Episode 125 Show Notes
In this episode, Grant and Heavey discuss a LifeHacker article featuring a study from Obesity Research and Clinical Practice about starving yourself two times a week to lose weight. Does this even make sense? Listen to their thoughts around this and get some insights as they try to shed some light on a listener question regarding a more sustainable way of shedding stubborn belly fat. They also share a point by point comparison of two types of scotch they brought to the table today.
[01:15] What the Article Says
Starving yourself for two days a week is actually not a bad diet. What you should do is take two days a week, Monday and Thursday, for example, and don’t eat too much specifically eating only 25% of your normal calories. So if you’re on 2,000 calories a day, only take in 500 calories.
The study has been widely popular in the UK for a few years following a 2012 BBC documentary that started this idea. The author says this is like intermittent fasting but taken to a bigger end. This is linked to another article saying that Benedict Cumberbatch does it. (Well, if Sherlock Holmes does it, it has got to be the right thing.)
[02:55] Heavey’s Insights
Heavey has heard people doing this kind of stuff and sure it can be valuable for people eating crappy diets. For instance, if you’re eating 4,000 calories a day of junk food and fast food and then you deprive yourself of that food for two days, then on average, your weekly intake goes down to a more reasonable and acceptable level for weight loss. Yet, Heavey believes the secret to making change in your body is something sustainable so he doesn’t really buy into what the article says. Starving yourself doesn’t seem to be the right path to a sustainable diet. You can’t just starve yourself for two days and then go back to eating crap.
Heavey further says that any diet works but he just doesn’t feel this would set you up for good eating habits. When looking at a diet, ask yourself if this is going to set you up for long-term positive eating habits or are you just reinforcing shitty habits?
Here’s the problem. Say, you starve yourself one day in a week and then you get used to that. The next week, you don’t do any of them and still eating crap. Whereas if you focus on introducing some better habits and develop those over time, that sticks with you.
[04:50] Listener Question
A listener dropped in a question over email. It’s from Jacob and says he’s been a long time listener of the podcast. He’s 25 years old and works out 3-4 times a week. He eats clean. He runs and does some HIIT training. He works 60 hours a week so he makes the most of lifting with the little time he has. He can’t do meal prep and Chipotle is his best friend.
Problem: He gained 15-20 pounds after getting married, mostly around his stomach region. Since then, he has lost about 15 pounds and has stayed consistent with his weight. However, he could not get rid of the “tire” around his waist. He has no clue what to do. He knows everyone is different and it depends but he’s at a loss. Jacob is asking for suggestions on how he could get rid of that despite his busy schedule.
[06:09] Sleep and Stress Management
Unfortunately, Jacob didn’t give any information about his sleep and using the four pillars as a baseline, sleep plays a big role in body composition.
First, you have to assess how you’re sleeping. You have to get about eight hours of sleep. If you’re not getting enough then you need to focus on increasing your sleep – both quantity and quality-wise which means sleeping for eight hours and feeling well-rested in the morning.
Considering Jacob is working 60 hours a week, that is a lot. And sales is a stressful environment especially if you’re traveling a lot, which can complicate things.
[07:05] How to Get Rid of Belly Fat
The persistent weight in your belly is consistent with hormone imbalance. It may not be an issue if you’re eating clean now but if you have blood sugar problems, for instance, collecting belly fat is a common symptom of that. It doesn’t necessarily have to be diabetes but that doesn’t just happen immediately since you work up to that over time. You could be pre-diabetic or even just a crappy elevated fasted blood glucose over time can contribute to increased insulin secretion and insulin resistance resulting to belly fat.
Alongside this, you can see elevated cortisol because it affects blood sugar and this whole mess of hormones that can lead to belly fat storage too. Cortisol levels are especially elevated when you live a stressful life. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as pumping the breaks and not get stressed. This is one of the hardest ones to get people to pay attention to and to buy into. Although there is no real good answer to managing your stress, you can try to design your life around a certain way of living where you’re not too stressed. And then you can reinforce that with meditation.
For the most part, stress is just perception. If you feel too stressed about your job, just take some time to reflect on that and figure out how you can exactly improve it.
[09:55] Exercise as Stressor
When Grant and Heavey talked about the pillar of stress, one of the big stressors is exercise and if you try to cram that into your schedule and that stresses you out and then you put in this intense exercise, that could actually be exacerbating your cortisol or hormone issues.
What you want is a hormetic stress where the body gets positive adaptations as a result. But the body views it as any other stress and so if you have all this stress piling up in your life with work and family and then you throw in a high intensity training, you may not get that positive adaptation and it may just cause additional problems, increase your cortisol levels, and eventually cause belly fat instead of reducing it which was your goal for doing the exercise in the first place. So if you think you’re super stressed, modify the way you’re training.
When Heavey was also going through some health / stress stuff, he actually stopped training “hard” and he hasn’t really gone back to training hard but he has seen some pretty good changes in his body composition. He ended up just doing mostly slow lifting along with small amount of lower intensity cardio training. He gets on the rower for a couple times a week and lifts a few times a week and that’s it.
So consider altering your training if your stress profile is bananas and until you can fix that, most likely, the lower intensity training may be better for you. Jacob mentioned not having much time for the weights but he gets to do running and HIIT training. If you’re not doing some slow, steady lifting then try gravitating towards more of that than high intensity training. Doing slower lifting provides a more hypertrophy stimulus on the body and the more muscle you have, it’s going to improve the factors that influence belly fat.
