a mutation of these receptors that cause an increased sensitivity to melatonin and will secrete even less insulin in response to melatonin.

What is the relevance to this and eating at night? Isn’t less insulin a good thing? That depends. It isn’t a good thing to a type 1. It also isn’t a good thing if you are eating food that may raise blood glucose. You need insulin to put away that glucose where it is supposed to be and not left in the blood. Lets look at what happens when you eat at night. We will use a carb meal as an example to start then we will discuss a low carb and protein rich meal.

  1. food is consumed and digested
  2. blood glucose rises
  3. Insulin should come in now and push glucose out of blood and where it should be like the liver and muscles. Since insulin is suppressed by melatonin, the glucose levels in the blood rise.
  4. High blood glucose is a negative situation for the body. It is damaging to blood vessels and needs to be dealt with. To deal with this the body up-regulates utilization in order to get rid of the glucose. When glucose is being preferentially oxidized then fat cannot be used.
  5. Since usually energy expenditure at night is low blood glucose stays elevated.

So if you consume anything that will elevate blood glucose at night when melatonin is elevated you will have high blood glucose throughout the night and you will be preferentially using glucose for fuel due to the bodies need to get rid of the glucose in the blood. This means less fat being used at night.

Now lets look at what happens when you consume protein.

  1. food is consumed and digested
  2. insulin normally comes along to help shunt amino acids into cells where they are needed. Since insulin is suppressed we will not have the amino acids being sent to where it needs to go and we cannot effectively use these building blocks for what they are intended for. The body will use them as fuel at this point as having free floating amino acids is also a negative situation. Since protein does not contain glucose there will not be a rise in glucose directly so that is not an issue so far. But……
  3. In addition to the above, with protein consumption you also have a glucagon response. Glucagon is a counter regulatory hormone to insulin. Where insulin puts energy away for storage, glucagon brings it out for use. The reason we get a glucagon response with protein is because it has an insulin response and an insulin response in a food that contains no carbohydrate would result in low blood glucose and that is a negative as well. To combat that the body is smart and releases glucagon simultaneously to raise glucose levels in the blood to counter the drop from the insulin response.
  4. The glucagon response starts looking for glucose to raise blood sugar. If you are in a glycogen depleted state, like a low carb/ketogenic diet, your body will start making glucose from amino acids. This is a problem because without the insulin to counter act the glucagon response you end up with high blood sugar.
  5. You now have elevated blood glucose, despite not having any carbohydrate, and also a mass of free floating amino acids. These two things are both problematic and will compete for space in fuel utilization.

I hope this throws some light on why it is a bad idea to eat and night and how complex our body is. It is still not completely understood as to why melatonin suppresses insulin but it is hypothesized that it is a protective mechanism to prevent against night time hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). In the evening it was more typical that food intake was low in most of our evolution so this inhibition of insulin secretion would allow for more fuel available in the blood for longer. What we do know is that having high glucose levels in the evening is not a great idea. Eat early and stop early.

Keto ON,

Coach Jack

If you want to get your Ketogenic Diet back to a place of Common Sense and learn how to heal your metabolism you can get personalized coaching from Coach Jack.

Check the details here:

Personalized Coaching with Coach Jack

Can you lose fat while gaining weight? Catabolism and Inflammation.

People dieting often get really obsessive about the scale and get very frustrated or discouraged when they see even the smallest increases rather than a steady down trend. I had someone recently complaining that they have been doing this for a whole 2 weeks and they have gained 2 ounces! Well that is the end of the world now isn’t it. This is extreme obsessiveness and will only result in failure long term. You cannot be so obsessed about every little incremental change. There are reasons why these swings happen and so long as you are sticking to the plan it is very unlikely that any gain you see is fat. Here is a bit of an explanation as to what is actually happening.

 I have been speaking to my clients alot lately about the effect of inflammation on fat loss and how this shows as upticks in the scale but usually precedes a drop in weight. 

Fat loss is catabolism (breaking down of tissue). Catabolism is inflammatory. It usually comes with retention of fluid as part of the inflammatory process. When you catabolize fat it may result in the retention or buildup in fluid. This is necessary for the body to deal with the breakdown process and healing.

For some this shows up as stalled weight loss. For others it may present as a small gain in weight. The thing about physiologically normal catabolism driven inflammation is that it will go away when the process is complete and the body deems it safe to allow it to reduce. When it does, this results in a drop in scale weight.

 This is often what people are referring to when they talk about the magical “whoosh” effect. You are capable of losing fat while not losing weight and even while showing increases in weight. 

Here is an example of this from one of my actual clients:

Here are some actual notes from the Tracking app:

August 1st

“I was very swollen last night. Ankles and feet were huge. My hands feel swollen this morning. Ankles and feet less swollen today. I’m not sure why I’m retaining so much fluid this week. I didn’t change anything regarding my diet.”

August 2nd

“Still swollen”

August 3rd

“Heading off to a week long family vacation. Sucks I’m so swollen heading into this week.”

August 4th

“Peed all night. Go figure 

Weighed again at 6 pm….171.8. Been peeing all day.”

You can see the rollercoaster of emotion happening day by day but just like I explained above the “whoosh” came. It is very predictable almost. Not to the exact day it will happen but it does happen almost every time.

It is very important to keep in mind that this is not a linear process. It will never be a straight down journey. It will have ups and downs when you look at the minutia but over the long term it will be nothing but net down. Just follow the process and it will come.

Keto ON,

Coach Jack

If you want to get your Ketogenic Diet back to a place of Common Sense and learn how to heal your metabolism you can get personalized coaching from Coach Jack.

Check the details here:

Personalized Coaching with Coach Jack