SS 181 – One Meal A Day, Mediterranean Paleo And Working Out While Traveling: Listener Question Roundup
Episode 181 Show Notes
Grant and Heavey address 3 questions from listeners around a grab bag of interesting topics like intermittent fasting, Mediterranean Paleo, and training while you’re traveling, especially in a constrained environment. Also, check out some scotch recommendations from our listeners!
[03:55] Grant and Heavey Are Giving Back!
Heavey says that if you have a goal you’ve been struggling with and need training, nutrition, or some other lifestyle coaching on it, make a comment on the Instagram post for this episode. Share something briefly about your struggle. They’re going to bring one participant on the show and dive into their goals and get a free coaching session.
[06:20] The Rise of Intermittent Fasting
The first question comes from Zac. He’s curious about fasting and its benefits. He’s actually eating one meal a day. How can he squeeze enough proteins to maintain his muscle mass as a 200-pound man.
Grant says the number one benefit is saving money. Heavey would have wanted Zac to expand on why he was eating just one meal a day. This is basically a form of intermittent fasting, which has gone through a resurgence in popularity. It was wildly popular 7-8 years ago, died down, and now has been creating some buzz again.
Grant has been doing a form of intermittent fasting which he has done for a long period of time now. He’s doing it simply because of convenience. He admits he would rather sleep than eat. Therefore, he sleeps as long as he can until he needs to get up for work. This means he skips breakfast and doesn’t eat until lunch.
Heavey explains this is a feeding window based form of intermittent fasting. Grant is effectively just saying he’s going to eat between these certain times, and then fasting the rest of the time. Some people do that intentionally to try to get the benefits from fasting and some people just do it for the convenience.
[09:17] Other Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are other forms of intermittent fasting. A common one is the ultimate day fasting where you eat regular one day and then the next day you fast completely or have a very low calorie day. Although intense, Heavey explains that a lot of research has used this method.
There’s also the Eat-Stop-Eat, which is an alternate day except that it’s less aggressive. So out of the week, you do two days (non-consecutive) of total fasting and the other days would be normal.
Heavey actually did the feeding window intermittent fasting about seven years ago when he was playing around with his diet. He would have a typical window of eight hours of eating and then 16 hours of fasting.
[10:12] Why Do Intermittent Fasting
People are generally interested in fasting because, one, they think it will help them lose weight. And two, there’s a bunch of research surrounding the potential health benefits of it. Heavey recommends checking out Dr. Rhonda Patrick who has a very popular podcast where she dives into this topic.
While some studies may suggest it does have great health benefits, other studies have been equivocal. It seems like it works for some people but not for others. That’s what every diet study on every diet has ever shown is that it’s worked for some people and it doesn’t for others. It really boils down to compliance. Is this something you could stick to? Especially if you’re only eating one meal per day, it’s very difficult to cram in the number of calories that you’d be consuming throughout the full day otherwise.
[12:36] Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss: What’s the Magic Behind It?
The role of intermittent fasting in weight loss is that you get to restrict your calories. There’s no magic to it. You’d probably hear people talking about metabolic flexibility and preferentially burning fats. There are other pieces that are helpful for intermittent fasting. But in the context of weight loss, this is the primary driver.
Other studies show benefits like improved lipids and increased life span. Longevity, that’s been the focus more recently in the research of intermittent fasting. Why not live longer if you can?
Again, Heavey emphasizes that this is not a slam dunk. The trouble with research is that a lot of times, people will do a mechanistic study and extrapolate it out and conclude humans can live 20% longer from doing intermittent fasting. But we don’t have real human data to demonstrate that it’s going to lead to a longer life by restricting your eating. That being said, there’s a lot of promising research out there. Heavey concludes it’s not a bad thing if it’s something you want to try, as long as you can stick with it and it doesn’t leave you feeling severely restricted and then overdo it the next day. Just keep in mind that none of the longevity stuff is certain, says Heavey. Don’t torture yourself if the diet doesn’t jive with you.
[14:45] Caution! Not for the Diabetic, Pregnant, and Underweight People
People with poor glycemic control (those who are pre-diabetic or diabetic) may need to avoid fasting otherwise it could lead to a worse glucose response. The same goes for pregnant women and underweight people. Once you have a compromised glucose response, it leads to greater spikes.
Heavey also found a couple studies that specifically looked at this one meal per day fasting technique. They found worsening lipid numbers and blood pressure in blood sugars compared to the group consuming three meals per day.
Heavey suggests it’s a pretty extreme approach. If you’re going to do one meal per day, make sure you work with a doctor and have blood work done on a regular basis.
[16:05] Are You Getting Enough Protein?
Heavey also recommends taking a slightly less aggressive approach. if you want to have one meal per day, just do that a couple of days per week and then eat the normal schedule the rest of the week. Can you get enough protein in a day to maintain muscle mass when you’re eating one meal per day? Probably, not.
Grant, having the whole eating window, says it’s possible to get the protein. Heavey talks about having to sit down and evaluate your priorities. Anytime you’re restricting the windows of when you’re eating, you’re going to have a negative effect on you circulating amino acids throughout the day. This is what helps muscle protein synthesis.
