As you know, my wonderful wife Jodie and I spent a week in Mexico recently. We rented a house with about 16 other nuts right on the beach north of Playa Del Carmen (not too far from Tulum and Cancun) and had a blast!
While I was there, I learned a few important lessons that will help you drop some fat!
The trip was awesome and much needed time away, even though I was working on research studies part of the time.
As you know, I am a huge kiteboarding addict. If you have not tried it yet, you must take a lesson and give it a go!
We got out kiteboarding on 2 epic days. Wow! Here are some videos below
Special thanks to CJ for the awesome videos! When we got there on the last day, nobody else was even there while the wind was cranking. Insane.
Arrested by Policia in Mexico
Yep, I was visited by the Mexican police, up close and personal like.
Once we landed, we picked up the rental car and I wondered why a car was only 49 clams for a whole week? Hmmm, seems too good to be true, but all of them were around that price.
As I soon found out, that was without insurance and by the time we added in full coverage, the cost was up to $350. That was the price AFTER I negotiated down about $80 and agreed to a timeshare visit the next day for another $100 off to bring it to $250. In hindsight, I think I could have even done better, but lesson learned.
Rember this point and I will come back to it.
Rental car–check! Off we went, attempting to find the house.
Fast forward to our first trip out kiteboarding to Isla Blanca as seen in the videos above. It is just north of Cancun and quite hard to find if you have never been to Mexico before.
I soon learned that signal lights mean nothing and people just pull over into your lane. Literally. It doesn’t seem to matter if you were their first or not.
Take the worst driving in any US city and multiple it by 5 and you are close.
Driving in the city was not on the list of fun things to repeat ever again, but we had our minds setting on ripping some epic shallow water while the wind was up; so off we went.
Turns out the speed limits make zero sense. At one point they go from 100 kilometers per hour to 40. It was at this point that I saw flashing lights in my rear view mirror. My first thought was, it must be someone else; so I just pulled over and to my horror the lights stayed behind me.
Oh crap, this is NOT going to be fun, and we will be utterly lost on top of it.
The cop comes up to my window and asks for my license.
Double crap. It is not with my credits cards and pesos.
So, I get pulled out of the car now and asked to visit with him, in addition to having to show my passport.
Since I was going over double the speed limit (85 in a 40 zone), I am in really deep crap which involves a $180 fine (that is American, not pesos) and a trip to the police station for an indeterminate amount of time.
Add to this my poor Spanish and an unfriendly guy, with a gun, yelling in Spanish (although the fine and jail visit was oddly enough spoken in English—hmmmmm).
Since he has my passport now (crap), a gun (double crap) and another guy with him also with a gun watching me like a buzzard ready to swoop on dead rotting meat, my leverage is nothing.
I knew that technically since it was my first violation, they should give me a warning; so that was a little bit of leverage.
I asked in Spanglish if there were any other possible solutions since I did not have $180 in cash, nor could I get any since the cash machines spit out pesos. He mentioned that if I paid cash on the spot, he may have a memory lapse.
I offered up $20.
Ooooops, bad idea, that only made him more pissed. So much for low balling.
I then offered up $40 as that was the only amount of American cash I had on me, otherwise I will have to visit the Mexican pokey.
After a few minutes of grumbling he accepted. I went back to the car (sans passport still), found $40 (oddly enough from the visit we did the day before to the resort/ time share) and paid him off. I had my passport in hand now and was on my way.
Crisis avoided, other than I was utterly lost now.
As I pulled ahead, my buddies had pulled off to the side in a parking lot and waited, so kiteboarding was going to happen after all that day. Hell ya.
Why Do I Tell You This?
The point of this is leverage.
When you have leverage, you can do lots of things with LESS effort
Lose leverage and you are screwed. Tons of effort for little out come.
Nutrition and training are no different.
My whole job as a trainer/consultant is to find points of leverage and exploit the crap out of them for my clients/athletes.
Every person only has so much time. Whether it is goofy NCAA rules or that they live a very busy life. My goal is to offer them starting points that have the most leverage. Less action on their part for a BETTER outcome. Sign me up!
Enter Metabolic Flexibility: The Ultimate Leverage
Metabolic Flexibility is teaching the body to use the right fuel at the right time.
Burn carbs during high intensity weight training sessions, but burn fat during day to day activities and low intensity work. This allows you the best of BOTH worlds–intense training and more fat burning!
Long term, we want to teach the body to be as adaptable as possible.
Better Adaptability = Health
3 Points of Nutritional Leverage To Maximize Metabolic Flexibility
If we break this down into action steps, here are 4 ways to maximize your Met Flex for faster fat loss and muscle gains. We want to create leverage so the action on your part is not crazy, but you get maxim benefit
1) More Protein
I am sure you are bored out of your skull now about me yammering on about protein needs. The short action item: Get more!
How much more?
In studies where they were hypocaloric (calories were below maintenance levels, so a fat loss diet), clock in around a MINIMUM of 0.75 grams per lb of body weight (3-6).
So a 200 lb person would want to get 150 grams of protein per day on the low end.
