Episode 44. Metabolism, Muscle, and Fat Loss with Vince Del Monte
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We continued our discussion with Vince Del Monte, this time spending a lot more time talking about metabolism, and especially the relationship between metabolism and muscle gain. Most people talk about metabolism only with respect to fat loss, but it’s important to emphasize how muscle support metabolism, which in turn supports fat loss. At the same time, you want to optimize or prime a metabolism in order to gain muscle.
Rules vs. Principles
- Scott emphasized that some rules are based on principles, but some are not. He quoted a passage from Josh Waitzkin’s The Art of Learning:
Over time each chess principle loses rigidity, and you get better and better at reading the subtle signs of qualitative relativity. Soon enough, learning becomes unlearning. The stronger chess player is often the one who is less attached to a dogmatic interpretation of the principles. This leads to a whole new layer of principles — those that consist of the exceptions to the initial principles.
- Vince agreed. He often gets attacked, but his response is “Look, don’t get mad at me. I’m literally just describing facts. I’m not making these up because that’s how I want them to be.”
Metabolism and Muscle
- Both Scott and Vince emphasized that muscle building takes time. The body will add muscle at the time it will add it. You can’t just stuff your face and speed it up. There’s a limit to what your body can do.
Vince shared the thoughts of his brother, who transitioned from very high-level distance running to bodybuilding. Vince’s brother found bodybuilding… weird. It’s an all-the-time thing. You have to keep eating. You have to always be on. It can be mentally exhausting.
- Scott somewhat disagreed. It can be exhausting. So: how do you avoid this? For Vince, it’s about listening to your coach, and the trusting the process. Don’t question. Just follow the plan and let it happen.
- You will also develop a lot of skills, and the only way to do that… is to do it. Learning to prep your meals is a skill. Learning to adapt your diet to different social situations is a skill. Indeed, it’s a series of skills.
- Scott is often surprised by the people who don’t learn. They don’t learn in such a way that they can take any of these skills with them.
Fat Loss Before Gaining Muscle?
- For Fat loss, Scott emphatically suggests focusing on metabolism first, weight loss second.
- But… with that in mind, Vince asked Scott how much Scott recommends losing fat at all before trying to gain muscle. Vince will often lean guys out a little bit, for the sake of optimizing their metabolism, but also for the sake of getting their habits and discipline in check, before beginning a muscle gain phase.
- Scott does this *to some extent.* There is an anti-catabolic phase to any relative caloric deficit, and this is something you can take advantage of. Your body will, at the beginning of a diet in a caloric deficit, preferentially lose fat rather than muscle or lean tissue, and you need to coax your metabolism and your hunger levels to get things sorted (insulin usage and storage, hormones, etc.).
- On the other hand, if you’re thinking of losing fat before you have gained any muscle, remember: you can’t sculpt a pebble. One of the reasons for this is that your metabolism won’t support it.
- Muscle supports metabolism, metabolism supports fat loss.
- And when you try to lose fat and get “ripped,” you will lose some lean mass. So you have to have enough there to accommodate that.
- Muscle, Carbs, Satiety and Metabolism are connected. So adding way too much aerobic activity, cutting carbs more, and doing this when the client has no muscle already, is a recipe for metabolic disaster. Of course they’re going to stall out and feel miserable.
- Vince points out that the human body isn’t meant, biologically, to sustain extreme leanness and low fat levels while holding a lot of muscle.
Three Non-Sexy Principles
(…for optimizing metabolism)
One. You need a diet break.
Two. No more deadlines.
Three. Let your diet support your workouts.
One. The truth is simple, and simplicity is the truth. Avoid over-complication.
Two. The goal is the process and the process is the goal
Three. Stealing from Michael Pollan, “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.”
Vince’s Bonus Challenge
Get to 10% bodyfat without any cardio.