Jacob Shepis and Abel Csabai Podcasts

So it’s probably time that I put up at least some content that is NOT related to The Women’s Book.  But since the several articles I’m working on are a bit stalled, I thought I’d cheat and put up links to some recent podcasts I’ve done.

JPS Podcast on Women

This was a two part podcast (because I talk too much) on women’s issues.   In the first part we talked about hormone levels in general and blood work in specific.    I’ll be honest that the latter is absolutely not my area of expertise but I did my best.

In Part 2 we talked about some topics I never really had time to get into detail on in previous podcasts (since there is just too much information).  Namely we discussed PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome), changes at Menopause and issues relating to women’s psychology (primarily in the weight room).

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Bodyrecomposition Mailbag 4

Having written about what calories are, it’s time to return to the mailbag since this is always an easy way for me to get content.  Today I’ll address questions about heart rate monitors and metabolic rate, agronomist activity levels and calorie levels, NEAT and adaptive thermogenesis,  and then a long answer on the topic of whether to lose fat or gain muscle for a beginner at 20% bodyfat (if I were a different kind of writer I’d that THE ANSWER WILL SHOCK YOU!).

Heart Rate Monitoring and Metabolic Rate

Hey Lyle, Huge fan of your work, it really has changed my life… just wish I’d stumbled upon you a decade ago, I’d be a machine by now! Anyhow, I was just curious about your opinion on heart rate monitors and wether they can be an accurate way of monitoring your metabolism during a cut. I have a Fitbit charge hr which seems to do a pretty solid job. I.e. When I use it to cut I lose weight, bulk I gain weight and my weight is pretty damn stable when I use it to maintain. I’ve noticed that when I cut my resting pulse rate progressively gets lower over the course of the cut and also that I start to burn less and less calories during my workouts.

Answer

In at least a general sense, a drop in heart rate is pretty normal with dieting to lower levels.   For example, in a recent study that attempted to mimick the classic Minnesota Semi-Starvation study, men first overfed for one week before were placed on a 50% calorie reduction for three weeks.  In addition to changes in other metabolic parameters, heart rate went up from 65 to 68 Beats Per Minute (BPM) during overfeeding and dropped to 59 BPM during calorie restriction.    In a yet to be unpublished case study of contest dieting in a male bodybuilder, heart rate dropped by 9 BPM over 16 weeks along with metabolic rate and other hormonal factors.  Given that sympathetic nervous system output declines on a diet, and this is certainly part of the control of resting heart rate, this makes a great deal of sense.

So yes, it is at least qualitatively indicative although I’m don’t think you can use it to quantify how much metabolic rate has dropped specifically.

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What are Calories Part 2

So last time, in the guise of addressing the emails of an Internet crazy person and his assertion (so far as I can tell) that since calories are not an actual physical thing, the calorie model of body weight is not valid.  I addressed a ton of different issues related to the concepts of calories.  This included what they are, how they are measured, some serious pedantry regarding vocabulary and what they ultimately represent.  The overall summary of what I wrote there is that while it is true that calories are not a physical entity (i.e. I can’t hand you a bottle of calories), they are valid in that they represent a defined measurable quantity (the generation of heat) related to how something that is real (i.e. food or nutrients) is metabolized within the body.

Basically calories, like other concepts such as watts or horsepower, are a semantic proxy for something that does exist.  And while our language is imprecise it is the height of semantic stupidity to dismiss the concept based on that imprecise language.  No, we do not “eat” calories, we eat food.  Said food being metabolized in such a way as to produce heat which can be measured and defined in terms of calories.

So what does this all mean in terms of the calorie or energy balance model of bodyweight?  Well, that’s what I want to talk about today.  Some of this will tread the same ground as my article on Energy Balance and I’ll try to only summarize some of those concepts since the details can be found there.