I have had people go as high as 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight per day; so our 200 lb friend would be at 300 grams per day. Most of the time this is not needed though. You want to do the minimal Effective Amount (mEA).
Work by Devkota S et al. (2) showed that replacing carbs with protein was beneficial in shifting molecular activity in muscle vs. fat; which should improve body composition (more muscle, less fat).
Most people (myself included) tend to eat the same things day in and day out.
When I get stressed and my schedule goes nuts (which happens a lot lately), I will fall back to the same routine, without much variety.
Variety is the spice of life and allows you to feed your body a huge array of powerful micronutrients which are critical for health and performance (Perez-Vizcaino F et al.) It also helps prevent OVERexposure to any one particular item or toxin too! A double whammy.
Less exposure to bad stuff
Fills you up (automatically eat fewer calories)
3) Add In a Fast
Lots of BS to be sorted here regarding fasting. The definition I am using of fasting is zero calorie containing items during a set period of time. Noncaloric items only! None of this lemon juice, hot pepper and maple syrup crap style fasting. The same guy who promotes that horrible idea also says that since we inhale nitrogen in the air, we can pull nitrogren in by breathing and we don’t need nitrogen containing marcronutritients like protein. I almost spit my tea out when I read it! Stanely Burroughs (the author of this Master Cleanse) can shove his ebook where the sun doesn’t shine.
Now you got my so fired up I lost my place! Oh ya, fasting and metabolic flexibility.
The downside is that this is where the physiology gets messy. People then assume they need to do all of their cardio fasted to burn more fat. It is true that fasted cardio will result in a burning more fat DURING the exercise session and this has been confirmed by measuring by the Respiratory Exchange Ratio (RER) during a fasted vs. a fed state (after eating) (7) It is also true that during a fasting condition, insulin levels are low, pushing the body towards more direct fat utilization (burning).
Sounds great so far, but hold the Master Cleanse ebook my fasted cardio bunny friend.
If we look past the ACUTE effects over 24 hours, it appears the fed state (after eating) increases the EPOC (aka afterburn) effect; resulting in burning of more fat calories TOTAL. This was shown in a great study by Paoli A et al. out of Italy recently.
No Fasted Cardio Now?
I can see you throwing up your hands in utter confusion now! I can see people pasting comments like ”Dude brah, I did fasted cardio and got ripped. Your (sic) wrong!”
Lots of things work and if you got your result, awesome!
Going back to the concept of Metabolic Flexibility, we want the body to adapt to different conditions.
Fasting is just one of those conditions. I actually want my athletes to be able to do a lifting or cardio session during a fasted state WITHOUT a loss of performance! That is the key. If you are doing less work, you are burning fewer calories so the all the little things liked fasted, not fasted, protein only, BCAAs only, etc won’t matter a ton.
The ability to burn fat AND carbs for fuel, like a flex fuel vehicle, is best!
This increases your ability to adapt faster.
If you want to read an excellent review on fasted cardio, check out Brad Schoenfeld’s recent review of that topic (8).
I have presented 3 ways you can get more leverage over your nutrition and maximize your lean muscle gains and fat loss. While on my Mexico trip, even though I did not exercise directly, I did some kiteboarding, hiking and walking, ate all sorts of crazy foods (some that can’t be found in the US) and even had a few tasty adult style beverages, I ended up dropping 2-3 lbs without a drop in strength (once I recovered for the all day 3 leg flight festival to get home).
Time to put them into practice and let me know how it goes for you!
1) Perez-Vizcaino F, Duarte J. Mol Aspects Med. 2010 Dec;31(6):478-94. Epub 2010 Sep 15. Flavonols and cardiovascular disease.
2) Devkota S, Layman DK .Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011 Mar 4;8(1):13. [Epub ahead of print] Increased ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein shifts the focus of metabolic signaling from skeletal muscle to adipose.
3) Layman DK, E Evans, JI Baum, J Seyler, DJ Erickson, RA Boileau. Dietary protein and exercise have additive effects on body composition during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr. . 2005; 135(8):1903-10.
4) Mero AA, H Huovinen, O Matintupa, et al. Moderate energy restriction with high protein diet results in healthier outcome in women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. . 2010; 7(1):4.
5) Mettler S, N Mitchell, KD Tipton. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. . 2010; 42(2):326-37.
6) Walberg JL, MK Leidy, DJ Sturgill, DE Hinkle, SJ Ritchey, DR Sebolt. Macronutrient content of a hypoenergy diet affects nitrogen retention and muscle function in weight lifters. Int J Sports Med. . 1988; 9(4):261-6.
7)Paoli A, Marcolin G, Zonin F, Neri M, Sivieri A, Pacelli QF Exercising fasting or fed to enhance fat loss? Influence of food intake on respiratory ratio and excess postexercise oxygen consumption after a bout of endurance training. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2011 Feb;21(1):48-54. Dept. of Human Anatomy and Physiology, University of Padua, Italy.
8 ) Schoenfeld, Brad Does Cardio After an Overnight Fast Maximize Fat Loss? Strength & Conditioning Journal: February 2011 – Volume 33 – Issue 1 – pp 23-25