Archive | extreme fat loss

Something Clicked (starting pull ups)



One of the reasons I started this page/site is because I didn’t think “our story” was being told.  Most people that Crossfit look like our team and we all have various struggles.  Shannon’s blogs are meant for people who are still figuring out their place in Crossfit and improving.  Met Flex for Fat Loss isn’t just for “ab’ed” out folks, we teach everyone to eat to their athletic abilities and we back it up with support in the webinars and Science Lab Private Forum.

This is Shannon’s week starting pushups

Another amazing week!  It started off a little rough though…

I typically workout on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  Rarely do I workout more than 3 times per week unless I miss a day, then I will make it up by doing 4 days the next week.  This schedule works really well for my busy family and our wallet :)   This week however, I needed to take Dalton to soccer practice on Tuesday, so Dalton and I opted to do the 5:00 yoga class, then go to his practice.  Let me start by saying this…Dalton is a 15 year old boy who is built like a brick house and has a mohawk that varies in color.  It is pretty awesome and entertaining watching him do yoga.  Let me also say that I have nothing against yoga – it is damn hard and the people that are able to do it are strong and amazing.  I hate yoga!  It’s terrible to say it, I know, but seriously, I really do not enjoy doing yoga in any way.  Even though I was sweating like crazy and way sore the next day, I still felt like I didn’t work hard.  I did work hard, but I felt like I missed a day of working out.  Other than feeling guilty for “not working hard enough”, I have been stuck for the past month – at least in my 41 year old messed up head I have been stuck…on the scale….DAMN THE SCALE!!!!  I weigh myself everyday.  It really helps me understand my body and how it works.  90% of the time, this works great for me and doesn’t get me down when the number goes up by 1 or 2 pounds because I know in the next day or two, it will be back down.  This week I have been frustrated at the frozen number on the scale and I start blaming myself.  I have to be honest, in the past month or so, money has been really tight and eating “clean” has not been happening as often as I would like it to.  Pasta and processed foods have been sneaking their way back into my kitchen because that’s what’s in my pantry right now.  If I had planned a little better, I still could have eaten better, but lack of planning leads to eating whatever you can throw together.  Having 2 teenage boys in the house does not help either….

So on Thursday morning, I step on the scale….still 222…What the fuck!!!!!!!  I am already crabby and tired due to the hockey game Wednesday night when the damn Blackhawks beat my Boston Bruins in triple overtime, this just makes it worse.  Even worse is the class full of 2 year olds that I have to face for the next 8 hours and then the WOD that night that includes damn pullups which I STILL cannot do, even with a band!  Grrrrrrr!

I make it through the day without abusing any children and head home to change for Crossfit.  This is our WOD:

“Suns Out, Guns Out”

20min to do 10 Snatches @ 70-90% of 1RM. Utilize the time to use CORRECT AND PERFECT form.


3 rounds for total working time of:

32 Alternating Split Jumps

16 KB Snatches (1.5p/1p)(8/arm any order)

12 Pullups

I have only done snatches twice prior.  My first time doing them, my one rep max was 70# and the 2nd time I don’t remember…

I started light (35#) to warmup and just kept adding weight.  I settled on 80# after failing at 90#.  I got through my 10 using good form, throwing in a couple of squat snatches at the end, just to try.  With about 8 minutes left I look up at the leader board and see Lynn leads the women’s snatch PR at a massive amount of weight (I forget what it is cause she PR’d again at 135#!!!!!  Holy shit!), then it was Gretchen at 105# (I think) and then I saw Maggie’s name up there!  Maggie – I didn’t know you were on the leader board girl!  Damn – nice!

Being a little competitive, I thought, “Well, shit, now I have to try 90#!”  I threw 10# on the bar to try it again.  First try….FAIL.  Heidi, our trainer is watching and tells me right away that I started too slow – I failed from the start.  Explode!   I set myself up again…explode…explode…the bar is at my eye level as I muscle it above my head to complete the 90# snatch.  What a feeling!

Crap, I still have 3 rounds of hell to complete.  Luckily, I am on a high from my PR that I am ready!  After figuring out the rhythm of the alternating split jumps, I felt like a rockstar!  Actually, I felt like Dalton, my brickhouse of a 15 year old.  I decide to RX the kettlebell weight at 1 pood and then the pullups….