[13:03] Nutrition: Reverse Dieting and Chipotle
Given that Jacob is 25 years old and about 210 pounds and estimating he is six feet tall, Heavey calculated that his maintenance calories should be about 2,900 per day (as opposed to the 2,000 calories he’s taking everyday). Another driver for stubborn belly fat is that when you are consistently under-eating for an extended period of time, it’s going to cause your body to go into starvation and survival mode and this could prevent you from really losing weight. This results to an accumulation of body fat, especially around the belly region, which also contributes to the whole stress profile.
When you’re in this situation, Heavey recommends slowly increase your intake from 2,000 calories to 2,900 calories a day. Also monitor how you’re feeling and what your body weight is doing over that period. Heavey suspects your body weight will stay roughly the same and after you get up to 2,900, hang out there for a couple of weeks. Then if you drop to 2,500 calories, Heavey expects you’d start shedding some of that weight. This is the whole notion of reverse dieting up to your maintenance calories and then doing a cut because your body will then accept that it’s not in a famine and it will be more willing to release fat cells.
Is Chipotle a healthy place to pick up food quickly? Yes, because you can dial it in to exactly how you want. You can get a salad, rice and chorizo. And perhaps add some guacamole. It all comes down to your personal goal and scenario but you can totally eat well at Chipotle. In fact, there is a huge community of people online that accept Chipotle as the go-to place when you’re traveling and eating clean.
Is home-made pizza healthy? Heavey and Nicole make a pizza every week. As long as it fits within the general context of what you’re doing, there’s no reason you can’t have special food. The good thing about making pizza yourself is you get to enjoy the flavor more and you control what’s on it more.
[18:22] Let’s Talk Scotch – Finlaggan
You’re probably wondering why scotch hasn’t been talked about as much lately primarily because Grant has been trying to get in a better shape the past couple of months so he hasn’t been drinking from Monday through Friday. And since they haven’t talked about scotch as much, it’s probably about time they’d throw some in here.
Coming at a high price of $18 at Trader Joe’s for a single malt. Reading the label, it comes from the island of Islay. This island only has a few distilleries. First of all, there is no Finlaggan distillery. What they have are Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Laphroaig, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, and Caol Ila. None of them are Finlaggan. Grant suspects one of those distilleries named here is making this for them. Islay is known for its peatiness. All, except for the Bruichladdich, are using malted barley dried with peat so you get that peatiness smokiness.
Next thing you see is a single malt so you know it’s coming from one distillery. One person is supplying it. Third, it says Old Reserve but it doesn’t state its age so it’s probably young, reason they’re making this so cheap. It’s one of the distilleries that has a little bit of excess capacity in its stills and can just turn this out without having to do any of their branding and marketing.
The other day, Heavey posted an image from when they had their first recordings and one of them was Kirkland and some people made fun of that because it’s a Costco scotch. However, that scotch was actually from Macallan. And this has been featured on the Wall Street Journal talking about the backdoor to getting cheap Macallan scotch. So Finlaggan is another example of that or maybe they just don’t want to get their name out with some cheaper product or maybe another person is just re-bottling it.
[22:27] Taste and Cost
What’s interesting is there are avenues to get potentially more high-end beverages. California has pretty good pricing and from a California perspective, the cheapest bottle you can get from other places is $40. In some places, the cheapest you can get is $50. Considering it’s $18 and it’s coming from one of those distilleries, Grant thinks quite of value.
Taste-wise, it does taste like a better scotch than $18 especially for a single malt. Heavey has not had a lot at this price point and the one they bought previously was at a close range but it didn’t really taste good. He could not recall any booze that he had ever bought that was $18 that tasted as good as this.
For $18, it’s outstanding. But in general, it’s an okay scotch. There is not an awful lot of character. It’s simple because it’s young. It does have that strong spirit taste but bottled at 40% when they’ve had 55%-56%. To have that spirit-forward flavor at that lower percentage, it means it’s young. In general, it’s got that nice peatyness and a decent balance. It’s not super complex but it’s easy to drink. For an inexpensive bottle, it’s outstanding.
Heavey adds that Finlaggen is a good choice for people who like peat and who want to have a regular sipping whisky.
[25:10] Laphroaig PX Cask
From an easy-to-find inexpensive bottle to a Laphroaig bottle that is not easy to find, Grant and Heavey are going to compare and contrast the two.
Availability: Only through travel channels (Duty Free in airports) and sold in one-liter sizes
What’s unique about this is it takes the Laphroaig spirit and ages it in three casks starting in an American oak, ex Bourbon cask, then aged in a Quarter cask (it ages something more quickly because of larger surface area exposed), and then the final aging is in a Pedro Ximenez sherry cask. This adds to its roundedness and when you smell it, the first thing Grant noticed is for a Laphroaig, you don’t get much of the peat on the nose like you normally do. It’s soft and smooth. This is a much different smell compared to the Laphroaig 10 that has a medicinal quality.
Compared to a Finlaggan, it’s much lighter in color so it tells you there’s no coloring added. Grant bets the Finlaggan is Ardbeg because he doesn’t think it’s anything like the other places.
[27:40] Taste and Cost
The taste of this is more complex and there is so much going on. It doesn’t taste much like Laphroaig but there’s a lot more peat than you get with Bowmore. So it’s got that big strong peat of a Laphroaig with that rounded body that you get in a Bowmore. Grant was just blown away by this but it’s a shame that it’s a travel exclusive.
The bottle costs about $100 which more than five times the price of the Finlaggan. But it’s an excellent beverage.
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