In this episode, Dr. Scott and Tommy discuss the age old debate about how fast you should lose weight. The data on this topic point in a few different directions, so they break down the study designs and lend insight into how to interpret the results to maximize real world results.
How to Prevent Muscle Loss While Fasting (Muscle Loss and Intermittent Fasting)
Rapid Weight Loss vs. Slow Weight Loss: Which is More Effective on Body Composition and Metabolic Risk Factors?
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Show Transcript: www.thefastingforlife.com/blog
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Fasting For Life Ep. 101.mp3
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:01] Hello. I'm Dr. Scott Watier
Tommy Welling: [00:00:03] And I'm Tommy Welling, and you're listening to the Fasting for Life podcast.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:08] This podcast is about using fasting as a tool to regain your health. Achieve ultimate wellness and live the life you truly deserve. Each episode is a short
Tommy Welling: [00:00:17] Conversation on a single topic with immediate, actionable steps. We cover everything from fat loss and health and wellness to the science of lifestyle design.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:25] We started fasting for life because of how fasting has transformed our lives, and we hope to share the tools that we have learned
[00:00:30] Along the way.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:40] Hey, everyone, welcome to the Fasting for Life podcast. My name is Dr. Scott Watier and I am here, as always, with my good friend and colleague Tommy Welling. Good afternoon to you, sir.
Tommy Welling: [00:00:47] Hey, Scott, how are you doing?
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:49] Fantastic, my friend. As always, we're going to talk a little bit of fasting and the insulin friendly lifestyle. We're going to continue to break things down in an actionable way. Or at least that's our plan and our intention. I think today is going to be a good conversation as we're going to talk about the age old debate of how fast should you lose weight and is there an actual too fast? We're going to reference a couple of articles. If you're new to the podcast, feel free to go back and listen to the first few episodes with a little bit of grace as we were just starting our journey on telling our story and starting to help people get results just like you and I had Tommy. So go back and listen to our our our story. You can also check out the website Fasting for LifeCare. We got a couple of free resources there, a fast start guide on how to put fasting into your day to day life, as well as an insulin resistance assessment, and we've gotten some really cool feedback on that. So let's dive into today's conversation, Tommy and this came out of the like I mentioned, the age old debate of Can you lose weight too fast? And is there any science to support what's actually happening and why? And then we're going to apply that to obviously the fasting lifestyle and give you some, some really cool takeaways of why we we continue to see the results that we see and why we feel that this is a really viable way to to live not just diet, but actually apply this for long term.
Tommy Welling: [00:02:27] Yeah, yeah. Lifestyle wise sustainability. This question about how quickly is too quick to lose weight and is there an optimal time frame or optimal rate? I remember hearing like, OK, about a pound to a pound and a half a week. If you want to be a little bit more on the aggressive side, I heard it quoted at two pounds or two and a half pounds a week. I don't think I ever saw a recommendation beyond that point, but I don't. I don't know if if those recommendations were coming from, you know, an actual data driven standpoint or if it kind of just became one of those things that that we hear get parodied over and over again because somebody had heard it before and it seemed reasonable and like a big thing. Keeping me from fasting was like beer, some sort of fear like that. I was going to do it too fast or that you shouldn't go more than a few hours without eating something and just this kind of like imaginary kind of fear like this self-limiting thing.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:03:29] I always think about the weight loss in terms of percentages, too. So from my mind, my brain for some reason, like zero point three percent to zero point eight percent, your body weight per week, the low and slow type approach. And there's a really good point that you brought up over prepping for today's conversation about patients and timing, and I want to make sure that we hit on that. But to start it off, it's like, like you were saying, if you want to preserve muscle and lose fat, like the age old adage that could have been handed down right is and the article we actually are going to share with you today shows there is a benefit to that. But we're going to apply it to fasting and it's really like, don't be in a rush, right? And I love the title. You know how fast is too fast? Just because the word fast is in there twice. All right. But the conversation really comes out of the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in Twenty Seventeen in July, and the articles named Rapid Weight Loss versus Slow Weight Loss, which is more which is more effective on body composition and metabolic risk factors. That's the point that we're really going to key on here in just a minute. So the study set up in a way where was defined over a period of five weeks and 15 weeks, respectively. The prescribed calorie restricted diet contained 15 percent protein, 30 percent to thirty five percent fat and 50 to fifty five percent carb on average in order to provide weight loss. So the meal plans were three main meals breakfast, lunch and dinner, and three snacks mid-morning, mid-afternoon and bedtime. So a lot of you that might be listening. I just saw the look on your face because we were on a zoom. As we're recording this, you like cringed a little bit, right? Yeah. Brought you back, right? And then a lot
