Dr. John Berardi: How to Optimize Your Metabolism – The Art of Manliness

Check out the Art of Manliness Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the total amount of energy you burn in a day; it’s the sum total of our metabolism. It’s made up of:
    • Resting metabolic rate – the functions of everything keeping us alive (i.e., heart rate)
    • Activity levels – any movement (i.e., fidgeting – not just exercise) (but if you exercise more, TDEE increases)
      • Fidgeting falls under the bucket of NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis)
    • The thermic effect of feeding (i.e., digesting food, chewing, etc.)
  • The majority of your TDEE is made up of your resting metabolic rate
  • Resting metabolic rate is primarily determined by body size. If you’re a bigger person, it’s larger.
    • This is why when you lose weight, your metabolism slows. For this reason, when you’re dieting down and start to lose a few pounds, it might make sense to wear a weight vest that accounts for the weight you’ve lost.
  • Practicing time-restricted eating increases the body’s metabolic flexibility
  • To optimize your metabolism speed, mix up the type of exercise you do
  • Stress and a lack of sleep both increase the chance of weight gain
  • To take control of your metabolism:
    • Exercise daily
    • Get adequate sleep
    • Manage your stress
    • Optimize your nutrition

Products Mentioned

  • When dieting to lose weight, after you’ve had some success, wear a weight vest periodically to prevent your metabolism from slowing
  • To increase sleep quality, keep your room cold (low-mid 60s) or use a chiliPAD like John does (Use PodcastNotes25 for 25% off a Chilipad or PodcastNotes15 for 15% off an Ooler)
  • CBD seems to reduce the amount of time it takes one to fall asleep
    • Linked is a CBD brand we at Podcast Notes recommend – use the code “PODCASTNOTES” for 15% off at checkout

Books Mentioned

Intro

What is metabolism?

  • The sum total of all the cellular activity that goes on in your body
    • “Us being alive is really a series of communications between our different cells. Metabolism is all that activity going on at any point in time.” – John Berardi
  • Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the total amount of energy you burn in a day; it’s the sum total of our metabolism. It’s made up of:
    • Resting metabolic rate – the functions of everything keeping us alive (i.e., heart rate)
    • Activity levels – any movement (i.e., fidgeting – not just exercise)
      • Fidgeting falls under the bucket of NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis)
    • The thermic effect of feeding (i.e., digesting food, chewing, etc.)

What makes up the majority of our metabolism?

  • The most expensive part of the daily energy expenditure comes from our resting metabolic rate (the functions keeping us alive), not our activity
    • If you’re not physically active, ~75% of your TDEE comes from your metabolic rate, ~15% comes from activity, and ~10% comes from the thermic effect of feeding
    • If you’re very active, ~60% of your TDEE comes from resting metabolic rate, ~30% from activity, and ~10% comes from the thermic effect of feeding
  • Therefore: Exercise changes the constituents of your TDEE AND increases TDEE

Fast vs. Slow Metabolism

  • People have differences in metabolism speed (the driving factor are differences in resting metabolic rate)
    • Some people can eat all day long, without exercising, and stay skinny
  • Many people who think they have a speedy metabolism actually just have high levels of NEAT (AKA they fidget a lot)
  • Resting metabolic rate is primarily determined by body size. If you’re a bigger person, it’s larger.
    • This is why when you lose weight, your metabolism slows. For this reason, when you’re dieting down and start to lose a few pounds, it might make sense to wear a weight vest that accounts for the weight you’ve lost.

How an Efficient Metabolism Can Cause Weight Gain

  • John gives an example: Say you decide to start running
    • The first few times you go for a run, you’ll be inefficient at doing so – your body won’t have upregulated the necessary enzymes for rapid energy production, your technique will be poor, and as you’re heavier – you’ll work more to carry the load
    • Over time, as you run more, your body finds ways to make it less challenging – you might lose weight, your enzymatic systems will update, etc.
      • Because of this, as you continue to run, your calorie cost will get less and less – this isn’t optimal for weight loss
        • Thus, you must increase the intensity (by running faster or further)

Metabolic Flexibility and Intermittent Fasting

  • “If given a choice, the body would prefer to burn what’s stored on it before it burns what’s coming in from a dietary perspective. It’s why intermittent fasting ends up working fairly well.” – John Berardi
  • When you continuously feed the body, you become metabolically inflexible
    • Metabolic flexibility is the idea that you could not eat for an entire day, and instead of feeling weak or getting low blood sugar, you’d feel fine (as the body has upregulated the pathways to eat the “food that’s already on it”)
      • “If you’re on a program of eating frequently, your body doesn’t know how to tap into the stored food that’s already on it” John Berardi
  • “One of the best ways to teach metabolic flexibility to the body is to systematically, over time, do extended fasts” – John Berardi
    • Also, frequently change up the duration of your time-restricted feeding window 

Does dieting slow down your metabolism?

