I happily answer all kinds of questions from blog readers. Most people have one, maybe two. This time I got eight in one e-mail, just like a quiz show! It's from someone who read Brad Pilon's intermittent fasting e-book Eat Stop Eat and is starting to question the nutrition rules they've lived by. Fun stuff! I'm entertained by how my own answers to these questions have evolved over the years. Protein? Fasting? Ratios? Glycemic index? I had strong opinions about all of those and I'm pretty sure they were the exact opposite of what I say now. I've either matured or my brain has fallen out.
1. So how much protein do we need daily if it's not protein that helps us maintain our muscle mass??
The RDA for a woman my size is like 46g. No kidding. And that's with a large safety margin. To calculate it, it's .8g of protein per kilogram (2.2lbs) of ideal body weight per day. I probably eat around 45-65g most days and I don't think my arms have diminished a bit (sort of to my dismay LOL). For someone who is training hard (I'm not right now), the RDA increases to 1.2-1.8 grams per day per kilogram of body weight. That would take me up to a whopping 70-104 grams, still well below the "1g per pound of body weight per day" bodybuilding rule.
My feeling is that if you're eating a boatload of protein and you like it and your body comp is where you want it and you have no complaints, continue with the boatload of protein. BUT if you're a woman choking down 150-200 grams of protein per day, hating your meals, and struggling to see any fat loss...maybe rethink.
2. Seems that intermittent fasting is really only meant to give a bit more help (more of a deficit) on top of your current nutrition plan of choice?
Yes, it's primarily about increasing the calorie deficit. It's also convenient and it gives your digestive system a break. I don't think we were meant to eat all day long. That's a quirk of modern Western society. The rest of the world probably feels a hunger pang or misses a meal occasionally and is healthier because of it. Their immune function and cellular repair and stuff doesn't always take a backseat to digesting a meatball sub. ;-) Keep in mind that with intermittent fasting, the fast is the whole deficit. You don't fast *and* diet. Calories shouldn't be restricted at all on non-fasting days.
3. Macros don't really matter at all; it's calories in the end?
Nutrition matters. "Macros" are loopy-speak for OCD crazy people. It definitely does make a difference whether you're eating mostly healthy whole foods with a variety of nutrients or eating mostly french fries and bread. If your nutrition is highly processed and wildly unbalanced you'll look and feel like hell. It's not about high-carb or high-protein or low-fat. If your high-protein diet is mostly bacon, or your low-fat diet is mostly rice cakes and Weight Watchers desserts, you're screwed. Quality is important, a deficit is important, ratios not so much.
4. Are you born with a certain set metabolism?? Is that why some people can eat a ton and some can't?
You may be born with a certain metabolism and body type but that's so heavily influenced by activity and nutrition that it's hard to use fate as an excuse. Skinny ectomorph types can sprout beer guts and pudgy endomorph types can win figure competitions. If you have a "slow" metabolism and find yourself in a situation where you're training hard for several hours a day, that changes things. People may start to envy how tiny you are and how much you eat. Just like if you have a "fast" metabolism but find yourself sitting at desk 12 hours a day eating carry out, your ass will eventually widen. Nobody is immune.
5. Food doesn't affect your metabolism? Meaning, eating more protein doesn't really help burn more fat.
Food does affect your metabolism and you do burn more calories if you eat more protein. But eating more doesn't create a bigger calorie deficit. That's where people get all retarded. Sure, adding an extra 30g of protein to each meal might cause your metabolism to speed up a bit, but it's not going to speed up enough to cancel out the 600 extra calories you just ate for no damn reason. :-D
6. The GI index of a food doesn't really matter so much other then helping to keep you fuller longer?
Glycemic index doesn't make much difference to me. I think some people may have more of an issue with blood sugar where they're going to feel hyper or sleepy or hungry if they don't keep it on an even keel. Still, people talk like if you eat something high glycemic it will raise insulin levels and fat loss will be impossible. Yet when I was anorexic my diet consisted mainly of gummy bears and powdered sugar donuts. I felt awful but the sugar and carb bonanza didn't prevent dramatic fat loss in the face of a dramatic deficit.
7. Is there such thing as a damaged metabolism?
Oh, hells yes. Mine was whacked. When you undereat for extended periods of time, your body becomes quite efficient at conserving energy. Other things like thyroid problems can dial down the metabolism too. In most cases a damaged metabolism is fixable, or at least improvable.
8. Can my maintenance calories really be around 1600-1700 daily? Seems so low.
Yes, it depends on activity, age, weight, hormones, stuff like that but that's not an unreasonable number. However, I will say that a lot of women who think they're maintaining on 1600 calories are actually eating 2150 or something. :-) I learned that from Leigh Peele. Even the ones who measure and track everything can really futz it with things like heaping tablespoons, deceptive portions, forgotten bites, chewing gum, coffee creamer, Splenda, and butter spray.
Posted by skwigg
at 2:30 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, 23 January 2010 2:35 PM CST