Calorie/Energy Balance: Part 1

At the most basic level, we often talk about calorie balance which represents the difference between calorie intake (from food) and calorie expenditure (from a variety of components such as Resting Metabolic Rate, Activity and others).  If calorie intake exceeds calorie expenditure, we gain weight/fat (I’ll explain this momentarily).  If calorie intake matches calorie expenditure, no change occurs.  If calorie intake is lower than calorie expenditure we lose weight.   More technically we state that

Calorie Expenditure – Calorie Intake = The Change in the Energy Stored in the Body

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What are Calories Part 1

If I haven’t been as consistent with updates beyond endless podcasts, it’s because I sustained a major lower body injury (broken fibula and two torn ligaments) about 12 weeks ago and, let’s just say, my head hasn’t quite been in it.   I’ll write about that eventually to detail what happened and my recover but for today, I want to do a piece that I’ve wanted to write for a while.

Now, there are a lot of crazy people on the Internet.  Sometimes I have even been one of them.  But this article is about a different kind of crazy person.  I won’t name him since I don’t believe in giving crazy publicity or even acknowledging them by name but he sends myself and others in the field relentless numbers of all caps insane emails.  He’s a complete nutjob.

In the most general sense, he’s one of the deniers of energy balance and Calories In Calories Out (CICO) as it pertains to body weight and body composition.  It’s the typical bs although his newest insanity is how calories not an actual thing that exists and, by some sort of extension I guess, that the calorie model of changes in body weight is incorrect for that reason.  That is, since calories doesn’t exist, they can’t explain the changes that occur in terms of bodyweight or body fat.

Now, in one sense, this crazy person is actually correct: calories are not a thing in the sense of physically existing in this universe.   I can’t put a calorie in your hand, I can’t feed you a plate of calories per se (and that will make sense in a moment), I cannot show you a physical object that is a calorie.  I could do those things with, say, a quarter or an apple.  I can’t do it with calories.

But does that make him right about the rest of it?  Would I be writing this article if it did?

What are Calories: Part 1

This crazy person’s mistake, well one of them anyhow, is in assuming that anyone has ever claimed that a calorie is a physical object in the first place.  It’s just a weird strawman that exists only in his mind.    And that is because a calorie isn’t a physical object. Rather it’s a defined measurement.  Specifically it is a measurement of heat.  Even more specifically:

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Bodyrecomposition Mailbag 3

So another dig into the mailbag to save myself having to think of another feature article to write.  The three questions today have to do with fat loss and muscle sparing, phosphatidylserine, cortisol and water retention.   Finally is a look at causes of a plateau in weight gain.

Dietary Deficit and Fat Loss when Muscle Sparing is the Same

Hi Lyle. A nerd question: Since the only two things in human body which can: 1. store energy 2. be able to gain and loss in a huge range all year long (compare to glycogen which could only be gained and lost in a small range), are fat and muscle (is that ture?). So is that true all diet would result in exactly the same amount of fat loss, if 1. the deficit is the same and 2. the muscle loss or protection is the same? Ignoring all other factors like insulin level?

Answer

Short answer: yes-ish and I say that as I’m going to actually address a question that you didn’t actually ask.

Sort of by definition if the total actual tissue loss is the same and lean body mass (LBM) sparing is identical, actual fat loss will be the same.  It has to be.  If 10 total pounds of tissue is lost and both diets only allow 1 pound of LBM loss, the other 9 lbs has to be fat (ok, something truly screwy could go on such as loss of bone or organ mass but it’s usually pretty small).

Now, if you want to be pedantic and look at weight loss, this isn’t necessarily true.  This is why I was using the odd term tissue loss.  Because part of total weight loss is not actual tissue loss but things like glycogen, water, food in the gastrointestinal tract and such.  Those will vary depending on diet, a low-carbohydrate diet will cause glycogen to become depleted, water and minerals to be lost and since carbohydrates are the primary source of the food residue that comes out the other end, that will also be decreased. Ketogenic diets may cause a loss of water weight of 1-15 lbs in the first several days for example.

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