Tommy Welling: [00:05:13] Of eating opportunities.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:05:14] There it is. It is. So we're going to obviously talk about insulin and fasting, blood sugar and those things, things as well, those metabolic factors. So the snacks were again mid-morning the afternoon and bedtime and low saturation of trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. So all the diets were designed according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And the low calorie diets produced an energy deficit, so of five hundred to seven hundred and fifty was one group and then the other group was the one thousand to fifteen hundred calorie deficit per day. So the slow group, the low and slow group was five hundred to seven fifty. The fast group was one thousand to fifteen hundred. And at the end of the study, the anthropomorphic and biomechanical assessments were conducted looking at on all of the people who who reached the desired weight loss, right? So only the people that got to the end by completing the study, which I think is a good point. And then we looked at the results. So starting off with that framework, Tommy. There were a couple of you know, one of the main takeaways from the article was the fact that the fast weight loss group had a change in body composition that really brings up the conversation about muscle catabolism and why that is one of the kind of sticking points. And one of the questions we hear a lot about is like, Oh, well, you know, I don't want to. I don't want to lose my muscle. I just want to burn the fat.
Tommy Welling: [00:06:50] Yeah, especially it's easy to to get into kind of a workout exercise mentality like diet and weight loss, like like diet and exercise and go together like peanut butter and jelly, like diet.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:07:03] I was just going to say that, yeah, right.
Tommy Welling: [00:07:04] Perfect. So, so it's easy to kind of co-mingle the two. So if you spend a lot of time actually, you know, lifting weights or doing physical activity, you don't want to erase any of that by by losing the fat, right? And that's always kind of the the the bogeyman. That's one of the monsters that's kind of like on the other side of of weight loss or fasting. Am I going to lose muscle? You want to be protective of that muscle. So I thought it was interesting in this in this study here because the five hundred to seven fifty, that's that's a slow group, like you said. So the goal was to lose five percent of their body weight. You were talking in percentages a minute ago, so this is five percent of their body weight over a 15 week period. And then the other, the the thousand to fifteen hundred calories was five percent of their body weight over a five week period. So that's how they defined slow and fast. And when we get into the muscle metabolism, you know, I I think it's important to understand that there are a few different physiological processes happening here. And and what's what's governing fat and governing muscle production? Those are two very separate and distinct things. We have to lift heavier weights in order to build stronger muscles. And we also have to understand that for the body to break down protein from its skeletal muscles, that's a very, very rare thing. But it does happen for a set set of reasons that we're going to go into to.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:08:41] Yeah, we'll talk about that for sure, which I think is one of the main takeaways from this. So the study really showed that the slow group retain more lean body mass than the fast group, right? The group that was trying to lose the same amount of weight in five weeks. And you know, there's a couple of things to think about. We did a whole episode on how there's like a percentage 13 to 25 percent of fat tissue is actually protein. So it's not all just fat. Mm hmm. And you know, one of the things that can happen when you lose large amounts of weight quickly is the the loss of that lean body mass tissue. So the loss of the thermodynamic effect, the loss of your body's ability to burn more. So you're like down shifting the energy stores of the body. Mm hmm. But the reality is, is that we're looking at this and this study in the light of almost like a low calorie, high insulin model. So before we can talk about the body going to protein as an energy source when it doesn't have sugar, which is the gluconeogenesis, which is one of the things we'll talk about and how to protect yourself from that happening with the fasting lifestyle, we're really looking at this, this this, this fast group, right? The group that had the larger deficit. It's really a low calorie, high insulin model, right? So you've got a chronic elevated insulin, you've got a lower blood sugar being pushed down by the small little meals, and you're never really tapping into the the the ability of your body to transition from a sugar burner to a fat burner.