Lately, I have given up on pullups and just been doing ring rows.  Tonight, I decide, nope, I will do the damn black band pullups if it kills me!  It’s only 3 rounds, I can do it…AND I DID!  It took me more than 14 minutes, but I did 36 pullups along with everything else in the WOD!  They were damn hard and I was exhausted, but it was done.

I was already feeling pretty awesome, but felt even better when I get this message from Paul:

“honestly it’s really cool seeing how hard you work, you are one tough SOB”

Validation.  It’s amazing how someone validating that you worked hard at something, can make such an impact.  Paul doesn’t know this, but this one comment made me stronger and lead me to today’s WOD – Nicole.  Pull ups again….and running…..

Oddly enough, I wasn’t dreading this one.  It’s a 20 minute AMRAP so I will just do what I can…

We start with a 400m run and jump on our pullup bars.  On Thursday, I had been watching my husband as he did his pullups with a blue band because he looked damn good doing them…he has a nice rhythm and looks strong when he does them…I made some mental notes….

First round…black band – 7 pullups straight through..hang for a couple of seconds…4 more pullups….drop….run again…ugh!….

Second round….black band – 8 pullups straight through and my chin is well above the bar!  3 more to get to 11.  WTF?  IT CLICKED!!!!  I FIGURED OUT HOW TO DO A FUCKING PULL UP!!!!!!!  I am so euphoric, I just want to get through the run so I can come do some more pullups!  I finish the 20 minute AMRAP with 11 pullups in all 4 rounds.  Still feeling euphoric, I take a black and a green band to the other side of the gym while Dalton does his teens class…I start with the green band and do 3 pull ups pretty effortlessly!  OMG  No turning back now!  I borrow a green band to take home so I can feed this new addiction called pull ups…my hands are screwed….

It’s shocking to me what a rollercoaster ride this is.  I feel like I am constantly battling the emotions and head games that strive to make me fail.  This is the first time I am documenting this battle, so I feel like I am repeating myself all of the time with the struggles that I face.  I feel like they are happening more often than ever before, but I have come to realize, that I have been battling this my entire life and just haven’t been aware of the emotions and head games.  By writing this down every week, it is making me accountable and aware of not only my body, but my head.  It’s truly amazing and enlightening.  I highly suggest to anyone struggling with fat loss and getting healthy to put your successes and failures out there for the world to see.  Hundreds of people know that I weigh 222 pounds and my body fat percentage is 43% (I think that’s what is was).  Hundreds know that I have struggled with my weight all of my life and have been desperate enough to re-route my digestive tract with gastric bypass surgery only to fail again.  The fact that hundreds of people know this about me has allowed me to begin to become the person I am supposed to be.  I am not there yet, but I know, without a doubt, I have hundreds of people supporting me and cheering me on because I put it all out there.

Recipe tomorrow….pork chili?????

Eat To Perform Nutrition and Performance Challenge


To be a part of this challenge you will need to be a Science Lab member (you get Met Flex for Fat Loss) and we will provide support along the way.

The CrossFit community is always up for a challenge.  Whether it’s training or nutrition, we like to push ourselves into new territory.  It’s very common to see boxes doing 30 day Paleo Challenges; this has it’s good and bad points if you ask me.

The problem is that that the focus tends to be contrary to the goals of what CrossFit is all about: to increase performance by building/maintaining muscle and having awesome workouts.  It’s very common for people to say to me “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s great but I have X amount of fat to lose so I need to restrict my calories.”

Oh really?  Do you have more than (say) 65 lbs. to lose?  Because that is the exact amount of fat I lost, and I didn’t do it with a calorie-restricted approach.  This is where they reply, “I don’t count calories, I eat Paleo.”  Just because you don’t count calories doesn’t mean you aren’t eating less of them.  That is ultimately the goal of the Paleo Diet…To eliminate the foods with “energy density” and focus on “nutrient density.”

This works well for sedentary people folks, but it isn’t a great fit for athletes.  How do I know this?  Because Dr. Cordain, author of “The Paleo Diet,” wrote a follow-up book called “The Paleo Diet for Athletes.”  Almost no one has bothered to read it.

