Eating to satiety. Why we have no concept of what this means and why we never had to.

Eating to satiety is an interesting concept. It is only a concept that has become something to even consider in our society of excess. The concept was completely foreign to us for the entirety of our millions of years of evolution. why is it important now? How do we even know what satiety means?

To some satiety means until they don’t feel ravenous anymore. Some people it means until they are stuffed so much they can’t put anything else in. The meaning also changes based on what you are eating. Is satiety the same level when you are eating something you crave like cake or ice cream as it is when you are eating brussell sprouts? I highly doubt it is. I know for me I will stop eating meat long before I will stop eating cinnamon buns. I will stop eating kale a hell of a lot sooner than I will stop eating bacon. Was I satiated in all instances? Yes but not because I got enough nutrition or because my stomach was full. In the case of cinnamon buns I will only be satiated when I can’t possibly fit anything else in my stomach but in the case of kale I will be satiated when I am no longer feeling hunger pains but with as little of the kale as I have to eat to make that happen. Why? Because satiation is decided more by the brain/pleasure center than the stomach.

The current definition of satiety never came into play until we had the option to turn down or accept foods that pleasured us. In the entire history of the human race it has been but a blink of an eye that we had much of a choice in what or when when we ate. Can you imagine a paleo man taking down a mammoth and eating a couple bites and tossing the rest because he was satiated? No, he would have gorged himself with as much as he could stuff in. Likely he would have eaten until he was nearly sick because who knows when the next feeding would be. Likely once he was stuffed he would drag the rest back to the cave and continue feeding pretty much constantly until it was gone since there was no way to store it and he would not want to waste it. The idea of over eating was not even in his mind. Today we always know we are going to have food so we obsess over how much to eat, at what time and what is too much and let our desire over what we like and don’t like control how much we nourish ourselves. If we love what we are eating we will gorge ourselves until stuffed but if it is something we don’t really enjoy, we barely consume any. This is clear when I go eat with people. I have gone to eat with people many times who I work with. They constantly tell me they can’t eat as much as they should yet if we go eat at a nice restaurant they eat as much in one meal as they should in a whole day. We all know this to be the case. I could eat 2,000 calories of cake in one sitting with no issues but if I tried to do that with eggs there is no way. That is reality.

To see examples of natural eating I just have to look at my cats. They never really know when I am going to feed them because I don’t allow them to free feed. They will eat as much as I give them. If I give them too much they will literally eat until they vomit. Every time. They don’t really know what it is to turn down food or have food preference either because they get the same food every day and have since they were kittens. Now if I let them free feed they will way over consume because they aren’t using their intellect to dictate how much to eat. They are just using instinct and will keep eating because they are driven to by nature because they don’t know when this fee for all will end and they may have to be hungry again. Eventually though they will start to instinctively know that they will always have food and start to slow their eating. They might gain a bit of weight initially but it will taper off and they will maintain their weight. Especially since I only feed them a raw diet that mimics their ancestral one that contains just what a carnivore would eat. One thing they will never do though is eat too little. They will always eat slightly more than what I feed them based on their weight requirement. I’ve seen this time and time again. That is what instinctual eating is. Humans seem to have lost this ability with the evolved brain.

How is this different from people eating fat to satiety you ask? Well here is the reality of all of this.

Eating 80% plus of fat in the diet every single day is not likely our natural diet. Being in a state of ketosis is likely a state we spent a lot of time in but the reality of this is, when eating just hunted and gathered foods it is unlikely that we got this much fat. It was more likely 60-70% fat at best. If you are eating less fat and more protein and carbs you are getting dramatically different signalling. The signalling we are getting when eating 80% or more fat is similar to the signalling we get in starvation where we are consuming body fat. The body sees this high of fat intake exactly the same as starvation because the end chemical result is the same. A large pool of fat energy with a small pool of carbohydrate or protein energy. This produces a certain state of compounds in the body that looks identical to what happens when we are starving or fasting.

So what happens in starvation?

1. hunger goes away so we can focus and hunt without being plagued by hunger pangs. A distracted hunter is a poor hunter and a poor hunter is a dead hunter.
2. Energy and focus goes up as cortisol and epinephrine rise to provide energy to be able to hunt for survival.
3. Metabolism starts to slow in order to preserve lean mass.

You will notice though if you eat high fat and make yourself actually eat until you are physically full, meaning a reasonable amount of calories per meal (like 1/3 of your TDEE) and you can feel your tummy being a little tight, but not until you have to vomit that with time you will actually start feeling hungry before meals and you will have no problem eating to TDEE. You may have to work your way up to it by gradually increasing food intake day by day so you don’t feel sick but eventually it will be no problem. This is because once your body starts understanding that there is no deficit of energy it will start to normalize the starvation signalling and allow you out of the preservation mode. It just take some time to get there.

Now if this form of keto is not our natural diet why do we not just eat more meat and less fat? Well that is a great question. The answer is because this natural diet was never intended to make anyone lose weight. It was great at helping people maintain weight or even gain it but losing weight in those times meant death. Today it is a goal. Eating this ancestral way in these times of abundance will result in eating too much protein, too many carbs and not enough fat as that is the food environment and that is how we are wired. It was not the case then. Food was harder to come by and bad food was especially hard to come by. The possibility of binging on pizza was pretty low. The possibility of binging on anything for long enough to have any significant impact was pretty low. Now if you are already at a weight you are comfortable with and weight loss is not a goal then you can certainly eat more protein and likely you will find it much easier to eat more food when you eat more protein. Protein does not blunt the hunger signalling like super high fat does so you can easily consume more food. There lies the rub. If you eat more food while eating more protein you will run the risk of over consuming. Now if you incorporate a little new age thought process and control into your eating you could potentially mitigate this the weight gain but if your goal is to lose weight then eating higher fat is still the way to go.

Again, this is if you are at a stable weight so keep this in mind. If you want to eat more naturally and not have to track this can be done but because of our constant food availability there is a huge chance that we will naturally over consume. To bypass this you can use a technique called Time Restricted feeding. This is simply eating until completely full, 2 or 3 times a day but within a small eating window. The optimal window for weight maintenance is 10-12 hours. It may be possible to lose weight free feeding protein, fat, and even some carbs in a window as small as 8-9 hours but personally I have not seen this to be the case in anyone. I have seen people able to maintain weight very well this way though. Doing this will allow ample time for the body to reset all of its functions, digest all the food and be at a state of low insulin long enough to keep weight stable. Keep in mind though that all of this is dramatically controlled by our circadian rhythm which dictates when we are insulin sensitive and when we are insulin resistant. It is best followed if you start your window as soon as you wake up and end it as early in the day as you can. I discuss this more in the article below.

Insulin Sensitivity Determines Optimal Eating Times

The moral of the story is that eating to satiety is a matter of preference these days when this is not how we evolved. Preference was eating as much as you could so you wouldn’t die. Now it is wether we get pleasure from the food or not. Times have changed dramatically. We have to really reconsider what satiety means and what is optimal for health. Allowing us to be tricked by our hormone signals is not optimal. It causes us to under eat and under nourish. This kills the metabolism. We have to be smarter and recognize that we are playing a game with our bodies doing this keto thing. It is great for weight loss but it is a trick. We were never designed to lose weight. We were hard wired to gain it actually. Gaining weight was protective in our evolution. If we want to play this game we have to do it intelligently. We have to understand the impact of the satiety/starvation malfunction and learn to over ride it to ensure we keep a strong and healthy metabolism. That is the advantage of the large brain we have evolved. We can play smart and not just by instinct.

Keto On!

Coach Jack

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