PJ's Fitness Blog

A blog about a fitter you. Come find out what is on the cutting edge of fitness science and be a part of the ongoing conversation.

What is “Fat Adapted?”

IMG_0621Americans are sugar addicts and starch lovers, so in this country, over 99% of the people you see walking the streets are “sugar burners.” This means their metabolism and physiology runs on sugar as the primary fuel source. Less than 1% of us are what is referred to as “fat adapted,” which means fat is their primary fuel source.

Fuel source is never exclusive though, because the human body will always burn a combination of fat and sugar, regardless of the primary fuel source preference, but the emphasis can certainly change drastically from person-to-person, based on the food they eat first, the type of exercise/activity they get second, and genetics third (and that’s a very distant third).

When someone has successfully made the transition to becoming “fat adapted,” they have reached the point in their diet where they are consuming 70 g or less of total carbohydrates each day (with 20 g or less coming from sugar and starch). “Fat adapted” people also eat TONS of fat – most eating 60% or more of their total calories every day from fat. They also eat “moderate” protein, which ranges between 70 and 150 g per day.

Since these people are consuming fat as their main calorie source, they have taught their body that it must run on fat, since that’s the most abundant fuel source available. This is actually the way the body was designed to operate and in my opinion, is the healthiest way to live. This is how we all lived 5,000 years ago, but as the agricultural revolution hit, and starches were introduced into our food system as a primary fuel source, we started getting fatter and sicker.

As sugar hit the scene a few hundred years ago, obesity and major illness really started to take off, but it didn’t turn into a parabolic pandemic until the 1980’s, when high fructose corn syrup became the new kid on the block and the “low-fat revolution” reared its ugly head. Now we are fatter than ever, in the history of our planet, but the solution is simple. The solution isn’t “easy” for most, but it is simple: Eat WAY more fat and WAY less carbs – especially “fast” carbs like sugar and starch.

Fat is the best source of energy, hands-down – even a lean person like me, who is always in the single digits for body fat percentage 24/7/265. I still have enough fat on my body to run more than 300 miles. Carbohydrates on the other hand, are a crummy source of energy. The storage capacity in the human body, even after “carbo loading,” is worth only 20 miles or less.

There are many reasons for fat being the body’s primary and preferred fuel source, beyond just the storage ability, but that could be a whole book in itself. If you would like to read a book about that, click here for a good one.

Sugar burners have taught their body that sugar (which includes starches and all other “fast” carbs) is their primary fuel source, but this also makes it really hard for that person to burn fat for energy. They are dependent on sugar, and when they don’t get it, things get crazy. Energy, mood, ravenous hunger, brain fog, etc. all sets in and takes over, turning that person into somebody they would rather not be and certainly makes them feel uncomfortable, to say the least.

Fat burners on the other hand, can easily burn sugar whenever they want, but their body does prefer fat first and foremost. Fat burners have even energy levels, never reach the point of “ravenous hunger,” do not experience brain fog and have a very stable mood. Heck, I could go all day without food and be fine. I would certainly be hungry, but on a scale of 1 to 10, I usually level off at about a six or seven, regardless of how long I’ve gone without food. A sugar burner starts feeling frantic at around a six and within an hour or two, is at a nine, with fatigue, desperation and mood changes altering their state, productivity, mental functioning and more.

The body and brain does not have to run on sugar. Fat and protein are both essential nutrients. We die without them. In fact, fat is necessary for optimal brain health (and not just because your brain is mostly fat). Fat also helps you absorb key essential vitamins. Fat keeps your lungs healthy and can even help fight off airborne allergens and asthma. Fat promotes liver health – especially saturated fat! Fat is also critically vital for proper hormone balance. These are just a few of the ways fat is more than just essential – it’s HEALTHY – and it MUST be in our diets. The whole “low fat” way of eating is health suicide. For a big long post on that topic, click here.

Carbohydrates are not an essential nutrient however, and we can live just fine without them. Carbs work against the health benefits listed above (and many, many more). If my body needs more glucose for a certain function, my liver simply makes exactly as much as I need. It was created to do that, as one of its primary jobs, so it’s easy for it to do. Processing junk food and sugar – especially fructose – on the other hand, is extremely hard work for the liver because that’s not one of the primary jobs it was designed for.

If you’re wondering if you are fat adapted or not, you’re not. If you are truly fat adapted, you won’t wonder because you will already be enjoying the drastic life-changing benefits. Some of the indications of being fat adapted are:

  • You can go five hours or more without eating and when you skip a meal, it’s no big deal.
  • Your energy level is steady throughout the day.
  • You don’t need carbs for exercise.
  • You rarely, if ever, experience “brain fog” and feeling “sharp as a tack” is your norm.

If less than 15% of your calories come from carbs, more 60% from fat and the rest from protein, AND you answer a resounding “yes” to all four points above, then you’re probably fat adapted. If not, and you would like to be, a good way to get there is to start eating paleo. When you think you have that down, switch to primal. It might take a few months, and if you dive right in 100% cold turkey and get yourself off those carbs right away, you might feel kind of crappy for a few weeks as your body screams out for the sugar it’s become addicted to, but you’ll get through it and when you come out on the other side, you will be much more healthy, energetic, happier and more!