Left to their own devices, people have found a way of eating that might be better than gorging on Ben and Jerry’s every evening, but it isn’t in-line with their performance goals.

Eat To Perform is all about taking concepts we’re familiar with and effectively applying them to various goals and scenarios.

Setting Up the Challenge

Basically, there will be three forms of body fat testing allowed for the challenge; they are outlined in this article.  Just to be clear, your “body fat” test is actually a “lean body mass” test.  The challenge is to gain muscle and set Personal Records (PR’s).  I can already hear people saying “But I have X amount of fat to lose!  Count me out!”  Returning to that way of thinking is the very reason your potential is limited (though I will concede the point late in the article so bear with me).

The simple fact is that if you focus on the other two goals (gaining muscle/setting PR’s) fat loss happens without much effort.  Certainly, there has to be some level of restraint, and we will talk a bit about that as we go.

How Long is the Challenge?

The challenge will run for 3 months (roughly 90 days) with a 21-day optional “Whole Foods” period.  This is what I mean by whole foods; basically meats, veggies, moderate starches, and some fruit (sound familiar?).  So why is this part of the challenge optional?  In short, I am tired of seeing challenges meant for 25% of the folks in the gym.  The entire gym population can participate in this challenge because the only thing stopping someone from eating entirely Paleo is supplements.  From where I stand, supplements can play a very valuable role in the health equation.

This is especially true for people that are lean, as well as people that are kind of “on the fence” as far as body composition goes.  For these people, “eating clean” 100% of the time can lead to fat retention because their body doesn’t undergo adequate protein synthesis. (These people can end up losing muscle mass.)

What Happens After the 21 Days?

Most people have heard of the 80/20 rule where you eat 80% whole foods give yourself 20% of “wiggle room” for stuff slightly outside of the box.  I think one of the biggest mistakes that we can make as health advocates is to demonize foods as “good” or “bad.”  The simple fact is that if you do it mostly right with occasional moments of “eating for joy,” that is probably a better approach.

Studies seem to indicate that people who allow for some wiggle in their diet tend to be able to adhere for life.  It’s the die-hard, 100% folks that struggle.  If you don’t understand why that is, let me give you an example.

Oftentimes people want to look at 80/20 on a day-to-day basis; they have some “junk food” every day but eat mostly whole foods.  I prefer to reserve a few days of eating for joy each month where I have pizza and ice cream on Friday nights with my family.  Monday-Thursday are pretty close to 100% clean.  The resultant outcomes of these deviations from eating clean tend to be personal records and happiness.

It’s simple math:  the more energy you have inside you, the more energy your body can release.  To that end, I make a strong argument for NOT following cheat days with days of extreme restriction.  It’s unnecessary.  It can make your cells more inflexible, and it causes more stress that you have to recover from.


Speaking of recovery, I desperately want to make this part of the deal…But I won’t go there right now.  Just know this:  rest is favorable for many reasons, not the least of which is that it makes you feel like a caged animal chomping at the bit.  It makes you hungry to train and allows you to focus on your goals, so don’t forget to take some time to relax.

A Concession to the Fat Loss Folks

I told you this was coming:  If you stick with me and try my approach, I think you are going to be surprised how much fat you actually lose, but let’s say that by the end of this you still have some fat to shed.

In that instance, I’ll offer a three week challenge specifically for fat loss but you have to first try it my way to ensure we have the best chance of meeting your goals.

So I Have Some Good and Some Bad News

This is going to take some time to organize, so the goal is to begin August 1st.  that doesn’t mean that you should delay becoming a Science Lab member until then.  For a lot of people, what we teach is a new approach to eating and “Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Athletes” isn’t something that your body figures out over night.  I think there is a lot of value in joining, becoming a member of our club, and starting down the bath to becoming better right now.

The ultimate goal of this challenge is to get box owners involved on a lot of levels, but if your gym isn’t interested, that’s fine.  We are going to provide training resources, food ideas, and virtually anything that will make the challenge more fun.  We will have prizes, but certainly nothing anyone would have enough incentive to misrepresent results to obtain.

I look forward to seeing you in the Science Lab.  Thanks for reading!

