Episode 36. EPOC, Dieting for a Wedding, and Diet Sustainability
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Getting back on topic, we started with EPOC and exercise, but moved into a kind of “case study” of how to read biofeedback when you’re dieting for a wedding or some other specific date. Using an average female dieter (average age, height, weight, athletic background, etc.) as a kind of “case study” we talked about how much lethargy and hunger and so on is “safe” and how do you read that kind of thing safely?
This is an interesting question, because the Coaches can talk about “sustainable dieting” all they want, but if someone has a super important date coming up that they’re preparing for — and if it’s a wedding, then it’s one of the most important dates of many people’s lives — in the real-world people just are going to risk some metabolic compensation to look good. That’s totally reasonable, assuming you’re intelligent and you don’t go all out with an extreme very low calorie diet for your wedding, and instead you rationally balance your desire to lose weight and look good with an acknowledgment that your body needs to be treated well, and there will be more or less metabolic compensation down the road, depending on how you diet.
Measuring Fat Loss & Weight Loss Progress
How will I know I’m making progress in getting lighter if I don’t have an objective measurement?
- Scott actually pasted this in to our list of questions at the last minute from an email — he wanted to emphasize again that many people need to forget the scale. As an indicator it’s often not as reliable as many people think.
- Other things that matter more: having a reasonable amount of hunger but good energy, how do your clothes fit, how the mirror looks, etc.
- Also, the danger of the scale is that it turns into a tool of self-judgment. It’s no longer being used rationally to lose fat.
EPOC, or Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption
“Is EPOC [excess post oxygen consumption] really a significant factor of an exercise program?”
- How much does EPOC really matter? Not that much.
- Kevin: If you really want a yes/no answer, the short answer is basically, “No, EPOC is ‘not’ a significant factor.”
- The longer answer has to do with “well, what’s the program? What are the trainee’s goals?” and is much more focused on long-term metabolic optimization than it is on counting the number of calories burned during some arbitrary number of hours after the workout.
- A huge factor is the trainee: a young high-performance athlete with all their hormones revving is going to experience a different “bump” than someone who’s training to lost a bit of excess fat, by going to the gym for 40 minutes three times a week. This isn’t just “well the high performance athlete trained more intensely so they got a bigger bump.” No. It’s a total look at their athletic background, age, their hormone levels, their entire lifestyle and approach to diet. These things matter. Reducing your calorie burning to a single number, once you think of it this way, is absurd.
- “EPOC” is often a longer-term thing.
- There is such a thing as situational hyper metabolic environment, but often people discount the fact that, yeah, you’ll get this, but you’ll also see an increase in hunger.
- As a coach you can’t let hunger run rampant, either, because that will lead to a rebound of some sort. (Coax the body and it responds… etc.)
- A sign of this would be the client starting also to dream about food, or losing sleep over their hunger, or losing energy and having issues with hormones (i.e. lack of sex drive).
- A good sign of hunger being too high is that there is no sense of satisfaction even immediately after eating.
- Mike’s question, though, is what if someone is staying in that hyper-metabolic state? A lot of the negative symptoms listed by the coaches were signs of a depressed metabolism (cold fingers, lethargy, etc.) rather than an optimized one. If the metabolism is showing signs of staying optimized, can a hyper-metabolic state be maintained?
- The answer to this is to be very careful and listen to the body, and pay attention to the client and their psychology (e.g., are they experienced with dieting? Is ongoing high hunger, if everything else is “okay,” going to be okay for them psychologically?)
- Beyond that, there are small tests a coach can do if things slide (e.g., give a refeed then monitor).
Dieting for a Wedding
- Mike started pushing for specifics, but as always, both Scott and Kevin emphasized the context. So, we created an arbitrary one: an “typical” dieter who wants to get ready for their wedding — in this case a woman, average height, average build, of about the average age that Google says women get married in North America (age 27).
- Obviously, there is no “best diet for a wedding” or something like that. What there is is the client in front of you: their background, their goals, how far away the wedding is, what their athletic background is like, how much weight they want to lose.
- Starvation diets? No. Stop. Don’t do it.
- A lot of Scott’s clients come to him because they did go too far, or a coach took them too far, and now they’re fighting their own metabolism trying to deal with it. So yes, he’s going to keep warning people of the dangers.
- A big factor is lifestyle. If you’re dieting for a wedding, then (1) the wedding planning is going to be super stressful, and (2) the client is often working full-time. Adding more stress on top of that is something you need to be very careful about. The client will lose more weight (or, at the very least, experience far less rebound) if they don’t just keep pushing and pushing the body past where it is too darn tired to go.
- Danger signs? Low energy, fatigue, stress, irritability with your significant other, low sex drive, brittle hair. All of these are signs that you need to take the foot off the gas of diet and training.
- Many people notice the “life problems” before they notice actual fatigue in the gym. Those are the signs you need to pay attention to.