  • As your body gets smaller, it begins to require fewer calories to function
    • Therefore, when dieting, you need to keep reducing the amount of calories you’re consuming to maintain a calorie deficit 
  • Does being in a calorie deficit cause you to burn fewer calories?
    • For some people, yes – but it’s mostly irrelevant
      • Bottom line: “Most of the effect when you’re dieting happens from weight loss. You lose weight, and you burn fewer calories moving around. Every step you take costs less because of the weight loss.”
        • (this is why wearing a weight vest, as mentioned above, might allow you to keep losing weight)
  • But – eating at a calorie surplus, for many, DOES cause metabolism to speed up (AKA you’ll burn more calories)
    • Where does the extra calorie burn come from? – Most is from NEAT

Yo-Yo Dieting

  • As mentioned, when you lose weight, your body requires fewer calories to run 
    • Therefore, if you go back to eating the same # of calories as you did when you were overweight, you’ll gain the weight back
      • It gets worse: Studies show that people actually eat more than they used to – they overcompensate (this process is known as yo-yo dieting)

If you’re trying to lose weight, know this…

  • People often overestimate how hard it’s going to be and underestimate how long the process will take
    • Losing weight isn’t hard, it just takes a lot of consistent work
  • The 4 factors that contribute to weight loss and overall health: Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep, and Stress Management 
    • “These 4 things all have to be accounted for, or else one or more of them will sabotage the work on the other.” – John Baradi

Optimal Exercise for Metabolism

  • The best type of exercise for optimal metabolism is “mixed modal exercise”
    • Mix things up – one day do some strength training, the next some high-intensity interval training, and then work in some low-intensity cardio
      • It’s fine to do more of one type of exercise than another, just make sure you’re getting every kind over the course of a week
  • Does more muscle mass increase metabolism?
    • Gaining muscle mass DOES increase your metabolic rate, but it only does so to a small extent

Foods That Increase Metabolism

  • Foods that increase TDEE:
    • Eating more protein, compared to carbs and fats
    • Chili peppers/spicy foods
    • Caffeine
    • Cacao
  • BUT – the above only increase TDEE so to a small extent (John compares it to putting a drop of red dye into a large lake; does it turn the lake red? NO.)
    • Exercise, proper calorie balance, and good sleep are more important when it comes to metabolism

How Stress Affects Metabolism

  • It doesn’t have much of an effect on TDEE
  • But, when we’re under emotional stress or psychological stress (too much exercise or too little food), both cortisol and sympathetic nervous system activity (the fight or flight nervous system) is increased
    • This can lead to weight gain, particularly around the organs, insulin resistance, and increased blood pressure
    • Cortisol can also cause water retention
    • Psychological stress also causes food cravings to increase
  • John highly recommends Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers if you want to learn more about how stress affects the body

A Lack of Sleep Leads to Weight Gain

  • A lack of sleep has many of the same effects as stress – altered glucose regulation, increased levels of cortisol and sympathetic nervous system activation, increased risk of diabetes, decreased immune system function, etc.
  • “You can’t have good workouts and you can’t make good choices at the dinner table when you’re stressed and have a sleep deficit” – John Berardi
    • Stress and a lack of sleep are the drivers of behavioral changes that then lead to weight gain (not to mention the hormonal changes they cause that also leads to weight gain)

Does metabolism slow with age?

  • Not unless you lose body mass, lean mass, or do less physical activity
    • As long as you take care of your sleep and stress management, and exercise, then bodyweight shouldn’t be a problem as you age

The Actionable | How to Take Control of Your Metabolism

  • Exercise daily – just move!!
    • And remember to mix things up – hike, go on a bike ride, lift weights, walk, sprint, etc.
  • Get adequate sleep (8 hours/night)
    • You can NOT get away with 5 hours of sleep/night without suffering negative consequences
    • To facilitate this:
      • Allot time to wind down before bed
      • Avoid electronics before sleep
      • Limit caffeine after 12 PM
      • Do a brain dump before bed
      • Keep your room cold (low-mid 60s) (or use a chiliPAD, like John does). We got you a discount too (25% off a chilipad with code PodcastNotes25 or 15% off an Ooler with PodcastNotes15)
    • CBD seems to reduce the amount of time it takes one to fall asleep
      • Linked is a CBD brand we at Podcast Notes recommend – use the code “PODCASTNOTES” for 15% off at checkout
  • Manage stress 
    • How? – Counterbalance all your sympathetic activity (stress at work, high-intensity exercise) with parasympathetic activity (walking in nature, take a relaxing bath)
  • Optimize your nutrition
    • Eat adequate protein and omega-3 fats (most don’t!)
    • Drink enough water
    • Eat nutrient-dense foods
    • The simplest thing you can do: don’t overeat
      • How? – Eat slowly and chew your food (eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed)
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