My Story (with Before and Afters)

Paul Family Image

In some ways, my journey began by Googling “how to lose a double chin.”  I had already lost a lot of weight, but I looked like an emaciated version of my former fat self and I still had a double chin.  That’s how I found body fat testing, and that single event changed everything for me.  Our book Met Flex for Fat Loss teaches you how to fuel your body for your fat loss goals.  We back that up with seminars and a private group so you can ask high-level professionals to assist you in your journey.  To be clear though, we aren’t a diet group; we are a performance group.  All of the changes I made below didn’t come from dieting.  In a very real way, when I quit being a “dieter”, everything clicked.

My Journey

What I am supposed to do here is show you guys the “before” pictures of me walking around at 200+ lbs., then show you the “after” picture of me at 9% body fat, and tell you how easy it was to accomplish.  I am not going to do that though.  That would be a big fat lie.  I can tell you this:  knowing me will make your journey a hell of a lot easier because after years of burying my head in the sand, I decided that I was too smart to be fat.

On at least four or five separate occasions, I was able to get under 200 lbs. by dropping Cokes and M & M’s, and if I ate some  vegetables on occasion, I could get under 190 lbs.  I ate when I was stressed, I ate when I was happy, I ate when I was sad…It was a rare occasion when I didn’t have an excuse to eat.  The pictures you are seeing are from about 2004/2005; the poker picture embarrassed me so much that I actually did something about it and got down to a skinny fat 175 lbs. with almost no exercise at all.  It’s laughable to think of it now because I enjoy activity so much, but as you can see from the pictures, I knew “fat loss in 30 days” wasn’t in the cards for me.  It was going to be hard, and I went all out.

I basically starved myself to lose weight at this point.  (To be fair, I wasn’t exactly starving myself – I was really just low carbing and under eating.)  You can get by with this kind of diet in short bursts, but if you stick with it and really start to hammer away, you begin to do severe damage to yourself.  In the end I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

Worst of all, the weight loss didn’t stick.  By limiting carbs, you probably won’t take in adequate calories (especially if you’re active.)  You limit protein synthesis and it’s hard to put on muscle.  Your BMR drops and you need to eat less and less to keep losing weight.  The funny thing about starving yourself is that eventually, you stop and you begin to eat again (at least most people do.)  Once I started eating normally, the weight came back with interest.  I probably spent close to a year getting to 175 lbs. through a starvation diet, and it only took me a couple of weeks to put it all back on.

Paul Poker Image

When people Google my name, this is typically the first image they see of me.

I could ignore my health; I could ignore all of the family photos of me being heavy, but once I started showing up on television and in magazines (as a professional poker player) I realized that this was how people were going to view me for the rest of my life.  I didn’t want that to be the case.  More importantly, I am a successful person in many aspects of life, and I didn’t want my daughters and family to be blinded by the one area of my life where it appeared I didn’t care.

Whatever It Took

All of the times before this, I had all of these qualifiers…I had a list of all of the things I wouldn’t do.  I knew this might be my last shot; I had to go all in. (Get it?  Poker picture?  All in?)  Focusing on body fat measurements made a big difference for me because the scale didn’t always show me the progress I was making with muscle.  If there is one thing I would like to get across to you guys it’s this:  Try to reach your fat loss goals, but don’t do it without respect for your muscle.  Don’t be obsessed with the numbers.

Looking back, if there is one thing I would change about my fat loss journey, I would choose not to get so small.  Doing the math with body fat percentage calculations (focusing on getting to single digits and getting ripped) just became obsessive for some reason.  In the picture below, I weighed 149 pounds.  Currently I weigh 175 pounds.  I suspect my body fat is higher than 15% at the moment.  The reason is simple:  my goals have changed.  I am a 44 year old man.  Next year is my first opportunity to become a Masters competitor in the 45-49 age division.  If I want to have any shot at all, I need to be strong.  Our sport rewards strong people.  The reality is that my strength goals are lofty, but you have to dream big to lift big.

Me at 9%

Me at 9%.