Here’s a vid showing how much fat I eat:

And here’s my book – written back in 2008 – where I discuss it in more detail: crackingyourcode.com.

And here’s my latest fav other book on the topic, “Eat Fat Get Thin” by Dr. Hyman. Here’s his latest vid talking about eating fat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oOHSYt6I1c

Is it Fattening or Phattening?

Not everyone will “get” the title of this post. X Gen’s probably will, but most Millennials and Boomers will only hear a “whooshing” sound as it flies over their head.

So for those mille/booms, I’ll explain: Back in the late 80’s, 90’s and even into the early 2000’s, the slang term “phat” came in and out of popularity. It was synonymous with “foxy,” if you are a Boomer and “MCM” or “WCW,” if you are a Millennial.

Now that we are all on the same page, here are my (recently refined, new and improved) 7 questions to help people decide if a food is unhealthy and fattening, or healthy and phattening.

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And here is a vid with me (X Gen) and dad (Boomer) talking about processed foods and why they are so fattening.

And here is a vid featuring another of the thousands of fattening, processed, highly toxic “food like substances” that people are eating instead of extremely healthy, phattening Fitness Chocolate:

There. Now go get PHAT!

Do You See the Light?

21128a8b31f5b40def1ca574da13e1b3Many of the principles I teach are pretty much opposite from what mainstream health and fitness espouses. The reasons for that are myriad, but don’t get me started because that could be another whole big, long post itself.

Here’s the bottom line. We need sunlight and every one if its wonderful, beneficial wavelengths to get inside our eyes and to hit our skin for optimal health. It’s really quite simple: We were designed for sunlight and if we don’t get it, we become unhealthy.

Sure, too much sunlight is bad for you, especially if you let your skin burn. Too much direct sunlight in your eyeballs can blind you too, but this doesn’t mean the sun deserves the bad rap it’s been given by mainstream “health” information.

Vitamin D is vital to your health. In fact, most progressive health practitioners have deemed it the most important vitamin. Some experts even claim that it should be reclassified as a hormone because of how important it is to our health and biological functions. Recently it has been shown to prevent multiple sclerosis, depression and especially skin cancer! Surprised? I’m not.

Taking vitamin D as a supplement is all fine and dandy, but there’s no more bioavailable source of this vital nutrient than the kind manufactured by your own skin. Since the skin can only manufacture vitamin D when sunlight hits it, it makes sense to get some amount of sun as often as you can. How much is enough? It doesn’t take much. In fact, for most skin types, 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight 3-4 times a week on the skin is enough. How much skin? About as much as would be exposed on your face, neck and arms if you were wearing short sleeves.

Most of the cells in your body have light sensors and when those light sensors get a dose of sunlight, with all its various beneficial wavelengths, they get happy, increase activity, promote healing, reduce inflammation and even change your mood and attitude. Letting sun hit your skin, the photoreceptors in your cells, and the receptors in your eyes also help improve your sleep quality because that type of light is a big part of setting your natural circadian rhythms. When you get quality sleep, you are better able to burn off body fat and build muscle, so it also contributes to being fit and lean.

As I said above though, too much can be a bad thing, so if you are out in the sun long enough to get a burn (even a slight pink color), by all means, use shade and sunscreen to prevent that.

This brings us to another important topic: Sunscreen. Most sunscreens are highly toxic and the higher the SPF, the more poisonous chemicals it contains. These toxins have been found to increase the chances of cancer, so doesn’t that seem like the purposes being defeated? Besides, sunscreens with a higher SPF are a waste of money anyways. SPF 8 block 87% of UVB rays (the ones that burn your skin). SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93%. SPF 30 blocks 97%. SPF 100 sunscreens block 99%. And despite that high SPF, you’re still not protected against UVA rays, which reach deeper levels of skin and increase your risk of developing certain types of skin cancer.

With my skin type, I typically start to get pink within about 45 minutes at my current latitude in Seattle Washington, but when I’m in the tropics, I start to pink up in about half that time. Because I know this, I am great at finding shade when I need it, but I also use organic sunscreens. They work just as well, if not better, but without the poisons. You can find organic sunscreens at places like Whole Foods, PCC and other natural food stores. You can also easily order it on Amazon or through high quality health sites like Mercola.com. Yes, orgainc sunscreen about twice as expensive as the mainstream brands, but I hear getting a major disease is REALLY expensive…

Lastly, the latitude you live in makes a big difference. If you are close enough to the equator where the seasons and lengths of daylight don’t change more than a couple hours, then you will get enough quality sunlight all year round. If you are in a higher latitude like I am, you won’t be able to get enough quality sunlight for optimal health benefits about half the year, namely, from the end of October to the end of April. During those months, vitamin D3 supplement with vitamin K2 is vital and necessary.

Bottom line: The worst thing you could do is to be afraid of the sun and keep yourself out of it. Doing that will increase your chances for many different kinds of disease and depression. So my recommendation is to seek out the sun and enjoy it as often as you can but know your limits.