There are two separate human biologies. When obese individuals eat, they have a drop in LCN2 (Lipocalin-2). When lean individuals eat, they have a rise in LCN2 ( https://elifesciences.org/for-the-press/0e5f09a7/hormone-found-to-switch-off-hunger-could-help-tackle-obesity). The rise inhibits hunger. The decrease amplifies hunger. This is one of many distinctions which are each grand enough so as to describe the underlying biology as separate subspecies. I say this because what works for one subspecies will not and cannot work for another. And it’s not an overstatement. There is an overt and dramatic biological difference. I’ve covered it before with regard to many other underlying differences, including microbiome (https://www.elev8wellness.com/wellblog_best_nutrition_training_coaching_experts/bacteria-make-you-fat), LPL (https://www.elev8wellness.com/wellblog_best_nutrition_training_coaching_experts/why-cutting-calories-and-increasing-activity-never-works), sestrin response (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-13832-9), leptin/ghrelin balance (https://www.elev8wellness.com/wellblog_best_nutrition_training_coaching_experts/all-possibilities-in-your-life-are-a-vast-forest6179975), and more.
In particular, this LCN2 is of interest, because the glycoprotein is a transport molecule which plays a role in organ health, immune health, inflammatory response, metabolic shifts, and the difference between bone formation or bone deterioration (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819811/). Each subspecies has such disparate responses that we have to be careful in our assessment of exercise guidelines, medication recommendations, nutritional directives, and even success stories. Any one blanket statement does not fit at least half of the populace.
One group has the cards stacked against it. The lean group has a Royal Flush. To make the same dietary and activity recommendations for both is scientific nonsense. It would be like telling two different card players with two different hands to execute the exact same play at the exact same time. Scratch that. It would be like telling a domino player how to roll his Yahtzee dice in a game of poker. It’s akin to bowling a touchdown while shuffle-boarding a wheelie in cribbage and shaming someone for not slam dunking a table tennis snowboard half pipe.
Body fat is an endocrine organ. It’s not just a bunch of stored energy. Having a massive over-abundance of that organ is biologically unrelated to having an under-abundance. They play by different rules. They’re playing two different games.
This is my continuous bugbear in the fitness community. All popular health and wellness advice is bullshit - steaming piles of garbage, based on oversimplified and antiquated thinking. This may be a shocker, but science has nuance and it has continued for the past 70 years. What do you think scientists have been doing since 1950? Making NO new discoveries or only simple research that can be captured in a four word meme? That dumbass 1950s nutritional advice has been overturned. And we have many times over found that “calories-in/calories-out” is about as up-to-date as the geocentric theory of the universe. It’s about as complex an explanation as describing three totally unrelated stars which are trillions of miles apart as “Orion’s Belt.” Cool. That name tells us abso-friggin-lutely NOTHING of scientific significance.
Have you ever seen a plump child grow up to be a lanky teen? Did they eat fewer calories than they burned to get lean? Or did they eat more than they burned to grow bigger and taller? The sub-80 IQ that holds onto popular ideas can’t even begin to decipher this very simple equation. When a 180lb man with 25% body fat becomes a 250lb man at 4% body fat, did he eat more than he burned to drop the 35lbs of fat, or did he eat less than he burned to gain the 105lbs of muscle and lean tissue? Why do Americans gain one pound of fat per year after age 25 but lose a pound of lean tissue? Go ahead. I’ll wait. Please explain via the calories-in/calories-out hypothesis alone. Do not invoke any other explanatory model. Just use the calories-in/calories-out hypothesis.
Skeletal muscle is also an endocrine organ. It’s not just a motor to articulate. And it is our key to shift the biology. When we contract it intensely, there are endocrine changes which mimic the rules by which lean people get to play all the time: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559006/.