People Want a Formula…

…But we don’t teach a formula.  We try to meet people where they’re at now, and give them the information they need to get where they want to be.  I’ve (obviously) been at both ends of the spectrum, and I honestly believe I can help practically anyone reach their goals.  Understand this though:  ”lose 30 lbs.” isn’t a goal.  If it is, it certainly isn’t one you wake up excited about and ready to tackle each day.  It isn’t specific either; do you want to lose 30 lbs. of fat?  Muscle?  Where do you go after you’ve lost the 30 lbs?  How will that change who you are?  ”Lift 500 pounds from the floor for a single repetition” is a goal that will have you in the gym/kitchen/bed every day getting the training, nutrition, and sleep you need to make a change in yourself (both inside and out.)  You can’t sit back and ignore your body when you’re focused on performance; you spend each day honoring your commitments and it shows in your character as well as your physique.

One thing I had going for me is that I already liked myself.  Trust me, I know why this site is popular.  A lot of people idolize Chris Spealler, but they see me as someone they can relate to.  I take that responsibility serious.  If people think I was some miserable fat guy, they are wrong; you would like me today, and you probably would have liked me then too.  I was competitive and smart, but I just wasn’t focused on health at that point.

507 pounds

Let’s make it clear that after all this change, I am not a finished product.  To a certain extent, Eat To Perform has been enlightening for me as well.  I had pretty much tapped my potential as a 165 pound man, and it occurred to me that if I wanted to pull 500 pounds off of the ground I might need to change the way I had planned my own journey.  Allowing myself, mentally, to put on 10 pounds wasn’t easy, but I am much stronger as a result and I didn’t get fat doing it.

I am as guilty as anybody of limiting my potential by letting my fat layer dictate my goals.  The best version of me is strong and capable, irrespective of weight (and to a certain extent irrespective of my body fat percentage.)  For too long I allowed that to limit me.  This isn’t an argument for being irresponsible; it’s an argument for changing your mindset related to what the best version of you looks like in the mirror.  The best version of me is strong and athletic.  I am no longer chasing weight and body fat as a means to validate my success.

No Excuses

No one wants to hear sob stories about how I didn’t eat vegetables until I was in my thirties.  Frankly, I grew up in households where convenience was the priority, and I had to work to re-wire my brain to get to where I am today.  Which brings me to my next point:

Not everyone is going to make it.

I said from day one that my problem was that I didn’t understand the WHY’s of nutrition; “Why do carbohydrates make you hold excessive water?”, “Why are they necessary for a healthy metabolism and protein turnover?”, “Why does fat store as fat without the presence of insulin?”, and maybe most importantly for this site, “WHY does high intensity exercise breaks down muscle and cause you to hold onto fat when you aren’t eating enough?”

The simple fact is I can spend every red cent I earn with this site to pay the best PhD’s, strength coaches, and psychologists to help you understand yourself but none of them can do it for you.  It’s just information.

“The people that don’t make it simply quit on themselves.”

Trust me, I get that part.  I did for many years.  The first thing I had to do was give myself a clean mental slate.  I realized who loved me and who had to leave and I remade every single part of my life.  CrossFit was the missing piece of the puzzle though; when I hang out on weekends, I like to hang out with my fit friends.  Not because it’s some devious plan, but because I like hanging around people like me.  I like mentoring new folks; I don’t allow negative sentiment to develop in the private group.  My train is headed in one direction and that direction is positive.

I’ve never put these pictures out there before, but Maggie (the business developer for this site and to a certain extent the female version of me) thought people needed to know where I came from, that it would help put some perspective on what I write and what I teach.  Secretly, I think she wanted my story out there because I keep putting up her story.  Make no mistake about it though; one of the most inspiring stories you will ever hear related to CHANGING EVERYTHING is that of Paul Nobles Jr.  I love these pictures, because they serve as a symbol of how far I have come.  (That’s an example of me being positive!)  Certainly, I could allow myself to view them the opposite way if that is what I chose, but that’s not how I roll.

It’s hard doing what it takes when you are confused and you’re allowing negative messages to dominate your psyche.  If you are new, your journey starts now.  Go to the front of the class and turn around to address them; trust me, you will give everything you have because you will see a bunch of other people doing the exact same thing.  As coaches, we need to do a better job of keeping new people interested, involved, and dedicated to a better “me.”  Allowing those people to hide in the back of the gym is something that needs to change.  No one is going to judge you for where you are at, but they will judge you for quitting on yourself.  CrossFit is about support and it’s one of the things our community does best.  I hope in some small way that Eat To Perform pushes that along a bit.