Tommy Welling: [00:10:24] Right? Yeah, you're literally short circuiting that cycle. You're you're you're tricking the body that it cannot get into sufficient ketosis to tap into those long term fat stores. So when we're sitting at 1000 thousand or 1500 calorie deficit every single day for five weeks and insulin levels remain high because we're spiking them throughout the day with with six different eating opportunities. The body is literally forced to go into that metabolizing muscle breakdown. There's probably a little bit of organ tissue break down as well, because the the data shows that the two metabolize, you know, in the same metabolic state of the body. So it was being forced to reach into the muscle stores to grab those additional calories that it needed. But if we if we do it the right way. It should be tapping into long term fat stores, but that's not what they saw in this study because of the way it was designed.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:11:26] Right. So it was designed as a low calorie, high insulin model, so it was actually stopping that process from actually happening. We're going to talk about what you can do to prevent that. A couple more takeaways from this. I found it interesting that right in the middle of the discussion, there was a statement consistent with the current study. Findings indicate that slow weight loss, as recommended by current guidelines worldwide, is not a priority over rapid weight loss. So there's a study cell at all in a clinical trial study, the effect of weight loss rate and weight management and their results showed that in the long term, with rapid weight loss more than with the slow, gradual weight loss, that the weight loss is faster and more sustainable and more stable. So the research suggested that limited carbohydrate intake and this is why this is important because we're going to talk about tapping into those fat stores and how you can set yourself up for success while fasting to make sure that you are protecting that lean body tissue. So in that study, they limited the limited carbohydrate intake on the low calorie diet would promote greater satiety and less in food intake by inducing ketosis. So losing weight quickly may also motivate people to persist with their diet or their lifestyle change. I just did air quotes. I always forget when I do that, we're on an audio medium here because you're actually going to be promoting the body to get into ketosis, staying in ketosis and have more association with tapping into those fat stores. So just to recap. When that's all from just the weight loss perspective, right, Tommy, the other side is that in here it says that this study, the one that we're talking about rapid versus slow weight loss, slower weight loss.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:13:17] Both protocols showed that weight loss could improve cholesterol panels as well as blood sugar levels. Right? Right. But it also found that the same amount of weight loss the impact on reducing levels of fasting blood sugar. Ldl, the air quotes bad cholesterol and improvement of insulin resistance and sensitivity, so resistance is bad, sensitivity is good was greater in the rapid weight loss group. Positive effects of rapid weight loss on metabolic factors were reported in several other studies. So if we're talking about being weight loss resistant, insulin resistant, pre-diabetic, obesity, obesity, you know, demographics, right? Those groups of people then. For me, personally, getting the weight off has faster, has more benefit on the blood sugar and resistance issue, which is the underlying cause of the problem to begin with. If you've got the same 20 pounds that you, you lose and put back on and lose and put back on. You're actually going to be able to balance out the fasting blood sugar, lower the chance of diabetic pre-diabetic or normal blood sugar come down in those categories come down in the BMI categories, from obese to overweight to healthy weight. You're going to increase your insulin sensitivity. So for me, the juice is absolutely one hundred percent worth the squeeze in this, and we're going to show you how you can then do a few things to prevent the possibility of what this study was showing, which is that muscle breakdown?
Tommy Welling: [00:14:59] Yeah, absolutely. And even even before that, to get back to your previous point there that that reminds me of the patients that's involved in the process, right? Winds like it takes it takes a decision to, you know, to to lose some weight, to say, You know what? Yeah, I'm going to maybe I'm going to count my calories. I'm going to I'm going to break break some of those old patterns. I'm going to start going to the gym or I'm going to exercise more, whatever
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:15:28] It is, 10 pounds in 90 days, whatever it is, right?