There’s no good way around this. Two-to-one, non-lean people will have to find ways to lift heavy and sprint to invert their disadvantage. It may sound like something from sci fi, but we can perform strengthening exercises to mutate (https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2020/06000/epigenetic_responses_to_acute_resistance_exercise.11.aspx). Epigenetics is real. We can change subspecies. We can close the divide. We can evolve. We can take one human biology and move it closer to another. And we must, for there are at least two completely separate human biologies.
“If you will have a person enslaved, the first thing you must do is convince yourself that the person is subhuman. The second thing you have to do is convince your allies so you'll have some help, and the third and probably unkindest cut of all is to convince that person that he or she is subhuman and deserves it."
- Maya Angelou
Every abolitionist showed us that we decide to be free. Our victim culture has learned nothing from them and would gladly place shackles on themselves by professing to have no choice or control over their own minds.
The very belief that we cannot choose our mental state or our life outcomes is to believe we are subhuman and consequently enslave ourselves.
Instead, we can work to see ourselves as human, learning that pain is inevitable but that suffering is a choice. Non-stop anger or indignation is a choice. Helplessness is a choice. And in turn, embracing our humanity, we may choose action. We may combat inaction. We can choose to change. We can select gratefulness, contentment, and joy. We can strive for health. We can reach fitness. We will create destiny.
Every. Single. Day. Another famous fitness upstart dead or hospitalized. Please, let us exert a little more discretion before heaping praise upon inexperience and/or people who live in perpetual life imbalance in the fitness industry.
Here’s a newbie who right out of the gate takes drugs she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t bust her rear with hard work for 10-20 years first. She doesn’t gain any experience in fitness progressions without drug abuse. Before we know it, she commands the minds of tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, directing them on behavior before she’s learned to manage herself appropriately.
The drugs create a heightened environment for leanness and strength, which produce excessive sweating. If she knew anything, was mentored by anybody, she could downdose or offdose. But then she might lose followers. Then she might lose endorsements. She would lose collaborators.
So instead the newbie touts an anti-sweeting procedure which requires anesthetic that doesn’t mix with the drugs she refuses to discontinue. In her hubris she doesn’t disclose said drugs to the clinic; and predictably she dies. 100% preventable.
This craziness isn’t rare. And young people are not going to just magically become internally grown-up, intrinsically motivated, and self-confident in hard work. While the market place rewards foolishness and short-cuts and inauthenticity with attention, attention-seeking youths are going to keep trading their lives and health for your attention.
Yes, the individual is responsible for her own decisions. The many many other influencers who've been dropping like flies in the past months are personally responsible. But the community is responsible for the incentives. If we keep rewarding physical and mental unhealthiness with our attention and our likes, we too are part of the problem.
Body fat is not broken down by any kind of calorie equation. Consult the chart. This is the KNOWN science on fat loss. No calories in the diagram.
The breakdown, lipolysis, is the result of 3-6 hormones elevated in the absence of elevated blood sugar. This is an incontestable biological fact. It is not my opinion. There exists no debate.
Cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline come along the same stress cascade. If you workout, take caffeine, or diet in such a way that drops blood sugar, your body responds with these hormones. You unlock stored fat and use it. As such, different people will swear by slim fast shakes, others by weight watchers, some by vegan lifestyle, some by Paleo, some by sprints, some by endurance training, some by Crossfit and others by long walks. They're all gimmicks. The principles don't, can't and won't change.
Simply stimulate cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline in the absence of insulin and you burn fat.
Specifically, when you’re suffering from low energy, eating carbohydrates actually damages the powerhouse of the cell, temporarily reducing your symptom, but long-term worsening the disease of low energy: https://www.cell.com/cell.../fulltext/S2211-1247(21)00915-3
Do keep in mind that repeated overexposure to stress will flood the bloodstream with excessive glucose and hamper receptors in the same way. People keep trying to knock down the symptoms with eating, which precisely progresses the disease.