Extreme Fat Loss Seminar Time Stamped and Transcribed

warning fat loss

The central theme of your Science Lab membership is the idea of Metabolic Flexibility.  We wrote these chapters specifically for High Intensity Weightlifting Sports.  Along with that you get the UNLIMITED ability to talk to coaches and nutrition experts in these seminars as well as our private group click this link for details.

(Click “Continue reading” to jump to a time stamp and transcription of this seminar)

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Extreme Fat Loss: Skinny-Fat Edition

warning fat loss

Many people coming from aggressive deficit dieting or low carbohydrate backgrounds get scared of minor weight gain as they start to adapt to a more performance way of eating.  It’s 100% normal to need to navigate this mentally and the best way to do that is with other people.  That is what the Science Lab does and we have Extreme Fat Loss seminars every Monday night  for more information click here.

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article.)

I think it would surprise most people how inaccessible a lot of diet authors are; most of them just write their book, promote it, and then they’re done.  After the initial campaign, they might keep a blog and publish a post once a week.  Maybe they’ll release an amendment to the book in a few years.  All-in-all, there’s very little in the way of support for their product and they rarely practice what they preach.

I have had a lot of luck conversing with high-level authors about studies I find interesting, or successes I have had putting their concepts into practice, but when things start to go awry those e-mails go unanswered.  When I mentioned my plans for the Science Lab, one of my better friends (Who is also a well- known author) said, “That sounds like a train wreck.  This is a numbers game; a lot of people fail.”  Then I said something to him that made him pause:  “What if they fail because they went the wrong way and no one was there to put them on the correct path?”

It’s been a very rewarding experience working with people on a personal level as it relates to their health and fitness journey, but the one thing that does suck a bit is that some people don’t come out on the other side.  They’re hearing a lot of other voices, and sometimes that can also become confusing.  The simple fact is this:  there is no single answer to every query.  Everybody’s path is unique, and there will be much deliberation along the way.  Most people that land at my doorstep have been on the proverbial treadmill for some time, and they want answers now.  Let’s talk about a very common problem that is oftentimes the first bug we have to squash.

what got you fat

Why Low Carb Diets Kill Performance

To begin, let’s clarify what I mean by “low carb”:  less than 100 grams of carbs a day qualifies but it depends slightly upon the person.  It’s a sliding scale; 100g is about the point where brain function is covered, so if that is all you are eating there isn’t a lot left to feed your muscles.  This doesn’t mean you will wither up and die, but it’s not optimal whether you’re a man or a woman.

I am talking to a mostly active audience.  Certainly, if you don’t do very much with your body, some level of carb restriction probably makes sense but even in that instance, it can be harmful to your metabolism to take it to an extreme.  When you add activity (Especially high-level activity like CrossFit or weightlifting), even 100g can become potentially harmful.

Let’s do the math:

  • Your brain and other vital organs use 100g of glucose or more every day.
  • Let’s say you burn 300 calories during a WOD.  Most of those calories come from glycogen storage within the muscle.  (Let’s use 60% carbs as an example.)
  • That would be 180 calories from carbs, divided by 4 calories per gram.  You end up at 45g of carbs used for the WOD.

If you have ever wondered why you feel lethargic after a WOD, now you have some idea.  Your diet barely provides enough glucose to keep your brain going, let alone fuel the workout.  Your body has to find an alternative path to produce energy, since carbs aren’t being made readily available.  It would be nice to think that you’d draw on stored body fat, but fat has to be mobilized before it can be used as a substrate to produce glucose in the liver.  This process is neither quick, nor convenient, but it works under the context of endurance activities.  As far as anaerobic exercise is concerned, muscle glycogen is your best option and you’re running low.  You CAN get by like this, but your power output and maximal strength will likely suffer.

Why Low Carb Diets Make you Skinny-Fat

As most people know by now, carbs and sugars stimulate insulin production.  Insulin is primarily a transport hormone; it helps get nutrients into cells.  This is helpful as far as building muscle goes, but when you’re in a calorie surplus, insulin also helps create fat stores.  When there’s no more room for carbohydrate in the muscles or liver, it will be converted to fat.