Tommy Welling: [00:15:31] Yeah, it took a decision to do that. But the longer it takes, the we only have so much patience for a process, especially if the process isn't going as planned, because you could set out on a gung ho Monday, right and do everything right. And then, you know, if the scale is not budging in like a week, maybe two weeks, do you have the patience to keep going with it? Or might it be like it might be a sign that I'm that I'm kind of doing something a little bit wrong and I'm not sure. And now self-doubt starts to kind of creep in and then maybe I maybe I ditch it, or maybe I have a tough weekend. I kind of, you know, I fall into some old bad habits because they they can help give me a little bit of good feeling. I can get some dopamine from it because I didn't get it from the scale right. I'm not getting the feedback I'm looking for, so that can take a lot of patience regardless, even if you are on the right track. So I like the more rapid approach just for my own sanity. Yes, sanity and like that positive reinforcement that I'm doing something right? You know, as long as I'm working on building the right long term habits to while I'm going through the process.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:16:43] Yeah, what I just heard there was sustainability. Right? So the right again air quotes diet, right? The first three letters of the word. Yeah, painful, right? That that lifestyle like, what is it for you? So that's why we love fasting, because it can adapt to paleo, it can adapt to high carb, it can adapt to low carb, it can adapt to keto, it can adapt to the vegan vegetarian. It can adapt to like whatever you want. It has that adaptability. So I want to talk a little about kind of transition away from the fat loss. The weight loss benefits right fast versus non fast. And then we just really hit on one of the big benefits, which is, you know, getting to the underlying metabolic factors, which we saw were better in the faster weight loss group. You just outlined beautifully the emotional mental benefits of getting those wins and the patients. My grandmother always says, you know, patience is a virtue. I have no idea what that means, but I still don't have any. So my kids are teaching it to me, one slow, painful interaction at a time. Love them to death. But my goodness, I didn't realize I could learn so much being in care of a tiny little terrorist human. I need to. Um, they are right. Little tiny teacher. So one of the cool things that we can do with fasting to transition into the positive part of today's.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:18:01] The back half of today's conversation is, you know, again, back to the beginning of the bodybuilding fitness experts, nutritionists like you want to protect that muscle mass and fasting does a couple of cool things, and I'm not going to go back to the hunter gatherer example. You know, like they didn't eat for weeks. They didn't die, right? They actually, I'm not going to go down that right. So it wouldn't be very evolutionary positive if if that was if that was the case. Moving away from that and going into some more real scientific type stuff in today's world is when you fast up to seventy two hours and especially at that 24 hour mark, you're going to have a massive up to three thousand percent increase in growth hormone. And before anybody says, well, growth hormone doesn't isn't anabolic right anabolic meaning anabolic steroids, anabolic meaning anabolic like muscle growth, right? Yeah. Yeah, you're right. It's not. But growth hormone is lean body tissue protective. The higher levels of growth hormone you have, the more lean body, lean body mass or lean body tissue you protect. And I want you to unpack this here in just a second. Tommy, the other two hormones that you see that go up are short term. Fasting has been shown to increase luteinizing hormone, which is a precursor to testosterone.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:19:22] Sixty seven percent increase after fifty six hours in obese men. And then a twenty six percent increase in gonadotropin releasing hormone or gender age, which is another testosterone stimulant, and that was a 67 percent increase, which led to a one hundred and eighty percent boost in testosterone. If you're a woman out here listening to this, no trust me, you're not going to grow a trap or another layer on your bicep, like doing resistance training or or boot camps, or for me, I'm not a big weightlifter anymore, you know, from my old powerlifting days, and I really love that stuff. I prefer to just do body weights and kettlebells and resistance bands, right? Because it's just easier. I feel better. I'm not hurting and wobbling, stumbling around the house, not being able to get off the couch all the time. So some some hormonal benefits there. In the cool thing is when we talk about the how you can set yourself up for success, Tommy, which is one of the reasons why you might break down lean tissue, is that gluconeogenesis, which is the conversion of protein into glucose, which you alluded to. But I want you to unpack what we can do to make sure that we are setting ourselves up properly. And when we fast, we're actually getting all the benefit.