In many cases, especially inflammatory diseases, quelling symptoms comes at a severe cost: the disease gets worse. This is broadly true. Even in injury therapy, we are seeing the common recommendations increasingly trend away from anti-inflammatory drugs and ice and so on. If you get a surgery nowadays, you will be forbidden from taking anti-inflammatories before and usually for six more weeks afterward. Some of that discomfort and pain is the body trying to heal itself. When we interrupt the signal, we interrupt the healing. Symptoms are often a strong signal of the body attempting to wake you up to how you’re harming it. Turning off the symptom is precisely wrong.
We see this in pain science, wherein repeated cortisone injections increasingly weaken the offending tissue. People get a reprieve from the pain in exchange for the joint accelerating its deterioration. In gastrointestinal issues, medication reduces the symptom of heartburn or reflux in exchange for raising risk of GI cancers. In many autoimmune diseases, foods are among the triggers; people take the medication and keep eating the offending foods, always confused at how “random” the flare-up is. Nothing is random. The universe is complex, but not random. I’ve had a client identify corn sensitivity so severe that she would get flare-up with NO corn eaten - she discovered that some canned goods used a corn derivative in the insulating material inside the can. It wasn’t random at all. But she had to dig VERY deep in examining which foods and even cross-contaminants triggered her responses. And it was a search beyond the expertise of all of her medical specialists involved.
The most prevalent disease is low energy or chronic fatigue. It’s wrapped up in all sorts of other diseases. But energy is a really tough one, because almost every technique people go to in order to address the lack of energy ends up worsening the disease. The brain incorrectly tells us it needs carbohydrates. Of course, it doesn’t. I’ve fasted for 6 days when I was already very lean. We all have enough stored energy on us as adults to avoid eating anything for weeks or months. Frankly, we should, at least once or twice a year.
And the study in Cell tells us why. Carbohydrates damage the way we even get energy into cellular function. The way to cure the disease is to temporarily make the symptoms WORSE, a lot worse. But, in three days of fasting or at least low protein and no carbs, we clear the inflammatory cascades a tiny bit, such that the pain of low energy can be replaced with the healing of the low energy disease.
It’s very similar to how people will avoid strengthening a problematic shoulder or hip, reducing symptoms, only to later discover the shoulder and hip are still in pain but now also weak. This makes what could’ve been just a low level irritation into a surgical candidate.
Symptoms are not disease. Fixating on symptom will not yield the answer to the disease. Avoiding, reducing, or eliminating symptoms often comes at the cost of much worse health outcomes. We have to have the patience, the investigatory fastidiousness, and the willingness to let symptoms get worse before the diseases can get better. With energy and eating, this is especially true.
I’m very fortunate to own a business wherein I get life-altering messages like in this screenshot every week. But over the past two decades of professional coaching and weekly updates like this, a bigger truth dawned on me that people are succeeding NOW, long before the “success story”, long before the “product,” because they first must work a process. And as amazing as 60lb, 100lb, 150lb transformation stories are, the success was in every step, every effort to restore health, every troubleshooting and coaching discussion to overcome limiting beliefs and figure out difficult circumstances.
When you first enroll in a program you generally don’t think “I’m failing” at the beginning. You just started. You are working steps. Each step leads to others. It’s a process, not a product. While in the process, as long as you keep working the steps, you ARE succeeding.
When we were babies, we crawled. Did we “fail” at walking every day that we tried but couldn’t quite keep upright? When we were kids, and we didn’t yet ride bikes, did we “fail” every time we aimed to balance? The answer is obvious. From the perspective of PRODUCT, there is mostly failure. From the perspective of PROCESS, there is simply working the steps.
I’m going to harp on this, because I’m incredibly tired of people referring to fundamental health and fitness like it’s a widget getting produced at an assembly plant. We never “arrive.” It doesn’t sit in a warehouse, awaiting transport and purchase. It is with you always, and it is ever-evolving.
Thus, as an adult, be wary of your perspective. Most endeavors are processes, especially personal development. Be careful not to objectify them, thinking of life as a bunch of products with shipment dates.
Whether it be fitness or some other pursuit, just work the steps and you are in the process. You are succeeding.