When you eat low carb, insulin secretion stays at a minimum and cells become hyper-sensitive to its signaling.  In the short term, this is actually great as far as fat burning and muscle retention are concerned, but it’s a problem if you want to build muscle.  A lot of the protein you’re eating is being used to produce glucose rather than stimulating growth; at best, you’ll retain your muscle mass, but over the long term you’ll start breaking down muscle tissue to produce glucose too.  If you’re not eating enough total calories, you will waste muscle and your body fat percentage will increase.

To make matters worse, your muscles will eventually become insensitive to insulin and the fat mobilizing hormone leptin, leaving your cells inflexible and flat-footed.  This also has a negative effect on your endocrine system.  In general, it’s unnecessary and at worst it can cause all kinds of metabolic dysfunction.

You end up weak, skinny fat, and your metabolism is essentially broken.   Certainly, I am not pitching for extreme levels of dietary carbohydrate intake.  Rather just enough to support muscle maintenance, repair and a little growth on occasion.  Like most things, quality is more important than quantity.

All Carbs are not Created Equal

To replenish muscle glycogen, the quickest and most efficient sources are going to be starches.  Something like Kale or broccoli might be good as far as vitamins are concerned, but your body will derive very little net carbohydrate from these sources and you’ll have a heck of a time refueling your muscles.  Sugars are a step in the right direction, but most are inefficient as they are only partially glucose.  A notable exception is dextrose, which is a100% glucose form of sugar and is popular in supplements and sports drinks.

For a more in-depth look at optimal carb sources, review this article.

So How Does This Person Recover and Lose Fat?

The answer is actually so simple, it’s going to make you mad, but it’s also difficult to quantify immediately.  Because the person wasn’t eating enough carbohydrate to aid in protein turnover, all they need to do is eat enough to start putting on some muscle mass.  Much of the “fat” that was gained was simply the body trying to protect itself, as well as a decrease in lean body mass that artificially inflated your body fat percentage.  When you eat an adequate amount of quality carbs from whole food sources (We’re not talking three pints of Ben and Jerry’s) you start refilling your muscles with water and glucose, and as you lift heavier weight you add density and functional tissue.  The results tend to be quite extreme, and they happen relatively quickly.  It’s not uncommon for someone to gain five pounds of muscle within a few weeks.

The best part is that as long as you’re active and you eat relatively clean, all of that added weight is lean mass.  If you have been depleted for some time, you can actually mobilize some fat, but the numbers don’t tend to be quite as significant; you won’t lose 10% of your body fat but 1-2% isn’t out of the question.  What you are doing however is aiding your work capacity in a significant manner, and as you gradually build muscle mass (women may refer to this as “muscle tone”) you can start to chip away at your body fat.  Meanwhile, you end up squatting more, deadlifting more, and making Fran your bitch.

Two of the rarest commodities, patience and understanding, are required to get there.  This approach might set you back a few weeks or months before you can tell that the train is definitely on the right track.  Most people instinctively know that the direction I want them to go is the correct path, but old habits die hard.  Remember this:  I am not saying you shouldn’t eat low carb occasionally.  In fact, that is a central theme of what we teach in the Science Lab, but you should always allow for maintenance and growth of muscle tissue.   Under eating and low carbing won’t get you there.   It’s only half of the equation.


  • A big part of why Eat To Perform is dedicated to providing support for our users is because everyone is on their own unique path and sometimes, the people who don’t succeed were the people who needed a more in-depth look.  We want to see people achieve their goals!
  • Your brain and organs use about 100g of glucose on a daily basis, just to keep you alive.  Low carb diets do not allow any energy for your muscles, and your workouts will probably suck.
  • When your workouts suck and you’re not providing your body with enough carbs to increase protein synthesis and retention, you’re going to lose muscle mass.
  • A low body fat percentage without a significant amount of muscle mass results in a damaged metabolism and a gaunt physical appearance.  Without a lot of muscle, you will never diet away the last bits of fat.
  • How do you fix yourself and get back to burning fat?  It’s simple:  you eat enough carbs and food overall to fuel performance!
  • As your performance increases, you’ll get stronger, you’ll add muscle mass, and you’ll be able to burn fat at appropriate times, resulting in an overall improved body composition and optimized health.

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