Tommy Welling: [00:20:37] Yeah, so much like like the design and the study and why we saw some of that muscle breakdown, it's the same thing with the low and slow diet and why it can lead to lower levels of RH and human growth hormone and testosterone and luteinizing hormone like and estrogen. It can the thyroid hormone. The body starts to turn down the master volume control when it goes through prolonged periods of small calorie deficits, what it prefers and what it's what it's designed to react to much, much better and actually in a positive way is actually when we switch, when we flip the switch more of an on or off, rather than just a slow turn down the volume transition. Right. So so what I mean by that is basically the difference between fasting and between a small caloric deficit. And so what we do there is we maximize the time that we're getting those growth hormone spikes and those those generate spikes were or we're hitting good hormonal responses rather than than kind of turning down that that volume. And so what we what we want to do there is be more deliberate about keeping the insulin low, which we do by decreasing the number of eating opportunities and tightening up the the amount of time during the day that we're actually ingesting food and which is raising the insulin levels and then a whole host of of other hormonal cascades that come along with it.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:22:10] Yeah, the one point of clarification, because I don't think I explained it well was the yin you alluded to it earlier to. On top of that was that the the breakdown of protein, right, that lean body tissue can only happen in a couple of cases, and one is that process of taking protein into glucose. And that only happens like you alluded to earlier when you don't have access to a fuel supply. Right. So if insulin is high in glucose is low, right? Because you're doing the super fast, the one thousand to fifteen hundred calorie deficit a day, but you're still eating three small meals and three snacks. Right? Your body is going to be, you know, processing through that right. So you may trigger it because you're not able, like you mentioned, to get into ketosis or get into. I don't love the term keto adapted, but get into a state where your body is able to tap into those supplies. So to prevent the possibility of that muscle breakdown, never mind do you have all the hormonal increases that you just mentioned, but the best thing to do is deplete your liver glycogen first before you're starting to go into longer fast. And this is what we do in our challenges is we use the fast ramp up, so we increase 18 to 20 to twenty two to twenty four and then we do thirty sixes and forty eights and we don't do a lot over seventy two these days because that's the magic really happens in cycling those windows, right? We talk about fast cycling, but to prevent that metabolism or that breakdown depleting your liver glycogen first. So make your last meal lower carbohydrate so your body can get into ketosis quicker and then also exercising in a fasted state or even just walking in a fasted state can help your body burn those short term energy stores that are in your muscles.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:23:54] Yeah, and then you're going to be able to transition even quicker. So never mind, you get the benefits from those spikes of hormones, but you're also going to be able to set yourself up for success. And this is why we feel that the fast cycling that we do inside of the group and we do in our own lives and varying those windows and moving the eating times, you know, is is really why it works so well. So that may have been a lot. If you're new to this podcast, tell me, right? So in conclusion, for today, if you haven't. Started fasting, the best thing to do is go to the website, download the fast start guide and you know, you can put you can put a simple one meal a day or intermittent fasting window into your day to day life. And you really don't really need to worry too much about this stuff yet. But I love the takeaway of, you know, the the handed down old adage of don't lose weight too fast because you're going to regain it, you're going to mess up all of these different things that we can go down those rabbit holes, but is losing weight. How fast is too fast? Well. We just went through the pros and cons and to me, the pros of getting to those metabolic markers and then having these couple of things you can do to prevent your body from breaking down the protein and getting into ketosis faster far outweigh the fact that you might lose a percentage or two. But right? So that's why I just I love this conversation.
Tommy Welling: [00:25:20] Yeah, absolutely. I do, too. And if you're brand new to this and you know, maybe you're you're at a 12 hour window or you're an eight hour window, like just to expand that a little bit more, because that's going to help you keep those insulin levels that much lower, which is going to allow your body to tap into those long term fat stores when you're not eating and not worrying about about your your muscle at that point, because you're going to have the protective effects as your basket a bit longer and as your insulin levels stay lower longer, you're able to tap into those fat stores. So keep doing that. Push it a little bit further. If you're ready for for one meal a day and want to see how we do that, then go download the fast start guide, the fasting for life and you know, just get started. Get started today.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:26:03] Love it. Love it. As always, sir, thank you for the conversation and we'll talk soon.
Tommy Welling: [00:26:07] Thank you. Bye. So you've heard today's episode, and you may be wondering, where do I start? Head on over to fasting for Lipscombe and sign up for our newsletter, where you'll receive fasting tips and strategies to maximize results and fit fasting into your day to day life.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:26:23] Why are you there? Download your free fast start guide to get started today. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Make sure to leave us a five star review and we'll be back next week with another episode of Fasting for Life.
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