If we’re not going to be able to keep our amino acids up, then we’re not going to optimally fuel our muscles. However there is always the exception, we all know people eating one meal per day that look shredded. Heavey warns there could be two reasons for this and one of them is that there are genetic freaks out there. Just because one person saw that result, by no means, qualifies it as an approach that you should be taking.
[18:15] Are You Meeting You Daily Protein Needs?
Genetically, you may need a lower amount of protein, so you’re lucky in that sense. We talk about 1 gram per pound. of body weight per protein. So as a 200-lb. guy, your target is 200 grams of protein. But this number kind of covers your bases.
Research shows that it’s possible genetically that if you have the right combination of conditions, you may require as little as 0.6 grams per pound. But we don’t know who that applies to. Hence, we go with the 1 gram per pound recommendation. This is the universal application and too much protein very rarely causes issues.
Again, it all comes down to priorities as to why you’re considering doing intermittent fasting. If you want to optimize your muscle mass, then this may not be a good approach. If you’re looking to address health or longevity markers then this is something you can do. Take it day by day and just be cautious about it.
[19:40] Does Heavey Recommend Intermittent Fasting?
Heavey does recommend intermittent fasting to some of his clients. For people who don’t naturally eat breakfast, sometimes pushing them to go against their natural inclination is not worth the trouble. After all, there are other ways to get good results. He may use this as a tool for people that are maybe having a tough schedule for eating or for some certain circumstances.
[20:42] Care for Some Mediterranean Food?
Another question raised by Sophia about how to eat a Paleo diet on the cheap as well as their insights into different Paleo variations. She was given a Mediterranean cookbook for her birthday and she thinks the recipes counter each other.
Now, Heavey was wondering whether it’s just a Mediterranean paleo cookbook that takes the paleo ingredients or whether it’s really the Mediterranean diet which is low in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated fats.
From the former perspective, Heavey thinks there really is no counter. Where it gets wonky is when you start to extrapolate it to make Paleo breads. Again, there’s nothing wrong with making Mediterranean dishes.
Moreover, if it’s a Mediterranean version of the Paleo diet, it means getting on low in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated fats. This probably includes some low-fat dairy products. But this is not an uncommon thing for a subset of the population, Heavey explains.
[25:20] When You Need to Watch Your Fats in a Paleo Diet
Some people have a genetic mutation that makes them hyper-responders to saturated fats and cholesterols in their diet. They have something called familial hypercholesterolemia. For those that want to eat paleo, they would have to reduce their saturated fats. The only way to know this is once you change your diet and you go to the doctor and have your lipids measured. If they’re really bad, there’s a good chance that you have that condition so you may have to modify your diet in response.
[26:26] How to Eat Healthy When You’re Away for Too Long (Or Stuck in a Ship!)
Sophia has another question about training since she recently started Crossfit. She’s also sailing as an engineer on oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. The gym was limited and food was subpar. She’s curious about what could be done if you’re working away from home for long periods of time with limited access to a box or gym. How would she know if she’s getting the most out of her training?
Heavey relates to this having also experience working on a ship and trying to work out in very limited quarters. On the food side, it’s really tough as it’s totally out of your control. He recalls having good food for the first couple of weeks. But after a while, it becomes more and more packaged food. There’s nothing you can do about that. The best you can do however, is that if you have personal space on board to make the most of it. Fill it up with a bunch of food and bring stuff with you. Bring snacks and protein powders. If you have limited access to fruits and veggies, bring something like a greens powder or vitamin supplementation.
Moreover, if you’re traveling for work, there are plenty of things you can do like find a couple of restaurant chains that make healthy food. (Chipotle for instance)
[30:20] How to Train Well When You’re Home Away from Home
Exercise, on the other hand, is really only limited by your imagination. You might probably think that since you’re in a different workout environment, you may struggle not to have the little isolated muscle movement machines or your’e feeling you’re not getting a good workout when you don’t have a barbell or a kettlebell around. But those are just implements we invented to train our bodies. They’re not the only things that we can use to train. You just have to look around and improvise. For instance, when Heavey was on the ship, he would go up and down the stairs a lot of times. You can actually turn that into an intense cardiovascular activity by running up and down the stairs or load your backpack up and walk up and down the stairs. There’s plenty of overhang contraptions that you can do pull ups ons.
So find what’s in your environment. Make an obstacle or a box to jump on. Be resourceful and turn whatever you have around into things that resemble what you’re used to training with.
[32:30] How Do You Know If You’re Getting the Most Out of Your Training When in a Constrained Environment
There’s really no way you can know that you’re getting the best of your training but just make the best out of the situation. Train. Don’t worry about maximizing every little thing. Just exercise and find creative ways to train.
Heavey suggests another thing you can do when you’re working in a ship is bring something like a TRX suspension system. They’re so small so you can easily pack them and hang them over various objects to use. They are extremely versatile so you have a lot of options of exercises you can do. Familiarize yourself with the system and be creative. It’s perfect for constrained environments.
[35:45] Let’s Talk Scotch!
Zac gave a whisky recommendation which is the Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky while Sophia recommends Compass Box Great King Street. Compass Box is a company that makes their own blends. They basically buy material from all the other distilleries and they blend it. They’ve started to build up a name for doing some really interesting and unique blended scotches.
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